In traditional Chinese medicine, the overall health of the body or zheng can be determined by an analysis of the tongue. If the tongue is red, it is considered ‘hot’ whereas a white tongue indicates ‘cold.’ These temperature markers refer to symptoms within the body and can serve as a warning sign of health problems.
Now researchers want to bring this method of preventive medicine into the Western world.
Don Xu and colleagues at the University of Missouri developed a computer software program that takes an image of a person’s tongue and analyzes the color and coating to determine zheng.
Science Daily reports:
“Knowing your zheng classification can serve as a pre-screening tool and help with preventive medicine,” said Dong Xu, chair of MU’s computer science department in the College of Engineering and study co-author. “Our software helps bridge Eastern and Western medicine, since an imbalance in zheng could serve as a warning to go see a doctor.”
This system was tested for efficacy on 263 people with gastritis and 48 healthy volunteers. The people with gastritis were classified based on the intensity of their symptoms and past readings of hot or cold so researchers could verify the accuracy of the software.
The study was accepted for publication in the journal Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Researchers are now working on a way to make the system available to anyone from the comfort of their home. “Within a year, our ultimate goal is to create an application for smartphones that will allow anyone to take a photo of their tongue and learn the status of their zheng.” Xu tells Science Daily.
Of course, you have to accept Chinese medicine for any of this to be helpful.
Photo via flickr/nathanmac87