What Your Tongue Color And Coating May Indicate

Ever rolled out your tongue to see what it really looks like? Sure, you’ll look funny doing this. But taking a close look at your tongue’s coating and color is what you need to do regularly as it may tell you something about your health. Herbal medicine aficionados and naturopaths have used the tongue to check for deep-rooted issues for the longest time. If you thought such practices were limited to alternative medicine, you couldn’t be more wrong. Most other medical professionals assess the tongue to check for signs and symptoms of various ailments and diseases too.

Here’s the lowdown on what different tongue colors and coating are likely to indicate and what you can do to manage such situations.

What Your Tongue Color Means

An underlying health issue is usually indicated by a bright red, pale white, purple, blue, black, white, or yellow tongue

The tongue is a versatile organ that helps you with communication and digestion. Its color is often used as a measure of your overall health and any change from its usual color could indicate an underlying problem.


you’re healthy, your tongue will be pink in color and have a light whitish coating on it. It will be of medium thickness and have no cracks, ulcers, or teeth marks. If you run your fingertips over its top surface, you will be able to feel tiny nodules (called papillae), which hold your taste buds. Roll out your tongue to see what color it is. If it has acquired any of these 6 colors, it may be time to see your doctor.

1. Bright Red

A bright red tongue may mean a lack of vital nutrients in your body – especially iron and B vitamins, which are essential for energy, cell growth, and proper functioning of your nervous system.1 A tongue with a bright red color could also indicate a disease or an infection. You may even have red dots on the tongue, which could be a sign of heat or inflammation.

id="2-pale-white">2. Pale White

A pale white tongue most likely indicates that your blood is deficient in hemoglobin. Found in red blood cells, this iron-containing protein delivers oxygen to your tissues. When your hemoglobin levels drop, you feel tired and lethargic. You may also have a pale white tongue if the spaces between the papillae on your tongue are filled with bacteria, dead cells, and debris. At times, a pale white tongue could even be a sign of oral thrush or a yeast infection.

3. Purple Or Blue

If you have a purple or bluish-colored tongue, it may indicate poor fluid and blood circulation in your body. The lack of proper circulation can lead to you feeling extremely lethargic and low. It may even lead to depression. A purple tongue could also be a sign of high cholesterol and hence, cardiac issues. Low blood circulation indicated by a purple tongue may also mean chronic bronchitis.

4. Black

If you have a black, hairy tongue, it could be because of overgrown papillae trapping bacteria and other debris in your mouth. This is most likely the result of poor oral hygiene, antibiotic consumption, or excess use of tobacco.

id="5-white">5. White

Smoking excessively or subjecting yourself to other such tongue irritants may result in your cells growing abnormally. This, in turn, may lead to leukoplakia, which is signified by a white-colored tongue.2 A white tongue may also mean that you’re dehydrated or have oral thrush.

6. Yellow

The papillae on your tongue could get inflamed if you get dehydrated, breathe through your mouth, smoke, or get a fever. This can cause your tongue to trap bacteria and make it look yellow.

What Does Tongue Coating Indicate?

A thick tongue coating indicates poor digestion, while no tongue coating indicates a lack of body fluids

The coating on your tongue is often seen in its middle or back. And the way your tongue is coated is an indicator of how good your metabolism is.

  • A light, thin, whitish tongue coating most likely points to a healthy digestive system.
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  • If your tongue has no coating at all, it may mean that you’re completely exhausted. A glossy, red tongue with no coating could mean a lack of fluids in your body. For healthy gut function and good overall health, a natural balance of fluids is absolutely vital.
  • A thick tongue coating could mean poor digestion, which is often the result of an unhealthy diet or overeating. Both these issues may bring about an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast and result in an overburdened digestive system. If your digestive system is overworked, it leads to excessive dampness and pathogenic fluids, resulting in a thick tongue coating. You may even have bad breath in such cases.

Ensuring A Healthy Tongue

Clean your tongue every day and eat healthily to ensure good tongue and overall health

Whether you have a thick tongue coating or bad breath issues, it is vital that you maintain proper oral hygiene at all times and improve your digestion.

  • Clean your tongue every morning with a tongue cleaner when you brush. Your teeth aren’t the only important part of your oral cavity.
  • Incorporate as many fermented foods and probiotics as possible into your diet to balance out any bacterial overgrowth.
  • Avoid raw fruits and vegetables if you’re suffering from digestive issues. Soups, broths, steamed vegetables, and cooked foods are better options in such scenarios.
  • Add herbs and spices like turmeric, cardamom, ginger, coriander, black pepper, and fennel to warm up your system and improve your digestion.
  • A cup of warm ginger tea about 20 minutes before every meal can improve your gut function.
  • Follow the 80/20 principle religiously: eat only until you’re 80% full. This can ensure that you don’t end up overeating at any point in time.
  • Ensure that non-starchy vegetables and fermented foods make up a vast majority of your diet.

Keep looking at your tongue color and coating every now and then to be sure that everything is okay. If you notice something out of the ordinary, visit your doctor to rule out serious issues.