THE VIRTUES OF SODIUM BICARBONATE

Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda)… household kitchen remedy and blessing, or dangerous? Research says its a primary antacid

by TARA NARAYAN

Eating is Fun / Eating is Yuck! – A variety food column

I’VE been listening and reading too much about the virtues of sodium bicarbonate or just soda or cooking soda or “meetha soda” or baking soda, all as in the solid white crystalline powder we add to create carbon dioxide, yes carbon dioxide to puff up idli, dhokla, to make cakes rise to glory and acquire a much desired spongy texture. Are the virtues of sodium bicarbonate for real?
By way of some exciting news this week I’ve been listening to my dear friend Reshma Melvani (whose son Jiten does Sattvic organic snacks and ingredients) who tells me just plain baking soda (otherwise sodium bicarbonate) has done much to ease her health problems, “All I do is just add quarter teaspoon of it to a glass of water, stir and drink.” It works miracles for her digestive system. She is some kind of a living proof or testimony for me about the efficacies of sodium bicarbonate and I’m all set to follow her example!
But I like to do my homework as much as I can. I wish somebody could give me lots of proof about the wonderful natural antacid properties of baking soda. It means we may say goodbye to doctors forever or so to speak. Can a simple humble kitchen ingredient like “meetha soda” or sodium bicarbonate make a difference for the better to body beautiful in trouble with a slew of degenerative digestive health problems?
Off late I’ve been hearing too much about sodium bicarbonate as a miracle healer and the health grapevine assures that the pharmaceutical world is terrified we’ll discover this! Reshma is convinced the mildly diluted sodium bicarbonate water she drinks alkalinizes her digestive system which is plagued by medicines and possibly the acid-creating food we eat day in and day out…it may be acidity or acidosis (there’s also ketoacidosis, quite a terminal condition). In a nutshell, Reshma tells me ever since she started drinking soda water it’s been like a miracle and how much better she is feeling.
WHAT is sodium bicarbonate? It’s a chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3, a salt composed of a sodium cation and a bicarbonate anion. It is solid white, crystalline, a fine powder. Actually we put it to quite a few kitchen and household use as in whitening our teeth, making silver shine, lots of common everyday household uses. Doctors know much more about it and may give a patient a sodium bicarbonate injection to reduce the amount of acid in blood. And we know it is high levels of acid in our blood which contribute towards diabetes, hepatitis, heart and kidney problems, shock, severe dehydration, diarrhea, Addison’s disease and yes, even malnutrition.
Sodium bicarbonate is a generic name for a class of drugs we know as antacids, which are commonly used to calm an upset stomach or acid reflux (I wrote about it here last week, say this is a second instalment). I have it on good account that sodium bicarbonate is a systemic alkalinizing agent which when given intravenously, will increase plasma bicarbonate, buffer excess hydrogen ion concentration, raise blood pH and reverse the clinical manifestations of acidosis. Like I said doctors must know all the medical uses of sodium bicarbonate good, bad and ugly.
But please note that you may not use sodium bicarbonate arbitrarily! In many conditions it is contraindicated. For example, shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty in breathing, swelling of body parts, rash and itching, etc. There are precautions in the usage of soda bicarbonate in patients with metabolic (heart failure) or respiratory alkalosis…so you are warned.
Despite all this there are ways to use sodium bicarbonate safely but first read up all data on it before doctoring yourself, okay. Remember I’m no doctor here but hopefully just a well-read and updated health food columnist amongst other things! Like I said over Facebook and other places and friends I hear a lot about the miraculous virtues of drinking water with a bit of soda in it or better still soda and lemon juice…that’s the miracle combo!
I would think drinking mildly spiked sodium bicarbonate water is fine and useful to keep one’s digestive system on the alkaline side, if it is mostly on the acidic side. It is a fact that healthcare practitioners give sodium bicarbonate injections to patients to improve the acid base balance of the body when it becomes too acidic (it happens in severe cases of diabetes, shock, kidney failure, dehydration and a resulting condition called lactic acidosis).
Well, I wish my doctor friends would throw some light on whether it’s okay to drink sodium bicarbonate-spiked water or not! What are the chances of sodium bicarbonate improving acidity factors in the stomach? Can it kill cancer cells (some dramatic research studies are indicating this!)…is it useful to drink a pinch/quarter tsp/half tsp cooking soda in a glass of water? Is a small portion of cooking sodium in a glass of water an effective oral antacid to take care of acidity in the stomach? Better and safer than the plethora of fancy antacids in the medical market?!
FUNNY, there is a flip side to all this, consuming too much sodium bicarbonate (be it in prescribed tablet form). For instance, you may suffer from the most common side effects – the formation of gas and/or bloating. There is also something called metabolic alkalosis, when body beautiful becomes too alkaline! Overdose yourself and you may worsen congestive heart failure, go into seizures, severe muscle spasms and contractions (tetany), your feet, ankles and lower legs may swell up…your blood will reveal high levels of sodium.
And to think I have friends who pop antacids (which make up a huge chunk of the pharmaceutical market) like crazy! So the question arises: Can antacids also contribute towards acidity in the stomach and eventually blood? I know friends who’re virtually living in their own “valley of dolls” (after the title of an old bestseller by Jacqueline Susanne of The Valley of Dolls fame if I remember correct).
All this is to say do more homework about the good, bad, ugly of sodium bicarbonate before drinking water spiked with it! Never mind the reams and reams of copy waxing lyrical over the goodness of sodium bicarbonate flooding Facebook and elsewhere…it would be in the fitness of things for someone qualified to give us consumers and lay public, perennially in search of better parameters of health, some guidance on whether our familiar kitchen ingredient sodium bicarbonate is okay or not okay for such an everyday use like calming an upset stomach irritated by acidic conditions or acid reflux, also called GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease?
I am seeking some answers here because acid reflux or GERD is common and when neglected it may lead to esophageal cancer (the less said about this dreadful condition here, the better). People in the countries of the western world are forever suffering from this health or age-related condition and reasons cited are obesity, overweight, overindulgence in alcohol, caffeinated or carbonated beverages, too much chocolate, citrus fruit, onions, peppermint, tomatoes, spicy, fried foods…eating large meals, sleeping immediately afterwards, lying down flat, taking prescription medicines like aspirin, drugs for asthma, high blood pressure, allergies, depression, sleep disorders, painkillers.
In any case I’ve decided to drink a quarter of a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate in my glass of water from now onwards! Can anyone tell why I shouldn’t? I’m throwing this open for readers to give me testimonies and some honest doctors, who put patients first and care enough to want to share what they know more than most ordinary folk like us do.

