Health Benefits of Tongue Scraping

Tongue scraping is the simple act of gently scraping the top layer of coating off your tongue with a U-shaped instrument. It is an ancient Ayurvedic practice used to enhance general well-being and rid the mouth of excess toxins. Done properly, tongue scraping doesn’t hurt, it is quick, cheap and beneficial for your health. Plus, it is immensely satisfying – at least for me anyway!

5 reasons to try tongue scraping

1. It gets rid of excessive bacteria in your mouth

The oral microbiome consists of thousands of microbes and bacteria that normally live in harmony together. However, sometimes the bacteria that live in your mouth can become out of balance, perhaps due to illness, diet, lifestyle or inadequate oral hygiene.

This imbalance can be observed in the colour, coating and shape of your tongue (my acupuncture therapist always looks at my tongue before each treatment as she says it is an indicator of health).

Tongue scraping can remove particles of food and drink that may have been missed by your toothbrushing, plus any bacteria that are starting to overgrow. Thereby maintaining a balanced oral microbiome and preventing imbalance and illness.

2. It reduces bad breath

Tongue scraping definitely makes a difference to that yucky morning-after taste you get after eating a meal with strong flavours like garlic and onion. Studies have shown that tongue scraping does a better job than toothbrushing for freshening the breath. You could brush your tongue with your toothbrush but that doesn’t help much, it just spreads the residue around the mouth. So doing both is really going to help.

3. It improves your sense of taste

This, I only just learnt in researching this blog, but how amazing is that! According to Ayurveda, removing the excess top coating of your tongue allows you to taste your food better. When you taste everything in full flavour, the food is more satisfying and you therefore crave less strong flavourings such as sugar and salt. This makes tongue scraping a good option for anyone wanting to cut back on unhealthy snacks and sugary foods.

healthy rainbow vegetables

4. It supports your overall health

This one comes back to removing the excess bacteria, food particles and generally maintaining good oral hygiene. The mouth is the entrance to the respiratory tract and the digestive system. If your oral microbiome is out of balance this can contribute to ill health elsewhere, as well as tooth decay and gum disease.

Think about it – how often does your cold or flu start off with a sore throat? I know that whenever I get a cold it always begins with a sore throat.

Since starting tongue scraping and all my other natural health rituals I haven’t had a full cold. That is over 2 years now, despite everyone else in my household having the flu twice recently.

As soon as I feel the start of a sore throat, I really up my game with tongue scraping, as well as gargling salt water, drinking herbal teas, topping up my vitamins and supplements and resting up. This seems to be doing the trick for me so far! And I used to be the person that was ill all the time – every Christmas, holiday and several colds each season.

5. It is super satisfying to see all the gunk you get off!

OK, that’s not really a proper reason, but I love it. When I see that white, cream or even yellowish gunk come off my tongue I really feel a sense of achievement, lol. Especially if I do it first thing in the morning. It’s like I’ve had a little win before I even start the day. Tongue scraping allows me to be smug in the knowledge that I’ve already done something good for my health.

Choosing a tongue scraper

There are lots of different tongue scrapers available at a low cost, so this isn’t one of those health tips that costs a fortune.

I chose a simple copper tongue scraper, which cost around £5 online.

copper tongue scraper

I chose a copper tongue scraper for three reasons:

  1. I didn’t want one with any plastic on or fancy bits. There’s enough plastic in the world and it really turns me off. I just wanted something simple and elegant.
  2. Copper is naturally anti-microbial and anti-bacterial – bonus.
  3. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend copper tongue scrapers as this is the traditional metal that they have been made out of for thousands of years.

How to tongue scrape

It’s a pretty simple process once you get the hang of it, but here we go:

  1. Open your mouth and stick your tongue out
  2. Take your clean tongue scraper and place the rounded end at the back of your tongue so that it is lying flat on its edge
  3. Gently pull the scraper out of your mouth in short sweeps
  4. Always scrape outwards, towards the tip of your tongue
  5. Spit out the excess gunk and rinse your scraper
  6. Repeat several times
  7. Rinse your mouth out and gargle
  8. Clean your tongue scraper.

Note!

Gagging

The first few times I tried this I nearly gave up as I was gagging so much. Don’t give up! It gets easier.

If you experience gagging, try just scraping the tip of your tongue, then gradually work your way towards the middle and back of the tongue when you get used to it after a few days or weeks.

I also find that after tongue scraping I have a few minutes where phlegm and mucus naturally come up and I need to spit them out. Not very pleasant sounding for the rest of the household but it is obviously stuff that needs getting rid of. In Ayurveda, there is a focus on removing waste products from the body and detoxifying to maintain balance and good health; tongue scraping is a simple and effective part of this.

Be gentle

Don’t press down too hard with your scraper as you could cut your tongue or damage your taste buds. Just go slow and steady and you’ll soon get the idea. You won’t get all the white coating off your tongue, just remove the excess.

Professional support

If you are concerned about your tongue – the colour, texture, film, coating, sores etc. – seek professional help. You could talk to your dentist, acupuncturist or perhaps your pharmacist.

My approach when seeking professional help is to get a diagnosis and advice from the professional, then to research the ailment fully myself. I often find there are natural ways to cure common ailments rather than jumping in and immediately taking the medical or drug route. Sometimes it is an imbalance that will heal itself with some rest, healthy eating and lots of water.


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