Send Us a Picture of Your Tongue. We’ll Help You Sleep Better

by John G. McGarvey |

Send Us a Picture of Your Tongue.  We’ll Help You Sleep Better

Consider this – your tongue is the only muscle in your body that we can actually see, and not surprisingly, no two tongues are alike.  To an acupuncturist and in the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine, your tongue serves as a gateway to your overall health.  So last week we asked people to start sending us pictures of their tongue for a quick review on why they aren’t sleeping.  The response has been amazing. 

We've been inundated with tongue photos from around the world, and our team of acupuncturists are providing a simple, virtual assessment of why people are suffering from sleep woes through the lens of Chinese medicine.  It’s been a remarkable exercise on many levels. 

Why Show Us Your Tongue?

You wouldn’t know it, but there are over two dozen “tongue patterns” according to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory (see the image below that I snapped at Emperor’s College last year).  Most acupuncture appointments always include a quick review of your tongue, which depending on your circumstances, can serve as a crystal ball into your mental and physical health for the acupuncturist (the number of times I’ve gotten a “wince” and was asked if I was under a lot of stress and not sleeping well after a tongue review is endless).  It’s quite remarkable.

Chinese medicine tongues

On our journey of innovation within Chinese herbal medicine, supported by an international network of acupuncturists, we’re constantly striving to make this incredible health and wellness practice more approachable. Our goal is to make certain that everybody has an acupuncturist and Chinese herbs in their wellness toolkits.  And what better way than providing a specific solution to a very real problem – sleepless nights.    

The Tongue Tells Us Why You Aren’t Sleeping. 

We launched our Sleep Series formulas two years ago and have trouble keeping them in stock due to demand (Mental Tranquility for the stressed sleeper, Physical Tranquility for those who sleep hot).  We launched two different solutions as there’s no one-size-fits-all to why we don’t sleep (i.e. – melatonin).  And in the world of acupuncture, there are actually many more.

How to Show Us Your Tongue

So we thought what better way to further the conversation than letting one's tongue help you decide which formula might be best for you.  So here's how it works: visit this page, answer a handful of questions, snap and send us an image of your tongue, and we’ll have an acupuncturist review it for you.  Within 24 hours, we’ll send back an assessment of what was observed, what it says about why you’re not sleeping, and herbal recommendations (either from DAO Labs or other formulas) along with insight on getting started with acupuncture.  

That's it. 

What We’ve Learned

In short order, we’ve reviewed more tongues than we anticipated, and are beginning to monitor patterns across the tongues that have been submitted thus far.  Here’s what we know (and what any acupuncturist can tell you):

  • There are a lot of stressed and hot sleepers out there. In some cases, there’s a “quick herbal fix” that can help.
  • Some folks require digestive support to help sleep better – in these cases, we’re recommending our Digestive Harmony formula and offering coaching on eating regimens.
  • Some “tongue patterns” are overly complex and require one-on-one consultation to work on underlying needs within the body: in these cases, we’re recommending time with an acupuncturist.

But perhaps the biggest takeaway is that people are natural curious and willing to participate in what could be considered a rather quirky (but seemingly powerful) exercise.  This three-minute process is a Chinese medicine equivalent to today’s radical changes to western healthcare (tongue swags and blood samples in the mail, virtual doctors’ appointments, and the like). 

So if you can’t put a finger on why you’re not sleeping, and other solutions have failed, snap a picture and see if we can help.  I’m quite certain you’ll might be surprised. 

John G. McGarvey is a co-founder of DAO Labs and a regular contributor to The Way. A frequent visitor to China and Asia for both business and pleasure, he is an avid consumer of Chinese medicine. He can be reached at

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