Tongue scraping sounds gross and it kinda is. However, it is very important that you start a routine to regularly scrape the gunk off your tongue. The tradition of tongue scraping goes back over 5000 years in India in the Ayurvedic tradition. And the reasons for this are covered below. Along with using a toothbrush, dental floss, and mouthwash, adding tongue scraping will give you a well-rounded mouth care routine. And while it may seem like another thing that you gotta do in the morning, read below for the reasons you will change your mind.
The Ayurvedic Approach on Tongue Scraping
While Ayurveda does go into treating and curing diseases, Ayurveda is strongly focused on preventing disease from happening in the first place. This scientific tradition believes that what we intake through our five senses affects our life and our state of health.
What Creates Toxins in the Body?
In terms of the food we put into our body, it is how much of that food that gets digested which tells you if your body “welcomed” ALL the food or just parts of it. The part that it does not welcome or digest is called “ama”. This is the toxin that is generated from undigested food. The toxins or ama is what needs to be expelled from our bodies in one way or another to maintain a healthy body. If it is not expelled, it gets absorbed into our blood, tissues, and organs and harbors disease. Ayurveda believes that the coating on the tongue is the ama that was produced from undigested food.
How to Reduce Toxins from Your Body?
When used everyday, scraping your tongue will help you identify how much ama was produced in your body. And scraping every morning removes the visible ama from your tongue. Your tongue has given you more than just the knowledge about the amount of ama being produced.
It helps you become more conscious about the food you put in your body everyday. It also lets you know how high or low your digestive fire is. And it gives you an opportunity to understand that your body is constantly alerting you to what is going on within your body. Whether you choose to heed the signs or not, is really up to you.
Tongue scraping is one way to remove the visible toxins from your body.
What is the White Coating?
The coating on your tongue is a layer of keratin protein similar but not the same) that is found on our skin. This keratin is harmless in normal conditions and normal amounts. Modern medicine too, states that the coating itself is normal and does not have any negative implications on your health. However, when it does start layering itself, it begins to evolve into “hairy tongue”, and also results in halitosis or bad breath. Again, by it self it is not considered bad (in modern medicine) but it does become an open invitation for bad bacteria to reside and grow.
However, even modern medicine is coming around with using a tongue scraper to clean out the coating. Regardless if they believe it to be ama or not, they agree it can reduce Mutans Streptococci (MS). A highly infectious cariogenic pathogen that lives in the oral cavity, according to this NIH publication. And The Mayo clinic provided this analysis of causes of the white coating which is an interesting and revealing read.
What is Tongue Scraping?
Tongue scraping is the act of cleaning the coating that appears on your tongue in the mornings (and afternoons and evenings). You can do this using a tongue scraper that drags off the coating from your tongue. By removing the coating, you are freeing your tongue to function optimally.
How to Scrape Your Tongue?
Hold the scraper with both hands and place the middle curve at the back of the tongue and drag against the tongue from back to front. Discard the ama build up on the scraper before repeating this 7 to 10 times before you are done. Should take you less than 30 seconds for the whole process.
When to Tongue Scrape?
Do this first thing in the morning before you eat, drink or even brush your teeth. This way, you are not ingesting any part of the coating when eating or drinking. You will also not be moving it around your mouth when you are brushing or swishing. Remove the coating first and do whatever you want after that.
What Type of Tongue Scraper to Buy?
While there are a few options out there, the best one to buy is a copper scraper. The copper is antimicrobial so it has an added benefit. If you have issues with a copper scraper, your second option is a stainless steel one. Whatever you do, do not use plastic. It’s bad for you and bad for our environment. Here is the one I use from Amazon and have gifted my family and friends after discovering its benefits.
Benefits of Tongue Scraping
As discussed, there are many benefits of using a tongue scraper but let’s just list them out for easy reading:
- Fresh breath
- Removal of toxins from the oral cavity
- Freer taste buds to taste your food without ama constriction
- Alerting your digestive tract that food is soon to come, yay!
- Massaging your tongue
- Being a visual indicator of foods that may have and have not been good for you
While tongue scraping, brushing, flossing, and mouth washing can be one too many things to do in the morning, replace one of them. I choose to floss at night during my nighttime routine. This way I can focus on cleaning out the food gunk accumulated during the day. So I do 3 things in the morning, which include tongue scraping, brushing, and mouth washing. And I do 3 things at night, brushing, flossing, and mouth washing.
What Ayurveda does is gives you the tools to help you help yourself. Tongue scraping is one of those tools. It is up to you to use the tool in the right way to see its benefits. And like anything, you will see benefits over time.
Some people in the Amazon review sections have sworn by this tool and they do not practice an Ayurvedic lifestyle. So whether you believe in Ayurveda or not, believe in your body. Listen to your body and act to keep it in the best health it can be. After all, you only have one body to live in.
Featured photo courtesy of Amazon.com
Article last updated on September 21st, 2021