Baking soda: A safe, easy treatment for arthritis?

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Baking soda has been used as a home remedy for generations due to its antacid properties. Yet its benefits run even deeper, and new research may explain why it is an effective aid in the treatment of autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.
How can this kitchen staple change the body’s inflammatory response? Baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, is a kitchen staple commonly used as a raising agent for cakes.
That being said, it has also made a name for itself as a home remedy for various conditions. Half a teaspoon of baking soda is often taken to ease heartburn or acid reflux, for example, and this substance is also used to whiten teeth.
In a new study, whose findings are now published in The Journal of Immunology, researchers from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University reveal exactly how drinking a solution of baking soda could prime the immune system against inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Paul O’Connor, a renal physiologist at Augusta University, and colleagues tested the effects that drinking a baking soda solution would have, first on rats, and then on humans.
Their experiments tell a complex story about how this salt provides a signal to a special kind of cell called “mesothelial cells,” telling them that the body is fine and not under attack, rendering an aggressive immune system unnecessary. Thus, harmful autoimmune responses are averted.
Mesothelial cells line the internal organs as well as many different cavities in the body. Not only do they prevent organs and other internal tissue from sticking together, they also serve other functions, not all of which have been studied in detail.
In the new study, O’Connor and team tested the effect that a baking soda solution would have first on rats, and then on healthy human participants, and they noted that it influenced an intriguing mechanism.
Can this biochemical ‘switch off’ inflammation? Researchers may have found a way to “switch off” certain immune cells when necessary. Baking soda “prompts” the stomach to produce more gastric acid, which allows it to digest food quicker and easier.
But, in addition to this, it also seems to tell the mesothelial cells that line the spleen to “take it easy,” because there is no threat.
Basically, in O’Connor words, mesothelial cells learn that “[i]t’s most likely a hamburger not a bacterial infection.” So they, in turn, do not activate the spleen’s “army” of macrophages, or white blood cells tasked with clearing up potentially harmful cellular detritus.

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