Heartburn, Baking Soda and Antacids - What You Must Know

Can baking soda from your kitchen cupboard in a glass of water soothe your heartburn or acid reflux? Well, yes it can. But there are some important points you must know about using baking soda or any antacid as a heartburn remedy.

What Is Heartburn and How Can Baking Soda Help?

Some people suffer heartburn after eating too quickly or eating particular foods. It results from a little stomach acid squirting up into your esophagus, which is the tube that leads from your mouth to your stomach. This ‘acid reflux’ irritates the walls of the esophagus resulting in a burning sensation. It actually has nothing to do with the heart but because the burning is felt in the chest area, it was referred to as ‘heartburn’. Symptoms of heartburn can mask the more serious symptoms of heart disease so it is important to find the causes of the acid reflux and eliminate them.

In mild heartburn, drinking a little water can help reduce the burning sensation by diluting the acid. Saliva produced in the mouth is naturally alkaline and so can neutralize the acid. Chewing gum is a good way to increase the saliva, which is naturally alkaline, before swallowing (the saliva, not the gum!).

However, baking soda for heartburn is such an effective remedy because it too is alkaline and will help to neutralize the acid. Just one teaspoon in a glass of water, sipped slowly, should bring adequate relief. The benefits of baking soda over antacids, is that you can buy it from any food store, it is cheap and it does not require a prescription. And if you bake cookies, then you have a ready supply already!

When Baking Soda and Antacids Can Cause Problems

However, if you take too much baking soda, as with any antacid medication, then you will neutralize the acid in the stomach itself. This can result in the stomach producing more acid to compensate. You then end up taking more baking soda or antacid. With this vicious cycle, the stomach cells can become exhausted with the over-production of acid and so the levels of stomach acid can decline over time. This may at first appear to be a good thing, for your heartburn perhaps. But the levels of stomach acid can be reduced to such a degree that digestion is impaired and food not properly broken down. This in turn can lead to allergies and inflammation in other parts of the body.

You also do not want the excess sodium, from baking soda or some antacids, if you suffer from high blood pressure. If you have to use over-the-counter antacids, then make sure that they do not contain aluminum salts, as aluminum has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Also, be aware that antacids containing calcium and magnesium can cause mineral imbalances in the body if used long-term. You should also note that some medical conditions can weaken the esophageal sphincter and cause acid reflux, as can some medicines. Consult your doctor if you have frequent heartburn or if you think that the following medications may be a side-effect: prescription pain killers, calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure, antihistamines, asthma medication, or nitrates.

Antacid medication and baking soda are not long term solutions to your heartburn. Your priority now should be to discover the causes and solutions to your acid reflux. These might surprise you. The cure for your heartburn and the solutions to your long term health could be the exact opposite of what you might expect.

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About The Author, Natalie Beech
Author Natalie Beech is a health writer who writes informatively about a variety of health topics, including heartburn. If you want to find out the surprising facts for the relief of heartburn and acid reflux, and that can contribute to your longterm health, then go to The Heartburn Relief Website
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