The $4,000 alkaline water scam EXPOSED by Life Water Ionizers
The Kangen Water machine is a rip-off. That was the conclusion of Dr. Rafael Castillo, who wrote an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer about his relative’s purchase of a $4,000 “water alkalizer or ionizer” from a Multi-Level Marketer. The only $4,000 water ionizer sold through MLM is the Kangen Water machine. Castillo was shocked by his “scholarly” relatives’ purchase and responded by attacking alkaline water as a scam. All of the evidence Dr. Castillo cites to support his claim come from Enagic, and I agree with him: Enagic’s claims are pure pseudoscience, they defy the laws of chemistry and physics.
Why does the Kangen Water machine cost $4,0000? It’s not worth it
You can buy the Life Ionizers M5 ionizer for $1,497, much less than a Kangen machine. In fact, virtually every brand of water ionizer sold can be purchased for less than a Kangen machine.
Do your homework, Dr. Castillo
Dr. Castillo says he doesn’t understand why water ionizers cost more than $100. He would if he did his homework. The platinum coating on an ionizer’s plates costs about $1,400 an ounce. A water ionizer’s plates must be coated with platinum because platinum is a noble metal. It’s not degraded by the process used by water ionizers to make alkaline water. A water ionizer’s plates are coated with platinum to prevent titanium oxide particles being released into the water.
Why does he think this? Dr. Castillo is a doctor, not an engineer. He doesn’t know how water ionizers work, and therefore doesn’t understand why water ionizer plates must be coated with platinum. It is the platinum coating on the plates that make up the majority of the cost of a water ionizer.
Rafael Castillo – Water Health Advocate
I like what Dr. Castillo is doing and respect his work. Dr. Castillo is a heart specialist who describes himself as a water therapy advocate. He has a column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer where he has stated that water is “one of the best natural medicines freely available to man.” So why is he attacking water ionizers?
The reason given by Dr. Castillo is that he considers alkaline to be a placebo. Dr. Castillo holds this opinion despite the fact that he has seen a study that showed that drinking alkaline water may retard bone loss. His stance begs a larger question. Despite all of the medical evidence for the health benefits of alkaline water: “Why is he still skeptical?”
The most likely answer? He hasn’t seen much of the evidence for alkaline water. There are over 40 studies on the health benefits of alkaline water, but most doctors have never seen them. This is because the nearly all studies on it call alkaline water “Electrolyzed Reduced Water” If Dr. Castillo was looking for alkaline water studies, he would have missed all the studies on the electrolyzed reduced water – the technical name for alkaline water. Dr. Castillo’s skepticism could be just a misunderstanding.
But part of the reason is Enagic. Alkaline water has been given a bad reputation by the overly aggressive way it is marketed by Enagic’s army of multi-level marketers. They make claims such as “Kangen Water is micro-clustered” which are easily proven false.
Enagic’s salespeople also make health claims that haven’t been adequately studied. Dr. Castillo cites claims such as ‘alkaline water can slow down the aging process and prevent disease’. He has a right to be skeptical because neither of these claims has been adequately studied. Research is ongoing, and alkaline water shows a lot of promise as a way to support general wellness. There’s no reason to make exaggerated claims about it the way Enagic does.
There is research showing that alkaline water has potential as an antioxidant, and we discuss it on this blog. But before anybody can claim that antioxidant potential can cure disease or retard aging, additional research must be done.
Life Ionizers has spoken out against the outrageous claims that Dr. Castillo cites as his reason for viewing alkaline water as a placebo. In fact, on the subject of the outrageous medical claims being foisted on an unsuspecting public by Enagic’s salespeople, we largely agree with Dr. Castillo. We urge Enagic to subject it’s salespeople to more responsible oversight.
Bogus Science used to claim that Alkaline Water is a Scam
Dr. True Ott, another “expert” cited by Dr. Castillo in his article attacks alkaline water as “junk science” with some junk science of his own. According to Ott:
These machines strip electrons from the contaminants themselves, and this creates hydroxyl ions which are harmful free radicals. The OH- ions attack cells and stimulate adrenaline, which is why there is a short-term buzz, but in the long run it creates a condition that breeds cancer. It can also cause arthritis.
Here’s why his claim is bogus science
Claim: Strip electrons from the contaminants themselves: Which contaminants? Why can’t Lott name them? Has he ever tested any ionizers? Where do those stripped electrons go?
