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The Tongue: A Venous Pump For The Face

Inherent Tongue Motion

The tongue should act as a venous pump for the head and face. In a previous article, I described how the tongue functions as a piston during inhalation and exhalation. The purpose of that article was to describe how that motion helps to widen and provide proper growth of the palate. The caveat is that it only works with proper resting tongue posture on the palate. If the tongue cannot rest on the palate in cases of improper swallowing mechanics and/or tongue ties, then proper facial growth can be impeded.

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The same applies to the tongue as a venous pump. Without proper resting posture, the ability for the tongue to act as a venous pump is lost.

The Venous Pump Mechanics

To understand the full scope of what I am proposing, I recommend watching the following video where I outline in-depth the concepts laid out here. In the video, we go over the anatomy explaining how blood is drained from the head and face.

A good portion of blood draining out of the nasal cavity ends up in the palate. From the palate, it then drains to a large collection of veins called the pterygoid plexus.

During normal resting tongue posture when the tongue is subtly moving like a piston, there are subtle changes in pressure. Maintaining suction of the palate, when it moves downward, the tongue creates negative pressure.

You can mimic this by placing your tongue on your palate covering as much surface area of the tongue with your palate. Then pull down strongly being careful not to lose the suction. Hold it for ten seconds or longer. People commonly have sensation in their face doing this.

When the tongue moves upward it creates positive pressure on the palate. This pulls blood out of the nasal cavity and face and moves it to the pterygoid plexus where it can then be drained to the jugular veins and back to the heart.


I believe this is an important method that helps drain the blood and head, especially at night passive venous drainage is dominant and the brain is doing “self-cleaning.” Without it, the brain may be unable to clear “junk” properly. This would be important under normal conditions, but could be more important under conditions where one has suffered a concussion or other traumatic brain injury and possibly could be a factor with dementia. Furthermore, there is increased venous pressure within normal limits in the head, but can produce swelling under the eyes and other watershed regions in the head and face.

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Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Author Daniel Lopez, D.O.

Daniel Lopez, D.O. grew up with a lot of pain trying many things that did not help. Realizing that if he could not help himself, he would be unable to help others effectively, he dedicated himself to finding real answers. Since that time, Dr. Lopez has found a unique but powerful style where he has patients from around the country and the world that travel to see him for headaches, TMJ issues, eye issues, neck pain, back pain, and more. Daniel Lopez, D.O. is an osteopathic physician with Osteopathic Integrative Medicine. Prior to that he had a private practice in NYC for 6 years. He is the author of the Amazon best seller "Unwinding the Body and Decoding the Messages of Pain: An In-Depth Look into the World of Osteopathic Physicians and How They 'Magically' Use Their Hands for Healing." He lives in Aurora, CO with his wife and daughters.

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