Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide are two common household items known for a wide variety of uses. They are particularly popular for homemade health care treatments because they’re easily available and inexpensive. Since both products have relatively few side effects in small doses, they can be effective tools to add to your medicine cabinet.
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Hydrogen peroxide has frequent use as an antimicrobial and antiseptic in the treatment of minor wounds or in disinfecting items like toothbrushes. The hydrogen peroxide content of honey accounts for honey’s antimicrobial properties. A Canadian study published in the “Canadian Journal of Microbiology” in December 2006 found that the higher the peroxide content of various types of honey, the more effective it was as a topical antimicrobial agent in the treatment of burns and wounds.
Some athletes use baking soda to enhance anaerobic performance in hopes the soda can buffer lactic acid that builds up in the muscles during exercise. Research in Greece, published in October 2006 in “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise,” verified such claims. It showed that administration of baking soda helped prevent acid-base balance disturbances and improved performance during anaerobic exercise in study subjects. A separate study in Australia, published in the same journal in May 2005, found that giving sodium bicarbonate to sprinters improved their short-term, repeated-sprint ability.
Both hydrogen peroxide and sodium bicarbonate, used separately or in combination, showed they protect against the bacteria that causes periodontal disease in a study published in the “Journal of Dental Research” in 1986. In addition, you frequently can find both substances alone or together in over-the-counter dental products to whiten teeth. Many people use them to make homemade toothpaste. Peroxide is also helpful in treating the painful mouth ulcers known as canker sores.
Sodium bicarbonate neutralizes excess stomach acid. When mixed in a glass of water, it relieves heartburn, sour stomach or acid indigestion. Doctors sometimes prescribe it to treat symptoms of stomach or duodenal ulcers. However, avoid using sodium bicarbonate if you are on a sodium-restricted diet or have kidney disease without first consulting your health care provider.
Sodium bicarbonate may be able to prevent uric acid kidney stones by making your urine less acidic. It’s particularly useful if you’ve already experienced uric acid stones due to a buildup of excess acid in your urine and may be able to dissolve pre-existing stones. Since there are potential side effects, such as too much sodium in your blood or an increase in the risk of forming another type of stones, calcium kidney stones, check with your doctor before using sodium bicarbonate for this purpose.