What is a purple tongue? The answer depends on who you’ll approach. Medical doctors and naturopaths may ask you to stick out your tongue, but they do it for completely different reasons. In this article, you’ll uncover the different purple tongue causes and treatment options.
- 1 Purple Tongue Causes
- 2 Natural Options for Lowering Bad Cholesterols
- 3 Traditional Chinese Medicine
Purple Tongue Causes
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Deficiency
Compared to other types of tongue discolorations, purple tongue is rare. It usually develops when a person is deficient of certain nutrients, in particular vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Those who are at risk for vitamin B2 deficiency are alcoholics, vegetarians, and elderly people because of poor diet.
Vitamin B2 is water-soluble. This means that the body doesn’t store it, so we have to get it from outside sources, such as food and dietary supplements.
Why do we need this vitamin?
Vitamin B2, along with other B vitamins, converts carbohydrates into energy (glucose) for the body. As an antioxidant, it reduces the damaging effects of excess free radicals that could lead to faster aging and cause different health problems, like heart disease. It also promotes the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen.
How to Treat It
- Oral supplements
Vitamin B2 is usually in B-complex or multivamins supplements. It’s best taken during or in between meals to allow better absorption. If oral supplements don’t work, your doctor may give this vitamin through injections.
Before you do anything, talk to your doctor first to get the proper diagnosis and treatment. It’s unlikely you’ll overdose on B vitamins because your body gets rid of them every day through your urine. However, there’s still a possibility of toxicities if you take them in extremely large amounts. It could increase your chances of developing kidney stones.
Vitamin B2 could interact with the following medications: antipsychotic medicines, anti-seizure drugs, tricylic antidepressants, and tetracycline, among others.
- Fill your plate with vitamin B2-rich foods.
Here are some of the best food sources of vitamin B2:
- Brewer’s yeast
- Lean beef and lamb meat
- Organ meats
- Oily Fish
- Whole grains
- Wheat germ
- Sesame Seeds
- Wild rice
- Dairy products (milk and yogurt)
Make sure to store supplements and foods away from direct sunlight to protect their vitamin B2 content. Instead of boiling or frying, you can cook foods by steaming or roasting to preserve more vitamin B2.
Bluish-purplish discoloration of the tongue could be a sign that you’re experiencing central cyanosis. This condition happens when your blood is not carrying enough fresh oxygen throughout the body or has become sluggish.
There are different reasons why a person suffers from cyanosis, including heart or lung diseases and hemoglobin (carrier of oxygen) abnormalities, like sulfhemoglobin. In adults, the major cause is serious respiratory diseases, such as severe asthma attack, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and severe pneumonia.
How to Treat It
Cyanosis is a symptom of a certain health condition, not a disease. Thus, the treatment should focus on the root cause to get rid of cyanosis and other symptoms. If you suffer from this condition, talk to your doctor as soon as possible to get the proper diagnosis and medical treatment.
High Levels of Bad Cholesterol
Cholesterol is not entirely evil. Without it, your body won’t function properly. Cholesterol helps in the production of hormones, assists the liver in producing bile, and is part of the structure of body cells.
The problem happens where there’s an imbalance in your cholesterol profile. Meaning, you have more trigylcerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) compared to your high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which take away LDL cholesterols (the bad cholesterols) and deliver them to the liver for secretion from the body.
In the United States, there are around 73.5 million adults who have high amounts of LDL.  High levels of LDL cholesterols and triglycerides are bad, especially if your HDL cholesterols don’t compensate. This could lead to the blockage of your major blood vessels. This will eventually damage your heart and cause heart attacks or strokes.
The goal of naturpathic medicine is to help the body heal itself in order restore the normal cholesterol balance and maintain the proper production of cholesterol.
Natural Options for Lowering Bad Cholesterols
CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant that’s present in our bodies. It plays different roles, including converting food (carbs) into energy. Some researchers even say it might help with heart diseases because it can prevent blood clot formation and boost cell energy production.
Why is it good for people with high levels of low-density lipoproteins?
There are insufficient scientific studies. However, it’s widely believed that low levels of CoQ10 in the body are due to an increase in bad cholesterols. Anti-cholesterold drugs (statins) may also lower the amount of CoQ10 in the blood.  Since there’s a deficiency, the most logical solutions are proper diet and vitamin B2 supplementation.
Tips and Warnings:
- Since CoQ10 is a fat-soluble substance, take it with foods that contain a good amount of fats for better absorption.
- Soft gels are preferred compared to other preparations.
- Never give this antioxidant to children below 18 years old.
- Always consult your doctor prior to supplementation to determine the right dose for your condition. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends a dose range of 30 to 200mg (for adults) of CoQ10 every day.
Red yeast rice
Red yeast rice is both a drug and food. In Asian countries, like China, people have used it for centuries to cure high cholesterol levels.
Why does it work?
It seems red yeast rice contains specific chemicals that are similar to mainstream anti-cholesterol drugs. One example of this chemical in red yeast rice is monocalin K, which has the same structure as lovastatin. Because of this, the FDA has classified it as a drug.
Green tea extract
This is one good reason to put aside your coffee and start drinking green tea for good health. There have been preliminary studies that have suggested that green tea may be able to lower LDL cholesterol in adults without affecting the HDL cholesterol. 
How many cups should you drink? There’s no general consensus, but the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends drinking 2 to 3 cups daily depending on the tea brand.
Oatmeal helps lower bad cholesterol levels because it contains soluble fibers called beta-glucans. They work by decreasing the intestinal absorption of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), the so-called bad cholesterols. A study has shown that eating 3 grams of oatmeal everyday could lower total and LDL cholesterols by 5% and 7%. 
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine healers believe that people’s tongue color and heart are connected. The color of the tongue will indicate the health of the blood and the body in general.
Stagnation simply means that there’s a slowing down in the flow of the body fluids and blood. This could lead to different diseases and pain.
Traditional Chinese doctors usually interpret purple tongue as Qi (energy) Stagnation. If it’s bluish-purple, it means the stagnation is associated with Cold. If it’s reddish-purple, it’s associated with Heat.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is responsible for ensuring that the flow of Qi is smooth. Anger, irritability, depression, and other negative emotions are all signs that the liver is not doing its job because of congestion.
Acupressure is a great way to treat emotional stress linked to Qi Stagnation. The aim of this technique is to restore balance in the different energy channels of the body for good health and emotional wellness.
Pay attention to your diet
Traditional Chinese Medicine healers believe that diet plays a role in treating Qi Stagnation. It’s not a good idea to eat large meals or cold raw foods, which could interfere with proper blood circulation. They also believe that there are certain foods that could treat Liver Qi Stagnation, like the following:
- Milk Thistle Tea
- Sweet potato
- Sweet basil
- Caraway seed
- Mustard seed
Should You Worry About A Purplish Tongue?
Among all types of tongue discolorations, purple tongue is the most uncommon. If it does happen, the most likely culprit would be foods that have the potential to discolor the tongue. This will eventually go away on its own without medical attention or home treatments.
If you don’t experience any breathing difficulties, fever, pain, and other serious physical symptoms, then you’re most likely fine. However, it’s still a great idea to have your doctor check your tongue to rule out any underlying health issues.
Did you ever experience having a purplish tongue before? What treatments worked best for you? Let me know what you think about the subject. I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips!