What the F is tongue scraping?
Like many current wellbeing trends, tongue scraping has its roots in Ayurveda — but it’s one of the trickier ones to get on-board with. We talk to expert Dr Prathima Nagesh to find out more…
WHAT IS TONGUE SCRAPING?
It’s the practice of cleaning the deposit of food articles and secretions over the tongue using U-shape, rounded, semi-flexible metallic tongue scraper.
HOW OFTEN IS IT RECOMMENDED?
For a healthy individual, once a day in the morning after brushing teeth is preferable. In case of some health conditions, where there will be an accumulation of deposit over the tongue, an Ayurveda practitioner might advise for tongue scraping twice a day.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
There are a range of benefits, including reducing bad breath and bad tastes in the mouth, improving taste perception and oral hygiene, and helping with digestion (as a thick coating is suggestive of slow metabolism and not cleaning may lead to further issues) and respiratory diseases (as, according to Ayurveda, bad breath can lead to respiratory diseases and accumulation of bacteria in the oral cavity may cause throat infections).
DOES A TOOTHBRUSH DO THE SAME THING?
Using bristles of toothbrush to brush the tongue is not recommended by Ayurveda. Nowadays you can get mild ridges on the back of a toothbrush, though this is not as good as a traditional tongue scraper . You can also use half a lemon (though squeeze most of the juice out first) along with rock salt and a pinch of cardamom (optional) to clean your tongue.
ARE THERE DOWNSIDES?
It it not advised during the first few days of fever or if you’re suffering from an acute infection in the tongue. If one uses sharp or improper tongue implements to clean the tongue, it may cause bleeding or damage.
SHOULD EVERYONE DO IT OR IS IT MOST EFFECTIVE TO DEAL WITH PARTICULAR AILMENTS?
It is one of the daily routines in Ayurveda, which focuses heavily on gut health and digestion, as it helps to improve the taste — the first stage of digestion.
WHAT’S THE HISTORY OF TONGUE SCRAPING?
All the Ayurvedic texts dated from 3000 BC, including Vedic texts like the Smriti scriptures and Puranas, mention tongue scraping. This might be because Vedic people give more importance to gut health and clean excretion.
WHY HAS THE TECHNIQUE GONE MAINSTREAM?
Increased awareness of holistic wellbeing is the main reason. Also, recent research proves the influence oral and gut bacteria has on the health, which is a big base in Ayurveda, which might have made people more aware of this ancient practice for maintaining health and prevention of certain diseases.
WHAT IS THE BEST TONGUE SCRAPER?
Tongue scraper should have a blunt shape and soft straight edges, made of gold, silver, copper, tin, brass or stainless steel.
BALANCE recommends Jasmine Hemsley’s 100% copper Tongue Tingler.
Dr Prathima Nagesh is an Ayurvedic expert and director at Agnihealthcare, which has Ayurvedic clinics in London and Essex