by Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac., OMD, DM (P)
Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine
Bicarbonate and CO2
Bicarbonate and CO2 are profoundly important for human health. Both are necessary for the successful practice of medicine and the treatment of cancer yet few understand the importance of both.
Whang says, in a long promotional essay pushing a product:
“Consuming sodium bicarbonate (baking powder) does not add bicarbonates to the blood because hydrochloric acid breaks up sodium bicarbonates into water, carbon dioxide and sodium salt in the stomach. It is exactly like ingesting carbonic acid and sodium salt.”
The truth though is bicarbonates enter the bloodstream “only” when the stomach produces hydrochloric acid. What Whang failed to see is that the CO2 is going into the blood in the form of bicarbonate.
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) immediately reacts when it mixes with stomach acid. NaHCO(3) + HCl —> NaCl + H(2)0 + CO(2). That is sodium bicarbonate + stomach acid yields salt + water + carbon dioxide.
Carbon dioxide is present in the blood in a number of forms such as bicarbonate, dissolved carbon dioxide and carbonic acid, of which 90% is bicarbonate or HCO3.
Sodium bicarbonate turns to CO2 when it reaches the stomach causing an increase in stomach acid production as well as an increase in bicarbonates in the blood. Bicarbonate can act as acid or base.
The basic reason that sodium bicarbonate is such a wonderful cancer treatment is that it directly increases CO2 levels in the body and this has the direct result of allowing more oxygen to reach the cancer sites, which hate O2.
A $2.61 pound of sodium bicarbonate will outperform a $100,000 dollar chemo treatment because it targets the most fundamental aspects of cancer physiology, which are acidity and low oxygen conditions, but Sang Whang would rather you buy his product because he does not think sodium bicarbonate works. Over a hundred years of clinical evidence would say otherwise.
(This essay is in response to a reader questioning Whang’s statement)
Some people feel that sodium bicarbonate is not recommended for long-term preventive use because the body will become resistant to its action.
This is not true since bicarbonate and CO2 are absolute constants in human physiology and though pH levels should be maintained by other means, by alkaline diets and drinks, there is no resisting the power of sodium bicarbonate to radically shift upwards the pH of tissues whether healthy or cancerous. There is no resistance though one can overdo a good thing and drive alkaline rates too high causing other problems.
The body struggles to produce enough bicarbonate and it is a losing battle as we age. Carbon dioxide, as well as bicarbonate, is a nutrient as well as a product of respiration and energy production in the cells and its lack or deficiency is of itself a starting point for different disturbances in the body.
If a carbon dioxide deficiency becomes chronic, it can be responsible for serious diseases, ageing and cancer.
One of the reasons exercise is so important for our health is that it is the most wonderful way for us to generate large amounts of CO2 and thus much more oxygen passes into the lungs, blood and cells.
If the level of carbon dioxide in the blood is lower than normal, which it is in all people who do not exercise or breathe too fast, then this leads to difficulties in releasing oxygen from hemoglobin and that is why it is antihumanitarian to suggest people away from using bicarbonate.
Bicarbonate deficiency is the most unrecognized medical condition on earth.
Once carbonic acid forms, it very quickly equilibrates with the other acids and bases in solution. It can, for example, lose one or two protons (H+).
The extent to which this happens depends upon the pH and a variety of other factors. In seawater at pH 8.1, most of it (87 percent) will lose one proton to form bicarbonate, a small amount will lose two protons to form carbonate (13 percent), and a very small amount will remain as H2CO3 (<>1 percent).
All of these forms, however, interconvert faster than the blink of an eye, so one cannot identify one as carbonate and one as bicarbonate for more than a tiny fraction of a second. All one can really say is that on average X percent is in the form of bicarbonate, and Y percent in the form of carbonate.
Total CO2 is defined as the sum of carbonic acid and bicarbonate.
Carbonic acid plays a very important role as a buffer in our blood. The equilibrium between carbon dioxide and carbonic acid is very important for controlling the acidity of body fluids, and the carbonic anhydrase increases the reaction rate by a factor of nearly a billion to keep the fluids at a stable pH. Carbon dioxide does change the pH of water.
This is how it works:
Carbon dioxide dissolves slightly in water to form a weak acid called carbonic acid, H2CO3, according to the following reaction:
CO2 + H2O –> H2CO3
After that, carbonic acid reacts slightly and reversibly in water to form a hydronium cation, H3O+, and the bicarbonate ion, HCO3-, according to the following reaction:
H2CO3 + H2O –> HCO3- + H3O+
In the basement of human physiology are these lightning fast translations so for all intent and purpose drinking sparkling water is very similar to drinking bicarbonate water.
Scientists have found in animal studies that sparkling water stimulates HCO3- secretion in both the stomach and the duodenum. CO2 and HCO3- (bicarbonate ions) are interchangeable in the presence of water.
The normal ratio of bicarbonate to carbonic acid at normal pH is around 20:1; total CO2 will therefore be about 5% higher than serum bicarbonate.
When you observe a difference between total CO2 and bicarbonate that is larger than 5%, the patient will be acidic. In aqueous solution, carbonic acid dissociates into a bicarbonate ion and a proton or into carbon dioxide and water depending on the conditions such as pH and the relative concentrations of each of the products, i.e., carbon dioxide and bicarbonate.
The carbonic acid, carbon dioxide bicarbonate axis represents the main buffers against dangerous pH changes; a buffer is a substance that resists changes in pH (acid concentration) by undergoing a reversible reaction.
When weak acids are added to a buffer solution, the resulting change in pH is less than it would have been if the buffer were not present. When hydrogen ion (H+) is added, much of the hydrogen is taken up by the salt of the buffering acid. With bicarbonate, H+ bonds to HCO3- to form H2CO3, which is a weak acid.
The main characteristic of a buffer is that the reaction is reversible — the hydrogen ion can be given back.
Dr. Mark Sircus’ book, Sodium Bicarbonate: Nature’s Unique First Aid Remedy, is available on Amazon.
References:  http://www.fishchannel.com;  Stimulation by sparkling water of gastroduodenal HCO3- secretion in rats. Med Sci Monit. 2009 Dec;15(12):BR349-56. Division of Pathological Sciences, Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, Kyoto Pharmaceutical University, Misasagi, Yamashina, Kyoto, Japan.