Salivary testing: The emerging health monitor

Modern day life comes with many challenges. Having a busy schedule with little or no time to visit diagnostic centers, long wait and risk of exposure to infections in the large crowds of the hospitals, senior citizens or physically challenged people who have mobility concerns and most importantly, the risk of invasive testing. In these circumstances, there is a need for secure, non-invasive testing in the safety and comfort of our homes. Saliva based home testing is proving to be the new-age solution to this challenge.

Saliva is a thick, colorless, opalescent fluid present in our mouth 24/7. It is composed of water, mucus, proteins, mineral salts and amylase. One to two litres of saliva is secreted by our salivary glands every day[1]! Like our blood, saliva is a complex fluid. Many of the compounds present in the blood enter the saliva by passing through the gaps between the cells. Majority of the compounds present in the blood are also present in the saliva, making it a suitable tool to test the physiological health in terms of hormonal, nutritional and metabolic states[2]. Nearly 1000 different proteins and 19,000 unique peptide sequences [3] have been detected in Whole Mouth Saliva (WMS). 

Saliva based testing has scope in various systemic diseases and disorders[4]

  • Auto-immune diseases like Sjogren’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis and Sarcoidosis
  • Renal diseases 
  • Psychological research for stress, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Malignancy for cancer[5]
  • Viral and bacterial infections
  • Genetic disorders
  • Drug level monitoring
  • Cardio vascular markers for acute coronary syndromes

Advantages of salivary testing[6] include

  • Non-invasive and safe
  • Convenience of testing in the comfort of home
  • Ease of use for multiple or frequent health monitoring
  • Low risk of exposure at diagnostic centers
  • Cost effectiveness of testing with immediate result analysis

For over a decade, saliva based testing and diagnosis has been under research. There have been several benefits of using saliva rather than blood or urine for disease diagnosis and tracking specific diseases. It is time for the health-monitoring and diagnostics to evolve to make testing safe, convenient and easy to use. 

The author is a qualified wellness expert and founding member at CortiqaHealth, a company dedicated to making healthcare accessible, affordable and easy-to-use.