Entries by Don Silvernail

What Your Tongue Says About Your Health & What to Do About It

No pun intended there and tongue firmly in cheek but yes, your tongue can reveal a great deal about your health, especially to a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Patients often look at me skeptically when I ask to look at their tongue and inevitably ask what I can possibly tell by looking at it. An analogy I like to use is trees or plants. You can tell a great deal about the health of a tree, even the roots that are underground, by looking at the leaves. You can tell if the tree needs water. You can tell if maybe there has been too much water. You can tell light conditions, fertility, age, disease process, exposure to pollution even nutrient deficiency all by observing things on the leaves. The tongue is similar. Your acupuncturist has been trained to look for signs of excesses or deficiencies in things ranging from digestion to fertility to energy to mood to immune function and disease processes. I have listed some examples below along with some things that you can do right now to improve your health.



Color: The color of the tongue can mean several things depending on where the redness shows up. What do you think about when you see red. Something hot? Simple right, so in TCM redness on the tongue would indicate heat. From the photo, you see that the tip of the tongue is associated with the Heart. Emotional issues are often associated with the Heart, so redness at the tip of the tongue would indicate heat in the Heart network. This is often associated with someone who has, or is prone to, emotion difficulties, especially anxiety. What does one do about this. Well, meditation, calming exercises, like yoga would be a good start. Finding better ways to process emotions or getting support would be another way. There are cooling foods that one could eat to help “dissipate” this heat. Heat can show up on other areas of the tongue as well, areas that are associated with other organs or the entire tongue could be red, indicating more systemic heat in the body.

Features such as cracks: Many patients will have a crack running down the center of the tongue. The center of the tongue is associated with the Spleen/Pancreas and the Stomach (loosely correlated to digestion). Something that causes cracks is heat and/or lack of fluids. So, this person may have other dry symptoms such as dry itchy skin, dry eyes, a tendency toward heartburn (especially after drinking alcohol or consuming coffee, both of which can dry out fluids). There may be other digestive issues like bloating or poor digestion of cold and raw foods. So, how does one help themselves with these kinds of issues? Make allowances for the way your body is and make some changes. Get enough fluids, avoid alcohol and spicy foods, switch to herbal tea, eat more soups and stews that are easier to digest. Your tongue is telling you something (as well as your body). Listen!

Coating: A thick coat can mean “phlegm” in the body. Phlegm accumulation can cause things like weight gain, lethargy, poor memory, a heavy feeling, muzziness. Again, changes in the diet can help you deal with your constitutional tendency towards phlegm accumulation. Proper exercise can also help.

Some of these signs may not have manifested in symptoms yet, they just show that you are prone to these types of problems. If you do have symptoms, your body is talking to you as well as your tongue. If not dealt with, these symptoms are likely to get worse and can even manifest in further pathologies. These are just a few examples of the literally dozens of things that can be diagnosed by observing the tongue. In TCM it is not usual to rely on just this one indicator. At Princeton Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, we do a thorough intake and evaluation including your health history, complaints, TCM pulse diagnosis and palpation to formulate a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that will work for you. While there are things you can do on your own to improve your health, sometimes it is important to get help. Call us today or book a free consultation at www.pa-om.com and we will tell you what your tongue says about you!

Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Our patients know just how effective treatments are for these and a host of other problems. Steven Hoffman, a New Jersey Licensed Acupuncturist and Diplomate in Oriental Medicine, will provide you with a thorough intake and evaluation and a clear, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that will insure that your goals are met or exceeded. Do you want to move past these or other problems? We will help you thrive not just survive!

No pun intended there and tongue firmly in cheek but yes, your tongue can reveal a great deal about your health, especially to a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Patients often look at me skeptically when I ask to look at their tongue and inevitably ask what I can possibly tell by looking at […]

Anger as a Cause for Disease

In my last post,How Do Emotions Cause Disease? How Acupuncture Can Help? I discussed a bit about how emotions can cause disease in both western and eastern medicine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, and more specifically, in the theory of Five Element acupuncture, there are five emotions that can affect a person and those are: anger, joy, sympathy/worry, grief and fear. It may seem strange that an emotion like joy or sympathy can cause disease but once you look at them from a Chinese Medical perspective it makes a great deal of sense. Further I see these correlations in my clinic every day and once treated, physical symptoms are relieved. I will start with the emotion of anger because it probably has the most correlation with western medicine.

Most see anger as a negative emotion. Don’t act out of anger. Don’t get too angry about things etc. And why is this. Well anger can cloud our judgement but it is also known to raise blood pressure. It really goes hand in hand with stress which can cause a whole host of diseases. Frustration can also be a part of anger. So how does Chinese Medicine view the bodies response to anger. Well, anger, frustration and stress are said to affect the Liver in Chinese Medicine. It causes the energy of the Liver to become “stuck” and then the Liver cannot perform its functions (from a Chinese Medical perspective). So, things like PMS, menstrual irregularities, severe cramping, and infertility can happen in women. Headaches and migraines can be linked to the Liver. Depression is said to ensue when the energy of the Liver becomes stagnant. Why do you think it feels good to have a drink after a stressful day? The alcohol courses the energy of the Liver! The problem is that too much alcohol creates heat leading to things like more anger, headaches and even cirrhosis of the liver itself. Abdominal pain and bloating can occur through the Livers relationship with the digestive organs. Reflux, neck pain (the meridian that runs through the neck is the Gallbladder meridian, which is the Livers paired organ so no surprise that this occurs in like 99.9% of my stressed patients) chest pain, low libido, cold hands and feet, eye problems, tightness along the sides of the body (also the domain of the Gallbladder meridian), insomnia and inflexibility are just some of the physical symptoms that are typically associated with Liver problems. It is amazing (well maybe not) how many times a patient will come in complaining of something like a migraine and they have a whole cluster of these other associated symptoms! These symptoms are real and left unchecked, life threatening disease processes can take hold. And anger, stress and frustration can either cause or exacerbate these problems.

