A daily dose of baking soda (half teaspoon) may help reduce the destructive inflammation of auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Baking soda is a cheap, over-the-counter antacid which can encourage our spleen to promote an anti-inflammatory environment that could be therapeutic for inflammatory disease. Scientists from the Medical College of Georgia have reported this in the Journal of Immunology.
Dr Paul O'Connor, renal physiologist in the MCG department of physiology at Augusta University, and the study's corresponding author, said that scientists have shown that when rats or healthy people drink a solution of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, it becomes a trigger for the stomach to make more acid to digest the next meal and for little-studied mesothelial cells sitting on the spleen to tell the fist-sized organ that there's no need to mount a protective immune response.
Mesothelial cells line body cavities, like the ones that populate our digestive tract; they also cover the exterior of our organs to, quite literally, keep them from rubbing together. It was found that these cells also provide another level of protection. They have little fingers, called microvilli, that sense the environment and warn the organs they cover that there is an invader and an immune response is needed.
Drinking baking soda tells the spleen to go easy on the immune response. Spleen, which is part of the immune system, acts like a big blood filter. After subjects drank water with baking soda for two weeks, the scientists found that the population of immune cells, called macrophages, in the spleen as well as the blood and kidneys shifted from primarily those that promote inflammation, called M1, to those that reduce it, called M2. Macrophages, perhaps best known for their ability to consume garbage in the body like debris from injured or dead cells, are early arrivers to a call for an immune response.
With any kidney disease, kidney function is impaired leading to blood becoming too acidic, Dr O'Connor says. Significant consequences can include increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. It sets the whole system up to fail. Clinical trials have shown that a daily dose of baking soda can not only reduce acidity but actually slow progression of the kidney disease and it's now a therapy offered to patients.