Updated: Jan 31
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When something's so gross it's actually fascinating, it might actually be a good thing. Everyday, I scrape my tongue with fascination, and I would scrape my dog's tongue too, if I could (I call it a win if I can just get a toothbrush in there regularly).
Tongue scraping is a daily habit from the ancient Ayurvedic tradition of removing ama (toxic buildup) from the body. In fact, it can improve your digestion and immunity by removing bacteria from your mouth.
Your mouth is a key body cavity that interacts with the environment. A huge portion of your immune cells are in your gut, says Dan Peterson, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. A thick coating on your tongue signals an accumulation of physical toxicity, often from not-so-great eating (and drinking, let's be honest) or digestive issues that don't allow your body to eliminate as well as it could. A relatively clean tongue indicates that your digestive system is running well, your eating habits are supporting you, and your immunity is strong.
Tongue scraping bolsters your wellness, but it's also good data for how to choose well in your life. When you see on your tongue a reflection of what you're putting in your body, you can't help but think about how your own choices direct you toward wellness versus illness. Likely, because we're talking accumulation, your tongue is tells you what you've been choosing for quite some time, or frequently. When your body is runs better and is lighter, your mind is more clear. When your physical and emotional states are more balanced, you feel better are get sick less often. Ease versus dis-ease.
Tongue scraping is one of the most overlooked practices in the entire yoga lifestyle, but it takes 10 seconds! If 10 seconds a day can help you a lot, why not? Here's a guide to get started.
Choose a Tongue Scraper
Do not choose a plastic tongue scraper or one of those plastic handled-floss holders that look like they scrape.
A legit, Ayurvedic tongue scraper is made of copper, silver, or brass, according to the Charaka-Samhita (Indian medical text). I have a surgical steel tongue scraper in my travel kit for its resistance to corrosion and ability to keep it clean on the go. At home, I choose copper.
How and When
Daily. This practice is easy and efficient, so I know you can make it part of your routine. Brush your teeth normally. Then, gently scrape from the back of the tongue to the front. Start as far back as you can without gagging (move more forward and adjust as you need - you'll get used to it over time).
Check out your accumulation of ama. Rinse your tongue scraper in between rounds. I usually scrape about four to seven times until clean, though others might say two dozen rounds is needed. Again, see what works for you. It may change to fewer strokes as you do it more and clean up your gut (that's what happened to me).
Afterward, I use a mouthwash that contains natural, cleansing, anti-bacterial agents such as the essential oils of clove, rosemary, and myrrh. I am obsessed with my doTERRA On Guard Mouthwash, which has all three and more. I keep stock in my bathroom, and my dad is even using it now. He likes it so much more than the commercial, blue-colored mouthwash.
What's on your tongue is a reflection of what's inside, and cleansing it is a first step to cleansing and immunity boosting.
Get a good tongue scraper.
Scrape daily, scrape gently. Make it a routine.
Eventually, things will be less gross, but the process and your tongue will still fascinate you. And, you'll begin to tell everyone like a wellness dork how much you love scraping your tongue and how it's changed your life. Oh, and your dog won't run away when you try to kiss her (haha).
Good for Travel/Low Maintenance: Surgical Stainless Steel Tongue Scraper
Traditional: Ayurvedic Copper