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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 May 27;2018:6841460. doi: 10.1155/2018/6841460. eCollection 2018.

Relationship between Tongue Temperature Estimated by Infrared Thermography, Tongue Color, and Cold-Heat Pathological Patterns: A Retrospective Chart Review Study.

Baek SW1,2, Lee JM3,4, Park YB1,2, Park YJ1,2.

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Department of Biofunctional Medicine and Diagnostics, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea.
Department of Diagnosis and Biofunctional Medicine, Kyung Hee University Hospital at Gangdong, Republic of Korea.
Department of Women's Health Clinic, Kyung Hee University Hospital at Gangdong, Republic of Korea.
Department of Gynecology, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea.


Tongue diagnosis is a technique used to determine cold-heat pathologic patterns (CHPPs). Herein, we reviewed electronic medical records of tongue temperature measured using infrared thermography (IRT), tongue color (luminance, green/red, and blue/yellow balance), cold-heat pattern questionnaires (CHPQ), and body temperature for 134 women with gynecological problems (age, 38.97 ± 11.49 years). The temperatures of seven tongue regions (root, center, tip, and both sides of the center and root) were determined, and the effects of age, regional differences, and their correlations with color parameters were examined. Factor analysis was conducted separately with the 10 cold pattern (CP) and 10 heat pattern (HP) items. Tongue temperature showed an age effect (β; -0.198 to -0.210) and regional differences (both sides of the root > center and root > tip). Tongue temperature was positively correlated with luminance (r: 0.236-0.246), indicating that a higher temperature was associated with a brighter color. The factor analysis extracted two factors (cold sensitivity-pain and discharge-complexion factors) from the CP items and three factors (heat sensation-pain, discharge-breath, and cold preference-thirst factors) from the HP items. Tongue temperature was negatively correlated with the discharge-complexion factor of CP and the discharge-breath factor of HP (r: -0.171 to -0.203), indicating that a lower tongue temperature may be a consequence of emission of excessive heat in HP and a lower blood perfusion in CP. Body temperature did not correlate with the CHPQ factor scores. In conclusion, tongue temperatures measured using IRT may be a partial indicator of CHPPs.

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