Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
Why drink baking soda?
- Each of us has reserves of alkaline minerals in our bodies, primarily sodium and calcium. When we eat more of these minerals than are needed at the time, they are stored mainly as sodium and calcium bicarbonate, and are available when required. Most of these reserves exist as a buffer that is stored in your blood plasma. These reserves are used to maintain the pH of your blood within a very narrow range - if your blood gets to be more acid or alkaline, you will rapidly get sick or even die. Your blood pH varies depending on what you eat, your health, your level of activity and stress, and many other factors. Initially, your sodium bicarbonate reserves are used to maintain the acid / alkaline balance. If they run out, then the calcium bicarbonate and other alkaline mineral reserves are next in line. If your plasma reserves are insufficient, calcium is taken from your bones.
- Apple cider vinegar (ACV) contains malic acid and acetic acid and citrus fruits contain citric acid. After passing through your stomach and into your duodenum, the acids need to be neutralised, or they would burn your digestive tract. Bicarbonates are released from the pancreas to neutralise the stomach acid or chyme, and the other acids from the ACV or citrus. The ACV and citrus form acetates, citrates and malates, which are alkaline forming.
- So drinking a little baking soda saves using your digestive bicarbonates, and the bicarbonates stored in your blood plasma. For the same reason, it is better to take vitamin C as ascorbates rather than as ascorbic acid.
- Sodium bicarbonate used as a mouthwash will strengthen tooth enamel. It will also counter the build up of bacteria in the mouth. It can be used as a tooth powder that is an excellent substitute for toothpaste, or as the main ingredient if you are making your own toothpaste. If you regularly brush or rinse with baking soda, you protect against periodontitis (gum disease), plaque and tooth decay.
Why add baking soda to vinegar / citrus juice?
Apple cider vinegar and fresh lemon / lime / citrus juice are our most effective and voted for remedies. Why is it beneficial to add a little sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or potassium bicarbonate to them?
The acid from strong ACV or pure lemon juice can corrode your teeth. You can either drink the diluted juices through a straw at the back of your mouth, or neutralise the acidity with a little bicarbonate.
A whole lemon or lime, or a tablespoon of ACV needs about 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to neutralise it. Start with less, and slowly add a little until the fizzing almost stops. You want a pH of about 6, ie slightly acid.
In addition, adding sodium bicarbonate to your apple cider vinegar or lemon juice helps keep your body alkaline by saving your body's bicarbonate reserves.
Sodium bicarbonate and acid reflux / heartburn
If you suffer from acid reflux or weak digestion, I suggest you use less sodium bicarbonate and drink your ACV or lemon juice as acidic as possible.
On the acid reflux ailment page, I explain how acid reflux or heartburn is caused by insufficient stomach acidity. To heal the reflux, you need to increase your stomach's acidity. Baking soda is alkaline, so it is the opposite to what you need. Yes, baking soda will provide temporary relief, but it will not heal the heartburn in the long term.
How to use baking soda
As a drink
Dissolve 1/2 level teaspoon in 1/2 glass of water, take every 2 hours. Take care to measure accurately, do not exceed 1/2 teaspoon. Half a level teaspoon is 0.6 gram.
On the skin
Mix with a little water to make a paste. Rub onto skin and leave.
Warnings for baking soda
- Do not confuse baking soda with baking powder. They are not the same thing.
- Do not take more than 6 glasses in 24 hours, or 3 glasses if you are aged over 60 years.
- Do not give to children under the age of 5. Generally, drinking bicarb should not be necessary for children unless specifically recommended by your healthcare practitioner.
- Do not continue for more than 2 weeks.
- You can order aluminium-free baking soda in Australia. However, my understanding is that baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is mined/extracted from the ground, and does not contain aluminium. It is baking POWDER that contains baking soda, and usually also includes a compound containing aluminum.
- Baking soda can reduce the level of vitamins and minerals in your body (especially B vitamins, folate and chromium).
- Do not use if you are on a sodium-restricted diet.
- Do not drink until the powder is completely dissolved.
- If you are taking any pharmaceutical drugs check with your doctor as they may react with sodium bicarbonate.
- Only use on an empty stomach, ie one hour before or three hours after eating. Do not take when you have a full stomach.
- May cause diarrhoea if taken in large quantities.