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Can Baking Soda (sodium bicarbonate) help prevent serious complications from COVID-19 infection?

“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

Surely he will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.”

Psalm 91:2–3 (King James Version)

(NOTE: this is NOT medical advice or a recommendation for medical treatment. Please consult your doctor first, especially if you have any existing medical condition, such as a blood pressure condition.)

Testimony of a survivor of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic

Ms. Edna Boone of Alabama, a survivor of the 1918 “Spanish Flu” influenza pandemic, was a child during the pandemic. She afterward, at the age of 100 years, gave an interview, where she recounts how her family alone in her town did not suffer any serious illness and deaths during the pandemic. They did not survive by hiding in their basement, practicing social distancing and dropping out of society. In fact, her parents helped care for the ill in the town, yet no one in the family contracted or died from the deadly disease. She says:

“I was 10 years old and my family was the only family in the little town that did not contract the flu. Therefore, my parents became automatic nurses. They nursed every family in town.”

Her mother gave Ms. Boone the following assignment to help her suffering neighbors:

“It was my job as a 10 year old to take food to people, to families, all of them stricken. Mama would put a gauze bandage around my face and she kept sterilized fruit jars on the stove at all times. She would fill the jars with soup or whatever there was, and I would take those jars to the home of an afflicted family, knock on the door and leave the food at the door for someone to come pick it up.”

In explaining why she thinks here family survived unscathed, despite being exposed to every ill family in her town, she said:

“My mother would take a half a teaspoon full of soda and put it in a glass of water for each of us — my twin brothers and for me and we would drink that before breakfast. I’ve often thought that that’s what saved us. She said that that soda would neutralize the system and we would be less subject to pick up the germ. It must have worked because we were the only family, entire family, [in my town (sic)] that escaped having that dreadful flu.” (1)

“Soda”

Ms. Boone attributes the survival of her family to a concoction that her mother made her drink every morning, a mixture of water and what she calls “soda”.

I surmised that this “soda” was baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), and sure enough upon an internet search, I found some information alleging that baking soda was used during the Spanish Flu pandemic.

It is alleged by some internet sources that Arm & Hammer, a manufacturer of baking soda, published a pamphlet titled “Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Medical Uses,” published in 1924. This pamphlet was alleged to include testimony from an individual named Dr. Volney S. Cheney recounting his successes with sodium bicarbonate in treating cold and flu, including presumably the 1918 “Spanish Flu” influenza:

“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.

I have since that time treated all cases of ‘cold,’ influenza and LaGripe by first giving generous doses of bicarbonate of soda, and in many, many instances within 36 hours the symptoms would have entirely abated.

Further, within my own household, before Woman’s Clubs and Parent-Teachers’ Associations, I have advocated the use of bicarbonate of soda as a preventive for ‘colds,’ with the result that now many reports are coming in stating that those who took ‘soda’ were not affected, while nearly everyone around them had the ‘flu.’” (2)

Dosage

The recommended dosages that I found online, again allegedly from the Arm & Hammer Company for colds and influenza back in 1925, are:

  • Day 1 — Take six doses of ½ teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water, at about two hour intervals
  • Day 2 — Take four doses of ½ teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water, at the same intervals
  • Day 3 — Take two doses of ½ teaspoon of baking soda in glass of cool water morning and evening, and thereafter ½ teaspoon in glass of cool water each morning until cold symptoms are gone

(3)

A slightly different protocol is recommended by aforementioned Dr. Volney Cheney in a monograph titled “ ‘The Common Cold’ Etiology, Prevention and Treatment” published in 1924 (4).

For the onset of symptoms:

  • 60 g. doses of sodium bicarbonate, accompanied by a large glass of hot water, every 2 hours for 3 doses
  • for adults, 1 g. of calcidin (a calcium and iodine combination) every half hour until 6 doses have been taken.

