Although researchers are still at an early stage of their testing, a new study is promising for people with autoimmune disease. There is the potential that something as simple as a daily dose of soda in water could reduce the inflammation of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. But there is still much to do.
Researchers at the Augusta University Medical College of Georgia found that rats or healthy people who digest a gastric acid solution of sodium bicarbonate and water cause the stomach to produce more acid to prepare for digestion.
In addition, they hypothesize that the solution causes the spleen to stay calm rather than build a protective immune response. The researchers found that mesothelial cells are responsible for mediating the body's signals in this way.
Mesothelial cells line all organs, including the spleen, and help them glide effortlessly against each other. They also work as immune cells.
"We think they talk and tell the spleen what to do
Dr. Paul O'Neill, a kidney physiologist at the Georgia Department of Physiology at Augusta University and lead author of the study, tells MNN.
When baking soda, these cells can tell the organ that there is no reason to launch an attack.
These cells soothe the spleen's immune response and say, "It's probably a hamburger, not a bacterial infection," says O & Connor. Thus, the spleen does not activate an army of white blood cells and instead promotes an anti-inflammatory environment.
How It Works Probably
Clinical studies have shown that baking soda can slow the progression of kidney disease. Therefore, O & Connor and his team have begun to explore how baking soda contributes. From there they switched to the spleen.
"We allowed our rodents to drink baking soda for a kidney study, and we found that we had an anti-inflammatory response in the kidney and realized that the spleen probably had the same mechanism," he says.
The vagus nerve, a large cranial nerve that controls things like heart rate and digestion, stimulates gastric acid secretion. Researchers think baking soda works the same way.
"We probably think that when you drink baking soda, it also stimulates gastric acid secretion because you have to put the stomach in a more acidic condition," says O & Connor. "Maybe this mechanism signals the spleen if you've eaten something, we think it works that way, but it's a vivid speculation."
The team's first study was published in the Journal of Immunology.
Dr. Paul O & # 39; Connor, Renal Physiologist, works in the laboratory of the Medical College of Georgia. (Photo: Phil Jones, Senior Photographer / Augusta University)
Why not drink baking soda now
Although the idea is intriguing, do not mix backsoda cocktails at this time. Many people have asked O & # Connor about dosages, and he told them to put the brakes on. So far, the baking powder solution has only been tested on rodents and people without inflammation.
"It could have potential, but there is no data behind it," he says. "Whether it can have a significant effect or not, we do not know, there will be more tests."
There is no advantage in trying it in the meantime, he says. Baking soda has a high sodium content, which is associated with heart, kidney and other problems.
"You should not start drinking soda and water without consulting a doctor, I certainly would not advise people to try this at home," he says.
At present, people with autoimmune problems are treating inflammation with medications, and sometimes alternative treatments such as turmeric are being considered, says rheumatologist Rajat Bhatt, MD of Kadlec Rheumatology in Kennewick, Washington, who was not involved in the study.
Bhatt tells MNN that it's too early to speculate if research has the potential to prevent inflammation.
"Research needs to be tested in clinical trials," he says. "[It’s] based on rat studies on preliminary."
O & Connor believes, however, that the research is promising, because if it works, it could provide a safe alternative to drugs.
"You do not really turn off or on, you just push it on its side by giving it an anti-inflammatory stimulus," he says in this case away from harmful inflammation. "It may be a really safe way to treat inflammatory diseases."