Excerpt from The Tampa Tribune
By | November 09, 2011
The concept of tongue diagnosis is thousands of years old. Traditional Chinese medicine and ayurvedic medicine from India still use tools such as the tongue and human pulse in diagnosing patients. About 80 percent of people living in India today incorporate ayurvedic medicine into their regular health care.
"The tongue doesn't necessarily tell us what disease the body is dealing with. It tells us about the underlying conditions of the body," says Will Morris, an oriental medicine doctor, acupuncturist and expert in the ancient practice of tongue diagnosis.
Tongue diagnosis involves looking at the muscle like a grid, and dividing the tongue into thirds. The area closest to the throat offers clues about the kidneys and pancreas. The tip addresses the heart. And the middle portion focuses on lung and respiratory issues.
In the United States, tongue diagnosis is embraced mostly within the natural health communities, where herbs and plants are key to a person's health care. About 17 percent of Americans employ natural products such as herbs as therapy, says the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.
Ancient medical concepts clearly are making inroads with mainstream America. Popular TV doc Dr. Mehmet Oz recently dedicated a show to ancient Chinese cures as simpler, accessible and more affordable treatments to consider.
Even established traditional medicine programs, such as The Mayo Clinic, include complementary and alternative medicine as part of its patient care.
An estimated 10,000 doctors practice traditional Chinese medicine in the United States, and treat more than 1 million patients a year, according to a 2007 national survey of complementary and alternative medicine. Ayurvedic medicine is used annually by more than 200,000 adults.
Also, acupuncture, one of the most popular forms of Chinese medicine, is used by about 3.1 million adults in the United States each year.
Morris, president of the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas, says that western medical care gets caught up in all the advancements in medical technology and drug treatments. As a result, ancient subjective diagnosis has been devalued.
"Conventional medicine does look at the tongue, but the meaning of it has been divested over time," he says.