Measuring Body pH

Let’s see how measuring the pH of body fluids like urine and saliva can help you assess the body’s balance. 

To recap, pH is the acronym of sorts for the potential of hydrogen.  It is a measure of the degree of saturation of the hydrogen ion in a substance or solution. (pH is a logarithmic measure of hydrogen ion concentration  –log[H+], or some might say more accurately, pH = –log aH+ where aH+ is the hydrogen ion activity.)

From a mildly technical perspective, let’s look at the molecule of water, H2O. H=Hydrogen and O=Oxygen.

If water and water is combined we get H2O + H2O  => H3O + OH-

H3O (the hydronium ion+) is the acid element and OH- (the hydroxyl ion-) is the base or alkaline element. (You may also note that the +ion is a cation and the –ion is an anion as discussed in the section on Zeta Potential.) In pure water these are balanced and upon measuring with a pH meter the reading would be 7.

7 is neutral on a pH scale which (for our purposes here) goes from 0 to 14. This scale corresponds to the hydrogen ion concentration from 100 to 10-14 moles per liter. This is a huge range which sensitive instruments can measure.

When the H3O and OH- are out of balance a pH meter will detect this and the reading will move above or below 7. Like a teeter-totter, if one goes up the other goes down and vice versa.

In the human body a pH balancing act is continuously going on to maintain homeostasis. When defining measurement values of certain pH levels of human fluids, there are no absolutes that can be written in stone  because the value that “should be here” has to be balanced against other values “that should be there”.  In essence, in the human body things never happen in a vacuum and you need to be ever mindful of these things as you make your measurements.

The pH Buffer System

There are three primary pH buffering systems of the body but for now we simply want to say a few words about the word “buffer”. What exactly does that mean? A buffer keeps something where it should be. It buffers adverse swings. It shields, cushions and protects.

If you have ever seen a pH test strip for a swimming pool, you will note a section of the strip that states “pH” which will give a direct pH reading, and a section of the strip that states “total alkalinity”. Now you might have a swimming pool reading of 7.2 pH, but if “total alkalinity” is low, the pH of 7.2 can be easily moved too acid or too alkaline. It can be pushed around because the total concentration of (-) ions (the “total alkalinity”) is low. Hence, pH can get pushed around and will not stay put.

This same thing happens with humans. pH values can get pushed around fairly easily if total alkalinity is low. Some refer to this as mineral reserve. The key is to balance pH and increase total alkalinity levels. Now just so you don’t go overboard with the thought that all must be alkaline to the extreme, note that everything has balance and a perfect range. There are compartments in the body that you could say need “total acidity” in order to function. So for our purposes, we will say that the key is “total buffering” which is a good ionic concentration to maintain a solid pH that stays within an ideal range for the thing being measured.

In general we can raise the body’s buffer capacity through consumption of mineral rich food, however, this is not always easy to do with our current agricultural situation of chemical farming on depleted soils. So in a clinical environment, we can assist pH balance in the body by using supplemental minerals. We pay attention to the anionic/cationic ratios, and while minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium are important, paying attention to various forms of these minerals is important as what they are bound to can push pH in different directions (up, down or neutral) depending on the type and this can increase “total buffering” activity appropriately to maintain a solid pH that stays within optimum range and does not move easily. Now with that said, it is easy to use the wrong mineral bound to the “other” wrong mineral providing a wrong move in pH range depending on one’s chemistry and then that can upset body balance. But we’ll cover a bit on this later.

pH Range

For our purposes we will be measuring urine and saliva. In a perfect world, with all other health parameters in place, the “averaged” pH of both urine and saliva will be right around the 6.4 level – and this would be at just about any time of day when tested – though the best times to track and test for a baseline reading would be about 90 minutes after breakfast or lunch.

NOTE: We’ll talk more of what “averaged” means a bit later and awareness of this is important so the 6.4 pH we are talking about here has to be put into proper context related to the formula discussed later.  

Understand that pH can move all over the place. This is so because most individuals “total alkalinity” is not very strong. So two hours after a meal for instance, you may find the urine going acid as it is a reflection of the meals acid components pushing the pH. But as “total alkalinity” increases in an individual, this swaying urine pH starts to lock in and with the saliva pH factored in, the averaged will settle around the 6.4 level. This takes time to accomplish.

The question may arise as to why the averaged urine and saliva should be in the 6.4 area, and the answer lies most specifically in this regard to Dr. Carey Reams. In our own clinical work with the research of Reams, Vincent, Revici and others, we would concur with the 6.4 averaged level for urine and saliva.

The reason 6.4 seems to be ideal is for specific ionization principles to be carried out in the body. Anytime we talk about the human body and biological terrain, we can relate it to stories of farming and soil terrain for there is common ground in both areas. After all, we do come from the dust of the earth and it is the dust of the earth from which we will return (our bodies at least). pH is but one parameter that quantifies the nature of the terrain.