Water ionizers, like any drinking water system, have filters to remove contaminants. Life Ionizers provides custom filtration to guarantee that your water is clean of contaminants. When you get your water from a Life Ionizer, there are no contaminants in your water to strip electrons from
Claim: Hydroxyl ions are harmful free radicals Dr. Ott is mistaking the hydroxyl radical (-HO) for the hydroxyl ion (HO-). According to Free Radicals and Reactive Oxygen, a study guide for medical students from Colorado State University, the hydroxyl ion (found in ionized alkaline water) is not a radical.
Claim: The OH- ions attack cells and stimulate adrenaline. The hydroxyl radical does attack cells, but there are no hydroxyl radicals in alkaline water. There is antioxidant hydroxyl ion (-OH) gives alkaline water it’s antioxidant benefits.
Dr. Ott should know better. He provides no medical references to back up this claim – the same thing he accuses alkaline water companies of doing! He is guilty of doing the same thing Enagic’s sales reps do – making unfounded medical claims – and he is wrong. Life Ionizers does provide studies to back every claim we make: In fact, here are five studies that say alkaline water functions like an antioxidant:
- Lee, MY, YK Kim, and et al. “Electrolyzed-reduced water protects against oxidative damage to DNA, RNA, and protein.” Springer Link. Humana Press, 01 Nov 2006. Web. 2 Jul 2013. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1385/ABAB:135:2:133
- Hiraoka, A, M Takemoto, and et al Studies on the Properties and Real Existence of Aqueous Solution Systems that are Assumed to Have Antioxidant Activities by the Action of “Active Hydrogen.”Journal of Health Science. Journal of Health Science, 09 Jun 2004. Web. 2 Jul 2013. http://image.sciencenet.cn/olddata/kexue.com.cn/upload/blog/file/2009/8/200986121047259319.pdf
- Tsai, Chia-Fang, Yu-Wen Hsu, and et al. “Hepatoprotective effect of electrolyzed reduced water against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in mice.” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691509002464Sciencedirect. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 01 Aug 2009. Web. 7 Nov 2013.
- Yan, H, , and et al The neuroprotective effects of electrolyzed reduced water and its model water containing molecular hydrogen and Pt nanoparticles.” BMC Proceedings. Europeans Society for Animal Cell Technology, 22 Nov 2011. Web. 29 Oct 2013. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1753-6561/5/S8/P69
- Kashiwagi, Taichi, and Et Al. “Electrochemically Reduced Water Protects Neural Cells from Oxidative Damage.” Electrochemically Reduced Water Protects Neural Cells from Oxidative Damage. Hindawi Publishing, 14 Oct. 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2014. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2014/869121/abs/
Claim: In the long run it creates a condition that breeds cancer. It can also cause arthritis. This is the second example of Dr. Ott doing the exact same thing he accuses Kangen Water sales representatives of doing: He’s making medical claims with no studies to support them.
In fact, my wife has been controlling her osteoarthritis with alkaline water for 5 years, and she’s had excellent results: Much less pain and swelling and increased flexibility. We go to great lengths to make sure we have alkaline water when we go on vacation because of the benefits it has provided for her arthritis.
There are no studies that support Dr. Ott’s claim that alkaline water could cause arthritis or cancer. Studies on alkaline water for cancer are preliminary, and they’re positive.
Did you know?: Life Ionizers has been selling water ionizers in the US since 1996 – 19 years. Water ionizers have been sold in Japan since the ’60s, so they have been in use for about 50 years. In 50 years, there have been exactly zero reports of alkaline water causing any disease or degenerative condition.
There are many studies that show benefits of drinking ionized alkaline mineral water. You can read all about them here on the Life Ionizers blog. All available medical research shows that alkaline water may be helpful for arthritis and cancer.
Dr. Ott is doing the same thing Enagic is doing: Making medically unfounded claims.
Dr. Castillo also cites Dr. Andrew Weil, an author who has appeared on TV health shows who also makes claims about alkaline water but – like Dr. Ott – he provides zero medical research that supports his claim. Dr. Weil is like any TV doctor, he may mean well, but he should back up his claims with research – something sorely lacking from TV doctors!
