Alkaline water—find or fraud?

The internet is teeming with claims that alkaline water does everything from killing cancer cells to providing superior hydration. Here’s the evidence.

“Ideally, I recommend water that’s at least [a pH of] 9.5,” writes Robert O. Young in his book The pH Miracle.

In June 2017, Young—who charged people thousands of dollars to attend his “pH Miracle” retreats—was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for practicing medicine without a license. He also admitted to having no college education. (His “Ph.D.” apparently came from a diploma mill.)

On the (0 to 14) pH scale, pure water is 7—that is, it’s neither acidic nor alkaline. Some companies sell water that is naturally alkaline (with a pH of 8 or 9) because it’s higher in potassium, magnesium, or calcium. You can also buy (expensive) machines that “electrolyze-reduce” water to make it alkaline. Or you can pick up an electrolyzed-reduced water—Essentia is a popular brand—at the supermarket.

Proponents claim that alkaline water kills cancer cells, banishes belly fat, lubricates joints, and more. Two of the most common and best-studied claims: it reduces acid reflux and improves hydration. But the evidence is skimpy:

Reflux. The claim largely rests on one test-tube study in which alkaline water with a pH of 8.8 inactivated pepsin, a stomach enzyme that the study authors claim is responsible for the tissue damage caused by reflux.1

“You can get a petri dish to a pH of 8.8, but that’s going to be pretty hard to do in the stomach, which is so acidic that it has a pH of 1.5 to 3.5,” says gastroenterologist Scott Gabbard, of the Cleveland Clinic. “It would probably take many liters of alkaline water to do so.” What’s more, says Gabbard, “pepsin helps digest proteins. Inactivating it would be a bad thing.”

Hydration. “We make supercharged ionized alkaline water that’s better at rehydration,” claims Essentia’s website.

Its evidence: after company-funded researchers had 100 adults exercise until they were dehydrated, only one of several measures of hydration that the researchers used—blood viscosity, or blood thickness—improved more in those who drank Essentia than in those who drank ordinary water.2

“I’ve never heard of anyone measuring hydration using the method used in this study in my 30 years of research,” says Lawrence Armstrong, a professor of kinesiology at the University of Connecticut.

“This study used only one good way to measure hydration, and it didn’t find any difference between groups. I have multiple concerns about this research. I would have rejected this paper, had I been one of the peer reviewers.”

Bottom Line: Don’t waste your money on alkaline water.


1Ann. Otol. Rhinol. Laryngol. 121: 431, 2012.
2J. Int. Soc. Sports Nutr. 13: 45, 2016.


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27 Replies to “Alkaline water—find or fraud?”

  1. The concept of alkalinity having an effect on the growth of cancer cells hasn’t been disproved; very little research has been published except one that stands out above the rest written by Otto Warburg who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research that clearly proved that cancer cells do not grow in an alkaline environment especially without glucose as the fuel source. Potentially not a ‘cure’ however one of the many ways to approach trying to control this disease by avoiding as much sugar as possible and attempting to bring the pH of the body to a more alkaline state. A cheaper approach for alkalinity is to just drink a glass of water with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed in.

    1. Doc. Otto Warburg studied how carcinogenic cells grows in a acid middle. But he does NOT afirm that this acid middle is caused by food or drinks. Drinking alkaline water is not gonna change the blood pH. Even because we drink acid beverages all the time: coffee, beer, juices, soft drinks…

  2. We live in an area with extremely alkaline drinking water. To avoid damaging pipes, it has to be softened. We the drink our water from a bypass to that softened water (due to possible high salt levels). Our drinking water is filtered to remove almost all minerals. My question – are we missing out on minerals that we get mostly from regular drinking water? Our diets are otherwise healthy, and include quite a lot of low-fat dairy? For example, we are told that we probably need to take magnesium supplements

  3. Thanks for this helpful article! The alkaline water trend is huge now-and i was researching just this weekend! Now i know its just”junk science”…

  4. Disagree. I have a kangen machine and it hydrates me better than any other kind of water, hands down. When I feel rundown/worn out/ like I’m going to get sick, I adjust the pH to 9.5 and by the end of the day I’m revived. My 12 year old dog drinks it too. The worst part is when I have to go out of town and can’t drink it. Nothing compares.

