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Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a staple in many homes for baking and cleaning purposes — but there's a good chance you're not taking full advantage of all that baking soda has to offer.
For instance, did you know there's a whole gamut of medicinal uses for baking soda, such as safely removing splinters from your fingers, or just brushing your teeth?
It rates right up there with hydrogen peroxide as one of the most inexpensive and safe health tools around (you can buy an entire box of baking soda for about $1), so it makes sense to learn all you can about the many, many uses of baking soda.
A Brief Baking Soda History
In its natural form, baking soda is known as nahcolite, which is part of the natural mineral natron. Natron, which contains large amounts of sodium bicarbonate, has been used since ancient times. For instance, the Egyptians used natron as a soap for cleansing purposes. Later, anecdotal reports throughout history suggest that many civilizations used forms of baking soda when making bread and other foods that required rising.
However, it wasn't until 1846 when Dr. Austin Church and John Dwight began to manufacture and sell the compound we know as baking soda today. By the 1860s, baking soda was featured in published cookbooks, and in the 1930s was widely advertised as a u201Cproven medical agent.u201D1 Come 1972, the idea to keep a box of baking soda in your fridge to keep food fresh was born, and it really caught on … raise your hand if you have a box in your fridge right now!
Baking soda was popularized by Arm & Hammer more than 150 years ago, and while many are aware of its versatile qualities for cooking and household use, few people realize that baking soda also has potent medicinal properties.
Baking Soda May Help Fight Colds and the Flu
Some people believe that when taken internally, baking soda can help maintain the pH balance in your bloodstream. This is likely the basic premise behind its recommended uses against both colds and influenza symptoms. In their booklet u201CArm & Hammer Baking Soda Medical Uses,u201D published in 1924, Dr. Volney S. Cheney recounts his clinical successes with sodium bicarbonate in treating cold and flu:2
u201CIn 1918 and 1919 while fighting the u2018flu' with the U. S. Public Health Service it was brought to my attention that rarely anyone who had been thoroughly alkalinized with bicarbonate of soda contracted the disease, and those who did contract it, if alkalinized early, would invariably have mild attacks.
I have since that time treated all cases of u2018cold,' influenza and LaGripe by first giving generous doses of bicarbonate of soda, and in many, many instances within 36 hours the symptoms would have entirely abated.
Further, within my own household, before Woman's Clubs and Parent-Teachers' Associations, I have advocated the use of bicarbonate of soda as a preventive for ‘colds,’ with the result that now many reports are coming in stating that those who took ‘soda’ were not affected, while nearly everyone around them had the ‘flu.’
Not too certain though about how valid the pH optimizing is as to baking soda's mechanism of action, as clinically I have frequently used diluted hydrochloric acid intravenously to also help people nearly instantly recover from acute infections. Obviously this is pushing the pH in the opposite direction, yet both appear to work, suggesting that the mode of action may be other than pH mediated.