For most of us, saliva is not one of our favorite topics. Spitting on someone has been an expression of contempt for all of human history, and in Matthew 26:67; 27:30 we see the enemies of Jesus spitting on Him to express their total rejection of Him and all that He stood for. The fact of the matter is that saliva is a vital substance, and even though it is mostly water, it is different from one animal to the next and yet provides a valuable function in all living things.

In many animals saliva is used to neutralize poisons. Some South American bats, for example, have an ingredient in their saliva that can neutralize the poisons in the skins of frogs. Vampire bats, leeches and ticks use saliva as an anticoagulant to prevent clotting to allow them to draw blood. Scientists have discovered that when the salivary glands are removed from animals, wounds in those animals heal less rapidly. The saliva contains an ingredient that stimulates a wound to close, and there is considerable evidence that this ingredient acts on nerves and nerve growth. In some animals saliva is a communication device. Pigs, for example, communicate when they are ovulating and thus ready for sexual activity by chemicals contained in their saliva.

As you read through these examples, you may realize that there are all kinds of possible benefits to man medically from what has been discovered about animal saliva. Studies on human saliva have been rather limited so far, but those of us who are older can tell you that you get less saliva as you age which results in throat problems and discomfort in speaking and sleeping. The National Institutes of Health are doing research on saliva to see if it can be used to replace blood tests. We know saliva contains hormones and other indicators of heart disease, AIDS, and osteoporosis. DNA from cheek cells are always found in saliva, so genetic diseases can be checked for by testing saliva. Dr. Lawrence Tobak has proposed putting a chip on a tooth that would monitor a person's health and send radio signals when a person is in danger.

It is interesting that such a simple thing as saliva can be seen to have incredible use and function, and radiates the intelligence that is built into the very fabric of our being. It speaks loudly of David's statement in Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."

--Source: National Geographic, May 2006, page 31.

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