The kitchen staple that reins in inflammation

There’s probably something in your kitchen cabinet right now that can help make a cake rise… scrub your floor till it’s spotless… and absorb odors from any stinky leftovers in the back of the fridge.

You can even brush your teeth with this all-purpose household item!

And now, a new study says that you may want to start putting it into your water bottle.

I’m talking about baking soda.

We know that when dissolved in water, baking soda can help beat heartburn, as sodium bicarbonate (the chemical name it’s known by) is the active ingredient in antacids like Alka-Seltzer and Rolaids.

But how it can ALSO slow the progression of chronic kidney disease and even ward off urinary tract infections – both of which seemingly have nothing to do with stomach acid – has baffled the medical community.

Those processes, however, all have something to do with the immune system.

Over the course of two weeks, researchers gave participants a daily dose of baking soda dissolved in water and watched what happened next. (In the study, the participants happened to be a combination of rats and healthy medical students, which just goes to show what we’re willing to go through to become doctors!)

In both the human and animal subjects, the population of immune cells called “macrophages” shifted from primarily those that PROMOTE inflammation (M1) to those that REDUCE inflammation (M2).

And here’s the kicker for those with autoimmune disease: The baking soda also INCREASED immune cells called “regulatory T cells,” which help keep your immune system from attacking your own tissues.

Bingo!

The theory is that drinking the baking soda actually affects your spleen – specifically, special cells that sit like sentinels on the surface of the organ, which plays a key role in immunity. Those cells warn the spleen when an invader is approaching and trigger an immune response (which generally manifests in the form of inflammation).

In the case of a “bad bug” getting into your system, this reaction is necessary and can even save your life.

However, in cases when your immune system gets a little overzealous, those signals go out even if what’s invading is a hamburger and not an infection.

Somehow, baking soda seems to change that signal when an immune response would be an overreaction.

It’s almost as though the message switches from “Danger, Will Robinson!” to “Nothing to see here. Move along!”

The researchers say that their findings could be the first step toward finding a way to harness the power of baking soda to fight autoimmune disease, and that’s not surprising, as we already know that sodium bicarbonate can effectively reverse an allergic reaction.

And anything that can tamp down unnecessary inflammation is a good thing, so I’m all for it.

And yes, you can drink baking soda! Just don’t overdo it, so start out slow. The recommended amount is usually one half-teaspoon per 4-ounce glass, though I would try that amount in an 8-ounce glass of water to see how you feel before going straight to the full amount.

If you experience any vomiting or diarrhea, stop immediately and seek medical attention. And it’s always a good idea to consult your doc before starting any new regimen – even a natural one.