Most people have a box of baking soda at home - or two boxes, or three.
Aside from the one in the kitchen, for the obvious purpose of baking, some folk keep them in their laundry room as a replacement for detergent. Others keep them in their bathrooms for cleaning. There are tons of applications around the house - but have you ever considered the applications in and on the human body? The potential health benefits of baking soda are astonishing!
Baking soda can be used to help heal a massive number of health related issues. It can help aid the digestive process, ease pain in your organs, keep you clean, heal injuries, stop acid reflux - the list goes on.
Baking soda - also known as sodium bicarbonate - is an alkaline substance. It can help to fix pH imbalances in the human body, and can remedy the resulting health defects. Most of the beneficial uses of baking soda are related to its ability to restore a balanced pH without tipping the scales in the opposite direction (making it too basic.)
A fairly standard way to incorporate baking soda into your diet is to mix half a teaspoon of the stuff with half a glass of water. Don’t drink this more than once every couple hours, lest your body lose its natural acidity and throw itself into an even more dangerous situation.
It is not recommended to take baking soda on a full stomach. Take it in the mornings before meals, or right before bed, a couple hours after dinner. Try to alternate weeks on and weeks off, as well. Taking too much baking soda too frequently can lead to a condition known as alkalosis, in which your body's pH balance is thrown off balance as it becomes too alkaline.
Baking Soda Makes A Great Antacid
Baking soda is a highly alkaline substance, so naturally, it can neutralize the acid in your stomach.This makes it extremely useful as an antacid. It can prevent heartburn and acid-related indigestion.
Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate. Most bicarbonate compounds are antacids – calcium bicarbonate is what is commonly used in over-the-counter antacids. It is recommended to only use these substances temporarily, since they are very quick-acting but offer little in terms of long-term support.
Conclusion: Baking soda is a cheap and effective alternative to over-the-counter antacids. It should not be used in place of long-term solutions.
2. Baking Soda Can Ease Cold And Flu Symptoms
One of the most common, and most irritating, symptoms of the common cold is a runny or stuffed up nose. Baking soda can be mixed with water to create something similar to a saline solution. If you mix baking soda with a bit of water and do a nasal wash, you can eliminate the mucus from your nose. It's not good to do this more than three times a day.
Conclusion: Baking soda can help you get rid of that annoying runny nose next time you have a cold!
3. Baking Soda Is A Great Sports Performance Supplement
Baking soda has a number of useful applications for enhancing performance for those who participate in high-performance sports or exercise.
Baking soda does this because of its use as a buffer. A buffer is something that prevents a significant change in pH by preventing an increase in acidity or basicity. A buffer has both a weak acid and its conjugate base - a conjugate base being the part of a reaction in which one compound transforms into the other. This means the acid turns into the base.
Metabolic acidosis, detailed later, was previously thought to be a condition only caused by extreme acidity caused mostly by diet. However, recent studies show that metabolic acidosis is actually the cause of fatigue in people after they exercise - not a release of lactic acid, which was the previous scientific understanding.
Acid builds up during intense workouts, causing fatigue. The capacity of the muscle’s ability to function is hindered by increasing acidity, which limits energy transference and the speed and strength with which a muscle can contract. Our natural defense against high acidity is a bicarbonate buffer - and that’s exactly what baking soda is.
Sodium bicarbonate reduces acidity of the blood and tissues in the body. This helps draw acid out from overworked muscles, and reduces the overall acidity in the body. This can prevent fatigue from developing, allowing people to exercise more. Intensive exercise that causes oxidative damage - cardiovascular exercise in particular - produces a lot of acid. Baking soda can reduce the onset of this acidity.
Conclusion: Contrary to what popular science has suggest for ages, it seems that muscle fatigue isn’t caused by a release of lactic acid. It’s actually caused by the muscular pH level being reduced, making muscles much more acidic. Baking soda can prevent muscle fatigue by restoring the pH to a health level.
4. Baking Soda Can Fight Bladder And Urinary Infections
Urinary tract infections are very common, and they’re usually caused by bacteria. They affect people of both genders, but are more frequently seen in women. Often, urinary tract infections (UTIs) require medical care from a physician. It’s possible that they can be treated with baking soda - but this doesn’t mean that traditional medical care should be avoided.
UTIs typically cause the victim to feel a constant need to urinate. There can also be pain and burning during the process of urination, or discoloured and unpleasant smelling urine. These are not fatal symptoms, but they should be attended to.
Bacteria like to thrive in acidic environments – particularly those bacteria that are responsible for U.T.I. (urinary tract infections) and bladder infections. Reducing the acidity of your urinary tract and your bladder can make it more difficult for these bacteria to thrive and proliferate. Depending on the degree and type of the infection, the dose of baking soda could vary. It's good to start with half a teaspoon dissolved in a glass of water.
It’s still suggested that you see a physician for your UTI. However, if you consume baking soda during the early stages of a UTI, you may be able to make your body uninhabitable to the bacteria and prevent the infection from thriving.
Conclusion: Baking soda can eliminate the acidic environments that are good for bacteria that cause urinary tract infections. Baking soda shouldn’t replace traditional treatments, but they can be useful in reducing symptoms.
5. Baking Soda Can Balance Your Skin Complexion
Baking soda has a number of mechanisms that can help your skin look young and healthy. It's much cheaper and more available than medicated ointments that you can buy at the pharmacy.
First off, it is a good exfoliating agent. It can remove excess dead skin cells from the top layer of your dermis. It also helps balance your skin's pH level. Unbalanced pH levels can cause defects.
Baking soda is good at helping your feet replenish any dead skin cells. Rough, calloused patches of skin are a part of almost everyone’s life. Smoothing these areas with a baking soda rub can make them smooth again.
Baking soda is also a great weapon for fighting acne. It’s used in lots of over the counter shampoos and acne medicines.
Acne is typically caused by a combination of skin oil and dead skin cells or dirt. This mixture clogs the hair follicles, which results in a pimple. When popped - sometimes, even when healed - these pimples can leave scars. These can be a result of inflammation - and baking soda is an effective anti-inflammatory agent.
Baking soda can absorb the oil in your skin. This can limit the amount of acne breakouts, and can even get rid of pimples that are already present. For those whose acne is a result of greasy skin, baking soda might prove better than over-the-counter treatments.
Baking soda is great at making your skin ‘glow.’ You can make a skin bath by mixing one or two teaspoons of baking soda with a bit of water. It will bubble at first, and then settle into a paste which you can apply to your face. Let this sit for a minute and then rub it off with the tips of your fingers.
Following this, give your face a rinse and pat it dry with a cloth, then moisturize with your favourite moisturizer. If you prefer not to moisturize afterwards, you can mix some olive oil in with your baking soda paste. Your skin will stay healthy, clean, and will be resistant to developing wrinkles.
Conclusion: Baking soda makes a good face mask that can exfoliate your skin, remove acne and promote youthful skin. There are a number of different ways to see the benefits baking soda can provide for your skin, and they’re all simple and effective.
6. Baking Soda Can Make Your Nails Look Healthy
Baking soda is a miracle agent for those who worry about their fingernail health.
It works as a nail smoother, which can get rid of indents and ridges that make imperfections in the nail. Mixing baking soda 3:1 with water creates a good scrubbing solution. You can rub this on your nails by hand to see the inconsistencies diminish.
Baking soda makes a great exfoliator - particularly for the cuticles of your fingernails. Exfoliating your fingernails can be very difficult, but scrubbing damaged cuticles with an exfoliating paste made of baking soda and water can replenish the dead cells in your fingernails.
If your nails are stained from smoking cigarettes, or simply from aging, baking soda can help remove these unsightly stains by bleaching and exfoliating.
Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with equal amounts of water and stir until the mixture settles.You can dip your nails in the solution or apply it with cotton balls.
Try to avoid using these solutions more than once every couple weeks or you risk damaging your nails.
Conclusion: Baking soda can improve the aesthetics of your fingernails with its exfoliating properties.
