Please consider ‘Wake and Scrape’ our new personal mantra. The ancient Ayurvedic practice of tongue cleaning is now firmly in the mainstream.
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Recently, as I was frolicking amongst the perfectly curated and dimly lit shelves of my favourite local natural skincare and wellness dealer, I came across something rather peculiar.
Presenting conspicuously as an Victorian-style dentistry tool (and not overly dissimilar to a medieval torture device) – this thin copper curl of metal picqued my interest immediately, and I waved over the store owner to pour me a warm cup of demystification.
“That’s a tongue scraper,” they said. “It will change your life.”
Six minutes later, I was the owner of one; schlepping happily towards an enlightened world of oral hygiene steeped in ancient Ayurvedic practices. But before I was able to fully lean into this new lifestyle, I wanted to learn a little more about it.
I had been promised a life changing experience. So, what exactly were the benefits? I turned to Google, and, as a precautionary tale – I recommend avoiding peeking at the images if you fancy holding on to your breakfast.
The main takeaway from my hour or two of searching reinforced that I could anticipate enjoying VIP access to a drastically improved sense of taste, as a tongue scraper was proven to have reduced the amount of tongue coating.
And I wouldn't be waiting for too long to see this ritual come into effect; my capacity for an elevated taste sensation would appear after only two weeks of dedicated tongue scraping.
This means my tongue may be able to better distinguish between bitter, sweet, salty, and sour sensations and therefore extend the ‘range’ of my palate. Fancy.
Further, because removing bacteria is key to preventing cavities, gum disease, and other conditions affecting the mouth, the tongue scraper can help inform a significant part of your overall mouth-health routine.
It has been suggested that twice daily use has the potential to limit the buildup of bacteria and excess debris that causes the tongue to take on a white, coated appearance, while decreasing your chances of experiencing bad breath and dental decay. An outcome both my boyfriend and dentist would agree was nothing but positive.
The benefits had me interested, and next I wish to dig a little deeper into the cultural connotations of this practice. (Side note: I started implementing a daily gua sha massage into my skincare routine a few years ago and completely failed to recognise the practice as an ancient Chinese ritual. Moving forward from this experience, I want to do better.)
It turns out that tongue scraping is an ancient Ayurvedic or practice of traditional Indian medicine self-care practice. It has also been a century-old ritual in many parts of Europe, Africa, Arabia, India, and South America.
According to Ayurvedic medicine, the health of the tongue is an indication of your entire body’s holistic state of health, and is able to reveal organ inflammation, heart head and muscular pain.
The eyes may be a window to the soul, but the tongue is the heart of your health.
By this stage of my reading, I was utterly convinced to give this a 2-week trial run and decided to ceremoniously open the plastic packaging to reveal the copper instrument that caused this whole discovery. It was time to scrape.
Following instructions on the packaging, I began by brushing and flossing my teeth and then opening my mouth as wide as I could to place the scraper at the very back of my tongue. My gag reflex kicked in and I thought I was going to throw up, so for the next attempt I ensured the scraper wasn’t jamming so hard into the back of my mouth.
Once safely positioned, I applied gentle pressure while slowly pulling the tool across my tongue. The instructions told me this shouldn’t be a painful experience, and it wasn’t.
What came off my tongue simply isn’t fit for journalistic detail – so I urge you to try this ritual for yourself and DM me if you need emotional support.
In short, a LOT of stuff comes off your tongue and it’s rather unpleasant. However, what would be much more unpleasant would be to let it remain there – don’t you think?