This page about baking soda for gout was last reviewed, or updated, on 12 August 2010.
TERMINOLOGY Baking soda: U.S. English; Bicarbonate of soda: British and Commonwealth English; aka Sodium bicarbonate. Chemical name - Sodium Bicarbonate.
If you have entered www.best-gout-remedies.com at this page please note this is the second of our two main editorial pages about baking soda and gout. There is a link to the first below under the search box.
"That alkalies are useful in treating acute attacks of gout is a fact recognized by almost every physician and the exhibition of these remedies in these cases is very common."
Sir Alfred Garrod, in the 1862 edition of The Nature and Treatment of Gout and Rheumatic Gout. He was the first person to know why an excess of uric acid in the blood frequently causes gout.
A SAFE DOSE
The real problem with baking soda for gout is that ½ a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate in eight fl.ozs of water is about ¼ of your daily RDA of sodium. (Sodium chloride or table salt - see the sodium in baking soda table further on). Half a teaspoon contains around 629 mg of sodium and the sodium RDA of the country you live in may be only around 2.3 grams (2,300 mg) – and it may be as low as 1.6g (1,600 mg). Or, sodium bicarbonate contains about 1.26 grams (1,260 mg) of salt in one teaspoon of 4 grams.
In some places, half a teaspoon could contain a third of the sodium RDA. So two teaspoons a day, as a dosage, or ½ a teaspoon four times a day, is a little more than your daily maximum since your sodium intake from other sources hasn’t been counted here.
That is for the usual dose of ½ teaspoon in 8 fl.ounces of water. Eight fluid ounces is around a standard sized glass, but for first use, use a measuring jug to see how much it is exactly.
Use the Google search box at the bottom of this page to find the sodium RDA for your country. You should be able to find it if you enter "Sodium RDA and - the name of your country."
Excess salt causes high blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a condition many gout sufferers already have. Something that will raise it even more is risky and could take you further down the road towards a stroke, a heart attack, and other medical conditions. SO MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS ONLY WITH YOUR DOCTOR'S APPROVAL
If you are taking baking soda a few times a day which is the most important dose?
The most important is the last one before bedtime. The body is more acidic at night, and this is when a majority of gout attacks begin, so before bedtime is a time to re-alkalise (alkalize). The other best time is, like breakfast, one in the early morning for the day ahead. But take it 45 minutes to 1 hour before breakfast. See "Why do you take sodium bicarbonate on an empty stomach," further down this page.
How long can you take baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) for?
As long as your doctor agrees. S/he will know your blood pressure, and your overall medical condition. Bicarbonate of soda for gout as an emergency treatment for gout can be taken when you feel a gout attack starting, and during a gout attack (unlike drug medications which can't be taken during a gout attack since they will worsen it). But when attacks end, think of using all the other ways of alkalizing your body, which don't raise blood pressure.
If you take it during a long gout attack lasting weeks, and your doctor agrees, make sure your check your blood pressure daily. Use a blood pressure monitor to take it at home. Stop taking bicarbonate of soda if your blood pressure rises.
Of course reduce salt intake from other sources such as canned food and packaged mixes. Examine nutrition panels before you buy. Find out how much sodium you are eating daily.
And use the USDA’s National Nutrient database to look up the sodium in thousands of foods.
If you only eat fresh food, don’t use salt in cooking and don’t shake it on your food, you’ll cut the remainder of your salt intake. Use salt substitute products such as Nu Salt or Lo Salt, which have more potassium chloride than sodium chloride (table salt). But remember, the body does need some salt.
Taking baking soda is dehydrating, which is bad for gout
Dehydration can trigger gout attacks, especially in those already predisposed to it. It is also a big risk factor for kidney stones. So make sure you are drinking those 8 x 8 fl.ozs glasses of water every day. This is about two litres (liters) or 3.2 U.K.pints (rounded numbers). You may need more.
What if you already have hypertension (high blood pressure)?
You may already be on a sodium restricted diet for this. Your doctor, if s/he knows the baking soda remedy will almost certainly say you have to get your blood pressure to normal levels first. If you have borderline hypertension, again get your blood pressure to normal levels. Then ask your doctor if you’re ready for the baking soda gout remedy.
