Yes, yes - baking soda leavens the muffins and raises the cookie dough. It freshens the refrigerator, cleans stains off the stove and brightens the laundry. But, best of all, humble sodium bicarbonate can be used as a health and beauty aid.
Here are my favorite uses:
1. As a stomach alkalizer - Drink ¼ tsp. of soda mixed in a tall glass of water to relieve indigestion immediately. It counters any acid condition within the digestive system. Makes a great overall-health tonic.
2. As a mouth and throat gargle - Dissolve 1 tsp. of soda into a glass of warm water and "swish" to help heal soreness or inflammation of the gums and throat.
3. As a thick plaster, baking soda helps to remove painlessly splinters of any kind. Apply a thick paste of soda to the affected area and keep replacing it every few hours (as needed) over the course of 2-3 days. The salts will eventually draw the splinter up to the surface of the skin so it can be removed easily with tweezers. No need to dig around.
4. As a water softener in your bath - Dissolve a cup or so of soda into running bath water. It provides soothing relief to aching muscles as well as to any minor skin irritations (including the itch of chickenpox).
5. And last but not least, as a regular hair cleanser instead of shampoo - Wet hair and massage about 4 Tbsp. (for shoulder-length hair) of soda into scalp and through your hair. Give it a good scrub. It will not produce a lather, but after rinsing 3 times in cool water, your hair will be shiny clean, free of oils, and easily combed without tangles. And no fragrances, harmful dyes, or unnecessary additives to think of.