A common ingredient found in your kitchen cupboard may be one answer to treating autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. A recent study found that baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) created an anti-inflammatory environment in the spleen, suggesting that drinking it daily may reduce the inflammation that can result in autoimmune conditions (when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells).
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Baking soda lowers your spleen’s inflammatory immune response
Scientists at the Medical College of Georgia (MCG), Augusta University found that when rats and healthy people consumed a baking soda solution (water and sodium bicarbonate) for two weeks, it triggered their stomachs to create more acid, which helped them to digest the next meal. Scientists also noticed another effect – the baking soda appeared to signal to the spleen’s mesothelial cells (which protect organs with a slippery, protective surface) — that the fist-sized organ didn’t need to go into a reactionary response.
Mesothelial cells prevent your organs from rubbing together. Rubbing causes inflammation and therefore triggers your immune system to respond to perceived invasion by a foreign substance, or in this case, another organ. Drinking baking soda helps your mesothelial cells to tell your spleen to reduce its immune response.
Drinking the baking soda solution also changed the concentration of macrophages — white blood cells of the immune system that devour foreign invaders — so that they were more anti-inflammatory overall. “The shift from inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory profile is happening everywhere,” says O’Connor. “We saw it in the kidneys, we saw it in the spleen, now we see it in the peripheral blood.”
Scientists saw differences in other immune cells as a result of the baking soda. There appeared to be more T cells in the body, which decrease immune response and protect the immune system from self-attack. All of these changes lasted for four hours in people consuming the baking soda solution, and three days in rats.
While the study participants were healthy, O’Connor says he hopes that someday drinking baking soda will yield similar results for people suffering from autoimmune diseases. “You are not really turning anything off or on, you are just pushing it toward one side by giving an anti-inflammatory stimulus,” says O’Connor. “It’s potentially a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease.”
How to drink baking soda to hack your health
Here are some tips on how to incorporate this inexpensive and easy hack into your daily routine:
Baking soda is best taken on an empty stomach, though should not be taken in the morning. If you take baking soda with food, undigested protein molecules can leak into your gut. Aim to take it midday — one hour before lunch — or one hour after your evening meal.
Start with 1/8 teaspoon and work up to 1/4 teaspoon. If you get short of breath or your heart is racing after drinking baking soda, you’ve overdone it. Be aware that if your blood is already alkaline and you take too much baking soda, it can cause harmful side effects, even a heart attack or hyperalkalosis.
Get clear on your sodium levels from the get-go. If you experience irregular heartbeats or notice any other cardiac concerns prior to starting on a baking soda regimen, then you need to have a doctor first check your sodium levels. Your sodium levels might have been too high or too low to begin with. Most people tend to be low in potassium and magnesium and high in sodium, but best to head to the doctor to get your levels checked. Ideally, your potassium, magnesium, and sodium levels should all be balanced with each other, as they work in concert to regulate your circadian rhythm.
Special note if you are on thyroid medication: If you’re taking supplements or thyroid medication, you might not absorb the medicine as well. Unless your supplements require acidity to work, they should be fine in conjunction with baking soda.
Try the Bulletproof approach: Because most people already have high levels of sodium in their body, the Bulletproof approach is to use potassium bicarbonate instead of sodium bicarbonate. (As their names suggest, one form is a potassium derivative, the other is made of sodium.) You can use a bit of both, though don’t take more than a ¼ teaspoon total. Your local health food store may carry potassium bicarbonate as a supplement.
Related: To learn more about how baking soda can enhance your athletic performance, read 5 Quick Biohacks to Try This Weekend.
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— Update: 11-02-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article Why You Should Try Drinking Baking Soda for Autoimmune Diseases from the website www.drlamcoaching.com for the keyword drinking baking soda for hypothyroidism.
