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Split tongue with yellow coating


Hello everyone, I’m new to the forum.
Any thoughts about these tongue signs? The coating on the indentation (split) is yellowish, not sure the camera got that.


The crack along the middle is most commonly from what we call stomach yin deficiency. The redder tip of the tongue reflects heat in the upper jiao (lungs/heart). I see some mild teethmark impressions, which is usually a sign of spleen qi deficiency. The red dots along the tip reflect a more severe level of heat. A yellow color to the tongue coating is a further indication of heat.

The most common cause of both the crack and teethmarks in my experience is poor diet. In context poor diet doesn’t necessary mean you eat a lot of junk food but regardless whatever you’re eating isn’t the best match for your current overall condition. The red color at the tip of the tongue is very often a result of stress, the red dots reflect the level is high, prolonged, or both.

Don’t misinterpret this as a diagnosis, which without the context of your symptoms and overall health history is impossible. I’m only citing the most common reasons we see tongue features like yours.


Dear Stephen,

Wow thanks for the insight, that’s a lot of info I need to process :sunny:
I’ll try to give some context to what you have written, see if it also helps me understand what is going on:

  1. crack along the middle = stomach yin deficiency… (I have poor digestion,and bowel problems (IBS for 12 years))

  2. In real life I can not see the tip being a lot redder than the other parts of the tongue, maybe it was some light effect. Or maybe the photo showed something I can not see myself, but: (my heart beats really fast, and have some arrhythmia. Also I have been smoking lately, maybe that gives heat to the lungs? (I decided to quit smoking yesterday).

  3. Teeth marks = spleen qi deficiency. Not sure here what is the function of the spleen. (But I guess I have a poor immune system as I get flu twice per year, sore throat, etc.)

  4. Red dots, yellow coating = severe heat. I will try do some research on what this means in TCM. (But… my mind is really extreme at some times, and I get “burnt-out” by overthinking. I don’t have much feelings like I once used to before I got ill.

  5. Red tip/ red dots = stress. (Yes I have been with intense psychological stress for the past 9 years, as I developed an array of symptoms ranging from anxiety, depression, depersonalization, etc :sob: :smile_cat:

Im thinking right now: could these things narrow down to one root cause? or are there many co-morbid deficiencies/excesses?

I don’t want to ask for too much, but: what kind of diet/lifestyle/herbs would be beneficial for these symptoms?
Where I live, its hard to find the “real deal” TCM doctors.

Allopathic medicine has really failed me, for the last 12 years! I also tried homeopathy and antroposophic medicine.

Also I forgot to mention: I have extreme meteosensitivity (I react badly to ill weather, with extreme body malaise and anxiety. Also, as the day progresses, I tend to go from having no symptoms at all when I wake up, to feeling really bad at sunset time and into the night.

Thanks a lot I really appreciate this.


edit: maybe the red tip is because of a possible phone shadow?


These types of conditions are almost always layered. This means that healing is a process that has to be monitored. So general recommendations for herbs, etc. are only starting points and will have to adjusted as time goes on in most cases.

Generally speaking you need to eat a decent diet - largely vegetarian, and more cooked food than raw (no or heavily limit alcohol, sugar, raw foods, salads, fruit juices, etc.). Quitting smoking is a great idea and the herbal component and exercise component should help with that.

Lifestyle wise - regular sleep if possible, moderate amounts of mildly cardiovascular exercise, daily if possible - this can be just brisk walking or whatever you like.

Herbal formulas which --may-- be appropriate, at least to start would be shu gan wan w/ jia wei xiao yao wan or chai hu shu gan wan.


Dear Chad, thanks for your answer.
I have a few questions about this, hope you don’t mind;

Will the crack heal over time with appropriate diet?

Considering I have heat in heart and lungs, should I not eat refreshing foods such as raw apples and veggies? I definitely feel overheated and we are in spring over here.

Otherwise, how can I reduce overall heat? Regular cold showers?

