Saliva and its functions


Dr S. Chidambaranathan B.H.M.S, M.D Homeopathy Doctor Madurai   (Treatment avail for all people around the world)

MOUTH – Saliva

Saliva is a colourless, slimy, fluid secreted into the mouth from salivary glands. Normally it is secreted continuously for 24 hours, 7 days. Unknowingly, we are swallowing it with food/drinks or alone to wet the throat. It amounts to about 700–1,000 ml per day. Even though saliva is secreted round the clock (like tears), it is not felt unless otherwise it is secreted in excess or less in quantity or quality.
Everyone swallows saliva regularly (unknowingly). But one might feel bad when it is secreted more
or when it is tough and stringy in early morning (due to drying of mucous saliva).We can realise the secretion of saliva when we are still or sleepy. Drooling saliva may be indicative of stunning (after a magical performance, good food, etc.) or feeling drowsy. Even though saliva can smell bad after drying (due to bacteria and cells), its functions are really useful to the body. Knowing all its worthy functions and essential need, people might resist rewarding (spitting) it to others after watching a bad performance or to shame someone.
Also some find it an unwanted, nasty fluid and constantly keep spitting it out. Some others may develop the habit of spitting saliva with betel nut chewing or tobacco chewing or to clear the throat. Spitting not only makes the environment horrible, it also makes body fluids go waste.

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
    saliva according to the need of the body and also expels the unwanted or overloaded electrolytes or chemicals or bacteria (in rabies, chicken pox, etc., saliva can be infectious).
  • 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.
Variation of saliva secretions – saliva secretions may vary depending upon various factors and substances being taken in. Generally, males have more secretion than females.
Factors which promote more secretion

  • 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
  • Pregnancy
  • 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.
Factors which lessen saliva secretions are:
  • 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.)
Salivary glands – The salivary glands are 3 pairs in number namely:
  • 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
Parotid glands – are situated just behind the jaw and just below the ears on each side (back of cheek). It is the largest gland among the salivary glands. They secrete mainly watery saliva (i.e., of serous type).
Sub-mandibular glands – are situated just below and behind the mandibular bone (lower jaw) on each side. It supplies major part of the saliva required by our body. It secretes saliva in enormous quantity of both mucous and serous types.
Sub-lingual glands – are the small glands situated on the floor of the mouth on each side (front part of lower jaw). It secretes saliva mostly of mucous type.
These salivary glands have acini as secretory cells and ducts as outlets. The collecting ducts collect the saliva produced and pour them into the mouth on a continuous basis or more when required. Parotid glands have an open duct just opposite the upper second molar tooth whereas sub-mandibular glands and sub-lingual glands open on the floor of the mouth.
Saliva problems commonly arise from infection, inflammation and stone formations in these salivary glands.
Body secretions are reflections of body health status and its harmony . To have vibrant and abundant good health , one should have good body secretions and excretions. Saliva is one among the body secretions secreted by salivary glands. Saliva is produced by filtration of blood/plasma by secretor cells of glands (acinar cells). It is usually slimy and a little frothy. Saliva constitutes water, salts, electrolytes, waste products of body (urea, uric acids, acetone, creatine and cell debris) and epithelial cells.
  • 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
Any state that is in excess or is deprived will usually cause problems. This is true with saliva also. Saliva problems commonly arise any time in any person due to infection / inflammations / tumours or stone formations in salivary glands. Here one often misunderstands phlegm, sputum as abnormal saliva. Actually it is not so.
They are entirely different, i.e. saliva is normal (needed) secretion secreted in the mouth for the functions to be carried in the mouth, whereas sputum and phlegm are abnormal secretions of the lower respiratory tract (trachea, bronchi or lungs).

  • 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
The appearance, colour, consistency and volume of these secretions will also vary depending upon the condition and diseases. For example:
  • 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
Further to differentiate –
  • 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)
Common salivary (gland) problems are
  • 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)
for new hope

(Disclaimer: The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.)

Why we are best

Best Homeopathy Treatment • We aim for Comfort First and Cure Next • You will be in safe hands experienced more than 25 years. • We can provide Best solution and Customized treatment plan for your sufferings. • You will be directly under the personal care of Chief Doctor and not with juniors. • As we had handled all sorts of cases in and abroad, we can guide you to choose effective treatment. • Further, if required to control the disease at the earliest and to be in safer side and in Incurable diseases, to improve quality of life, we can also advice you to integrate Homeopathy with Allopathy • Your treatment remains confidential with us by all means


Speciality Treatment

We are “The Expert” in managing chronic and incurable complaints – Here you can see a sample dozen of our area of Super Specialization. We have more proven results in following diseases

Our Specialization

Our Specialization

You can always reach us @

Laxmi Homeo Clinic CLINIC ADDRESS : 24-E, New Mahalipatti Road, Madurai – 625001 Tamilnadu, India Clinic: (+)91-452-2338833 Cell: (+)91-98431-91011 EMAIL: BLOG:, YOUTUBE:drcheena WEBSITES:,


Disclaimer: Laxmi Homeo Clinic is intending to make the people all over the world healthier through the power of information. Our health information and technologies can make a healthier tomorrow and better healthcare outcomes.
The contents of this column are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional healthcare advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of healthcare professional for any health problem or medical condition.

All rights reserved. Terms of Use