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Evaluating Claims of Altered Water Companies

Be very aware of the following tactics when evaluating these products:

None of these products is effectively regulated by the government or anyone
    else (over and above standard rules to ensure safety of bottled water - discussed
    under the Bottled Water section of my site).  Although the FDA and FTC have
    rules that state marketing claims must be accurate, in practice the rules
    are not enforced and companies are completely free to make any
    unsubstantiated claims they wish
(except for specific health claims like
  
 our product will reduce blood pressure, relieve pain, cure a specific disease, etc.)
    - which would place them under the jurisdiction of the FDA where they would be
    required to scientifically prove their claims.
With that in mind, read the promotions very, very carefully.  You will find that:
    The companies describe various health conditions in great detail.  
    Then they attribute the conditions (sometimes accurately) to a lack of water, 
       or polluted water, or insufficient oxygen, etc.  
    However,  check carefully, they seldom link their specific process of treating
       the water directly to treating or curing the specific diseases they discussed - 
       except in the most general, unverifiable way, like 'drinking enough water is 
       critical to your health', or 'drinking our water will reduce stress and give you 
       more energy'.
Any claims on the site that directly link the specific water treatment to specific
    disease treatments or cures are typically made by 'others' in testimonial
    statements.  There are no regulations in place to ensure that testimonials
    are either truthful or accurate.
    What you will find are statements like "users of our products have reported
       that their headaches were cured after drinking our product.  Note carefully
       the difference
in that statement and "Our product will reduce the severity of
       headaches.  The first statement is anecdotal and essentially meaningless
       without rigorous supporting evidence.  The second statement would require
       scientific proof and FDA regulation and approval.
Here is an example of a general statement on one site (now dead) that would
    not trigger regulatory action even if utterly false (for the record, there were no links on
    the site to any of the research mentioned)
  "Research has shown good response
    from treatment with oxygenated water in diseases of the heart, intestines,
    and lungs as well as in cases of high blood pressure. It has been shown to
    improve the oxygen supply to the brain, stop migraines and stimulate the
    immune system.  For the prevention and treatment of cancer it is a must.
"
    Notice the use of 'treatment' in that text (its general, not their product).  Then,
    a couple of paragraphs later,  when it comes to specific details about their
    specific product, the claims change significantly
:
   
"By installing your own O_-a_ machine in your home you can once and for
    all start to make your own water with additional oxygen, which will increase
    your energy, prevent stress and allow your body to clean out toxins.

    These specific claims for the product are not about treatment of disease,
    and are vague enough to be essentially meaningless and unverifiable.

There will be much mention in the promotional materials about scientific
    research proving that a particular water treatment has some benefit to the body,
    to endurance, to mental function, or whatever.
    There will be, however, a complete lack of substantiated scientific evidence
        to back up those claims.  Acceptable evidence would be experimental results
        published in journal articles that have been reviewed by other scientists to
        make certain the experiments were carried out (and interpreted) correctly and
        without bias.
     Another tactic occasionally used is to list a page full of legitimate scientific
        papers that cover related research like health benefits of water, cellular 
        communications, cellular structures, structures of water, etc.  The problem is
        that none of these papers has anything at all to do with their specific water
        treatment or its alleged functioning in the body.

Let's look briefly at one example of treated water -- 'oxygenated' water that sells for $24
(for 12 one liter bottles) + $8 shipping.  If my math is correct, that's $32 for about 3 gallons
of water, or $10.66 per gallon.  By comparison, tap water costs around $0.007 per gallon, 
the highest quality filtered water is about 10 times more expensive at $0.07 per gallon, and
the cost of distilled water is perhaps $0.25 to $0.35 per gallon.  I suppose some people 
might be able to justify the exorbitant cost if the product performed as advertised
 --- but does it?
  

Some facts to think about when evaluating the hype of this specific product:
There is less dissolved oxygen in 1 liter of 'oxygenated water' than in 1 breath of air.
    Taking an extra breath of air when exercising  would be substantially less expensive
    than paying $1 to $2 for a liter of these products!
The primary way to transport oxygen in the body is bound to hemoglobin in the red
    blood cells.  In normal healthy exercisers, hemoglobin leaving the lungs is already 97%
    to 98% saturated with oxygen.
The structure of the circulatory system ensures that any oxygen picked up in the
    digestive system would go through the lungs before reaching the muscles and other
    tissues.  In the lungs any extra oxygen in the blood will reduce the amount of oxygen
    transferred to the blood - the final oxygen saturation of the hemoglobin would still be
    97% to 98%.
Oxygenation has no effect on the body's ability to absorb or transfer the water.
The concept of obtaining significant amounts of oxygen through the digestive system
    makes as much scientific and physiological sense as quenching your thirst by inhaling a
    glass of water into your lungs.  Water that you drink can take up to an hour or so to
    travel to the intestines where it is absorbed - the water you inhale into your lungs will
    absorb into your bloodstream much more rapidly (Do not try this experiment!!
    -
this is not an endorsement for inhaling water.). Lungs are designed to absorb oxygen.
    The digestive system is designed to absorb water and nutrients, not oxygen!  Oxygenated
    water makes sense for fish that have specialized structures (gills) for exchanging oxygen and
    carbon dioxide in an aquatic environment, but not for land mammals.

American Council on Exercise (ACE) Study Investigates Super Oxygenated Water Claims - Results of a study done to test health claims.  Conclusion: “At this time, there is no scientific evidence or logical rationale to suggest that drinking super oxygenated water can in any way increase the amount of oxygen in the blood stream,” said Porcari. “Therefore, any potential benefits of super oxygenated water would undoubtedly be attributed to the placebo effect.”
Super-Oxygenated Water Is Latest Sports Scam
Oxygenated Water
Index of Water-Related Frauds and Quackery

UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, January 2006 - It doesn’t matter how much oxygen is in the water, because we absorb oxygen into our blood through our lungs, not our digestive tracts.  And, in general, healthy people’s blood already contains all the oxygen it needs. You can’t force much more in.  Not surprisingly, no published studies have shown that these waters increase oxygen levels in the blood or muscles or improve athletic performance.  Oxygenated water is a scam.

Similar detailed analyses of each of the types of 'Altered' water can be made.  You can read about some of them at the site below, and I'll try to add to this page as time allows - RJ.

Aqua Scams - The purpose of this site is to examine the scientific validity of the explanations given by the proponents of "alternative" water treatment devices or, in the case of "clustered water", of a fictional alternative form of water that is purported to be a restorer of youth and vigor. My motivation for doing this is entirely non-vested and very simple: after thirty-four years of teaching general, physical, and environmental Chemistry, it disturbs me to see my favorite science presented incorrectly (and often mangled into pseudoscience) in the promotion of processes or devices offered to the public.  Also look at Cluster Fluster: three views for more information about how to evaluate claims made by these companies.

A somewhat less skeptical treatment of "altered water" topics: Water Structure and Behavior - A number of explanations of the complex behavior of water have been published, many quite recently. In this site, I have brought together a self-consistent selection of these ideas, which I hope will encourage both the understanding of water and further work.  Also a discussion on  Magnetic water

 

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