Double Helix Water: More Magic Water Quackery

The beauty of pseudoscience as a marketing tool is that it is, for those not trained in the particular branch of real science being mimicked, almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Of course, many of the warning signs of quackery are often present, especially claims of revolutions or “paradigm shifts” that overturn well-established science, claims of a single cause or cure for many unrelated diseases, the presence of the Quack Miranda Warning, and naturally lots of testimonials with a conspicuous absence of real evidence published in legitimate scientific journals. But it is easy to see why the use (misuse, really) of scientific terminology, often by people with legitimate (though irrelevant) scientific degrees, can be quite convincing even if the idea or product being marketed is completely bogus.

Our latest example has all this and much, much more! Meet the revolution in veterinary medicine that is Double Helix Water! What is Double Helix Water? Here’s what the “inventors” and promoters of this product say:

Double Helix Water is solely ultra-pure H2O but we believe it is H2O in a hitherto undiscovered fundamental “phase”; not liquid, ice or vapor “phase” but a molecular solid phase even at room temperatures.…this “phase” may be the key to many of the body’s inherent healing properties thus explaining many of the mysteries of alternative health practices. They demonstrate through rigorous scientific experimentation that water can form a solid particle at room temperature. The discovery of this particle then, begins to unravel the mystery behind the differences between allopathic and homeopathic medicine as we know it.

Ahhh, so there is a connection with homeopathy, eh? Well, sort of. the promoters certainly claim their “discovery” explains the powerful effects of homeopathy (which they seem to take as a given, despite the strong, consistent evidence that homeopathy is no better than a placebo). However, there is no talk of the Law of Similars, Dilution and Sucussion, which are core theoretical concepts behind orthodox homeopathy, so one wonders exactly what the connection is beyond the absence of anything but water in this product and in homeopathic remedies. Despite this, the forward to the promoters’ book on their product states clearly that the “discovery” takes,

the concept of homeopathy into the twenty-first century…Their demonstration of microscopic clusters in water is groundbreaking and revolutionary! Their purification of water, with the atmospheric purity described, places homeopathy on a scientifically valid foundation that is equal at least to the discovery of atomic energy.

What Are the Claims?

On another site devoted to this product, the promoters first weasel out of any liability or fraud allegations by stating,

It is not a drug or a curative agent (medicine) in any respect. [We] are not medical doctors and we want all to know that we make no representations that this water treats or cures anything, period….let’s all be careful about how we introduce this discovery to the world: Do not make claims, please! This water does not “cure” cancer, does not “cure” diabetes—it does not cure anything. It is not a drug; it is not a medicine. It is simply water…

Disclaimer out of the way, they then merrily go on to say

It is our belief that this phase of water is a central agent in the arsenal of the body’s immune response….we theorize that these particles are the molecular basis for what Chinese Medicine has suggested for over two thousand years: that an electrical matrix surrounds the body and this electrical matrix is the senior dominating factor in all health issues….Therefore it is very feasible that we have found a material basis for the Chinese meridians.

Wait, I thought their “discovery” proved the scientific basis of homeopathy. So, it also proves the scientific basis behind Traditional Chinese Medicine? Wow! Anyway, on to more medical claims:

….have numerous MDs and scores of other healthcare professionals recommended this new phase of water to their clients, patients and family members for a healthy lifestyle? Absolutely. If one is a rational, sane individual and witnesses large numbers of people with many varied health problems experiencing remarkable changes in their wellness, something occurs deep inside oneself. It becomes more a crusade than a research line. And the people whose lives have been saved or changed greatly for the better want others to know what they think of this water—so the word spreads.

And not to leave out the important (and potentially lucrative?) veterinary sector, the promoters of Double Helix Water provide some additional endorsement on this site from a paragon of the holistic hodgepodge school of veterinary medicine, Dr. Deva Khalsa, who says:

I have found Double Helix to be a cutting edge product that works deeply to heal my canine and feline patients. I’ve found it helpful in cases of arthritis, autoimmune disease, cancer and diabetes along with other medical problems.

The folks marketing Double Helix Water, clearly have a philosophical agenda that goes beyond their claims of mere scientific interest in the nature of water, or even the possibly genuine belief that anecdotes and testimonials have really shown it to be useful. This is clear from the preface to their book, which contains a remarkable number of quack warning signs efficiently packaged in a small space:

 The Secret of Life has been the foundation of philosophy and medicine throughout history. The Chinese called it chi; the Japanese, qi; the Indians, prana; and Wilhelm Reich, orgone. Much of medicine before 1940 was rather pragmatic empirical practice with many errors. Since 1940 the bulk of modern medicine has been a takeover by the PharmacoMafia—my title for the pharmaceutical industry. Today Modern Medicine is at least the third leading cause of death in the United States (JAMA, July 2000). Drugs that have little justification and serious risks, called side effects, are added almost daily to the stream of offerings. Numerous brave souls question the current system, and yet it is THE SYSTEM rejecting and attacking viciously virtually every alternative.

