White Tongue, Low Carbs?

For several years now I have gone through periods (sometimes long periods) where my tongue has been more or less white/pale. It is not coated, just pale.

It seems to be more noticeable when I am on low-carbs, am fasting (either limited or no food for part or a whole day), and when I was briefly eating nothing but raw fruits and veggies. It is especially bad in the morning.

One might think dehydration, but I drink a lot of water (5-6 L, plus what goes in my protein shakes now). I have thought at various times it may be related to blood pressure, blood volume (anemia), or electrolytes. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning my urine is dark, but otherwise I piss pale yellow or clear.

Anyone else have this show up while low-carbing or had any experience of it at all?

Do you floss/brush regularly?

Also, do you use an alcohol-based mouthwash?

If so, I’d suggest switching to a fluoride based mouthwash.

[quote]Daemonion wrote:
Do you floss/brush regularly?

Also, do you use an alcohol-based mouthwash?

If so, I’d suggest switching to a fluoride based mouthwash.[/quote]

My norm is to use a non-alcohol, all natural mouthwash in the morning (Tom’s of Maine) and during the day when I have time to rinse/brush (rare). At night I use Listerine Whitening (alcohol based, but you probably are familiar).

I brush my tongue whenever I brush my teeth. I never got into the habit of flossing though. I know I really ought to.

[quote]AlteredState wrote:
Check the mucosal membranes in your mouth (inside the lips, cheeks, gumms, etc) for the same paleness, then report back, lol.[/quote]

Not as definitely white as the tongue but still more pale than I would expect (light pink).

[quote]AlteredState wrote:
How about your conjunctiva (pull your lower eyelids down and check inside). Paleness could be a sign of anemia. Probably a normocytic, normochromic version i.e. you have normall size and shape, ‘healthy’ bloodcells, just not as many as you could have.

A full blood count test by your doc would reveal a lot.

Any actual symptoms, like lethargy, etc?[/quote]

As far as I can tell the inside of my eyelids look ok.

Looking at my tongue, the white has a slight yellowish-brown tinge to it now that was not present earlier this morning. Since going low carbs I have occasionally had two faint yellow streaks on the sides but this is more general. I am thinking acidosis?

Anyway, other symptoms (these don’t occur every day or all at once):

coldness, especially in my feet
dry lips
eye twitches (this is rare now)
heart palpitations (this is particularly noticeable when trying to sleep)
moments of sleepiness during the day, wanting to take a nap
difficulty getting to sleep, restlessness
waking up and unable to get back to sleep (rare now)
pale skin
erectile difficulties (I always have morning wood but don’t seem aroused during the day much if at all)

I have had many of these symptoms on and off for several years now. As far back as I can remember I have had cold feet though. Usually when they show up I blame stress and adrenal problems. Treating myself for adrenal problems tends to help somewhat. I think that is part, but not all of my problem.

I have taken dessicated bovine liver pills before which seems to improve some of my symptoms, though it can sometimes (especially if I take too many) irritate my stomach.

I am probably going to get a blood test done from an independent testing company this week. I do not care for doctors though since the odds are that I will run into one that will not understand why I choose to eat the way I do or supplement the way I do.


I would Recommend that you get a tongue scraper and clean your tongue 1 time per day. I would also think that you may want to add some Probiotics to help with digestive to your diet.
Here is some info I came across from Giovanni Maciocia:


The three most important features in tongue diagnosis are color, shape and coating.

Color. A normal tongue is pale red or pinkish red.

Main deviations…

Too red. This suggests what TCM calls “heat,” which may indicate an inflammation or infection somewhere in the body.

Pale. A pale tongue points to “yang deficiency.” There are two fundamental types of chi energy – yin and yang. Yin chi is like your savings account – your long-term energy. Yang chi is like your checking account – your day-to-day energy.

When yang chi is spent – by Monday’s hectic schedule or Tuesday’s traffic jam – it is easily replenished by rest and a healthful diet. But when you deplete yin chi – through weeks, months or years of poor diet, overwork and stress – you are much more prone to imbalance.

Purple. This indicates a condition TCM calls “blood stasis,” a slowing or pooling of blood that can result in various conditions or symptoms. If you have heart disease, you almost certainly have blood stasis – but having blood stasis does not mean you have heart disease.

More likely, a purple tongue is an indication – perhaps years in advance – that a chronic health problem may be in your future. Purplish, crooked veins under the tongue also may indicate blood stasis – and high blood pressure (hypertension) or heart disease.

Shape. A normal-shaped tongue is soft and supple, without being too flabby. Main deviations…

Cracked. A crack in the middle section of the tongue, for example, often indicates a tendency to develop stomach problems.

Swollen. A swollen tongue indicates what TCM calls “phlegm,” which refers not only to its meaning in Western medicine – the presence of mucus – but also to other chronic accumulations, like cysts (benign, fluid-filled sacs sometimes found in the breasts) and masses, such as fibroids (benign tumors). Forty percent of people are likely to have this imbalance.

Thin. A thin, flat tongue can indicate a deficiency of yin (long-term energy).

Coating. The tongue’s normal coating is white, thin and slightly moist. An absence of coating indicates a yin deficiency. A thick coating points to digestive problems, such as acid reflux or irritable bowel syndrome.


The tongue also can point to emotional difficulties, such as excessive stress and/or anger.

Red tip. This is a strong indication that a person is under chronic emotional stress.

Deep, midline crack. A crack that extends from the back to the tip of the tongue is another sign of emotional stress – or having a tendency to experience it.

Red sides. This indicates what TCM calls “liver heat” – which is often caused by repressed anger, frustration or resentment.


While accurate tongue diagnosis with TCM is too complex for the layperson, you can look at your own tongue, detect possible imbalances like those described in this article – and then consult a TCM practitioner or other health professional. The tongue changes from week to week due to diet, so a once-a-week self-examination is best – preferably in the morning after breakfast.

What to do: Look at your tongue in a mirror under natural light, standing as close to a window as you can. Subdued or fluorescent lighting does not give an accurate picture of tongue color.

Stick out your tongue for 20 seconds – longer, and it starts to turn red as a result of the effort of holding it out. If you want more time, pause for a few seconds, then stick out your tongue again and repeat the 20-second interval.

Avoid eating or drinking colorful foods, such as berries or red wine, for at least two hours before looking at your tongue. Prescription medications, such as antibiotics, may change the appearance of the tongue. In addition, do not use a tongue scraper before the examination, as it will remove any coating on the tongue.

What to look for: Sudden appearance of an overall red color or redness in a part of the tongue… a swelling of the tongue… sudden appearance of a thick coating… or a sudden change in the color of the coating from white to yellow.

A change in coating probably reflects a short-term change in your digestive system, such as digestive upset from something recently eaten. A change in color or shape probably reflects a long-term imbalance, such as diabetes or heart disease.