For conditions where conditions are manifested:

  • Initial dose 60 g. of sodium bicarbonate and 1 g. of calcidin,
  • Then 30 g. of sodium bicarbonate and 1 g. of calcidin every 2 hours for 6 doses,
  • Then 20 g. of sodium bicarbonate with /3 g. of calcidin every 3 hours during the waking period until the cold is checked.
  • The administration of the sodium bicarbonate should always be in or followed by a large glass of hot water.
  • Locally, spray the nose and throat with a 1 to 5000 solution of metaphen, or other alkaline solution (1 dram of sodium bicarbonate to one pint of water) morning and night.

Note that the key difference in the two protocols, aside from dosage and frequency, is the addition of a glass of hot water and the addition of other supplements (iodine and calcium). For this discussion, we will only focus on sodium bicarbonate, and to a lesser degree whether to use cool or hot water. I will not address the effect of iodine and calcium, as I have not investigated the effect of those supplements on disease.

Also, in terms of when to take baking soda vis-a-vis eating, etc., some other sources provided some useful guidance …

As baking soda acts as an antacid and neutralizes stomach acid, it is sensible to take the dosage a few hours away from meals, so as to not interfere with digestion in the stomach.

To illustrate the potentially different effects of taking baking soda relative to eating, the following extract may be helpful:

“The effect of an alkali in the stomach will vary according to the nature of the stomach contents at the time of administration.

In the resting period (after food is digested) sodium bicarbonate merely dissolves mucus and is absorbed as bicarbonate into the blood increasing its alkalinity. This is a desired result.

In the digestive period intake of baking soda will reduce the secretion of gastric juice, neutralize a portion of the hydrochloric acid, liberate the carminative carbon dioxide gas and is absorbed as sodium chloride. This is not a desirable effect.

In cases of fermentation or sour stomach it may neutralize the organic acids and result in the opening of a spasmodically closed pylorus (the opening between the stomach and the small intestine) and overcome flatulency (accumulation of gas in the stomach and bowels). This may be a desired result depending upon your situation.

The time of administration must be chosen with a definite purpose. Usually for hyperchlohydria (excess acid) one hour or two hours after meals will be the period of harmful excess of acid and can be neutralized with baking soda.

A dose at bedtime will help neutralize early morning excess acidity, or a dose on arising cleans the stomach of acid and mucus before breakfast. Whenever taking a bicarbonate solution internally the baking soda should be dissolved with cold water.” (5)

In other words, because baking soda can neutralize stomach acid, it is recommended to take sodium bicarbonate away from when you have food in the stomach, as it may interfere with effective digestion. Recommended times are upon waking and upon going to bed, which are typical moments when the stomach is empty.

Let’s look at Symptoms, not the Infection

I am not a doctor nor a medical health researcher. I am simply pulling threads together that might make sense. I leave it to others more qualified to research this issue and come to more authoritative conclusions.

But this is what I’ve discovered so far …

If one reads Dr. Volney Cheney’s monograph (cited in note (5) above), one may dismiss it in its entirety as he ascribes a theory of the causation of colds and flus that is clearly wrong and outdated. He says colds and flus arise not due to viral infection, but instead to excess bodily acid, which can be remedied by alkalinization. Dr. Cheney wrote this in 1924, and science has since proved his theory of causation to be incorrect, as flus and colds are caused by viruses, which were not known at the time Dr. Cheney wrote his article.

However, being that Dr. Cheney wrote this shortly after the time of the 1918 flu pandemic, which lasted until 1920, we might be willing to assume that he was practicing medicine during that pandemic, and based his statements on actual clinical experience. On the assumption that his clinical experience with respect to the efficacy of using sodium bicarbonate as a treatment for colds and the flu remains valid still, it may still be valuable to assess whether his treatment protocol could be effective for influenza and coronavirus infections under some other theory. Of course, if there is evidence that either baking soda was not in fact used to treat the ill during the Spanish flu pandemic or that Dr. Cheney’s observations of recoveries and non-inflection were exaggerated or false, on contradicted by the documented clinical experience of other practitioners, then we might appropriately question the reliability of his statements.

