Understanding pH: Acid and Alkaline Decoded

Acid or alkaline? The pH of our bodily fluids is a fascinating subject and one that most people don’t clearly understand.  The pH (potential Hydrogen) scale goes from zero which is totally acidic (can dissolve steel) to 14 which is completely alkaline (caustic like drain cleaner). A pH of seven is neutral. PH is a measure of the concentration of acid or positively charged singlet Hydrogen (H+) ions. Alkalinity is the measure of the liquid’s capacity to neutralize acid (H+ ions).

Human blood must stay in the narrow pH range of 7.35-7.45, which is mildly alkaline. The body will do whatever it has to do to regulate that constant pH because your life depends on it. If the pH of blood drops below 7 the acidity can lead to coma or death, and if the pH goes up to 8 the resulting alkalosis also frequently leads to death.

If the body is burdened by excess acid it may first borrow calcium from bones in order to keep the blood pH where it needs to be. It may also hijack magnesium and potassium to act as acid buffers, instead of using them for heart health, nerve health, bone health and repair and maintenance of the body. If this occurs infrequently it’s not a big deal, but if it’s a constant juggling act for the body to maintain optimal blood pH symptoms are sure to ensue.

Test Your Urine and Saliva pH Regularly

You should have high quality pH test strips in your medicine kit and when you begin to experience symptoms always check your urine and saliva pH. This will give you vital information about where things may be going wrong. There’s no harm in testing regularly so you can observe any fluctuations in lifestyle, dietary or other influences that may have recently changed to affect it. This is a simple way to gain understanding of how your body responds.

Test your urine and use another strip to test your saliva (nothing in your mouth for 30 minutes prior to testing). Test both urine and saliva at the same time of day, close to 10-11 a.m. (prior to eating lunch) is ideal.

Easy pH Rules:

  • Urine pH should be between 6.0 and 6.5
  • Saliva pH should be between 6.4 and 6.8 (nothing in mouth)
  • Saliva pH should not be lower than urine pH
  • The total of urine pH and saliva pH should be close to 12.8-13.2

A Urine pH of about 6.4 and a Saliva pH of about 6.4 are considered ideal. Think of it like this: the Urine pH (UpH) is indicative of how well the body is doing at removing acid waste, whereas the Saliva pH (SpH) is indicative of how much acid waste is remaining in the system. The UpH represents your extracellular fluid and the SpH your intracellular fluid. Each one is expected to register about .9 less than the blood pH.  (The ideal number of 6.4+.9 puts the pH of the blood in the ideal zone of 7.3.) This doesn’t mean that your blood pH is always .9 higher than your urine and/or saliva. Remember, the body works day and night to maintain blood pH in the range of 7.35-7.45.  If the urine pH and saliva pH are outside of the optimal zone there is a wide range of potential causes. It’s important to deal with those numbers head on.

Too Alkaline When you are too alkaline and you take too much of the wrong kind of calcium, it may not be assimilated and therefore may plug up your circulatory system, like hard water does to pipes. It may also migrate into your soft tissues causing stiffness and joint pain. Too much of the wrong vitamin C and you could be moving your pH in the wrong direction. The remedy is to use the correct form of vitamin C and calcium to lower your pH.

Too Acid When you are too acid, you may have a calcium deficiency but if you take the wrong kind of calcium and/or vitamin C, you can make the problem worse. Being too acid is where your problems begin. The remedy is to use the correct form of vitamin C and calcium to raise your pH. You should also avoid acid-forming foods.

Supplementation: Calcium and vitamin C supplements need to be specifically chosen to bring your urine and saliva pH’s back into the healthy range. Here’s a useful guide with examples to help you make the best choices.

