Waking up with a fuzzy tongue even without a night of libations likely signals the need for a tongue cleaner. This woolly coating is courtesy of the bacteria, fungi, food debris and dead cells that can get trapped by the tongue's spongy tissue. Lovely, huh? And it gets worse as we age due to accumulation and improper care. So even if you’re not feeling so fuzzy, it’s a good idea to get rid of any clandestine shag.
Unquestionably, the mouth is a doorway into the body - for food, drink, and deep cleansing inhales, but also for airborne environmental pollutants. Not only is the tongue’s coating incriminated in most cases of halitosis (bad breath) but it is also a contributing factor in oral health conditions, and even general health issues. Toxins are deposited onto the tongue while we sleep as part of the body’s regular nightly cleaning process. At night, all those microbes have a party and deposit their evidence of a good time on the surface of the tongue. Scraping first thing in the morning will remove these toxins so that they are not reabsorbed during the day.
Tongue coating ranges in color from whitish to brownish, even greenish, and according to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of medicine, its location indicates specific areas of congestion elsewhere in the body. The tongue is a mirror for the rest of the body, similar to the way reflexology maps bodily organs onto the feet. Tongue cleaning has been advised since ancient times in Russia and India and has long been a part of daily care in Ayurveda.
The best time to clean the tongue is first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, before brushing, and not with your toothbrush. Tongue scrapers are ergonomically designed in the shape of the tongue and can be made of metal or plastic - the metal ones are stronger and will last for years, all for well under $10 - and won’t cause the gagging that some find when using plastic. Begin by reaching the scraper as far back as possible on the tongue without stimulating the gag reflex. Bring it forward slowly, scraping the surface to the tongue’s tip then fling the debris into the sink. Rinse the scraper well after each swipe and continue all over the tongue until no residue remains. Then brush your teeth as usual.
When you do it the first time, you will see why you want to keep this gunk away from your toothbrush. This is one of those practices that once begun, you will not know how you lived without it. After just a few days you may even notice that food tastes better. Scrape away the fuzz and your tongue will feel as clean as a baby's, well, tongue.
Laura Freundlich holds a Master’s in Holistic Health Education, is a nutrition educator, a natural foods chef, a yoga teacher and a Young Living Essential Oils health advisor. To learn how to integrate nutrition, yoga, mindfulness practices or essential oils into your life for greater health and vibrancy, contact Laura at Laura@HolisticNut.com.