So for the time being, let’s assume that Dr. Cheney’s statements about his clinical experience are reliable, and put aside his faulty theory of causation, and let’s explore further.

My approach in exploring the question of how baking soda might be effective is as follows.

To determine whether treatments for the 1918 influenza may be relevant for COVID-19, we can first look at how COVID-19 symptoms present, particularly in mortality cases, and compare that to how the 1918 influenza symptoms presented themselves. We will also want to see if we can identify common causation for those symptoms, despite having different infectious agents.

We can then can assess whether such symptoms are similar physiologically, despite originating from different infectious agents. If similar, then we can see that if there is some protocol that effectively treated the same symptoms in the 1918 influenza that can be commonly used to treat the symptoms of a COVID-19 infection, without needing to find a treatment protocol that directly attacks the specific infectious agent.

Symptoms experienced during the 1918 Spanish Flu

As this protocol is for the flu, and utilized during the Spanish Flu pandemic, we should examine what the Spanish Flu was, and compare it to the current COVID-19 virus, to see if such a protocol could potentially have a useful effect.

The Spanish Flu is caused by the H1N1 influenza virus. This virus is not a coronavirus, but it seems that the complications in serious cases are similar to COVID-19, particularly in the instances of pneumonia.

Summary details about symptoms can be found on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website on a page titled “The Threat of Pandemic Influenza: Are We Ready? Workshop Summary”. (6) Some relevant extracts describing the complications from H1N1 influenza during the 1918–1920 pandemic are below.

Similar to SARS and COVID-19, it appears that pneumonia was a primary complication of H1NI1:

“In 1918, pathologists were intimately familiar with the condition of lungs of victims of bacterial pneumonia at autopsy. But the viral pneumonias caused by the influenza pandemic were so violent that many investigators said the only lungs they had seen that resembled them were from victims of poison gas.

Then, the Army called them “atypical pneumonias.” Today we would call this atypical pneumonia Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). The Army’s pneumonia board judged that “more than half” of all the deaths among soldiers came from this atypical pneumonia.

ARDS likely caused more than half the deaths among young adults sends a warning. ARDS mortality rates today range from 40 to 60 percent, even with support in modern intensive care units (ICUs). In a pandemic, ICUs would be quickly overwhelmed, representing a major challenge for public health planners.”

Patients suffering from the Spanish Flu are described as unable to breathe, gasping for breath, turning bluish color, among other terrible symptoms. (7)

Additional severe complications included the following, resembling symptoms of dreaded diseases like Ebola:

“One of the most striking of the complications was hemorrhage from mucous membranes, especially from the nose, stomach, and intestine. Bleeding from the ears and petechial hemorrhages in the skin also occurred”. A German investigator recorded “hemorrhages occurring in different parts of the interior of the eye” with great frequency.

An American pathologist noted: “Fifty cases of subconjunctival hemorrhage were counted. Twelve had a true hemotypsis, bright red blood with no admixture of mucus…. Three cases had intestinal hemorrhage”.

The New York City Health Department’s chief pathologist said, “Cases with intense pain look and act like cases of dengue … hemorrhage from nose or bronchi … paresis or paralysis of either cerebral or spinal origin … impairment of motion may be severe or mild, permanent or temporary … physical and mental depression. Intense and protracted prostration led to hysteria, melancholia, and insanity with suicidal intent”.”

While the Spanish Flu was not universally lethal, it appears that in some cases symptoms manifested in a particularly violent manner, with the most acute cases leading to pneumonia and hemorrhaging.

COVID-19 Symptoms and Mortality Conditions

While over 80% of COVID-19 cases are “mild to moderate” (8), anecdotal evidence is suggesting that the classification of “mild to moderate” includes every condition short of emergency hospitalization and intubation, and that the experience of a “mild to moderate” infection still causes extreme debilitation and suffering.

