Baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda in the UK, is a raising agent for baking—but it also has enormous therapeutic value. It reduces acid levels in the blood—which helps reverse heart disease and osteoporosis—but it also moderates the immune system's inflammatory responses. That means that auto-immune problems like rheumatoid arthritis—where the body is essentially attacking itself—can be eased.
And the improvements can be seen quickly, and within two weeks, researchers from Augusta University have discovered.
Just sipping a little baking soda every day with water can have enormous effects on your health, the researchers reckon.
The soda seems to moderate the response of the spleen, part of our immune system, from going into over-drive and producing an inflammatory response every time. In tests on laboratory mice and humans, the researchers discovered that the soda had a double-effect of triggering the stomach to produce more acid to help digestion and also communicating with mesothelial cells that sit on the spleen's surface.
After drinking a solution of soda in water for two weeks, macrophages, the spleen's immune cells, shifted from being inflammatory to anti-inflammatory.
Soda is already being used as a therapy to slow kidney disease, and this got the researchers wondering how it was doing this. Patients taking the soda had fewer inflammatory macrophages in their kidneys, and researchers saw the same pattern in laboratory rats. They were also able to replicate the exact same response in a group of medical students who were given baking soda.
"The shift from inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory profile was happening everywhere. We saw it in the kidneys, we saw it in the spleen, and now we see it in the peripheral blood," said lead researcher Paul O'Connor.