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MICROCLUSTERING: The Making of a Myth (Part 2. The Evidence Is Invalid)

Science for Stable Microclusters

There is no valid scientific evidence for the existence of these microclusters,1,2,3 but the myth continues to be propagated because there are seven main pseudo (false) evidences for it, which are used by companies and marketers to promote their products. What follows is a brief discussion of these pseudo evidences.

(1)  Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)

The most commonly used piece of evidence is the results for Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR),1,5 which appears to have first been used as evidence in the late 1980s.6,7 The idea is that the greater its band width, the larger the water cluster1,8 As seen in the figure 1, ionized water has a smaller bandwidth. On the surface, this looks quite convincing and has even convinced a number of doctors.9,10 However, the problem is that the bandwidths are pH dependent,11 not cluster size dependent.12 Any deviation from neutral pH in either direction will produce similar measurements.13Figure 1. Table and figure of NMR results of ionized water. The table was found in a scientific article4 discussing the observed characteristics of ionized water; however no mention of micoclusters or similar concepts were proposed.  The figure is representative of what is found on many ionized water companies’ sites.

NMR data

 

In other words, you can achieve the exact same measurements by adding alkaline chemicals (e.g. sodium hydroxide).  One scientific article14 specifically stated that: “the half width of 17O-NMR spectrum depended on pH regardless of the experimental condition. Consequently it is not adequate to use the width as an index of the cluster size of water”.14  In short, NMR is a totally invalid method to measure water clusters.1

(2) Patents

Many people may falsely assume that a patent is something that has passed scientific rigor and/or is even “more scientific” than a research article.   However, such is not the case and there are numerous patents that contain bogus and even fallacious science. There are well over 100 different patents for micro clustered water.15 At any rate, don’t be tricked into thinking something is valid and scientific just because it has a patent.

(3)  Microclustering & Tea?

Another claimed evidence for microclustering is the ability to make tea with alkaline ionized water16 at room temperature (see figure 2).17 The claim is that the smaller water clusters are able to penetrate the tea bag and release its contents and this is why ionized water is more hydrating to your body because, like the tea bag, it is able to penetrate at the cellular level.17 However, if it were microclustering then why doesn’t the “microclustered” acidic water make tea?

Figure 2. Tea produced from alkaline ionized water left compared to tap water right. Notice the difference in color. Marketers falsely ascribe this to microclustering.

tea

 

The truth is that the ability to make tea is a function of pH not microclustering.18 I have personally tested this in the lab by adding sodium hydroxide to water to get to the same pH. It was clearly observed that as the pH increased the green tea like color increased.  You can test this also by simply procuring some RO water (and thus slightly acidic) and try to make tea with it for a control, and then add baking soda (which will give a pH around 8) to another and compare the differences.

An alkaline pH makes tea because the compounds in the tea (catechins) are acidic.19 When they react with the alkaline water, they become more soluble20 and thus come out of the tea bag. However, the main reason that alkaline water has such an effect on the color of the tea is because alkaline water deprotonates (removes a H+ ion) some of the compounds, which causes more electron-delocalization allowing the chromophores (molecules responsible for the color) to absorb and emit light.21

In other words, the tea contains compounds (i.e. anthocyanins) that work as natural pH indictors just like the normal pH drops.22 You can test this yourself. Place a tea bag in just a little bit of tap water for about a minute, and then squeeze all the water out. Next add strong alkaline water (or just use baking soda) to the glass of water that the tea bag was just in. You will notice that the color becomes more “tea like”—you could also add acidic water, which like a pH indicator, will revert back (unless the alkaline water degraded some of the organic chromophores).

            Caution

  • If one chooses to make tea in this method, caution should be employed because it can lead to overdose by extracting a number of substances at levels far greater than normal.23,24 The alkaline pH may also destroy some of the therapeutic catechins as well.25,26

The fact that the “tea making” is a function of pH does not mean it cannot be used to demonstrate the properties of alkaline ionized water. Just that the demonstration cannot be used as evidence to either support or refute the microclustering claim.

For some clear videos that demonstrate how making the tea color is a function of pH. Please watch the following videos and you will even see how you can do it with sprite!

Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1jIECrtAdU
Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwKjcE9K9CA
Part 3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cmrxPuFd4jg 

 

(4) Dr. Jhon and Hexagonal Water

bookwaterOne other common “evidence” used by microcluster advocates is the book: “The Water Puzzle and the Hexagonal Key: Scientific Evidence of Hexagonal Water and Its Positive Influence on Health” by Dr. Mu Shik Jhon.