When a plant grows, it draws up from the cationic earth and reaches towards the anionic sky. As one force of the plant spirals up, another energetic force spirals down. The plant uptakes the water and minerals from the soil and ionizes, changes and incorporates those substances into the fibers and matrix of the plant. In order for the plant to reach its optimum and most healthy state (and nutritious when talking about edible plants) the soil terrain must be within an ideal range of parameters.

When we eat the plant, the process is reversed and the plant substance is broken down through the pressure and resistance of digestion and the soil of the liver transforms, stores and dispenses components of the life processes which are further acted on by the soil of the cells and glands throughout the body.  It is the circle of life; highly charged, electric, and magnetic, some might say electromagnetic or electrostatic.

I am reminded of a story of this circle of life spoken of by Buckminster Fuller who was truly a great thinker (you may recall the geodesic dome and Bucky balls). He was once asked the question, what is fire? In a nutshell, he said that if you were to watch a log burning in the fireplace, the fire you are seeing is the sun’s radiation unwinding. The sun’s flame winds through the sky and through photosynthesis is absorbed by the tree. The tree grows and for every year of its life a growth ring forms showing a years worth of absorbing the sun’s flame. When the tree gets chopped down to a log and burned in the fireplace, you are witness to the sun’s flame coming back out.  It’s the circle of life.

The food you consume stores the flame of the sun. The more perfect your body’s biological terrain, the more capacity you will have to extract every ounce of the flame to give you vibrant health and dynamic energy. The food you consume is met with the resistance of digestion, and it is this resistance which causes a friction and a release of energy in the form of amino acids and mineral ions, colloids, heat and electricity.

Visualize a hydraulic press. That press sits between your saliva pH and your urine pH. At that pH level the press has maximum force and effect to extract all the energy food has to give. But if the saliva pH that is above the press or the urine pH that is below the press shifts outside of their good ranges, the efficiency of the press begins to fall. Hence, metabolic efficiency begins to go askew, imbalance sets in, and over time problems can develop.

Now above we are talking about the 6.4 level for urine and saliva that is “averaged”. We show this formula in the section dealing with “Moving pH” which is as follows:

(Urine pH  ____  + (Saliva pH X 2 ___ ) ) / Divided by 3  =  ____.

For the measurement of urine and saliva by themselves, in general, you want pH of urine to be below 6.5 and saliva to be above 6.5. From our experience in the clinic with healthy individuals, ideally we would say around 5.8-6.2 would be good for urine (shows the body can get rid of metabolic acids), and 6.8-7.0 would be good for saliva. This gives a split of about 1 pH. Those would be nice numbers mid-morning/afternoon.

Inverted numbers, or too high or too low for either means something is up. In regards to urine, it is designed to be able to go all the way down to 4.5 which means if you are way down there, well the body is appearing to be able to handle metabolic loads (and it usually is much better than a high pH)  but the question becomes what else is going on.

(The work of Dr. Emanuel Revici which we cover in other areas states that ideal urine pH will oscillate around a value of 6.2. Oscillating above that is indicative of an anabolic/anaerobic disposition, and oscillating below that is indicative of a catabolic/dysaerobic disposition.)

Important note: High urine pH is not good from any perspective and all the information floating around saying it is so is from the “alkalize alkalize alkalize” people – possibly because what they are selling – and key word is selling – will push urine pH to those extremes and they can say – “see how good our products work!” And of course if a person stays at those high levels too long they start having issues and the fallback becomes “you are detoxing, stick with the program”. It is all a bunch of hooey. For physiologic health, you do not want to see urine above 6.5.  It should always be able to get down into the 5 range – this is a reflection of adaptive capacity and it shows metabolic acids can and are being removed from the system.

Read the above paragraph again. You want your urine able to move acid, and to essentially be acid when appropriate. If you are keeping urine above 6.5 and day to day are into neutral pH (7) or above numbers, this is not good.

The testing that follows are a series of tests to illustrate where your pH lies and will give you insights to the degree of balance (or not) within your body.

We will follow this up with a few guidelines and simple mineral and calcium rules that can help an individual re-balance the pH.

Daily Cycles

This is an on-going test over several days to even a couple of weeks to determine how your pH swings during the day under different circumstances and food consumption habits.

Tke a sheet of paper and make 5 columns headed “time”, “consumption”, “saliva pH”, “urine pH”, “feel”.

You will record your urine and saliva pH every time you go to the bathroom. When you wake up in the morning record the time and your pH values and how you feel. When you eat breakfast, record the time. Next time you go to the bathroom record the time, your pH values and how you feel. Next time you eat, record the time and what you ate. Next time you go to the bathroom record the time, pH values and how you feel. Do this throughout the whole day and over many days.

