What is Āma
Often when a practitioner asks you to stick out your tongue they are looking at many things, but one of those things is the coating that may reside there. There are times when that coating can indicate health and other times when the coating can indicate ill health. There are times when a clear tongue can be held to the same standards. So, if you have ever heard that the coating on your tongue is āma, take a moment to gather a bit more information.
What does a coating indicate?
The coating on your tongue is known as a lepa – which means a covering in Sanskrit. After you eat, drink, and even after you sleep, it is likely you will get a light lepa – that may be white-ish or yellow-ish on your tongue that simply indicates that you have gone through the first process of digestion. (There are 3.) The first process takes place in Kapha’s home site of the stomach – called the āmaśaya. This indicates that Kapha is mixing with the uncooked food after you have chewed and swallowed to continue the process of digestion. What you see on your tongue is a residue from that. This residue is generally not thick and can be scraped away with a tongue scraper or the edge of a spoon. This is not considered āma.
If you are someone with a continuous coating on your tongue that is difficult to scrape away, it can hint at the presence of āma just simply because it indicates that there is excessive action (or inaction) of some kind at the beginning portion of your digestive process. A completely coatless tongue though is not the goal either! A tongue that is always without a lepa can indicate that your digestive fire is too strong and is effectively burning the food and tissues as it goes down. So, like most things, nothing can be judged point-blank, and the middle way is the way of health.