Published on Feb 18, 2022 By Lisa Codina
In Ayurvedic tradition, tongue scraping, or “Jihwa Prakshalana” is a daily self-care practice that provides an effective way to monitor overall health. A tongue scraper is a U-shaped, long, thin, flat piece of metal or plastic that helps remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue and is traditionally practised in the morning to remove any debris formed overnight.
According to Ayurveda, there is a direct connection between the tongue and the state of your gut health, and any undigested metabolic waste that accumulates in the body can cause long-term disruptions in the immune system. This metabolic waste, known as Ama, is a sticky, heavy substance that accumulates in the gastrointestinal tract. From there, it spreads to cells and tissues, vital organs, and even subtle energetic channels in the body which can disrupt the mind-body connection.
Thankfully, it is relatively easy to remove Ama from the digestive tract when it is just getting formed. It is important to recognize the causes of Ama (irregular eating habits, disrupted sleep, unhealthy eating) and to also the monitor physical signs. One such way is noticing the colour and texture of your tongue. If you see a thick, white coating on the back of the tongue, that is Ama.
Take a look at your tongue! Do you see a thick, white coating? If so, this might be a good time to introduce this ancient practice into your daily morning routine!
While we sleep, bacteria gathers in the mouth and builds up at the back of the tongue. Tongue scraping removes this bacteria, which is responsible for bad breath and tooth decay. You can brush your tongue with a toothbrush however, a tongue scraper is a more effective way to remove Ama, thanks to its unique U-shape which helps gather and remove the coating more efficiently.
Toxins and debris build up on your tongue over time and block the taste buds. Since active taste buds are important for healthy digestion, tongue scraping ensures that the surface of the tongue is clean so that the taste buds can function better. From an Ayurvedic perspective, removing this coating can help improve your ability to taste your food, which makes it more satisfying!
Using a tongue scraper on a daily basis helps you keep track of imbalances in the body. The tongue is directly related to many vital organs, such as the stomach, liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs, and when we gently scrape the tongue we remove toxins from the surface and simultaneously stimulate and cleanse the associated organs.
According to Ayurvedic, proper digestion is considered to be the foundation of health, and digestion starts in the mouth. When the taste buds are blocked due to the accumulated Ama the digestion process becomes compromised, since the buildup hinders the receptors on the tongue that convey to the brain to activate the enzymes required for digestion. Tongue scraping is an ancient practice of removing toxic buildup on the tongue which helps kick-start digestion.
Gradual building up of metabolic toxins can weaken the immune system over time. The tongue is the first line of defence in the body, so keeping it clean and healthy is an effective way to improve the immune system functions. By removing toxins and bacteria from the oral cavity, we can help cleanse the body by preventing these toxins from reaching our tissues, digestion system, and organs.
Tongue scrapers are inexpensive and come in many shapes, sizes, and materials. Since ancient times, scrapers made from copper, silver, or gold have been used for their antibacterial properties. Copper is the most used in Ayurvedic tradition. Tongue scrapers can be found at most health food stores as well as online.