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Medicinal uses of an old standby - baking soda.

MEDICINAL USES OF AN OLD STANDBY - BAKING SODA

In this age of "wonder drugs" - especially those that make us wonder why they cost so much - it is heartening to know that some of the least expensive items on the market are still going strong. Aspirin, for example, is one of the cheapest drugs available, yet it has remarkably varied medicinal properties. Another household standby, whether kept in the kitchen cabinet or the bathroom medicine chest, is baking soda (not to be confused with baking powder, of which baking soda is one of the ingredients).

The foremost use of baking soda - bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate to the chemist - is probably as an antacid, either in its pure form or as the acid-fighting component of certain antacids that "fizz." Unlike many antacids, sodium bicarbonate does not contain aluminum, but it does, of course, contain sodium and should thus be used sparingly, or not at all, by persons on a low-salt diet. Sodium bicarbonate neutralizes stomach acid, producing carbon dioxide gas in the process - the cause of that good-feeling "burp" that follows its use. Note, however, a warning that now appears on the box of the best-selling brand as the result of a bizarre accident that occurred a few years ago. It seems that a man who took baking soda for his indigestion after consuming a large quantity of Mexican food literally blew a hole in his already-overstretched stomach - with near-fatal results! The instructions on the box now read: "Do not ingest food, liquid or any antacid when stomach is overly full to avoid possible injury to the stomach."

A paste of three parts baking soda to one part water smeared directly on the skin relieves irritation from insect bites or rashes. Added to one's bath, the paste can also relieve overall itching. One more caution: do not use it on a baby's diaper to relieve diaper rash, lest the irritated skin absorb the bicarbonate and change the little one's delicate acid-base balance. It is also excellent for brushing teeth because it is less abrasive than most toothpastes, and there is some evidence that it may help prevent gum disease. It also makes a good gargle, and, just as it absorbs moisture and deodorizes your refrigerator, it can do the same under the arms or in the toes when those areas are dusted with a mixture of cornstarch and baking soda.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jan 1, 1990
Words:400
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