Drinking baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may treat autoimmune disease

Hip

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A new study found that a daily dose of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may help reduce damaging inflammation in autoimmune diseases:

Oral NaHCO3 Activates a Splenic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway: Evidence That Cholinergic Signals Are Transmitted via Mesothelial Cells. Full text here.

In the study, healthy human subjects were given 2 grams of sodium bicarbonate dissolved in 250 ml of bottled water. The study found this oral sodium bicarbonate consumption:
  • Activates splenic anti-inflammatory pathways in both rats and humans
  • Increases the size of the spleen over time
  • Shifts macrophage polarization from M1 (inflammatory) to M2 (regulatory) phenotypes
  • Increases FOXP3 CD4 regulatory T-cells (FOXP3 T-regs) in the spleen, blood, and kidneys
FOXP3 T-regs have been shown to be beneficial in a wide range of conditions, including allergy, asthma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and hypertension.

The authors speculate that the anti-inflammatory effects of oral sodium bicarbonate arises by activation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway, and that mesothelial cells (which line the body's internal organs and serous cavities) may have a role in this process.

It was found mesothelial cells have little fingers called microvilli which sense the environment and warn the organs when an immune response is needed to fight a microbial invader. Drinking sodium bicarbonate tells the spleen to go easy on the immune response.



Note that sodium bicarbonate is best taken away from meals, otherwise it may partially neutralize the stomach acid needed to digest food.

Taking a high dose of sodium bicarbonate on a regular basis will have an alkalizing action on the body. I get a little lightheaded when I am on an alkalizing diet, and that helps me gauge the alkalizing action. I find as little as 4 grams of sodium bicarbonate each day is enough to create via alkalizing this lightheaded feeling.

Note:
One level teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate = 4 grams
One heaped teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate = 12 grams



Some articles about this study:
Drinking baking soda safe therapy for autoimmune disease – study
Drinking baking soda could be an inexpensive, safe way to combat autoimmune disease: study
 

Learner1

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Note that sodium bicarbonate is best taken away from meals, otherwise it may partially neutralize the stomach acid needed to digest food
Fascinating! Thanks for sharing!

How exactly do you do this? I eat and take supplements all day long... What exact timing after one meal and before the next do you think would work?

I've read about acid/alkaline diets and the negative is the body's tendency to correct for changes to promote homeostasis... so any intervention will be adapted to.

And, do the constituents of one's microbiome care about how acid or alkaline it is? Would it make a difference in the microbiome over time?

Anyway...very thought provoking!
 

pamojja

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I would think say 45 minutes before a main meal or snack might be fine; but I would wait 2 hours after a main meal before taking bicarb.
Do you know if sodium bicarb taken together with ascorbic acid in water (which changes both to sodium ascorbate, the carbon dioxide fizzling away) on an otherwise empty stomach could still have the same benefits?

Chemically it seems unlikely, though my experience taking high dose vitamin C this way seems to suggest. Since with all my blood-gasses analysis the blood pH came back highly alkaline (7.48; 7.35 - 7.45 pH normal range). Also sodium bicarb is considered by some an uranium chelator, which would explain in my case why I had a sudden rise above normal for uranium in HTMA, declining short after again after starting with higher bicarbs (~2.5 g/d; sodium and potassium). My spleen is a bid enlarged too.
 

tiredowl

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Would this be safe though? I mean lowering stomach acid doesn't seem like a good idea, especially if you don't want to get sick from viruses and stuff.
 

Ema

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Would this be safe though? I mean lowering stomach acid doesn't seem like a good idea, especially if you don't want to get sick from viruses and stuff.
I think you actually get a rebound acidification because the body senses the alkaline state. That’s why they always say to do it between and before meals so that when you eat, it takes advantage of the higher acid levels.

This is all what I remember of various internet lore around baking soda. If someone has science saying otherwise, by all means.
 

tiredowl

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I think you actually get a rebound acidification because the body senses the alkaline state. That’s why they always say to do it between and before meals so that when you eat, it takes advantage of the higher acid levels.

