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Acid-Base Balance and the Common Cold

by David Aberegg

Note: The following article is a study of limited, selected cases of acidity associated with the common cold. It discusses the testing of one method of restoring body alkaline-base balance by consuming large amounts of citrus juice and by the checking of absence or restoration of acid-base balance with blue litmus paper applied to saliva.


Some foods, such as fruits and vegetables, leave a residue upon burning – inside or outside the body, in which the basic elements, potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium, are dominant. Cereals, meats and fish foods leave an ash composed of the acid-forming elements, in which chlorine, phosphorus, iodine and sulfur are preponderant. Such foods, spoken of as either base-forming or acid-forming, influence the acid-alkaline balance of the body and reflect this in a test of either the saliva or urine of the body or both.

Sulfur, while naturally present largely as sulfur-containing amino acids in proteins, is oxidized on use by the body to form sulfuric acid. Thus high-protein foods are generally acid-forming.

Citrus fruits, on the other hand, contain citric acid and acid potassium citrate. Their citrate radicals are completely oxidized in the body to carbonic acid (lost as C02), leaving behind potassium, which is one of the bases of the body. Hence, a great many “acid” fruits and juices are base-forming in their body use.

Grape juice is much less effective as compared with orange juice in reducing urinary acidity because the tartaric acid it contains is not completely oxidized by the body, but eliminated as such to a certain extent in the urine. Some other fruits (prunes and cranberries are examples), containing incompletely utilized organic acids that are directly excreted in the urine act to increase the urine’s acidity. At times the urine then could test acid, while the saliva would be neutral or slightly alkaline. (This will be referred to later under Tests.)

With these exceptions, it is possible to calculate directly the acid- or base-forming values of foods by obtaining the difference in equivalents of normal acid or normal base from content of sulfur, chlorine, iodine or phosphorus and sodium, calcium, potassium or magnesium, respectively.

A certain balance between acid-forming and base-forming foods maybe desirable from a purely technical, medical point of view, as too much acid-forming could be a drain upon the fixed base or so-called alkaline reserve of the body. Fortunately the body has a marked ability to protect itself from excess acid formation. From the Edgar Cayce readings’ point of view, a diet should be slightly alkaline-reacting or consist of about 80% alkaline-forming foods and 20% acid-forming in nature.

Then as to activities in the diet:

It is well that there be kept about a twenty percent acid-producing to an eighty percent alkaline-producing diet. Have the cereals such as whole wheat, or a combination of wheat and barley … three or four times each week. …have citrus fruit juices … put a little lemon juice in [orange juice]… Do not eat any large quantities of syrups or candies… Beware of fried foods – these are harmful. Milk and milk products are very well to be a greater portion of the diet. Have at least one portion of a meal each day consist of a combination of raw vegetables; specially such as celery, lettuce, spinach, radish, onions or leeks, cabbage or….. tomatoes, peppers… No red meats. Preferably fish, fowl or lamb – but never any of these fried. Do this and as we find we may keep the better conditions.( Edgar Cayce reading #949-19)

In another reading an alkaline diet was outlined.

Keep the diet rather tending toward an alkaline reaction… Mornings – citrus fruit juices, or stewed fruits, or a cereal. Do not mix citrus fruit juices with any cereal, or take at the same meal. When stewed fruits are taken, possibly they may be used with the cereal – or fresh fruit may be used on cereal. Ovaltine or Sanka coffee would be much preferable to the strong coffee, for this body.

Noons – or luncheons – preferably raw green vegetables combined into a salad; such as tomatoes, lettuce, celery, peppers, radishes, onions, spinach, and those things of such natures. An oil or a salad dressing may be taken with same; also either whole wheat crackers or any of such natures that are preferable to the white bread. Preferably no white bread at any time.

Evenings – (if the main meal or dinner is taken then) vegetables, principally those that are grown above the ground; though, to be sure, carrots and parsnips and the like may be included. Preferably raw white cabbage and cooked red cabbage, that carry more of the vitamins necessary. These should be cooked in their own fluids, rather than as ordinarily boiled or with meats. Preferably these should be seasoned with salt and pepper and butter, rather than meats-and will be found to be much more agreeable to the body. All the green vegetables and those of the pod nature are very good. If meats are used, let these consist of such as lamb, fowl or fish. At least one meal each week (in the meats) should consist of liver or tripe, because of the blood purifying that these make for the body.

