APR 26, 2018 08:44 AM PDT

A Daily Dose of Baking Soda to Treat Autoimmune Disease

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

A simple solution of baking soda and water could help people treat autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, according to recent findings from scientists at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.

Dr. Paul O'Connor, renal physiologist in the lab at the Medical College of Georgia Department of Physiology at Augusta University. Credit: Phil Jones, Senior Photographer, Augusta University

Excessive inflammation is the foundation of most autoimmune diseases, where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own cells as if they were pathogenic. The new study shows that baking soda can reduce inflammation and rouse organs like the spleen to develop an anti-inflammatory environment instead of a pro-inflammatory environment.

Baking soda has this effect on inflammation first because of its reaction with the stomach. The stomach recognizes consumption of a baking soda solution as an indication that it’s time to produce more acid in preparation for meal digestion. Mesothelial cells, which prevent organs from rubbing together by sitting on their surfaces, prevent the spleen from mounting an immune response during this time. As far as they know, the stomach is simply preparing to digest an incoming meal.

Scientists theorize that mesothelial cells are communicating - via a chemical messenger called acetylcholine - the message that, because of the stomach’s digestive response to the baking soda solution, the spleen doesn’t need to worry about a pathogenic invasion.

"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," explained corresponding author Dr. Paul O’Connor.

The spleen’s main function is to filter blood. It stores several types of immune cells like macrophages, which are phagocytic cells that engulf and digest pathogens. In addition to acting as a buffer between organs of the body, mesothelial cells are capable of sensing changes in the environment, raising the alarm in event of a pathogenic invasion warranting an immune response.

In a study with both rats and healthy people, researchers found that after drinking a baking soda solution for two weeks, the macrophage population shifted from M1, or pro-inflammatory macrophages, to M2, or anti-inflammatory macrophages, in the spleen, blood, and kidneys. Researchers also observed increased production of regulatory T cells, which help balance the immune response so it doesn’t overreact, causing autoimmune disease, or underreact, letting an infection run rampant. The anti-inflammatory “shift” was preserved for at least four hours in humans and three days in rats.

Why is it also important to have anti-inflammatory macrophages in the kidneys? This pair of organs plays the role of balancing acid, potassium, and sodium; kidney disease results when these organs cannot effectively keep the balance of these compounds. Kidney disease can increase the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Increased levels of anti-inflammatory macrophages in the kidneys has been shown to slow the progression of kidney disease.

"You are not really turning anything off or on, you are just pushing it toward one side by giving an anti-inflammatory stimulus," O’Connor concluded. "It's potentially a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease."

The present study was published in the Journal of Immunology.

Sources: The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 02, 2018
Immunology
AUG 02, 2018
Chronic Infections Outsmart the Immune System
Chronic parasitic infection shown to take advantage of a mechanism to sustain infection and induce death of white blood cells essential to immune response....
AUG 17, 2018
Health & Medicine
AUG 17, 2018
Is Influenza Different in Obese Patients?
There are many health risks for obese patients. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some forms of cancer. The immune system can be disrupted when a p...
AUG 20, 2018
Immunology
AUG 20, 2018
Photosensitivity Linked to Immune Cell Dysfunction
The Langerhans cells of the immune system activate cytokines essential for skin protection when exposed to UV that is functional in photosensitive individuals....
SEP 03, 2018
Immunology
SEP 03, 2018
Insulin Boosts the Immune System
Insulin boosts T cells to better fight infection and bolster the immune response....
OCT 14, 2018
Immunology
OCT 14, 2018
Malaria Vesicles Activating Immune Responses
Red blood cells infected with malaria will secrete small vesicles that activate pathogen receptors...
NOV 12, 2018
Neuroscience
NOV 12, 2018
Role Of Choroid Plexus Protein Klotho In Aging
Inflammaging, describes the increase in an inflammatory alteration in the brain, due to aging and predicts the morbidity and mortality in older humans....
Loading Comments...