Is the long term use of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to treat acid reflux safe?
Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a popular home remedy for acid reflux or GERD due to its ability to quickly neutralise stomach acid and reduce burning as well as its availability in kitchen pantries worldwide. But is using baking soda as a long-term treatment for acid reflux safe? In this article we will look at some of research available and see what risks (if any) are associated with regular use of sodium bicarbonate.
What exactly is sodium bicarbonate
Sodium bicarbonate is a salt that when exposed to stomach acid products salt (sodium), water and carbon dioxide. It is a white solid that has a slightly salty and alkaline taste. In your body it is a naturally occurring substance produced by the pancreas to protect your intestines.
How it works to relieve acid reflux
Sodium bicarbonate has an alkaline PH which enables it to neutralise acid in the appropriate dose. It reacts to the acid in your stomach reducing its acidity.
Potential health issues with long term use
While baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is generally regarded as safe for temporary or short term use, doctors generally don’t recommend it as a permanent treatment for acid reflux as a result of the numerous complications that can arise from sodium bicarbonate toxicity.
In an article 'Baking soda can settle the stomach but upset the heart: case files of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco ' the authors identify the following issues that can arise from excessive baking soda use:
- Alkalosis - excessively alkaline condition of the body fluids or tissues, which may cause weakness or cramp.
- hypokalemia - potassium blood deficiency
- hypochloremia - chloride blood deficiency
- Hypocalcemia - calcium blood deficiency
- hypernatremia - rise in sodium levels
It can also interact with various medications.
Having previously been a regular user of baking soda to treat my acid reflex, it was the discovery of these sort of potential issues from long term use which eventually led me towards seeking alternative treatments with far less risks. I’ll still use baking soda in a pinch if I’m travelling and don’t have any other treatments on hand but I sleep much easier at night knowing I have made the switch to a plant based acid reflux remedy to control my GERD.
If you are looking for a safe or more natural treatment for acid reflux MrsGerdz All Natural Acid Reflux Remedy is a great tasting plant based product that helps reduce the symptoms of acid reflux / GERD.
1 Al-Abri SA, Olson KR. Baking soda can settle the stomach but upset the heart: case files of the Medical Toxicology Fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco. J Med Toxicol. 2013;9(3):255‐258. doi:10.1007/s13181-013-0300-4