Do these, consistently, persistently, and we will correct the disturbing factors and save many a period of anxiety, and make for normal forces with this body, [Edgar Cayce reading 826]. (826-1)

Causes of Imbalance

From a study of the readings, there emerges a pattern of factors that directly affects acid-alkaline balance:

  1. Diet. (This we shall discuss later.)
  2. Emotional effects. Anger, emotional exhaustion, resentments, etc., alter body chemistry through glandular secretions. (We will make some allusion to these effects.)
  3. Circulation or organ-system effects. These are caused by incoordination of the cerebrospinal and sympathetic nervous systems, of elimination-assimilation or the body’s general metabolism.
    (These we will not discuss here, but refer you to the Circulating Files, “Acidity-Alkalinity” and “Colds: Coryza” and their commentaries by William A. McGarey, M.D.)

Results of Imbalance

Without becoming too involved in a technical, chemical and physiological discussion, we will take a look at two results of imbalance:

  1. The Cayce readings suggest time after time that acidity can result in a congestion and a cold if conditions are otherwise favorable.
  2. Physiologically, balance or imbalance is reflected in acidity detectable by litmus (blue) testing of the saliva and the urine.

Research Data

Q-4. How long should the body keep the citrus fruit diet?
A-4. Until at least there shows that there is – through the test in the urine and in the blood – a nearer alkaline reaction; or it may be tested through the mouth, with the litmus and the salivary reactions. (760-15)

… it would be well that the body check on itself occasionally as to the alkalinity, or acidity of the system. Check with litmus paper, both the saliva and the urine, for acids.
When there is the tendency towards the acids, then alkalize with lemons, especially, or lemon and orange. . .
Do it, say, once a week or the like. Don’t take an excess of the alkalines unless there is indicated an acid reaction. (1100-27)

After studying the Edgar Cayce readings and suggestions about diet in The Normal Diet for several years, I suppose I was like most people: I read more than I practiced. Then I began teaching science in the Norfolk city schools.

One morning I went to work feeling quite well at 7:00 a.m.; I was in a carpool, so I wasn’t driving. Just after walking into the classroom, about 30 minutes before the students were to report for homeroom, I suddenly became aware that I was “taking the flu,” so to speak. A dripping nose, feverishness, and suddenly aching joints – classic symptoms – yet what was I to do?

Then I remembered what I had read. I had litmus paper and checking the saliva, I found it was acid! Somewhere deep from within my memory came: Take 11/2 to 2 quarts of orange juice, squeeze the juice of two lemons into it; drink it within ½ hour, then rest – go to bed if possible.

What could I lose? Across the street from the school was a supermarket, where I purchased a 46-ounce can of 100% orange juice, 2 lemons and a can opener. I went back to the classroom, drank the orange-lemon juice combination – surprisingly it tasted much better than orange juice alone -and just finished a few minutes before the students arrived. By 11:00 a.m., three hours later, I felt “fit as a fiddle.”

I then undertook a four months study of my diet, taking the pH of my saliva with litmus, night and morning, and adjusting my menus to bring my system back into balance. For example (refer to Table 1), if one morning you found that your saliva turned the blue litmus paper to red or pink, then a good breakfast would be “mummy food” consisting of:

4 oz. dark Assyrian figs 4 x (+33) = +132
4 oz. yellow corn meal 4 x (-4.9) = -19.6
1 glass (8 oz.) of milk = + 2.3

Net balance base value +114.7

Or eat some fruit, or drink the 46 ounces of orange juice with the juice of 2 lemons, especially if you feel the subjective symptoms of a cold. Forty-six ounces of orange juice is, combined with the lemon juice, just about a quart and a half or six cups.

6 cups orange juice (at +5.6 per 1/2 cup) +67.2
1/2 cup lemon juice (at +5.0 per 1/2 cup) + 2.5

Total base value +69.7


I found that if I followed the suggestions contained in The Normal Diet based on the readings I did not have to make too much adjustment, unless I was undergoing stress, lacked rest or lost my temper. For reasons referred to in the Introduction, I did not check the urine, as it was acid at times when the saliva would be neutral (retain blue color) or slightly alkaline, so I just checked the “spittle” or saliva.

