How tongue scraping helps to detox
The ancient science of Ayurvedic medicine recommends tongue scraping as a daily practice. There are many benefits as far as oral health, and overall physical, mental, and spiritual health. Since the oral cavity is one of the main gateways between your mind/body and the environment, maintaining the health of this connection is critical to general well-being.
By removing the coating and stimulating the tongue this helps to balance the heavy and dulling qualities of Kapha dosha in your physiology.
Scraping the tongue daily removes any build-up on the tongue, which, if left untreated, can lead to bad breath and may house a significant number of bacteria. This simple practice is a direct way of removing Ama from your physiology. In Ayurveda, Ama refers to any accumulation of toxic residue in the mind-body. This can result from improper eating, poor digestion, or a reflection of an imbalance somewhere in the gastrointestinal system.
In addition, from an Ayurvedic perspective, by removing the coating it increases your taste reception, not only do you eat less, you also eliminate the need to add more sugar, salt, or excessive spice to the food to make it more flavourful. Many of the beneficial phytonutrients and “body signals” that food contains are first interpreted by the mind-body upon contact with receptors on the tongue. You want to improve this communication between your food and your body by removing any coating that is interfering with that connection. Also, many Ayurvedic herbs have their beneficial effects from the initial contact with receptors on the tongue. Hence, you need a clear tongue to receive this healthy information.
Western medicine is also beginning to acknowledge coating on the tongue as a sign of poor health. According to the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology (AAOMP), a coated or hairy tongue is a sign of imbalance of keratin on the tongue. Under normal circumstances, the amount of keratin produced, and the amount that is “knocked off” by eating, is balanced. When the diet is too soft or the oral cavity is irritated in some way keratin can accumulate. When bacteria grow on this layer of keratin, it can lead to discolouration of the coating, which many people notice.
It’s easy to see how a healthy diet that consists of plant roughage and fiber, and where food is not overcooked or too soft, will help maintain this balance. It’s therefore important to get healthy “textured” food in your diet, such as fiber from fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, as well as nuts and seeds. While the AAOMP does recommend tongue scraping to address this issue, they also regard the coating as “harmless.” However, when you incorporate an Ayurvedic view of health into this picture, you have an increased awareness of how this coating can ultimately affect many aspects of your physical and emotional well-being.
A Daily Practice of tongue scraping
From an Ayurvedic perspective, tongue scraping should be performed on a daily basis. This ancient practice helps to stimulate the internal organs through energetic connections with the rest of the body, improve digestion by increasing your sense of taste, and cleanse the body by removing Ama and bacteria from your oral cavity. In addition, it increases clarity of the mind by reducing heaviness and Ama from the head. When your physical and emotional bodies are balanced, it allows you to expand your spiritual awakening as well.
The tongue is the mirror to all the organs of the body, and thus, a daily look at the tongue prior to scraping gives you a clue to your general health. In Ayurveda, a good tongue examination is a useful way of evaluating the health of the entire body. When you examine your tongue, it’s an opportunity for self-awareness, where you can reflect on the choices of the last several days, months, or years and see how those choices have affected your health. If a thick coating is noted, you are accumulating toxicity. By noting this, it gives you the opportunity to become more self-aware and make new, healthier choices.
How to use the tongue scraper:
- Ideally, a tongue scraper is used every day, upon rising, and on an empty stomach.
- Hold the two ends of the tongue scraper in both hands.
- Extend the tongue and place the tongue scraper on the surface of the tongue, as far back as is comfortable.
- Gently pull the tongue scraper forward so that it removes the unwanted coating.
- Rinse the tongue scraper and repeat as necessary, usually 7–14 times.
A note on cleaning your tongue cleaner: Copper is naturally antimicrobial. Rinsing your tongue scraper in hot water will sufficient to keep it clean.
Traditionally, according to one of the classical Ayurvedic texts, the Charaka Samhita, tongue scrapers should be made of gold, silver, copper, tin, or brass.
When certain bacteria on the tongue and in the oral cavity break down certain proteins in the mouth, volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs) are released that result in bad breath. Studies have confirmed the benefits of tongue scraping as an effective way to reduce volatile sulfur compounds. In fact, tongue scraping greatly outperforms tooth brushing to accomplish this.
Why Copper for tongue scrapers?
While a gold or silver tongue scraper would be amazing, new research on the health benefits of copper make a copper tongue scraper hard to beat. Copper has been used for centuries as a bacteria-resistant metal, and new studies are confirming these ancient practices.
Copper may be the best metal to be used for tongue scraping because the mouth is loaded with both good and not-so-good bacteria. Copper not only seems to be toxic to the bad bacteria, it also provides important enzymes that are needed for the healthy microbes in the mouth to survive. In one study, the antiseptic benefits of copper were so great that, when copper was put in hospital rooms as furnishings, the bacteria count on all of the surfaces in the rooms was significantly reduced. Some hospitals are now incorporating copper furnishings as part of their anti-bacterial strategies.