Baking soda has long been a home staple, with multiple uses, such as helping to ease symptoms associated with acid reflux and heartburn. But new research suggests baking soda might also help people suffering joint issues.
Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University believe baking soda may help with these health issues by signaling to specialized cells in the body that they don’t need to trigger an immune system response inflammation. These cells would normally do this in response to a perceived invader. Instead of triggering inflammation, these cells might actually begin to help reduce it.
The findings were published in the May issue of The Journal of Immunology.
How it Works
According to researchers, baking soda (also known as sodium bicarbonate) sends a signal to mesothelial cells that the body is not being attacked. This, in turn, reduces the chances of an aggressive – and potentially harmful – autoimmune system response.
Mesothelial cells serve as lining for the body’s internal organs, making sure these organs don’t rub against one another.
These cells have components known as microvilli that warn the organs whenever they sense a dangerous foreign substance. When this warning is sent, the immune system responds.
However, when the immune system is triggered unnecessarily, severe health issues can result. The immune system can sometimes misread signals and attack healthy cells.
But researchers tested both rats and humans and found that ingesting a solution of baking soda sends a signal to mesothelial cells on the spleen that an immune response is not needed. As Paul O’Connor, lead author of the study put it, baking soda tells the immune system “it’s most likely a hamburger and not a bacterial infection.”
Impact on Inflammation?
According to the study, the participants who drank water mixed with baking soda also saw changes to macrophages located in the spleen. Macrophages are cells the immune system deploys to clear the body of potentially dangerous debris, such as dead cells. They are the “first wave” of an immune response. The participants’ number of “pro-inflammatory” macrophages decreased, while the level of “anti-inflammatory” macrophages increased.
Researchers also found a similar shift in other cells associated with the immune system, such as regulatory T cells. There are different types of T cells. Some play a role in attacking harmful invaders, such as viruses, parasites, and bacteria. Others, however, like regulatory T cells, actually suppress the immune system and keep it from activating when it’s not needed.
O’Connor said that, with further research, it is possible that baking soda could eventually be recommended as a treatment for 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,” he said. “It’s potentially a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease.”
Still, this is a new study, and more research is needed before drawing conclusions, so it’s important that if you’re being treated for joint issues, you continue on the course of care provided by your medical professional. More research needs to be done on the impact of baking soda before solid conclusions are drawn.