In the case of COVID-19, emergency symptoms include difficulty breathing, persistent chest pain or pressure, confusion, difficulty waking, and bluish face or lips. (9)

Mortality cases appear to be typified by thick mucousy (not watery) pneumonia condition, leading to an inability to breathe. In some severe cases, internal organ failure is also manifested. (10)

An article titled “Features, Evaluation and Treatment Coronavirus (COVID-19)” (11) published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website has the following details:

The Chinese CDC report divided the clinical manifestations of the disease in Wuhan by three categories of severity:

  • Mild disease: non-pneumonia and mild pneumonia; this occurred in 81% of cases.
  • Severe disease: dyspnea, respiratory frequency ≥ 30/min, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2) ≤ 93%, PaO2/FiO2 ratio [the ratio between the blood pressure of the oxygen (partial pressure of oxygen, PaO2) and the percentage of oxygen supplied (fraction of inspired oxygen, FiO2)] < 300, and/or lung infiltrates > 50% within 24 to 48 hours; this occurred in 14% of cases.
  • Critical disease: respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction (MOD) or failure (MOF); this occurred in 5% of cases.

Among the severe clinical manifestations, there are severe pneumonia, Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) (i.e., the pneumonia condition), sepsis and septic shock.

The article further describes sepsis and septic shock conditions as follows:

“The clinical pictures of patients with COVID-19 and with sepsis are particularly serious, characterized by a wide range of signs and symptoms of multiorgan involvement. These signs and symptoms include respiratory manifestations such as severe dyspnea and hypoxemia, renal impairment with reduced urine output, tachycardia, altered mental status, and functional alterations of organs expressed as laboratory data of hyperbilirubinemia, acidosis, high lactate, coagulopathy, and thrombocytopenia.”

Putting aside modern medical terminology used here, which I am not qualified to assess, I would surmise the description of the symptoms of acute cases of COVID-19 bear striking resemblance to the symptoms of acute cases of the Spanish Flu, described above.

Cytokine Storm

It appears what might distinguish acute cases in both COVID-19 and Spanish Flu from more mild and moderate cases could be the manifestation of an immune system over-response, called a “cytokine storm”.

A cytokine storm is a severe case of “cytokine release syndrome” (CRS) (12). Extracts from Wikipedia below:

“CRS occurs when large numbers of white blood cells, including B cells, T cells, natural killer cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, and monocytes are activated and release inflammatory cytokines [(i.e., an inflammatory cytokine or proinflammatory cytokine is a type of signaling molecule (a cytokine) that is secreted from immune cells like helper T cells (Th) and macrophages, and certain other cell types that promote inflammation)], which in turn activate yet more white blood cells. These cells are activated by infected cells that die by apoptosis or necrosis.

This can occur when the immune system is fighting pathogens, as cytokines signal immune cells such as T-cells and macrophages to travel to the site of infection. In addition, cytokines activate those cells, stimulating them to produce more cytokines.

Severe CRS or cytokine reactions can occur in a number of infectious and non-infectious diseases including graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), sepsis, Ebola, avian influenza, smallpox, and systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS). Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis and Epstein-Barr virus-related hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis are caused by extreme elevations in cytokines and can be regarded as one form of severe cytokine release syndrome.”

Some medical researchers are beginning to draw the conclusion that acute cases of COVID-19 may be connected with such cytokine storms. For example, Dr. Randy Cron, M.D., Ph.D., is an expert in a dangerous immune reaction to some infections, called cytokine storm syndrome, has asserted the possibility of such a connection in a number of recent articles and interviews.

