Five Reasons You May Want To Try A Tongue Scraper
File this under weird things I learned at the ashram (again), but I’m officially a tongue scrapring convert.
What’s a tongue scraper, pray tell? While many of you may know—I didn’t—it’s a simple device used to remove the bacteria and buildup that likes to set up camp on the tongue. This film, which can go from clear to thick and white, yellow, or even greenish, can also speak volumes about our health. What’s the first thing a doctor, eastern or western, usually asks to see? Exactly.
But when I told Durga, my ayurvedic consultant that I didn’t need to scrape because I brushed my tongue with a toothbrush, she shuddered, explaining that the using the same tool to clean the tongue and teeth was ill advised.
In Ayurveda, the rituals of self maintenance are very clear: there are specific ways to clean the ears, the eyes, the tongue, the nose, and all the pathways, to maintain the body’s balance. And for the tongue, it’s a scraper.
This is the one that I use, though some folks just opt for a spoon, or the plastic ones you can get at the drugstore. If you are going to try tongue scraping, follow the instructions, and by all means, be very gentle with your tongue—the last thing you want to do is hurt the thing.
Onto the benefits…
1. Better breath. While there isn’t a ton of research on tongue scrapers, clinical studies have shown that removing the bacteria, dead cells, food etc from the tongue does significantly help with bad breath. Most professionals suggest brushing the tongue to remove this stuff, the tongue scraper is just a more sophisticated tool for the same purpose.
2. Ayurveda says it removes ama. And ama is the toxic byproduct of improperly digested food. It is believed to lodge itself in the body creating blockages, but often it shows up on the tongue first. So in order to properly digest one’s next meal, you need to remove this so-called sludge from your tongue. Because then, among other things…
3. You’ll taste flavors more effectively. This is one of the most critical points for Ayurveda. Proper digestion begins with proper taste and salivation. It is believed the more you taste, the more consciously you will eat: You will appreciate the food, digest it better, hear your body when it’s full, and so on. It’s one of those simple ayurvedic prescriptions that just makes sense. Take the time, and have a clean tongue, to taste and appreciate your food.
4. It’s good for your teeth. Like tongue brushing, because tongue scraping gets rid of nasty stuff in the mouth, it’s also believed to help with general tooth and gum hygiene and health.
5. Your tongue is a diagnostic tool—so get to know it. Just like your skin, looking at your tongue can tell you a lot about your health. So a daily practice of consciously cleaning it—and not to get gross, but actually seeing what comes off of it as opposed to mindlessly brushing without really looking—puts you in direct contact with this diagnostic organ. For me, this is kind of the most important point. If you see significant change from one day to the other, you may discover which foods don’t agree with you, or maybe you can just catch an imbalance before it gets too out of wack.
How much do you think about tongue health? Is cleaning it part of your daily routine?