7. Baking Soda Can Eliminate Body Odor
Baking soda is one of the most well-known natural deodorants. Lesser known is exactly why it helps eliminate body odor.
Sweat glands - really two separate types of glands, eccrine and apocrine glands - are what produce the liquid that’s released when you’re hot or during exercise. Sweat itself isn’t smelly, but if there are bacteria on the body in an area that produces sweat, the bacteria can make a very strong odor.
Baking soda helps in a number of ways.
It absorbs sweat and moisture from the skin, which gives the bacteria less to feed on
Baking soda is a natural deodorant which can mask the scent of any odors produced by bacteria that survive
Sodium bicarbonate also happens to be an antibacterial agent. It can kill and prevent the growth of bacteria that are responsible for producing bad odors.
Baking soda can balance the pH of sweaty areas, eliminating sweat with low pH.
Make a mixture of baking soda and water rub it onto your underarms, feet, or anywhere else smelly.
Conclusion: Baking soda is one of the best natural deodorizers. Without any nasty chemicals, baking soda is able to naturally prevent the growth of bacteria responsible for causing unpleasant body odors.
8. Baking Soda Is A Great Alkalizing Substance
If you understand the potential danger of having too much acid in your body, you’ll better understand how baking soda can be healthy. Having an acidic (too low of a pH) will cause certain organs, including your spleen, heart, and kidneys, to work too hard trying to maintain a healthy pH (about 7.4.)
Your body uses its mineral stores in order to combat the excess acidity. It leaches calcium, magnesium, sodium, and other minerals from your bones and tissues in order to fight the acidity and return your body to a natural pH. This can lead to illnesses such as osteoporosis and declining muscle mass, as well as kidney stones which we’ll look at in detail.
The condition of having too much acid in your body, or too acidic of bodily fluids, is known as acidosis. Many of the processes your body performs create acid as a byproduct. Your organs can compensate for smaller pH imbalances, but extreme pH changes put massive strain on your body.
The ideal blood pH is 7.4, and acidosis can occur with a pH as low as 7.35. This difference seems small, but the effects are certainly dangerous. Keep in mind that alkalosis - a condition in which body fluids are too alkaline - can occur with pH as high as 7.45, which means you shouldn’t consume an excess of baking soda.
Consuming a baking soda drink once every couple days can help your body maintain a healthy pH balance. This allows it to do so without consuming its own mineral storage. A half a teaspoon mixed in a glass of water should be enough for you to see a difference.
Conclusion: If you’re worried about your body’s pH becoming too acidic, consider consuming baking soda more frequently. Baking soda’s an alkaline substance that can help your body return its pH balance to a healthy level.
9. Baking Soda Helps Bad Smelling Hair & Dandruff
Baking soda does this in a couple of different ways. Its use as a natural deodorizer makes it a prime candidate to battle any smelly hair. A lot of people suffer from this problem - particularly those with oily hair, which picks up smells from the environment more easily.
Baking soda reduces oiliness, which in turn will reduce any bad smells clinging to the odors. Being an alkaline substance, it also helps restore a natural balance to the scalp’s pH level, ensuring it stays healthy.
This also helps to clarify the scalp. This can eliminate flakiness, helping to reduce the overall amount of dandruff
For dandruff, rub a tablespoon of baking soda onto wet hair. Let it sit for a minute or two before rinsing it off. Try not to do this more than once a week.
To eliminate odors and oil, mix a part of baking soda with 3 parts of water. Apply it to moist hair and let it sit for a couple minutes, then rinse it out. This is good to do once every two weeks. You can also make a dry shampoo with baking soda and a starch, like cornstarch. This you can sprinkle near the roots of your hair and then, using your hands, shake up your hair so the mixture is evenly distributed. You can just brush this out afterwards.
Conclusion: Baking soda is a miracle substance for cleaning hair. It can get rid of dandruff, excess oil, and bad smells that cling to your hair.
10. Baking Soda Can Get Rid Of Kidney Stones And Disease
Kidney stones are a painful condition that might be genetic. They are hard, pebble-like substances that develop in your kidneys - the beamlike organs (hence the name kidney beans) that are useful for filtering waste and excrement out of your blood, sending the waste out of your body via urine.
