The How and Why of Tongue Scraping

Are you a devout tongue scraper? This ancient practice has been gaining a lot of attention as of late. The dental care aisles are brimming with various tools to clean the gunk off your tongue. So what’s this all about? Overnight, as the body processes everything that was ingested that day, toxins (or ama) will begin to form. This can be seen as a coating on the tongue in the morning. If the ama is more of the kapha variety, it will appear as a thick white coating. Similarly, pitta ama tends to be more yellow, whereas vata ama is brown.  It is important that you scrape the coating off first thing rather than risk reabsorbing the toxins that your body worked so hard to expel. 

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 can be a good indication as to whether or not your body was able to digest the food you consumed the previous day. For example, I notice that when I eat heavier foods such as pizza, ice cream or peanut butter, I tend to have a thicker coating in the morning.  These toxins are thought to cause obstructions in respiration as well as foul smelling breath. This coating can interfere with our ability to taste, clouding this sense organ and even creating unhealthy cravings. Finally, the tongue is a roadmap of the entire body with each section corresponding to a different organ. When we scrape the tongue, it is similar to giving our internal organs a gentle massage. The back area of the tongue corresponds with the colon, so by scraping that area, peristalsis is stimulated, perfect first thing in the morning.

How To Tongue Scrape

Upon waking, before drinking water, scrape your tongue. Let this be the first thing you do. Obtain either a stainless steel or copper tongue scraper. Plastic tongue scrapers exist, but I am not a fan as they are harder to keep sanitary.  Stick your tongue out and allow the tongue to be loose and heavy. Work the tongue scraper back to front about 5-7 times, gently milking the tongue and removing any ama, rinsing the scraper after each round. Once this process is complete follow this with brushing, flossing and a large glass of warm or room temperature water. Drinking warm water first thing provides a gentle flush for the GI tract and the kidneys, and also stimulates peristalsis.

I can guarantee that once you start a regular practice of tongue scraping you will be hooked. Continue with this practice for a few weeks.  There is no doubt you will notice a significant difference. Your mouth will feel fresher and your taste buds more alive. Personally, I cannot imagine even leaving the house before scraping. 

3 thoughts on “The How and Why of Tongue Scraping

  1. When I started reading, i said, “who is the author?” It sounds like Lauren… and it’s Lauren! Thanks for the articles. It is a wonderful review. Stay safe and well. I look forward to seeing you in Kripalu eventually. Jorge


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