Its superpowers come from a two-letter term: pH. That stands for “potential (or power) of hydrogen” to make something either an acid or a base (alkaline). Baking soda is an alkaline substance. When it mixes with an acid, it alters the pH level. That’s why it can quickly soothe an upset stomach or cover a bad smell.
You can use it to:
Calm indigestion: Add 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water to zap acid in your stomach. But acid doesn’t cause all kinds of indigestion, so if your symptoms don’t improve after 2 weeks, call your doctor.
Don’t take baking soda within 2 hours of other medications. When the baking soda lowers stomach acid, it can slow the rate at which your body absorbs some medicines and change the way others work. Don’t give it to a child under 6 unless your pediatrician tells you to.
Treat insect bites and stings: While it isn’t good for everyday use on your skin, it can soothe the redness, itching, and stinging that are signs of a mild reaction to an insect bite. Many over-the-counter creams contain baking soda. You can also make your own paste of one part baking soda to three parts water. This also works for poison ivy and rashes.
Keep your mouth healthy: Brushing your teeth with toothpaste that has baking soda can hold off tooth decay and keep your gums and mouth in good shape. A half-teaspoon of baking soda mixed in a glass of water can also freshen your breath.
Do not use if you are on a sodium restricted diet unless directed by a doctor. Ask a doctor or a pharmacist before use if you are taking a prescription drug. Antacids may interact with certain prescription drugs. Do not administer to children under age 5 without careful consideration. To avoid injury do not take sodium bicarbonate until the powder is completely dissolved and it is very important not to take baking soda when overly full from food or drink. Consult a doctor if severe stomach pain occurs after taking this product.
Sodium bicarbonate side effects can include metabolic alkalosis, edema due to sodium overload, congestive heart failure, hyperosmolar syndrome, hypervolemic hypernatremia, and hypertension due to increased sodium. In patients who consume a high calcium or dairy-rich diet, calcium supplements, or calcium-containing antacids such as calcium carbonate (e.g., Tums), the use of sodium bicarbonate can cause milk-alkali syndrome, which can result in metastatic calcification, kidney stones, and kidney failure.