There are several types of kidney stones, which can include calcium stones, cystine stones, or stones made from hardened uric acid. Kidney stones form when the tiny crystals lump together, and can obstruct your kidneys, making it harder to filter toxins and waste out of your body.
Smaller kidney stones can be fairly easy to pass, but larger ones can cause blockages and be extremely difficult and painful to pass.
Sodium bicarbonate can help prevent these stones from forming, particularly those made from uric acid. It also helps to eliminate some of the materials responsible for the stone’s formation.
A lot of other kidney diseases can be cured in part by baking soda. Oftentimes, kidney diseases are present in people who have hypertension (high blood pressure) or diabetes. These diseases cause a buildup of acid in the body - diabetes, in particular, makes it difficult for the body to digest sugars properly. As we mentioned, glucose is turned into an acidic compound when digested.
This extra acid is difficult for the kidneys to remove efficiently. This can result in metabolic acidosis (discussed in detail later) which is an excess of acid in the human body. This can cause problems in all sorts of organs and systems within the body.
One study showed that daily supplementation of baking soda slowed the progression of kidney disease by up to 6.5 percent.
Conclusion: Kidney stones can be caused by a number of different substances that build up and harden in the kidneys. Baking soda can help eliminate the stones, shrink their size, or stop the buildup of materials that are responsible for causing kidney stones in the first place.
11. Baking Soda Can Help Freshen Your Breath And Teeth
Halitosis - the condition of having bad breath - can be caused by a number of different reasons. The most common cause of bad breath is bacteria! This means that baking soda is a fantastic and highly effective solution for that particular type of bad breath, since it’s a potent antibacterial.
Many bacteria also tend to thrive in acidic environments, so naturally, an alkaline substance like baking soda would prevent their growth by reducing the acidity of these environments. A lot of commonly consumed foods, like sugar and proteins, produce acids when chewed. These acids can stick to the tongue and gums, making them breeding grounds for bacteria.
Baking soda can also help fight gum diseases like gingivitis. Gingivitis makes your gums sore and swollen, and they often bleed. Gum diseases are often caused by accumulating plaque on the teeth. Baking soda helps prevent the growth of plaque and can prevent the development of gum disease.
All you need to do is mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a bit of water. This is a home remedy that’s been used for years to help maintain healthy, fresh-smelling breath. Gargle the mixture of baking soda and water in the morning and after meals to to prevent the bacteria responsible for making your breath stink from surviving.
Baking soda also has effects as a bleaching agent. It can remove stains from clothes and furniture and - you guessed it - teeth! Teeth can be stained by a number of things, like food, coffee, and smoke.
Baking soda is included in a lot of commercial-grade toothpastes and tooth whitening products. To save money on buying toothpaste, you can simply dip your wet toothbrush into a little bit of baking soda, shake off the excess, and brush away!
Conclusion: For those who suffer from bad breath, baking soda may be their lifesaver. It can eliminate bacteria responsible for making breath smell bad, leaving the user with fresh breath. It can also combat bad odor from gum disease and help fight the disease itself. As a bonus, baking soda can also help whiten your teeth by removing stains!
12. Baking Soda Can Help Treat Skin Conditions
There are a lot of different skin conditions that can cause discomfort, for rashes and itches to more dangerous diseases. Skin rashes can be caused by a number of different things, ranging from fungi to viruses and bacteria, to simple allergic reactions.
The types of rash that are treated most effectively with baking soda are swimmer’s itch and contact dermatitis.
Swimmer’s itch is caused by an infestation in the skin, caused by parasites that are hosted by mammals, avian creatures, and bugs like snails. These organisms can release the parasites - little flatworms - into water, and any area of the human’s body that comes into contact with these flatworms develops a rash.
Contact dermatitis is a very itchy rash that causes redness of the skin. It’s usually caused by coming into contact with an irritant - so there can be hundreds of causes for contact dermatitis. It can even be a reaction to an allergy to something as innocuous as the wrong type of soap.
