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Furry cracked tongue


Hey guys,

so I have this issue that I am struggling for years now. I went through countless doctors, treatments, tests, acupuncturists… without success.

Instead of explaining, I think it’ll be much easier to show you some pictures. Three different problems here: the huge central crack, side cracks (the severity changes) and the white coating / hair. I also have really really dry mouth and I am bloated almost all the time.

It’s ruining my life, as it feels (and looks) horrible and I can’t speak properly.
If someone could help me out, I’ll buy you a yacht :smiley:

Eczema on throat from seasonal allergies

Well the tongue is merely the reflection of what is happening internally. The only way to “fix” the tongue is to fix the inside. When you say you’ve seen other acupuncturists - what, exactly, have you tried and for what duration. And what changes, if any, happened during your acupuncture sessions. Please be as specific as you can - what style of acupuncture they used, did you also do Chinese herbal medicine and if so, which formulas, how long did you see each person and what changed and what didn’t.

Is there anything on your western blood work at all - even if it is only marginally off.

What other symptoms do you have besides the bloating and dry mouth? Any medications that you take or other supplements - if so, for what, and for how long.


Chad, thanks for your reply.

I’ll try to answer everything as best as I can,
I completely agree with the fact that the tongue is just the reflection on how my internal organs work.

From the start: since I was a kid I had skin problems, mainly atopic eczema, dry skin and chapped, flaky lips.
I went through mononucleosis. I am not sure exactly how long ago the problems mentioned above occurred, but it’s at least 3-4 years that I’ve started noticing it (maybe that’s when it’s started).
I went through all possible western medicine checks, all bloodwork, liver tests, candida, bacterial, viral, fungal infections, endoscopy, Sjorgens syndrome (I was trying to find a reason for the dry mouth)… everything apparently in order.
Just during the liver tests, they noticed I have Gilbert’s syndrome, which I pretty much knew before. Now they just confirmed it. A condition where I have constantly elevated bilirubin, which shows up in yellow(ish) eye whites and skin.
I am taking milk thistle (liver supporting herb) long-term, which seems to work for this pretty effectively.
I also have quite strong dark under-eye circles (since I was a kid).
I have a slight milk intolerance. (after long trial and error elimination diets, this does not have any negative effect on the bloating or state of the tongue).

I did not have much success with the acupuncturists. They didn’t really know what to do… one just gave me general acupuncture for immunity, even without looking at my tongue. In general I felt and looked a little better temporarily, but it did not have any effects on the specific problems. This was 1 treatment per week, 3-4 times.
I could probably look up at least the meridians he used, but I remember only vaguely.

Recently I’ve spoken to a TCM practitioner. I don’t undertake any acupuncture, as it is way too expensive (I am a student), but he gave me herbs for liver and stomach, saying that ‘toxins’ are the cause.

I’ve noticed that I stopped being bloated and my lips got smoother. I took both for 10 days and now I am continuing just the liver, to see if it is the liver that’s not functioning properly. At the moment, I am trying to give the herbs a break for 1 week, to see if the bloating and chapped lips return (so I know for sure that it were the herbs that had effect).

In the past, I’ve tried the master cleanse and a liver flush. After the liver flush I’ve noticed that my tongue cleared up completely… for 2-3 days (probably the best couple of days in the past few years for me :confused: ).
Then it ‘grew’ back on.

In terms of supplements: milk thistle (mentioned above), greens powder, multi-vitamin, vit D (only in winter), fish oil, glutamine and zinc. Tried probiotics few times, but they are quite pricey. So I make my own kefir and eat pro/prebiotic rich foods. Otherwise healthy, balanced diet and lots of sport.

Thank you again for your concern and advice.


Well the first thing I would mention is that if you are going to pursue Chinese Medicine you need to be in it for the long haul and take both the treatments and your personal responsibility to follow their advice very seriously. While Chinese Medicine for certain cases can provide quick symptomatic relief, generally speaking healing conditions like this would take 3-18 months or longer. When you start adding up the true cost of all the random doctors tests, blood work, office visits, etc. seeing an Chinese Medicine practitioner every other week or so for a year pales in comparison to that cost and will very likely help you and possibly even provide a long term resolution to your issues. Doing random formulas for a week here and week there and a few treatments will not help you - it just doesn’t work like that. I’m not sure where you live, but there are often community clinics, school clinics, or even fairly generous practitioners that can offer treatment less expensively for patients that will stay the course.