“An estimated 20% of individuals infected with COVID-19 are sick enough to necessitate hospitalization, with a subset of patients requiring intensive care. Why some individuals become deathly ill and others don’t is unknown, but is likely attributable to host factors. Early reports on the clinical (fever, confusion) and laboratory (hyperferritinemia, lymphopenia, prolonged prothombin time, elevated lactate dehydrogenase, elevated interleukin (IL) 6, elevated C-reactive protein, elevated soluble CD25) features of critically ill patients infected with COVID-19 suggest the presence of a cytokine storm syndrome (CSS) resulting in adult respiratory distress syndrome and multi-organ failure.8–10 Indeed, many of the diagnostic criteria for CSS are reported present in those COVID-19 infected individuals under intensive care.” (13)

Doing an internet search for COVID-19 and “cytokine storm” produces some interesting results. Here is a sampling:

“For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, some people — especially the elderly and sick — may have dysfunctional immune systems that fail to keep the response to particular pathogens in check. This could cause an uncontrolled immune response, triggering an overproduction of immune cells and their signaling molecules and leading to a cytokine storm often associated with a flood of immune cells into the lung. “That’s when you end up with a lot of these really severe inflammatory disease conditions like pneumonia, shortness of breath, inflammation of the airway, and so forth,” says Rasmussen.” (14)

“As for the mothers, “Covid-19 seems not to be especially severe in pregnant women, at least based on the small number in this study,” the scientists wrote. That was somewhat surprising because pregnancy suppresses the immune system (so it doesn’t attack the fetus); pregnant women are more susceptible to respiratory pathogens than non-pregnant women. Nevertheless, none of the nine women developed severe Covid-19 pneumonia. It may be that immuno-suppression is actually helpful. Some of the most serious symptoms of Covid-19 result from an immune system on the rampage rather than a lethargic one, Chinese scientists found: An extreme immune response called cytokine storm, a flood of immune cells and the biochemicals they produce, tears through lung tissue.” (15)

I invite others to examine the connection between COVID-19 and cytokine storms further and share their findings.

Interestingly, it appears to be a modern scientific consensus that the acute cases of Spanish Flu are connected to such cytokine storms:

“Modern analysis has shown the virus to be particularly deadly because it triggers a cytokine storm (overreaction of the body’s immune system), which ravages the stronger immune system of young adults.[11] One group of researchers recovered the virus from the bodies of frozen victims and transfected animals with it. The animals suffered rapidly progressive respiratory failure and death through a cytokine storm. The strong immune reactions of young adults were postulated to have ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune reactions of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths among those groups. In fast-progressing cases, mortality was primarily from pneumonia, by virus-induced lung consolidation.” (16)

What is notable then is that the mortality cases of Spanish Flu, and possibly COVID-19, were caused not by the action of the infection by the virus itself, but instead by the body’s own immune system overreaction.

Dr. Russell Blaylock, a retired neurosurgeon and now a clinical assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and a visiting professor in the biology department at Belhaven College, (17) published a newsletter discussing how cytokine storms manifest in acute influenza cases and how certain nutritional supplements (including Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, curcumin and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine) act to regulate the immune system and prevent a flu from developing into a life-threatening cytokine storm. (18)

Dr. Blaylock asserts that the cause of death is not the virus itself, but the immune systems over-reaction to the virus. As a result of this over-reaction, the immune system goes haywire and effectively kills the person. Dr. Blaylock describes the mechanism of how a “cytokine storm” in a case of flu can lead to pneumonia and organ failure. I extract this text in full and encourage you to read and understand it, as it succinctly describes the crux of the problem:

“In the past, it was assumed that viruses were either lethal (killer viruses) or mild based on the ability of the virus itself to do damage …

What is now understood is that the ability of a virus to do extensive damage or even kill is based on its ability to make the body overreact — that is, it causes the immune system to do damage.

Killer viruses trigger an intense inflammatory response by activating a special set of genes that control inflammation. AS a result, immune cells release massive amounts of pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause severe damage to lungs and other tissues in the body.

Importantly, the inflammatory genes activated by mild seasonal flu virus H1N1 differ from those activated by the deadly H5N1 flu virus (bird flu) or the 1918 H1N1 virus.

