Salts in liquid solution make up much of our bodies. They are in our blood, cells, the spaces between cells, joints, urine, etc. Salts in solution are either acid or its opposite, alkaline (basic). At our best, we are just slightly basic. When we are too acid, we get joint pains, stiff muscles, indigestion, heartburn, mood changes, or burning upon urination. One of the first steps for a cell to become cancerous is for the cell to pump acid outside itself. The acidity produced outside the cell kills off normal surrounding cells. When we are too alkaline, we can become lethargic. The measure of the acid/alkaline balance is called pH (pronounced “p h”).
pH is a measure of the hydrogen ion concentration of the solution. Acids have an excess of hydrogen ions, while alkalis or bases have a deficiency of hydrogen ions. If the pH is less than 7, the solution is considered to be acid. The lower the number is below 7, the more acidic is the solution. Above 7, the solution is alkaline (basic), and the higher the number is the more alkaline the solution. The origin of the meaning of pH is disputed, but it is a mathematical computation defined as the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration of a solution.
Since the pH scale is logarithmic, a pH value below 7 will be ten times more acidic than the next highest value. A pH above 7 is ten times more alkaline than the next pH whole value below it. A pH of 3 is 10 times more acidic than a pH of 4, and a pH of 7 is 10 times more alkaline than a pH of 6. pH can be measured* by using litmus paper which changes colors at different acid/base levels or by electronic meters. When pH color indicator paper is used, the color the paper turns in the tested solution is compared with a standard color chart. The pH of the solution is, thus, determined, and color charts may indicate the pH from about 2 to 10.
When a hydrogen molecule loses an electron, it becomes a hydrogen ion and yields a positive charge. It is capable of receiving a hydrogen ion in a chemical reaction. An acid is a substance which, in water, contains hydrogen ions. An alkali (base) in water is negatively charged and can receive a hydrogen ion. Potassium hydroxide is an example of an alkaline solution and has a pH above 7.
7.0 is the pH of pure water. When an acid is put in the water, the pH will go below 7.0, and when an alkali is added to the water, the pH will go above 7.0. The origin of the meaning of pH is disputed, but it is a mathematical computation defined as the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration of a solution. Strong hydrochloric acid (HCl) has a pH of 0, and a strong solution of sodium hydroxide will have a pH of 14. Mixing an acid and a base may result in a neutral pH of 7. Buffers are elements (such as calcium) which help restore pH balance. Calcium is often used in vitamin C (ascorbic acid) supplements to reduce the acidity. A ‘buffer system’ is very efficient and consists of a weak acid with a salt of the weak acid. An example is citric acid plus calcium citrate.
The pH of body fluids is measured in medicine. Blood serum is said to be kept at a pH of about 7.43. Urine pH ranges in the area of about 6.0 to 8.0, and 7.0 of is healthy. A low pH around 6.0 puts stress on the body to maintain the 7.43 serum level and may cause the body to remove calcium from the bones to act as a buffer, relieving acidity. The pH of the body fluids is important since the enzymes necessary for chemical reactions all through the body function best within narrow ranges of pH. The enzymes become inactive outside these narrow limits. Of significance, the same is true of plants, so that acidification of ocean water can have negative impact on ocean plants and animals.
NOTE: *Plant dyes can be used to indicate acid/base levels and there is even a way to use red cabbage as a pH indicator. Hibiscus and red wine can also be used as pH indicators.
Summary #791. nutrientmedicine.