All that said, da chai hu tang is probably not the right formula for you - it’s far too moving for what I see on your tongue and not tonifying enough. But you can only get so much without physical inspection, particularly in complicated cases. When you work with someone closely over time they can watch you closely, your reactions to treatments and to formulas - it’s all a moving target and the practitioner given enough time hones in one what your body really needs.

So I suggest you find someone and work closely with them and don’t evaluate anything until you’ve been under their care for 3 months at a minimum. Then see how you feel.

If you absolutely cannot see someone then you need to do it the long slow way which is eat a good diet with very little deviations from that. A good diet would be largely vegetarian, some yin tonifying foods like black beans/black bean soup on a regular basis and occasional meats to supplement your qi/yang. It would leave out sugars, dairy, particularly milk, too much cold and raw foods (salads, etc.) and alcohol. The generals are in my eat like a human diet article. Learn meditation and tai chi or qi gong to help your body rebuild the yin nature. Possibly work in some moxibustion particularly at ST 36 at least a few times a week or daily. Stick with that for a few years and you will improve. Utilizing proper Chinese herbs and acupuncture during this time will generally speed this process up within reason.


ok, I understand. Thank you for the evaluation.
I will look into moxibustion and possibly try it at home. One thing about the points in TCM… do they need to be located with absolute precision (when using needles)? For example, the ear has a high density of points, therefore it must be quite easy not to hit the exact one precisely every time for the acupuncturist.

With my current liver herbs, what exactly do mean by moving? In the sense of increasing bowel movements?
Should I talk about this with the TCM practicioner? He believes that my condition is caused by toxins and I need to ‘release’ them via stools. I certainly don’t want to be taking something, that is not beneficial for me in any way.

And I also want to thank you for the great site and informative material. It is really hard to find this sort of info online (and especially forums on TCM).


With regards to points, yes, they need to be used very precisely. There is the perfect anatomical position which must be memorized and then there is what we call the “live” point - which is the point that is found in that general area by touch. Most practitioners consider honing the touch development to find the “live” point is critical this comes from qigong and experience largely. A number of clinical studies have been done showing clinical differences between millimeters, so, yes, I do believe it matters.

Now with something like moxibustion, particularly with the moxa “stick” you will be stimulating a fairly large circular area, so you don’t need to be as precise.

As far as the herbs, yes, speak with your practitioner. But, anyone who talks about “toxins” being your problem either has no idea what they are talking about or is trying to simplify this discussion when they speak with you - or they have poor english (or native language) skills and cannot properly convey what they mean. Either way, I would get them to clarify exactly what they mean by this. It is critical to not get too tied to the idea that the “liver” in Chinese terms and your physical “liver” are the same - they are not. See “My Liver is What?” for more on that.

From my perspective you show too many signs of both yin deficiency/empty heat and spleen qi deficiency. With someone who is deficient you have to be careful using qi and blood moving herbs (nothing to do necessarily with your bowel movements).


oh, thank you very much again Chad.
Ye, the practitioner is native Chinese, so it might be the language barrier.
I will try to tell him what you told me. I like that you give precise, educative advice, rather than giving one sentence answers, as most of them do, as they assume people don’t know anything about acupuncture and tcm.
However, I’ve done quite a bit of reading in this field and I am willing to educate myself further.
And thanks for yet another great article : )

Also I was wondering, why are some of the links in your articles missing (have no content) ? Is it because the site is under development ?

// just a small update… I was looking into ways to increase yin, and found that moxing (especially the ST36) is mainly good for increasing yang. Isn’t that quite contradictory then? (but of course, every article states that it’s very beneficial for general qi flow, immunity and digestion). I’ve already ordered the moxa sticks.

I also found that yin deficiency is most characteristic with red tongue, without coating - which is not my case.
But apparently the central ‘stomach’ crack is the sign of yin deficiency and the transverse side cracks are from spleen yin deficiency. Dryness is also a sign of yin deficiency. So I guess I have several problems combined then…


Yes the site was recently changed considerably and some of the content was split out into different sub-sites which over the long term will help usability and maintainability. Most of the links that are missing now are to certain sections of our tcm diagnoses, which is the section that needs the most work. That section will change considerably over the next few weeks and then the links will be updated.

