Drinking Small Amounts Of Baking Soda May Combat Autoimmune Disease, Study Suggests

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Scientists say that a small daily dose of baking soda may help reduce the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers have shown that when healthy people drink a solution of baking soda it becomes a trigger for the stomach to make more acid to digest the next meal and for the mesothelial cells sitting on the spleen to tell the fist-sized organ that there’s no need to mount a protective immune response.

They have some of the first evidence of how the cheap, over-the-counter antacid baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, can encourage our spleen to promote an anti-inflammatory environment that could be therapeutic in the face of inflammatory disease, Medical College of Georgia scientists report in the Journal of Immunology.

Mesothelial cells line body cavities, like the one that contains our digestive tract, and they also cover the exterior of our organs to quite literally keep them from rubbing together. About a decade ago, 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.

When they looked at a rat model without actual kidney damage, they saw the same response. So the basic scientists worked with the investigators at MCG’s Georgia Prevention Institute to bring in healthy medical students who drank baking soda in a bottle of water and also had a similar response.

“The shift from inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory profile is happening everywhere,” O’Connor says. “We saw it in the kidneys, we saw it in the spleen, now we see it in the peripheral blood.”

The shifting landscape, he says, is likely due to increased conversion of some of the proinflammatory cells to anti-inflammatory ones coupled with actual production of more anti-inflammatory macrophages. The scientists also saw a shift in other immune cell types, like more regulatory T cells, which generally drive down the immune response and help keep the immune system from attacking our own tissues. That anti-inflammatory shift was sustained for at least four hours in humans and three days in rats.

Of course the study was looking at baking soda in small amounts, not a massive dose of sodium bicarbonate.

If you’de like to read all of the research, please go here.

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