Sodium bicarbonate—commonly known as baking soda—is derived from naturally occurring mineral deposits. It’s something 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. This humble powder has many more applications than you might imagine. It can be 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.
Chances are that you’re familiar with taking a little baking soda in water to clear a sudden case of indigestion. Its alkalinity 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 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. A Dr. Volney S. Cheney used it as far back as the late 1910s. With the help of plain old baking soda, the good doctor helped many of his patients fight off the dreaded swine flu—with great 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 in between.
- Day 2: Take four doses of ½ a teaspoon baking soda in a glass of cool water, with the same intervals in 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.
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, and apply it 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 foot soak. Or make a paste of 3:1 ratio of baking soda to water and use as an all-over body exfoliant.
We 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 shampoo to clear any buildup of impurities, so your 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 it will clear the inside of a porcelain cup. Just wet the inside, pour some into the bottom, and scrub. Coffee and tea stains will disappear. Give a few of these things a try. You may become as enthusiastic about this humble powder as we are.