    1. Placebo. Effect… It’s a powerful human trickster indeed my friend, and your under its spell. Good result though, so keep it up! :).

    2. I agree. I have a Purepro water system and I drink 9.5 as well. I feel better my skin looks better my feet hands and hair is not dry anymore and it taste better too. When I am away from home I drink Essentia.

      In addition, my husband buys me flowers all the time. Since purchasing my Purepro system I placed my flowers in 9.5 water and they lasted for several weeks. When I used regular tap water they died within the week. Just saying……

  5. I was once informed by a nutritionist that vegetarians already have an alkaline system and do not need to be concerned about alkalinity in their bodies. That is another approach to achieving alkalinity without buying expensive water.

  6. Test the water with a Ph strip…I have several times with all different types of “so called” alkaline water that is very expensive… the color of the strip NEVER CHANGED…. meaning they were no higher in Ph than regular water and none of them were alkaline at all! It is all a huge corporate scam. The concept of alkaline water is a good concept but you would need to make it yourself. As most things out there are- if you want the real deal- make it yourself, otherwise your wasting your money on a bunch of crap and lining some deceitful jerks pocketbook!!!!

    1. I drink Figi water, and noticed that the alkaline strips never get into much of the alkaline zone. But I noticed one thing about it. It tastes A LOT better than regular bottled or tap water. Don’t know the reason why. Would love to know the reason.

  7. The body regulates pH very closely. Whatever you throw at it, the body will adjust the blood pH very close to 7.40. So drinking something alkaline will not change your tissue pH period.

    1. I agree, once the “alkaline” water passes through the stomach, it gets bathed in the very acidic gastric juices and quickly loses its alkalinity.

  8. I may be a sucker but I know alkalized water had a resounding effect on my body. I’ve been active with it since 2011 and at 65 haven’t seen a doctor in 30 years. We must, as a society, really tune into our bodies more. Healthcare is pretty much fraudulent. When I was married to an internist, having THANKSGIVING dinner with his colleagues, their pray over dinner was “Thank God for sick people.” It’s a business.

  9. Yes, we need to be in-tune with our own bodies and make the wisest decisions for ourselves. I was drinking Kangen water for 6 months (ph 9.5-10) and was soaking and washing vegetables with it. I noticed a marked difference between lettuce soaked in tap water vs alkali water – leaves are much crispier and firmer, even VERY wilted leaves perked up. If thereʻs a noticeable effect on plants, I wonder what it does for our bodies? Regarding the medical industry, I have been aware of the ties between doctors, pharmaceutical companies and oil companies. Many (majority in the past) physicians are not wellness-based, but treat symptoms rather than the problems. Yes, big money to all involved. As people are becoming more educated about health and making better lifestyle choices, they are influencing and shifting the food as well as medical industries. So, keep up the awareness, stay educated, make healthy choices. Collectively, we have the power.

  10. I ignore all the hype, it just tastes better to me. I am not expecting any health benefits except quenching my thirst on bike rides

  11. Selling water is like selling air.
    The genius who realized that selling water in environmentally toxic plastic bottles would make him billions will likely be selling Swiss Alps Air in disposable plastic bags. The whole thing is a joke.

  12. Reflux patients (night time) get immediate relief ( 5-10 min) from 8.8 water they drink as soon as they feel acid burn. Works for me every time. Read “Dropping Acid “ Dr Jamie Koufman

  13. I like it and it makes me want to drink more, so I get my 6-8 glasses daily. It is spring water so the minerals are there too.

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