Here you will start to track what you eat, how that makes your pH sway, and how you feel during the process. It can be an invaluable tool to begin to make associations like; every time I eat x food, my pH a few hours later goes to y value, and I feel like…. You may start to notice patterns that are either for your benefit or perhaps not. Do it for a long enough period and you will start to see cause and effect. You are on the road to taking real charge of your health.

Wake Up Test

First thing in the morning, your eyes open up, you roll over and test your saliva pH. In a best situation, your pH reads 6.4. Individuals with either chronic degenerative diseases or those setting themselves up for such will see their wake up saliva from 5.5 or lower with concurrent urine pH as low as 4.5. These values represent a long term acid stress on the body. Generally this means that an individuals alkaline reserves are very low to depleted. In general you do not want to see a wake up saliva pH below 6.1. Seeing a low saliva pH and a higher urine pH is not where you want to be. You need to correct that.

Salivating Test

You sit down to eat, you get the aroma of your favorite mealtime dish, you are ready to chow down and something begins to happen in your mouth. You begin to salivate. This is a reflection of the enzyme amylase kicking in for the starch digestion process. This enzyme needs a range of pH ideally around 7.2 pH. So if you have adequate alkaline reserves in your body, testing your saliva pH as you salivate before a meal should give you a pH reading of around 7.2. If your pH is not getting up to at least 7.0, you can assume there is stress in your alkaline reserves and the further below 7 it goes, the more depleted are those reserves. You could also suspect digestion all around is not doing so well. This typically indicates a longer term problem and more serious effort needs to be applied to help  restore overall health.

Acid Meal Test

Here you are going to eat an acid forming food evening meal. Meat, pasta, beans, bread, nuts, fish, no vegetables. Next morning, check your first urine pH. The meal the previous evening was too acid, but the body needs to be getting rid of this acid, so the urine should reflect this. Best situation would be wake up urine from 4.5 up to 5.8 or so. This would be a reflection of your body having enough alkaline reserves that it was buffering the acid and the adrenals and kidneys had appropriate energy to get rid of it. It is a healthy response.

Wake up urine after the acid evening meal between 5.8 and 6.8 is a reflection that the body is barely compensating, and the higher the pH the worse the situation.

Wake up urine after the acid evening meal of 6.8 or higher is not good. It is a possible indication that the body is dumping bicarbonate ions and may be in the ammonia cycle of the liver to help deal with the acid. This situation probably means depleted alkaline reserves and possible exhausted adrenal glands as well as probable digestive problems.

If the above situation or an alkaline morning urine is accompanied by an acid saliva less then 5.8, the situation is getting worse, and the further apart the numbers, the worse it is. Definite remedial action for alkaline reserve build up is critical.

As a point of reference, have you ever been to a nursing home and smelled an ammonia odor? Did you think that was because the nursing home was doing a good job of house cleaning? Well that is not the case. What is happening is you are smelling the urine of very sick people in their last days. Their bodies are in a give up state, they are likely dumping any alkaline buffers they have and the body is in last ditch mode trying to maintain sufficient blood pH for life to hang on by converting the acid in their systems to ammonia. The single biggest thing those individuals need is more water for hydration and a lot of alkalizing minerals. I would venture to guess that if this were to occur in nursing homes around the country a lot of their patients would be getting better and going home.

Alkaline Meal Test

Here you are going to eat an alkalizing evening meal. Basically all vegetables. Green leafy veggies, broccoli, lima beans, carrots, etc. Next morning check your first urine pH.

If the pH range is 4.5 to 5.5 you can consider it a too acid response. It means your body has a lot of excess acidity stored and you need to keep up those alkaline evening meals until the numbers come up.

If you have a pH range from 5.5 to 6.8 it could be considered that you have a better level of alkaline reserves, but key to that assumption would be how you feel. If you feel healthy this range is ok. If you have symptoms of problems, you may need to dig more into the situation.

If the pH range is 6.8 to 8.5 again it could mean all is very well IF you are perfectly healthy. However, if you were experiencing serious symptoms of ill health, this alkaline response could be an indication that your cells are too toxic to use the alkaline reserves and instead are being dumped.

It should be mentioned here that there can be times when someone  consumes many vegetables and alkaline minerals and their pH readings average far above 6.4. They believe this to be healthy but it actually is reflecting an underlying imbalance. Instead of using the minerals they are being dumped. Further testing will many times show an anabolic/catabolic imbalance  –  some clinicians also refer to this as an anaerobic/dysaerobic imbalance. This is related to the mix of fatty acids and sterols on cell membrane walls. If these fatty acids and sterols go askew it will affect cell membrane permeability so what goes in does not necessarily get assimilated the way it should.

Moving pH

(Note that much here is broad generalization and anything stated may not be appropriate for you individually. If you are not sure what to make of these things, more and other sources of study will be important for you.)

