Growing within certain health circles is the theory that if the body tends to be acidic, adding an alkaline beverage to the body fluids will tend to correct this "improper" pH.

This theory seems to spring from sources which tend to promote strong vegetarian diets and abstinence from various types of animal products.

Electrolyzed water, as noted in prior sections of this functional water discussion, contains both acidic(oxidative) and alkaline(reducing) components.

The medical and scientific literature is full of discussions, laboratory tests and a growing list of useful applications of the oxidative/acidic component produced by electrolyzed water machines. Unfortunately, little science exists, beyond anecdotal commentaries, as to the benefits of the alkaline component.

This alkaline issue seems to have its largest group of proponents in Japan, where it is claimed that a full 7% of households use alkaline water for drinking. When one researches what this 7% is, it is determined that it is pregnant Japanese women who are led to believe, superstitiously, that drinking alkaline water will result in the birth of a boy versus a girl.

This is a cultural feature of that part of the world and has no basis in medical fact; yet the concept of alkaline water has been transported from Asia to the USA to unsuspecting nutritionists who believe that the body's pH needs some tinkering and they recommend using alkaline water to "neutralize" the body's pH. This is absolute foolishness as we discuss in the following paragraphs.

Our research fails to find any scientific benefits for this alkaline water other than reports that women who use it tend to have a greater probability of bearing a male child rather than female. This tends to fit the cultural profile in that part of the world, where male children still tend to be favored over females.

Testing done by Japanese laboratories indicate that for short term exposure to alkaline water, test animals maintain consistent weight and other critical bodily parameters. Unfortunately, such test results are reported for only short term exposure(intake) of the alkaline component.

It had been reported in the past, but as one might suspect, not documented by these same Japanese researchers, that extended tests of these same test animals resulted in near universal mortality amongst these same test animals.

Still, apologists of this type of water continue to pursue placing such water in PET bottles for sale in unsuspecting health food stores, exercise gyms and on supermarket shelves. We are now seeing patients appearing in skin care centers where extensive skin dryness and the presense of various fungus species are consistently being correlated with the ingestion of alkaline beverages by the patient.

Elsewhere, there are a series of documented tests, by Japanese research centers and documented in peer journals that begin to show specific problems that may occur when drinking alkaline, electrolyed water.

Two technical papers which have found their way out of obscurity(and perhaps suppression by electrolyzed water promoters are as follows:

Journal of Toxocological Science: December 1998, 23:5, 411-17
Journal of Toxocological Science, May 1997, 22:2, 141-52
Journal of Veteranian Medical Science, Feb 1998, 60:2, 245-50.

In each of these cases, animal tests showed myocardium damage in animals given alkaline ionized water.

Although no laboratory tests have been done on humans, the fact that serious organ and tissue damage was independently verified by three separate study groups, at diverse locations and times indicates that the supposed "benefits" of drinking alkaline water may in fact be bogus and in fact dangerous.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with my family MD, a Nobel Prize winner in 1985:

"...Gene, if you drink that type of water, I expect to see you in the emergency room one day soon".

His argument was based on the impact that a significant and continued amount of high pH fluid would have on the stability of the pH of the blood which is nearly all water. He also indicated that introducing the alkaline materials into the blood stream dilutes the natural, acidic condition of the digestive tract which allows it(the acidic condition) to maintain control of unwanted biological activity in that area of the body.

Amino acids are just that...acids, that are used to digest various foods that enter the digestive tract. Drinking even normal pH water during mealtime tends to dilute these amino acids; drinking alkaline water creates an even greater dilution due to the higher pH level of this type of water.

Finally, when one sits back and evaluates what type of material is being introduced into the bloodstream by way of alkaline(bicarbonates/lime) water, the question as to how these positively charged ions differ from free radicals is posed.

In other words, if one wants to add plaque and positively charged particles to the bloodstream, which tends to offset the natural, negative charges on the surface of healthy bloodcells, drink alkaline water.

Perhaps one day additional laboratory data will be available to completely debunk the alkaline water phenomena. But until then, there are an adequate number of ill-informed water promoters who simply do not understand or fail to acknowledge the basics of cellular biochemistry.

Knowledgeable biochemists and health professionals know the above facts and will continue to be your best resource in advising you of the potential downside(s) of this type of beverage.