This is all what I remember of various internet lore around baking soda. If someone has science saying otherwise, by all means.
Ah, thanks. Maybe this could be something worth trying. Doesn't it also affect lactic acid?
 

rel8ted

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A new study found that a daily dose of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) may help reduce damaging inflammation in autoimmune diseases:

Oral NaHCO3 Activates a Splenic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway: Evidence That Cholinergic Signals Are Transmitted via Mesothelial Cells. Full text here.
Interesting, @Hip.
I've had my hub on a lower dose of baking soda for about a year now, old timers used to use it for high blood pressure. He says he thinks it has helped his digestion as well. He's not off his HBP meds, but no longer feels the effects of them not being as effective a few hours before the next dose. He's taking 1/2 tsp every morning, first thing.
 
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Hip

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Could this be helpful for allergies, too?
I am guessing it might be useful for allergies, as the paper says that the FOXP3 T-regs that are up-regulated by sodium bicarbonate are helpful for allergies, asthma, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and hypertension.



Would this be safe though? I mean lowering stomach acid doesn't seem like a good idea, especially if you don't want to get sick from viruses and stuff.
Stomach acid is created on demand by the parietal cells in the stomach wall when required. If you neutralize this gastric acid with bicarbonate, some more will be produced when needed.

Incidentally, it is the parietal cells of the stomach that are found to be infected with chronic non-cytolytic enterovirus in patients with enterovirus-associated ME/CFS (see Dr John Chia's study). I wonder whether such infected parietal cells might be the cause of the low stomach acid levels that some ME/CFS patients like myself anecdotally report using the (unvalidated) bicarbonate burp test for stomach acidity level.



Do you know if sodium bicarb taken together with ascorbic acid in water (which changes both to sodium ascorbate, the carbon dioxide fizzling away) on an otherwise empty stomach could still have the same benefits?
It will still have the same benefits as far as vitamin C status is concerned, since sodium ascorbate is still a usable form of vitamin C; but once you have neutralized the alkalinity of sodium bicarbonate by reacting it with ascorbic acid, I would doubt the bicarbonate will still have this anti-autoimmune and anti-allergy effect.



Doesn't it also affect lactic acid?
Yes, some people have found that sodium bicarbonate helps reduce their PEM (see the PEM busters thread), presumably because it neutralizes lactic acid.



And, do the constituents of one's microbiome care about how acid or alkaline it is? Would it make a difference in the microbiome over time?
That's a good question. I could not find much info on this when I Google search: alkalizing diet microbiome.

Normally, gastric acid secreted in the stomach to digest food is later neutralized anyway, as the food passes through the duodenum (the body secretes sodium bicarbonate in the duodenum to achieve this neutralization).
 
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Interesting! thanks @Hip

Im interested in this use in connection with leaky gut/SIBO - no problem?
Id like to test it, but Im on leaky gut/SIBO treatment with Normix and Mesalazine.

Is sodium bicarbonate OK with this treatment?
 
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@Hip, thanks for this great information.

In the articles which summarise the J. Immunology article, it says ..

“That anti-inflammatory shift was sustained for at least four hours in humans and three days in rats.” (Punch).

This would seem to indicate that a dose of sodium bicarb should be spread at four hourly intervals throughout the day. Yet the students used in the study were given a once daily dose of 2gms, which produced the anti inflammatory response.

I have two autoimmune problems (Hashimotos and Autoimmune Adrenal Disorder) and the expected high level of inflammation in my body, so am very interested. I have been taking sodium bicarb spasmodically after I found it improved my energy after taking some for a bladder infection. I would like to take it now on a regular basis, but would find it difficult to manage on a four hourly intervals. I’d be able to manage two doses, mid morning and mid afternoon.

How frequently do you take it?

Thanks,

Wendy
 

Hip

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How frequently do you take it?
Even taking just one 2 gram dose of sodium bicarbonate daily is going to have an alkalizing effect on the body; I think if you took a 2 gram dose every 4 hours — which would amount to 8 grams per day — that would have a strong alkalizing effect. I am not sure what the safe maximum daily dose of bicarbonate is, but at higher doses I think you would want to watch out for metabolic alkalosis.
 
