The functions of the human tongue are numerous and besides its important function as an organ of taste, it is also responsible for vocalization and talking, it is necessary to the actions of swallowing and chewing as well. The presence of a large number of systemic disorders in the body are often manifested by the tongue-this is similar to the same role played by many other parts of the human body, a change in appearance is the usual way the tongue will show for the presence of many different systemic problems which affect the person. A typical disorder known as the geographic tongue is visually very striking, in this condition the tongue has many areas both smooth and red with little white elevations of the papillae, and the overall effect is that this condition will make the surface of the tongue's surface seem like a strange landscape or surreal area of the body. As normal tissues shedding in different areas of the tongue continue unabated daily, this surreal landscape of the “geographic tongue” will also keep changing in appearance on a daily basis. The condition in itself neither causes pain in the tongue nor it is a serious illness. The hairy tongue which has a scary name is another very mild, but very severe appearing disorder, in this condition, all the papillae along the tongue grow extremely long and can often turn very black in color-the overall effect is very scary though the condition is not so severe. White coating in different areas of the mouth and tongue is a characteristic sign of the condition known as leukoplakia, the coating is an area of calloused skin, and this white coating may signal a dangerous disease. The visual effects of thrush are similar in appearance to those tongues affected by leukoplakia, this condition is characterized by the presence of raised or elevated white patches on the tongue which are often bordered by reddened mucous membranes-the condition is very striking in its overall effect. The first signs of the condition known as thrush generally occur on the tongue itself, though the condition has a tendency to then spread out through the inner mouth and finally it affects the entire oral orifice. Physically wiping or rubbing the white coating off will expose very raw skin, and result in the appearance of bleeding sores along the area.
The presence of vitamin deficiencies, the use of certain classes of prescription medications, the presence of digestive problems and sudden changes in diet are the main causes for the majority of tongue disorders. In some tongue disorders, the actual cause of the problem or injury and the subsequent irritation in the tongue is fairly apparent; such obvious cases are caused for example, by very spicy foods, very acidic foods or drinks, and foods that are eaten very hot or very cold-ice-cream being a prime example. The risk of oral cancer increases if the person has a habit of smoking, the habit also directly brings extreme irritation to the tongue and mouth. Burning sensations in the mouth and redness in the tongue and oral cavity can be brought on by many allergies which often cause the development of sudden irritations accompanied by a lot of itching and related allergic reactions in the person. The cause of leukoplakia may be due to the repeated exposure of the mouth to irritating substances, this condition in general has a tendency of affecting men between the ages of twenty five and fifty five-it can be regarded as a pre-cancerous stage in the oral cavity. The presence of a full blown and teeming candida infective population is the cause of thrush; the condition typically has a very common chance of developing following the repeated dose of different antibiotics in the treatment of disease. Thrush is most likely to develop and affect individuals with a very low resistance to infection-thus the majority of babies and the elderly tend to be vulnerable to developing this particular condition.
The frequency in shedding the tissues making up the papillae on the tongue is the main reason for the constant and continually changing “surreal” landscape which characterizes the appearance of the tongue in the condition known as “geographic tongue”. The papillae are the small bumps of tissue whose main function in the tongue is as sensory areas for the senses of taste and they also have a function in the adhesive qualities of the tissue making up the tongue. The real cause for geographic tongue is still a mystery, however, the deficiency of the B vitamins within the body and the lack of these nutrients in the diet may be possible causes for this peculiar disorder and for this reason, changes in the dietary regimen of the affected person must be considered as a possible avenue for treatment. The appearance of the other disorder or “hairy tongue” is usually related to the use of antibiotic drugs and this condition is common after a course of medication for bacterial infections. At the same time, the presence of irritants such as the strong chemicals used in many mouthwashes may also be possible causative factors for the problem in certain instances. The presence of anemia is often manifested as a burning sensation in the tongue; this bringing sensation develops as a result of the low iron or vitamin B12 in the body of the individual. In addition, disorders such as very painful ulcers can also affect the tongue and such problems tend to develop or occur as a result of cold sores or because of canker sores in the mouth of the person concerned.
Supplements and herbs
All of the supplements and herbs given here can be used in the treatment of the various types of tongue disorders. In addition, the appearance of many of these different tongue disorders may often suggest the presence of different nutritional deficiencies in the individual, in particular the deficiency in the body of any of the B complex vitamins often manifest itself as a tongue disorder. The regular use of B complex vitamin supplements can often result in the coming removal of the geographic tongue in many patients. The deficiency in the body of either the vitamin niacin or a vitamin B6 deficiency can often be suggested by the presence of a red and very sore tongue which itself is associated with soreness in the mouth of the patient. The lack of the vitamin folic acid or B12 is often manifested in the tongues and such a deficiency will often cause the tongue to become smooth and shiny in appearance. The tongue can turn purple when there is a deficiency of the vitamin B2 in the body, at the same time, a lack in the pantothenic acid within the body can often be observed in the form of an enlarged and beefy tongue in the affected individual. The appearance of canker sores is characteristic of a deficiency in the essential vitamin C, such sores typically form on the inner surfaces of the mouth and on the tongue itself and are very apparent to the affected person. The supplemental use of the vitamins A and E will prove to be very beneficial in bringing about healing in the affected mucous membranes within the mouth of the patient.
Many of the digestive and stomach disorders which may manifest themselves through the tongue can be treated with herbal remedies, these herbs are excellent in treating such disorders, the use of the herbs will also result in better stimulation of the dysfunctional taste buds and finally, these herbs will fight off all attendant infections which may also be the cause of the tongue disorders in some patients.