Stick Out Your Tongue (Not at Obama) And Learn the State of Your Entire Body's Health

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As I sit in the bright yellow dentist’s chair, a man in surgical gloves and a pink top advances towards me. In his hand is not a drill, but a fan-shaped mirror.

It sounds like the kind of dream you have after too much rich food just before bedtime. Except that this is the middle of the day, and I’m in a large, Victorian mansion on the outskirts of Huddersfield, with my eyes, and mouth, wide open.

Why? Because this is the only dental practice in Britain where they don’t just fill your teeth; they analyse your tongue.

Of course, most dentists take note of the state of your tongue (and gums) when they’re looking inside your mouth, and are well aware that a carpet of yellow fur on your tongue indicates you overdid things last night.

However, here at the John Roberts Holistic Dentistry Practice, in West Yorkshire, they draw not just on common sense, but on the specific teaching of traditional Chinese medicine.

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Just as Western opticians have now started inspecting the eyes for signs of diabetes, Chinese physicians have for centuries been using a tongue ‘map’ to chart what’s happening in the rest of the body.

‘Each area of the tongue corresponds to a different internal organ; which means, basically, the tongue is the window through which one can look into the body,’ Dr Roberts explains.

Dr Roberts is looking for, then, is any swelling, discolouration or cracking that will give him a clue about the wider me. He’s gazing at the rifts and chasms of my tongue as closely as if this were Crime Scene Investigation.

‘This line down the centre of your tongue, not bad at all,’ he murmurs appreciatively. ‘Not too deep, not too shallow. Not so good, though, is the scalloping on the right-hand side.’

‘The what?’ I ask, somewhat alarmed. Holding the mirror he offers me up to my mouth, I view my lunar-esque lingual landscape. And those bumps don’t look like scallops, more like cocktail sausages.

‘Yes, well, the point is, they indicate issues with the gall bladder,’ says Dr Roberts.

Issues? I don’t like the sound of that. ‘We’re not talking about serious disease,’ he stresses.

‘More an imbalance that can be remedied, usually by diet. You’ve been eating too much hot and spicy food and it could be upsetting your system.’

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July 24, 2009