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Green Tongue

Why is my tongue green

The tongue is a perfect indicator of your health. The normal tongue is pink to reddish pink in color with light white coating.

A discoloration of the tongue is an indicator that something is not right. A green yellow tongue is not normal. What does a green tongue indicate? It is a sign of an underlying health problem.

Green Tongue Symptoms

  • Greenish discoloration of the tongue
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Pain and discomfort in the oral cavity
  • Metallic taste (5)
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Swollen tongue
  • Sore throat
  • The patient will have weight loss secondary to loss of appetite. It is attributed to acid reflux which could lead to abnormal taste buds.
  • The tongue is dry with a hard layer on the lower back portion of the tongue.
  • A burning feeling at the level of the mouth. (6)

A tongue with a yellowish to greenish discoloration.photo

Image 1: A tongue with a yellowish to greenish discoloration.
Picture Source: thescienceofeating.com

A green tongue with a scallop edge.image

Picture 2: A green tongue with a scallop edge.
Photo Source: mddk.com

Green Tongue Causes

  1. Prolonged use of antibiotics – Taking antibiotics for a long period of time can cause a greenish discoloration of the tongue. (3)
  2. Oral candidiasis/green thrush/oral thrush – It is an infection of the throat and mouth caused by excessive growth of candida albicans, an opportunistic type of fungus. The clinical manifestations are white patches in the oral cavity (tongue, inner cheek, throat, and palate). Anybody is prone to oral candidiasis, especially those with weak immune system.
  3. Hairy tongue syndrome – it is a condition wherein there is a hairy-like projection on the tongue. It causes rough green colored tongue and will give you a hairy feeling. It is also possible to have green spots or green bumps on the tongue. A hairy tongue is caused by a build-up of keratin protein on the tongue. Other reasons for hairy tongue are dehydration, poor oral hygiene, side effect of radiation therapy of the head and neck, too much intake of antibiotics, prolonged smoking, and effects of drinking coffee and/or tea. (7, 8)
  4. Trauma to the tongue – A greenish discoloration of the tongue can be associated with trauma to the tongue. It could be a sudden blow to the tongue or a result of piercing. It leads to infection causing a greenish to yellowish discharge.
  5. Green tongue as a side effect of substance abuse – harmful substances can cause a greenish discoloration of the tongue. It could be associated with a green tongue syndrome alcohol, smoking, or marijuana use. Specifically, excessive marijuana use could result to a green coated tongue.
  6. Vitamin deficiency – A discoloration of the tongue could indicate that the body is deficient in essential vitamins and minerals. A greenish discoloration of the tongue could mean that the body lacks vitamin B. It is also caused by a low haemoglobin level and anemia or inadequate iron in the blood. (1, 4)

Green tongue in baby

Sometimes babies have a green tongue and it is commonly associated with oral thrush and cold infection. Sometimes, if your baby has a severe cough, the tongue has greenish discoloration because the green sputum got mixed up with the bacteria. It is after coughing that the tongue is severely discoloured. The tongue of the babies can also turn green if they are on antibiotic medication.

The kind of foods eaten by babies can also affect the color of the tongue. If you are pregnant and you are suspecting of oral thrust, then you need to have yourself checked so that you will not be able to pass on the thrush to your baby. If you are pregnant, you should increase your intake of foods rich in vitamins and essential nutrients so that your baby will be healthy. (3, 6, 8)

How to treat green tongue?

The treatment for greenish discoloration of the tongue depends on the underlying cause. Hence, it is important to determine the root cause of the problem so that proper treatment and care will be given to the patient. Some of the best treatment approach and remedies for greenish discoloration of the tongue include the following:

  • You should maintain a good oral hygiene. Gently brush your teeth and tongue at least two to three times a day. (1, 2)
  • There are home remedies tested and proven effective in treating green tongue. Create a paste using turmeric and honey and apply directly on the tongue. Turmeric and honey are known for their antibacterial properties. They don’t just help get rid of green tongue but also help in controlling the spread of oral thrush.
  • You should eat a healthy and nutritious foods. Increase your intake of vitamin C to strengthen your immune system.
  • If there is a greenish hairy projection on the tongue, you can at least get rid of them using a tongue scraper. (3)
  • Use mint leaves in cleaning the tongue. It brings back the tongue to its original color and at the same time eliminates foul smelling breath.
  • Increase your intake of probiotics. What are probiotics? They are good bacteria and they can help increase the body’s defense against bad bacteria. A good source of probiotics are yogurt, cheese, and dairy products. (4)

Having a green tongue can be worrisome. However, one should keep in mind that a greenish discoloration of the tongue is not a disease itself, but a clinical manifestation of an underlying serious medical condition. A tongue discoloration that goes on for a few days is nothing to be concerned about.

However, if the greenish discoloration does not resolve and comes with other symptoms such as the ones mentioned above, it could indicate a more serious health problem. If this is the case, you need to immediately consult your doctor. Your primary care physician will conduct a thorough assessment to thoroughly diagnose the underlying medical condition.

Aside from the physical examination, the doctor will also order complete blood count (CBC) and tongue culture. This is to check the level of white blood cells and to identify the disease-causing organism. (7, 8, 9, 10)


  1. www.top10homeremedies.com
  2. www.tandurust.com
  3. mddk.com
  4. www.wowremedies.com
  5. www.healcure.org
  6. doctordecides.com
  7. health.knowfacts.org
  8. diseasespictures.com
  9. www.webmd.com
  10. www.home-remedies-for-you.com

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