Ayurvedic tongue scraping – why to do so?
Do you know what tongue scraping is? This ancient Ayurvedic practice has been getting a lot of attention lately; the dental care aisles are brimming with various tools to clean the gunk off your tongue.
But why to do so? Overnight, as the body processes everything that was ingested that day, toxins (called AMA by Ayurveda) begin to form, and are visible as a coating on the tongue. If the ama is more of the Kapha variety, it will appear as a thick, white coating. Pitta ama tends to be more yellow, and Vata ama is brown (let me know if you want to learn more about the three doshas, and I will write a blog about it).
Scraping the coating off first thing in the morning ( before brushing your teeth or eating ) prevents reabsorption of the toxins that your body worked so hard to expel. It’s a way to cleanse our bodies and improve our immunity.
Tongue scraping, or jihwa prakshalana, is a traditional part of Ayurvedic self-care and also a great way to check-in with your body each morning. Notice the color of the coating as well as the quantity. The amount is a good indication of whether our body was able to digest the food we consumed the previous day. The more junk we eat, the larger the amount of ama will likely be. Interesting, right?
For example, when I replace my healthy eating with heavier foods such as pizza, cheese, or desserts, or I am sick, I have a thicker coating on my tongue the next morning. Isn’t that amazing how our bodies work?
These toxins cause obstructions in respiration, as well as foul-smelling breath. The coating they produce can interfere with our ability to taste, clouding this sense organ and even creating unhealthy cravings. But above all, cleaning our tongues in the morning is a great defense against illnesses – a great time to do that, right?
According to Ayurveda, the tongue maps the body organs, and each section corresponds to a different one. The very back area of the tongue corresponds with the colon, so scraping that area stimulates peristalsis, and it is usually thicker. When we scrape the tongue, it’s like giving our internal organs a gentle massage. Isn’t that cool?
How to Tongue Scrape
- Scrape your tongue first thing in the morning, before drinking water or brushing your teeth.
- Use preferably a copper tongue scraper, like Banyan Botanicals’ Tongue Cleaner (by the way, I make no money with this recommendation). There are plastic tongue scrapers out there, but I’m not a fan, as they are harder to keep clean.
- Stick your tongue out and allow it to be loose and heavy. Scrape 4-5 times with small movements at the end of the tongue, close to the throat. Wash it each time you scrape and take the gunk out.
- Work the tongue scraper back to the front five to seven times, rinsing the scraper after each round.
- Follow with brushing, flossing, and a large glass of warm lemon water. Drinking warm water with ½ lemon first thing-provides a gentle flush for the GI tract and the kidneys, and also stimulates peristalsis.
I can guarantee that you will be hooked once you start a regular practice of tongue scraping. After a few weeks, you will notice a significant difference. Your mouth and breath will feel fresher, and your taste buds more alive. Personally, I cannot imagine leaving the house before scraping.