One of the core fundamental concepts of Ayurveda is that disease can be prevented or eradicated by changing daily habits via various methods, including self-care.
A common and popular self-care practice in Ayurveda is oil pulling—a detoxification technique that has a multitude of benefits including better oral health and reduction of issues like allergies, asthma, cavities, congestion, sinusitis, and more.
Another very easy self-care therapy you should add to your daily routine in addition to oil pulling is tongue scraping.
Tongue scraping not only improves oral health, it reduces the inflammatory load on your body by balancing your oral microbiome. The connection between oral health and organ health, such as heart health, is becoming increasingly clear. When you are looking only at your teeth and gum health, you’re missing an important aspect of oral health, which is a healthy tongue.
What Does Tongue Scraping Do?
The tongue can be the home of many unhealthy bacterial strains, and a thick coating on your tongue makes for a cozy home for them to replicate. Scraping off the coating of your tongue on a daily basis is just as important as brushing your teeth. In fact, when I first started doing tongue scraping, I couldn’t believe the difference I felt in my overall oral hygiene. Now, skipping scraping my tongue seems just as distasteful as not brushing my teeth.
In addition to removing the plaque from your tongue, the act of tongue scraping also plays an unexpected deeper role in overall health. Areas of the tongue correlate to different organs, similarly to how in foot reflexology, the sole of the foot corresponds to various organ systems.
In Ayurveda, it is understood that when you scrape the tongue, you are massaging those tongue reflex points that simultaneously and gently stimulate the corresponding organs to increase energy flow to the body.
How to Scrape Your Tongue
You could brush your tongue with your toothbrush, but research shoes that a tongue scraper is much more effective, reducing volatile sulfur compounds on the tongue by 75%, compared to just 45% with a toothbrush.
Most people have a light tongue coating, but take a look at the tongue of a small child or someone with strong digestion. There will be a little coating toward the back, but the tongue is very red or pink with no coating. As we age, we can have more built-up ama and this is reflected on the tongue.
All it takes to scrape your tongue is a tongue scraper and a few minutes. You can buy a tongue scraper at most pharmacies and discount stores, as well as at health food stores and online. Your tongue scraper should either be made of stainless steel or copper. Stick out your tongue and place the scraper as far back as you can comfortably. Using gentle pressure, scrape down to the tip of your tongue. Rinse the scraper and repeat until your tongue looks clear of coating.
Do this daily, after oil pulling and brushing your teeth. Most people are shocked by the amount of residue that comes off their tongue in the beginning. But as you clean your tongue on a more regular basis, it will have less of a coating over time.