About a week ago, one of my friends posted a video on Facebook that started a big debate and lead to this post. In the video, this guy was advertising Kangen water and it’s filtration system. The guy wasn’t scientifically literate, saying things incorrectly about chemistry and biology that he should have learned in high school. The claim that I got in a debate about was that drinking alkaline water is good for you because it’s literally putting millions and millions of electrons into your body to fight off oxidation. Made me laugh. I told my friend to drink lye (NaOH), find a literature article to support the claims and get back to me. Well… he didn’t drink lye, but he did give me some literature, which prompted my interest in this subject, and will hopefully get some wheels turning in your heads too.
The terms electrochemically and naturally reduced waters are probably foreign to many people. Electrochemically reduced water (ERW) is electrolyzed water produced near the cathode, usually platinum coated, during electrolysis and tends to be alkaline, with a pH of 8-10 (Fig.1). ERW are high in H2 gas and is hydrogen molecule-rich. Naturally reduced water (NRW) is water that naturally has high levels of H2 gas and is hydrogen molecule-rich. NRW reserves have been found in some parts of Japan and Mexico.
Figure 1. Preparation of electrolyzed water (A), and Chemical reactions at the surface of the platinum cathode (B). (Shirahata et al.2011)
A lot of research is going on in Japan on the benefits of ERWs and NRWs. Much of the research is focusing on diabetes, but there are many other disease models being investigated including uses as an anti-neurodegenerative and anti-cancer drug. This blog will focus mainly on the effects of reduced water and diabetes both in vitro and in vivo.
Type 1-diabetes is a chronic lifelong disease characterized by too much glucose in the blood caused by damaged or nonfunctional b cells. In mouse models, diabetes can be induced with certain drugs whose meachanism is not fully understood, but acts through the production of reactive oxygen species and selectively targest pancreatic b cells. Li et al. induced Type 1-diabetes in a hamster cell line with the diabetogenic drug alloxan. The b pancreatic cells were incubated with different waters prior to exposure to alloxan, then tested for viability. The ERWs and NRWs showed an increase in viability compared to the control after exposure to alloxan(ultra pure water) (Fig.2). Since alloxan increases ROS in b cells, it is believed that these ERWs and NRWs (from here on will be refered to as RW) exhibit their protective effect via their ability to scavenge and neutralize ROS, which is supported by previous studies showing an antioxidant effect of RWs. Glucose induced insulin secretion was also increased in RW treated groups. Li, et al. hypothesized that this is due to an increase in glucose sensitivity because RW did not increase insulin secretion without glucose stimulation.
As we all know, success with in vitro experiments doesn’t mean success with in vivo experiments. However, with the case of diabetes and RW, in vivo animal models are working and clinical trials are currently being performed. In genetically diabetic mice (db/db), Kim et al. showed that RW significantly lowered the blood glucose levels and raised the insulin levels. In the db/db mice, the size of the pancreas was significantly smaller than that of the control, and interestingly enough, RW treatment increased the size of the pancreas, which is probably why the insulin levels increased.
Type 2-diabetes mice models are also showing success. Jin et al. show that OLETF (type 2-diabetic mice) that blood glucose levels are consistently lower than control mice. One characteristic of type 2-diabetes is hyperlipidemia. OLETF mice treated with RW had significantly lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Not only do RWs protect against diabetes, but they also protect against diabetic-related complications such as heart disease. GOT and GPT are amino transferases that are secreted into the blood from damaged heart cells. This damage has been linked to lipid deposition the coronary artery causing a blockage, leading to oxygen deficiency. In RW treated mice, the concentration of secreted GOT and GPT were lower than those in the control which is expected due to lower blood lipid levels.
Figure 2. Effect of Tap water vs. RW in Type 2 diabetic mice after an intraperitoneal injection of glucose. (Shirahata et al.2010)
Although the exact mechanism of how RWs treat diabetes, Shirahata et al. have started to fill in some gaps in the insulin cascade. RWs promote phosphorylation of the B-subunit of the insulin receptor via suppression of redox-sensitive tyrosine phosphatases. RWs also activate Akt, a PI3 kinase, which is required for translocation of the glucose transporter, GLUT4, to the plasma membrane. Akt also plays a role in lipid metabolism; however, nobody has looked specifically at that mechanism due to a greater interest in glucose metabolism.
In Japan, there have been a few clinical studies that have shown promise for diabetic patients. An a study with 411 type 2-diabetes, 45% of patients who drank RW showed significantly lower levels of blood glucose, blood cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol) and creatine and higher HDL 6 days. A similar study of 50 patients over a two month period showed 89% of patients had a significant decrease in blood glucose, 92% showed a significant decrease in blood triglycerides and total cholesterol levels. Although these two studies weren’t double blind, two double blind studies were conducted later and showed very similar results.
Table 1. Suppressive effects of RW on 65 diabetic patients and 50 hyperlipidemia patients. (Shirahata et al.2010)
Patients in end-stage renal disease suffer T-cell damage caused by oxidative stress, leading to T-cell apoptosis; patients also have and a low cytokine level and the ratio of Th1/Th2 is not normal. Due to its antioxidant properties, RWs were investigated as a possible treatment in 42 end-stage renal disease patients compared to 12 healthy individuals. After one year of RW treatment, there was a significant increase in the amount of T-cells, a significant decrease in T-cell apoptosis, and the intracellular levels of cytokines was significantly increased, and the ratio of Th1/Th2 was returned to normal levels.
Figure 3. Variety of functions of RW. (Shirahata et al.2011)
On one last note, if diabetes treatment didn’t keep your interest, then maybe this will. RWs have been shown to reduce ethanol-induced hangovers in mice by significantly increasing alcohol dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase in liver tissues. Although I don’t know of any clinical trials for this, there probably would not be a shortage of volunteers in the college community who wouldn’t want to test this...
RWs are showing great therapeutic potential in a variety of diseases. One of the hallmarks of RWs is that it is completely safe and has zero side effects. Since this “miracle water” has been shown to act as a therapeutic agent for many diseases in Japan, it makes you wonder why there’s almost no research on it here in America. Part of me can’t help but think that the big pharma doesn’t want to make this research known because of the profits they make from disease…
Park, S., Qi, X., Song, S. et al. Electrolyzed-reduced water inhibits acute ethanol-induced hangovers in Sprague-Dawley rats. 2009. Biomedical research. 30(5): 263-269.
Shirahata, S. Hamaski, T., and Kiichiro Teruya. Advanced research ofn the health benefit of reduced water. 2011. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 23: 124-131.
Li, Y., Nishimura, T., Teruya, K., et al. Protective mechanism of reduced water against alloxan-induced pancreatic b cell damage: Scavenging effect against reactive oxygen species. 2002. Cytotechnology. 40: 139-149.
Nakayama, M., Nakano, H., Hamada, H., et al. A novel bioactive haemodialysis system using dissolved dihydrogen (H2) produced by water electrolysis: a clinical trial. 2012. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation. 25:3026-3033.
Kim, M., Jung, K.H., Uhm., Y.K., et al. Preservative effect of electrolyzed reduced water on pancreatic b cell mass in diabetic db/db mice. 2007. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 30(2): 234-236.
Jin, D., Ryu, S.H., Kim, H. W., et al. Anti-diabetic effect of alkaline reduced water on OLETF rats. 2006. Bioscience Biotechnology and Biochemistry. 70(1): 31-37.
Huang, K., Hsu, S., Yang, C., et al. Electrolysed-reduced water dialysate improves T-cell damage in end-stage renal disease patients with chronic haemodialysis. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation. 25: 2730-2737.