Traditional Chinese Medicine has long recognised the importance of analysing the state of a patient’s tongue in an attempt to work out what’s wrong with them and identify the best way to treat their ailments. This process of analysing a person’s mental and physical well-being is often referred to as finding out what their “zheng” is.
Well now it seems these ancient methods are being employed by modern day health geeks who want to be able to learn a lot about a person’s wellbeing (or zheng) by taking a quick peek inside their mouth.
Researchers at the University of Missouri have been developing a new kind of technology that enables people to have a photo of their tongue taken and analysed. The process involves analysing the colour, texture and general state of the tongue to put it into what’s known as a “hot” or “cold” category. Dong Xu, one of the authors of the study explained:
“Hot and cold zheng doesn’t refer directly to body temperature. Rather, it refers to a suite of symptoms associated with the state of the body as a whole.”
Although the software is still in the early developmental stages at the moment, the researchers have high hopes to bring this kind of technology straight to mobile devices in the form of an app that gives users the freedom to take a “tongue health test” for themselves. Researcher Ye Duan said:
“As we continue to work on the software we hope to improve its ability. Eventually everyone will be able to use this tool at home using webcams or smartphone applications. That will allow them to monitor their zheng and get an early warning about possible ailments.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether the tongue analysis truly proves effective on large test groups and whether it’s something people can do from their mobiles easily with accurate results.