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June 13, 2008

Cleaning the tongue

The mouth is the most important of all the gateways to the body, and should be the first part of your body you tend to every morning. Whilst in Australia we usually brush our teeth after breakfast, Ayurveda encourages us to clean our mouths before eating. This allows our body to taste food properly, without being clouded by ama (toxins, undigested food).

But more important in liberating the taste buds is cleansing the tongue. This is the organ of taste, and one of the indicaters of the state of our digestion. The gunk on your tongue comes from the inside, deep within the digestive system. The colour, thickness and location of this coating can tell a trained eye a lot about what you've been eating, and more importantly, what you've been digesting.

Scraping this gunk off your tongue from the outside helps clear the channels in order to evacuate more ama, and even helps us breathe more deeply and fully. It also helps prevent smelly breath. A clean tongue can really taste food so your body can tell what to eat, what not to eat, and when you've eaten enough. It is so simple and so effective that we should all be cleaning our tongues every day. Once you start you won't believe you ever felt clean without a clean tongue.

This is another example of how we are finally catching up with Ayurveda, as these days we are able to buy toothbrushes with grooves on the back for scraping the tongue. This is good because it makes it easy to remember to clean the tongue every time we brush our teeth. But traditionally wealthy Kapha and Vata used gold or copper toungue cleaners and Pitta used silver. Stainless steel or bamboo are a more affordable option and can be used by any dosha. You can even use a stainless steel spoon if you just want to try it out.

Upon waking, immediately after brushing the teeth scrape your tongue from back to front four or five times, rinsing and spitting. Don't swallow. Rinse your mouth with cool water.

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