Why Use Baking Soda for Heartburn?
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can be found in many homes for cooking purposes and therefore readily available to many suffering from heartburn. It’s been used as a low-cost antacid for many years and may even be recommended by your doctor as a treatment method. Sodium bicarbonate has a base with a pH greater than 7 which can effectively neutralize stomach acid. It’s also interesting to note, that the body’s panaceas naturally produces sodium bicarbonate for use in neutralizing stomach acid.
Other forms of sodium bicarbonate can be found in:
- Medications containing omeprazole
Note that baking soda and baking power are different. Baking powder will not work as an antacid because it’s other ingredients render it neutral instead of providing the pH level needed to help lower stomach acidity.
How to Prepare the Baking Soda Heartburn Remedy
Here are four ways of preparing the baking soda treatment in water. Well, really one way with three variants. Please see Risks and Side Effects below. A persons physical condition may limit the amount of sodium bicarbonate a person should ingest.
According to the Mayo Clinic, half a teaspoon in a glass of water every two hours is appropriate for an adult. Do not treat a child with sodium bicarbonate without a doctor determining the proper dosage for that child.
Arm & Hammer has instructions and warnings for mixing as follows:
“Add ½ teaspoon to ½ glass (4 fl. oz.) of water every 2 hours, or as directed by a physician. Dissolve completely in water. Accurately measure ½ teaspoon.
- Ask a doctor before use if you have a sodium-restricted diet.
- Ask a doctor or pharmacist before use if you are taking a prescription drug. Antacids may interact with certain prescription drugs.
- Do not administer to children under age 5.
- STOMACH WARNING: TO AVOID SERIOUS INJURY, DO NOT TAKE UNTIL POWDER IS COMPLETELY DISSOLVED. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT NOT TO TAKE THIS PRODUCT WHEN OVERLY FULL FROM FOOD OR DRINK. Consult a doctor if severe stomach pain occurs after taking this product.
- Stop use and ask a doctor if symptoms last more than 2 weeks.
- *Do not take more than the following amounts in 24 hours:
- Seven ½ teaspoons
- Three ½ teaspoons if you are over 60 years of age.
- Do not use the maximum dosage for more than 2 weeks.
- Each ½ teaspoon contains 616mg sodium.
Add a few drops of lemon juice to the preparation instructions above. The lemon will not only help the flavor but will help prevent acid production in the stomach.
Mix the baking soda in a cup of warm water. Then add a teaspoon of honey or sugar and stir till dissolved. This helps to reduce the burning sensation and helps get the baking soda concoction down. Many people don’t find the taste pleasant. Adding the honey helps improve the taste.
Add a few drops of lemon juice to Variation #3 above. The lemon will not only help the flavor but will help prevent acid production in the stomach.
Risks of Using Baking Soda for Heartburn
- Sodium bicarbonate is a form of sodium. You should not use this method of treatment if you are on a low sodium diet.
- Baking soda can negatively interact with certain medications and supplements.
- Pregnant women should not use baking soda as an antacid.
- Children under the age of 6 shouldn’t take antacids unless approved by a doctor.
- Taking on a full stomach will cause further distention of the abdomen and will most likely increase the risk of having acid reflux as the gas produced from neutralizing the stomach acid is belched. The gas will let the stomach content reflux through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) into the esophagus.
Possible Side Effects from Using Baking Soda for Heartburn
- Gas – belching and farting if you don’t burp enough of the gas off.
- Increased thirst due to the salt intake.
- Frequent urination
- Raised blood pressure due to the sodium content.
- Abdominal distention and cramps as the gas you don’t burp off tries to find a way out.
- Diarrhea can occur if you take baking soda in large quantity.
- The lower stomach acids prevent the absorption of certain minerals in the body.
- Loss of appetite and/or unexplained weight loss
- Breathing difficulties
- Swelling in limbs and feet due to excess salt
- Bloody stools
- Urine with blood
- Impaired digestion. Acid is needed to help break down foods and kill certain bacteria and yeast. The decreased stomach acid can also lead to allergies and inflammation because microbes that are normally killed off enter into the bloodstream.
- Over correction of the acid level in the body leading to alkalosis.
- Rupture of the stomach or digestive tract could occur in rare cases if there are other digestive tract issues and is one of the many reasons to consult a doctor first.
- For further information on using sodium bicarbonate as an antacid, please check out MedlinePlus: A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.