Since my interest was mainly in avoiding colds or dispensing with one as rapidly as I could if I caught one, I usually would take the orange-lemon juice treatment, drink a great deal of water, and not eat anything else until the next meal. I found that on an empty stomach, the saliva would show alkaline or neutral in 11/2 hours – as in the morning. After a full meal, it would take six hours for the body to show neutral saliva.

The saliva test is performed this way: Use blue litmus paper (supplied by any scientific company, such as Sargent-Welch, S-K or Fischer, lab supply stores of universities or many pharmacies.) Take 1 paper strip. Wet it with the tongue. If it remains blue, the body is OK. If it turns pink where wet, the body is acid.

In my experience Hydrion paper (universal pH indicator) has never proved very helpful for this purpose. As a chemist, I would say it is too insensitive of too broad a range. Our range is slightly acid, neutral and slightly base – all of which can be detected by the change, or lack of change, in blue litmus to pink. We only wish to measure a pH range from perhaps less than 7.0 to about 7.4 or 7.5, neutral being 7.0. Normal saliva is given as having a pH of from 6.0 (acid) to 7.9 alkaline). (Practical Physiological Chemistry, Hawk, et al., p. 308) Blue litmus will turn pink or red if the pH is 6.9 or less, remain blue when it is neutral (7.0) or higher.

Q-2. What can I do to build resistance against head colds?
Keep the normal acidity and alkalinity, by occasionally taking the test with litmus paper-both from the urine and from the spittle. Use the blue litmus, see? (1100-20)

Twenty Cases

For the past ten years I have used the “juice” treatment anytime I felt a cold coming on or found evidence of body acidity. During this time, I have not lost one day of work due to “sick leave,” despite the fact that at times up to 40% of my class enrollment was absent due to flu.

In recommending it to a number of different people-coworkers, cashiers or waiters in restaurants, clerks – those who have tried it, in about 20 different instances, have gotten the same results: Go to bed with a cold; wake up without it.

A word of caution, however: If a little bit is good, won’t more be better? No, not in my opinion.; I have only used the treatment as described above. I do not think one should go on a prolonged juice diet without careful medical supervision. Over-alkalinity is worse than acidity and, with this suggestion, we are only aiming for “neutral” pH or slight alkalinity.If it doesn’t work, then something else could be wrong.


Q-4. How can I overcome susceptibility to infections such as colds, influenza, etc.?
A-4. As we have just indicated, by keeping the body alkaline. Only in acids do colds attack the body. (3248-1)

Q-15. What causes colds? Can you give me a formula or method of preventing them, or curing them?
A-15. Keep the body alkaline! Cold germs do not live in an alkaline system! They do breed in any acid or excess of acids of any character left in the system. (1947-4)

I have tested the suggestion that if the body is alkaline, a cold cannot take hold. This suggestion has been shared with a number of other people, at random, and – when acted upon similar results were obtained. It is possible to monitor the condition of body alkaline-acid balance by using blue litmus paper to check saliva pH. If under the influence of a cold, the body is made alkaline or neutral by taking enough citrus juices in a short period of time to neutralize body acidity, relief of cold symptoms can come about in from three to twelve hours, with rest and plenty of water.



Circulating Files: “Acidity-Alkalinity” and “Colds: Coryza.” Virginia Beach, Va.: A.R.E. Press (available on loan to members only).
Gammon, Margaret. The Normal Diet. Virginia Beach, Va.: A.R.E. Press, 1957.
Hawk, Oser, Summerson, and Blakiston. Practical Physiological Chemistry. Philadelphia, Pa., 1951.
Read and Ilstrup. A Diet/Recipe Guide. Virginia Beach, Va.: A.R.E. Press, 1967.
Turner and St. Clair, compilers. Individual Reference File. “The Black Book.” Extracts from the Edgar Cayce readings. Virginia Beach, Va.: A.R.E. Press, 1976.

About the Author: David Aberegg, was an A.R.E. member, he received his B.Sc. degree in chemistry from Case Western Reserve and did graduate work at Ohio State Medical School in biochemistry and physiological chemistry. Before coming to Virginia Beach, he worked as a research chemist and a consultant for several years to Owens-Illinois Glass Company.

Note: As this information is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, your use of this database of information indicates that you are aware of our recommendation that you consult with a professional healthcare provider before taking any action.