Baking soda for constipation: does it work?

Constipation is a very common problem. In some cases, poor diet and exercise habits are to blame. In others, medications or medical conditions may be the underlying cause.

Lifestyle changes, such as eating more fiber, drinking more water and increasing exercise, are often the first line of treatment for constipation. If these lifestyle improvements fail, a doctor may recommend over-the-counter or over-the-counter laxatives to relieve constipation.

Other people may want to try home remedies, such as baking soda, to treat constipation. However, there is little research to support this method.

Read on for more information on the use of sodium bicarbonate for constipation and potential risks.

There are two methods that some people can suggest to relieve constipation with sodium bicarbonate: soak in a sodium bicarbonate bath and drink a solution of water and sodium bicarbonate.

There is no scientific evidence to suggest that these methods can treat constipation.

Immerse yourself in a baking soda bath

A potential method that people claim to treat constipation is to dive into a bath containing sodium bicarbonate.

The idea is that the sodium bicarbonate solution will relieve some of the discomfort that people experience with constipation, as well as stimulate the anal sphincter. If this occurs, it can help a person evacuate.

To bathe, a person can fill his bathtub with warm water and mix a few tablespoons of baking soda in the water. Once the baking soda dissolves, they can be soaked in the bathtub for as long as it is comfortable.

Drink a sodium bicarbonate solution

Baking soda is a common remedy to neutralize stomach acid. Some people also claim that drinking sodium bicarbonate can help promote bowel movements because it attracts additional water to the digestive tract.

The theory is that this causes the digestive tract to contract, which can lead to a bowel movement.

To make a sodium bicarbonate solution, add approximately one tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate to a glass of water and mix well. Once the baking soda dissolves, drink the solution.

However, in addition to not necessarily being an effective treatment, there may be risks for people who use baking soda for constipation.

Baking soda is usually safe for consumption. However, in rare cases, it can cause some side effects. Consuming too much baking soda can cause constipation.

It can also cause:

  • vomiting
  • weakened muscles
  • seizures
  • frequent urination
  • irritability
  • muscle spasms

In rare situations, sodium bicarbonate could cause a stomach rupture. Baking soda produces gas when mixed with stomach acid. The stomach can break if it is full of this gas, and the gas cannot escape.

Baking soda can also affect if a person's medications are effective. For this reason, people should talk to a doctor before trying baking soda as a home remedy.

Finally, sodium bicarbonate has a high sodium content. People with a reduced sodium diet should avoid consuming additional sodium bicarbonate.

Often, fiber and increased consumption of water or liquid can help relieve constipation naturally.

Exercise can also help a person's intestines move again. A person can try to walk, run, swim or practice yoga to find relief from constipation.

People may also want to try other home remedies, such as:

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. UU., A person should consult their doctor about constipation if:

  • they notice changes in bowel habits
  • have severe stomach pains
  • experience involuntary weight loss
  • Exercise, more fluid intake, stool softeners and extra fiber do not help

Baking soda for constipation is not an evidence-based remedy for constipation and may or may not work.

Instead, a person should try to increase their fiber and water intake and exercise to see if they find relief for their constipation. Over-the-counter medications can also relieve symptoms.

A person with frequent or persistent constipation should talk to a doctor about the possible underlying causes.

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