The Benefits of Tongue Scraping

By Sheila Patel, M.D.

The ancient Ayurvedic recommendation of tongue scraping is one that is often overlooked. There are many benefits to this daily practice as far as oral health, and overall physical, mental, and spiritual health. Since the oral cavity is one of the main gateways between your mind/body and the environment, maintaining the health of this connection is critical to general well-being.



This simple practice is a direct way of removing Ama from your physiology. In Ayurveda, Ama refers to any accumulation of toxic residue in the mind-body. This can result from improper eating, poor digestion, or a reflection of an imbalance somewhere in the gastrointestinal system.


In addition, from an Ayurvedic perspective, by removing this coating you improve your ability to taste your food, which makes it more satisfying. By increasing your taste reception, not only do you eat less, you also eliminate the need to add more sugar, salt, or excessive spice to the food to make it more flavorful. Many of the beneficial phytonutrients and “body signals” that your food contains are first interpreted by the mind-body upon contact with receptors on the tongue. You want to improve this communication between your food and your body by removing any coating that is interfering with that connection. Also, many herbs have their beneficial effects from the initial contact with receptors on the tongue. Hence, you need a clear tongue to receive this healthy information.



How to Scrape Your Tongue

The tongue should be gently scraped from back to front for 7 to 14 strokes. The scraper may be rinsed off between strokes if there is a lot of accumulation. Some people report stimulation of the gag reflex during scraping, which may indicate that the scraping is too aggressive. If this occurs with gentle scraping, begin slightly more forward on the tongue to avoid the gagging reflex.




A Daily Practice

From an Ayurvedic perspective, tongue scraping should be performed on a daily basis. This ancient practice helps to stimulate the internal organs through energetic connections with the rest of the body, improve digestion by increasing your sense of taste, and cleanse the body by removing Ama and bacteria from your oral cavity. In addition, it increases clarity of the mind by reducing heaviness and Ama from the head. When your physical and emotional bodies are balanced, it allows you to expand your spiritual awakening as well.


What Kind of Tongue Scraper to Use

The Charaka Samhita states that “tongue scrapers should be made of gold, silver, copper, tin and brass and should be non-sharp and curved, so as not to injure the tongue”. Stainless steel scrapers, which are now widely available and resist corrosion, are effective as well.



By The Chopra Center

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