Complementary and alternative medicine Friday Woo Medicine Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Your Friday Dose of Woo: Hydration, hydration, hydration, always hydration

Cool cool water.

Yes, that’s what I really needed earlier this week, as the temperature almost hit 100° F in my neck of the woods. There’s nothing like it after walking through the sauna-like conditions and losing my precious bodily fluids in the form of sweat. After all, I wouldn’t want to get dehydrated, would I? And, heck, it’s quite possible to die of dehydration. If you believe those nasty “conventional” medical authorities, it takes a healthy person with healthy kidneys a few days, give or take, to become sufficiently dehydrated to endanger his life, and medical science tells us that most people require between 2-3 liters per day, depending upon the environment and their level of activity. Not even that nasty medical science denies that water is the stuff of life, absolutely essential for life and health.

But some go even further than that. Some tell us that dehydration is more than just–well, dehydration. Some tell us that dehydration is The One True Cause of nearly all disease. Some people like Dr. Fereydoon Batamanghelidj:

I am a researcher. I have researched dehydration for the past 20 years. When I discovered that the solution to most of the disease conditions of our society is not a money maker, I decided to take my information to the public.

(How generous of him, I think. Oh, wait. Sorry to interrupt. Let the woo continue.)

My research revealed that unintentional dehydration produces stress, chronic pains and many degenerative diseases. Dry mouth is not the only sign of dehydration and waiting to get thirsty is wrong. Medicine has based its understanding that it is solid matter in the body that regulates all functions of the body. I have explained scientifically at the molecular level that it is water that regulates all functions of the body including functions of solid matter. 75 % of our bodies are composed of water. The brain is 85% water. It is water that energizes and activates the solid matter. If you don’t take enough water, some functions of the body will suffer. Dehydration produces system disturbances. When I use the word water cure, I am referring to curing dehydration with water.”

Well, yes, water will certainly cure dehydration. Well, not exactly. Water plus the proper electrolytes will cure dehydration. If you drink just water without electrolytes, eventually water intoxication will ensue, which can even result in brain swelling and even kill you. Of course, most of us get all the electrolytes that we need just in our food, particularly in the U.S., where we like to pour salt all over so much of our food. The physician in me just couldn’t resist being nitpicky here, though, especially if Dr. B is going to make such grandiose claims for his “water cure” (and believe me, he is). In fact, with that background, you just know that Dr. B’s going to claim that dehydration is the cause of many diseases:

Chronic, unintentional dehydration is the origin of most pain and degenerative diseases in the human body. The body manifests dehydration in as many ways as we, in medicine, have invented diseases. Dry mouth is not a sign of dehydration and waiting to get thirsty is wrong. Thirst should be prevented. When the body doesn’t receive water and you have pain, that is a sign of dehydration. The mouth is not dry. Pain in the body is a crisis call of the body for water. If you have heartburn, your body is telling you it’s short of water in your gastrointestinal track. You’ve had a heavy meal, there wasn’t enough water to liquefy and break down the food and get it absorbed and it gives you pain. You didn’t have a dry mouth because you swallowed all the food, but nonetheless, since you didn’t have enough water in the body, it manifested dehydration by producing heartburn. Heartburn can be cured with water. I use the word “cured” because it is a sign of dehydration. When you cure dehydration, the disease will go.


Basically, the major pains of the body, such as, heartburn, rheumatoid joint pain, back pain, colitis pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgic pain, even angina pain are signs of dehydration in the human body. Where you have pain, it’s showing that that area is dehydrated. The mechanism is very simple. Toxic chemical waste builds up when you don’t drink enough water. If there is not enough water to wash away the chemical toxic waste from an area that is still active metabolizing, then toxic waste builds up. It is just like the garbage collector not collecting the garbage that you are still creating and putting it in front of the house to be cleared away. When that garbage doesn’t get cleared away, in time it will become stagnant and it will produce stench in your environment. It is exactly the same in the environment of the cells in the body. When there is activity, there is a build-up of toxic waste. If that waste is not cleared up, the environment becomes pungent. It will become acidic and this acidic toxic environment is sensed by the nerve endings in the area. The signal is sent to the brain and the brain registers it with our conscious mind in the form of pain. Pain means build up of toxic waste where you have the pain. All you need to do is to wash that toxic waste by drinking more water, letting it circulate to the area, clean the area, wash the toxic waste, bring it out into the circulation and then pass it out through the kidneys or neutralize it in the liver or some of the gases could be passed through the lungs. That’s what pain means. There are a 110 million Americans who have pain, not knowing that they didn’t drink enough water to wash the toxic waste out of their body.

