Use a pH Test To Help Defeat Pain and Inflammation
By Donald Hayes, DC
The relationship between chronic muscle and joint pain, inflammation and saliva pH should be understood in order to minimize the time for healing and rehabbing injuries. A crucial fact to remember about the overwhelming majority of injuries that present to your chiropractic office is that more likely than not, muscle and joint pain problems are chronic in nature. These chronic muscle and joint pain problems may be secondary to acute or repetitive stress, of course, but typically develop from improperly managed inflammation and acid / alkaline imbalances in patients' tissues.
Understanding the Free-Radical Problem
A major factor in the formation of chronic inflammation is the presence of free radicals occurring in greater abundance than the body's ability to remove them, frequently referred to as oxidative stress. Excess acid-forming foods and drinks, and acidic lifestyles in general, put an enormous strain on the digestive system, liver, kidneys and areas of chronic inflammation.
The body's attempt to neutralize all that acid creates additional free radicals, which then further damage inflamed tissue cells and rob electrons, known as "your patient's life force," from existing healthy tissues.
Foods that can create excess acids include meat, eggs, dairy, white flour, coffee, soft drinks and artificial sweeteners. Foods that tend to be alkaline-forming in nature include most fruits, green vegetables, peas, beans, lentils, spices, herbs and seasonings, and seeds and nuts.
By integrating a simple saliva pH testing technology and offering your patients a very alkaline, antioxidant and phytonutrient-rich green drink supplement, you will see improved outcomes and faster healing times immediately.
Quenching Free Radicals
What makes free radicals so dangerous and challenging when treating inflammation is the fact that free radical molecules have lost one of their electrons, are very unstable and will "steal" an electron from other cells in the area. In turn, the next molecule becomes an unstable free radical, starting a cascade of events that further damages the area of injury. The body produces antioxidant enzymes designed to quench these free radicals.
Antioxidants are substances that are termed "givers" because they donate an extra electron, which stabilizes the free radical and prevents it from damaging other cells. But if patients have too many free radicals, their body can't keep up and their pain, inflammation and healing process becomes impaired.
One significant way to help your patients combat free-radical development is to educate them on their first visit (generally when they are most acute in terms of pain / inflammation) by suggesting that they reduce their intake of acidic foods and drinks while monitoring their saliva pH and supplementing every morning with an antioxidant-rich green drink that provides the body plenty of free radical-quenching nutrients.
The Science Behind pH and Optimal Health
In his Textbook of Medical Physiology, Arthur Guyton, MD, dedicated an entire chapter on this topic and stated that when the body is alkaline, it converts free radicals to harmless water and oxygen, which helps to maintain energy and vitality. The acid / alkaline balance relates to the chemistry of the body's fluids and tissues as measured by pH. The cells of the body must have a slightly alkaline environment to survive. With a blood pH of 7.365, the cells are in homeostasis and they receive nourishment and release waste with ease. But when you eat, drink and live an acidic lifestyle, your cells and the inner environment become toxic. Your patient's diet and lifestyle choices will help or harm their delicate pH balance and dramatically affect treatment outcomes.
Why Is Measuring pH So Important?
The body is designed to operate within a very narrow pH range. Optimally, you want to be a little on the alkaline side, with a blood pH of around 7.365, with Dr. Guyton suggesting a range of 7.34 to 7.45. Blood is the most important fluid and therefore is the most protected pH measurement. Even a minor fluctuation in the blood's pH in either direction creates distress signals in the body, causing various symptoms that start out small and then ramp up as the imbalance continues. Everything from a runny nose to skin eruptions, heartburn, eczema, inflammation, arthritis, poor circulation, chronic fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome, a weakened immune system and chronic diseases of aging can be traced in some way to an acidic inner terrain.
The Simplest Way to Monitor Patients' pH
The simplest and most accurate way to read your patients' pH is to test their saliva. Saliva pH is the most reliable body fluid to test outside of the blood and can easily be tested using litmus paper strips, available in most pharmacies. Many doctors buy small pH testing kits that contain a small number of test strips, around 15, and a pH color chart to measure results, all enclosed in a small, sealed bag. Most doctors who have integrated pH testing into their practices buy high-quality test kits for around $2.50 each and either offer them to patients for $5 or give them away when the patient purchases an alkaline green-drink supplement.
To test a patient's pH, have them take the test kit home and first thing in the morning, dip one paper strip into their saliva on a spoon for 1-2 seconds. After about 10 seconds, have them compare the color on the test strip to the color on the pH chart and record the number. One reading of a test strip won't really tell you much, because levels fluctuate. It's best to have your patients track their readings a few times a week for 2-3 weeks to get a general idea of where they fall. A few weeks of this will give both you and the patient a fairly accurate reading of their body chemistry. As your treatment program continues, along with their daily alkaline green drinks and a more alkaline diet and lifestyle, you will definitely see improvements in their overall health.