Thanks again,



The crack and other markings should essentially disappear. Some degree of the center crack may remain no matter what you do as an indicator of a disposition towards problems in the stomach/spleen system. But it will very likely be much less deep than how it is now.

You shouldn’t eat raw foods too much as they are harder to digest, particularly with a weak spleen, so you won’t benefit much, if any, from their cooling properties as you will be reinforcing the causal factors of your imbalance. Generally most vegetables and fruits are cooling to varying degrees - so just having a good mix and more cooked foods than raw you will do fine. Certainly for people in warmer climates/seasons you can do a bit more of the cooling foods.

But don’t confuse temperature or “raw’ness” with being cooling (i.e. your cold shower question). Heat is generally activated from an overactive nervous system (like an engine running too hard) - not true heat as from the sun; although that has an impact as well. Functionally in your case you have a weaker digestive/assimilation function which means your body can’t meet the energy needs because it can’t properly convert food into energy to the right degree - to compensate for this then the body fires up your adrenal energy to fill that void. Left unregulated your body wires to live more on the adrenals (pushed in this direction as well by stress hormones, sugar, alcohol, lack of sleep, etc.) - all this generating “heat”.

Now technically, you can also put your body under tremendous stressors (environmental, dietary, etc.) that push it to live more in the adrenal/fight or flight arena which over time causes weaknesses in the stomach spleen system as your body struggles to feed the overstimulation.

Either way, there is an order to healing these conditions with a little bit of strengthening and a little bit of calming happening at the same time to bring the body to a better balance between these functions.

This is generally (in basic terms) why you can’t just sedate people with anxiety disorders and heal their condition overall (as you will also sedate their digestion/assimilation functions) nor, in most cases, can you take someone with relative weaknesses and use too strong of tonifying techniques (herbs, moxabustion, etc.) as you will push them towards fight or flight. It’s a balancing act that is always there but better balanced levels with less extreme highs and lows are the goal and definitely can be accomplished with proper treatment, diet, lifestyle, etc.


I see, thanks for the thorough explanation. My diet right now consists of processed grains (white wheat flour), dairy products, and meat, with some raw vegetables, and sodas for drinks, and fruits as snacks/desserts. If I switch to say, soups and stews as main dishes, in spite of their “hotness”, would that cool me down and strengthen the spleen?
I’ll start right away and post any visible results. :slight_smile:


It’s more what’s in the soups and stews, but yes. The main benefits you will get, however, will be from eliminating dairy and soda. You don’t need hot soups, per se, just more cooked vegetables - lightly steamed, etc. is fine - just limit the raw.


So, I went to a TCM doctor. He looked at my tongue, checked my pulse, etc.
He said that my kidney Yang is deficient, and that its affecting the heart shen, and the liver.
What do you think about this? Honestly he didn’t take much time to explain what was going on, I’m not sure whether I should go back next week. I feel OK, he did acupuncture and thats all, he also mentioned something like “dont eat red foods”, but recommended black foods like blueberries.
Note: although its not clear in the picture, the crack actually goes almost all the way to the tip of the tongue.
My pulse is rapid, though he didn’t say what type of TCM pulse I had, I’ll ask him by phone.


You are not kidney yang deficient. But it may just be a translation problem. If you like the acupuncture and feel fine, just see how things go for a bit. Just be certain that if he puts you on herbs that it doesn’t give you kidney yang tonic herbs because you will very likely get worse based on the information you have provided thus far.


Hm. Well, as a rule of thumb I feel very hot and sweat a lot in hot weather, and feel really cold in cold weather particularly on extremities. I also have strong body odor (armpits)… even after I shower. I read on the net that kidney yang deficiency you feel cold most of the time, even in spring?
I’m quite sure he said kidney. To be honest most of the time I feel like I need something to help me relax, or like im lacking “lubricant/oil” (using a hinge as a body analogy), so I’m also surprised I’m apparently lacking Yang. About the acupuncture, I did feel some temporary relief on my heart area, but maybe it was placebo or simply because I was relaxing and there was nice music.


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