acid-base balance, acidosis, pH testing,Alkalinizing, alkalosis

Alkalinity: A Basic Principle

Alkalinity: A Basic Principle

© 2000 Dr. Dale Peterson; © 2006 Wellness Clubs of

Wellness is governed to a great degree by basic principles. For example, a body deficient in the materials required for maintenance and repair will eventually break down. A body that is deprived of adequate amounts of pure water will become sick. Likewise, when the pH, or acid-base balance, is out of balance the body will be unable to maintain an optimum state of health.

Severe abnormalities in any of these areas will cause illness and death in a relatively short period of time if left uncorrected. Deficiencies of vitamin C and bioflavanoids will cause scurvy and, if the symptoms are unrecognized or the resources to correct the deficiency are unavailable (as in the case of sailors on a long ocean voyage) death will result in a short period of time.

Total lack of water intake will result in dehydration and death within a matter of days. Severe abnormalities in the body’s acid-base balance are also life threatening. Diabetic ketoacidosis is an example, as death will occur within hours if the condition is not treated.

This article will not address severe acid-base disturbances, but rather the effects minor abnormalities produce over time. These minor disturbances frequently go undetected, but they are just as deadly as the severe conditions that place individuals in danger of imminent death.

The term used to describe level of acidity or alkalinity is pH. Water has a neutral pH of 7. Pure acid has a pH of 1 and pure alkali a pH of 14. Our blood is designed to be slightly alkaline at a pH of 7.4. Blood pH must be maintained within a very narrow range. Even small variations from this set point will result in death within a short period of time.

While it is possible for an individual’s pH to rise above normal, a condition called alkalosis, it will do so only under the influence of drugs or disease states. A person cannot induce alkalosis by eating an improper diet or making unwise beverage choices.

Alkalosis can result from vomiting, diarrhea, kidney disease, lung disease, parathyroid gland dysfunction, or excessive use of alkalinizing substances such as sodium bicarbonate for relief of stomach upset. Alkalosis can also result from taking excessive amounts of calcium carbonate, which is currently being promoted as coral calcium. Its proponents typically state that the answer to any and all health challenges is to simply increase the intake of coral calcium. This is not true, and places trusting and unsuspecting individuals in danger of developing chronic alkalosis.

Mild alkalosis can trigger musculoskeletal symptoms that include sore muscles, stiff joints, bursitis, tendonitis & bone spurs. Since acidosis can also trigger these symptoms (with the exception of bone spurs), people are often misled into increasing their intake of alkalinizing substances in an attempt to correct the problem. This, of course, leads to a vicious cycle of persistent symptoms, increasing alkali, increasing symptoms, etc.

Disease states that can trigger acidosis include lung disease, kidney disease, parathyroid abnormalities, and drugs such as aspirin. Unlike alkalosis, which cannot be triggered by poor dietary or beverage choices, acidosis commonly results from an improper diet. The infamous fast food combination of “Cheeseburger, fries, & a Coke” is a perfect recipe for creating a state of acidosis. High protein, low carbohydrate diets, which are currently quite popular, also lower the body’s pH.

Acidosis also results from certain mental or emotional states. Repressed anger, internalized stress, bitterness, frustration, hostility, and irrational fear all promote a state of acidosis. The same is true of broken or strained relationships whether between a person and his or her creator or between an individual and fellow human beings.

In addition to sore muscles, stiff joints, bursitis, and tendonitis symptoms of a mild chronic acidosis can cause arthritis, joints that are not simply stiff, but are inflamed as well. Chronic acidosis can also trigger such symptoms as insomnia, water retention, and migraine headaches.

The symptoms of acidosis are bothersome, but the long-term consequences of a persistent state of mild acidosis are far more serious. Unchecked acidosis is a predisposing factor in many degenerative conditions including osteoarthritis and hypertension with its complications including heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure. Cancers thrive in acidic environments and they are more difficult to prevent or treat when acidosis is present.

Maintenance of proper pH balance in the blood is the body’s priority. Disturbances in blood pH do not appear until the body’s ability to correct them has been exhausted. It is therefore necessary to check the pH of other body fluids to accurately determine whether a state of acidosis or alkalosis exists.

The kidneys and the lungs play a duet in maintaining pH balance. If the breathing rate increases the body will retain less carbon dioxide and will become more alkaline. If the breathing rate decreases the body will retain more carbon dioxide and become more acidic as the carbon dioxide combines with water to form carbonic acid.

Our kidneys have the ability to balance the body’s pH by excreting excess acid or excess alkali. The pH of urine, therefore, while a rough index of what the kidneys are doing to maintain proper body pH, is not an accurate means of determining the actual state of the blood or body tissues.

Urine pH testing can be helpful in maintaining slightly acid urine, something that is helpful in preventing recurrent urinary tract infections. It is possible to maintain slightly acidic urine while maintaining a slightly alkaline blood and tissue pH. I believe that this is the ideal acid-base state. I do not believe that it is generally necessary to monitor urine pH, however.