In addition, the activated genes release chemokines to attract other immune cells from distant lymph nodes and bone marrow. This makes the immune system reaction even more intense.

Thick protein-filled fluids also pour in from leaky blood vessels in the lungs. Mixed with the massive numbers of immune cells, this thick substance fills the lungs’ air sacs, preventing oxygen from entering the capillaries. As a result, a person can literally drown in his or her own secretions.

In extreme cases, these immune factors spill out through the circulatory system and trigger even greater immune overreaction all over the body. This can cause failure of other organs, including the heart, kidneys, or liver. In fatal cases, we may see multi-organ failure. Death soon follows.

We call this extreme immune overreaction a cytokine storm.

The fact that the virus is not the direct cause of the damage is evident in such cases because there are low concentrations of viruses in the lungs, where the most intense damage occurs.

It is … important to appreciate that a strong inflammatory response doesn’t necessarily imply effective control of a virus. On the contrary, it has been shown that reducing the inflammatory response improves outcomes against highly virulent infections.” (19)

These symptoms described in acute influenza cases are also present in acute coronavirus patients, based on reports from China and now being seen in the rest of the world. In particular, common to acute coronavirus cases is the thick, mucusy type of pneumonia described below (“protein-filled fluids … thick substance … preventing oxygen from entering the capillaries”), rather than watery pneumonia. Also seen are cases of organ damage, including heart damage leading to heart failure.

There, it seems to be reasonable hypothesis that acute cases of COVID-19 may be caused by the immune system overresponse known as cytokine storms, and if we can prevent this immune system overresponse, we can reduce the number of acute cases of coronavirus, and consequently the number of deaths from this pandemic.

Preventing a Cytokine Storm with Baking Soda?

As mentioned above, Dr. Blaylock recommends a number of anti-oxidants as effective in properly regulating the immune system so as to prevent the occurrence of a cytokine storm (such as Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, curcumin and N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine), which he goes into detail in his article. From personal experience with myself and my immediate family, I have found antioxidants and other nutritional supplements such a Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, selenium, grape seed extract, etc. to be effective in improving symptoms of, or preventing the onset of symptoms, from flus and colds. I strongly encourage others to use those supplements as part of their arsenal to fight infectious diseases, including most importantly using them as preventatives prior to infection or the onset of symptoms.

However, something I had not previously considered is whether baking soda (sodium bicarbonate or NaHCO₃) (20) could also regulate the immune system. We have seen that baking soda was claimed to have been used to treat and prevent H1N1 influenza infections and symptoms during the Spanish Flu pandemic. But we have also determined that the person making this claim also had a faulty theory of causation for flus and colds, which has been since proven to be scientifically incorrect.

However, as I mentioned earlier, if the clinical experience of baking soda being effective for Spanish Flu, is there an alternate mechanism by which it operates to prevent the onset of acute symptoms?

One significant clue may come from a recent study titled “Oral NaHCO3 Activates a Splenic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway: Evidence That Cholinergic Signals Are Transmitted via Mesothelial Cells”, published in 2018 in the Journal of Immunology and funded by the US National Institutes of Health on the effect of baking soda in dampening the body’s immune system response. (21)

I don’t profess to understand the significance or consequences of the research, so I reviewed some articles describing the finding in layperson language. I extracted the key bits:

“Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia have discovered a nerve center in a cell layer in the spleen that controls the immune response and therefore inflammation throughout the body.

The striking part of this discovery is that autoimmune reactions responsible for chronic inflammation throughout the body were quelled by consumption of two grams (~half a teaspoon) of baking soda in water for two weeks in healthy humans. Researchers say baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) calms the immune response in the spleen and has a system-wide effect.

As researchers explain, when sodium bicarbonate is consumed it becomes a trigger for the stomach to make more acid to digest the next meal and for the overlooked mesothelial cell lining in the spleen to signal there is no need to mount an overly protective immune response that can alter a delicate balance between M1 and M2 macrophages, white blood cells that target bacteria, viruses, parasites and tumor cells.

