Dr S. Chidambaranathan B.H.M.S, M.D Homeopathy Doctor Madurai (Treatment avail for all people around the world)
Composition of saliva – Saliva is mainly composed of water (90-98 per cent), mucous, electrolytes
(sodium, potassium, chlorides, bicarbonates, magnesium , phosphates, calcium, etc), enzymes, cells, bacteria, etc., constitute the rest. PH of saliva seems to be mostly neutral or slightly alkaline (6.4).
Functions of saliva – Saliva has innumerous functions. Saliva works as
- Moisturiser – saliva keeps the mucous membrane of cheek, lips, tongue and throat moist and slippery to gulp food easily.
- Solvent and taste promoter – Saliva dissolves the food substances placed in the mouth to promote and identify the taste (taste buds cannot identify the taste of dry substances)
- Cleansing agent – it wipes and cleans cheek, teeth, gums, lips and throat with the help of tongue, to maintain cleanliness and odour-free mouth.
- Anti-bacterial – Saliva can resist bacteria. Enzymes in the saliva work for it.
- Wound healer – Wound seems to heal fast with saliva (unless it is more acidic)
- Pain-killer – Saliva can soothe pain too.
- Thirst enhancer – (drying) Saliva also remains as an indicator for the brain to call for water needed for the body (since low volume of water in the body causes less volume of saliva)
- Digestive agent – generally digestive function starts in the mouth itself – grinding, dissolving, making food into bolus, etc., are all part of the digestive functions. Saliva is the first digestive juice of digestive tract. It breaks down the food substances for easy digestion.
- Excretory functions – Saliva has excretory functions too. Salivary duct adjusts the composition of
- Protective functions – Spreading as a layer all over the mucous membrane of mouth acts as protective coat against abrasions or entry of infection.
- Spit – It helps in spitting out the unwanted food or foreign substances (stones in foods, insects, etc.) which have entered into the mouth unknowingly.
- Neutraliser – Saliva having PH around 6.4 (slightly alkaline) with increased secretion can help in controlling heartburn/oesophagitis/acidity of stomach (natural care against these conditions).
- Finally, without saliva, no one can speak fluently.
- Age – saliva secretions will be more in childhood
- Chewing / mastication / speaking can increase it
- Sour things / tasty food substances
- Meal time
- Sight or thought of good food
- Sialorrhoea (increased secretion of saliva in disease conditions like rabies, polio, tumours of face, Parkinsonism, schizophrenia, stammering, paralysis, etc.)
- Chewing bubble gum / betel nut leaves/ tobacco / mint, etc.
- Age – elderly people will have less secretions (and taste too)
- Sleep – naturally reduces it as there is no requirement (other than as moisturiser)
Dirty plates / circumstances / environment (nasty smelly area) can inhibit it.
- Dehydration of the body or low intake of water
- Depression / anxiety / stress / tension / fear
- Vigorous exercises
- Drugs and treatment can cause mouth dryness (for example – antibiotics, chloroform, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, etc.)
- Parotid glands – which constitute 25-30 per cent of total volume of saliva
- Sub-mandibular glands – which constitute 70-75 per cent of the total volume of saliva
- Sub-lingual glands – which constitute 5-10 per cent of the total volume of saliva
- Act of saliva secretion in the mouth is termed as salivation
- Increased production/secretion of saliva is termed as ptyalism (profuse salivation)
Drooling or running down of saliva is termed as sialorrhoea
- Decreased production or running out of saliva to dry mouth is termed as xerostomia
- Sputum is named for (abnormal) mucous expelled / ejected from lower respiratory tract (trachea, bronchi or lungs). For example, thick mucous secretions expelled or coughed out in acute / chronic bronchitis, bronchopneumonia, brochietasis, emphysema (end stage), bronchial asthma, etc.
- Phlegm is named for abnormal viscid mucous excreted in abnormally large quantities from the respiratory tract (upper or lower). For example – mucous secretions during cold
- Frothy and scanty sputum with eosinophils – bronchial asthma
- Yellow or greenish thick mucous – acute or chronic bronchitis
- Mucupurulent discharges – bronchietasis
- Bloody / rusty sputum – pneumonia, tuberculosis, etc.
- Golden yellow sputum – sinusitis and pneumonia
- Saliva is very slimy, but sputum is thick (semi-solid like)
- Sputum will not come as such, one needs to cough it up or have it expectorated, whereas saliva is normal secretion secreted continuously (24 hours X 7days).
- Sputum needs attention, care and treatment whereas absence of saliva needs attention and care.
- Sputum has pus, mucous, neutrophils or eosinophils, cell debris, disease organisms, blood, etc., whereas saliva has epithelial cells, salts, electrolytes and waste products of body (urea, uric acids, acetone, creatine and cell debris)
- Decreased saliva secretion – dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Increased saliva secretion – drooling of saliva (sialorrhoea)
- Infection in salivary glands – mumps (viral infection)
- Stones (calculus) in salivary glands or duct (sialolith)