Sodium bicarbonate

background

Sodium bicarbonate is created from a reaction between sodium chloride, ammonia, and carbon dioxide in water. It easily dissolves in water, but not in alcohol, according to some sources.
Sodium bicarbonate is also called baking soda and has been used to treat ulcers and upset stomach. There is strong evidence supporting the use of sodium bicarbonate for preventing kidney disease or damage caused by contrast dye used during medical imaging. The use of sodium bicarbonate for relieving pain associated with the injection of anesthesia is also supported by strong scientific evidence. There is good evidence supporting the use of sodium bicarbonate for the removal of earwax. Sodium bicarbonate has also been used to remove dental plaque and treat conditions such as diarrhea, poisoning, and excess acid in body fluids. Strong evidence in support of other uses is lacking. There may be negative side effects associated with sodium bicarbonate when used to revive people from unconsciousness or to treat excess acid in the body fluids.
Overall, more research is needed on the safety of sodium bicarbonate.

Related Terms

The information in this bottom line is based on studies and reviews of sodium bicarbonate. There are different types of sodium available in the diet, medications, and other sources, but this bottom line focuses on sodium bicarbonate. It does not focus on sodium benzoate, sodium chloride, sodium phenylacetate, sodium ascorbate, sodium acetate, or other sodium salts. There may be uses, safety issues, side effects, and interactions linked to other forms of sodium that are not discussed in this bottom line. For more information, please view the Natural Standard bottom line on sodium chloride.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
 
Kidney disorders (Grade: A)
Sodium bicarbonate has been used alone and in combination with other agents to help reduce damage or disease to the kidneys caused by the use of a contrast dye during medical imaging. Many studies found positive effects, including significant differences in the rate of kidney problems between people given sodium bicarbonate and those given other agents. There are a number of reviews on the effects of sodium bicarbonate on kidney injury caused by contrast dye.
Pain (Grade: A)
Many studies and reviews have looked at the use of sodium bicarbonate as a buffer to prevent excess acid, and, when given with anesthesia, it consistently reduced pain associated with the treatment.
Ears (earwax removal) (Grade: B)
The use of sodium bicarbonate drops has been shown to help remove earwax in many available studies. Benefits include increased removal of wax, reduced need for further removal, and satisfaction with treatment.
Exercise performance (Grade: B)
Studies have found that sodium bicarbonate may have a small but positive effect on sprinting performance in men. Other benefits include improved overall exercise performance, time to exhaustion, total work, performance time, and power. More research is needed on the effects of sodium bicarbonate in women.
Acidosis (Grade: C)
In general, studies looking at the effects of sodium bicarbonate on acidosis (excess acid in the body fluids) have found mixed or negative results. One review reported that solid evidence is lacking and that sodium bicarbonate may have negative effects on levels of fluid, sodium, and lactate, while other studies suggested that it may negatively affect some aspects of heart health. More research is needed, especially in the elderly, infants, and people who have certain types of acidosis.
Diarrhea (Grade: C)
Sodium bicarbonate has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of diarrhea with loss of sodium bicarbonate in adults and children. Some studies report that sodium bicarbonate is as effective as sodium citrate for rehydration and treatment of acidosis caused by diarrheal dehydration.
Fluid in the lungs (Grade: C)
A review reports that sodium bicarbonate is commonly used to treat fluid in the lungs. However, more research is needed in this area.
Infant development / neonatal care (Grade: C)
Sodium bicarbonate may lack significant effects on survival rates before hospital discharge, nervous system disorders, brain disease or disorders, hemorrhage, or seizures in newborn babies. Information is limited, and more research is needed.
Metabolic abnormalities (Grade: C)
In people who have cystinuria (stones in the bladder, kidney, or ureter), the acidity of urine may decrease similarly in those given sodium bicarbonate and those given potassium citrate. More research is needed.
Plaque (Grade: C)
Some studies suggest that toothpaste that contains baking soda may remove plaque more effectively than toothpaste that does not contain baking soda in hard-to-reach places in the mouth. However, further research is needed.
Poisoning (Grade: C)
A number of studies report mixed results when sodium bicarbonate is used to treat poisoning resulting from antidepressants, pesticides, and other agents. However, information is limited and of poor quality, and more research is needed.