Chinese Medicine: Your Tongue Is a Map of Your Organs

May 6, 2015 Updated: June 2, 2015

In my book ‘Adventures in Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture, Herbs and Ancient Ideas For Today’ I wrote about the unique use of tongue diagnosis in Chinese Medicine.

Here is a short excerpt describing one of the many aspects your practioner looks at when they are examining your tongue.

In Chinese medicine, the tongue provides a map of the organs. As you can see on the diagram above, different parts of the tongue correlate to different organs.

Liver and Gallbladder are represented by the sides of the tongue so, if the tongue is red in that particular area, it represents heat in the Liver and Gallbladder.

Therefore, pathological changes in a certain portion of your tongue can indicate pathological changes in the corresponding organ. However, the TCM view of organs is not identical to the Western view and you might misunderstand the meaning of the changes unless you are trained in tongue diagnosis.

For example, in TCM, the tip of the tongue represents the heart in an emotional sense. Practically, this means that when your tongue has a very red tip (heart in the emotional sense) it’s quite likely to be your Shen (spirit/emotions) that is disturbed.

Your tongue is pretty amazing when you think about the vast amount of information it offers. I hope you now have a greater appreciation of how important your tongue is 
and how valuable a tool it can be in uncovering what imbalances exist, both physically and emotionally.

Jennifer Dubowsky, LAc, is a licensed acupuncturist with a practice in downtown Chicago, Illinois, since 2002. Dubowsky earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology from University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science degree in Oriental Medicine from Southwest Acupuncture College in Boulder, Colorado. During her studies, she completed an internship at the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, China. Dubowsky has researched and written articles on Chinese medicine and has given talks on the topic. She maintains a popular blog about health and Chinese medicine at Acupuncture Blog Chicago. Adventures in Chinese Medicine is her first book. You can find her at