These two rashes have similar symptoms to other skin conditions - they are itchy, your skin can become inflamed, red bumps might arise and you may experience swelling.
To treat these rashes with baking soda, make a paste by mixing baking soda and water in a 1;3 ratio. Apply the paste gently to the area and let sit for a few minutes, then rinse off with cool water. Once a day should be enough to treat these two skin conditions.
Conclusion: Baking soda is an effective treatment for several types of skin conditions, particularly swimmer’s itch and contact dermatitis (of sorts.) A simple paste made from sodium bicarbonate can be enough to eliminate symptoms from these two conditions.
13. Baking Soda Can Reduce Cancerous Tumours
Baking soda has been studied recently because of evidence suggesting it can reduce the size of cancerous tumours.
The studies that sparked the interest of research on humans was done a few years ago. Baking soda was shown to increase the pH levels of rats with tumours, and effectively reduced the size of those tumours. This is because cancerous tumours are composed of cells with a lower pH level. Lower pH (more acidic) tissues allow diseases and bacteria to thrive.
The acidic pH of cancerous cells is caused in part by an increased metabolism of glucose. Glucose is metabolized into acid byproducts, which lowers pH.
An extremely interesting fact is that baking soda can indicate cancer in its early stages. Baking soda - sodium bicarbonate - turns into carbon dioxide when mixed with water. What was recently discovered is that sodium bicarbonate is also turned into CO2 by cancerous tissues.
Using MRI scanning, researchers can analyze the volume of carbon dioxide produced in rats consuming baking soda. A certain amount is converted during regular consumption, and a higher volume is converted by those with cancerous tissues. Using intense MRI scans, scientists can observe the onset of cancer sooner than they would otherwise. This makes baking soda an extremely effective tool to observe the early stages of cancer and can help eliminate it.
Conclusion: Baking soda is a great tool for those with cancer, or those worried about developing the disease. It can improve the pH level of tumours, reducing their size and their ability to grow. It can also show researchers whether or not a person is developing cancer because baking soda is converted to CO2 by cancerous tissues.
14. Baking Soda Can Reduce Radiation Damage
Radiation damage is more common than a lot of people assume. Uranium and mercury are the common culprits of radioactive damage in our society, and sodium bicarbonate is a good weapon for fighting the damage they do.
These two elements cause a lot of damage by attacking the mitochondria of the cell. Since the mitochondria are one of - if not the - most important organelles in the cell, this can cause tremendous damage since they’re present in every cell in our bodies.
The kidneys show the most obvious signs of damage from radiation. Baking soda, when consumed orally, has shown itself effective at reducing the damage caused in the kidneys by uranium. It successfully alkalizes the urine, making the uranium less toxic to the kidneys. It also helps the kidneys be more effective at excreting uranium.
Since the Gulf War, when the U.S. damaged the entire world with uranium oxide, the need for toxic metal treatment has risen. Medical tests show a continually increasing rate of uranium damage, and the element has a half life of billions of years. This means we are going to need long lasting treatment.
Baking soda neutralizes the effect of most toxic metals. It can reduce the pH of cancerous tissues, making it more difficult for tumours to grow. It also helps to balance the damage done by chemotherapy, which is the main treatment for cancer. This makes it a great weapon for fighting radiation damage.
Conclusion: Baking soda is a great tool to fight damage done by radioactive metals such as uranium and mercury. Furthermore, it can fight the after-effects of chemotherapy which is often used as a treatment for cancer caused by radiation.
15. Baking Soda Heals Insect Bites
With winter coming to an end, it’s time to start worrying about getting bug bites again. Fortunately, you might not have to worry about another few months spraying your skin with harsh insect repellants. DEET, one of the most common bug repellants, is known to cause cancer and other skin irritation.
Baking soda is quite effective at reducing the size of insect bites. Since the site of a bite is often like a bump, anti-inflammatory agents like baking soda are effective at reducing the size of the swelling.
Many bug bites are sensitive due to an allergic reaction. Baking soda can act as an antihistamine, which can help heal these sort of bites. Allergic reactions often cause a release of the hormone histamine,which is what causes symptoms like itching and puffiness (among other things.)
