What is Tongue Scraping? Jihwa Prakshalana, or the Ayurvedic self-care ritual known as tongue scraping, is an an oral hygiene practice that removes bacteria, food debris, fungi, toxins, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue.
When we sleep, our digestive system remains awake, removing toxins from our body by depositing them onto the surface of our tongue. If we don’t scrape away these toxins, they get reabsorbed by the body and can lead to respiratory difficulties, digestive problems, and a compromised immune system.
Dental research has concluded that a tongue scraper is more effective at removing toxins and bacteria from the tongue than a toothbrush. Although brushing and flossing will loosen and move debris around, they do not actually 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 these toxic tongue coatings (which can range in color from clear, white, yellow, or green) and removes them from the body.
5 reasons YOU should scrape your tongue
1. Halitosis is horrible.
Bad breath can have a negative impact on a person’s life, relationships, and self-esteem. Given that most bad breath comes from the bacteria at the back of the tongue (an area that's difficult to reach with a toothbrush), clinical studies have shown that tongue scraping significantly reduces and removes oral bacteria from the crevices of all areas the tongue.
2. You want to experience the flavors of your food.
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 up its pores and better expose your taste buds, allow for greater enjoyment of food flavors, and help your body digest and assimilate food.
3. You want to boost your immunity.
The tongue is part of the first line of defense in your immune system. Scraping your tongue prevents toxins from being reabsorbed into your body and boosts overall immune function.
4. You're down with 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, loss of teeth, gum infections, and gum recession.
5. You'd like to improve your digestive health.
In Ayurveda, proper digestion is considered to be the foundation of health. Given that digestion begins with taste, it's important to remove any toxins that may obstruct optimal functioning. Scraping also activates saliva production and promotes agni (the body’s digestive fire) to help with digestion throughout the day.
How to scrape your tongue
This Ayurvedic daily routine for maintaining oral health should be done on a regular basis, in the morning upon rising, and on an empty stomach. A tongue scraper is a long, thin, flat piece of metal that is bent in a "U" shape.
Standing in front of a mirror, you scrape your tongue by simply holding the two ends of the scraper in both hands, sticking out your tongue, and placing the scraper as far back on you tongue as possible. With firm but gentle pressure, scrape the surface of your tongue in one long stroke. Rinse the scraper and repeat until your tongue feels clean and is free of coating (usually 5 to 10 times).
Where to buy a tongue scraper?
Tongue scrapers are inexpensive, and can be found at most health food stores as well as online. Chose a stainless steel scraper because they are easier to clean and are ideal for balancing for all Ayurvedic constitutions and imbalances. In a pinch, the side of a metal spoon can be effective.