As per statistics, around 15 million Americans suffer from heartburn every day. Heartburn, commonly known as acid reflux is the burning sensation caused by the release of gastric acid from the stomach that travels to the throat. Heartburn, although mild in the beginning can lead to severe complications, if left untreated for more than two weeks. Among the many solutions for heartburn, baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate has proved to be the most effective home remedy in relieving heartburn.
How can a teeth whitener and leavening agent be used for heartburn? The answer lies in the essential alkaline nature of baking soda which helps in providing temporary and instant relief to indigestion and acid refluxes. However, this neutralization power of baking soda comes with certain precautions and limitations. Here is an ultimate guide on the pros and cons of using baking soda for heartburn.
What is heartburn?
Heartburn is the inflammation caused by the release of the stomach or gastric acid in your throat. The acid reflux causes pain and irritation in the lining of the esophagus and leaves a burning sensation, generally after you eat. It can lead to a feeling of constriction or choking, accompanied with a cough at times.
It can be a symptom of a more significant underlying condition – GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) – and needs to be kept in check. Experts and doctors say, if you experience heartburn more than twice or thrice a week, you need to visit a doctor for proper cure and treatment.
[Also Read: Treat Heartburn Using Natural Remedies]
About baking soda
Baking soda, technically known as sodium bicarbonate, and is a crystallized white salt. It is usually available in a solid powder form and gets characterized by a salty, bitter taste. It has an array of uses. Baking soda has only a single derivative – baking powder.(1)
Regarding appearance, both baking soda and baking powder have a white powder texture and a slightly salty, bitter taste. The sole difference lies in the percentage of sodium bicarbonate present in the two components. While baking soda is cent percent sodium bicarbonate, baking powder is a mix of 30-32 % baking soda and other acidic ingredients.
It is why, baking soda reacts only in a mixture with an acid, for instance, lemon, buttermilk, vinegar or tartar cream. Baking powder, on the other hand, already has the required acid component and has an instantaneous reaction on exposure to heat or moisture. Both of these derivatives of sodium bicarbonate get used in baking as leavening agents; however baking soda has an array of multiple more uses.
Why use baking soda for heartburn?
The process of digestion includes the release of gastric acid – a juice that helps dissolve and digest the food we intake. However, when this gastric juice and refluxes travels upward to the throat, it causes esophageal constriction and inflames the throat. It is where baking soda comes in the picture. Read on to see why it is good to treat heartburn.
- Baking soda is an antacid and has an alkaline ph. Its intake can help neutralize acidity and prevent heartburn
- Baking soda does not act as an external agent for the digestive system as our pancreas itself produce sodium bicarbonate naturally to balance the acidity
- Baking soda is a quick absorbing antacid and can neutralize the acidic content in the stomach hence providing temporary relief to the heartburn symptoms
[Read: Essential Oils for Heartburn]
How to use baking soda for heartburn?
The easiest way of using baking soda for heartburn lies right on your kitchen shelf! Available in its crystallized powder form in local stores and pharmacies, 125 ml or half a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a cup or four ounces of water is an instant way of relieving heartburn.
Baking soda is also available as an effervescent powder, tablets, capsules, granules, and solutions, and can be taken before a meal or two hours post medication. However, the safest way to use baking soda for heartburn would be as per your doctor’s recommendation.
DIY baking soda remedy
Preparing baking soda at home is simple and is rightly called a DIY. All you have to do is-
- Take half a spoon of baking soda powder
- Mix and let it dissolve in a cup or half a glass of water and sip the solution slowly
- Do not swallow all at once
- Use room temperature or lukewarm water instead of cold for better results
- This solution can be taken twice a day for relieving heartburn
Other uses of baking soda
Baking soda has a goldmine of applications.
- Rising agent – Baking soda gets used for fluffing up the dough in baked goods such as cakes, muffins, biscuits, and bread.
- Dental hygiene product – Baking soda present in toothpaste can prevent tooth decay and keep the gums and mouth healthy by killing the germs present in the mouth. It can also be used as a mouth freshener – gargling with a spoon of baking soda mixed in water helps keeps bad breath at bay.
- Relieves indigestion – The anti-acid properties in baking soda are known to counter indigestion and acidity. The alkaline nature of baking soda neutralizes excess stomach acid and reduces burning and inflammation. 1/2 a teaspoon in a cup of water can work wonders.
- Treats sting bites – Sting bites, rashes, itching, and redness – baking soda can cure you of the discomfort caused by all these skin irritations. Several skin creams contain a small percentage of baking soda. Moreover, you can always make your concoction by adding 1 part of sodium bicarbonate to 3 parts water and use it as a paste on the affected area.
- Steers away odors – The alkaline smell of baking soda gets rid of the foul acidic odor. Try placing a box of baking soda in your fridge or cabinets or sprinkle it under your carpet or dishwasher and see the smell vanish instantly.
[Read: Home Remedies to Treat Heartburn]
Precautions and side effects of baking soda
Doctors say that using baking soda for heartburn, although it provides temporary and quick relief to the symptoms, is not a substitute for long-term and effective treatment. Before you use baking soda, it is essential that you are aware of the precautions and side effects accompanied by its usage.
Baking soda can increase gas and bloat, alleviate thirst levels and cause stomach pain and cramps. It can also cause nausea and vomiting. In case these symptoms do not subside within two weeks, it is advisable that you consult a doctor.
Bar of usage to these medical conditions
In case you are suffering from these preexisting medical conditions should strictly avoid using baking soda –
- High and low blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Preeclampsia and pregnancy
Interferes with certain medications
Due to the presence of excess sodium levels in baking soda, its use can lead to slowing down the absorption of certain medicines by the body and alter their effect and speed. Baking soda is known to interact and affect the effectiveness of medications like amphetamines and digoxins and a few others. It is recommended to take baking soda after two hours of medication.
Not safe for long-term use
The relief got to you by baking soda is instant and temporary. However, increased usage for an extended period can cause an acid rebound and worsen your symptoms by creating an imbalance in the body. Children and pregnant women must especially avoid usage and those suffering from the medical complications mentioned above. Intake must get regulated as per the dosage recommended by your doctor.
You must strictly avoid giving children below the age of six years baking soda as it has more harmful than beneficial effects. Only proceed after consulting your doctor.
Baking soda for heartburn will always be a temporary solution. It can never be a complete substitute for proper and long-term medical treatment. Therefore, it is crucial, that you implement healthy lifestyle changes that prevent the condition and cure it of the core. Staying within your body weight range and maintaining it goes a long way in preventing not only heartburn but a handful of other diseases.
Avoiding food triggers like fatty and acidic foods is a must. A complete exercise regime keeps the blood flowing and eliminates risks. Lowering intake of alcohol and putting a full stop to smoking is a must. Also, healthy and reasonably timed sleep schedule reduce acid levels and alter the body’s inner mechanism. A balance of these components will help you to get rid of heartburn completely.