Junk Science in the Marketplace
In mid-2015, many Web pages that accept advertising became infested with "Structured Water Device" promotions from an outfit that calls itself "The Wellness Enterprise" (TWE). Employing a mixture of looney-tunes pseudoscience and new-age nonsense that seems to be favored by the notoriously credulous alternative health crowd, they are hawking a line of “Natural Action Water Devices” that are supposed to impart some kind of special "structure" to water for drinking, bathing, feeding to your plants — and for all I know, washing your car and bathing the dog.
Never mind that there is no credible scientific evidence that the structure of pure water can be altered for periods of time longer than a fraction of a nanosecond, or that there is any need for improving on the exquisite mechanisms which our bodies have evolved to absorb and utilize plain ordinary water.
On this page, I use purple prose to highlight claims that I (and, I believe that most chemical scientists) consider false, misleading, or just plain devoid of clear meaning.
In common with many of the other structure-altered water promotions described on my water cluster quackery page, they explain that our bodies, adapted to the pristine water of older times, are unable to cope with that of our sullied and polluted environment:
“Most water, and really all liquids have become chaotic and lacking energy which our bodies so deeply crave. By reverting our water back to what nature produces, and provides we’re able to live in the way we’ve always been intended to.”
How is this born-again water created? Simply by "spinning it in an infinity-shaped double vortex." Anyone familiar with the history of water pseudoscience will recognize this is just the latest in a long tradition of vortex voodoo that I describe here. Much of this stuff is inspired by the work of one Viktor Schauberger (1885-1958) who appears to be something of an icon in the field.
On their page hawking “Natural Action Dynamically Dynamically Enhanced” shower units, they wisely avoid claiming that this elixir actually confers any health benefits, which would likely get them in trouble with laws against making fraudulant medical claims. Instead, they cleverly limit their pitch to saying that their device "creates properties" that [can potentially]
It should not require much reflection to reveal the vacuousness of these claims, whose detailed examination would be a useful excercise in introducing students to the art of critical thinking:
|“restore your body and the environment.”||Typical meaningless hype. Restore your body to what it was yesterday, a year or a decade ago? How can this be measured? And by what magical means does this nostrum affect the environment?|
|"neutralize a vast variety of chemicals"||
What does "neutralize" mean in this context? TWE offers us the following flapdoodle:
STRUCTURED WATER UNITS REPLICATE NATURE’S DESIGN TO ADDRESS TOXINS IN WATER BY CHANGING THE TOXIN’S MOLECULAR STRUCTURE, OR MORE TECHNICALLY, THEIR HYDROGEN BOND ANGLE. THIS STRUCTURAL CHANGE NEUTRALIZES THE TOXIN’S EFFECT IN THE BODY. [link]
And I wonder what chemicals are not included in this "vast variety"?
|"rid water of almost all inorganic compounds, including pesticides, bacteria, heavy metals , free radicals"||
Anyone who has passed high school chemistry should be skeptical of this. Where are all of these bad things supposed to go? Do they simply disappear in a puff of pixie dust? Don't these goofballs know about the Law of Conservation Matter.And to anyone trained in Chemistry, the idea that a mechanical device can make heavy metal ions disappear is laughable!
|"neutralize the negative impact of electromagnetic fields"||There is little if any scientific evidence that electromagnetic fields have any "negative impacts" other than conveying the nonsense heard on late-night talk radio! But even if they did, how in the world could any kind of drinkable snake-oil exert any kind of a protective effect?|
|"increase immunity to illness and disease"||How has this "increase"been measured? Is there any reason to believe that "restructuring" water can bring this about? There is a lot of solid evidence that lifestyle has a lot more to do with this!|
But they don't stop there! As "proof" of the wonders of this elixir, they conjure up what I can only describe as thoroughly crackpot pseudoscience.
On this Web page they describe something called “Gas Discharge Visualization”, a corona discharge process similar to Kirlian photography. They show photographs purporting to compare GDF images of distilled, “naturally structured” [whatever that is supposed to mean] and their “Natural Action" water. These techniques and interpretations have no credible scientific support.
A “Live blood cell analysis video” purports to show “spontaneous cell death” from a person who drinks ordinary water; after drinking structured water, “the cells are shining with light and vitality.” Don't believe any of this; live blood cell analysis is a common form of quack medicine.
"People who drink structured water experience a minimum 10% increase in their energy.” One wonders how they arrived at this number; I doubt that this was measured by calorimetry in a physiology laboratory!
“When you drink structured water, you become a different energy and are able to help shift yourself and the planet.” Can anyone figure out what this is supposed to mean? It strikes me as coming straight out of la-la land!
“Most water, and really all liquids have become chaotic and lacking energy which our bodies so deeply crave. By reverting our water back to what nature produces, and provides we’re able to live in the way we’ve always been intended to.” Conventional chemistry teaches us that all liquids are "chaotic" precisely because they possess [thermal] energy, none of which gets incorporated into the body.
On this page they show diagrams implying that the lower surface tension of structured water improves entry of water into cells. But any chemistry student knows that the only way the surface tension of water can be reduced is by heating it, or dissolving other substances [chemicals!] in it. More importantly, it is now known that surface tension has nothing to do with the entry of water through cell walls; they enter in single file, one H2O molecule at a time, as I describe here.
In support of their claim about destroying bacteria, they offer several "Reports" from commercial labs. One that struck my eye is a barely-legible report from “Biochem-Lab, Inc.” reports a reduced coliform count of 345 in Natural Action Water, compared to 380 in “raw water”. Not very impressive; this could easily be the natural variation between different samples of the same source.
Finally, for the real new-age seekers, TWE offers a $497 “Water Magic ™” 30-day coaching course intended to
The consensus among chemical scientists is that bulk water is something like a fluid gel in which randomly-sized groups of loosely-connected H2O molecules flicker in and out of existance at periods of less than a nanosecond.
There is no credible scientific evidence (such as infrared- or NMR spectra, for example) that any way of treating water can alter its bulk structure for more than a nanosecond.
Even if the structure could be changed, there is no reason to believe enhance the one-at-a-time flow of water molecules into the body's cells.
"Section 403(r)(6) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) (21 U.S.C. 343(r)(6)) requires that a manufacturer of a dietary supplement making a nutritional deficiency, structure/function, or general well-being claim(2) have substantiation that the claim is truthful and not misleading.(3)"
U.S. Federal Trade Commission File-A-Complaint page
For more information and references, please see:
A Gentle Introduction to Water and its Structure (some real science!)
What is Pseudoscience? (as a consumer, you should know the difference!)