PEI

Tongue scrapers do 'no harm,' possibly some good

With the ongoing popularity of the ancient practice of yoga comes some of the gadgets and trappings of natural health. There are oils for the inside and outside of your body, crystals to keep in your pockets — and even tongue scrapers.

'There's no harm in using it. It's going to get rid of some plaque and bacteria'

Tongue scrapers 'do a little bit of a better job' cleaning your tongue than a toothbrush, says the P.E.I. Dental Association's Dr. Kerby Bruce. (Andrey Popov/Shutterstock )

With the ongoing popularity of the ancient practice of yoga comes some of the gadgets and trappings of natural health.

There are oils for the inside and outside of your body, crystals to keep in your pockets — and even tongue scrapers.

There are two main reasons to use a tongue scraper: to clean your tongue, and to diagnose your digestive health.

The market creates things and we tend to use them.— Dr. Kerby Bruce, P.E.I. Dental Association

"Anything that promotes health, we certainly recommend," said Dr. Kerby Bruce, a Charlottetown-area dentist and head of the P.E.I. Dental Association. 

"They clean the tongue off good — they do a little bit of a better job," than using your toothbrush, Bruce said, adding he does not use a tongue scraper himself, preferring to keep his routine simple.

'Diagnostic tool'

Tongue scraping is a practice in ayurvedic medicine, a form of natural medicine that originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, says Marian Curran.

Curran and her husband Bob own Now n Zen, a yoga and massage studio and coffee shop in Stratford, P.E.I., where Curran also does ayurvedic lifestyle counselling and sells wellness products. 

"It's a quick little diagnostic tool," said Curran.

"It allows you to see what's going on with your digestive health." 

While cleaning your tongue and freshening your breath is a side benefit, Curran asserts that tongue-scraping can help diagnose a problem with undigested food matter. 

A scraper can 'get in the little grooves in your tongue,' says Marian Curran. (Wikimedia Commons)

How it works

When you wake up — before you brush your teeth or eat — is the time to scrape your tongue, she said.

Five or six passes of a stainless steel scraper, which can be purchased at drugstores and natural health stores — Curran sells them for $3.99 — should do it.

Scrape as far back on your tongue as possible without making yourself gag, she advises, and rinse the scraper between passes. 

The goo on your tongue — usually white — is a toxin called ama, according to ayurvedic medicine. Curran said most people have ama, and it can point out that you may be eating too fast, eating too much, or that you need to add certain herbs or spices.

If it's green or yellow-tinged it can mean a liver issue, she said. 

'There's no harm in using it'

A toothbrush will just move the ama around, said Curran, while the blade of a tongue scraper "gets in the little grooves in your tongue."

Not buying Curran's claims? 

"I don't tell patients they need one, but there's no harm in using it. It's going to get rid of some plaque and bacteria," said Dr. Bruce. 

"The market creates things and we tend to use them." 

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