Tongue Diagnosis


Tongue body color 舌色

Pale tongue 淡白舌

a tongue less red than normal, indicating qi and blood deficiency or presence of deficiency-cold

Pale red tongue 淡紅舌

a tongue of normal color

Red tongue 紅舌

a tongue redder than normal, indicating presence of heat

Blue tongue 靑舌

a tongue of bluish color, indicating congealing cold and static blood

Purple tongue 紫舌

a tongue purple in color, indicating stagnant circulation of qi and blood

Bluish purple tongue 靑紫舌

a cyanotic tongue, indicating blood stasis or heat toxin in the nutrient-blood

Crimson tongue 絳舌

a tongue deep red in color, indicating intense heat


Form of the tongue 舌形

Enlarged tongue 胖大舌

a tongue that is larger than normal, pale in color and delicate, usually bearing dental indentations on the margin

Swollen tongue 腫脹舌

a large and bulging tongue that makes the mouth full or difficult to open

Thin tongue 瘦薄舌

a tongue thinner than normal

Spotted tongue 點刺舌

a tongue with red, white or black spots as well as thorn-like protrusions on its surface

Prickly tongue 芒刺舌

a tongue with thorn-like protrusions on its surface

Teeth-marked tongue 齒痕舌

a tongue with dental indentations on its margin

Fissured tongue 裂紋舌

a tongue with fissures on its surface

Sublingual collateral vessels 舌下絡脈

the vein under the tongue on either side of the frenulum


Tongue fur 舌苔, Fur color 苔色, Texture of fur 苔質

white fur 白苔

tongue coating white in color

White sandy fur 白砂苔

white dry and thick tongue coating like a layer of sand

Yellow fur 黃苔

Tongue coating yellow in color

Black fur 黑苔

tongue coating black in color, indicating either excessive cold or extreme heat in the interior

Gray fur 灰苔

tongue coating gray in color with similar clinical significance as black fur

Greenish fur 綠苔

tongue coating green in color

Thin fur 薄苔

a tongue coating through which the underlying tongue surface is faintly visible

thick fur 厚苔

a tongue coating through which the underlying tongue surface is not visible

rotten-curdy fur 霉醬苔

a reddish thick tongue coating with black and yellow tinge

Moist fur 潤苔

a moderately moistened tongue coating

Dry fur 燥苔

a tongue coating that looks dry and feels dry to the touch

Dry and cracked fur 燥裂苔

a tongue coating that lacks moisture and develops cracks

Slippery fur 滑苔

a moist tongue coating with excessive fluid, feels slippery

Slimy fur 膩苔

a dense, turbid, slimy tongue coating, sticking on the tongue, hard to wipe off, also known as greasy fur

Sticky slimy fur 粘膩苔

a dense, turbid, slimy tongue coating, covered with a layer of thick turbid mucus

Curdy fur 腐苔

a tongue coating consisting of coarse granules like bean dregs, easy to wipe off peeling fur

Peeled tongue 光剝舌

a tongue that has lost its normal coating, giving the appearance of having been peeled

Mirror tongue 鏡面舌

a completely smooth tongue free of coating, like a mirror

Geographical tongue 地圖舌

a tongue with irregular shedding of the coating and distinct demarcation between the shed and unshed areas, looking like a map

Terminologies and definitions used in this section are adopted from the WHO International Standard Terminologies on Traditional Medicine in the Western Pacific Region, 2009

Related Article: Tongue diagnosis: relationship between sublingual tongue morphology in three tongue protrusion angles and menstrual clinical symptoms. Journal of Integrative Medicine. 13(4):248-56, 2015 [Medline]