Uses of Sodium Bicarbonate in Alternative Medicine & Hygiene

You may be familiar with sodium bicarbonate (often referred to as baking soda) as an ingredient in recipes such as cakes, because it interacts with other ingredients as a raising agent. However, it also has other uses as an alternative healthcare product. Here’s a look at the properties of this humble but versatile compound.


What is sodium bicarbonate?

Sodium bicarbonate is a white crystalline powder that has a range of uses thanks to its alkaline properties that can neutralise acids. This means that it can help to regulate pH levels, bringing health and hygiene benefits as well as being a useful baking ingredient. It’s a naturally occurring form of mineral salt that is obtained from nahcolite deposits. 


When seeking out sodium bicarbonate as a healthcare product, beware of synthetically manufactured compounds that are typically made in India or China, because they may have chemical additives that reduce its effectiveness or are even toxic. The purest and most effective sodium bicarbonate is mined from naturally occurring natron reserves. 


These were traditionally obtained from dried up lake beds in ancient Egypt, and in the modern day they are found in north and central Africa, and some regions of Europe and North America.  


Sodium bicarbonate to aid digestion

Sodium bicarbonate is commonly used to aid digestion, because the alkaline qualities help to counteract the stomach acid reflux that causes heartburn. A teaspoon of food-grade sodium bicarbonate dissolved in water can do the trick to relieve heartburn or dyspepsia. 


Oral health

Sodium bicarbonate helps to neutralise the acids that occur in the mouth and are responsible for causing bad breath, so it is often used as a mouthwash solution. It also contains gentle whitening properties that can remove stains and leave the teeth looking brighter.  


The antibacterial properties may also help to ease the symptoms of mild gum disease (gingivitis). It’s a popular and affordable alternative to standard tooth care products.


Domestic hygiene

Sodium bicarbonate has natural antibacterial properties, and the alkaline content helps to neutralise bad odours. It can be added to laundry to soften the water and ensure that garments, bedding and towels smell fresh and pleasant after washing, and it can help to remove stains on crockery. 


It can also be safely sprinkled onto carpets and upholstery to absorb lingering pet or cigarette odours. Furthermore, it can be mixed with water to clean kitchen counters and ovens, because it is abrasive but still gentle enough to avoid causing damage.  It can also be used to remove mildew and freshen up dishcloths and sponges. 


As a skincare product

Small amounts of sodium bicarbonate may be effective at treating skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. Some people also find it useful when mixed as a paste to soothe bee stings, insect bites, and fungal infections. However, take care not to use too much or it will be overly drying, and it should not be applied to open wounds. 


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