Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chest and breast area on the tongue

The “chest” area is on the sides of the tongue, between the centre part and the tip.
The chest area reflects a pathology of three organs: heart, lungs or breast in women.
Changes in this area to look for are:
1) Changes in colour (usually purple or red)
2) Changes in body shape (usually swollen or with teeth marks)
3) Red points

The chest area reflects pathologies of the lungs, heart or breast but in a Western medical sense. A change in the chest area may involve a change in colour or body shape. How to differentiate when a change in the chest area indicates a problem of the lungs or heart or of the breasts in women? A change in the chest area indicates a pathology of the breast in women rather that of lungs/heart when:
- In the absence of an obvious lungs/heart pathology
- Especially when it is unilateral

Examples of lung pathology manifesting in the chest area are chronic asthma or chronic emphysema (in which case the chest area would be swollen and possibly purple). An example of heart pathology is chronic coronary heart disease (in which case the chest area would be purple). As the area on the sides between the centre and the tip reflects the condition of heart/ lungs/ breast, I shall call this the “chest area”.

Apart from a purple colour and a swelling, other possible changes in the chest area are teeth marks that are confined only to the chest area, red points or a peeling of the chest area.

- Teeth marks only in the chest area indicate usually a problem in the breast in women (possible carcinoma) occurring against a background of severe Qi deficiency
- Red points in the chest area indicate Toxic Heat in thelungs or breast
- A peeling (absence of coating) in the chest area indicates a possible problem in the breasts in women occurring against a background of Yin deficiency.

A purple colour in the breast area in women is a potentially serious sign as Blood stasis in the breast may cause cancer. If I see this sign is a woman without symptoms, I would still treat her for Blood stasis in the breast. If I see a woman after she had breast cancer and surgery, I carefully examine the breast area: if it is purple it is not a good sign; vice versa, if it is not purple, it is a good prognostic sign.

In conclusion, as far as the Heart is concerned, we can say that the tip reflects a pathology of the Heart in a Chinese sense, i.e. problems of the Shen, while the chest area reflects a pathology of the heart in a Western sense (e.g. coronary heart disease


  1. some years i spent a time in a monastery in northern Thailand, the monks and nuns asked me to diagnose them. one of the nuns and a weak pulse in both her upper jiao positions, as she was young it puzzled me and i said i sense something in her chest, i asked to see her tongue and the following picture is more or less what i saw. when i asked the translator it became clear that she had a right mastectomy several years ago.

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