Steve Spangler visited the set of The Doctors Science Lab this week to share lessons on the science behind some health discomforts…
With Steve as their lab instructor, The Doctors donned their lab coats and went to work. They used Red Cabbage Indicator, Milk of Magnesia, giant flasks and a few ‘glubs’ of vinegar to demonstrate how antacids work and the classic Elephant’s Toothpaste demonstration to show what happens with food poisoning in the stomach.
The Science of How Antacids Work
Antacids have to be one of the most popular over-the-counter medications that help control indigestion and heartburn. The active ingredient in most antacids is magnesium-hydroxide. It works to buffer and turn the liquids in the stomach from an acid to a neutral. When an acidic food that can cause heartburn is eaten, the antacid goes to work to neutralize it.
For the occasional episode, it’s okay to use antacids to calm heartburn and indigestion. It is not a good idea to take them every day or after every meal like it was once thought. Our stomachs are designed to be acidic to digest food and function properly.
The Science of Food Poisoning
You’ve eaten something that wasn’t quite right – it sat out too long or was contaminated in some way. Your stomach feels like it is going to explode in all directions and you begin praying to the porcelain gods.
To demonstrate what is happening inside the digestive tract, Steve used graduated cylinders to act as the stomach. When the “bad food” was introduced to the stomach, it reacted naturally, by quickly expelling the bad stuff fast. Vomiting and diarrhea are the two ways in which your body gets rid of the bacteria or virus.
As cool (and smelly and hot) as this experiment is, it is best to leave it to the professionals like chemistry teachers. For more information about the Monster Foam Elephant’s Toothpaste demonstration and a kid-friendly Elephant’s Toothpaste that everyone can do at home, click the experiment links.