  • If both UpH and SpH are equal to or higher than 7.0 use an acidifying vitamin C product and a pH balanced calcium product. Examples: ascorbic acid and calcium lactate. (Potential trouble ahead)
  • If both UpH and SpH are lower than 6.5 use an alkalizing vitamin C product and an alkalizing calcium product. Examples: Ester-C and calcium carbonate or calcium hydroxide. (Action is needed)
  • If UpH is higher than SpH, and SpH is lower than 7.0 use an acidifying vitamin C product and an alkalizing calcium product. Examples: Ascorbic acid and calcium carbonate or calcium hydroxide. (This has potential to be a serious profile.)
  • If UpH is lower than SpH, and SpH is equal to or higher than 7.0 use an alkalizing vitamin C product and a pH balanced calcium product. Examples: Ester-C and calcium gluconate.
  • If UpH is higher than SpH by 1.0 or more use a combination of acid and alkaline vitamin C products and a mix of alkaline and balanced pH calcium. Examples: Ascorbic acid/Ester-C and calcium lactate/calcium hydroxide. (This has potential to be a serious profile.)
  • If UpH is lower than SpH by 1.0 or more use combinations of acid/alkaline vitamin C and alkaline/pH balanced calcium. Examples: Ascorbic acid/Ester-C and calcium gluconate/ calcium lactate. (This is the most common profile, and the greater the spread between the pH’s the greater the stress in your life that needs to be resolved.)

Calcium hydroxide (frequently referred to simply as “hydroxide”) is something of which you may not be aware. Benefits of natural calcium hydroxide include its unique ability to bind to excess singlet H+ ions (acidity) and convert them safely into water. It is available in liquid form as a concentrate and is intended to be added to distilled water and consumed as needed until the excess acidity is removed.  Something else that may be helpful is drinking alkaline water, except in the case of profile #1 above which shows high alkalinity. If you choose to drink alkaline water be sure not to consume it with meals containing protein as it will neutralize stomach acid.

Now that we’ve discussed how to optimize your urine and saliva pH’s you may be curious to learn what influences may have moved them into an unhealthy condition to begin with. This is important to know in order to avoid behaviors and substances that can throw you out of whack.

What contributes to acidosis?

Shallow breathing (respiratory acidosis), stress, excessive protein intake (especially grain-fed meat and dairy products), sugar, including from sweet fruits, and artificial sweeteners, processed vegetable oils, alcohol, too much caffeine, insufficient stomach acid (HCL) leading to poor mineral assimilation (sufficient stomach acid is important for keeping the body pH in the healthy range). Kidney disease can interfere with the ability of the kidneys to filter acids out of the blood to be eliminated in urine (called renal tubular acidosis).

Respiratory Acidosis: The purpose of breathing is to transport inhaled oxygen from the lungs into the blood and move carbon dioxide (an acid) from the blood into the lungs for us to exhale. Excess CO2 in the blood may be caused by a decrease in respiratory rate or air movement due to asthma, emphysema, COPD, sleep apnea, obesity, pneumonia, smoking, sedative or alcohol misuse, or anything that restricts proper breathing.  Insufficient cellular oxygen leads to a buildup of lactic acid as well. If you have any of these issues it’s important to get treatment. Deep breathing exercises can be helpful to expel excess CO2. This may be a reason why regular exercise is so healthful.

Ketoacidosis: Diabetics, whose insulin levels are too low, combined with dehydration, may lead to a situation where excessive ketones are produced. This may also apply to long term heavy drinkers who don’t eat enough.

Possible acidosis symptoms: bad breath, excessive sweating, body odor, under-eye dark circles, sleepiness, fatigue, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, headache, joint pain, osteoporosis, respiratory infections, heart problems, allergies (including adult-onset food allergies), weight loss/gain, yeast, fungus or parasite overgrowth, adult acne, fast breathing, weakness, confusion, forgetfulness, irritability, personality changes, difficulty concentrating, little appetite, nausea and/or vomiting. If these advanced symptoms are severe please see your doctor or go to the hospital.

What can lead to alkalosis?

Hyperventilation, also called over-breathing, (except during exercise) leads to dangerously low levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. This may be caused by high fever, being at high altitude, liver disease, lung disease, kidney disease, salicylate poisoning or lack of oxygen. Electrolyte loss due to excess vomiting or diarrhea, large and rapid loss of sodium or potassium, low chloride levels, antacids, laxatives, alcohol abuse, adrenal disease or overuse of diuretics are also contributors to alkalosis.

A blood pH above 7.45 is a sign of alkalosis and can only be determined by medical tests, not by pH test strips. Symptoms of advanced alkalosis (advancing toward a pH of 8) may start with hand tremors, twitching muscles, prolonged muscle spasms (tetany), numbness and nausea. If alkalosis isn’t treated quickly it can become more severe and dangerous symptoms may occur, potentially leading to stupor or coma, difficulty breathing, confusion and dizziness. These symptoms should be taken seriously and medical attention sought immediately. This is a frequent condition in the final stages of terminal disease.

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