My, my, my, my this is some tasty woo. Or, I might say, refreshing, just like a big tall glass of water. Who knew that dehydration was the cause of all these diseases? Of course, you know it’s woo the moment Dr. B. invokes an “acidic” and “toxic” environment. Of course, what really amazes me is that something so simple has apparently escaped us “conventional” doctors for so long. Wow! We must really be stupid; at least Dr. B seems to think so. So what diseases can you cure just by drinking more water? Let Dr. B tell you:

Would that it were so easy!

If you peruse the website, like all good woo, it starts to get a bit repetitive after a while. After all, if dehydration is indeed The One True Cause of all these medical problems (just as Hulda Clark claims that the liver fluke is The One True Cause of cancer), then there isn’t that much to say about each one, is there? Observe:

Angina: “f you suffer from angina pain – that sudden, terrifying tightness in your chest that makes it difficult to move or even breathe – you’ve probably also been told you have coronary artery disease. Doctors will tell you it’s cholesterol that’s causing your arteries to narrow, and prescribe beta blockers and ACE inhibitors, balloon angioplasty or major, life-threatening surgery like coronary artery bypass. But it’s not cholesterol that is causing your pain. Angina is actually caused by dehydration. As prolonged drought sets in, your body becomes more acidic. Acid-like chemicals are produced that burn into the cell membranes in the linings of your arteries, causing painful angina spasms.”“>Colitis: “Colitis pain is a signal of water shortage in the large gut. It is associated with constipation because the large intestine constricts to squeeze the last drop of water from the excrements – thus the lack of water lubrication.”

Asthma: “Asthma, which affects 14 million children and kills several thousand of them every year, is a complication of dehydration in the body. It is caused by the drought management programs of the body. In asthma free passage of air is obstructed so that water does not leave the body in the form of vapor – the winter steam. Increased water intake will prevent asthma attacks. Asthmatics need also to take more salt to break the mucus plugs in the lungs that obstruct the free flow of air in and out of the air sacs.”

Wait a minute! That last one doesn’t even make sense. Dr. B seems to be telling us that asthma keeps water from leaving the body in the form of vapor; so asthmatics should drink more water!

At least Dr. B . is consistent. Consistency seems to be one consistent trait of woo-meisters, doesn’t it?

The beauty of this woo is that it is some of it has a grain of truth. There are a fair many conditions that can be exacerbated by dehydration, and keeping well-hydrated is certainly a good idea in general for most people, but Dr. B is massively confusing correlation with causation here. Just because some conditions can be exacerbated by dehydration does not necessarily mean that dehydration causes them. The problem is, for some of these conditions, too much hydration can be dangerous. Indeed, Dr. B’s claim that water and salt is good for hypertension:

This is where medical science has gone wrong because the human body retains salt in order to keep a body of water outside of the cells of the body. From this body of water, which is called edema fluid, water is filtered and injected into the vital cells. There is a reverse osmosis program that the body operates. The drier the body becomes the higher the injection pressure has to be for the operation of the reverse osmosis. This injection pressure is measurable and we call it hypertension. This injection pressure force is needed in order to force water into the vital cells. You take water and some salt and expand the volume of water outside of the cells and allow water to get into the cells and this need for reverse osmosis that operates across the board in the body is taken away and so the blood pressure drops. So water and salt are better medications for lowering blood pressure.

