The Advantages of Sodium Bicarbonate

effervescent pill in glass
Sodium bicarbonate helps neutralize stomach acid. (Image: Jeffrey Van daele/Hemera/Getty Images)

Sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda, is a chemical compound that serves a variety of roles in household cleaning and baking. Sodium bicarbonate also happens to be an important part of your body. Taking sodium bicarbonate has some medicinal properties, mostly because it is a mild base that reacts with acid in the body.

Digestive Advantages

Sodium bicarbonate helps neutralize excessive amounts of stomach acid, which can help relieve problems such as heartburn, acid indigestion, sour stomach and symptoms from stomach ulcers, according to MayoClinic.com. In over-the-counter products such as tablets, powders and capsules, sodium bicarbonate is also known as an antacid. Don’t give antacids to children under age 6 without getting a recommendation from a pediatrician. A child’s self-described symptoms may or may not be related to excess stomach acid. If they aren’t acid-related, taking antacids won’t help and it may even worsen the condition.

Advantages for Kidneys

According to a 2009 study published in the “Journal of the American Society of Nephrology,” patients with advanced chronic kidney disease generally had a slower rate of decline in their kidney function when they took sodium bicarbonate as an add-on to their usual care regimen. Their rate of kidney decline was about two-thirds slower than in other patients -- a rate of decline similar to that experienced with normal age progression. Taking sodium bicarbonate may also help reduce conditions such as kidney stones and gout, which are related to a high level of uric acid in the kidneys.

Reduction of Acidosis

Taking sodium bicarbonate may reduce blood acidity. Metabolic acidosis occurs when your body produces more acid than it should or when your kidneys don’t properly excrete enough acid from your body. You may develop metabolic acidosis if you have kidney disease, if you lose too much sodium bicarbonate from your body -- typically through severe diarrhea -- if acidic substances called ketones build up in your body during uncontrolled diabetes or if lactic acid builds up in your body through prolonged exercise, liver failure, alcohol consumption, seizures or prolonged oxygen deprivation, according to MedlinePlus.

Interactions with Medication

Sodium bicarbonate may help certain medications work more effectively. For instance, it may help prevent your body from trying to filter out antibiotics called sulfonamides. It may also help your body excrete high levels of medications such as barbiturates, according to the National Library of Medicine. Although barbiturates are intended to induce relaxation, having too much of them in your body may cause problems such as shallow breathing, slurred speech, coma and death.

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