Woo With Water

Water, being indispensable to life as we know it, has long been studied by man in order to get a handle on its chemical and physical properties, some of which are still not fully understood. For example, you may be amazed to read that under suitably controlled conditions it is possible to heat water at atmospheric pressure to beyond 200 °C (yes, that’s a leading “2”) at which point it explosively turns to steam. Do not try this at home.

Given water’s central rôle in our day-to-day existence, it is hardly surprising that, amidst genuine efforts to understand this common liquid, much flummery emerges as a by-product. The common forms of such swindles involve water retaining special forms of energy for release on demand, “adjusting” the shapes or structures of water molecules or “clusters” thereof, or infusing water with other special properties (e.g. mood memories à la Masaru Emoto) that are claimed to yield some measurable and usually beneficial effect. Homeopathy springs readily to mind here.

The main reason for raising the subject here is that a product called “CellFood” seems to be grabbing the attention of many of South Africa’s less critically minded people. Among CellFood’s many glowing claims is that it provides an abundance of oxygen at the cellular level through a “proprietary water-splitting technology.” This, no doubt, will be a shocking revelation to physicists and chemists who labour under the clearly mistaken impression that water dissociation takes a great deal of energy. Biologists will be equally stunned to learn that the hydrogen from the dissociated water is completely inert at the cellular level, perhaps simply disappearing without a trace.

Now it is possible that CellFood does indeed provide a nett health benefit since it is claimed to contain 129 nutrients (minerals, enzymes and amino acids). However, the types and dosages of these nutrients are not given, and CellFood’s effect on health is to be gauged by clinical trials, which are not in evidence. Further suspicion is warranted by its reliance on the water-oxygen-cell claims, and the furtherance of the outdated idea that muscle fatigue (stiffness) is the result of lactic acid build-up, instead of microtears of the muscle fibres.

The CellFood product has supposedly been studied at the University of Pretoria and resulted in a much-advertised slimming product called “O2-Lean.” The details of the Tuks study are unknown to me, but it is a fairly safe bet that the improvements noted in users of CellFood were at best marginal, and, as is their custom, the marketing types likely took the carefully phrased, tentative study results and turned them into ironclad facts for public, er…, consumption.

My efforts to collect some sense about such water woo has turned up this very useful resource that deals with a variety of chemistry follies, and has a whole section on water. Also, here (PDF – requires Acrobat Reader) is a report entitled “Gallery of Water-related Pseudoscience,” which lists a great many of these scams together with brief remarks giving the salient claims.



…they always say “clinically tested” but we never see the results of said tests. Few people remember from their own school days that being tested does not equal to passing the test :wink:

Indeed. But it is worth keeping in mind that “clinically tested” is a very different beast to “clinically proven.” The latter is a positive assertion of efficacy, while the former is, as you point out, neutral in that respect. Exploiting the public’s generally poor understanding of the meaning of, and distinctions among, such terms is yet more of the subterfuge employed by marketing types to increase the attractiveness of a product. However, sometimes even “clinically proven” can end up the victim of severe assault and battery: an item of cosmetics was recently advertised with a prominent proclamation that it was clinically proven, and this caption was footnoted in tiny, low contrast typeface, “11 women, self-assessment.”


Marketers marketing.

The same phenomenon is happening a lot with patent drugs these days. New drugs are brought to the market that have little or no benefit over older drugs apart from the fact that they are new, and hence protected by patent for a number of years.

There are numerous cases, documented in the medical journals, where clinical trials have been anything but truthful with their findings. In literally hundreds of trials, the results have been manipulated to favour the new drug where the raw data does not support such findings. Outright fraud is not uncommon.

One of the interesting practices is to purge the control (placebo) group of all individuals who do not fit the intended profile. This is a total violation of the principles of a placebo controlled double-blind protocol.

The result is that drugs get approved and put on the market that are not significantly more effective than older drugs, or do not have significantly less side-effects than the older drugs. They are, however significantly more expensive than the older drugs that have generics in the market.

One example of this is the class of drugs known as COX-2 inhibitors. They are used for pain relief for people with inflammation diseases like arthritis. The claim was that COX-2 inhibitors cause significantly less gastric distress than older drugs like ibuprofen. Not only has that claim proven to be false, the clinical trials have been re-examined and proof of malfesance has been uncovered. What’s worse is that COX-2 inhibitors have a side effect in that they can cause heart attacks. Vioxx was the first of the COX-2 inhibitors to be withdrawn from the market, but not before it killed an estimated 55000 people in the USA.

