Column: Alkaline water advertisement and discussion on ATV in Ghana: Will it kill you?

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File Photo

I watch on Amansan Television (ATV) Anopa Bosuo health program when the host interviewed one alternative medical practitioner on alkaline water. It prompted my attention and that is why I am writing this article on alkaline water.

The practitioner praised alkaline water to the skies and described the health benefits of his alkaline water to the Ghanaian community.  It was as interesting as I watched him on ATV, even though I have no personal experience of these alkaline water machines. I only heard about it sometime ago, when a medical doctor asked me whether I have heard about it.

Before I proceed, don’t worry, alkaline water isn’t going to kill you or probably hurt you at all. But the health talk on ATV prompted a couple of debates from other watchers who raised safety issues, so I decided to do some follow-up research of my own.

The quick background to this whole subject is that many authorities on alternative cancer treatments say cancer thrives in a highly acidic environment. They say you can get rid of cancer by changing the body’s pH (a measurement of acidity/alkalinity) from acid to alkaline. There’s a variety of ways to do this including diet and supplements. Barley supplements, for example, are probably a better way than an expensive water machine.

The problem with the acid-alkaline approach is that it’s a theory in search of evidence. As you’ll see, the things that render our body less acidic are the same things you need to do anyway if you want to prevent or treat cancer: eat nutritious, uncooked organic fruits and vegetables, get rid of all sugar (especially sodas, because they’re extremely acidic), get rid of most or all refined wheat products (i.e. white flour products), avoid meat, and so forth.

So if a cancer patient follows this diet and goes into remission, is it because his or her body changed from being acidic to alkaline? Not necessarily. We don’t know. The fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients, sugar is known to promote cancer, avoiding toxic substances (such as pesticides) reduces your risk of cancer. In short, there are many, many variables at work and I suspect acidity is not all that important.

But even though I think there are better ways to make your body more alkaline.

What struck me about ATV program on alkaline water is that it seemed to indicate the acid-alkaline theory might be true. He didn’t mention any other lifestyle or diet changes. Apparently the only thing the doctor talks about was their water — and they experienced astonishing improvements in their health and want all Ghanaians to come for it.

Now, about the alleged safety issues: I am taking you to an interview conducted by Dr. Joseph Mercola, who has what I believe is the most popular alternative health website on earth, If you search on his site for the terms “alkaline water” you can find the video interview I’m talking about. Dr. Mercola talks with a man who sells water systems that COMPETE with alkaline water systems. This man and the good doctor were frankly trashing the competition.

In the video, Dr. Mercola admits there are tons of anecdotes like what the doctor on ATV in Ghana involving people who experienced great results from drinking alkaline water. He doesn’t dispute that. The alleged danger arises from long-term use of alkaline water. Dr. Mercola and his associates don’t cite any examples of people who harmed their health with alkaline water nor do they mention any studies of long-term safety.

Now, pure water is pH neutral. It’s what’s in it that makes it acidic or alkaline. Dr. Mercola raises the scare that anything, including water, that’s extremely acidic or extremely alkaline literally dissolves matter. It eats it up. That’s why your stomach has acid; acid reduces your food to a goop. At the other extreme, an environment that’s super-alkaline can do the same thing.

In general, it’s the minerals magnesium, calcium and potassium that make water alkaline. So, you see, alkaline water definitely isn’t “poison” unless you totally overdo it.

The question is whether alkaline water machines turn water into anything like the powerful, matter-dissolving pH’s that Mercola talks about. And since the video is out to sell a competing water system, I would say, do some further research.

You can test the pH of your own water. Just Google the terms “how to test the pH of water” and all kinds of resources come up, including a government publication. I haven’t tested the pH of my own water, but in Dodowa, for instance there are wells in the mountains and most of the pure water companies rely on this. Our water is so heavily mineralized, so, I suspect an alkaline water machine is the last thing I need.

Another popular website gives a somewhat more balanced view without endorsing the alkaline water concept. In general, I trust Mike Adams’s as a source of information.

Mike Adams says he’s actually tested the pH of the water produced by one of the machines. He says, “I owned a unit like that for a while and I have some very high end pH testing equipment that I use for my gardening, because if you’re going to grow blueberries then you need the right pH for the soil. Well, these units, sure they produce a little slightly more alkaline water, but it’s not that big of a deal. It’s not really that drastic. I found that you can create more alkaline water by stirring up some barley grass juice in a glass of water. That’s far more alkaline.”

On the other hand, no one is going to drink 8 to 16 cups of barley juice a day, so it’s not quite comparable to water. And one of the alkaline water machine makers features an interview with a scientist named Ray Kurzweil ( ). Kurzweil says the machines can produce water with a strongly alkaline pH of 9.5. That’s not to say they all do. But it does indicate some of these machines produce water that’s a lot more alkaline than Mike Adams seems to think.

Mike’s recommendation is the same as mine: you’d be better off making yourself more alkaline by eating the right food than by buying one of these expensive machines. The number one recommendation on the list is STOP DRINKING SODAS (or soda pop, as we called it in the Midwest). They’re so acidic they cause your body to leach calcium out of your bones in an effort to restore your blood’s pH balance. The number two recommendation would be to stop eating any sugar in any form.

Mike Adams opines — and I agree — that the people who see the biggest changes in their health from drinking alkaline water are most likely people who have a really unhealthy diet, especially people who drink a lot of sodas. To them, buying one of these alkaline water machines is probably going to be like Jesus coming down Himself and laying his healing hands on their heads.

If you want to read an all-out attack on alkaline water, there’s a book called pH Madness by someone named Roger Bezanis. I haven’t read it. I saw his ad on the web which raises hysterical fears about alkaline water; although he, too, admits many people see amazing short term benefits. Most of the concerns he raises (in his ad) relate to long term use of massive amounts of alkaline water.

My take is that long term use MIGHT be risky — no one really seems to have information about the subject — so think of alkaline water as a short term fix. I should think someone with cancer has little to lose by trying one of the machines, especially if he/she refuses to make the dietary changes. Not to be a smart aleck, but a late-stage cancer patient doesn’t need to worry about long term effects.


Source: Ghana/’s world with Dr. Obu

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