By Dr. Josť V. A. Humphreys, M.D., FICPS

Posted: 21 August 2007

Originally Published in Health Watch News - Volume 1, Issue 8 - June 2005 Edition

One of the most underestimated and ignored factors involved in our digestive process is saliva. It has a lot of benefits which go unnoticed.

Saliva is a viscous, transparent liquid secreted by cells of the salivary glands. An average of one liter of saliva is produced within the body each day. The body's production of saliva is controlled by the Hypothalamus.

Saliva is the initial endogenous chemical involved in the process of digestion and helps to neutralize acids that enter the body via the mouth. It also kills some types of detrimental bacteria in the mouth before it can enter the bloodstream.

Saliva moistens the mucous membranes of the mouth and helps to prevent tooth decay by cleansing the mouth of cariogenic carbohydrates and by neutralizing lactic acid. This inhibitive process is made possible because of the inclusion of sialin in the saliva. Other constituents of saliva include lactoferrin (a very important iron-binding protein), mucin - a glycoprotein responsible for saliva's ability to moisten the mucous membranes of the mouth and water.

Another function of saliva is to enhance the ability of the taste buds to detect the taste of food.

Saliva contains amylase (also known as Ptyalin or Salivary Amylase) which is responsible for the digestive functions of saliva. Amylase is one of the enzymes utilized in enzyme therapy (i.e. involving multiple enzymes, especially proteolytic enzymes) to break up (degrade) the immune complexes that are theorized to cause various autoimmune diseases including: v Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Pheromones are speculated to be present in human Saliva. Androsterone (a male Pheromone) is present in human Saliva (with higher concentrations in the saliva of males than that of females). Also, a small quantity of sodium chloride and urea is present in Saliva.

Of great interest is the inclusion of IgA (an antibody) in Saliva. This antibody plays a key role in our immunity as an important first line defense mechanism. In addition, IgA is speculated to play a role in the prevention of psoriasis (this is based on a case of psoriasis in which the patient exhibited absolute IgA deficiency).

Saliva plays a very important role in the digestive process. Its effectiveness is increased with proper and careful chewing of food. ( Refer to the article on chewing which may be found at: ).

The information contained in this article is not meant for diagnosis or treatment of any disease or disorder. If you suffer from any disorders or have symptoms that are outside of normal corporal functions, please consult with your health care provider with any questions and for information on managing your condition.