The People's Perspective on Medicine

Why Would a Veterinary Office Use Coca-Cola?

One home remedy uses the acidic beverage to clear out clogged drains. Its medical use? Help dislodge a piece of food stuck in the esophagus.

For decades, we have been warning people not to drink sugar-sweetened soda pop. Not only is it bad for teeth, those liquid calories sneak in too easily and add up too readily. However, we recently wrote about using a swig of Coca-Cola as a medically approved therapeutic approach. Soon afterward, another reader told us about a very different use for the soft drink.

Coca-Cola for the Dogs’ Bath Tub?

Q. You recently wrote that drinking Coca-Cola could help free a piece of meat stuck in the swallowing tube. This stuff unclogs sink traps, so I guess it is plausible that it might dislodge meat.

A zillion years ago, I worked at a veterinary office. On Saturdays after we finished with dog baths, we were told to pour a liter bottle of Coke down the bath tub drain and let it sit until Monday morning. That bath tub always drained beautifully!

I would like to point out that we have teeth for the purpose of chewing food before swallowing it. There are no teeth inside the digestive tract past the mouth. So–slow down and chew your food well before swallowing and it shouldn’t get stuck.

Coke to Free a Stuck Piece of Food:

A. A reader told us that a large piece of meat got stuck while he was swallowing it. A swig of cold Coca-Cola freed it. To our surprise we found reference to this approach in the medical literature (Gastroenterology Research and Practice, online Nov. 18, 2013).

This remedy is not appropriate if the person has trouble breathing. In that kind of emergency, call 911 for EMS and use the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the food blocking the airway.

Food should always be chewed thoroughly. If the Coke remedy doesn’t work, emergency medical treatment (endoscopy) will be needed to retrieve the offending piece of food.

We were fascinated by the idea that the acid in cola could dissolve dog fur. Although we found plenty of stories online, we couldn’t corroborate this technique for keeping the drains clear.

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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. .
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I think “the bubbly strong fizz” is the answer. Kind of like peroxide, it fizzes things loose. Sometimes, actually often, the coke fizz is extra strong compared to the fizz in regular soda pop. Peroxide sort of does the same thing; it fizzes things loose. But–I think–and I only think it–it is just the fizz. And it is easier to say ‘coke’ than it is to say ‘strawberry pop” when we need a fizz (or any fruity flavor). And it is easier to say, and cheaper to use, ‘coke’ when strawberry pop or peroxide would also work. I only ‘think’ this, but I do think it.

Want to know what Coke does to your stomach? Put a nail in a glass of Coke, and watch it for a couple days. Also, Coke is good to clean off the gunk on windshields, BUT DON’T let it get on the paint!

There was a jug of Coke syrup in our family pharmacy in the 70’s-80’s. No fizz, just the thick syrup. It was dispensed then for stomach ailments.

i need a aid for diverticulitis attack

Hi, I use liquid yogurt not solid. I’ll drink a litre at least. It calms my symptoms.

I actually did the Coke trick to myself in 2002 when I got a piece of chicken caught in my lower esophagus. I knew which surgeon was on call at my hospital. No way was I going to let him near me. I got a bottle of Coke out & started sipping on it. Took about an hour & suddenly the chicken went down. Turns out I had an esophageal stricture secondary to reflux. Got that dilated and grabbed some Prilosec. Been good to go ever since

I was told some years ago that the State Highway Patrol troopers in many states carry a case of Coca Cola in their trunks. They use it to wash blood off the highway after a traffic accident.
That is a lot better use for Coca Cola than us drinking it!!
Thanks for all your good research.

i heard this before!

Just an example of another use for Coca Cola–my mother used it to remove the old finish on a wooden table she was refinishing.

Many years ago,I worked at the Boston Naval Shipyard. For use in ship repairs , many large sheets of steel were stored outside and developed a coating of salt and rust . Coca-cola was used to clean the rust off when the steel was ready to be used.

There is another great use for Coke but I remember because I take tamazapam and have for a number of years, short term memory is shot!!

I was born in 1941, premature at under 5 pounds. My frequent projectile vomiting prevented needed weight gain . The problem according to the doctor was a flap of skin between my esophagus and stomach blocking food passage. He gave me Coca-Cola to eliminate the problem, which it did.

Even to cleaning the corrosion around a battery terminal. Very good.

Does it have to be Coke or does any bubbly soft drink work? Will diet carbonated drinks work as well?

A health practitioner I know used PepsiCola (copious amounts) to dissolve kidney stones.

A couple of years ago, I had a “simple, out-patient hernia repair” which went bad, resulting in a stay in ICU, hospital, and rehab of 7 weeks. As part of being there, my esophagus shut down, and a feeding tube was installed just below my sternum. I was told that if the feeding tube became clogged, to use Coke to clear it — very specifically Coke and no other carbonated drink. Luckily for me, but a black eye for the medical staff who ordered the tube, it was never used. Sadly, the whole experience was another example of how doctors can mess up.

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