A risk too far?
The amount of salt you have to take with baking soda means that if you can’t deal with a gout flare with 1½ to 2 teaspoons of baking soda over 24 hours, you should not use more in 24 hours. The sodium content is around a quarter of the sodium bicarbonate amount. Some gout sufferers think that removing the pain of gout with baking soda is worth the risk of raised blood pressure. So they take more than advisable. Given the pain of gout this is understandable, but if you are tempted to do this, remember there are plenty of medications to deal with gout pain that have been trialed and studied.
Water is a safe harbour (harbor) but baking soda is unchartered waters
Sodium bicarbonate is also in unchartered waters since baking soda for gout has not been studied much. There is a pressing need for baking soda for gout studies, but they won't come from pharmaceutical companies. It has not been put through the trials a new drug must undertake. It has the power of halting gout attacks or stopping them from starting, but how much should be used in a studied population is hard to know. And as far as lowering uric acid is concerned, we don’t know how much it can do this.
Historically baking soda for gout has been used for over 150 years, but perhaps without today’s safety standards. For example, when Garrod first wrote about alkaline remedies, the link between table salt and high blood pressure/heart disease had not been suspected. Baking soda for gout relief has relied on many delighted, passed along, testimonials and some prescribing doctors, who will have useful experience of using it. It is not clear how long it can be taken for. It is contra-indicated with some medications.
For another use as an antacid one famous U.S. brand of baking soda says it shouldn't be used for more than 2 weeks, and this is for healthy people.
Baking soda - typical sodium amounts (exact amounts may vary slightly by manufacturer)
½ teaspoon has 629 mg (0.629 grams) of sodium
1 teaspoon has 1259 mg (1.259 grams) of sodium
2 teaspoons has 2518 mg (2.518 grams) of sodium
4 teaspoons has 5036 mg (5.036 grams) - just about 5 grams of sodium).
Source: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Version SR.22. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
A tip for getting baking soda to work for you
If bicarbonate of soda for gout isn’t working it may be because your uric acid level (UA) is too high, at the baking soda dosage you’re using. So even raising blood alkalinity (+ pH) isn’t enough. Do not increase the baking soda dosage for the significant reasons you’ve read above.
The first thing to do is measure your uric acid level. Do this measurement after a gout attack because the uric acid level is artificially low during a gout attack. A high level (around 9.0 mg/dL and above) is a clue that this might be the reason. Get uric acid down first, with medications and natural remedies such as a low purine diet, other diets, cherry juice, or some of the other methods described on this website. Then try baking soda again when, as an example, your UA level is down to 8.0 mg/dL or lower. Don’t take more than two teaspoons in one day. The amount you take must be your doctor’s decision. Make sure you do this under medical supervision
Can you use baking soda that’s been in your kitchen for some time?
Not advisable. It’s better to use fresher baking soda. If you don’t use fresh baking soda, and it doesn’t work, you may come to the wrong conclusion. Obviously don’t use it after its use-by date. Make sure you use bicarbonate of soda that is used for cooking. Don’t use baking soda that is solely for cleaning.
Want to use aluminum (aluminium) free baking soda? If you live in the U.S. you can buy it from Bob’s Red Mill – click the link to view the product.
What about medicinal sodium bicarbonate?
You can (or should be able) to buy this at pharmacies (chemists). Like baking soda for cooking it is inexpensive. It might perform better than cooking baking soda, but this isn’t publicly known. Baking soda has other medicinal uses such as dealing with acidosis, alkalising (alkalizing) urine to aid uric acid excretion, relieving heartburn and acid indigestion, and alleviating colds and flu. It has been written up as helpful in some cancer treatment.
Why do you take sodium bicarbonate on an empty stomach?
Food in the stomach reduces the amount of some medicines that get into the bloodstream. Sodium bicarbonate is one of these. So you take it on an empty stomach so that it gets into the bloodstream more quickly. You want it to start working as soon as possible. What does an empty stomach mean? Around 45 – 60 minutes before a meal, and around 1½ - 2 hours after it. Food roughly takes 1 – 1½ hours to digest.
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