Dr. Jhon was a real scientist with many scientific publications. He was actually mentored by one of the most famous and brilliant scientists, Henry Eyring.28,29 However, Dr. Jhon’s book does not even mentions the term microclustering and it does not present evidence that water electrolysis changes the structure of water, only that drinking ionized water may have an impact on some health conditions. Since Dr. Jhon’s  passing in 2004, much evidence has come to light to indicate that the benefits he and others have attributed to ionized water is likely attributed to the presence of molecular hydrogen all along.

The main thing to remember is that there is simply no evidence that: 1) you can structure water and 2) that such would actually be therapeutic as opposed to useless, or even toxic.

 

(5) I Can Drink Large Volumes and Not Feel Bloated.

Another “evidence” of microclustering is the claim that you can drink a lot more ionized water at once without a bloating/sloshing feeling,30 which is because the smaller clusters are quickly absorbed into the body.30 Some have even gone so far as to erroneously claim that the water is absorbed into the body before it even reaches the stomach.31

These claims have never actually been studied, but it is possible that alkaline water has a faster absorption rate into systemic circulation because alkaline water has a faster gastric emptying rate32 (water going from the stomach to the intestines) than non-alkaline water.32 Also, note that water is absorbed in the intestines not the throat, esophagus or stomach (although a small amount may be absorbed in the stomach)33

(6) Everyone Teaches It & Believes it.

Microclustering is taught and claimed by virtually all “healthy water” advocates.34 It is heard so often that this alone becomes “proof”.  Of course repetition of a claim is not evidence,35 but it is a common fallacy, proof by assertion or argument by repetition.35 It is also similar to the bandwagon fallacy,36 which is a fallacious argument that concludes the claim to be true because so many people believe it.36

(7) Misinterpretation Of Real Water Cluster Chemistry

A non-chemist seeking to validate microclustering may go to PubMed and search for water microclusters and other related search terms and see “water clusters”37 and “microclusters”38 in the titles of many articles,39,40 even though these articles have nothing to do with the “marketed” types of microclusters—let alone alkaline water. This combined with the real science of water clusters as described initially, leads to a false sense of security that there is evidence for the claims.  Perhaps this is another reason why marketers have such great success with it.

 