Autoimmune diseases are extremely common at the moment and there is a lot of debate surrounding why incidences of these disorders seem to be increasing. This is made worse by the fact that there are no known cures, which is why those suffering from an autoimmune disease are always searching for new strategies to alleviate their symptoms. Unfortunately, many of the treatments available are not only ineffective, they can also be dangerous to your overall health and wellbeing. There is some good news though. Results of a recent study suggest that drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases may be a gentle and more effective way of addressing the symptoms of these often debilitating conditions. So if you suffer from an autoimmune disorder, be it on its own or in conjunction with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), this is what you need to know.
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What is an Autoimmune Disease?
Autoimmune diseases are conditions that occur when, for reasons often unknown, your body’s immune system begins to attack itself. The term autoimmune disease is an umbrella term for a variety of conditions and diseases including arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis (MS), inflammatory bowel disease, and type 1 diabetes. When you have an autoimmune disease, your body mistakes its own cells for foreign invaders and releases autoantibodies to attack your otherwise healthy cells. Some conditions, such as lupus, attack the entire body whereas others attack a single organ.
There is no definitive cause of autoimmune disease. However, there is most certainly a genetic component as they tend to be hereditary. Some are known to be more typical within particular ethnic groups or a certain gender. A number of studies have suggested that the typical western diet—with its focus on fat, sugar, and salt—may bring on certain autoimmune conditions. However, there is not enough conclusive evidence to pinpoint one cause above all others, in fact, there may be a variety of causes.
How to Treat an Autoimmune Disease
Treating autoimmune diseases isn’t easy. There is no cure for these conditions and treatment usually involves reducing inflammation and treating the symptoms, and not the underlying cause. In most cases, this translates to taking anti-inflammatory drugs to suppress your immune system. This approach can be extremely problematic for two reasons. First, suppressing the immune system can put you at greater risk of developing other types of infection and disease. Second, long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs can further damage your overall health. That’s why if you suffer from this type of condition, it’s important to consider alternatives that could improve your overall condition without the negative side effects. One of these alternatives comes directly from a research study highlighting the many benefits of drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases.
Why You Should Consider Drinking Baking Soda for Autoimmune Diseases
A recent study has shown that drinking baking soda may calm your immune system and decrease inflammation. While this remedy has been popular for a number of years, until now, researchers have been unable to uncover why drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases is so effective. But recent insights may have narrowed the gap in our understanding.
Some conflicting theories exist about the processes that activate the immune system. Some sources claim that signals that control your immune response come entirely from the brain and are sent down the vagus nerve to your spleen. However, another research study demonstrated that cutting off the vagus nerve does not alter the immune response but relocating or removing the spleen entirely can completely suppress it. This suggests the immune system is possibly being activated by a totally different mechanism.
The Spleen and Your Immune System
The study suggests the immune system is actually activated by mesothelial cells in your spleen. These cells can sense the environment around them. When confronted with a threat they essentially ‘instruct’ the spleen to activate your immune response with the assistance of a chemical messenger called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for carrying out the physiological response when the parasympathetic nervous system is activated.
When you’re healthy, inflammation levels will increase in response to infection or injury and decrease once the threat is gone. But when you have an autoimmune disease, inflammation levels remain high and can cause damage to every circuit and organ in your body. These can be very dangerous and troubling conditions, but evidence exists that sodium bicarbonate may be able to help mediate and reduce inflammation by activating the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway.
The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway refers to the way that your body informs your brain that an immune response is occurring. When you have an infection or another similar issue, it activates sensory fibers in the vagus nerve. These fibers are activated directly when they sense cytokines, macrophages, or other immune cells, or indirectly by chemoreceptive cells. This pathway is absolutely critical in controlling and mediating immune responses. In fact, research shows that stimulation of this pathway can result in a reduction of inflammatory cytokines and an increase in anti-inflammatory cells.
