Research by British scientists suggests sodium bicarbonate – otherwise known as baking soda – can dramatically slow the progress of chronic kidney disease.

The simple household product used for baking, cleaning, bee stings and acid indigestion is so effective that it could prevent patients having to be put on kidney machines, the research suggests.

The pilot study, conducted at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, was the first controlled test of the treatment in a clinical setting. The findings have been published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Around 3 million people in the uK suffer from chronic kidney disease, ranging in severity from a mild degree of poor functioning to complete kidney failure. Seriously affected patients may have to spend time each day on a dialysis machine, which takes over the function of the kidneys.