Symptom family: Tongue Symptoms

Root Causes of Dry Tongue in TCM

Explore below more details about what might cause Dry tongue according to TCM.

  • By Syndrome
  • By Organ
  • Yin Deficiency
  • Body Fluids Deficiency
  • Phlegm
  • Dryness
  • Wind
  • Heat
Detailed description of the cause

Yin Deficiency

Yin deficiency in TCM is a pattern of disharmony characterized by a depletion of the body's Yin energy, which represents the cooling, moistening, and nurturing aspects of our physiology. This condition often arises from factors like chronic stress, overwork, insufficient rest, or prolonged illness. Symptoms of Yin deficiency can include a sensation of heat, especially in the afternoon or evening, night sweats, insomnia, a dry mouth or throat, and a red tongue with little coating. There might also be a general feeling of restlessness or irritability. Since Yin is essential for balancing the body's active and warm Yang energy, its deficiency leads to a relative excess of Yang, manifesting as heat or dryness symptoms.... see more

Yin Deficiency Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Common Symptoms: Sore Knees Lower Back Pain Knee Weakness Xerostomia Dizziness Blurry Vision Insomnia Nocturnal Emission

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Kidney Yin Deficiency Dry tongue, Perspiration, Back pain, Hearing loss, Dry mouth and throat at night, Lower back pain, Constipation, Scanty and dark urine, Infertility, Premature ejaculation, Generalized fatigue, General weakness, Depression, Anxiety, Heat sensation in palms, Evening heat sensation, Flushed cheekbones, Menopausal hot flashes, Preference for sipping, Evening anxiety... see more Zuo Gui Yin | Qi Ju Di Huang Wan | Dang Gui Di Huang Yin | Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San
Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin Dry tongue, Sore knees, Lower back pain, Knee weakness, Xerostomia, Dizziness, Blurry vision, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Hair graying, Hair loss... see more Er Zhi Wan
Detailed description of the cause

Body Fluids Deficiency

In TCM a deficiency of body fluids indicates an imbalance where the body lacks sufficient Yin fluids, which are crucial for lubrication and nourishment. This condition often results from prolonged illness, overexertion, or consuming too many drying or heating foods. Symptoms of body fluid deficiency can include dryness in the skin, eyes, mouth, and throat, as well as a dry cough, constipation, and a feeling of thirst. Additionally, there might be more subtle signs like a dry tongue, a thin pulse, and a general sense of fatigue or weakness. This pattern of disharmony reflects an underlying insufficiency in the body's ability to generate and maintain essential fluids, which are vital for the proper functioning of organs and systems.... see more

Body Fluids Deficiency Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Body Fluids Deficiency Dry tongue, Skin dryness, Xerostomia, Dry nose, Dry cough, Dry lips, Dry throat, Dry stools Xing Su San | Bai He Gu Jin Tang | Zeng Ye Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Phlegm

In TCM "Phlegm" as a pattern of disharmony is a complex concept that extends beyond the physical manifestation of mucus. It represents a pathological factor that can disrupt the flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood, leading to various health issues. Phlegm in TCM is seen as a sticky, turbid substance arising from the body's inability to metabolize fluids properly, often due to a dysfunction of the spleen. It's not only associated with respiratory problems like cough and congestion but also with systemic issues. Symptoms can include a feeling of heaviness, mental cloudiness, dizziness, and in some cases, the formation of lumps or masses. Phlegm can even be "invisible," contributing to emotional disturbances like depression or stress. ... see more

Phlegm Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Phlegm-Fluids in the Stomach and Small intestine Dry tongue, Abdominal distention, Vomiting clear liquid, Dry mouth without desire to drink, Stomach splashing sound, Chest distension, Diarrhea, Weight loss... see more Xiao Chai Hu Tang | Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang | Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang | Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Dryness

"Dryness" in TCM refers to a state where there is a lack of moisture in the body, much like how the land feels during a drought. It's a pattern of disharmony that can arise from external factors like dry weather or internal issues, such as insufficient fluid intake or certain lifestyle habits. When your body experiences this dryness, you might notice symptoms like dry skin, a scratchy throat, dry eyes, or even constipation. It's similar to the feeling of being parched or having dry, chapped lips in a very dry climate. TCM views this as an imbalance where the body's yin - often associated with moisture and cooling - is depleted.... see more

Dryness Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Dry-Wind Dry tongue, Aversion to cold, Perspiration, Skin dryness, Dry nose, Xerostomia, Dry throat, Dry cough, Sore throat... see more Sang Xing Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Wind