So, what is anger good for anyway? Well, when in balance it can really be a catalyst for change. Think about it, when you get angry enough about something, what do you do? You say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Kind of funny but true. You make a change, in some way, so that you no longer get angry. But with many people, that anger must fester for a while before it finally blows up and for some, they just continually push it down or allow things that frustrate them to continue. This is where disharmony, dysfunction, and disease manifest.

You know what is awesome? When I treat someone for one of these real, physical problems, most times the patient will remark in a rather surprised fashion as to how well they are sleeping, that they feel “lighter” and less stressed. Well now you know why! Call or book online at www.pa-om.com for a free 1/2-hour consultation and we will discuss your individual problem and let you know if and how we can help.

Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Our patients know just how effective treatments are for these and a host of other problems. Steven Hoffman, a New Jersey Licensed Acupuncturist and Diplomate in Oriental Medicine, will provide you with a thorough intake and evaluation and a clear, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that will insure that your goals are met or exceeded. Do you want to move past these or other problems? We will help you thrive not just survive!

In my last post,How Do Emotions Cause Disease? How Acupuncture Can Help? I discussed a bit about how emotions can cause disease in both western and eastern medicine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, and more specifically, in the theory of Five Element acupuncture, there are five emotions that can affect a person and those are: anger, […]

Acupuncture Can Help You Satisfy Your Cravings With Healthy Alternatives and Improve Your Metabolism

A teacher of mine once said something about weight loss and cravings that resonates with me to this day. She said that if someone is experiencing cravings, chances are, they ARE craving something. Chances are also good that it is not ice cream or donuts however! I’ve thought about this a lot over the years and did some research and investigation. Thinking about it, the body knows when it needs something and lets us know. It tells us when we are thirsty, when we need rest, and even gives us signals to let us know that we should alter what or how we are doing something (like pain or even emotions). So why should cravings be any different. They are not. They are not something to be ignored or overcome with “willpower”. That will eventually fail, the body is too insistent and the signals will wear anyone down given time.

So what is it that the body really needs. Maybe minerals such as iodine or salt. As a nation, we are very deficient in iodine, and I see this every day in my clinic with patients who have under active thyroid function. We have been scared away from using salt and while table salt is a chemically derived nightmare, pink Himalayan sea salt is a wonderfully nourishing mineral that we NEED. Oh, and it also contains iodine, go figure! Fat is a nutrient that we have also been bludgeoned into thinking is bad for us. Our bodies have been dealing with fat nutritionally for tens of thousands of years. It is not new, unlike the abundance of sugar and refined carbohydrates that we have substituted for the fat that we removed from our diets! You need fat (fat does not make you fat) and if you do not get enough in your diet, guess what? Your body is going to let you know. This nonsense of pulling the skin off of your chicken or taking the fat out of milk/yogurt/cheese is just that nonsense! Do you think our ancestors did this? NO, they ate the skin, the gristle, the heart, the liver, the kidneys and even broke the bones open to get to the marrow. And you know what? Our bodies need those nutrients as well. If you can’t stomach eating some of these things, you can easily supplement and give your body what it requires. In my research, I came across an interesting table from a natural cancer clinic that has a table for what you may actually be craving, when you have cravings. Food Craving Chart.

So what your body is looking for to properly perform its metabolic functions may be missing and cause you to crave certain foods. Altering your diet and/or supplementing for what may be missing is a great way to reduce or eliminate cravings. Some cravings can be due to stress as I outlined in my last blog post Stress, Acupuncture, & Weight Loss. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can greatly reduce stress, eliminating another craving trigger. Acupuncture has also demonstrated an ability to reduce cravings and is used in recovery clinics and smoking cessation programs. The cravings associated with weight loss are often coming from the same place as some addictions.

At Princeton Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, when we are helping people with weight challenges, we look at all areas of their lives that may contribute to weight gain or an inability to lose and keep weight off. A comprehensive plan, including diet and proper exercise, tailored to your individual needs, is the best solution to lasting results.

Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Our patients know just how effective treatments are for these and a host of other problems. Steven Hoffman, a New Jersey Licensed Acupuncturist and Diplomate in Oriental Medicine, will provide you with a thorough intake and evaluation and a clear, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that will insure that your goals are met or exceeded. Do you want to move past these or other problems? We will help you thrive not just survive!

A teacher of mine once said something about weight loss and cravings that resonates with me to this day. She said that if someone is experiencing cravings, chances are, they ARE craving something. Chances are also good that it is not ice cream or donuts however! I’ve thought about this a lot over the years […]