Cystic Fibrosis and Bicarbonate

It has long been recognized that patients with cystic fibrosis have a malabsorption syndrome secondary to pancreatic insufficiency for which they generally are treated with the oral administration of pancreatic extracts from hog or beef origin.

Recently Solomons, Cotton, and Dubois reported that the oral administration of L-arginine resulted in a reduction of steatorrhea and gain of body weight in cystic fibrosis patients, perhaps by acting as a mild detergent and thus reducing the viscosity of intestinal mucus and increasing the emulsification of dietary fats. In the treatment of pancreatic insufficiency not due to cystic fibrosis, other investigators have advocated the oral administration of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) in an attempt to correct the deficiency of endogenous NaHCO3 secretion seen in such patients.[1]

[1] Pediatrics. July 1972, VOLUME 50 / ISSUE 1. The Use of L-Arginine and Sodium Bicarbonate in the Treatment of Malabsorption Due to Cystic Fibrosis