Baking Soda: The Nightmare of the Pharmaceutical Industry

By Joanna Ocean

According to the result of research findings, cancer is a lactic acid, which is formed when a certain kind of fungus or mold lives in an environment devoid of oxygen. It was also discovered that by passing a very high concentration of oxygen molecules through cancer cells, it could destroy them completely.
It is really very difficult for anyone to wrap their head around the idea that a substance as common as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) can offer much more benefits than most of the pharmaceutical drugs that cost so much. There is however fascinating evidence that proves that sodium bicarbonate can indeed cure a lot of serious diseases, such as cancer and diabetes. Medical practitioners have also been advised to use it since it offers amazing benefits.
Sodium bicarbonate, it must be noted, is a very widely researched substance, which has been used for several years even by oncologists. The toxicity of chemotherapy and radiation are such that could destroy vital organs of the body, like the liver and kidneys, therefore, sodium bicarbonate is usually given periodically to patients to prevent this possibility.
All over the world, multitudes add sodium bicarbonate to their drinking water with the intention of curing clinical acidosis and other adverse conditions. It is a well known fact that sodium bicarbonate has saved a lot of lives in the emergency rooms. The combination of baking soda with other natural substances like iodine and magnesium chloride produces a mixture that is a wonder in the medical world.
A major issue with regards to human physiology is the problem of a lack of bicarbonate ions. This results in a decrease in the pH value of the blood. Enzymes are a fundamental part of biochemical reactions and they are highly sensitive to pH levels. They work best in an environment that is not acidic. The fact that cells function better in a slightly alkaline environment gives credence to the efficacy of baking soda.
Diet plays a very important role in keeping the pH levels of the blood at acceptable levels. Unfortunately, our modern diet encourages a decrease in the pH level, making it acidic. Cellular activities and functions are drastically hampered when there is a consistent imbalance in the pH value. Cells begin to deteriorate when the pH value is acidic, leading to severe health issues like cancer, gastritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease, among others.
Sodium bicarbonate helps to transport oxygen by dilating the blood vessels and releasing oxygen into the cell tissues, thereby increasing the pH value. When the pH value of urine is high, there is no crystallization of waste products in the urinary tract.
It is a known fact that uric acid causes gout, kidney stones, diabetes and heart diseases. Alcosan, which is a toxic compound is formed by fungi in an acidic environment has been shown to cause various cancers and diabetes. By orally administering baking soda, serious diseases like arthritis, gout, influenza can be prevented. It also helps the pancreas to adequately carry out its activities, which include the production of insulin and bicarbonate ions.
It does not matter if a person suffers from a terrible medical condition like heart disease or cancer, even the flue, when a combination of sodium bicarbonate and magnesium chloride is taken orally. It provides a treatment that is both natural and safe. These work to effectively rid the tissues, cells and organs off all toxins and acids. Sodium bicarbonate is a wonderful natural substance and a nightmare to the pharmaceutical industry.
(Credits: the-open-mind.com, bodymindsoulspirit.com and realfarmacy.com)

