Posted by: “Suzanne” firstname.lastname@example.org
Tue May 11, 2010 5:24 am (PDT)
Better than all the pharma meds…
5-Cent Cure for Kidney Disease
Finally — some great news for the 26 million people with chronic kidney disease! Because the problem is progressive and incurable, it can seem hopeless, but new research shows that a natural remedy that is safe, effective and costs just a few pennies a day can dramatically slow down kidney decline. What is it? Baking soda, believe it or not — or, if you want to be technical, sodium bicarbonate.
Though it may well be the most medically important, this is hardly the first unconventional health-related use for this simple and inexpensive kitchen ingredient — some swear by it as a remedy for acid indigestion, while others use baking soda to brush their teeth or in lieu of antiperspirant or to soothe rashes and skin eruptions. For people with chronic kidney disease (CKD), however, it is important to take this only under your doctor’s close supervision — read on to learn why.
Rate of Decline Slowed by Two-Thirds
CKD affects one in nine adults. It runs the gamut from poor function and minor discomfort to end-stage renal disease that requires dialysis (getting hooked up to a machine to filter blood when your kidneys can no longer do so). The body naturally creates bicarbonate to help maintain the correct acid-alkaline balance (or pH), and insufficient levels can cause problems ranging from minor all the way to death. A low bicarbonate level (the condition is called metabolic acidosis) affects 30% to 50% of advanced CKD patients, and doctors have long speculated that baking soda might help boost kidney function by bringing up the level.
In a study of 134 people with advanced CKD and low bicarbonate levels, Magdi Yaqoob, MD, a professor of renal medicine at The Royal London Hospital in England and his colleagues put this theory to the test. They gave half the participants a small daily dose of sodium bicarbonate in tablet form at mealtime while also continuing their regular medical care.
Over a two-year period, investigators discovered that people who took the sodium bicarbonate experienced. ..
* A two-thirds drop in kidney decline. They lost kidney function at the rate of just 1% per year, compared with 3% in those who didn’t take sodium bicarbonate. Though these percentages sound tiny, they are quite significant for people losing kidney function.
* A dramatic decrease in the need for dialysis. Only 6.5% in the bicarbonate group required dialysis, compared with 33% in the untreated group.
* Better nutrient absorption. Nutritional parameters, including the ability to metabolize protein effectively, improved in those who took bicarbonate tablets. While sodium levels rose, blood pressure did not.
Sodium bicarbonate seems to help people with CKD by suppressing production of ammonia and endothelin (proteins that constrict blood vessels and raise blood pressure), which in turn discourages scarring and dysfunction in the kidneys, Dr. Yaqoob explains. These findings were published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN). They require further validation in a larger, multi-center study but are very significant and encouraging, Dr. Yaqoob said.
Ask Your Doctor
If you have CKD, Dr. Yaqoob recommends asking your doctor about incorporating sodium bicarbonate into your medical care — but stresses this should not be attempted on your own. Though easily available and very helpful for particular people, sodium bicarbonate is not an innocuous substance. Dosage must be carefully calibrated to keep blood levels within normal limits. Excess can lead to milk alkali syndrome (calcium deposits in kidneys and other tissue), especially for kidney patients — but also in otherwise healthy people who consume excessive amounts.
That said, sodium bicarbonate may be a simple and inexpensive treatment to add to our medical arsenal against CKD. Talk to your doctor about it.
Magdi Yaqoob, MD, professor of renal medicine, The Royal London Hospital, London, England.