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Read my Tongue

| On 31, Jan 2015

We ask: Ms Joanna Liew, TCM Chinese Physician and Manager of Bao Zhong Tang, Premium TCM Centre

Joanna Baozhong Tang(2)

Ms Joanna Liew was from the pioneer batch of graduates of the exclusive joint double-degree programme offered by Nanyang Technological University (NTU, Singapore) and Beijing University of Chinese Medicine (China). She did her clinical internship in integrated Western and Chinese medicine in a Beijing hospital. To share her knowledge, Ms Liew regularly participates in public health talks and contributes to newspapers and magazines.

When your GP asks you to say “Ahh…” he/she wants to examine your throat, so a spatula is used to keep your tongue out of the way.



However, to a Chinese physician the tongue is a gateway to your state of health. It is examined as part of TCM diagnosis as the appearance of the tongue indicates a person’s overall physical harmony or disharmony. The Chinese believe that the tongue has many relationships and connections in the body, both to the meridians and the internal organs.

The physician will study the colour, shape, moistness, coating and features like texture, spots, quivering, scalloped edges, tendency to loll etc.  They can even tell your mental health from your tongue. For instance, a hammer-shaped tongue usually indicates Spleen, Stomach, and Kidney Deficiency and is often a warning of a serious condition, including the possibility of mental illness. Thankfully, this is very rare.

Reading the tongue requires training and experience as tongues can be greenish or reddish-purple, too thin or too thick, swollen or contracted, rough or tender, stiff, dry or cracked and so on. Ms Liew shares the basics.

The different type of body constitutions are:


1. Normal: light red or pinkish, with a thin, white and moist coating


2. Qi deficiency: teeth marks at the side with thin, white coating

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