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Even taking just one 2 gram dose of sodium bicarbonate daily is going to have an alkalizing effect on the body; I think if you took a 2 gram dose every 4 hours — which would amount to 8 grams per day — that would have a strong alkalizing effect. I am not sure what the safe maximum daily dose of bicarbonate is, but at higher doses I think you would want to watch out for metabolic alkalosis.
Examine.com has a great page on sodium bicarbonate:

Alkalosis is the metabolic state of excessive alkalinity in the blood (a lack of acidity), which can be clinically induced with administration of high levels of buffering agents (although charcterized by high serum bicarbonate, it becomes clinically relevant when renal excretion of bicarbonate is suppressed as well).[244] In general, persons with impaired renal function (such as chronic kidney disease) are at greater risk for alkalosis[245][246] while sufficient renal function is usually met with an increase in bicarbonate excretion to regulate serum concentrations.
"It is theoretically plausible that oral sodium bicarbonate (similar to infusions) can induce a state of metabolic alkalosis, which would be a potentially lethal situation. Due to this, the dosing recommendations given in the 'How to take' section should be adhered to and supplementation should never exceeed 500mg/kg daily (for non-obese persons, obese persons would need to calculate this in relation to a 'normal' BMI for their height)"
Supplemental dosages of sodium bicarbonate are in the 200-300 mg/kg range when used before exercise. Although 500 mg/kg is slightly more effective, it tends to be associated with a higher degree of intestinal side effects if taken all at once.
As mentioned more in depth in the pharmacology subsection 'Excretion', sodium bicarbonate supplementation results in an increased excretion of bicarbonate in order to regulate serum concentrations of this vital buffering agent (as too much can result in alkalosis); this increased excretion results in increased sodium excretion and the increased sodium excretion further results in increased potassium excretion. As sodium is ingested via sodium bicarbonate but potassium is not, chronic and excessive usage of sodium bicarbonate supplementation is a potential risk factor for reducing serum potassium concentrations.
Replacing a small (less than 9g) amount of sodium bicarbonate with potassium bicarbonate can possibly reduce dietary sodium load and increase potassium relative to that, but higher doses than 9g or supplementation periods for more than 3 months are not yet demonstrated safe (very high acute doses of potassium may cause heart arrythmia)
Supplemental potassium bicarbonate (a generally recognized as safe compound albeit limited long-term toxicological information[241]) appears to be safe in humans in short duration trials at 90mmol (9g) over 10[212] and 42 days[242] or 64-67.5mmol (6.4-6.75g) daily for 4 months[243] or 3 months.[103][214]
One thing that I've read but can't remember where is that one should avoid taking high doses of both bicarbonate and calcium carbonate because it could cause milk-alkali syndrome.

It may be prudent to take Vitamin K alongside bicarbonate if taken chronically to minimize the risk of arterial calcification, because removing an eventual mild acidosis can theoretically increase the risk. I've read a lot about sodium bicarbonate in the context of CKD.
 

Hip

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Supplemental dosages of sodium bicarbonate are in the 200-300 mg/kg range when used before exercise
Very useful info @Cipher. So for an 80 kg person, a total daily dose of around 16 to 24 grams of sodium bicarbonate is safe, according to the Examine.com article, if used before exercise.

I wonder what the safe daily dose is in people not performing exercise.
 

pamojja

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I wonder what the safe daily dose is in people not performing exercise.
examine.com says "Some health effects (increase in metabolic rate or attenuation of metabolic acidosis) can be achieved at more reasonable doses, such as 5-10g, and may be more practical for nonathletes." Didn't see a source for that quote.

It will still have the same benefits as far as vitamin C status is concerned, since sodium ascorbate is still a usable form of vitamin C; but once you have neutralized the alkalinity of sodium bicarbonate by reacting it with ascorbic acid, I would doubt the bicarbonate will still have this anti-autoimmune and anti-allergy effect.
It really is confusing. Not only because of my experience of bicarbonates with ascorbic acid alkalizing my blood. But allegedly even taking it with food - at which time the bicarbonate should be definitely neutralized by the much higher acidity of stomach acid compared to ascorbic acid - it nevertheless seems to turn out alkalizing even more?!?

2.1. Absorption and Intestines
It has been confirmed that the consumption of food alongside sodium bicarbonate reduces gastrointestinal side effects relative to the same dose taken on an empty stomach, and serum increases of bicarbonate appear to be highest when coingested with food.[18]