Baking Soda For Heartburn
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Baking soda is that fine white powder we keep in the kitchen. We use it as a cleaning agent, a cooking ingredient and sometimes for personal hygiene use. But did you know that using baking soda for heartburn works too?
Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda can be considered as a home remedy for heartburn. Instead of over-the-counter medicines, baking soda is definitely cheaper. Because it is an antacid, it can neutralize the stomach acid and can temporarily relieve heartburn caused by acid reflux. How does baking soda succeed in alleviating heartburn?
What causes heartburn is the backward flow of acid from the stomach into the lower part of the esophagus. This uncomfortable chest pain can be alleviated when the baking soda and the acid react. The acid and baking soda eventually form table salt and carbonic acid, and since most of the carbonic acid dissolves in water what’s left is a very weak compound that has insignificant effect. This is the process of neutralizing acid in the esophagus by using baking soda.
Although making use of baking soda for heartburn is convenient, it may pose some serious side effects when regularly and improperly used. First of all, it is bicarbonate. This means it has influence over the stomach’s acidity and the pH of the whole body. Basically, when baking soda is consumed, the body experiences an alkaline effect. Although this effect has a good influence on patients with kidney failure, it is the opposite for those who do not have that condition. Too much sodium carbonate in the body, may lead to hypertension or high blood pressure and excess fluid retention or edema.
Another side effect when using baking soda for heartburn occurs when you consume it with water. This mixture will release carbon dioxide and cause gas bubbles. These bubbles of gas can then open the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) and may allow contents of the stomach to reflux up into the esophagus.
Baking soda may also interrupt with the body’s electrolyte balance in the blood. This interference can end up in impaired regulation of blood pressure and the retaining of body fluids. This could result to many undesirable side effects, such as heart problems.
There are already many people who use baking soda as home remedy for heartburn. However, one has to know that there hasn’t been any clinical trial to support baking soda’s claim on heartburn. Remember, too much baking soda can cause serious health problems. Though if you use it small amounts such as in toothpastes, it is not likely to cause any problems.
Baking soda for heartburn is not the only alternative solution. By selecting the right kinds of food, heartburn can be prevented. There are certain foods and beverages that weaken the LES muscle which should be avoided. These foods include chocolate, peppermint, caffeinated beverages, alcohol, fatty foods, and greasy foods. There are also those that may irritate the esophagus such as, citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato-based products, chili peppers, and black pepper. It is also a good practice to eat smaller and frequent meals than larger meals. Big meals increase pressure in the stomach and against the LES muscle. Finally, avoid drinking alcohol. This can worsen heartburn and weaken the LES muscle.
The pros and cons of using baking soda for heartburn have been laid. It is now up to you to decide whether you see baking soda as an effective solution or not.