Philippine FDA Advisory on “Alkaline or Oxygenated Water”
Dr. Castillo cites Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go of the Philippine FDA who rebuked Enagic and other multi-level marketers for making: “false, deceptive and misleading claims and strategies to promote alkaline water and oxygenated water” It is exactly this kind of claims that Life Ionizers has spoken out against. The Philippine FDA is right to speak out against Enagic. They are making claims for Kangen water which have been proven false: For example
False: Alkaline water is oxygenated water
Life Ionizers has said this many times before, in several articles: Alkaline water is NOT oxygenated.” In fact, alkaline water is rich in potential hydrogen, not oxygen! Anybody who claims that alkaline water is oxygenated does not understand basic chemistry: Alkaline water has a higher pH than regular water. The “H” in pH stands for hydrogen. Claims that alkaline water is oxygenated are completely bogus. Your body can’t breathe oxygenated water, you need gills for that. Your intestines do not absorb oxygen, your lungs absorb oxygen.
The Chemistry: The acidic water made by a water ionizer is oxygenated. In fact, there is oxygen present as a gas in acidic water when it is made by a water ionizer. The alkaline water contains hydrogen gas.
Dr. Hartigan-Go is right to speak out against claims that alkaline water is oxygenated – it’s not. Claims about alkaline water being oxygenated is something that Life Ionizers has spoken out against for years. Dr. Go also questioned claims that alkaline water can raise blood pH. Here are two clinical studies on humans show that it does raise blood pH:
Ostojic, Sergej, and Marko Stonanovic. “Hydrogen-Rich Water Affected Blood Alkalinity in Physically Active Men.” Research in Sports Medicine: An International Journal, 06 Jan 2014. Web. 20 Feb 2014. <http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15438627.2013.852092>.
Heil, D. “Acid-base balance and hydration status following consumption of mineral-based alkaline bottled water.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 13 Sep 2010. Web. 26 Mar 2014. <http://www.jissn.com/content/7/1/29>.
Dr. Hartigan-Go has never seen either of these studies nor has Dr. Castillo. This is unfortunate because it means that health professionals like Dr. Castillo and Hartigan-Go can’t possibly give good advice about alkaline water because they don’t have accurate information.
How alkaline water affects your blood pH level
According to the study: Hydrogen-Rich Water Affected Blood Alkalinity in Physically Active Men, alkaline water can raise blood pH within the healthy pH range for blood. Which is a pH range of 7.35 – 7.45.
This study was a placebo-controlled, fully randomized interventional clinical study – the gold standard for medical studies. It compared the effect of drinking plain bottled water vs. alkaline water on the blood pH of 52 physically active men. The study showed that alkaline water can raise blood pH under two conditions of metabolic acidosis. Metabolic acidosis is a condition where the blood pH temporarily drops to unsafe levels. There are two kinds of metabolic acidosis that were induced for this study:
- Exercise-induced acidosis – Blood pH lowered by exercise-induced acidity
- Fasting-induced acidosis – Blood pH lowered by body in a fasting state
Exercise-induced acidosis occurs when you work out, and your muscles produce lactic acid. The study found that alkaline water raised blood pH by an average of .07 pH. That may not sound like a lot, but keep in mind that the healthy range for blood pH 7.35 – 7.45 is just .10 of a pH! This means that an increase of .07 ph is a 70% increase in blood pH within the normal pH range for blood.
Fasting-induced acidosis occurs if you’ve gone without food for 12 hours or more. In that condition, during the study, alkaline water was shown to raise blood pH by an average .04, which is a 40% increase in blood pH within the normal pH range for blood.
Plain water (the control in this study) was shown to have no effect on blood pH under conditions of exercise- or fasting-induced acidosis. The facts are clear: Alkaline water can raise your blood pH if your body is in a state of metabolic acidosis.
An open message to Enagic and other Life Ionizers competitors
As an industry, water ionizer companies have brought the scorn of articles like The $4,000 scam on alkaline water on ourselves. There are about 40 studies on the health effects of alkaline water that legitimately show promise – so there is no reason to make unfounded claims about alkaline water. The skepticism we face as an industry is largely a self-inflicted wound. Life Ionizers urges you to stop making unfounded claims about the health benefits of alkaline water, and to stop using junk science to promote it.
An open message to Dr. Rafael Castillo
Life Ionizers salutes you for being a healthy water advocate, for taking a stand against junk science, and for urging people to drink adequate amounts of water. We would be happy to share with you the studies we’ve compiled that document the potential health effects of alkaline water. We agree with you that it’s not OK to claim that alkaline water cures all diseases, but we respectfully disagree that it’s a placebo. We would ask you to note that Katherine Zeratsky of the Mayo Clinic has pointed out that there is research that shows that alkaline water has a link to bone health, plus the multitude of other studies that show the positive benefits of ionized alkaline mineral water.
Update: Life Ionizers reached out to Dr. Castillo to hear his side of the story. as of 7/1/15, we haven’t heard back from him.