What if I told you that you could do something that would help increase your body’s detoxification on a daily basis, that would be a one time purchase of a few bucks and literally take you less time than brushing your teeth?
What if I told you that you it didn’t require you cooking anything, having to drag your butt to the grocery store (the last thing that many of us want to do during a busy week), and didn’t require any physical energy or endurance other than raising your arm for a few seconds? ☺
Sound too good to be true??
Well, it’s not! Tongue scraping is what I’m talking about. I learned about it a few years ago now, in my Ayurvedic dinacharya, or daily routine, class with my teacher Dr. Jay. It is an ancient Ayurvedic practice outlined in the Charaka Samhita, one of the foundational Ayurvedic texts. But I have to admit that I only started tongue scraping just a few weeks ago! (We all put off things, even if we know its good for us sometimes, don’t we?!) And I have to say, I am already addicted and can’t recommend it more.
Okay, I know it may sound a bit weird. Let me back up a minute…
Supporting Our Body’s Natural Detoxification in the Morning
I’ve been talking since The Beauty Detox Solution about supporting our bodies’ natural detoxification efforts, through a solid morning practice that doesn’t tie up our body’s energy in digestion. Before noon/lunch, we want to capitalize on our bodies naturally being in “cleanse” mode versus “digestion” mode, which happens when we start to consume heavier foods. Our morning practice involves drinking hot water with lemon, to help increase elimination, among other benefits, and also drinking the fiber-filled Glowing Green Smoothie.
In the morning, you may notice your body’s efforts at getting toxins out: you may (hopefully!) poop, your underarms stink and you need to take a shower before showing your face (and armpits!) in public. You may have sleep in your eyes.
And importantly, if you open your mouth and look at your tongue, you may notice varying degrees of a white coating. And bad breath. Actually, the two go hand in hand.
The white coating is mucus and toxicity, or Ama, as it’s called in Ayurveda, which your body has expended a good amount of energy in pushing up your esophagus and out towards the surface. It’s as if your body is telling you, “Get this outta me!”. Renowned Ayurvedic teacher Dr. Vasant Lad writes in his Textbook of Ayurveda: A Complete Guide to Clinical Assessment that “coating on the tongue indicates the presence of toxins, which are an impediment to proper digestion”.
Yet what do we do? We ignore it. We brush our teeth, maybe even brush our tongue, but unknowingly swallow all that toxicity.
Enter tongue scraping. What I have started doing, and recommend to you, is to scrape your tongue a few times, before you drink significant amounts of water, and before you brush your teeth. The white gunk- very satisfyingly I might add- scrapes right off into the scraper, and gets washed down the sink.
Benefits of Using a Tongue Scraper:
- Clears mucus and ama, or toxicity, from your body
- Clears toxins & bacteria from the tongue, which can lead to bad breath
- Enhances taste, making your food more satisfying
- Gently stimulates the internal organs
The vast majority of halitosis, or bad breath, has been shown in research to correlate with the metabolic outputs of naturally occurring bacteria inside the mouth, typically occupying the very back of the tongue.2
You may be wondering about the bit I was referring to about “stimulating” the internal organs? This goes back to Eastern philosophy that everything is connected to everything else. It’s like reflexology, where different points on your foot correspond to different organs. If you’ve ever had a true reflexology session- it can really hurt!! I did them in Thailand and these elder Thai women would press so hard into my feet with this little wooden stick I would tear up!
Anyways… don’t want to dwell on that memory ☺. In a similar vein, the different the tongue is believed to likewise be a mirror to the organs of the body, and related to various organs, including the lungs, heart, spleen, stomach and so on. And by gently stimulating the areas of the tongue, via tongue scraping, you can gently remove these toxins from the tongue itself and simultaneously stimulate massage, and cleanse the associated organs and deep tissues. 6
Start Tongue Scraping Away!
Again, I recommend tongue scraping first thing. Nearly first thing. When I get up to pee before I even meditate (pee is first!), I scrape my tongue, because typically I start to drink the rest of the glass of water next to my bedside table around that point, and I don’t want to swallow the ama/toxins!
It’s super easy: First off, I recommend getting a stainless steel one. Here’s a decent one. Secondly, stick out your tongue as far as it comfortable. Position the scraper back as far as is comfortable, and pull it forward so it removes the white coating. Repeat around 7 times, or some say up even up to 14 (I never do it that many times, personally!).
I also recommend rinsing the tongue scraper off in between scrapes. It gets just nasty. Let’s get real for a minute: it’s kinda like getting out a fantastic black head cleanly or having an amazing enema or bowel movement…somehow, whether we like to admit these things publicly or not, detoxing our bodies, with visible results, is SO satisfying! It’s like saying “I got you body! This crap is going bye bye!”.
So give tongue scraping a go, and let me know how you do!
- Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda: A Complete Guide to Clinical Assessment. The Ayurvedic Press, 2006. 107-110, 199-201.
- Rosenberg, Mel. “The Science of Bad Breath.” Scientific American. 286.4 (2002): 72-79. Online. 1 Mar. 2012.
- Ibid, Lad.