Does Tongue Scraping Really Work?

a woman looks into a mirror above a sink whilst she scrapes her tongue with an Ayurvedic copper tongue scraper

What is tongue scraping?

Tongue scraping, or jihwa prakshalana, is an oral health practice that has been used in Ayurvedic treatment methodologies for thousands of years and is now being recommended by dentists worldwide. There is a multitude of advantages to incorporating this simple practice into your daily hygiene routine.

What are the specific benefits?

  • Like brushing your teeth or flossing, tongue scraping is an essential part of regular oral hygiene

  • Scraping removes dead tongue cells, bacteria, and associated toxins

  • Improves bad breath and the appearance of your tongue

  • Maximises the taste of your food, which leads to less over-eating and more satisfaction at the end of each meal

  • Using a tongue cleaner designed for the purpose removes 30% more bacterial build-up than brushing your tongue

What is the holistic function?

As we recognise here at Naledi Wellness, changes to one part of the bodily system can affect the whole. The tongue in particular is an organ that readily displays systemic imbalances, and is used by many health practitioners, especially those that specialise in naturopathic healing, as a diagnostic tool.

a map of the tongue showing which parts correspond to various bodily organs

Parts of the tongue correlate to various internal organs, including the lungs, stomach, heart, liver, kidneys, and intestines. Regular use of a tongue scraper not only cleanses the tongue of toxins, but the effect of applying gentle pressure on the tongue also acts as a massage to the internal organs by proxy. For example, the back part of the tongue is associated with the colon in Ayurveda, so gently and carefully stimulating it can promote peristalsis; incredibly helpful if you’re suffering from constipation.

Tongue scraping as self-care

Scraping your tongue each morning also allows you to take stock of your body’s reaction to whatever you ate or drank the previous day. Notice the colour or thickness of the coating on your tongue and how it correlates to the kinds of foods you’ve ingested. You can then learn how your individual body deals with different types of nutrition so that you can optimise your diet to best suit your needs.

How do you use a tongue scraper?

  • Scrape your tongue in the morning, before drinking or eating anything

  • Use a copper tongue scraper because it’s long-lasting and naturally antimicrobial

  • Stick your tongue out of your mouth and gently pull the scraper from the back of your tongue to the tip, rinsing it after each pass.

  • Repeat up to ten times and then rinse your mouth out

  • Follow with your normal oral hygiene routine

  • Remember not to apply too much pressure or reach too far back into your mouth so that you don’t trigger the gag reflex

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