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Doctors have long wondered about the potential value of baking soda for kidney disease patients who commonly suffer from low bicarbonate levels, a condition called metabolic acidosis.

The pilot study conducted at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, was the first controlled test of the treatment in a clinical setting.

An estimated 37,800 patients in the UK receive renal replacement therapy, which involves dialysis or a kidney transplant.

The cost of looking after kidney failure patients costs the NHS £30,000 a year - soaking up 3 per cent of the entire NHS budget.

That is, as long as the dose is regulated and under supervision.'What happens is the inflammation of kidney is prevented by baking soda because a chemical reaction takes place limiting ammonia production in the kidney.'This cheap and simple strategy also improves patients' nutritional well-being and has the potential to improve quality of life and of course a clinical outcome that can remove the need for dialysis.

'Baking soda is not classed as a drug so this study has never been tried before.'The scientists pointed out that their research was limited by not having a 'placebo group' of patients receiving a 'dummy' treatment.

The findings were published yesterday in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.