Do you ever wake up with that pasty, yucky, Morning Mouth feeling? Some days, brushing your teeth and gargling doesn’t seem to eliminate it, and you might even notice a yellowish or white coating on your tongue. Daily tongue scraping, or jihwa prakshalana, is a time-tested Ayurvedic practice that helps to remove bacteria and toxins (or ama) from the tongue. Modern science is catching on to this age-old practice; new dental research shows that tongue scraping is an effective way to remove bacteria from the tongue for fresher breath. A Journal of Periodontology study found that tongue scrapers reduce VSCs (volatile sulfur compounds) from tongues by 75 percent, whereas toothbrushes only reduce VSCs by 45 percent.
The benefits of tongue scraping extend beyond just better breath, though!
1. A cleaner mouth.
It’s simple. Less bad bacteria means fresher breath. For an added boost, vpk® by Maharishi Ayurveda Tongue Cleaners are made of silver, which is known for its antibacterial properties. We also offer more economical scrapers made of food-grade stainless steel.
2. Fresher breath.
Dental research suggests that approximately 85% of bad breath cases have their origins in the mouth, and 50% of those are caused by tongue residues. This same study concluded that tongue scraping is an effective strategy for improving breath.
3. Improved taste.
When your taste buds are clean, they’re more sensitive to flavors, and you enjoy your food more. Which leads us to point #4…
4. Better digestion.
Tasting your food properly is a crucial part of good digestion, which starts the minute food enters your mouth. Your taste buds convey helpful information to the brain, letting it know what you are eating and how to break it down. When ama coats the tongue, food may be unrecognizable to the brain, and a vicious cycle of poor digestion begins. With a cleaner tongue, your taste buds work more effectively, as does your digestion.
5. Stronger immunity.
Over time, a build-up of ama on your tongue (and therefore in your system) can weaken overall immunity. Removing bacteria from your tongue every morning helps keep toxins from being reabsorbed into your body, thus boosting immunity.
6. Spot red flags sooner.
Scraping your tongue daily allows you to stay in touch with your digestive health by watching for the telltale signs of poor digestion. If your tongue’s pink and clean, it means your digestion is efficient. A heavy coating on your tongue can mean your digestion is weak for any number of reasons: eating heavy or hard-to-digest foods; eating too much or too late at night; or it might even just be a passing imbalance. Tongue scraping helps you track your digestion and fine-tune accordingly.
How to Scrape Your Tongue
Tongue scraping is an easy, gentle practice. Here’s how to do it:
- First thing in the morning before or after you brush your teeth, pick up your tongue scraper and hold each end between your fingers and thumb.
- Lean over the sink, open your mouth, relax your tongue, and gently but firmly draw your Tongue Cleaner from the back of your tongue to the front, reaching as far as you comfortably can. You’ll notice a light coating coming off your tongue (farewell, bacteria!).
- Rinse and repeat several times until your tongue looks pink and clean.
Easy does it.
Don’t press too hard! Your tongue contains 10,000 tiny, delicate little taste buds and they should be handled with care.
Try oil pulling beforehand.
Ayurvedic experts recommend oil pulling (gently swishing your mouth with oil) each morning before brushing as part of the ideal dinacharya, or Ayurvedic morning routine. Oil pulling helps remove toxins from your entire mouth and soothes the gums.
Why a Toothbrush Won’t Cut It
While some people may opt to brush their tongues with a toothbrush, it’s actually not as effective as using a tongue scraper. As referenced in the study above, a 75 percent reduction in bacteria (tongue scraper) is certainly better than 45 percent (toothbrush).
The End Result
If you make tongue scraping a part of your daily morning routine, your mouth will feel cleaner, your breath fresher, and you’ll enjoy the confidence that comes along with that—especially when talking face-to-face! Moreover, with improved taste you’ll enjoy the rich flavors of your food more and enjoy the lightness that comes from improved digestion. In fact, most people find that it feels so good they end up doing it twice a day, for double the benefits.
Give it a try and let us know what you think!
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.
This article originally appeared on the vpk by Maharishi Ayurveda website and is used here with permission