It caught my eyes when I saw an article about a safe way to reduce inflammation by consuming baking soda. Many people know that baking soda, also known as NaHCO3 (Sodium Bicarbonate) has many uses other than baking cookies. It can be used for detergent, toothpaste, cleaning products, and deodorizing refrigerators. My grandma used to use baking soda to wash her eyes. Apparently, there were explanations of medial uses of baking soda in a 1924 Arm & Hammer booklet. So, it has been known for treating different kinds of symptoms. Now, the Journal of Immunology published research funded by the National Institutes of Health, that suggests baking soda water may help enhance your immune system against inflammation.
This is the abstract of the article:
We tested the hypothesis that oral NaHCO3 intake stimulates splenic anti-inflammatory pathways. Following oral NaHCO3 loading, macrophage polarization was shifted from predominantly M1 (inflammatory) to M2 (regulatory) phenotypes, and FOXP3+CD4+ T-lymphocytes increased in the spleen, blood, and kidneys of rats. Similar anti-inflammatory changes in macrophage polarization were observed in the blood of human subjects following NaHCO3 ingestion. Surprisingly, we found that gentle manipulation to visualize the spleen at midline during surgical laparotomy (sham splenectomy) was sufficient to abolish the response in rats and resulted in hypertrophy/hyperplasia of the capsular mesothelial cells. Thin collagenous connections lined by mesothelial cells were found to connect to the capsular mesothelium. Mesothelial cells in these co1nnections stained positive for the pan-neuronal marker PGP9.5 and acetylcholine esterase and contained many ultrastructural elements, which visually resembled neuronal structures. Both disruption of the fragile mesothelial connections or transection of the vagal nerves resulted in the loss of capsular mesothelial acetylcholine esterase staining and reduced splenic mass. Our data indicate that oral NaHCO3 activates a splenic anti-inflammatory pathway and provides evidence that the signals that mediate this response are transmitted to the spleen via a novel neuronal-like function of mesothelial cells.
To paraphrase the abstract of the article in my own understanding, this is what the researchers found:
1.The concentration of macrophages changed from inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory profile.
A macrophage is a large white blood cell. It’s an amoeba-like organism, and its job is to respond to an infection and to clean our body of microscopic debris and invaders. A macrophage has the ability to locate and ‘eat’ particles, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
Diversity and plasticity are two hallmarks of macrophages. M1 macrophages (classically activated macrophages) are pro-inflammatory and have a central role in host defense against infection, while M2 macrophages (alternatively activated macrophages) are associated with responses to anti-inflammatory reactions and tissue remodeling, and they represent two terminals of the full spectrum of macrophage activation. Dr. Paul O’Connor, renal physiologist in the MCG Department of Physiology at Augusta University and the study’s corresponding author said “The shift from inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory profile is happening everywhere, we saw it in the kidneys, we saw it in the spleen, now we see it in the peripheral blood.”
2. More T-cells in the body
T-cells are a type of white blood cell that works with macrophages. There are several different kinds of T-cells; broadly speaking they can be divided into two different types, killer T-cells and helper T-cells. Killer T-cells have ‘X-ray vision’ as they are able to see inside our bodies own cells simply by scanning their surface. This mechanism allows killer T-cells to hunt down and destroy cells that are infected with germs or that have become cancerous. Helper T-cells assist other white blood cells in immunologic processes, including maturation of B cells into plasma cells and memory B cells, and activation of cytotoxic T cells (killer T-cells) and macrophages. Helper T-cells help suppress or regulate immune responses.
As a result of the baking soda, scientists saw an increase in Helper T-cells in the kidney, blood, and spleen. which drive down the immune response and help keep the immune system from attacking our own tissues.
3. The key to these positive effects is mesothelial cells.
The baking soda appears to signal to the spleen’s mesothelial cells (provide a slippery, non-adhesive and protective surface. ) — that there’s no need to mount a protective immune response.
“It’s most likely a hamburger, not a bacterial infection,” is basically the message, says Dr. Paul O’Connor. Mesothelial cells is that they are neuron-like, (but not neurons). “We think the cholinergic (acetylcholine) signals that we know mediate this anti-inflammatory response aren’t coming directly from the vagal nerve innervating the spleen, but from the mesothelial cells that form these connections to the spleen,” O’Connor says. The scientists tested that if the spleen is removed or just moved, it broke the mesothelial connections and the anti-inflammatory response was lost.
This discovery of baking soda may give hope to those who suffer from autoimmune disease and/or inflammation. I am so impressed that this staple household item can do so much for our health! If you consider taking baking soda, I highly recommend that you work with health professionals who can monitor you especially those of you who are currently taking medications. Here are some links to guidelines for taking baking soda orally.