The People's Perspective on Medicine

What Is the Right Dose of Baking Soda?

Do you know the right dose of baking soda to calm your indigestion? Sodium-sensitive people need to be careful not to take too much.

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.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
Digestive Disorders
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I have found that simple yellow mustard works wonderfully for indigestion. My son was found to have “silent reflux” as a child. Doctor prescribed PPI-class drug. When I discussed this with my uncle, a pharmacist, he cautioned against giving a PPI drug to a child due to potential bone issues and referred me to the Peoples Pharmacy site for more reading. We immediately ceased the PPI and have used the yellow mustard for years (an idea posted on the PP site). It has worked like a charm for my son. He also will eat ginger slices, which also help greatly.

In terms of baking soda, it is a great home remedy. I am mildly hypertensive so I do work to watch my daily sodium load. One interesting use of baking soda that may be emerging seems to be to “turn the body more alkaline” in order to help manage certain auto-immune disorders. It also seems to help preserve kidney function and mitigate bone mass loss in older folks. Ran across some recent research from the Medical College of Georgia on the topic and have included a link below.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180425093745.htm

@Peoples Pharmacy -THANK YOU for all the great work you do!!!!

For those who are sodium sensitive, & who do not have issues with potassium, a little KHCO3 can help the heartburn. Potassium bicarb is not as ubiquitous in our kitchens, but it can be found online or at a homebrew store. KHCO3 is also very good for bones/osteoporosis.

Shouldn’t people be trying to figure out what causes their heartburn, upset stomachs and GERD? It is obviously something they are ingesting. Or am I being too simple? Don’t eat things that upset your stomach.

I like Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) for heartburn. It has a nice licorice taste and works quite well. The chemical in licorice that causes elevated blood pressure, is taken out of it.

Tums always help me.

Baking Soda is great stuff, works on burns and wounds also. I have had GERD all my life due to the pyloric valve malfunction where the esophagus enters the stomach and used Rolaids and Baking Soda to relieve the burning. EGD exam discovered that I have “Barretts” Disease from years of GERD. Now I have to take NEXIUM for the rest of my life. I inherited this condition from my father.

I very seldom have heartburn or upset stomach but when I do I take 1/4 tsp in about 1/2 glass of warm water and within minutes I get relief. For me it works way better and faster than any OTC that I have tried in past years.

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