For over 5,000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has claimed to be able to predict the state of your inner health (or ‘zheng’) simply by looking at your tongue.
The traditional method bases its results on the flow and balance of positive and negative energies in the body.
However, in the modern world (and with technology on our side) gadget geeks have come up with a contemporary way to check our health using the power of the tongue… by creating a smartphone app that does it all for us.
Combining ancient practices with modern medicine and advanced mobile technology researchers from the University of Missouri are developing computer software that enables users to take a snap of their tongue and have it analysed for any health issues.
“Knowing your zheng classification can serve as a pre-screening tool and help with preventive medicine,” said Dong Xu, the co-author of the latest study, reports Medical Daily.
What is your tongue trying to tell you about your health? Scroll down to find out...
The phone app aims to analyse the tongue’s colour, where it gets placed into a ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ category, which then pinpoints any possible underlying health conditions.
“Hot and cold zheng doesn’t refer directly to body temperature. Rather, it refers to a suite of symptoms associated with the state of the body as a whole," adds Xu.
So far, researchers have tested the app on 263 gastritis patients and 48 healthy people.
"As we continue to work on the software we hope to improve its ability. Eventually everyone will be able to use this tool at home using webcams or smartphone applications. That will allow them to monitor their zheng and get an early warning about possible ailments," adds co-author of the study, Ye Duan.
Worried about the state of your tongue? Discover what your tongue could reveal about your health...
What could it mean? If your tongue looks like a creamy colour and pale, research suggests this could be down to lack of iron in your diet. Inadequate amounts of haemoglobin the blood (the iron-containing proteins found in red blood cells), causes the tongue to appear pale and lifeless.
What could it mean? If you have tiny, red raised spots on your tongue (usually found on the tip of your tongue) or a rash-like patch across the front of your tongue, experts claim this indicates a lack of vitamin C in your diet.
What could it mean? If your tongue is more of a bright to deep purple colour, than a pinkish red, experts believe this could be a sign of high cholesterol. The colour could be down to a lack of blood supply, poor circulation or too much sugar in the body.
What could it mean? Although a thin, white coating on the tongue is perfectly normal, research has discovered that a heavy white layer over the tongue could be signs of oral thrush - a fungal infection which occurs mainly in warm, moist areas of the body.
What could it mean? A dry tongue could be a symptom of swollen salivary glands. These produce saliva, so if you're lacking any moisture in your mouth, expert believe that this could be why.
What the shape of your tongue could mean, according to the experts: Swollen If your tongue is puffy, this could be the sign of a spleen deficiency. Always consult your GP. Thin A thin tongue could signal blood and body fluid deficiencies. Contact your GP if in doubt. Sides curled up If the side of your tongue curls up at the ends and have teeth marks in them, this could signal problems with the liver. Contact your GP if you're worried about this. Cracks Slight (and sometimes painful) cracks on the side of your tongue can be signs of dehydration, excess heat.