Baking soda, a key ingredient in many baked foods, has now been found to fight the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
The study was published in the latest issue of the Journal of Immunology.
Scientists at Augusta University say the over-the-counter antacid can encourage our spleen to promote an anti-inflammatory environment that could be therapeutic in the face of inflammatory disease.
According to the scientists, a study showed that when rats or healthy people drink a solution of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, it becomes a trigger for mesothelial cells sitting on the spleen to tell the fist-sized organ that there’s no need to mount a protective immune response.
“We think the cholinergic 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,” said Paul O’Connor, a renal physiologist at Augusta University and the study’s author.
When they cut the vagal nerve, a big cranial nerve that starts in the brain and reaches into the heart, lungs and gut to help control things like a constant heart rate and food digestion.
It did not impact the mesothelial cells’ neuron-like behaviour.
But when they removed or even just moved the spleen, it broke the fragile mesothelial connections and the anti-inflammatory response was lost, O’Connor said.
“You are not really turning anything off or on, you are just pushing it toward one side by giving an anti-inflammatory stimulus,” he said.
“It’s potentially a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease.”
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