Mesothelial cells line the spleen and directly secrete the nerve chemical acetylcholine. When the spleen is removed from lab animals or just slightly disturbed, the mesothelial nervous connection in the spleen with other parts of the body was cut off and the healthy effect produced by baking soda was abolished. Acetylcholine signaling represents the brakes on the human immune response. Acetylcholine signals other organs to under-respond when confronted with pathogenic germs or tumor cells.”

“This is the first demonstration that orally ingested sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) can promote a powerful anti-inflammatory response in both animals and humans,” say researchers writing in the Journal of Immunology. Baking soda “may provide a cheap, relatively safe, effective and easily accessible and/or noninvasive method to activate anti-inflammatory nerve pathways,” researchers emphasized.” (22)

Basically, the study found that 2 weeks of taking half a teaspoon of baking soda was effective in regulating an overactive immune system and bodily inflammation in the case of an autoimmune disorder. While the context of this study was the effect of ingesting baking soda on chronic inflammation caused by autoimmune disease, I would like to raise the hypothesis that the same principle could apply to manage and possibly prevent the occurrence of virus-induced cytokine storms.

I’ll note that allergies are also essentially extreme immune system overreactions to what are essentially otherwise harmless substances (e.g., pollen and peanuts come to mind). From my experiences, it appears that allergy symptoms manifest in excess inflammation and mucous secretions (e.g., throat constriction in the case of certain food allergies, runny noses and itchy eyes in the case of seasonal allergies), that are entirely out of proportion to the danger posed to the body by the allergen (i.e., none by itself, as the allergens exhibit no inherent toxicity). As pure speculation on my part, it seems that such immune system overreactions resemble such cytokine over-response, such that the immune system is causing more harm than the allergen itself.

Conclusion

As we have seen, there is the possibility that baking soda was used effectively to prevent acute complications or even infections of influenza during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, one of the most lethal pandemics in history, killing an estimated 50 million people. But we have also seen a proposed theory of how baking soda worked, as proposed in the 1920s, was erroneous, based on outdated notions.

We observe the commonality between Spanish Flu and COVID-19 acute cases as likely caused by an immune system overreaction, leading to a cytokine storm, a condition where the immune system attacks the body. Cytokine storms can lead to the pneumonia and organ failure conditions seen in the acute cases of COVID-19.

With recent research, we have a scientific study that provides an experimentally validated study of the efficacy of ingesting baking soda to regulate an autoimmune disorder. Autoimmune disorders are also caused by immune system dysfunction and overreaction, similar to allergies.

Accordingly, if baking soda is effective in regulating the immune system for autoimmune disorders, it may act as an effective means to regulate the immune system in viral infection cases, and prevent the onset of cytokine storms that lead to acute symptoms.

This is my hypothesis that I present for your consideration.

As the COVID-19 pandemic creates unprecedented panic and economic damage to the world, in addition to great suffering to those infected and their family and loved ones, I share my hypothesis, with nothing to sell, to see if other more qualified researchers may review and consider the potential efficacy of an inexpensive and widely available remedy. I am sure there will be moneyed interests that will find spurious reasons to discredit this hypothesis (“for the love of money is the root of all evil” (23)), but I hope that the community of honest and ethical medical and scientific researchers who, understanding the momentous situation that we are currently facing, for better motives, will earnestly investigate this and other alternative, practical remedies that may help put an end to this scourge and restore hope.

Please note that this article is only my opinion, and nothing in this article should be construed as medical advice or a recommendation for medical treatment to treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.

Notes:

(1) See video at the 4:38 minute mark where she discusses this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k20VFZeLKY. See also http://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/pandemicflu/1918-influenza-survivor-stories.html and transcript at http://video1.adph.state.al.us/alphtn/pandemic/EdnaBoone/Local/transcript_ednaboone.pdf.