No, no, no, no! Blood pressure, as it is measured, is pretty simple. It depends on the cardiac output and the resistance of the vascular bed. All that stuff about “reverse” osmosis seems as though it may be a convoluted and confused way of saying that the kidneys require a certain pressure in order to filter the serum to make urine. At least that’s the best that I can tell. A better way to raise blood pressure is hard to imagine, especially in people with sodium-dependent hypertension! There’s a reason that diuretics are often prescribed for hypertension and heart failure. And if that hypertension is associated with any degree of heart failure, drinking a lot of water with a lot of salt is a perfect prescription to tip someone into serious congestive heart failure.

One thing that I wondered about as I perused the Water Cure website was this: What about cancer? Indeed, I found this omission odd. I shouldn’t have, because there was no omission, as this interview shows:

Lymphoma is another complication of dehydration and so is cancer.

If that’s the case, then why doesn’t Dr. B take the next step and claim that drinking more water can cure cancer? It’s odd that he doesn’t. But he does say that it can slow down or reverse the aging process.

There’s one last thing so far that’s missing for this perfect woo. What do we have so far? A simple idea that is represented as The One True Cure of many diseases? Check. Serious woo-filled explanations for how it works that are divorced from normal physiology? Check. So what are we lacking? Hmmm. Let me see…Ah, yes. Persecution by big pharma?


I’m curious if you have had any negative feedback from the pharmaceutical companies and drug companies.

I was actually threatened by emails. Someone sent me an email that said my claim that angina is produced by dehydration is under scrutiny by the American College of Cardiology and FDA. I am delighted that at last they have opened up to this thing. They will be very pleasantly surprised.

Oh, and one more thing… Whatever could it be? Wait, I know! Invoking a great medical scientist.


Sir Alexander Fleming was Nobel laureate recognized to have discovered penicillin. He was a Scottish scientist who worked at the Wright-Fleming Institute of St. Mary’s Hospital Medical School of London University when I was a medical student there in 1950s. Many medical students had an emotional urge to become discoverers. I was no exception. Since childhood, I had been driven to study medicine and become someone who could positively affect the lives of people who fell sick…

I asked him, “Sir Alexander, is there a special way to become a discoverer in medicine?” He looked at me and pondered my naive question. After a pause, in a very refined Scottish brogue he replied, “Need and purpose.”

Finally, the claim that medical scientists today are blind to this amazing discovery? Check:

Medical professionals of today do not understand the vital roles of water in the human body. Medications are palliatives. They are not designed to cure the degenerative disease of the human body.

The current practice of clinical medicine is based on the application of pharmacological chemistry to the human body. At the medical school, more than six hundred teaching hours are allocated to the use of pharmaceutical products. Only a few hours are allocated to instructions on diet and nutrition.


Why the drug companies have had to produce so many chemicals that are now proven to make 2,000,000 sicker and have killed over 100,000 annually — even when used according to their manufacturers’ recommendations! Judge for yourself how vulnerable we have become! The Washington Post of Wednesday, April 15, 1998 quotes the Journal of the American Medical Association:”One in 15 hospital patients in the United States can expect to suffer from a prescription or over-the-counter medicine, and about 5 percent of these will die as a result!” You should know that 1 in every 4 hospital admissions are said to be due to the side effects of routinely used prescription drugs.

Bzzzzzt! We have a woo-meister!

One thing that bothers me about woo like this is a rather obvious and personal thing. It insults me. The attitude behind woo like this is its contempt for me. Well, not me personally, but my profession. If the solution to so many diseases were as simple as just drinking a lot more water, does Dr. B really think that we wouldn’t have figured it out by now. Does he really think we’re that stupid? Either that, or he thinks that we’re that evil, that we know about this “cure” but work to keep it suppressed. In that, he is not that far removed from Mike Adams.

Apparently he does.

But he also apparently thinks that his marks–I mean customers–are also even more stupid.

By the way, you might be interested in where I got this lovely tidbit of water woo from. I’ll tell you. You can thank woo-meister and conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Mike Adams for it. I might have to start checking his site out more often; the woo folder can use a fresh infusion of new woo to serve as victims–I mean targets…I mean topics–of Your Friday Dose of Woo.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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