Baking soda is without
question the hardest working multitasker on your pantry shelf. It’s
an essential baking ingredient—it’s what makes cakes, cookies, and
other treats rise. It’s also an effective and “green” household
cleaner and a deodorizer that dc-stinks cat pans, garbage cans,
refrigerator interiors, and other smelly things—even feet and
underarms. And as it turns out, baking soda is also a gentle,
fast-acting remedy for a plethora of annoying health conditions,
from diaper rash to sunburn pain.
what’s in it?
Baking soda is a mildly alkaline salt that reacts easily with acids,
releasing carbon dioxide and creating effervescence. Most baking
soda—that is, sodium bicarbonate—is derived from soda ash that
occurs naturally as an ore called trona. Trona is mined in the Green
River Basin in Wyoming.
what science says
Good old-fashioned baking soda has recently captured the attention
of kidney disease researchers. This cheap pantry
item may slow the
decline of kidney function in some people who have advanced chronic
kidney disease. When people with advanced kidney disease took a
small daily dose of baking soda in addition to their usual care,
kidney function declined about two-thirds slower than it did in
patients who didn’t take baking soda. Kidney disease progressed
rapidly in just 9 percent of people who took baking soda, compared
to 45 percent of people who didn’t take it. The people taking baking
soda were also less likely to develop end-stage renal disease, a
life-threatening condition that causes people to require dialysis.
However, critics of the 2009 study take its results with a grain of
salt. Here’s why: The treatment wasn’t compared to a placebo, and
the researchers knew which patients were getting the baking soda and
neutralize acid, soothe the itch
Baking soda’s ability to take the itch and sting out of a variety of
skin problems comes from its alkaline nature. Chemicals with pH
values of 6 and lower are acids. Those with a pH of 8 or above are
alkaline. (Water, which conies in at 7, is neutral.) With a pH of 9,
baking soda is alkaline enough to take the edge off potentially
harsh acids. This is how it eases heartburn, by neutralizing the
stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) that causes heartburn’s
uncomfortable burning sensation.
That action also comes into play for relieving the itch and sting of
bug bites, poison ivy, and poison oak. The same holds true for
diaper rash: Baking soda lessens itching and helps irritated skin
heal more quickly.
a box full of healing
Because baking soda lowers the bacteria-friendly acidic environment
inside the bladder, it can be a useful home remedy for easing the
discomfort of bladder infections. As a gargle for sore throats, it
reduces pain-causing acids, and mixed with a little water as a tooth
polish, it whitens teeth and combats the acids that gnaw away at
tooth enamel. And it has the advantage of being less abrasive than
most toothpaste. The baking soda paste will also help fight acne:
Rubbing a blackhead gently with the paste for two to three minutes
will loosen it. A dusting of baking soda under the arms or on the
feet serves as an inexpensive deodorant.
Good to Know
Baking soda meets standards as a safe food additive and can be used
freely, with two critical caveats. First, anyone on a
sodium-restricted diet should consult a physician before taking it
internally, because it could increase sodium levels. Second, because
baking soda contains sodium, don’t use it regularly if you have high
blood pressure or heart failure.
Find baking soda in the baking supply aisle of the supermarket.
Store it in a cool, dry pantry. Since it’s a very stable compound,
baking soda has an almost limitless shelf life. For topical use, it
can be mixed with water to form a paste, but it must be totally
dissolved before it is taken internally.