Your Tongue Tells a Story

Dear Pharmacist,

Sometimes my tongue gets bald, red patches, or thick yellowish coatings on it. I can’t figure out why this happens, or what it means. My tongue looks nasty. Suzy, I don’t know who else to ask since it’s very embarrassing. My doctor says that it’s nothing to worry about. Do you agree?

--A.P., Ocala, Florida

Answer: I agree, don’t worry because worrying is a useless emotion that may actually attract to you the very thing you focus your attention on. Your time is better spent on finding out why this keeps happening, and then preventing episodes.

You describe what is termed “geographic tongue” because it looks like a map. The smooth, red patches are surrounded by grayish white areas; it’s freaky that the patchy areas can change location from day to day. The tiny bumps on the tongue called “papillae” fall off, that’s why you see the patches, but they are able to grow back.

Acupuncturists and Chinese Medicine doctors would never dismiss your tongue. It’s the first thing they want to see because it assists them in their diagnosis. Hey, I’d rather stick out my tongue and say ahhh, than get needled for blood and biopsies, wouldn’t you? And yes, I’ve had a tongue reading myself, just for fun.

To find a solution, you have to determine the cause. Geographic tongue may indicate a hormonal imbalance, low thyroid, liver disease, yeast overgrowth or a weakened immune system. Poor intestinal health, antibiotic use, liver disease, a bile disorder and digestive disorders (like Celiac, Crohn’s, IBS) all impact the color and texture of your tongue. People with methylcobalamin (B12) deficiencies, and other B vitamin deficiencies have tongue issues. Let me tell you, there are hundreds of drug muggers of B vitamins. Among them are antibiotics, antifungals, antacids, heartburn medications, certain blood pressure pills, female hormones and most anti-inflammatories. Geographic tongue is not the only situation of the tongue. Read below, and if you are curious, visit my website to see actual photographs:

Scalloped tongue - It’s usually thick or swollen and has a scallop design around the outer edge. This is usually related to sluggish spleen or thyroid function.

Pale Tongue - This could be tied to pernicious anemia, or iron deficiency anemia.

Vertical Crack - May signify difficulties in the stomach or heart. If the crack extends down the middle, but doesn’t reach the very tip, it’s most likely related to digestion.

Black Hairy Tongue - Dark-colored bacteria/fungus build up on the papillae and instead of shedding, they grow longer creating the hairy appearance. The ‘hair’ color may be white, yellow, green or brown colors depending on the color of your invading organism.

Glossopyrosis - Also called “Burning Mouth Syndrome” it may be related to Candida albicans overgrowth, B12, riboflavin or folic acid deficiency, insufficient probiotics and imbalanced hormones.

You may be able to prevent episodes by supplementing with high-quality immune-boosting supplements, probiotics, activated B complex, in particular methylcobalamin and 5-MTHF and digestive enzymes.

Did You Know?

If you are allergic to lactose, you should avoid anything with caramel color.

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About the author

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I'm a graduate of the University of Florida and has been a licensed pharmacist for nearly 20 years.  People call me “America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist” because I've spent the last 10 years writing a syndicated column on health which reaches millions of people each week.

Read more from Suzy at www.dearpharmacist.com

Comments

Anonymous's picture
1

KD

Suzy, I have been prescribed Plavix for it's anti platelet properties. Since it is so expensive, won't aspirin do just as well since it also has anti platelet properties?

Anonymous's picture
2

Anonymous

KD,
You can check with your local pharmacist on what options you can use. Then talk to your doctor about changing what you are doing. Read about possible side effects, too, and then make your decision.

I do know there are other things to do besides Plavix.

777harleyarley's picture
3

777harleyarley

KD,
Suzy, I have been using Vitamin B Complex for that problem and it has always healed it and I have more energy within a few days

Anonymous's picture
4

VIL MAY

Ever since i was born i always have had cracked sikin under my feet and a terable case of acne, one day i was stung by a bee and my mom took me to the ER, because my face swelled up like a boxer, and the Dr. told my mom i have Geographic tongue and that i was allergic to penacilin, what can i do to clear my face? and what can i eat.?

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