TERMINOLOGY > U.S. English - Baking soda. British English - Bicarbonate of soda; aka Sodium bicarbonate. Chemical name - Sodium Bicarbonate.
This page about sodium bicarbonate and gout was last reviewed, or updated, on 21 May 2012.
So humdrum baking soda is a star after all !
If you get sodium bicarbonate into your gout diet, you add a well known alkalizing agent. It's the classic home remedy for gout. The good news is that it gets many rave reviews from gout sufferers. It may well raise your pH level and alleviate or even end your gout attack. For many people for whom this works it usually begins to happen quickly - sometimes virtually immediately, often within 24 hours, and at least within a week.
It's even been reported to reduce tophi, but you should note that even those it helps get different results.
Bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) is cheap and the remedy is an-easy-to-prepare part of a gout diet. Use half a teaspoon filled to the top of the spoon’s ridge, not above, (you don’t want a "mountain" of it in the spoon) with eight fluid ounces of water. Or use a cook's measuring spoons. Make sure it dissolves completely in the water. Take normally four times a day, which includes one dose before bedtime. The body is said to be more acidic at night. Is it just a coincidence that many gout attacks happen after midnight and before daylight?
Some people find that even a 1/4 teaspoon serving four times a day can deal with their gout attack, and if you can, so much the better, because of the high amount of sodium.
Warning! Baking soda may not be your natural gout cure. It MUST ONLY BE TRIED with your doctor’s approval since this could have many side effects including high blood pressure, headaches, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, stomach pains and others. Baking soda is high in sodium, so cut down your salt intake as much as possible if taking it. Gout attacks raise blood pressure, and so does excess sodium. Get a regular blood pressure reading.
Moreover people with heart, kidney, and liver disease, and those with appendicitis should not try it, without their doctor's agreement. It is contraindicated with some prescription medicines. Take too much for too long and you could get alkalosis. So speak to your doctor first. It should not be taken when the stomach is too full. An empty stomach is better.
There's more about sodium bicarbonate dosage on our second bicarbonate of soda for gout page.
WHY DOES BICARBONATE OF SODA WORK SO OFTEN?
Sir Alfred Garrod, the Britishman who discovered that an excess of uric acid in the blood is the cause of gout in the mid 19th century, was a practicing gout doctor who ended his career as a physician to Queen Victoria. He also wrote The Nature and Treatment of Gout and Rheumatic Gout.
In this book he explained he believed in alkalising (alkalizing) the blood, or as we would put it today, raising blood pH. These are his key statements about it:
"Any diminution in the alkaline state of the blood lessens its power of holding urate of soda (uric acid) in solution and hence promotes its deposition, especially in tissues in which the reaction is naturally less alkaline than in the blood."
And here's another:
"The causes exciting a gouty fit (i.e. flare/attack) are those which induce a less alkaline condition of the blood, or which greatly augment for the time, the formation of uric acid, or such as temporarily check the eliminating power of the kidneys."
Sodium bicarbonate alkalises (alkalizes) the blood (by removing hydrogen ions), and this is the key. The blood is able to hold more uric acid without crystallising (crystallizing). And when this happens crystal deposition ceases, or better said, usually ceases, because baking soda doesn't always halt gout attacks. Moreover, in some mysterious way, deposited crystals often begin to dissolve.
Or, if you take bicarbonate of soda in water before an impending gout attack, your blood is further alkalised (alkalized) - remember blood is always maintained by the body as slightly alkaline - and crystallisation (crystallization) is halted in the manner described by Garrod.
Although Sir Alfred used bicarbonate of soda in some gout cases, you'll be surprised to learn that generally he did not. And it wasn't because of the sodium. The reason was - he thought he had stronger alkalising (alkalizing) agents than baking soda - ones that today have been forgotten in gout treatment.
Note the cautions above about using it, and discuss with your doctor before using it.
It may also raise other body fluid pH levels, such as the pH of synovial fluid in joints. If it works to raise your pH levels, and/or if your blood and urine uric acids levels fall, you’ll probably avoid restricting those foods which are more acidic. But of this doesn’t happen you may have to bite the bullet and restrict acid foods, eat more alkaline foods, or focus on another remedy.
Online poll In an online poll about sodium bicarbonate and and gout, about 85% of respondents say that it's of value, or great value, and only about 15% do not find it of value. Some doctors reportedly don't think so either. So baking soda is not the cure-all for all gout cases.
Alkaline water drops You can drink alkaline water. To make alkaline water you put two drops of an alkaline concentrate into a glass of plain water, and it’s changed to alkaline water. Five glasses of alkaline water are recommended daily. Gout diets usually say you need at least eight glasses of water daily. Alkaline water enables you to drink less water.
Water ionizers You can make alkaline water at home with a water ionizer which makes them a natural home remedy for gout. Alkaline (ionized) water is water with excess oxygen in the form of OH-, not O2. It's described as being lively and much tastier than regular water. The best water ionizers adjust for the overall quality of water supply input. By so doing, they produce a correct pH level, irrespective of water supply quality, water pressure and flow rate.
These products are not known to cause side effects.
Related pages you might enjoy
Read how 26 healthy women raised their urine pH and their uric acid excretion, simply because they ate more alkaline food.
Visit this page if you have experience of using bicarbonate of soda for gout and want other gout sufferers to benefit from what you have learnt
Visit our pH (alkaline gout remedies) testimonials page, where our visitors explain how pH helped them. And where you can learn something about alkaline remedies, which include sodium bicarbonate, in the 19th century.