In TCM "Wind" is a concept that represents a pattern of disharmony, often characterized by its sudden and unpredictable nature, much like a gusty wind changing direction without warning. This pattern is associated with symptoms that come and go quickly or move around the body, such as itching, tremors, or even certain types of pain. Wind is considered to be a primary cause of illnesses that have these rapidly changing characteristics. In TCM, external Wind often refers to illnesses that start suddenly, like the common cold, believed to be caused by external pathogenic factors like climatic changes. On the other hand, internal Wind can be linked to internal imbalances and can manifest in conditions like dizziness or spasms. ... see more

Wind Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Dry-Wind Dry tongue, Aversion to cold, Perspiration, Skin dryness, Dry nose, Xerostomia, Dry throat, Dry cough, Sore throat... see more Sang Xing Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Heat

In TCM "Heat" signifies an excess of Yang energy, leading to an imbalance where heat predominates over the body's cool Yin aspects. This condition is metaphorically akin to an internal over-heating. Symptoms indicative of Heat can include feelings of warmth, fever, sweating, irritability, red face, thirst with a preference for cold drinks, and a rapid pulse. The tongue may appear red with a yellow coating. Unlike the common interpretation of heat in terms of temperature, in TCM, it represents a state of hyperactivity or inflammation in the body.... see more

Heat Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Heat in the Large Intestine Dry tongue, Constipation, Burning mouth syndrome, Anal burning, Scanty and dark urine, Dry stools... see more Ma Zi Ren Wan
Detailed description of the cause

Kidney

In TCM the Kidneys are regarded as the body's most fundamental reservoir of Essence, known as Jing, which influences growth, reproduction, and aging. They are not just organs for filtering blood, but a holistic system governing vital life forces. When the Kidneys malfunction in TCM, it can manifest as a variety of health issues, such as chronic fatigue, reproductive problems, imbalances in fluid metabolism leading to edema or dryness, lower back pain, and a sense of fear or insecurity.... see more

Kidney Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Common Symptoms: Sore Knees Lower Back Pain Knee Weakness Xerostomia Dizziness Blurry Vision Insomnia Nocturnal Emission

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Kidney Yin Deficiency Dry tongue, Perspiration, Back pain, Hearing loss, Dry mouth and throat at night, Lower back pain, Constipation, Scanty and dark urine, Infertility, Premature ejaculation, Generalized fatigue, General weakness, Depression, Anxiety, Heat sensation in palms, Evening heat sensation, Flushed cheekbones, Menopausal hot flashes, Preference for sipping, Evening anxiety... see more Zuo Gui Yin | Qi Ju Di Huang Wan | Dang Gui Di Huang Yin | Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San
Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin Dry tongue, Sore knees, Lower back pain, Knee weakness, Xerostomia, Dizziness, Blurry vision, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Hair graying, Hair loss... see more Er Zhi Wan
Detailed description of the cause

Liver

In TCM the Liver is viewed as the organ responsible for the smooth flow of Qi, Blood, and emotions throughout the body. It plays a key role in regulating mood, storing blood, supporting digestion, and ensuring the health of tendons and eyes. When the Liver malfunctions or is imbalanced in TCM, it can lead to a range of issues such as irritability, mood swings, menstrual irregularities, eye problems, and muscular stiffness or pain. A malfunctioning Liver in TCM reflects not only physical disturbances but also emotional and mental disharmony, emphasizing the holistic approach of TCM in addressing health and wellness.... see more

Liver Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin Dry tongue, Sore knees, Lower back pain, Knee weakness, Xerostomia, Dizziness, Blurry vision, Insomnia, Vivid dreaming, Hair graying, Hair loss... see more Er Zhi Wan
Detailed description of the cause

Large Intestine

In TCM the Large Intestine is primarily seen as responsible for the absorption of fluids and the excretion of waste. It is closely related to the Lung in terms of energy flow and function, reflecting the interconnectedness of organ systems in TCM. When the Large Intestine malfunctions, it can lead to issues such as constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, and an inability to let go of emotional waste, like holding onto grief or stress. This is in line with the TCM view that the physical and emotional aspects of health are deeply connected. An imbalanced Large Intestine can also manifest as skin problems, signifying the organ’s role in eliminating toxins and maintaining balance in the body’s internal environment.... see more

Large Intestine Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Heat in the Large Intestine Dry tongue, Constipation, Burning mouth syndrome, Anal burning, Scanty and dark urine, Dry stools... see more Ma Zi Ren Wan
Detailed description of the cause