(2) Although I could not find the above document, I found a 1933 publication by Arm & Hammer under a different title that reproduces this testimony on pages 12 -13: https://archive.lib.msu.edu/DMC/sliker/msuspcsbs_armh_armandhamm42/msuspcsbs_armh_armandhamm42.pdf

(3) I did not find the original source for the dosing information. Dosing information from this website. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/15/baking-soda-used-to-treat-swine-flu-85-years-ago.aspx. Note that I do not have a view on the use of baking soda as a cancer treatment, and it may not be the right protocol if the effect of baking soda is to moderate the immune system response, which may not necessarily be a desirable condition while treating cancer.

(4) See https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.18.1.15

(5) See https://www.biri.org/pdf/articles/Baking-Soda-Uses-in-Daily-Health.pdf

(6) See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22148/

(7) For additional accounts of the terrible symptoms of the Spanish flu, please see this video, which includes further first-hand witness accounts about complications from influenza infections: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDY5COg2P2c

(8) See https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/20/815408287/how-the-novel-coronavirus-and-the-flu-are-alike-and-different.

(9)See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronavirus_disease_2019#Signs_and_symptoms

(10) Watch this video for a good description of acute COVID-19 symptoms: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0A0LyMru3I.

(11) See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554776/

(12) See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cytokine_release_syndrome

(13) See https://www.the-rheumatologist.org/article/dont-forget-the-host-covid-19-cytokine-storm/

(14) See https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/why-some-covid-19-cases-are-worse-than-others-67160

(15) See https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/03/who-is-getting-sick-and-how-sick-a-breakdown-of-coronavirus-risk-by-demographic-factors/. But also note that in the case of the 1918 Spanish Flu, pregnant mothers experienced the highest mortality rate. E.g. “The single group most likely to die if infected were pregnant women. In 13 studies of hospitalized pregnant women during the 1918 pandemic, the death rate ranged from 23 to 71 percent (Jordon, 1927: 273). Of the pregnant women who survived, 26 percent lost the child (Harris, 1919). (As far back as 1557, people connected influenza with miscarriage and the death of pregnant women.)” See https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22148/.

(16) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_flu#Patterns_of_fatality

(17) See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Blaylock. Note that Dr. Blaylock now specializes in research on how nutrition and supplements can address disease and illness. Personally, I very much respect him and have followed his research for 10+ years and found his insights to be invaluable for my own health education and keeping my family healthy.

(18) See https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/0418-Blaylock.pdf

(19) see note (18), page 2–3.

(20) IMPORTANT, this discussion covers baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and NOT baking powder (a mixture of a carbonate or bicarbonate and a weak acid). Do not use baking powder in lieu of baking soda for the purposes discussed in this paper.

(21) see “Oral NaHCO3 Activates a Splenic Anti-Inflammatory Pathway: Evidence That Cholinergic Signals Are Transmitted via Mesothelial Cells” by Sarah C. Ray, Babak Baban, Matthew A. Tucker, Alec J. Seaton, Kyu Chul Chang, Elinor C. Mannon, Jingping Sun, Bansari Patel, Katie Wilson, Jacqueline B. Musall, Hiram Ocasio, Debra Irsik, Jessica A. Filosa, Jennifer C. Sullivan, Brendan Marshall, Ryan A. Harris and Paul M. O’Connor, J Immunol May 15, 2018, 200 (10) 3568–3586; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1701605. See https://www.jimmunol.org/content/200/10/3568.

(22) See https://www.techtimes.com/articles/226174/20180425/drinking-baking-soda-may-cure-autoimmune-disease-says-new-study.htm and https://www.jpost.com/HEALTH-SCIENCE/Drinking-baking-soda-could-be-safe-way-to-combat-autoimmune-disease-552724

(23) The Holy Bible, KJV, 1 Timothy 6:10

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