To get a quick “average” pH, you can measure yourself ninety minutes to two hours after breakfast and/or ninety minutes to two hours after lunch. Do this over a period of days and get your average numbers. Then use this formula:

(Urine pH  ____  + (Saliva pH X 2 ___ ) ) / Divided by 3  =  ____

Average pH Between 6 and 7

Some practitioners suggest that if your average pH is between 6 and 7, you can just use the neutral calciums of gluconate and orotate to build up your total alkalinity along with other minerals and trace minerals.

Average pH Above 7

If your pH is above 7, it is possible that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can be useful. Clinicians have found about 1000mg twice a day of C is good, and the higher above pH 7 you go (especially if this is the urine #), the more vitamin C you can take.

Vitamin D is contraindicated.

NOTE: You should note that it is entirely possible to be too alkaline. Many go around and say alkalize, alkalize, alkalize, but they fail to point out that  there is a flip side to everything. Being too alkaline presents its own set of clinical manifestations and needs to be equally addressed.

Average pH Below 6

If your pH is below 6, some clinicians will add calcium citrate or calcium carbonate (something like coral calcium is the carbonate form).  With pH 5.6 to 6 clinicians have found that adding 1000 IU of vitamin D once or twice a day is beneficial and pH from 5.2 to 5.6 up to 5000 IU of vitamin D is good, while pH below  5.0  up to 50000 IU of vitamin D once or twice a day would be ok as little vitamin D is being absorbed in the acid terrain. It is possible to use vitamin D to help push the pH up.  Stop the calcium citrate and carbonate when you come into pH range 6 to 7. Pull back on vitamin D and go to cod liver oil for vitamin D requirements. Do not take vitamin C. All of this is with the caveat below.

Note: We have not talked about this but it needs to be mentioned. This information should not to be acted upon without knowing a lot more than what is here. You should consider coming to one of our workshops if you are serious about wanting to know this work at an effective level. If you are a consumer and not a practitioner, you should work with a professional that understands the numbers.

IMPORTANT: pH issues and what you do about them must ALWAYS be seen in the light of a person’s breath rate and breath hold time. The lungs are initiated to regulate pH on a moment to moment basis. A normal average breath rate is 16 breaths per minute. If a person for instance has a resting breath rate of 9 breaths per minute, that individual has a potential alkalosis issue. (We breathe to blow off acid-high breath rate, blood leans towards the acid side of normal; low breath rate and the blood leans towards the alkaline side of normal.)

What does this mean? It means that if a person with the low breath rate were seen as having an acidosis problem simply because they had a really low pH (urine or saliva), and a protocol giving vitamin D and certain forms of calcium to raise pH were elected to be done, it absolutely would be the wrong thing to do. So anything that was said above about moving pH needs much more understanding about physiology than what we can put here at the moment.

(Again there are caveats here but know that any discussion of pH in relationship to health cannot be done in a vacuum. To say, as many do, that “you are too acid” or “acid is the reason we get or are sick” is too nebulous a statement.

pH measures must be put into context against several things, your respiratory activity is one thing as highlighted here. But in saying this, know there is also much more to this picture than being covered here.)

Testing Gear

In order to begin testing your urine and saliva pH you will need pH paper or a pH meter. The paper is limited in terms of range and also accuracy so a meter is a far better choice. If you have the budget for one it is the way to go as it will be a lifelong tool for you and your family to use.

 

Here is standard pH test paper. It ranges from pH of 5.5 to 8.0 in .2 steps. This .2 step is important to try and get accuracy. About a 2 inch strip of paper is torn off and it is dipped into your urine or saliva and read immediately. The color of the paper that matches the test colors is the pH.

 This paper usually sells for $12 each or $60 for a ten pack (which is usually purchased by practitioners in those quantities who then sell them to their clients so they can begin to test themselves.)

 Here is a digital pH meter. Just a few drops of urine or saliva is placed on the tip and the pH is given in the digital readout.

This compact unit has two point calibration for accuracy. This means you calibrate the probe at 4.0 and 7.0 pH levels and then your saliva and urine test will be very accurate.

Some meters use glass bulbs but those wear out fast and they should always be stored wet to maintain good function. You can sometimes find these at low cost but they often require large sample size and their accuracy fluctuates depending on how well they have been maintained.

This pocket pH meter sells for $140 and includes a pH training guide which is an educational program on pH that includes the tests reviewed on this site along with a couple of others, appropriate pH tracking charts and an extended urine/saliva pH chart for assistance in choosing certain supplementation to move pH as required to better zones.

pH is an important parameter to gauge one’s health and the small investment in a portable and high quality pH probe like the LAQUAtwin pH meter shown here can pay dividends now and well into the future for your health. This is one of the tools all health minded individuals should own.