Does acidity or alkalinity have anything to do with chronic pain?

Alkaline-diet-for- pain-reductionExcess acid forming foods, drinks and acidic lifestyles in general, put an enormous strain on your digestive system, liver, kidneys and areas of chronic inflammation. The body’s attempt to neutralize all that acid creates free radicals which further damage inflamed tissue cells and rob electrons from existing healthy tissues.

Arthur Guyton, M.D., in his Textbook entitled, Medical Physiology dedicated an entire chapter on this concept and stated that when the body is alkaline it converts free radicals to harmless water and oxygen, which maintains energy and vitality. 

We all know that after heavy exertion with exercise, we can wake up with sore muscles. One explanation for this has been an accumulation of lactic acid in the tissues. A 2001 study reported that using an “alkalising supplement” on people with chronic lower back pain improved pain scores; in fact they dropped by 49%, showing that acidity may be associated with pain, especially muscle or joint pain. The conclusion of the researchers was that “a disturbed acid-base balance may contribute to the symptoms of low back pain”.

As we age, there is a loss of muscle mass, which may predispose to falls and fractures. A three-year study looking at a diet rich in potassium, such as fruits and vegetables, as well as a reduced acid load, resulted in preservation of muscle mass in older men and women[Dawson-Hughes B, Harris SS, Ceglia L. Alkaline diets favor lean tissue mass in older adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008;87(3):662–665]

Here are some further studies that indicate that eating a more Alkaline diet is good for your overall health including reduction of pain.

  1. Correction of acidosis may preserve muscle mass in conditions where muscle wasting is common such as diabetic ketosis, trauma, sepsis, chronic obstructive lung disease, and renal failure. [Caso G, Garlick PJ. Control of muscle protein kinetics by acid-base balance. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2005;8(1):73–76. 
  2. In situations that result in acute acidosis, supplementing younger patients with sodium bicarbonate prior to exhaustive exercise resulted in significantly less acidosis in the blood than those that were not supplemented with sodium bicarbonate.  [Webster MJ, Webster MN, Crawford RE, Gladden LB. Effect of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on exhaustive resistance exercise performance. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 1993;25(8):960–965. ]
  3. There is some evidence that chronic low back pain improves with the supplementation of alkaline minerals. [Vormann J, Worlitschek M, Goedecke T, Silver B. Supplementation with alkaline minerals reduces symptoms in patients with chronic low back pain. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. 2001;15(2-3):179–183. ]
  4. With supplementation there was a slight but significant increase in blood pH and intracellular magnesium. Ensuring that there is enough intracellular magnesium allows for the proper function of enzyme systems and also allows for activation of Vitamin D. [ Zofková I, Kancheva RL. The relationship between magnesium and calciotropic hormones. Magnesium Research. 1995;8(1):77–84. ]
  5. Supplementing with Vitamin D has in turn been shown to improve back pain. [ Schwalfenberg G. Improvement of chronic back pain or failed back surgery with vitamin D repletion: a case series. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2009;22(1):69–74. ]
  6. Alkaline Mineral Supplementation Decreases Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Pilot Study
If you are thinking of taking the plunge – here are some great bloggers that will take all the guesswork out of eating a more Alkaline diet.

The Alkaline Sisters

Honestly Healthy

Alkaline Diet Blog

Upaya Naturals