You probably have an ancient box of baking soda tucked away in some forgotten corner of your refrigerator. Maybe you tossed it in there when you bought your refrigerator simply because that’s what people do, or maybe it was there when you moved in so you decided to leave it. Or maybe you know that baking soda has tons of handy household uses as an odor neutralizer and cleaning agent, so you like to have some on hand. What you might not know is that baking soda can be used for medicinal purposes as well. And today, National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, is the day to recognize the power of the powder.
It might seem strange that bicarbonate of soda has its own day of recognition, but it’s pretty amazing stuff.
What is bicarbonate of soda? Baking soda, bread soda, and bicarbonate of soda are all common names for sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), which is a naturally occurring chemical compound. The baking soda that you buy in stores, however, is produced by manufacturers rather than plucked out of sodium bicarbonate mines. No matter what you call it, though, sodium bicarbonate has a wide range of applications including medicinal uses.
What is bicarbonate of soda used for? Baking soda is used in everything from cleaning products to fire extinguishers. It can also be found in over-the-counter remedies, and is often used on its own for medicinal purposes. Sodium bicarbonate is an alkaline (or basic) substance that can help regulate pH levels in the body. Most people don’t consider acid and alkaline levels when it comes to health, but it’s quite important. Imbalanced pH can damage tissues, organs such as the kidneys and pancreas, and weaken immune systems.
One of the most common medicinal uses for baking soda is as an antacid. People often use sodium bicarbonate for gastrointestinal problems such as acid reflux, indigestion, and heartburn. Most over-the-counter antacids use some type of bicarbonate
Sometimes GI problems can be be more serious than you realize, and while simply swilling bicarbonate of soda can provide some temporary relief, it may not be the best solution. In the same way that aspirin might help you feel better but it won’t fix a broken arm, baking soda might help your upset stomach without fixing a more serious problem.
If you find yourself reaching for antacids or baking soda more and more, it might be time to seek help from a physician. MANA gastroenterologists can do more than mask symptoms.