Indigestion, gas and bloating are common symptoms that have a variety of causes, including the consumption of certain foods. Baking soda contains sodium bicarbonate, the active ingredient in some antacid medications. Although baking soda may provide temporary relief from occasional indigestion, it is important to talk to your doctor before taking baking soda to treat this condition.
Indigestion frequently occurs as a result of gastritis, a condition that causes inflammation of your stomach lining. Most cases of upset stomach and gas are due to dietary factors. Eating too much food and drinking too much alcohol, as well as consuming certain types of food, such as beans, cabbage, asparagus, milk products and onions, may increase your risk of developing abdominal gas and indigestion. Other factors that can contribute to stomach upset include stress, eating too fast and swallowing air. Antacids are often the first line of treatment in helping to resolve these symptoms.
The sodium bicarbonate in baking soda acts as a type of antacid, helping to neutralize stomach acid. As an antacid treatment, sodium bicarbonate reacts with the hydrochloric acid in your stomach, forming a combination of sodium chloride, carbon dioxide and water. As an occasional remedy, the short-term use of baking soda can help relieve the symptoms of indigestion, although this common home remedy can cause side effects, especially with chronic use.
Taking baking soda to cure bloating, gas and other symptoms of indigestion is the least preferable method of dealing with these symptoms, according to Columbia University Health Services. This is because of the increase in carbon dioxide that occurs as a result of mixing sodium bicarbonate with the hydrochloric acid your stomach produces. This chemical reaction can cause stomach distension that may lead to perforation in extreme cases.
You also want to consider that the sodium in baking soda may cause an increase in blood pressure, a major consideration for people with hypertension. In addition, frequent use of baking soda while ingesting milk may increase your risk of developing milk-alkali syndrome, a medical condition that can cause kidney stones, mental confusion and vomiting. Keep in mind, too, that although occasional gas and indigestion are normal, chronic bloating and stomach upset may indicate the presence of an underlying medical condition, such as celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome or gastrointestinal blockage.