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Finding therapeutic ways to activate this pathway is pivotal to remediating autoimmunity. And evidence shows that sodium bicarbonate stimulates anti-inflammatory pathways in the spleen and may help mediate this essential pathway. At the same time, it may also help to alkalize the body. This one-two punch is a powerful stabilizer in a body that is in an inflammatory and acidic state. If you feel calmer with baking soda, the message from your body is clear: it is inflamed and acidic within.
Your spleen acts as a blood filter and stores the white blood cells responsible for attacking anything that threatens your body’s health. When you have an autoimmune disease, white blood cells attack your own organs and tissues leading to all the array of associated symptoms. Researchers have now found that drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases can lessen your immune response in a number of ways. For starters, using this tactic actually alters the type of macrophages or immune cells in the body. After two weeks, the immune cells found in the spleen changed from M1 cells, which cause inflammation, to M2 cells, which actually lessen inflammation. There was also an increase in the number of regulatory T cells, which decrease the immune response and protect your body’s tissues from attack. These changes lasted at least 4 hours after participants drank baking soda for autoimmune diseases.
These results show that drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases could be a safe and effective way of alleviating symptoms of these conditions. The best part of this tactic is that it doesn’t turn off the immune system, which would open the door to other infections or diseases. It simply increases your body’s own anti-inflammatory responses and decreases the harmful inflammation in your body. This can be extremely beneficial if you suffer from an autoimmune disease or any other conditions linked to inflammation such as AFS.
What is AFS?
Autoimmune diseases are closely linked to AFS since they can cause and exacerbate this condition. Adrenal Fatigue is caused by chronic stress, and is usually brought on by an overload of physical, mental, or emotional stressors. In fact, you may not even realize you’re stressed when you develop AFS because the stress has already become such a normal part of your life. But this stressed-out state is not normal and definitely not easy for your body to ignore. To cope with stress, your body uses something called the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response system. A key part of this system is the adrenal glands, which are responsible for producing the anti-stress hormone—cortisol. Therefore, your adrenals are often the first place chronic stress begins to show.
When your NEM stress response is overworked, your adrenals start to struggle. In the early stages of adrenal fatigue, this usually doesn’t cause changes in hormone levels. At this stage, your adrenals can still keep up with demands for the production of cortisol and all the other hormones they produce, although they are working much harder to do so. However, if this continues, your adrenals can become fatigued which will start to cause a breakdown of the various systems affected by the hormones they secrete. This breakdown or dysfunction can lead to a confusing combination of symptoms that cannot be attributed to any one disease or disorder. As a consequence, you may struggle to understand your condition and what is happening to your body as you develop adrenal fatigue. This can be a highly frustrating and frightening time, particularly if you cannot find the right guidance to aid you in your recovery.
The Role of Inflammation in AFS
The inflammation circuit plays a pivotal role in AFS and can cause many of the symptoms associated with this disorder such as low blood sugar levels and brain fog, as well as mental and emotional issues. Inflammation is caused by your body’s response to stress. When your body is hurt or it senses something may cause it harm, such as an injury or illness, it will activate a series of changes that result in swelling, pain, redness, and heat—all of which characterize inflammation. This can be caused by less obvious stressors, such as those that are not physical. For instance, mental and emotional stress can cause low-grade, chronic inflammation that is not easy to deal with. When inflammation is the result of injury, as the injury heals, inflammation goes down. However, if you are constantly stressed on a regular basis, inflammation can becomes chronic and may lead to imbalances in your inflammation circuit that can cause damage to your overall body.
Chronic inflammation can cause a variety of symptoms that are not easily attributed to one specific problem. Inflammation can also linger for a long time and cause damage even without any obvious physical signs of injury. The most common symptoms of chronic inflammation include the following:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Brain fog
- Food sensitivities
Adrenal fatigue can be a key cause of inflammation and can also create imbalances in your inflammation circuit, which consists of your immune system, gut, and microbiome (the good bacteria in your gut). This debilitating condition can be brought on by stress-induced inflammation and may cause a variety of symptoms that actually worsen the inflammation. For example, gut problems such as constipation and diarrhea, both of which can upset the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut, are often associated with AFS. Your gut microbiome is an essential part of the inflammation circuit and can actually determine your overall health as well as the overall strength of your immune system. Therefore, an unbalanced gut microbiome can pose a serious threat and is often the leading cause of chronic inflammation and inflammation circuit imbalance.
