I saw two of my friends on FB recommending ingesting baking soda to reduce fever.
Searching for this, it seems to be common advice all over the internet.

Some of these are for applying baking soda externally (like here, rubbing it in with lard), and those that refer to ingesting it often refer to a 1924 (1925) booklet Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Medical Uses published by the Arm & Hammer Company, and quoting a Dr. Volney S. Cheney.
The general idea seems to be that the body has to have a "proper acid-alkalinity balance" or be "sufficiently alkaline".

Examples 1,2,3.
Many of these just copy from one another; quoting from Overlooked 150 Year Old Household Cleaner a Remedy for Swine Flu? says:

In their booklet “Arm & Hammer Baking Soda Medical Uses,” published in 1924, Dr. Volney S. Cheney recounts his clinical successes with sodium bicarbonate in treating cold and flu:

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.”

I find it hard to believe, especially since baking soda seems to be a cure-for-everything (just look at some Skeptics questions about the substance).

Are there any serious studies showing that ingesting baking soda can prevent cathcing a cold or flu, or reduce the severity of symptoms if you do?

  • 1
    Chemically this makes no sense. Sodium bicarbonate is just a salt. Your body adjusts the pH of your blood up and down as needed. Your stomach secretes hydrochloric acid. So mostly bicarb would neutralize acid in your stomach and you'd belch carbon dioxide. Cheney's statement "in many, many instances within 36 hours the symptoms would have entirely abated" is an indication of the absurdity. Over 36 hours you'd have eaten, drunk many other fluids, and urinated several times. It is inconceivable that bicarb would effect your blood's pH that far in the future. – MaxW Feb 16 '17 at 1:43

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