References: Click Here

  1. Hiraoka, A., Shinohara, A., & Yoshimura, Y. (2010). Studies on the Physicochemical Properties and Existence of Water Products (as Drinks) Advertised as Having Smaller Cluster Sizes of H 2 O Molecules than Those of Regular Water. Journal of Health Science, 56(6), 717-720.
  2. Hairston, James E., et al. "Drinking water and water treatment scams." Auburn, AL: Auburn University, Agronomy and Soils Department, Water Quality Timely Information, October 22 (2003).
  3. Drinking water Scams http://www.impexs.hr/slike/waterscams.pdf
  4. TSAI, C. F., HSU, Y. W., CHEN, W. K., HO, Y. C. & LU, F. J. (2009). Enhanced induction of mitochondrial damage and apoptosis in human leukemia HL-60 cells due to electrolyzed-reduced water and glutathione. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 73, 280-7.
  5. http://www.waterionizer.org/site/898596/page/2866437
  6. Matsushita, K. (1989). Seeking Foods by NMR. Gendaikagaku, (Jan. 1989), 62-67. (in Japanese)
  7. Matsushita, K. (1990). Evaluation of Construction of Water and Investigate Flavor, and Maturity. Shokuhin to Kaihatsu, 7, 82 – 85 (in Japanese)
  8. http://www.chansonalkalinewater.com/microcluster-test.php
  9. Dr. Horst Filtzer M.D. said, “there are some comments online in social media (referring most likely to me) that are refuting that micro-clustering exists.” He said that he is here to tell us “that is does, in fact, exist & it is backed up by science (referring to NMR data) & that is the position of Enagic.”. July 27, 2013 Global Training Event for Enagic in Orlando, Florida.
  10. Dr. Tim McKnight M.D. Confessions Of A Skeptical Physician. (2012)
  11. Paul Shin. Water, Water Everywhere, Caveat Emptor http://www.csun.edu/~alchemy/Caveat_Emptor.pdf
  12. Okouchi, S., Ishihara, Y. and Uedaira, H. (1994) 17O-NMR of electrolyte aqueous solution and tap water processed by commercial purifier and reformers. J. Water Environ. Technol., 17, 516-526 (in Japanese).
  13. Okouchi, S., Ishihara, Y., Arai, T. and Uedaira, H. (1993) 17O-NMR and 1H-NMR of drinking water. J water Environ. Technol., 16, 409-415 (in Japanese)
  14. Uchino, T., Nakaji, K., Yamanaka, S., & Okumura, T. (1999). Physical properties of water exposed to the electric field. Science Bulletin of the Faculty of Agriculture-Kyushu University, 54.
  15. Searching “microclusterd water” in Google patents reveled 142 results. (2013).
  16. Arai, E., & Kawamura, S. (2007). Effects of weakly electrolyzed water on properties of green tea infusion. Bulletin of the Education Faculty, Shizuoka University. Natural science series, 57, 55-64.
  17. http://www.slideshare.net/AZKangen/kangen-water
  18. Shen, L., Wang, X., Wang, Z., Wu, Y., & Chen, J. (2008). Studies on tea protein extraction using alkaline and enzyme methods. Food Chemistry, 107(2), 929-938.
  19. Hayakawa, F., Kimura, T., Maeda, T., Fujita, M., Sohmiya, H., Fujii, M., & Ando, T. (1997). DNA cleavage reaction and linoleic acid peroxidation induced by tea catechins in the presence of cupric ion. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-General Subjects, 1336(2), 123-131.
  20. Nelson, D. L., Lehninger, A. L., & Cox, M. M. (2008). Lehninger principles of biochemistry. Macmillan.
  21. Park, S. Y., Jun, K., & Oh, S. W. (2005). The novel functional chromophores based on squarylium dyes. Bull. Korean Chem. Soc, 26(3), 429.
  22. Epp, D. N. (1993). Teas as natural indicators. Journal of Chemical Education, 70, 326.
  23. Nakamura Atsuko. (2005) Physico-chemical properties of alkaline ionized water. "Bulletin of Tokyo Kasei Gakuin natural science and engineering. No. 45.1-6 (in Japanese)
  24. Sumie Sakakibara. (2002) Keiko Terada. Impact on the cooking of alkaline ionized water. Aichi Gakusen University Research Journal. No. 37. 83-89 (in Japanese)
  25. Zhu, Q. Y., Zhang, A., Tsang, D., Huang, Y., & Chen, Z. Y. (1997). Stability of green tea catechins. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 45(12), 4624-4628.
  26. Wang, R., & Zhou, W. (2004). Stability of tea catechins in the breadmaking process. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 52(26), 8224-8229.
  27. http://www.waterpuzzle.com
  28. A search on PubMed and other databases revels many of his scientific articles
  29. Henry Erying was ahead of his time in science. Authored more than 600 scientific articles and developed one of the most important theories in chemistry, and others won the Nobel Prize based of his work. Apparently the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences didn’t understand his theories until it was too late to award him the Nobel. (see The Nobel Prize in Chemistry: The Development of Modern Chemistry at Nobelprize.org.)
  30. http://www.enagic.com/blog/tag/kangen/
  31. http://consciouslifenews.com/alkaline-water-scam/
  32. Boulpaep, E., Boron, W. F., Caplan, M. J., Cantley, L., Igarashi, P., Aronson, P. S., & Moczydlowski, E. G. (2003). Medical physiology: a cellular and molecular approach. Signal Transduction, 48, 27.
  33. Silverthorn, D. U., Johnson, B. R., & Ober, W. C. (2007). Human physiology. Pearson/Benjamin Cummings.
  34. Searching many ionized water websites and other “special waters”, the microclustering claim is almost always observed.
  35. Shaughnessy, A. F., Slawson, D. C., & Bennett, J. H. (1994). Separating the wheat from the chaff. Journal of general internal medicine, 9(10), 563-568.
  36. Dowden, B. (2010). Fallacies. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  37. Xantheas, S. S., & Dunning Jr, T. H. (1993). Ab initio studies of cyclic water clusters (HO), n= 1–6. I. Optimal structures and vibrational spectra. The Journal of chemical physics, 99, 8774.
  38. Briant, C. L., & Burton, J. J. (1976). Molecular dynamics study of the effects of ions on water microclusters. The Journal of Chemical Physics, 64(7), 2888.
  39. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%22water%20clusters%22%5BTitle%5D
  40. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=%22microclusters%22%5BTitle%5D

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