An ancient Ayurvedic self-care ritual, “Jihwa Prakshalana” – known as tongue scraping or tingling, is an oral hygiene practice that removes oral bacteria, food debris, toxins, dead cells and fungi from the surface of the tongue.
Whilst asleep, our digestive system remains awake, it removes some of the toxins from our body by depositing them onto the surface of our tongue. The next morning with your first drink they get reabsorbed by the body and this can lead to digestive issues, respiratory problems, a compromised immune system or simply bad breath.
Dental studies have concluded that a tongue scraper is more effective at removing toxins and bacteria from the tongue than a toothbrush – that only moves the toxins around. Although brushing and flossing will loosen and move debris around, they do not remove the bacteria. Almost half of our oral bacteria live on and in the deep crevices of our tongue; the scraping action of a tongue scraper collects the toxic tongue coating and removes it.
This Ayurvedic routine should be done daily, in the morning first thing, on an empty stomach – before drinking anything. It takes just a minute. A tongue scraper is a long, thin, flat piece of metal that is bent in a “U” shape.
Stand in front of a mirror, stick out your tongue, scrape it by holding the two ends of the scraper in both hands and placing the scraper as far back on your tongue as possible. With firm but gentle pressure, scrape the surface of your tongue with one long stroke. Rinse the scraper and repeat until your tongue feels clean, is free of coating and tingles.
What are the benefits?
Improve your dental health
This oral hygiene practice promotes general tooth and gum health and removes bacteria and toxins responsible for periodontal problems, plaque build-up, tooth decay and gum infections.
Optimise your digestive health
Ayurveda teaches us that proper digestion is the foundation of health. Given that digestion begins with taste, it’s important to remove any toxins that may obstruct optimal functioning.
Boost your immunity
The tongue is part of the first line of defence in your immune system. Scraping your tongue prevents toxins from being reabsorbed into your body and boosts overall immune function. Especially if you suffer from sore throats, sinus infections and blocked noses this can significantly reduce bacterial growth.
Bad breath can have a negative impact on a person’s life and self-esteem. Given that most bad breath comes from the bacteria at the back of the tongue (not reached with a toothbrush), research shows that tongue scraping significantly reduces oral bacteria from the crevices of all areas the tongue. If you suffer from bad breath you should also scrape after a meal.
Proper digestion begins with taste and salivation. If you don’t take steps to remove toxic mucus on the tongue, your taste buds can become blocked. This may lead to false cravings or an inability to recognize the taste of food. Removing build-up from the surface of your tongue will open its pores and activates saliva glands, this allows for greater enjoyment of food flavours, and help your body digest and assimilate food.
Based on Chinese medicine your tongue health gives clues about your overall health, so note how it looks – colour, size, fissures, scalloping and look to improve it.
Tongue scrapers are inexpensive, and can be found at the dentist, in health food stores or online. Choose, rather than a plastic one, a copper or stainless steel scraper they are anti-bacterial and easier to clean.
Everyone that tries it loves it!!