Nothing as inspiring as an open-minded individual disinterestedly pursuing the greater good of all, eh? Well, perhaps not entirely open-minded philosophically, as this passage illustrates. What about disinterested? Well, let’s not forget that even though it’s “just water,” they aren’t exactly giving it away. Here’s the “bottom line” from one of their two official vendors, Dr. Khalsa:

One bottle of Double Helix Water™ (a three months supply) at an average usage price of $1.22 a day – $109.95

One bottle of Double Helix Water™ (a two months supply) at an average usage price of $1.33 a day – $79.99

Special Subscription Pricing Offer – Receive a three month supply every three months at an average usage price of $1.12 a day – $99.99

Who’s Behind It?

Interestingly, two of the promoters, David Gann and Dr. Shiu-Yin Lo appear to have a long history of selling dubious forms of magic water. Dr. Lo was Director of Research and Development for American Technologies Group (ATG) in the 1990s. He claimed to have discovered another form of structured water with elements called “IE crystals” in it, which was marketed in the form of a detergent-free cleaning product called a “laundry ball” and also an automobile engine performance enhancer called The Force. According to one source, these products were investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice and determined to be fraudulent, and the company paid a fine and eventually closed down. Affidavits from a an independent analytical laboratory and a professor of chemistry at the University of Oregon were submitted refuting the company’s claims about IE crystals, and the DOJ concluded that these claims were not supported and not consistent with appropriate scientific practices. David Gann was the Director of Marketing for ATG.

Dr. Norm Shealy, who wrote the preface to the marketing book about Double Helix Water, is a committed proponent of Hodgepodge Holism on the human side, including spiritual and prayer healing, hormones and all manner of supplements, energy medicine, and a wide variety of unproven and quack therapies. All three of these individuals obviously have lifelong personal, and financial, commitments to bogus medical therapies.

And there is the veterinary face of Double Helix Water, Dr. Deva Khalsa. From her web site, she subscribes to any and all forms of alternative therapy grouped, for no obvious reason, under the label “holistic.” Acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal therapies, chiropractic, applied kinesiology, prolotherapy, energy medicine, hair analysis, all sorts of supplements, and of course Double Helix Water. Dr. Khalsa will even consult and prescribe these remedies by phone, which is certainly a more convenient way of assessing your pet’s needs than a bothersome in-person visit or physical exam.

What About the Science?

So, what about this “scientific breakthrough”? Any chance it’s real? Well, not being an expert in physics or chemistry, despite some training in those fields, I can’t evaluate the underlying theory very extensively. Of course, neither can the doctors who believe in the remedy, despite their glowing testimonials and deep faith. Those of us who practice science-based medicine are sometimes at a disadvantage since we cannot as blithely dismiss the claims we haven’t investigated or understood thoroughly as easily as those who practice faith-based medicine can affirm them without investigating or understanding them. However, there are some with the appropriate expertise who do dismiss the claims about “structured water” in general, including a product previously “invented” and sold by one of the promoters of Double Helix water. Apart from the affidavits and analyses submitted in association with the fraud investigation of ATG, there is an entire web site devoted to structured water quackery, provided by a former professor of chemistry, Stephen Lower.  Apparently, there is an entire industry built around claims that manipulating the atomic or molecular properties of water can solve all your health problems. Dr. Lower mentions Dr. Lo’s claims about IE crystals and points out that the only scientific publication concerning these claims was in a journal, Physics Letters B, that does not require reporting the details of one’s methodology and has minimal peer review, so it is difficult to assess the quality or reliability of the data presented. The findings have been challenged on practical and theoretical bases both by Dr. Paul Engelking, the author of the affidavit in the ATG case (here) and by Steven Bittenson, a physicist who is actually a proponent of homeopathy (here). Another paper of Dr. Lo’s, on so-called “stable water clusters” and presented on the front page of the Double Helix Water website (here) is from the companion journal Physics Letters A. No other journal appears willing to publish Dr. Lo’s claims about water, which should be cause for some skepticism about them.

Dr. Lower provides lengthy discussions on his site of the science, and pseudoscience, behind “structured water,” and while my expertise only permits me to say with confidence that the medical claims for Double Helix Water are implausible and without any real evidence to support them, Dr. Lower cogently argues that the same is true of the underlying physics and chemistry claims made by the inventors of this wonder product.

So in essence we have a group of individuals dedicated not only to theories and practices which are improbable and not supported by solid evidence or accepted by mainstream science, but also with a long history of trying to make a living selling products based on these theories. The perfect storm of cognitive dissonance, philosophical bias, and financial self-interest to prevent any rational consideration on the part of the promoters that they might be mistaken. The result is yet another unproven and most likely thoroughly useless product sold to people who only want the best for their sick pets, and most often to those whose animal companions have serious medical problems for which highly effective real therapies don’t exist. Empty promises and false hope, for only $79.99-199.99 per bottle (plus shipping and handling).

