(NaturalNews) Many components of the modern western diet – meats, fish, dairy products, most grains, sugars, alcohol and caffeinated drinks (in fact, almost everything except vegetables, millet, most fruits and, as we have just seen, apple cider vinegar) – contribute to one's body becoming too acidic. This in turn can open the door to a variety of problems, some of them (including arthritic complaints) potentially serious if this acidic condition persists for many years.
This is because your body will attempt to compensate by retaining alkaline salts in the bloodstream to offset the increase of tissue acidity. Since your body can only tolerate a small imbalance in blood pH (the acid-alkali balance), it will rob alkaline components from other places – including your body's precious alkaline reserves – in an effort to restore proper pH equilibrium. This can result in heartburn, digestive distress, stomach upset, fatigue and a multitude of other symptoms. Simple, inexpensive kitchen baking soda can fix this.
Very useful in keeping the body healthily alkalized is half to one teaspoon a day of baking soda in water. Don't take it with or within an hour of meals, though, as the stomach needs to retain its acidity in order to perform its digestive functions effectively. A great deal of tap water (or even store-bought spring water) is surprisingly acidic; filtration will remove toxins but will not affect the pH balance of the water. (Baking soda can be used to reduce the corrosion of acidic drinking water in municipal water supplies, therefore reducing the toxicity of the lead and copper, which are dissolved from the pipes.) You can purchase a pH testing kit for home use very cheaply, and if the water you usually drink is acidic (i.e. with a pH of less than 7.0) you could remedy this cheaply and easily by adding a pinch of baking soda to all the water you consume.
Baking soda is also effective for polishing teeth (without scratching the tooth surface) and fighting bad breath (sprinkle a little on the toothbrush bristles). It can even be tried for exfoliating skin when acne is a problem (add a little to a facial cleanser in place of using a commercial facial scrub).
When baking soda is added to bath water, sunburn sufferers often experience a notable reduction in pain. Place a cup (8 ounces) of baking soda under the running bath tap so it dissolves completely, and soak in a lukewarm tub for about half an hour. Such a bath will soothe the pain – and you won't have to endure the stinging sensation of a shower. Adding baking soda to a hot bath at any time also helps wash acid wastes out of the body.
In addition, baking soda can be used in cool (but not cold) bath water to soothe other skin irritations and alleviate itching from prickly heat, bee stings, insect bites, and other minor skin ailments. A paste (made with just enough water to get the desired sticky consistency) placed on an insect bite or sting and allowed to dry is a time-tested approach for drawing out and neutralizing poisons.
People with skin allergies who tend to react to commercial laundry detergents might find that washing their clothing and bedding in baking soda is less irritating.
Simple baking soda may also weaken the desire for a cigarette as well as reduce the desire for sugar and sweets. It's used in kidney dialysis to reduce the level of acids in the bloodstream, and acts to prevent bacterial growth in food products. For general purposes of alkalinizing the body, quarter to half a teaspoon twice a day in water is usually enough.
The medicinal and self-care uses of baking soda were recognized by the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP) more than 150 years ago. For years, baking soda has been recommended because of its antacid effects, mainly to neutralize stomach acids that can cause heartburn, acid indigestion and related discomforts.
As it mixes with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, baking soda triggers a chemical reaction, and its end products are salt (NaCl, or sodium chloride), carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. The water is harmless, and the carbon dioxide gets released as a gas, producing a familiar burp once the acid is neutralized.
However, commercial antacid products only lessen symptoms of over-acidity by blocking the production of acid and can often produce unwanted side effects. They alter your body's ability to absorb protein and calcium, which can then create the need for a calcium supplements to compensate.
If it were not for the presence of sodium – which makes the tissue in the stomach highly alkaline – the lining would be destroyed by the hydrochloric acid in the stomach. The stomach, intestines, joints and ligaments are in constant need of natural food-source sodium. Naturally occurring sodium is not to be confused with the sodium from common commercial table salt, which is processed with extreme heat using many chemical and bleaching agents.
Potassium neutralizes acid wastes, and in combination with sodium, maintains a healthy acid/alkaline balance. Potassium and sodium are nearly always found together in the body and perform many of the same functions. Second only to breathing and maintaining a heartbeat the most important metabolic function our body performs is to maintain a balanced pH. Baking soda, in small amounts, performs this function.
Kelly Joyce Neff has an interdisciplinary degree in Celtic Studies which includes work in cultural anthropology, history, linguistics, language, and literature. She is a traditional midwife and herbalist, a reiki master, and an active craftsperson. She lives in San Francisco.