Most of us keep a box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) around the house. It makes baked goods rise, eliminates acid-induced odors in refrigerators, carpets, and litter boxes and is a minimally abrasive “green” cleaning agent that can be used to scrub everything from sinks and dishes to fruits and vegetables.
In addition to these household applications, sodium bicarbonate has several medicinal uses. Here are 7 uses of baking soda for health.
Benefit #1: Kidney Disease
Bicarbonate is an alkaline substance naturally produced in the body that buffers acids and helps keep pH in check. In people who have chronic kidney disease, which is most often caused by diabetes or hypertension, poorly functioning kidneys have a hard time removing acid from the body. This often results in a condition known as metabolic acidosis.
In one study, British researchers treated patients with advanced kidney disease and metabolic acidosis with oral sodium bicarbonate in conjunction with their usual treatment for two years. The sodium bicarbonate slowed the rate of decline in kidney function by two-thirds, and just 6.5 percent of the patients treated with sodium bicarbonate required dialysis by the end of the study, compared to 33 percent in a control group. Discuss this with your physician and encourage him to look into this promising therapy, which can slow the progression of this devastating disease.
Benefit #2: Cancer
Studies have shown that dietary measures to boost bicarbonate levels can increase the pH of acidic tumors without upsetting the pH of the blood and healthy tissues. Although this hasn’t yet been studied in human clinical trials, animal models of human breast cancer show that oral sodium bicarbonate does indeed make tumors more alkaline and inhibit metastasis.
In my practice, I had my patients use 12 g (2 rounded teaspoons) of baking soda mixed in 2 cups water, along with a low-cal sweetener. (It’s quite salty tasting.) Sip this mixture over the course of an hour or two and repeat for a total of three times a day.
Benefit #3: Occasional Heartburn and Indigestion
Most over-the-counter antacids, such as Alka-Seltzer, Tums, and Rolaids, contain some form of bicarbonate. But a more cost-effective way to relieve occasional heartburn and indigestion is to stir half a teaspoon of baking soda into half a cup of water and drink it an hour or two after meals.
Benefit #4: Dermatological Conditions
British researchers found that adding one-half cup of baking soda to bathwater soothed itchiness and irritation in patients with psoriasis. And a paste made of baking soda mixed with a little water and dabbed on sunburn, insect bites, allergic rashes, and skin exposed to poison oak/ivy reduces discomfort. That same paste also makes a nice, gentle exfoliant.
Benefit #5: Natural Deodorant
Simply mix about a teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to create a milky liquid, and rub it on your feet and underarms.
Benefit #6: Oral Health
Baking soda is a popular ingredient in toothpastes and mouthwashes since it has been shown to enhance plaque removal. Of course, you could just dip your toothbrush in baking soda, but due to its abrasive qualities, it may wear down enamel over time. Therefore, I recommend going with the commercial products.
Benefit #7: Athletic Performance
When taken before intense exercise, sodium bicarbonate buffers the lactic acid that builds up in hard-working muscles, delays fatigue and enhances athletic performance.
A Final Note on Baking Soda
Topical use of baking soda is safe and nontoxic. Oral use is also safe, provided you do not exceed the recommended doses, as this could upset the body’s acid-base balance. Larger amounts can cause temporary nausea and diarrhea.
Although sodium bicarbonate contains quite a bit of sodium, it does not raise blood pressure.The hypertensive effect of salt (sodium chloride) comes from the combination of sodium and chloride.