You probably already know that baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) has many uses around your house, and you probably use it in the kitchen for baking, and in the bathroom as a safe, gentle cleaner. But you might also want to add a box to your medicine cabinet.
Baking soda's most common use as a medicine is to ease heartburn and indigestion. "This approach has been popular since the 19th century, and there are even dosing instructions on most boxes of baking soda," say Joe and Terry Graedon, authors of the monthly newsletter Simple Health Remedies
Below are five ways you can use baking soda to stay healthy:
Many people swear by half a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in a glass of water to ease heartburn and indigestion. "This remedy has two great advantages," say the Graedons. "It goes to work quickly (unlike most of the prescription and over-the-counter acid suppressors such as omeprazole or cimetidine), and it can be found in almost any pantry." While it is not advisable to use baking soda for acid reflux on a regular basis, they say, occasional use should not be a problem for most people.
• Kidney Disease.
A small dose of baking soda could stop the progression of chronic kidney disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
. Researchers divided 134 patients with kidney disease into two groups. One group received a 600 mg tablet of baking soda each day in addition to their regular care. After one year, only 9 percent of the baking soda group showed that their disease had progressed significantly, compared with 45 percent of those in the control group. British scientists say baking soda is so effective that it could stop patients from having to undergo dialysis.
Animal models of human breast cancer cells show that baking soda can increase the alkalinity of tumors and inhibit their metastasis, while not harming healthy tissues. Some doctors are so impressed that they are using baking soda as a part of their overall treatment for cancer patients. Dr. Julian Whitaker, founder and director of the Whitaker Wellness Institute
, advises his cancer patients to sip drinks made with two teaspoons of baking soda mixed in two cups of water three times a day.
• Athletic performance.
Runners often take baking soda capsules before they race, a practice called "soda doping." A study conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine found that runners who took baking soda improved their performances.
Tests have also shown that baking soda improves the speed of swimmers. A study at Loughborough University found that eight of nine swimmers who took baking soda before a race improved their times. "Essentially, sodium bicarbonate is an alkali substance that increases the pH of the blood," researcher Jonathan Folland told the Daily Mail
. "This seems to reduce and offset the acidity produced in the muscles during intense, anaerobic exercise that produces lactic acid most quickly, such as fast running or swimming." The bottom line is that baking soda appears to reduce acids in the muscles and cause the body to tire more slowly.
• Insect bites.
A strong alkaline paste of baking soda and warm water eases the intense itching of mosquito and chigger bites. "There are lots of home remedies to ease the itch of chigger bites," say the Graedons. "One of the simplest and most effective is baking soda applied as a paste to the bites."
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