I find salivary pH to be the most sensitive and accurate measure of the body’s acid-base balance. Two testing methods are valuable. Monitoring the pH of saliva when first awakening is the most valuable indicator of acid-base status. Special color sensitive paper, called litmus paper or pH paper, is used to determine the pH level of a fluid. The pH of saliva upon awakening should be slightly alkaline measuring between 7.5 and 7.9 on the pH scale. While it is better to err on the alkaline (high) side, it is not true that a pH of 8 or greater is better that a pH in the ideal 7.5 to 7.9 range.

The second method of salivary pH testing will not give an indication of the actual pH balance, but it will give a good indication of the body’s alkaline reserve – its ability to withstand an acid challenge whether caused by disruptive thoughts or unwise dietary decisions. Alkaline reserve is determined by checking the salivary pH to obtain a baseline, introducing an acid challenge (sucking on a chewable vitamin C tablet for 20 to 30 seconds is ideal for this purpose), and then rechecking the salivary pH after the saliva has been produced and swallowed three times. A difference of one point or greater between the first and second pH readings indicates that an adequate alkaline reserve is present.

An adequate alkaline reserve may be present even though a mild state of acidosis exists. Individuals who do not demonstrate alkaline reserve are in a more advanced state of acidosis and are almost certainly experiencing symptoms related to the condition. If the pH decreases following an acid challenge the individual is in a state of acidosis that is placing him or her at extremely high risk of developing one of the degenerative conditions mentioned above.

In the absence of an underlying lung, kidney, or parathyroid abnormality, the correction of a state of alkalosis is straightforward. If vomiting or diarrhea is present the cause must be identified and corrected. If an alkalinizing substance such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or coral calcium is being used the intake should be reduced.

The correction of acidosis is much more challenging, even when underlying organ abnormalities are not present. Acidifying drugs, including aspirin, should be discontinued whenever possible. Except for crisis situations when a stroke or heart attack are imminent, inclusion of essential fatty acids in the diet or as supplements such as flax oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil, or Omega-3 fish oils is a much safer way to prevent the conditions for which daily aspirin use is promoted.

The spiritual, mental, and emotional factors that create acidity in the body must be addressed. If broken relationships, grudges, repressed anger, bitterness, and similar thoughts and attitudes remain it will not be possible to reverse an acidosis that is present. Clearly, the elimination of many thoughts and feelings is not humanly possible. What is not possible in our own strength, however, is possible when we are willing to turn to God for assistance.

When Jesus Christ said that He had come to bring more abundant life, He was not speaking of some post-mortal existence in the sweet by-and-by. He was speaking of the possibility of living life on a higher plane in the here and now, about creating abundant health and vibrant relationships in the present.

Once these issues have been addressed and corrected the alkalinizing protocol in this issue will effectively restore optimum pH balance in nearly all circumstances. If acidosis persists a non-dietary cause must be assumed and pursued.

Maintaining the internal environment of the body at an optimum pH is not the only piece to the wellness puzzle, but it is one of the key pieces that allow several others to fall into place. The benefits of maintaining optimum pH balance include an immediate improvement in the symptoms caused by acidosis or alkalosis and a significantly diminished risk of developing a degenerative condition in the future.

Alkalinizing Protocol
  • Drink enough pure water to keep the urine pale. The minimum number of ounces to consume each day may be determined by dividing your body weight (in pounds) by 2. For example, a 150 pound man would drink at least 75 ounces of pure water daily. Avoid alcohol, coffee & carbonated beverages.

  • Emphasize alkaline ash foods in your diet (Optimally 80 %). These include:

               Nuts & berries: Almonds, blackberries, Brazil nuts, & strawberries

               Citrus fruits: Grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges, & tangerines

               Other fruits: Apples, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe, cherries, coconut, dates, figs, grapes, peaches, pears, pineapple, raisins, raspberries, & watermelon

               Vegetables: avocados, beans (all types), beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage,  carrots, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, peas, potatoes, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, & tomatoes

               Grains: Buckwheat & millet

               Other: Molasses & Soy foods

  • Minimize acid ash foods in your diet (limit to 20 %):

               Blueberries, carob, cranberries, corn, honey, lentils, plums, prunes, & squash.

               Flours (except buckwheat & millet), oatmeal, pasta, rice


               Fish, meat, poultry

               Nuts (except almonds & Brazil nuts), peanut butter

  • Take plant source trace minerals daily. These are available as stand alone supplements or may be taken as a component of a more comprehensive supplement such as New Generation or Lifetime.

  • Test your salivary pH by testing your saliva each morning before getting out of bed. Simply touch the litmus (pH) paper to your saliva and compare the color to the chart.

  • If you test less than 7.5 add a green plant supplement such as Miracle Green to your regimen. Adjust up or down as your morning pH dictates.

  • If the morning salivary pH remains below 7.5 add a calcium carbonate supplement. Calcium carbonate is a poor source of calcium for bone health, but does provide the carbonate necessary to raise the body’s pH. If the morning pH begins testing 8.0 or greater decrease the amount of calcium carbonate you are taking

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