Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pure Water Fetishists

(It's probably a bit risky having a blog post with the words 'water' and 'fetishists' in the title, but site stats will be huge, eclipsed only by the disappointment of the surfers.)

What is it with Complementary & Alternative Medicine communities and their crazed fixation on only ever coming into to contact with absolutely, scrupulously and perfectly pure water? And why does no-one ever point out that the minute they pour it into a glass, kettle or pot of dried lentils, all the effort to purify it has gone out the window?

The company I'd like to introduce you to is PureH20. Alas, the interweb has ensured that '2' rarely gets to be subscript.

The website has a myriad of bullshit, fear-mongering, pseudoscience and amazing state-the-bleedin-obvious facts like
Water is absolutely vital for health
I would honestly like to know if there is anyone to whom that comes as a revelation. And I mean anyone in the whole world.
Did you know that
most of us have lost our proper thirst reflex by the end of our childhood?

or that
Bottled and tap waters contain many impurities like heavy metals and inorganic minerals that are likely to have an adverse effect on your health
So no shortage of bullshit to keep you entertained. Their purification system is definately a first in chemical synthesis though:
Water filtered using our patented system removes all the chemicals and impurities, both organics and inorganics, to provide you with one hydrogen atom and two oxygen atoms
(my bold)

Oh. I assumed they were selling water rather than HO2, who'd have thunk? As if all the sillyness wasn't enough we get:
The fifth function [of water] - that of an electronegative enhancer (something which increases the negativity of red blood cells thereby maintaining the optimum distance between each cell and could therefore reduce the risk of clotting) - was first documented by renowned chemist Thomas Riddick over 100 years ago. Subsequent studies confirm that when water was consumed in its purest form, i.e. Pure H2O, it has remarkable and unique health benefits.

Needless to say there's no pointer to the studies (and I reckon no point in discussing further).

We all know there are dangers with drinking too much water - Nutritional Therapist Barbara Nash settled out of court with the family of Dawn Page who had suffered brain damage following Nash's "Amazing Hydration Diet". (Of course the media ran this story, seemingly blissfully unaware of how their own repeated pumping of uncritical fawning towards similar 'miracle cures' had in some part lead to the situation arising). Nash was an Alumnus of the College of Natural Nutrition - avid TiD readers will remember Nash's teacher, Barbara Wren happily telling people that a urine press placed on the neck will combat thyoid cancer. She also had plenty to say about her own fetish for pure water.

So how can a company like PureH20 (or is it HO2?) manage to write such drivel without a challenge? Well, some rebuff came today in the form of an Advertising Standards Authority ruling from a magazine advert.

Here are a few of the claims which were 'questioned':
Clinically proven to reduce LDL cholesterol and blood pressure...Help prevent cancer by acting as an antioxidant...reduce stress levels...Reduce your body pollutants and can help reduce urinary infections ... Help prevent, ulcers, IBS and constipation

Now of course, not *all* water does this, that would be silly, only PureH2O's special water does this. (Although it's not the first time the ASA slapped down a company for claiming water could lower cholesterol)

So, let me just reiterate what they saying: Water - good against cancer, cholesterol, blood pressure, stress, and others. I'll put it to you there isn't a person with any of these problems who *isn't* taking water. And if they aren't, their disease profile is irrelevant, as they'll die of thirst.

What about if I want to drink mineral water - have you any advice or fear for me?
Water can be bad for you ... Every time you drink mineral water, a high level of minerals, such as calcium, are deposited in your body. Every time you drink a glass of tap water, you're digesting contaminants such as salts, minerals, metals, pesticides, microbes, hormones and parasites ... Your body becomes toxically overloaded ... Over time, this build up can contribute to chronic kidney disease, heart failure or skeletal fluorosis...a toxic cocktail

Toxic cocktail, eh? Mineral water? They're really spreading the stupid on thick.

The Pure H2O Co. said the claims were supported by a thesis on Pure H2O for the British Institute of Homeopathy and Westbrook University, USA, carried out as a PhD by Dr Purkait from the University of Surrey. I suppose if anyone knows about pure uncontaminated water, a homeopath would. Sensibly, the ASA noted:
[the claims were] from a manufacturer of a water purification system whose promotional literature also appeared in the thesis, and considered it was therefore not sufficiently impartial
Cheap hucksterism and nothing more.

