We love simple remedies using ingredients you already have on hand in your pantry, so long as they work and they are safe. One time-honored approach to ease indigestion is taking a baking soda solution. But what is the right dose of baking soda? A doctor recently tried to call us on this, although we found a different recommendation.
Is the Right Dose of Baking Soda Too High in Sodium?
Q. I am concerned about the idea of using baking soda to treat heartburn. On my box, it recommends 1/4 teaspoon per dose, which is 300 mg of sodium. Your dose of baking soda yields 600 mg. Unfortunately, most people don’t measure carefully.
I once had a patient with intractable hypertension. It took a very long time to discover that she used baking soda to treat heartburn, just because her granny did. She was taking a heaping teaspoon daily. Once she stopped this practice, she was able to cut way back on her medication for hypertension.
A. A half teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) contains 616 mg of sodium. It is important to use measuring spoons, not ordinary kitchen spoons, to measure that half teaspoon. Table ware varies enormously in its capacity and is unreliable for measuring any medicine.
Our box of Arm & Hammer baking soda states that to relieve
“heartburn, acid indigestion, sour stomach and upset stomach due to these symptoms…add ½ teaspoon to ½ glass (4 fl. oz.) of water every two hours, or as directed by physician. Dissolve completely in water.”
Is Baking Soda a Good Treatment for Heartburn?
We don’t think people should rely on baking soda for heartburn on a regular basis. It does provide more sodium than most people should be consuming regularly. In particular, people with high blood pressure should use a different method for easing indigestion. Excessive baking soda can be quite dangerous. Emergency physicians have reported a severe case involving bleeding in the brain after a patient consumed an entire box (Hughes et al, Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, Sep. 2016).
For others who need occasional relief, however, the right dose of baking soda can be an inexpensive and fast remedy. To learn more about treating heartburn or acid reflux with remedies or medications, you may wish to consult our Guide to Digestive Disorders.