Medication for GERD

If you go to your doctor with symptoms of GERD or acid reflux, they will either encourage you to make lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or reducing weight (which may be difficult for various reasons) and prescribe some over the counter drugs like antacids which offer quick but mild relief, or proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) which effectively suppress stomach acid and help heal the esophagus. Here are names of some of the drugs in the market:
Aciphex (rabeprazole), Nexium (esomeprazole), Prilosec (omeprazole), Pepcid (famotidine), omeprazole-sodium bicarbonate; nizatidine, calcium carbonate magnesium hydroxide; calcium carbonate, famotidine, and magnesium hydroxide; Cimetidine (Tagamet); Reglan (metoclopramide); Protonix (pantoprazole); Zantac (ranitidine), etc.
Widely used antacids include Mylanta (aluminum hydroxide and magnesium hydroxide), Rolaids(calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide, Tums (calcium carbonate). These drugs may treat symptoms by neutralizing acid in your stomach but won’t help heal a damaged esophagus. There are also H2 blocker to treat heartburn after meals and some proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are drugs to reduce acid production, offering relief from symptoms and help heal irritated esophagus – to name some of them, there’re Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole).

THE MYRIAD USES OF SODIUM BICARBONATATE

Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda (cooking soda, sweet soda) has a most versatile brief for home and kitchen use! Here are some ways to put sodium bicarbonate to good use:
• It’s most commonly used to reduce stomach acid. It’s a popular antacid to treat heartburn, indigestion, stomach upsets. A quick-acting antacid but offers temporary relief.
• SB is widely used in baking products and in several of our recipes.
• It makes for a great mouth wash having anti-bacterial and antimicrobial properties. Add half-a-teaspoon of SB to half a glass of warm water and swish in your mouth. Soothes canker sores in mouth.
• Brush your teeth with SB to make them whiter and remove plaque; do you know most toothpastes have SB in them?
• Dust underarms with a pinch of SB for no odors!
• Athletes prefer to take SB supplements. During high intensity exercising muscle cells start producing lactic acid responsible for a burning feeling. Lactic acid lowers pH values and cells may be affected in in turn make muscles feel tired.
• Indulge in a baking soda bath occasionally to get rid of summer itches and burns. Add one cup SB to your warm water bath and soak affected area, or make paste and apply.
• Treat calluses on feet with SB paste.
• In a study of 134 adults with CKD (chronic kidney failure) it was found that those taking SB supplements were 36% times less likely to rapidly develop kidney failure.
• SB makes an environment less acidic. Place a bowl of SB in fridge to neutralize odors.
• In a small jar add one-third SB, 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil, cover with cloth or paper and tie up. Shake jar and place somewhere to refresh your rooms or bathroom.
• Whiten your laundry with SB.
• Cleaning up operations in the kitchen are easier with the use of SB or sodium bicarbonate. Keep it handy and easily available at all times. Sprinkle some in your dustbins to keep them less odorous.
Incredible but desirable are the many uses of sodium bicarbonate, go discover many more ways to make good use of far more economical to buy SB!

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