Baking soda for Heartburn
Heartburn (alternative names: acid indigestion, pyrosis, cardialgia) is a burning sensation in your chest, just behind the breastbone. The pain could rise to your neck, throat, or even to the jaw. It is mainly caused by junk food. Usually heartburn pain is worse when you are lying down then it is when you are standing. If you feel heartburn just occasionally, there is no room for panic because it is a fairly common condition, and you could treat it with with certain changes in your lifestyle, or – with baking soda!
However, if you feel heartburn pain on a regular basis, there is still no room for panic – because panic is useless. But in this case, you should visit your doctor for professional help, because heartburn could be a symptom of some more serious condition.
Baking Soda is a natural antacid and it is used to relieve “casual” heartburn. It is a widely accepted temporary remedy which can be used without a prescription, is cheap, and available in almost any convenience store/supermarket. If you don’t believe me, here is what Mayo Clinic have to say about using baking soda for heartburn:
“Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, is used to relieve heartburn, sour stomach, or acid indigestion by neutralizing excess stomach acid. When used for this purpose, it is said to belong to the group of medicines called antacids. It may be used to treat the symptoms of stomach or duodenal ulcers. Sodium bicarbonate is also used to make the blood and urine more alkaline in certain conditions.” Mayo Clinic Reference
How does baking soda for heartburn work?
In order to digest food, your stomach produces strong, very corrosive acid with low pH, known as hydrochloric acid. This acid causes the burning sensation in your chest. The trick is to neutralize some of the acid by consuming a base, which in this case is our favorite: baking soda. It will bring up the pH of the liquid in your stomach, reduce corrosiveness, and thus alleviate the burning sensation. It is best used as relief from occasional heartburn, just as any antacids. However, if your heartburn becomes chronicle, you need to change your lifestyle, and especially your food habits. Fried and fatty foods, dairy products, alcohol and cigarettes are not going to help. If things get serious, visit your physician without much hesitation.
Why do you burp?As I’ve said, baking soda mixes with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, triggering a chemical reaction. The end products of this reaction are salt (NaCl), carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. The BURP is caused by the carbon dioxide, which gets released as a gas. The fire is extinguished and the burp is done.
How to use baking soda for heartburn
Mayo Clinic recommends the following recipe for adults and teenagers:
- Fill the glass with cold water
- Add 1/2 tsp. of baking soda (you can use 1 tsp. from my experience)
- Mix vigorously
- Drink the entire amount
You can repeat the procedure every two hours, but be advised: PubMed Health recommends that it should not be repeated for more than two weeks straight. Do not take more than the recommended dose, as it is highly unlikely that it will improve effectiveness. Also, avoid using it for chronicle, regular heartburn – you should visit your doctor for that. Baking soda is high in salt, and could cause side effects like swelling and nausea. As for the children, do not give them any recipe without first consulting your pediatrician.
Risks, dangers and reported cataclysms on using baking soda for heartburn
- It is not recommended to give antacids (baking soda included) to young children under 6 years of age, unless explicitly prescribed by their doctor / pediatrician. Children usually cannot describe their symptoms well, so checking the REAL problem with the doctor is a must.
- If you are using some of the following medicine: mecamylamine (Inversine); methenamine (Mandelamine); ketoconazole (Nizoral); antacids; a tetracycline antibiotic such as tetracycline (Sumycin, Achromycin V, and others), demeclocycline (Declomycin), doxycycline (Vibramycin, Monodox, Doxy, and others), minocycline (Minocin, Dynacin, and others), or oxytetracycline (Terramycin, and others), talk to your doctor before taking baking soda. Baking soda should not be mixed with certain medications. In fact, talk to your physician if you are talking ANY medications before talking baking soda, just in case.
- If you are allergic to sodium bicarbonate, alert your doctor and do not allow him/her to prescribe baking soda.
- Baking soda is high in salt, and could cause side effects like swelling, bloating, gases, and nausea.
- When baking soda triggers the chemical reaction in the stomach, carbon dioxide is released, opening the lower esophageal sphincter, which relieves the pressure from bloating and enables burping. But, opening this lower esophageal sphincter can also allow the contents of your stomach to reflux up into the esophagus.
Final thoughtsUse baking soda only for alleviating “casual” heartburn. For more serious symptoms, see your physician. In any case, if you are suffering from this heartburn pains, you should do more than just “the pills”:
- Eat more frequently and slowly, but smaller meals, which won’t increase the pressure in the stomach and against the lower esophageal sphincter muscle.
- Be wise about what you eat. Fried, fatty and greasy foods, dairy products, alcohol and cigarettes are probably not a good choice.
- Avoid foods that weaken the lower esophageal sphincter muscle: all from the above + caffeinated beverages, chocolate and peppermint.
- Avoid foods and beverages that may irritate the esophagus: chili peppers, black pepper, tomatoes and tomato-based products, citrus fruits and juices.