Spit. We don’t think about it much — or I don’t, at least — but it turns out to be incredibly helpful stuff, according to the salivary researchers at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing.
Think of it this way: what if instead of collecting your blood, your doctor just had to collect a mouthful of saliva? (Needle-phobes everywhere breathe a sigh of relief.) For one, the researchers found that spit can be used to measure CRP, a standard way to test for cardiovascular problems. This might lead to a convenient home test — no needles! no blood! no hospitals! — to check for cardiovascular risks.
Spit can also be used to measure stress by looking at certain enzymes in saliva — something other researchers are using to measure stress in mothers-to-be. When the body feels psychological distress, the heart pounds faster, adrenaline surges, and — who knew?! — the salivary gland gets stimulated. And since plenty of other research has shown that women’s emotional state during pregnancy effects the development of the fetus, it’s helpful for doctors to be able to measure just how stressed these pregnant women are, as well as how those stress levels are evolving throughout the pregnancy. Thank god for spit.