As usual the ASA has done a sterling job of smacking down the quacks. As always, my irk is that they have no power and little influence but to continue playing whack-a-mole (whack-a-quack?) with the snakeoil sellers. Not quite selling snow to eskimos, but water to idiots.



  1. I thought pure water would kill you by removing essential salts an minerals from your blood stream thanks to the wonders of osmosis?

  2. in the absence of statutory teeth, the ASA is sadly consigned to the role of point-and-laugh merchants - not that this is a bad thing, it's just that when such dangerous nonsense pours out (no pun intended) of any orifice, they can do nothing to shut them up.

    pure water my arse...

  3. Rick - from my limited knowledge of this (apart from carbonates), the minerals present in mineral water are of the concentration of 1 - 100 ppm. This link is about a University undergrad lab experiment differentiating waters and compares the chemical analysis of a few brands.

    The main point above (and I'm not sure I made it strong enough) is that you can clean water to the nth degree if you wish, but as soon as you expose it to the atmosphere, you may as well not have bothered and certainly, unless your drinking vessels, kettle, hands are scrupulously clean it's all a waste of time.

    Like a lot of these quackeries, as soon as you apply basic logic to it, it fails.

  4. Teek - I can see the adverts now:

    "This isn't just any water, this is Pure Teek's Arse Water"...

  5. I just seem to remember that Coke/Dasani claimed that they purified their water with reverse-osmosis. But then it was TOO pure and would be damaging, so they had to add salts back into it before selling it.

    So, if these people really are supplying pure H2O, or near as possible, then it wouldn't be very healthy anyway.

  6. Hi Rick - good memory! I had forgotten about Dasani and a little bit of digging rejigged the grey cells.

    BBC report here.
    The Wiki Entry for Dasani states that they purify it and then add minerals to enhance the taste. I can't find anything about being 'bad for you'.


  7. These water people need something I use for my aquarium. It legitimately claims to neutralize chlorine, chloramine, heavy metals, and help provide a healthy slime coat.

    It may be the pure water floggers already slimy, but why not sell them something to improve the situation.

  8. PureH2O. Pure Bullshit.

    Weren't Dasani using tap water?

  9. I suppose if anyone knows about pure uncontaminated water, a homeopath would.

    I actually LOLed at that. :)

    Reading this post, was anybody else thinking "We must maintain the purity of our bodily fluids"?

    I am entirely unconvinced by the idea that distilled water will leach significant amounts of minerals from the body. Perhaps if you were to try living on nothing but distilled water for some time... But not in anything approaching normal circumstances. I'm pretty sure it's just another one of those internet myths.

    As a home-brewer, I need to know the mineral content of my tap water, and it's remarkably low around here - for example total calcium is less than 10ppm. I don't seem to have dropped dead from calcium deficiency yet, probably because I eat food.

  10. Dr Aust, no you cannot be forgiven until you dowse yourself in Lourdes Water. I happen to have some here which I will sell you for £1000.

    **Fills bottle with tap water**

    Zeno - yes they were using tap water, but they also reverse-osmosed the water to take out all the nasty minerals and put some minerals back in.

  11. I just cannot get over the idea of health-food stores selling bottles of "reverse osmosis purified" water to gullible nit-wits.

    Like many people on the forums who work in science, I have a reverse osmosis system in the lab to provide water for experimental solutions - we do prefer our sodium-free solutions to be sodium-free. But I don't DRINK that stuff - I drink the water from the cold tap on the rising main.

    Besides which, who is to say the health food store keep their reverse osmosis system clean? Or serviced? Or replace the cartridges?

    As they say, there's one born every minute. Kerr-chinng!

  12. Hang on though - there may be something in this HO2 stuff... but not quite what they intended.

    HO2* being a - shock horror - free radical. One which none other than Cambridge life-extension advocate Aubrey De Grey is rather interested in.

    It's a small woo world.

  13. I think (Pure:)water can lower cholesterol levels. Just by dilution.
    Dehydration = dense blood = high chlesterol. Drink water, and your cholesterol levels drop. This could work especially for older people, who dont know they are thirsty.