Drinking baking soda could safely combat autoimmune diseases

May 22, 2018

A daily drink of baking soda may help reduce the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Type 1 diabetes, and psoriasis, Medical College of Georgia scientists have reported in The Journal of Immunology.

“It’s potentially a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease,” said Dr. Paul O’Connor, a renal physiologist in the MCG Department of Physiology at Augusta University and the study’s corresponding author.

The researchers found evidence that the cheap, over-the-counter antacid can encourage the spleen to promote an anti-inflammatory environment that could be therapeutic in the face of inflammatory diseases.

They have shown that when rats or healthy people drink a solution of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, it becomes a trigger for the stomach to make more acid to digest the next meal and for little-studied mesothelial cells sitting on the spleen “to tell” the fist-sized organ that there is no need to mount a protective immune response.

“It’s most likely a hamburger not a bacterial infection [that is activating the immune response],” is basically the message, says Dr. O’Connor.

The conversation, which occurs with the help of the chemical messenger acetylcholine, appears to promote a landscape that shifts against inflammation, they report.

The researchers found that, after drinking water with baking soda for two weeks, the population of immune cells called macrophages in the spleen, as well as in the blood and kidneys, shifted from primarily those that promote inflammation, called M1, to those that reduce it, called M2 Macrophages.

“The shift from inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory profile is happening everywhere,” O’Connor says. “We saw it in the kidneys, we saw it in the spleen, now we see it in the peripheral blood.”

 The scientists also saw a shift in other immune cell types, like more regulatory T cells, which generally drive down the immune response and help keep the immune system from attacking our own tissues. That anti-inflammatory shift was sustained for at least four hours in humans and three days in rats.

Research contact: tbaker@augusta.edu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *