Constipation is a very common issue. In some cases, poor diet and exercise habits are the culprit. 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 (OTC) or prescription laxatives to alleviate constipation.
Other people may wish to try home remedies, such as baking soda, to treat their constipation. There is little research to support this method, however.
Read on for more information on using baking soda for constipation and the potential risks.
There are two methods that some people may suggest to alleviate constipation using baking soda: soaking in a baking soda bath and drinking a solution of water and baking soda.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that these methods can treat constipation.
Soaking in a baking soda bath
One potential method people have claimed will treat constipation is soaking in a bath that contains baking soda.
The idea is that the baking soda solution will relieve some of the discomfort people experience with constipation, as well as stimulate the anal sphincter. If this occurs, it may help an individual have a bowel movement.
To make a bath, a person can fill their tub with warm water and mix a few tablespoons of baking soda into the water. Once the baking soda dissolves, they can soak in the tub for as long as it is comfortable.
Drinking a baking soda solution
Baking soda is a common remedy for neutralizing stomach acid. Some people also claim that drinking baking soda may help promote bowel movements because it draws additional water into the digestive tract.
The theory is that this causes the digestive tract to contract, which can lead to a bowel movement.
To make a baking soda solution, add about a tablespoon of baking soda to a glass of water and mix it 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 typically safe for consumption. However, in rare cases, it can cause some side effects. Consuming too much baking soda may actually lead to constipation.
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It may also cause:
- weakened muscles
- frequent urination
- muscle spasms
In rare situations, baking soda could potentially lead to a ruptured stomach. Baking soda produces gas when it mixes with stomach acid. The stomach may rupture if it is full of this gas, and the gas cannot escape.
Baking soda may also affect whether a person’s medications are effective. For this reason, people should talk to a doctor before trying baking soda as a home remedy.
Finally, baking soda has a high sodium content. People on a reduced sodium diet should avoid consuming extra baking soda.
Often, fiber and increased water or liquid consumption can help alleviate constipation naturally.
Exercise can also help get a person’s bowels moving again. A person can try walking, running, swimming, or yoga to find constipation relief.
People may also want to try other home remedies, such as:
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a person should see their doctor about constipation if:
- they notice changes in bowel habits
- they have serious stomach pains
- they experience unintended 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. OTC medications may also alleviate symptoms.
A person with frequent or persistent constipation should speak to a doctor about possible underlying causes.