I am often asked questions like does baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) get rid of heartburn or is baking soda for acid reflux any good? Well let me answer that below.
Baking Soda For Heartburn – Does it Really Work?
How Baking Soda Works To Help Heartburn?
When you are using baking soda to aid heartburn it basically acts as a baking soda antacid mixture, to make this mixture you will mix it the baking soda with water and this combination makes a water that is alkaline.
When I say alkaline on the pH scale everything above pH 7 is alkaline, on the pH scale neutral is 7 with everything lower being acidic as the number drops more acidic and everything above 7 being alkaline and more alkaline as the number climbs higher. This mixture of the baking soda and water is about a pH of 8-9. For reference below I have some examples to give you a better idea of pH levels in foods.
pH 1 – Lemon Juice
pH 2 – Vinegar, Orange Juice
pH 3 – Soda, Cheese
pH 4 – Coffee, Beef
pH 5 – Chicken, Sugar
pH 6 – Eggs, Fish
pH 7 – Tap Water
pH 8 – Almonds, Cabbage
pH 9 – Celery, Olive Oil
When you consume foods/drinks that are more on the lower end of this scale you will likely be more prone to having heartburn symptoms due to their higher acidity. Though if you make yourself some water and add baking soda you will have a drink that is about a pH of 8 which will help neutralize the acid in the esophagus and balance the stomach acid and will help alleviate the heartburn.
Why You Have Heartburn?
When you eat foods and drinks that are more acidic you have more acid passing down your esophagus and into the stomach. What happens is the acid refluxes from the stomach back up into the esophagus and this acid mixture will irritate your lower esophagus which is the part connected directly to your stomach.
The acid passing up into the esophagus leads to the irritation and this irritation and burning feeling is also known as heartburn. When you take the baking soda and water mixture this will help neutralize and balance the acid to a more natural level and will help reduce your heartburn.
How to Use Baking Soda for Heartburn?
Mixing the baking soda with water is the best way to do it. You add ½ teaspoon of baking soda to 4 ounces(120ml) of water and stir thoroughly until the baking soda is mixed through. You can do this every 2 hours, but you shouldn’t consume over 3 ½ teaspoons per day.
The main reason you don’t want to consume more than 3 ½ teaspoons per day is because of the salt (sodium) content of the baking soda. This is also why if you are a frequent heartburn sufferer baking soda isn’t the best long-term solution. Check the section further below to see advice for treating the root cause. As an alternative to the baking soda alkaline water can be off similar aid – Alkaline Water benefits.
Important Note – Don’t Use Baking Powder Instead of Baking Soda
Some people think baking powder is the same as baking soda and this is wrong. Baking powder for heartburn simply doesn’t work. The reason for this is because baking powder contains acidic salts on top of the baking soda base.
This means that when mixed with water it won’t make it any more alkaline which is the point of adding it to the water in the first place. It therefore makes it effectively worthless for treating the heartburn. So, make sure to use baking soda NOT baking powder.
Baking Soda and Heartburn – Treating the Root Cause
If you are someone who only has the occasional heartburn occurrence treating it with some baking soda is not a problem. Though if you are someone who regularly gets heartburn treating it long-term with baking soda is not a good long-term solution. So when I am asked how much baking soda is safe to drink? Well ideally you should try not to take more than 1 teaspoon per day and as I have said try to not take it for a long period of time mainly because of the high salt consumption.
When someone has frequent heartburn like this they may have what is known by as GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease). Though don’t worry this can easily be treated for most people with a change of diet or avoidance of certain foods and drinks (below I have listed some foods which can cause heartburn and I would advise you avoid if you are suffering from regular heartburn).
Foods/Drinks to Avoid for Heartburn
- Fatty food
- Processed food
- Deep fried food
- Tomatoes, peppers, raw onions
- Spicy food
- Soft drinks
- Fruit juice
- Citrus fruits
A final piece of advice I would offer if you are suffering from regular heartburn is too simply eat smaller meals. The more you fill up your stomach the more pressure it is under due to being overloaded and the more likely it will reflux acid back up and give you heartburn. Also, if you suffer from nighttime heartburn not eating food 3 hours before bedtime is a good idea.
If you are wanting more advice or have more questions consider a private acid reflux consultation here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it Okay to Take Baking Soda for Heartburn?
Yes it is okay to take baking soda for heartburn. The important thing to note here is that you take the right amount (½ teaspoon with a little water) and don’t take it too regularly due to the high content of sodium.
What Gets Rid of Heartburn Fast?
There are a lot of ways that can help get rid of heartburn. Baking soda and water mixed is a great option for people who don’t have any medication available. Also things like alkaline water and foods like watermelon and cucumber can also help get rid of heartburn. You also have medication which you can take. I personally recommend Gaviscon because it works quickly and is a better long term option to take when compared with other stronger medication H2 Blocker or PPIs.
What Happens If You Drink Baking Soda?
When you mix baking soda with water this creates an alkaline solution. This alkaline effect helps lower and neutralise any acid in your stomach which in turn should help lessen your heartburn or other acid reflux symptoms.
What Can I Drink That Helps With Heartburn?
Of course mixing half a teaspoon of baking soda with a little water (150ml) is a great option. Also you try drinking alkaline water or drinks like watermelon juice or celery juice can also be a great choice due to being alkaline.
Can Drinking Water Help With Heartburn?
Yes water can help but it can depends on how alkaline the water is. The higher the pH the more alkaline the water is and the higher chance it can help stop or lessen your heartburn.
Does Drinking Milk Help Heartburn?
Drinking milk can help heartburn yes due to it being alkaline but it probably isn’t the best choice because it makes the stomach work more than the likes of baking soda and water. Though if you need something to soothe it, I think drinking a small glass of milk can be helpful.
How Much Baking Soda Is Safe To Drink Daily?
Try not to drink more than 1-1.5 teaspoons per day. Also if you are taking it everyday it is advised that you look into another remedy for longer term use. This is because if you continue to take 1 teaspoon a tea your salt intake will be too high. The point being that it’s fine to drink occasionally but not regularly or everyday.
What Are The Potential Side Effects? (drinking baking soda dangers)
The side effects of taking baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) include headaches, nausea, excess gas, stomach pain & fatigue. The important thing to mention here is that these side effects are very rare. The main thing you should really be thoughtful about is the salt content. If you are taking baking soda too often this can really lead to too much salt intake. This is particularly important for people who have kidney disease or high blood pressure.
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