6 Clues Your Tongue May Be Telling You Something

6 Clues Your Tongue May Be Telling You Something

If you ever visit a traditional health practitioner chances are you will be asked to stick out your tongue. The surface of this muscle acts like a systemic barometer offering various indications of conditions that could be happening in your body at that moment.

Hang out your licker and look in the mirror for these 6 clues your tongue may be telling you something. It could be your easiest armchair diagnosis ever.


A healthy tongue should be pink with a light white coating and no markings such as lumps, swollen areas, teeth indentations or sporadic cracks. It should be medium thickness and, if you run a clean finger over your tongue’s surface, it should feel like there’s tiny nodules which are called papillae, an essential part of this muscle.

Strawberry Tongue

Sometimes taste buds can become swollen and look like red strawberry seeds which for centuries has been referred to as strawberry tongue. It is believed that this reaction may be due to a lack of vitamin B12 and/or folic acid.

See your doctor if you have a fever with strawberry tongue, however if you do not, try supplementing in pill form or foods high in B12 such as various meats, fish, and fortified soy. Foods high in folic acid include figs, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, avocado, asparagus and citrus fruits.

Black and Hairy

If your tongue has a hue of brown or darker with a fuzzy texture you could be lacking in the mouth hygiene department. This means that bacteria is growing on your papillae and that can lead to halitosis (bad breath) or even systemic bacteria transfer such as to your teeth and digestive tract. This symptom is often referred to as ‘black and hairy tongue’.

According to Jack Der-Sarkissian, MD, a family physician with Kaiser Permanente in Southern California,

“Typically [black and hairy tongue] is brought on by smoking, drinking coffee and dark teas, or poor dental hygiene,…Removing the offending cause, like smoking, and brushing the tongue or using a tongue scraper, may be all you need.”

Frothy White

Your tongue may look like it’s covered with a frothy white film most of the time. Some people shun this off as being too much saliva but what it might be is an overgrowth of yeast also known as candida.

Sometimes referred to as thrush, this symptom may occur when taking antibiotics which allow certain bacteria to overgrow on the tongue and intestines. This may also be an indication of a weakened immune system or out of balance diabetes control.

Blue or Purple

If your tongue sports a blue or purple color it could mean that there is a circulatory problem. When these colors are detected it has been linked to:

  • Lethargy
  • Weak mental health
  • Depression
  • Bronchial problems
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart problems

A study by Chinese researchers at the Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Changhai Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai concluded that,

“The blue and purple tongue is one of the most important tongue characteristics of PLC [primary liver cancer] patients.”

Constant Protrusions

Outbreaks of red to pale-red ulcer-like protrusions could indicate you are fighting a virus; are lacking a nutrient such as vitamin B3 (niacin) or vitamin C; or may be showing signs of a potentially cancerous legion. White protrusions could be a zinc deficiency as well as the beginning of thrush. See your doctor if these protrusions do not subside.


These 6 clues that your tongue may be telling you something allows for a simple checkup that could easily be remedied. Keep your mouth hygiene in check by brushing, flossing and tongue scraping at least twice per day and think about eating more probiotic foods like yogurt to keep control of bacteria overgrowth.