Subluxation-Based Nutrition: Mucuous membranes of the head and neck; Part Three; The Salivary Glands

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Subluxation-Based Nutrition: Mucuous membranes of the head and neck; Part Three; The Salivary Glands

Only mammals have salivary glands since they are the only animals that chew their food. Unfortunately, these glands are often overlooked on physical examination and during our diagnostic deliberations. Yet, as part of the digestive system, they perform some incredibly important functions without which other body functions suffer greatly and subsequently receive our attention.

Embryologically, the parotid, sublingual, and submaxillary glands originate from ectodermal tissue and begin appearing between the sixth and eighth week of fetal life. They do not fully develop until after birth, but interestingly, the fetus does produce salivary enzymes beginning at about six months.

Of course, the secretion of saliva is necessary for lubricating food so it can be swallowed, but many of us forget that each salivary gland secretes enzymes to initiate the digestive process.

The parotid glands secrete amylase (ptyalin) to begin carbohydrate digestion. The sublingual glands secrete a weak lipase to begin lipid digestion. And the submaxillary glands secrete a protease and thiocyanate ion which are considered to be a defense against bacteria. Proteases digest protein.

While these salivary enzymes will digest food, many nutrition textbooks dismiss their role in digestion since we do not keep food in our mouths long enough for their action to have any consequence. They take the misinformed position that since enzymes are composed of protein, hydrochloric acid (HCI) destroys them when they enter the stomach.

Nothing could possibly be further from the truth.

First, stomach acid is not present in the resting stomach. It takes the stretching of the stomach wall by food to initiate stomach acid production. The more food is swallowed, the more acid is produced.

Second, in young, healthy adults it takes 30-to-60 minutes for stomach acid to be concentrated. This process requires more time as we age (as many processes do), and a high percentage of geriatric patients cannot concentrate enough acid to deactivate these enzymes at all!

Third, hydrochloric acid does not digest protein and destroy enzymes. Hydrochloric acid provides a pH environment (below 5.0) to activate the enzyme pepsin from its inactive form (pepsinogen). Studies performed as long ago as 1945 at Northwestern University proved that up to 60% of the starches, 30% of the protein, and 10% of the fat could be digested before stomach acid becomes a factor in the digestive process. These findings have been reported many times and much more recently.

Saliva is composed of two parts: a watery element and an organic portion. The secretion of the watery element and electrolytes (primarily sodium and potassium) is increased by parasympathetic stimulation (cranial nerves V, VII, and IX). The secretion of the organic elements in saliva (enzymes) is increased by sympathetic stimulation. As with stomach acid, thought of, sight of, and odor of food plays a lesser role.

Put another way, anything which causes sympathetic dominance such as fear, anger, potassium deficiency, and toxemia may produce the symptom of dry month and muscle contractions involving the upper cervical spinal segments.

Anything which causes parasympathetic dominance, such as protein and calcium deficiency, may produce an abnormal amount of saliva which you may notice by the unfortunate sign of "spraying" when talking. This invariably will be accompanied by muscle contractions in the upper thoracic area of the spine, as well as in the area of the sacroiliac joint.

Nutritional considerations

In addition to the calcium and potassium balance required for autonomic balance, it is important to consider the use of plant enzymes to initiate digestion or to predigest food past an incompetent digestive system. The use of vitamin C and vitamin E are quite good as adjuncts to chiropractic care for the relief of sore throat.

5th vertemere, middle cervical place

The 5th vertemere is composed of the fifth cervical vertebra and the fifth spinal nerve above it. It supplies the following structures:

- Retina

- Muscles and tissues of the face and nose

- Teeth

- Posterior and lateral muscles of the neck and the hyoid bone.

A spinal trigger point can be found by pressing medially on the lateral border of the Erector spinae muscle at the level of the fourth cervical spinous process. Tenderness can then be traced from the spine outward and upward to the muscles on the side of the neck and over the angle of the jaw and onto submandibular tissues and the hyoid bone. Tenderness may be traceable downward and forward to the shoulder, outward across the shoulder joint and then down the front of the arm.

The 5th, 6th, and 7th cervical vertemeres overlap and the tissues supplied are in a number of instances exactly the same.

The Platysma is a weak muscle that may harbor trigger points that can affect both the jaw and tongue. It is always involved with a sore throat, and frequently with the tongue, as in speech impediments.

Associated symptoms are: 1) A history of speech impediment, stuttering, or stammering; 2) dry, itchy eyes or dry mouth; 3) increased or watery saliva; and 4) frequent sore or irritated throat, sores on the tongue or in the mouth.

The Chiropractic Journal.

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By Howard F. Loomis

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