Hold your Tongue

We are slaves to our tongues. If we could better control what we say and what our foodie mouths crave, we could change many things in our lives. Fortunately, Ayurveda gives us ways to turn this slavery to our tongues around by strategically evolving the strong connection between our tongues and our minds. 

Thousands of years ago, wise physicians of Ayurveda developed a way to understand the primal connection between the information coming from our senses, and what our tongues crave and make us do. The wise men determined that the connection between the senses and the mind prompt our memory of a taste, and, in anticipation, our salivary glands prepare our tongues for the moment we bring the taste to it. That is why dogs salivate when they see food before they taste it! The enzymes in the saliva, and the information stored in our memory, determine what our gut will do with the food. When we have no memory of a food, like food from another culture, our mind, brain, and saliva do not know how to process it. The tongue depends on the saliva to be able to activate the taste buds to sense the food coming. That is why food is not tasty when you are distracted.

Ayurvedic physiology interprets the tongue as a map of the human body, with the tip representing the heart and the center representing the gut, liver and kidneys. The edges represent the lung, and the center represents the spine, with its nerves and muscular system.

Thus, it is very important to keep our tongue clean. When it is covered with a coating, Ayurveda tells us it is telling us about our gut health.  A cottage-cheese like coating indicates either phlegm in the body or undigested goop hanging out in the gut. Undigested food, preservatives, and food allergies that cause the immune system to spew phlegm, mucous and toxins all create phlegm in the gut that subsequently shows up on the tongue.

A yellowish, acrid or hot coating of the tongue indicates an inflamed gut and warns us to clean the digestive system. Ayurveda tells us that hyperacidity, irritable bowel, and colitis are all conditions associated with an inflamed gut. A thin, grayish, feeble phlegm indicates high vata and is typical found during the autumn months in people who are wound up, cold, dry, moving too fast, and tired.

Every morning we should check our tongue, wash our mouths, and then brush our teeth with an organic toothbrush using a natural toothpaste. Most toothpaste contains preservatives that we ingest, so watch out for the labels when you shop! Natural tooth powders typically contain fewer preservatives than toothpaste and are a more natural solution.

After brushing the teeth, Ayurveda recommends scraping the tongue. Gently. Firmly. Using a copper tongue scraper - not a stainless steel or plastic one, and not a toothbrush. If you can acquire a pure silver spoon, that is excellent too - especially, for those with an opinion and sharp tongue! Silver reduces inflammation and pitta. Regardless the tool, before and after scraping, note the surface of the tongue. Carefully see what you scraped off before rinsing it away. 

Make a pact with your heart that you will not use your tongue against yourself. Speak kindly or stay silent. Be impeccable with your word. Keep any commitments you make, or don’t make them. Renegotiate the ones that do not serve anymore. Use your words with compassion, especially about yourself. Practice silence.

After examining the tongue, start healing your digestion. Taza’s Gandharvahastadi Digestive Supplement is a great addition to your daily routine to balance your digestion. The eight herbs are designed together to clean out the gut and pelvis. Acting as a mild laxative, it also soothes bloating and gas without harming the gut lining or the microbiome. The test of its effectiveness is to feel light and fresh with a healthy appetite the following day.

- Guest Author -

Dr. Bhaswati Bhattacharya

Dr Bhattacharya is a Harvard-educated physician trained in family medicine and preventive medicine, dividing her time between New York and Benaras. She is also a published scientist trained in trained in pharmacology, neuroscience and public health, an awarded educator, and a best-selling author. Since 2003, she serves as Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. She also recently completed a PhD in, pharmaceutics, and pharmacology (Rasa Shastra & Bhaisajya Kalpana) from Banaras Hindu University.

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