Q: I seem to recall that Grandma used baking soda for lots of things around the house, for brushing her teeth, cleaning the pans and even drinking it sometimes. Is it really as versatile as it seemed? ………...Jane, Webster
A: Indeed, few things around the house are as versatile as baking soda. With the advent of all the ’new’ inventions in the last 75 years the usefulness of the more simple things has been overlooked and forgotten. Use of baking soda, or the nahcolite part of the natural mineral natron, dates back to pre Egyptian times. The form we know today was first sold in 1846 and became popular when cookbooks started adding it as an ingredient to their books. Here is a partial list of some of the totally natural things an inexpensive box of baking soda can do for you and your budget.
Starting at the top, baking soda is great at removing buildup of hair products like hairspray, conditioner, mousses and sprays. Use it in emergency cases as a dry shampoo, comb it through your hair and fluff with a hair dryer. After swimming in a chlorine pool, remove the chlorine from your hair with 1/2 teaspoon in a pint of water and it will remove the dullness and discoloration. Hair spray and hair products collect on your combs and brushes. Soak them in a sink of warm water with 3 tablespoons of baking soda(BS) and scrub lightly to get all the dirt off.
Hands—you can remove fish, onion or garlic odors with a solution of 3 parts BS and 1 part water or liquid soap. Rub the mixture with your hands and rinse off. If you clean your fingernails and toenails with a little BS on a toothbrush your nails will be clean and the cuticles softer.
Rough skin—on your elbows or knees or feet can be smoothed away with a paste of BS and water. Use the paste to soothe bee stings, poison ivy, and other skin irritations. For a sunburn add BS to water and soak a dampened washcloth on the area. One half a cup of baking soda in a bathtub will make a relaxing bath and soften the skin in the process. For relieving itchy wintery skin add some baby oil into the water as well. If you don’t have time for a bath dip your washcloth in a quart of water with 4 TBSPs of BS added to it. If you favor natural deodorant solutions use a little cornstarch first and then add a layer of baking soda for long lasting protection. Don’t forget to use it in the baby’s bathe to soothe diaper irritations and dry skin.
Keeping a box of baking soda in your bathroom seems like a great idea now doesn’t it? In addition to bathing and cleaning it can also be used for keeping your mouth and gums clean and odor free. Teeth cleaning—sprinkle a little BS into your palm and dip a damp toothbrush in it, then brush your teeth. If you prefer to make an actual toothpaste you can use this formula : Mix 3 parts BS with 1 part salt, add 3 tsps. of glycerin and 10 20 drops of flavoring (peppermint, wintergreen, anise or cinnamon). Stir and spoon into a small refillable squeeze bottle. Dentures— and other dental appliances can be cleaned using BS and a wet toothbrush, soaking them in a solution of BS and water also work wonderfully well.
This Teeth-Whitening recipe sounds intriguing. For a natural way to whiten teeth, crush one ripe strawberry and mix it with 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda. Spread the mixture onto your teeth and leave on for five minutes. Then brush your teeth and rinse. This method should not be used more than once a week, excessive use could potentially damage your tooth enamel.
A little BS and water on your face cloth will gently clean and exfoliate your skin after cleaning with soap and water. Rinse off and your skin will be smoother and softer. Guys can use BS as a pre shave solution or a soothing aftershave rinse. Razor burns can be soothed instantly with a BS and water paste.
Not only does baking soda have tons of uses outside the body it also has useful and effective internal uses. Drinking baking soda, or bicarbonate powder, dissolved in water is a folk remedy that has been used for many generations to alleviate the symptoms of indigestion, heartburn, infections, arthritis and many other problems. Due to the changing eating patterns of most Americans, using baking internally is becoming even more important. The fast food, refined and processed prepared foods we eat create a more acidic environment in the body, which compromises the immune system and causes a variety of other problems that would fill more than one of our Health columns.
According to “Human Biochemistry and Disease” Gerald Litwack, drinking BS dissolved in water is a quick and affordable method of neutralizing the effects of an acidic diet or meal. Baking soda is readily dissolved in water and quickly absorbed in the intestines thus facilitating rapid relief from acid reflex, indigestion or an upset stomach. The alkalinity that occurs with drinking BS can dissolve painful uric acid crystals of gout and relieve the inflammation of arthritis.
Baking soda dissolved in water is best taken between meals. Taking it with meals will reduce it’s effectiveness. One or two teaspoons of baking soda in an eight ounce glass of purified water twice a day is a common recommendation for people wanting to increase the alkalinity of their body. A complementary addition to the BS beverage is a slice of lemon or lime, a strongly alkaline fruit that adds a little flavor.
Here is an interesting quote from “Arm and Hammer Baking Soda Medical Uses,” published in 1924 in which Dr. Volney S Cheney recounts his clinical successes with sodium bicarbonate in treating colds and flu. “In 1918 and 1919 while fighting the ‘flu’ with the U.S. Public Health Service it was brought to my attention that rarely anyone who had been thoroughly alkalinized with bicarbonate of soda contracted the disease, and those who did contract it, if alkalinized early, would invariably have mild attacks…”
Recommended dosages from the Arm & Hammer Company for golds and influenza back in 1925 were: Day 1—Take six doses of 1/2 tsp of baking soda in glass of cool water, at about two-hour intervals Day 2—Take four doses of 1/2 tsp of baking soda in glass of cool water, at the same intervals Day 3—Take two doses of 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water morning and evening, and thereafter 1/2 tsp in glass of cool water each morning until cold symptoms are gone. Note: Other sources indicate symptoms will be gone within 36 hrs.
Hopefully this will inspire you to go out and get some baking soda and take advantage of all it’s natural healing properties.
NATURAL HEALING staff gathers information from many reliable sources and publications validating the information as much as possible. Column editor Magdalena Dakin is a certified Healing Practitioner working with people from all walks of life to help them gain and maintain their optimum health.