Tongue Scraping

An Ancient Ayurvedic Practice for 
Improved Health 

We are taught from a young age onward the importance of brushing our teeth to maintain good oral hygiene. Scraping the tongue however, is a practice not as well adhered to in western cultures, although with the surge of yoga, Ayurveda, and other Eastern traditions entering into the West, tongue scraping is becoming well known.

Tongue scraping , an ancient Ayurvedic practice, not only benefits oral hygiene, but positively affects digestion and the health of some internal organs. According to Ayurveda, different areas of the tongue are correlated with different organs of the body. The center front of the tongue is associated with the neck, chest, and heart, the right front with the right lung, and left front with the left lung. The mid-center of the tongue relates to the stomach and pancreas, the left center the spleen, and right center the liver. The back of the tongue is connected to the intestines and colon (center); and the left and right kidney (left and right respectively). Ayurvedic practitioners utilize tongue diagnosis as part of the health check up. By noting coating, bumps, cracks, or discoloration in a certain part of the tongue, an Ayurvedic practitioner can understand aspects of the health of correlating organs. A coating on the center of the tongue for example, could indicate accumulation of toxins in the stomach. By scraping the tongue, we stimulate areas of the tongue which gently massage and stimulate the corresponding organs.

Ayurvedic philosophy considers digestion to be an essential aspect of good health. Properly digested and assimilated food gives our bodies and tissues the energy needed for optimal functioning. Improperly digested food can turn toxic, and an overflow of toxins in the body can produce negative symptoms such as bad breath, mental confusion, weakness, lethargy, bloating, body aches, and constipation. Scraping the tongue removes coating that blocks and covers the taste buds which are needed for healthy digestion. When the taste buds are covered, we cannot properly taste the foods we eat, and the brain may send the wrong signal to the digestive system about what we are eating.

You might notice the heaviest coating on your tongue in the morning. While you sleep, your digestive system works to detoxify itself. Some of the toxins released end up on the surface of the tongue, which you see as a coating. Scraping helps prevent these toxins from being reabsorbed in the body. This is important, because some digestive and respiratory problems can be caused by reabsorption of these toxins. On a side note, it is best not to eat a heavy meal right before bed, because doing so interferes with the nightly detoxification and resting processes of the digestive system.

Additional benefits of tongue scraping include reducing bad breath, and increasing awareness of one’s state of health. If you scrape your tongue every day, you will get familiar with your tongue’s “norm” and may be able to notice any changes that may indicate a health warning or imbalance (such as red bumps, heavy coating, cracks, etc).

The daily morning routine is an essential aspect of living an Ayurvedic lifestyle, prompting one to begin the day with a focus on health and wellness. Using a tongue scraper as a part of the morning routine is an easy way to help you maintain good health and strong digestion.

To scrape your tongue, do it before breakfast, before brushing teeth, on an empty stomach, in the morning. Hold the two ends of the tongue scraper (stainless steel is recommended) in both hands. Stick out the tongue and place the tongue scraper towards the back of the tongue. Gently pull the scraper forward so that it removes the unwanted coating. Rinse the tongue scraper and repeat about 7-10 times. Scrape gently so that you don’t accidentally damage the underlying tissue by scraping too harshly. Do not use a toothbrush to scrape your tongue as that will push bacteria and toxins back into the tongue, which would defeat the purpose.

In sum, daily tongue scraping is very simple, quick, and affordable. Many tongue scrapers cost under $10.00. Search the internet for Ayurvedic stainless steel tongue scraper. Tongue scraping can, over time, help improve digestion, oral hygiene, reduce toxins in the body, and help you increase in overall good health.

Sara is a certified Ayurvedic Educator through California College of Ayurveda and a certified yoga teacher for adults and children. She likes to meditate, sing devotional music, and spend time in nature.


  • Reply December 11, 2012

    amala gaura das

    When I took an ayurveda class in Vrindavan from a Dr Liladhar Gupta (highly recommended). BTW, he has a nice name for his ayurveda clinic, Iskcon inspired 😉

    He did not recommend tongue scrapers, he recommended a tongue massage with ones fingers. He recommended drinking water as soon as one wakes up and then the routine. Maybe it is not for beginners, but it is really nice.

    • Reply December 11, 2012

      Sara Bock

      Yes drinking warm water first thing in the morning is recommended.
      As for tongue scraping versus massage, I suppose different practitioners recommend different techniques, but the common idea is to remove excess ama from the tongue, and to stimulate the organs correlating with different areas of the tongue. Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply December 12, 2012

      Alec Heumann

      Well if you drink hot water as soon as you wake up, before using a tongue scraper, wouldn’t that result in all the toxins on the tongue going back into the body?

      • Reply December 13, 2012

        amala gaura das

        Yes I think someone asked that question to Dr. Gupta. The idea behind the tongue scraping/massage, is that you have to coax the toxins out. Just washing your mouth doesn’t get rid of the toxins. He even said to not wash your mouth out, but to just drink the water, it was beneficial to do that.

        He had a whole regimin which was very nice. After drinking the water, then evacuating (first level of toxins gone), then filling the mouth with water (completely full, with cheeks full of water too), rinsing the eyes while holding that water in your mouth, this forces a lot of mucus out. After doing that a few times, you proceed to the tongue massage with your fingers and you may vomit out the water you drank a few minutes ago.

        So it’s a very nice regimin that really clears out your system in the morning. Probably a lot of people with allergies would benefit from the clearing of the nasal passages. It’s a little involved though.

      • Reply December 16, 2012

        Sara Bock

        Hmmm.. interesting point. I have seen the morning routine written both ways – drink first, tongue scrape later, and vice versa. I can ask my Dr. next time I see her if it makes a huge difference either way. The drinking of hot or warm water loosens toxins in the digestive system, thus helping to eliminate toxins when you go to evacuate the bowels. So even if some toxins did get pushed back in, they would still be eliminated… but let me ask the experts for a solid answer.

    • Reply December 18, 2012

      Narahari Dev das

      In India we scrape the tongue as part of our daily routine of brushing our teeth. It is not so common in West. I’ve done it all my life. When I am sick I notice that the amount of deposits on my tongue is thick and I have to scrape it a few time to keep it clean.

      If you have to drink water immediately upon waking up you must drink in such a way that the water falls on your teeth (the top jaw only) and not directly on your tongue or into your throat. What Sara say’s is right, different practitioners prescribe different methods.

      I’ve tried both ways and I personally felt that drinking atleast 1-2 litres of water after brushing/scraping is more healthy.

  • Reply March 6, 2013

    Premila Citkara

    very informative! thank you

    • Reply March 6, 2013

      Sara Bock

      Thank you

Leave a Reply