Baking soda: The next big thing in autoimmune disease treatment?

Baking soda is a useful thing to have around. You can use it for baking, cleaning, brushing your teeth, relieving bug bites, keeping your fridge fresh and more.

You can even mix a tiny bit of baking soda in a glass of water and drink it to relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of acid reflux.

But what if baking soda’s potential goes far beyond the fridge, toothbrush or a little acid reflux relief?

Researchers from Medical College of Georgia believe that it might. In fact, they think it could help one of the biggest health challenges of our time… autoimmune diseases.

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The unexpected answer to autoimmunity

When you have an autoimmune disease, your body starts responding to foods or substances in your environment as if they’re a dangerous virus or bacteria. It mounts an unnecessary immune response that attacks your own tissues and organs.

But researchers from Medical College of Georgia found that a bit of baking soda may be able to stop this harmful immune response. In their research, rats and healthy people who drank a baking soda solution had an interesting reaction in their spleen…

Their spleens’ mesothelial cells (cells that line the spleen, and other body cavities and organs) told the spleen that it didn’t need to mount an immune response.

Past research has shown that mesothelial cells have little fingers called microvilli, which sense what’s going on around them and warn your organs when they perceive a threat like bacteria or a virus. But a bit of baking soda encouraged these cells to send out the “A-OK” signal to the spleen, so it didn’t send out immune cells that would attack the body.

The spleen, in case you don’t know, is part of your immune system. It filters your blood and stores some white blood cells.

The simple act of drinking water and baking soda for two weeks, also impacted inflammation levels in a positive way. White blood cells in the spleen, blood and kidneys switched from an inflammatory kind called M1 to an anti-inflammatory kind called M2. These immune cells — known as macrophages — are usually the first to arrive on the scene when your body initiates an immune response.

So, it seems, baking soda positively impacts the immune system in more than one way. The question is… should you try it?

Is baking soda beneficial?

It’s too premature to say that baking soda can prevent or treat autoimmune diseases. There needs to be more research, preferably some that includes people with autoimmune diseases. But this study proves it has promise.

You can take a bit of baking soda on occasion if you’d like. It’s harmless if you take small doses. But you can poison yourself if you take too much. So, only take a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon in a glass of water. Baking soda is alkaline, so a lot of people take it regularly, because they believe it counteracts the effects of an overly acidic diet.

If you’re looking for proven ways to prevent or improve autoimmune diseases right now, there are other avenues to consider. You can start by:

  • Taking a look at your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is tied to an increased risk of many autoimmune diseases. And there’s even some research that shows high doses of vitamin D can help people with autoimmune diseases. So, talk to a trusted healthcare professional about exploring the benefits of vitamin D for autoimmune disease prevention or treatment.
  • Eating a healthy, whole food diet. Many people have prevented or improved autoimmune diseases by eating diets that include lots of fresh, whole foods. In fact, Terry Wahls reversed her secondary progressive MS by eating a paleo-inspired diet.
  • Exercising regularly. Exercising can be hard for people with autoimmune diseases, but research shows that it lowers the inflammation that fuels these diseases. You don’t have to do intense workouts… 15 to 30 minutes of walking, yoga or tai chi should do the trick.
  • Reducing stress. Stress and autoimmune diseases are closely connected. Stressful life events often happen before someone is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. And it you’re able to get your autoimmune disease into remission, research shows that stress can trigger a relapse. So, cut unnecessary stress out of your life now. You can also spend time every day destressing through meditation, listening to music, spending time in nature or anything else that makes you feel calm and relaxed.

Some better known autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and Parkinson’s.

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  1. Drinking baking soda could be an inexpensive, safe way to combat autoimmune disease: study — MedicalXpress. April 26, 2018.
  2. C. Ray, et al. “Oral NaHCO3Activates a Splenic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway: Evidence That Cholinergic Signals Are Transmitted via Mesothelial Cells.” — The Journal of Immunology, 2018.
  3. Stress as a trigger of autoimmune diseaseAutoimmunity Reviews
  4. Does baking soda work as treatment for acid reflux? —
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine,, and