What Is A Water Ionizer? Legitimate Health Benefit Or Just Plain Quackery?

Recently I got a call from a gentleman asking me about water ionizers. He claimed that his Kangen has all but cured many of his diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, etc. I have heard rumors about the efficacy of these products, and figured it all to be snake oil, or another gimic to dupe the public into purchasing these high priced items. Since I am in the water filter business, and I really havent done much research on Ionizers, I decided it was time to take a look at what all the “fuss” is about.

Wikipedia defines “A water ionizer is an appliance that ionizes water. Ionized water is purported to be beneficial to human health and marketed with claims that it is an antioxidant which can slow aging and prevent disease. Others note that such claims contradict basic laws of chemistry and physiology.
A water ionizer separates water into alkaline and acid fractions using a process known as electrolysis. It does this by exploiting the electric charge of the calcium and magnesium ions present in nearly all sources of drinking water. When a source of water lacks mineral ions, such as distilled water, or has been filtered by reverse osmosis, water ionization has no effect.

Some research suggests that alkaline reduced water may be useful in scavenging free radicals in the laboratory setting. Tests on in vitro lymphocytes suggest that reduced water can prevent hydrogen peroxide-induced damage to DNA, RNA and certain proteins. However, drinking ionized water would not be expected to alter the body’s pH, and there is no evidence of any claims made by manufacturers that drinking ionized water will have a noticeable effect on the body.

Electrolyzed water has been used by the food industry to sanitize food products; though effective in bacterial solutions, it was found less useful when sanitizing utensils, surfaces and food products. Acidic electrolyzed water (pH 2.3–2.6) may have use as a seed surface disinfectant or contact bactericide.”

In doing my research, which obviously didn’t take long, I found an excellent article by Stephen Lower. A retired faculty member of the Dept of Chemistry, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby / Vancouver, Canada.

Mr. Lower writes: “Ionized water” is one of many products and panaceas that the wonky-water wellness industry flogs onto the large segment of the general public that lacks the scientific background to distinguish scientific fact from pseudoscientific hype when the two are closely intertwined. The purpose of this page is to critically examine some of the claims about “ionized” and alkaline waters from the standpoint of modern chemistry and physiology in order to provide you with the information you need to make your own informed decision before opening your wallets to the hucksters of these products and whose claims are totally lacking in scientific support.
What most of these outfits actually sell are grossly overpriced electrical devices that purport to produce “ionized” and alkaline water by the process of electrolysis. Many of these “water ionizers” appear to have their origins in Japan and Korea, two countries whose populations seem to be particularly susceptible to being taken in by pseudoscientific water-treatment schemes. In North America, distribution of these dubious devices has depended largely on multi-level marketing schemes that enroll science-ignorant dealers to exploit even-more-vulnerable consumers while enabling the manufacturer to maintain a low profile to regulatory agencies such as the FTC.
It doesn’t help that quackery-filled “alternative health” books such as pH Miracle Living and Alkalize or Die by “Doctor” Theodore Baroody (whose scientific credentials seem highly dubious) plug alkaline water as one way of preventing cancer or of increasing one’s lifespan. There is even a company that offers complete “alkaline diets” for which they make ridiculous claims. Even the otherwise respectable Kurzweil and Grossman’s Fantastic Voyage (see below) goes off the track on this craze….Read complete article here

Mr. Lower goes on to say… You won’t find anything about the benefits of alkaline water in any standard textbook on nutritional biochemistry, and anyone with training in physiology or biochemistry would consider the claims in favor of it ludicrous, but the alkaline/ionized water quacksters and scammers have woven a nexus of scientific-sounding nonsense and outright lies in order to convince a gullible and scientifically-naïve public that drinking partially electrolyzed water (produced by their over-priced “machines”) is the key to health.
So in closing, Mr Lower pretty much sums up my evaluation. And truth be told, I was thinking about marketing them myself but after a bit of research and consideration, I’ve decided against it.

Points to consider before deciding to purchase an ionizer:

  • Water ionizers separate water into alkaline and acid fractions using a process known as electrolysis.
  • Water ionization has no proven effect on health when the source water lacks mineral ions, such as distilled water or water filtered by reverse osmosis.
  • There is some controversy in the scientific community whether or not drinking ionized water will have a noticeable effect on the body.
  • Electrolysis devices do not remove contaminants in the water.

Now if you still want to argue the facts, and spend your hard earned money on a high priced water ionizer, or tell me of your miraculous cures, please feel free to add your comments.