Conclusion: Baking soda can heal the symptoms of bug bites. It does this through a number of mechanisms, including being an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine.
Storing Baking Soda For Maximum Benefit
Baking soda has a pretty long shelf life. This is great, because you can buy it in huge quantities and not need to worry about it going bad very fast.
If you add baking soda to food that you’re cooking, such as rice or lentils, the cooking will speed up. If you use it to speed up the process of cooking things like onions or zucchini, they will brown faster.
Storing baking soda in your refrigerator isn’t particularly beneficial for its shelf life. Instead, baking soda keeps the air in your fridge fresh by absorbing any bad odors produced by old food. Baking soda can also be kept in your shoes to hide bad odors.
Being Cautious Of Too Much Sodium Bicarbonate
You can have an acute overdose of baking soda. This will cause symptoms like vomiting, nausea, weakness of the muscles or muscle spasms. Be very careful when consuming baking soda, and make sure not to use too many doses of the recipes we’ve listed here.
Baking soda can exacerbate symptoms of certain diseases/
People consuming diets with lots of calcium (from either dairy or calcium containing supplements/antacids,) baking soda can be dangerous. Baking soda increases calcium ion binding to albumin. In excess, this can cause milk-ali syndrome - which can result in other diseases - including complete kidney failure.
It is possible to develop a symptom that’s quite opposite of acidosis: it’s known as alkalosis. Severe alkalosis can be extremely dangerous, with a death rate of up to 45% in patients who are diagnosed. Metabolic alkalosis is considered severe when the blood pH rises above 7.55 - only 0.15 higher than a healthy pH. People with a pH of 7.65 or higher had an 80% chance of death.
Metabolic alkalosis is caused when the body consumes more sodium bicarbonate than the kidneys can metabolize. It can cause seizures, mental fatigue, tremors, nausea and a whole host of issues related to decreased blood flow. It can also cause hypoventilation, which can result in unconsciousness.
Methods For Consuming Baking Soda
There are a lot of different concoctions recommended for consuming baking soda. We’ve included a few in our health benefit list, but here are some for more general use. A typical ‘dose’ of baking soda for these recipes is half a teaspoon.
Don’t use more than three teaspoons (six half teaspoons) in a single day, lest you risk offsetting your body’s natural pH. Elders shouldn’t consume more than one and a half tablespoons.
Dissolve the baking soda completely in the water before drinking it.
Be absolutely certain you’re using baking soda and not baking powder.
To Restore Body’s pH
Before attempting this, make sure you check your body’s pH by getting a pH strip from your pharmacy and testing your urine and saliva. Your urine should be between 6.0 and 7.0 in the morning, becoming slightly less acidic (higher on the pH scale) throughout the day. Saliva should be between 7.0 and 7.4.
If your pH is low, drink a glass of water with half a teaspoon of baking soda twice per day until it restores itself to a healthy level. If it stays low, you can drink this up to 4 times a day- but make sure you stop when your pH is restored. Once it’s returned, consume less acidic food (like meats) and eat more vegetables.
2. For Athletic Performance
To reduce muscle pain and stiffness after exercise, a recommended dose is half a teaspoon (0.6 grams) of baking soda dissolved in half a glass of water. This can be taken after exercise, up to twice a day.
3. For Colds
Baking soda is said to reduce cold and flu symptoms completely within 36 hours of consumption, if taken on a regular schedule. A ‘dose’ is considered half a teaspoon.
Day 1 - Take six doses of baking soda mixed with water, every two hours
Day 2 - take four doses of baking soda in water, every two hours
Day 3 - take two doses of baking soda in water, once in the morning, and once at night.
Day 4 plus - continue the above dose
Consult your doctor if symptoms persist or if you develop new symptoms since starting to take baking soda.
Baking soda has tons of medical uses. It’s a readily available substance that has minimal health effects if taken properly. It’s a great tool to use before resorting to pharmaceutical medicine, and can definitely save you a trip or two to the hospital if used responsibly.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.