Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda, is secreted in the pancreas to help aid in digestion. It helps neutralize the stomach acid that is generated during the digestive process and helps in the breakdown of certain enzymes. Sodium bicarbonate levels in the body must be neither too low nor too high in order for digestion to function normally and for the digestive tract to remain healthy.
Sodium bicarbonate is one of the best medicines in nature. The company Arm &Hammer starting selling it in 1846, and in 1926 they brought out a booklet about how to use it as a medicine. It is possibly the most useful substance that we know of — there are books and websites that talk about hundreds of common and incredibly varied uses. But before we look at some of the ways that we can use baking soda, first let’s look at what it is.
Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) is the monosodium salt of carbonic acid, and it forms sodium and bicarbonate ions. This ion formation increases plasma bicarbonate and buffers excess hydrogen ion concentration, resulting in a raised blood pH.
It turns to carbon dioxide (CO2) when it reaches the stomach acid. You can experiment by squeezing a fresh lemon onto a little bit of baking soda — you will instantly see it bubble and turn to carbon dioxide.
Sodium bicarbonate, or rather carbon dioxide, is the key to oxygen in our body. Oxygen is incredibly dangerous, even deadly, without carbon dioxide. So carbon dioxide is actually not a waste product; doctors like to think of it as metabolic waste, but when we exercise we actually create a lot of carbon dioxide — which is very healthy and beneficial, and that’s the reason why exercise is very healthy.
The more carbon dioxide we have, the more the blood vessels dilate, blood flow increases, and more oxygen is delivered to the different parts of the body. If we do not pay attention to our breathing then we can get rid of too much carbon dioxide. The levels then go down in the blood and the blood vessels constrict, making it more difficult for oxygen to get delivered to all the tissues in in the same concentration.
Carbon dioxide is also very important for the mitochondria. They produce carbon dioxide, thus good carbon dioxide levels are an indication of healthy mitochondria.
So, when we take additional sodium bicarbonate, which then turns to carbon dioxide, we are increasing oxygen delivery almost instantly to the cells. This is a fundamental issue when dealing with any kind of disease.
And sodium bicarbonate is a buffer in the blood to help control our pH levels, which is also crucial to our health. In emergency situations, doctors will even inject sodium bicarbonate intravenously as a life-saving treatment to balance pH levels, if the patient’s blood is becoming too acidic.
Baking soda can help to heal the symptoms of acid reflux (GERD) almost instantly, by neutralizing the acid that is flowing upwards. When taking sodium bicarbonate it’s almost immediately noticeable that the pH of the urine changes, and becomes more alkaline.
Baking soda can also help the detoxification process from chemical toxicity, heavy metals, and radiation. In cancer treatment, sodium bicarbonate is the perfect medicine, because it increases oxygen and increases carbon dioxide — and cancer cells do not like oxygen.
Taking baking soda has also been shown to help decrease fatigue and increase performance. Some research has even found that a daily dose of baking soda may help reduce the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The only thing you need to be a little cautious of is taking too much sodium bicarbonate, which can increase your salt intake, which for some people can cause problems. Too much sodium bicarbonate will diminish potassium levels.
The easiest way and most beneficial way to take sodium bicarbonate is by putting a teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of water and adding a little freshly squeezed lemon juice. You just drink it, two or three times a day.
Scientists use the pH scale to measure the acidity of a solution. The scale goes from 0 and 14, with values below 7 indicating an acidic solution; values above 7 indicating an alkaline (or base) solution; and neutral solutions, such as pure water, have a pH value of 7. Baking soda is an alkaline, or base, substance.
This means that when we dissolve baking soda in water, it forms an alkaline solution. For example, a 0.1 molar solution of baking soda has a pH of around 8.3. Lemon juice contains citric acid and has a pH of around 3. So adding baking soda to lemon juice will raise the pH to produce a more neutral solution. And it tastes better too!
Baking soda can also be highly beneficial for the outside of our body, not just the inside. For example, our skin usually has a weakly acidic pH of about 5.7. Bases, such as baking soda, will increase and balance the pH, which can help with many skin conditions and lead to healthier skin.
It is also beneficial for our teeth, due to its antibacterial properties and its ability to remove plaque without eroding tooth enamel. Brushing your teeth with a little baking soda can help remove surface-level tooth stains.
You can even use baking soda as a deodorant — just a tiny bit of the powder is more effective, and a lot friendlier to your body, than most popular deodorant sticks and sprays.
And baking soda can also be very effective in treating insect bites — applying a baking soda and water paste to the bite area can quickly decrease itching.
These are just a few examples, there are so many more benefits to baking soda. You can do a quick search on YouTube and you’ll find videos showing dozens more useful uses for baking soda.
When buying baking soda, just be sure that you buy the food grade, aluminum free option so that you’re putting the purest form in or on your body.
Ayda Ersoy is a nutrition and fitness director at The Diet Doc Hawaii. She can be reached at DietDocHawaii.com, Ayda@DietDocHawaii.com or (808) 276-6892