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April 22, 2018

By Susan Callahan, Featured Columnist

Long before there was anything called the "natural health
industry", we Americans were finding and honing home
remedies for our health problems. One of the all-time
favorites is baking soda, or bicarbonate, as we referred to
it in my home.  Good ol' bicarb was the cure  for almost
everything that ailed the stomach. Ate too much and got

heart burn. Grab the bicarb? Got gas trapped in your
belly? Bicarb and a glass of water will fix you riht up.

In 2017, an interruption in the supply of bicarbonate to
Pfizer caused a health care crisis in the US, temporarily
revealing the massive importance of this simple product to
our health system.  Drug suppliers like Pfizer and Athenex
took the airwaves in a panic reminiscent of World War II,
announcing they were "coordinating a plan with the FDA
to temporarily import an Australian-made injection of
sodium bicarbonate for emergency sales in the U.S."

Pfizer tried to reassure hospitals and the public that it
"would restore all of its sodium bicarbonate products,
including injectable treatments, by the fourth quarter".

Why the panic over bicarbonate shortage?  It turns out
that hospitals use bicarbonate as a treatment for drug
overdoses, renal disease, among others.

But what, if any, are the health dangers of using too much
sodium bicarbonate?  

Too Much Bicarbonate Can Drive Your Blood Pressure Up

Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as salt, drives up
your blood pressure. Just a teaspoon of bicarbonate
contains 1259 milligrams of salt, almost the entire daily
limit of 1500 milligrams prescribed by the American Heart
Association for people on a low salt diet.

When we take bicarbonate, which includes any products
with bicarbonate such as fizzy stomach soothers, vitamins
that are effervescent such as my favorite Vitamin C tablets
or even sodas that fizz, we should always check the total
milligrams of sodium. It is quite easy to slip past the 1500
milligram daily limit.

For example, according to CVS pharmacy, each tablet of
Alka Seltzer Original contains the following active

Anhydrous citric acid 1,000 mg, an antacid.
Aspirin (NSAID*) 325 mg, an analgesic.
Sodium bicarbonate (heat-treated) 1,916 mg, an antacid.

Note that the amount of sodium bicarbonate is 1916
milligrams, something to watch closely if you have high
blood pressure.

My favorite Vitamin C tablet contains about 1000 grams of
sodium bicarbonate, The UK's National Health Service
recently warned people about these fruity flavored fizzy
Vitamin tablets:

“If you're trying to cut down on your salt intake, you
might want to avoid vitamin and mineral supplements that
come as effervescent or fizzy tablets, as they can contain
up to 1g of salt per tablet.”

Here is a good rule of thumb --- If it fizzes, it probably
contains bicarbonate and thus it will contribute to your
daily salt totals. Avoid everything that fizzes if you are
trying to lower your blood pressure.

Too Much Bicarbonate Reduces Your Stomach Acid to
Dangerously Low Levels, Which Can Lead to Poor
Digestion and Skin Problems

Your stomach really is a bag of acid. It used the acid to
digest your food and breakdown certain nutrients so that
they can be absorbed once they enter your intestines.

These nutrients are needed for numerous processes taht
affect all your major systems, cardiovascular, nervous and
even your skin system.

For example, scientists have noticed a high incidence of w
stomach acid in patients with vitiligo, the skin disease that
makes you lose your natural sin pigment; Low stomach
acid, called hypochlorydia, robs the body of the nutrients it
needs to cerate melanin, your skin pigment.

You may notice, after taking too much fizzy Vitamins or
fizzy products that you develop little white spots on your
skin. There is indeed a connection. Opt for liquid vitamins
or solid tablets.

Too Much Bicarbonate Can Lead to or Worsen Anemia

The same studies that connected low stomach acid with
vitiligo also connected low stomach acid with pernicious
anemia.  One such
study was reported in 1971 by
scientists from Finsen Institute, in the United Kingdom
Glostrup Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The study looked at 102 patients with vitiligo. A
surprisingly high number of these patients have no or low
stomach acid status (20 out of 102) as well as high rates
of pernicious anemia.

Baking Soda Can Worsen Osteoporosis

Just as baking soda an interfere with your body's
absorption of iron, it can also interfere with your body's
absorption of calcium, leading to
osteoporosis and bone
, especially as you age.

Too Much Bicarbonate Can Lead to Malnutrition

If you take too much bicarbonate you rob your stomach of
its ability to breakdown nutrients.

Over time, you become malnourished. Anemia is one of the
first signs. You become listless and tired. You may become
sleepy during the daytime.

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