As for your overall diagnosis - yes, almost all people have layered diagnoses and are fairly far from textbook representations. Yin deficiency in particularly is somewhat complicated generally and even more so the longer it goes on.


ok, thanks for help Chad.
I don’t know how I am going to progress, but I’ll try my best.

3 years now I am noticing the tongues of every single person I come across. I have not seen a similar problem once. I really don’t know why I’ve got this sh*t… :frowning:


Just going in with an update (and to partially answer some of your old quesitons)

I’ve worked with another TCM practicioner in the mean time and he evaluated it as a stomach issue - excessive heat.
And gave me a herbs supplement for that (unfortunatelly don’t have the exact name right now).
Didn’t do much. So he gave me this afterwards - Giovanni Maciocia Expel Toxic Heat T76. Which I think helped a very little bit with the dryness.

From what I’ve read (not sure how accurate this information is) I can conclude that the small side cracks indicate chronic spleen-yang deficiency.
Based on example 10, the stomach crack and white/yellow coating indicate disharmony in this case is in the Middle Burner with Stomach and Spleen Heat, Damp-Heat and Phlegm-Heat in the Stomach. The Blood stasis probably derives partly from the Heat and partly from the chronic retention of Phlegm.

But in another (non-TCM) article I’ve read that the enlargement of papillae is due to increases acidity in the intestines

Based on my long-term observation on myself, I can say that the condition get’s much worse every time after drinking alcohol (for 2-3 days) and also when I am sick - maybe this has something to do with the acidity ?
There is also one occasion when it get’s better - when I have diarrhea. I am sure this must be indicating something, but it exceeds my knowledge…


@Chad_Dupuis any ideas, based on the most recent infos ?
I know it’s probably very hard to determine…

Thank you.


Well now that you have had more treatment and a different herbal formula from your current practitioner, what type of changes have you had? Is there any change in the base skin symptoms and/or digestive issues at all? There should be some change, even if it’s worse, from the herbs and you will have to pay close attention to what these are to help your practitioners figure everything out.

All that said, many westerners are, as you are finding in yourself, a mix of deficiency and excess. The trick is to best figure out which one came first. In most cases of younger folks with skin issues it is excess first which over time challenges the yin. Fixing this is often complicated and has to be done in stages, at times and in some cases alternating back and forth between yin building and blood/heat clearing formulas until both imbalances are close enough together to be “balanced”.


I think during using the ‘expel toxic heat’ formula, I had slightly less dry mouth… other than that, I didn’t see much difference (in the coating for example).

However what I do long term already is taking bentonite clay powder… which is very beneficial temporarily (although I am not sure why) in terms of overall energy levels, eczema (which I also have problems with), eye brightness, no bloating etc.

Do you think that the symptoms can be alleviated just with a long-time treatment and a good combination of chinese formulas ?


I thought I’ll just make an update to this old topic… and my issue.

I’ve managed to reduce the dryness quite a bit (it’s still better on some days and worse on others, but in general)

I’ve now observed a pattern, which makes me think the ‘fur / hair’ coating is related purely to stomach

  1. it always get’s better after I do moxibustion on ST36.
  2. I’ve been sick recently, taking a lot of raw garlic - which I can imagine is quite harsh on the stomach lining… and the coating started to come off at a few spots. My theory is that the stomach lining got disrupted (burned) partially and this is how it’s reflected on the tongue ?

It also get’s better when I have mild diarrhea… not sure where the connection is there.

My goal is to get the whole tongue looking like that…

The question is, how ? I feel like moxibustion can have the most direct impact… I am doing it 3x a week for over 2 years and although I see some benefits, it’s nothing groundbreaking, or even systematic.


Hey there,

I know this is an old topic, but just wanted to let you know that I have the EXACT same central tongue crack - which I’ve been endlessly trying to solve and fix up for myself. I’ve never seen anyone else with it either.

Have you managed to get this cured?
My observations gave led me to believe that it is 100% stomach related - some kind of inflammation of the lining. I seem to make the best progress to healing it when I don’t eat late at night - say past 6pm. Gultamine also helped but i didn’t continue long term due to the sulfur.



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