When Sodium Bicarbonate Saves Lives

There are few materials that affect more parts of our lives than sodium bicarbonate, known interchangeably as bicarbonate of soda or baking soda depending on where you live.


Much like other materials that have been used since antiquity, bicarbonate of soda is unique not only because it is still commonly used, but because its versatility sees it be used in so many industries such as baking, fire extinguishers, mouthwashes and deodorants.


This has given one of the main ingredients of natron a reputation that it can be used as part of the solution for practically any issue, and whilst this is far from the case, there are some cases where bicarbonate of soda can help people not only in the long term as well.


In some cases, baking soda can even save lives.


Acute Acidosis

The body very carefully regulates its pH levels, and different parts of the body need to be kept within relatively close tolerances in order to function properly. Much of this is done automatically, but there are times when your body needs help.


Commonly a result of kidney disease, a lack of breathing or diabetes, acidosis is when your body fluids such as your blood contain too much acid, which can result in a range of symptoms ranging from headaches and vomiting to permanent brain damage and unconsciousness.


To prevent acidosis when the heart stops and there is a serious risk of a person’s blood pH going lower than 7.0, bicarbonate of soda, a very potent alkaline solution that drives away the carbonic acid that develops in blood plasma and raises a person’s pH back to safe levels.


Given the careful balance needed in the bloodstream, this is typically only done in emergency situations under the supervision of a doctor.


Aspirin Overdoses

In terms of commonly used medication, aspirin has a lot of somewhat unique qualities, and one of which is taken advantage of in cases when someone takes far too many tablets.


In order for aspirin to be absorbed into the bloodstream, it needs an acidic environment. As a result, doctors will sometimes use bicarbonate of soda to create an alkaline environment in the blood and stomach that stops aspirin from being absorbed as quickly.


This, in combination with other treatments such as activated charcoal, stops or at least heavily slows down the rate at which the aspirin is absorbed, and it can be safely filtered away either through excretion or via dialysis.


Similarly, it can be used to halt the effects of methanol poisoning, such as caused by drinking certain cleaning solvents.


After Food Poisoning Or Heavy Sweating

If someone is suffering from food poisoning, the body will work quickly to get rid of it, but in 

flushing out poisonous material from the system, it can leave a person with far less bicarbonate in their bloodstream than they should have. 


This can also be the case if you lose water from the body through other means such as diarrhoea or heavy sweating. Bicarbonate of soda is sometimes used to help restore sodium to the bloodstream.

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