Sodium bicarbonate—commonly known as baking soda or bicarbonate of soda—is derived from naturally occurring mineral deposits. It’s something that most of us keep around the house for cleaning or, as its name suggests, baking purposes. It’s been used in this way for more than 150 years. I personally use it to clean my teeth, and it works a treat. But this humble powder has many more applications than you might imagine. It can become a common cure for simple maladies, ranging from removing nasty splinters to clearing a common cold. In this day and age, where drugs of questionable safety are thrust upon us for just about every ailment, it’s a relief to know you can call on an inexpensive, old-fashioned natural product for help when you need it.
GOOD FOR COMMON COMPLAINTS
Chances are, you’re familiar with taking a little baking soda(bicarbonate of soda) in water to clear a sudden case of indigestion. Its alkalinity (or high pH) lends itself well to this purpose when used occasionally. You can also use it to take the fire out of minor burns and sunburns, as its endothermic (heat-absorbing) nature means it can draw heat from the skin. But here’s a less common use for this humble powder. Did you know that it can even be used to fight—as well as prevent—colds and flu? Many attest to its efficiency, though it’s not yet known for sure how it works to ward off ills and chills. One theory is that it stabilizes the pH balance in the bloodstream, strengthening the immune system in the process. It was used as far back as the late 1910s by a Dr. Volney S. Cheney. With the help of plain old baking soda, the good doctor helped many of his patients fight off the dreaded fight swine flu—with quite some success. He then went on to publish his discovery in 1924. You might like to try it for yourself next time you feel you’re coming down with something, and see what happens. It certainly won’t do you any harm. For, unlike pharmaceuticals, Dr Cheney’s treatment carries no nasty side-effects.
The recommended dosages based on Cheney’s findings are as follows.
- Day 1: Take six doses of ½ a teaspoon baking soda in a glass of cool water, with two hour intervals.
- Day 2: Take four doses of ½ a teaspoon baking soda in a glass of cool water, with the same intervals between.
- Day 3: Take two doses of ½ a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of cool water, morning and evening.
- Thereafter, ½ a teaspoon each morning in a glass of cool water until cold symptoms have cleared.
AND WAIT—THERE’S MORE
Baking soda’s marvelous healing abilities don’t end there.
Got a troublesome splinter? Try making a paste with a tablespoon of soda and a small amount of water, applying to the affected area twice daily until the splinter emerges. Alternatively, you can put the paste onto a bandage and leave it on for 24 hours. This should encourage the splinter to the surface; it may even fall out on its own.
Stop an itch. You can also apply this type of paste to insect bites to soothe itching, or to itchy or painful rashes such as from poison ivy.
Natural deodorant. Try using it as a natural deodorant—you’ll avoid the nasty parabens and aluminum found in most commercial types.
Great foot soak. Add a few tablespoons to a tub of warm to hot water and enjoy a delightful foot soak; or make a paste of 3:1 baking soda to water and use as an all-over body exfoliant.
MASTER OF ALL TRADES
Is there anything practical that baking soda can’t do? You may well ask. I continue to find new uses for this stuff like freshening carpets with baking soda and some essential oils, mixing it with white vinegar, a bit of dish soap and warm water to create a heavy duty floor cleaner, and mixing a dash of the powder with my shampoo to clear any buildup of impurities, so my hair becomes soft and manageable. It will even remove crayon marks from walls and painted furniture when you apply it to a damp sponge and rub lightly, and will clear the inside of a porcelain cup. Just wet the inside, pour some into the bottom and scrub. Coffee and tea stains disappear. Finally, you can make your nails ready for the perfect manicure by scrubbing them and the cuticles with a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Rub in a gentle, circular motion over your hands and fingers to exfoliate any dead skin. Then rinse with warm water, and apply varnish if you wish. Give a few of these things a try. You may become as enthusiastic about this humble powder as I am.