Small Intestine

In TCM the Small Intestine plays a critical role in receiving partially digested food from the Stomach and further separating the clear from the turbid, essentially distinguishing nutrients from waste. This process is vital for proper absorption and assimilation of food. The Small Intestine is also associated with clarity of judgment and decision-making. When it malfunctions or is imbalanced in TCM, it can lead to digestive issues such as abdominal pain, bloating, poor appetite, or irregular bowel movements. Additionally, a malfunctioning Small Intestine may manifest as mental confusion or difficulty in making decisions, reflecting its role in discernment and clarity in both physical and mental realms. ... see more

Small Intestine Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Phlegm-Fluids in the Stomach and Small intestine Dry tongue, Abdominal distention, Vomiting clear liquid, Dry mouth without desire to drink, Stomach splashing sound, Chest distension, Diarrhea, Weight loss... see more Xiao Chai Hu Tang | Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang | Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang | Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang
Detailed description of the cause

Stomach

In TCM the Stomach is regarded as the "sea of nourishment," pivotal for digesting food and transforming it into Qi and blood. It works closely with the Spleen to distribute these essential nutrients throughout the body. When the Stomach is out of balance or malfunctions in TCM, it often leads to digestive problems such as bloating, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, or a feeling of fullness. There may also be issues like acid reflux or a sour taste in the mouth. Emotionally, an imbalanced Stomach can contribute to excessive worry and overthinking, reflecting the TCM belief that physical and emotional well-being are deeply interconnected.... see more

Stomach Patterns That Can Lead to Dry Tongue

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Phlegm-Fluids in the Stomach and Small intestine Dry tongue, Abdominal distention, Vomiting clear liquid, Dry mouth without desire to drink, Stomach splashing sound, Chest distension, Diarrhea, Weight loss... see more Xiao Chai Hu Tang | Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang | Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang | Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang

TCM Herbal Formulas for Dry Tongue

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address dry tongue, organized by cause and by formula type.

  • By Cause
  • By Formula Type
  • Yin Deficiency
  • Body Fluids Deficiency
  • Phlegm
  • Dryness
  • Wind
  • Heat
  • Formulas that nourish yin and tonify
  • Formulas that disperse dryness and moisten
  • Formulas that enrich yin and moisten dryness
  • Formulas that clear dryness
  • Formulas that moisten intestines and unblock bowels
  • Formulas that tonify blood
  • Formulas that clear liver-Heat
  • Formulas that harmonize lesser yang-warp disorders
  • Formulas that harmonize stomach-Intestines
  • Formulas for a rebellious qi
  • Formulas that warm and transform water and dampness

All Formulas Recommended for Dry Tongue Caused by Yin Deficiency

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Er Zhi Wan Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin
Zuo Gui Yin Kidney Yin Deficiency
Qi Ju Di Huang Wan Kidney Yin Deficiency
Dang Gui Di Huang Yin Kidney Yin Deficiency
Dan Zhi Xiao Yao San Kidney Yin Deficiency

All Formulas Recommended for Dry Tongue Caused by Body Fluids Deficiency

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Xing Su San Body Fluids Deficiency
Bai He Gu Jin Tang Body Fluids Deficiency
Zeng Ye Tang Body Fluids Deficiency

All Formulas Recommended for Dry Tongue Caused by Phlegm

Formula Patterns Suitable For
Xiao Chai Hu Tang Phlegm-Fluids in the Stomach and Small intestine
Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang Phlegm-Fluids in the Stomach and Small intestine
Xuan Fu Dai Zhe Tang Phlegm-Fluids in the Stomach and Small intestine
Ling Gui Zhu Gan Tang Phlegm-Fluids in the Stomach and Small intestine

All "formulas that nourish yin and tonify" recommended for dry tongue

Formula Patterns Suitable For (if applicable)
Bai He Gu Jin Tang Body Fluids Deficiency
Er Zhi Wan Deficiency of the Liver and Kidney Yin
Zuo Gui Yin Kidney Yin Deficiency
Qi Ju Di Huang Wan Kidney Yin Deficiency

Acupoints for Dry Tongue

Explore below some acupoints used to address dry tongue, organized by meridian.

  • By Meridian
  • Lung Channel
  • Kidney Channel
Chize LU-5

Chize LU-5

On the cubital crease, on the redial aspect of the biceps tendon. It can be easily identified when the elbow is slightly flexed.

Yongquan KID-1

Yongquan KID-1

In the depression between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones on the sole when the foot is in plantar flexion, approximately at the junction of the anterior and middle third of the sole.