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That’s where recent research supporting the idea of drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases can help. If you suffer from AFS and its array of symptoms, controlling chronic inflammation can be extremely difficult. This is often compounded by negative or paradoxical reactions to medications, making the usual ways of addressing such problems highly risky. However, because drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases can increase anti-inflammatory agents naturally and safely, it could provide you with an effective and easy way of managing the symptoms of AFS or autoimmune diseases. If you suffer from AFS, reducing the amount of inflammation in your body will help lower your overall stress levels, which is key to healing from this disorder.
The Link Between AFS and Autoimmune Diseases
The idea of drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases can be important even if you are only suffering from AFS. Adrenal fatigue affects the amount of cortisol—essential for everyday functions and also for regulating and deactivating the immune system—your adrenal glands can produce. So, when your immune system reacts to something, cortisol is released to calm it down. But when your adrenal glands are fatigued, your immune system may become unbalanced, which could trigger an autoimmune disease.
This can work the other way as well. Autoimmune diseases put a lot of strain on the body and cause a lot of stress. This can cause your NEM system to become overworked and radically increase the amount of inflammation in your body leading to inflammation circuit dysfunction. The combination of problems can easily bring on AFS, thus adding more issues to your original problem.
Regardless of the order these issues have been brought about or whether you have one or the other, drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases could help you in a number of ways. Baking soda could help reduce inflammation in your body, calm your immune system, and reduce stress levels in your body which could improve your adrenal fatigue symptoms. This will also help to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
How to Take Baking Soda
Baking soda may aid conditions such as heartburn, acid reflux, and a buildup of lactic acid. It can also alleviate muscle cramps that are often the result of strenuous exercise. There are some guidelines to consider when taking baking soda. Ideally, you should not take baking soda early in the morning. But, it should be taken on an empty stomach for it to work optimally.
Since your body needs time to adjust, it is best to start any type of baking soda remedy slowly. You can begin with only 0.125 of a teaspoon, and then gradually increase it to 0.25 of a teaspoon. Thereafter, you should be able to increase to the required amount of this remedy.
We also recommend that you add your baking soda to a liquid before consuming it. But, be careful, as when baking soda is added to a liquid, it tends to foam. Once the bubbles subside, you can easily drink the mixture.
If you suffer from heartburn, then you can add one teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of cold water. You would then drink it slowly. The baking soda will neutralize any digestive acid and ease the burning sensation.
Acid reflux is a condition that results in stomach acids backing up into the esophagus. This often causes a burning sensation and a bit of nausea. To ease the discomfort, slowly sip a drink made from 0.5 of a teaspoon of baking soda added to 4 ounces of water.
In the case of lactic acid buildup, then you would also slowly drink baking soda dissolved in water. Simply add 0.125 of a teaspoon of baking soda and 0.25 of a teaspoon of sea salt to a glass of cold water. This mixture should alleviate your symptoms.
Drinking baking soda for autoimmune diseases may not seem like a pleasant thought—it’s not exactly a great tasting drink! However, the benefits of this treatment may outweigh the unpleasant taste. If you suffer from an autoimmune disease, which can be both overwhelming and debilitating, baking soda may be an easy, safe, and natural way to treat your symptoms. If effective, it may also prevent the need for strong, potentially dangerous medications. Moreover, baking soda for autoimmune diseases can be beneficial if you suffer from AFS. Adopting this treatment could lower your overall stress levels and decrease the strain on your overtaxed body, allowing it to rest and heal.