What then makes this saga boggle the mind is that an FDA panel then voted to reapprove Vioxx and keep Bextra in the market. Of the panel of 32 experts, 10 of them had financial ties with the manufacturers. Had those 10 experts not voted, the panel would have voted 12 to 8 to withdraw Bextra from the market and 14 to 8 to keep Vioxx off the market.

While the “special” water might not do anything to you but deplete your wallet, at least water isn’t toxic in normal quantities.

Once again, long on accusation, short on evidence. Remedy, please.


A search of the New England Journal of Medicine will provide all you need in the way of evidence. The topic of COX-2 inhibitors and especially the subject of the blatant fraud in the Vioxx trials was covered in both articles and editorials.

As the accuser, the onus is on you.


Much more to the point, this thread began by looking at the dubious health claims of yet another in an apparently interminable succession of fast-buck snake oil remedies that beset the ordinary Joe and Jane.

Since then, it has been turned into an axe-grinding session, except that the axe itself is largely missing, and what you hear are some imprudently placed knuckles being scraped by the grindstone.

It would be naïve to suggest that drug companies fund clinical trials for their products purely out of altruism, so that the accusation of deliberate bias or even manipulation of results has some basis in reality, not to mention Hollywood. Such goings-on are inexcusable, not only for the potential harm they can wreak on users of the tested products, but also because, as we can clearly see in this thread, they afford an opportunity to pull the entirety of medical science into disrepute - sullied by association, as it were.

There have, however, been some moves afoot to, er…, remedy the situation. When publishing the findings of clinical trials, the authors are required to disclose their affiliations and the source of funding for the trials by way of a declaration that accompanies the report. This ensures that the peer-review process is diligently followed and goes a long way towards reducing this type of research fraud.

The other, less obvious, remedial prong is that a particular drug, especially when its use becomes more widespread, is subjected to further trials by other agencies. This, too, can act as a handbrake on anyone contemplating fraud.

And, finally, these failings lend absolutely no weight to the claims of woo-woo brigands.



A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that conventional drugs kill about 106,000 Americans a year, and this figure is limited to patients that die in the hospital, so the actual figure is unquestionably much higher. That makes prescription drugs the fourth leading cause of death in the United States (after heart attack, cancer and stroke). Just one single drug, Vioxx, killed more Americans than the Vetnam War. That comes from the sworn testimony of Dr. David Graham, a senior scientist at the FDA.

Not true. It isn’t prescription drugs that are the leading cause of death in hospitals in the US or anywhere else for that matter. This fairytale is a little misrepresentation concocted by woo-woo practitioners who seem incapable of comprehending what they read. By their very nature, hospitals are places at which all manner of illnesses are concentrated and many patients succumb to infections while they are debilitated by an altogether different condition, e.g. post surgery. Besides, when citing such statistics it is incumbent on you to give a reference in their support, otherwise people might suspect that your telling tales.



So who is the big conspirators here? Who-who or big pharma? Sounds like both are guilty. At least home remedies cost you less. You don’t live as long - so you don’t have to worry about it too much. :slight_smile:

This illustrates one of several tactics typically used by the pseudoscientist: selective quoting and leaving out important background. I think you should read the reports you cite more carefully before making wild and misleading claims. Quite apart, that is, from more carefully selecting the sources you seem to consider authoritative. The Palm Beach Post is certainly not among the latter.

Maybe someone will invent a homoeopathic car someday that will reduce or even eliminate road deaths. Now there’s a thought…


Truth is in front of your eyes. and u r not willing to accept it. SIde effects of allopathy are sometimes too severe resulting in deaths. On can not mislead public anymore.

Indeed, and it is especially simple when one cherrypicks the bits that appear to suit one’s purposes.

As a general rule? Hardly. Unanticipated side effects in particular cases, while tragic, sadly cannot be ruled out at present, given the complexity and variability of human physiology. The failings of conventional medicine, however, are neither evidence in favour of homoeopathy nor addressed by it, which is where I expect you were trying to take this thread. If it were so, homoeopathy would have become mainstream medical science long ago.


most or all claims concerning everett storey are lies!! how do i know?? everett storey was my uncle (uncle ev). if you can handle the truth please e-mail [email protected] truth rules! everett storey was my friend,
but everett is no more!
what everett thought was d2o was h2so4!!

“just a tax on stupidity”


Classic!!! ;D