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143 Responses to Double Helix Water: More Magic Water Quackery

  1. ellen says:

    do they teach homeopathy and “holistic modalities” at the UPenn vet school?
    “Dr. Khalsa earned her degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 1981. From her earliest years as a veterinarian, Dr. Khalsa trained in homeopathy, along with many other holistic modalities……”

  2. skeptvet says:

    There was no coursework teaching such methods when I attended Penn in the late 1990s, and I don’t believe there is now. Homeopathy is among the most well-disproven alternative methods, and it is widely and rightly shunned by most mainstream medicine and teaching hospitals. “Holistic” as I’ve argued before, is a largely meaningless term in that it can be used to describe almost anything. In the strictest sense of meaning considering the whole patient and it’s environmental context, all medicine is holistic, and it is a bit of marketing deception to suggest that science-based doctors focus only on extreme reductionist views of individual aspects of health and disease. We are taught medicine from the bottom up, including basic physics, chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and clinical medicine focused on the level of species, public health, and ultimately epidemiology, the broadest possible perspective on health and disease.

    Most alternative medicine vet students are exposed to in school is via seminars and lectures sponsored by private student groups. I attended some of these on acupuncture in vet school because I had heard great things about it and was interested. I came away feeling like it represented more a philosophical rejection of science than a real medical approach, which is why it is so often lumped in with other alternative methods, including the most bizarre.

  3. Bartimaeus says:

    If they really believe that, then it certainly is some powerful cognitive dissonance. I have to wonder when people have a history of regulatory actions against them for fraud, how much is cognitive dissonance and how much is deliberate fraud though. Too bad there is no way to know for certain, since fraudsters are never likely to come clean, especially when they can charge over $100 for a bottle of water.

  4. v.t. says:

    A veterinarian selling “water” to clients and claiming it is “helpful for arthritis, autoimmune disease, cancer and diabetes along with other medical problems” is a downright criminal (as are homeopaths and other rediculous alt med peddlers).

    Can this be reported to the FDA (and/or CVM)? I realize they are inundated with reports but what does it take to get these scammers investigated and prosecuted? It makes me sick that innocent pets are the scapegoats for this crap.

  5. ellen says:

    skeptvet or bartimaeus – if a vet prescribes quack remedies and therapies but has a client sign an informed consent form, are they legally protected?

  6. skeptvet says:

    The laws are very vague and lax on what a vet can or cannot do. The law isn’t designed to assess the scientific validity of a therapy. Lawyers and judges aren’t qualified to do that. It simply requires vets do what the veterinary community considers and acceptable job of following scientific standards of care. And even then, without evidence of egregious harm and direct complaints from pet owners, the veterinary medical board and othe rgovernment agencies won’t act. I personally consider completely disproven or magic-based therapies to be malpractice, but that’s a scientific judgement, not a legal one.

  7. Rita says:

    “………an electrical matrix surrounds the body and this electrical matrix is the senior dominating factor in all health issues….”
    Oh, no! Does this mean I’m going to have to wear one of those long black overcoats and those little sun specs that perch on the nose?

  8. Bartimaeus says:

    In Arizona, acupuncture and “manipulation” are listed specifically in the definition of the practice of veterinary medicine. This means that only licensed veterinarians are allowed to practice these techniques, despite the lack of scientific evidence. veterinarians in this area also commonly use chinese herbs, and even sometimes homeopathy and other evidence-free treatments with impunity. As skeptvet says, the laws are vague and lax, and as far as I know, no consent for is even required. The regulations vary from state to state and country to country, but the problems are similar just about everywhere.

  9. ellen says:

    thank you for your replies, skeptvet and bartimaeus. very informative.

  10. ellen says:

    i don’t know if it’s true, but according to these websites david gann and the ATG company were associated with the church of scientology which was created by science fiction writer l. ron hubbard. dr. deva khalsa is also listed as a scientologist. i guess if someone can believe in ancient aliens then it’s not surprising that they believe in magic water too. 🙂

  11. skeptvet says:

    Yes, I had heard about David Gann’s connection, though I hadn’t heard about Dr. Khalsa. Not surprising. One of the hardest things about convincing people in America that faith is not an appropriate basis for belief in alternative medicine is that most people see faith as a virtue and an improtant part of their lives in other domains. Belief in the mystical is fine in itself, but it can be problematic when it translates into preferring mystical over scientific explanations of health and disease.

  12. ellen says:

    if my vet believed in ancient aliens and magic water i would seriously question her ability to make sound medical decisions for my dog. 🙁

  13. monica writes on a vet only website of over four thousand vets.

    “what you charge for a homeopathic exam? I have heard up to $ 300.00.”

    and Richard Palmquist, DVM one of VINs many Alt Med Folder Consultants answers

    “Most people begin by charging lower fees and then working their way up as their skills get confirmed by results. ”

    How much do the real successful rain dancers get?

    art malernee dvm
    fla lic 1820

  14. Rita says:

    “How much do the real successful rain dancers get?”

    Shouldn’t that be “How wet?” 🙂

  15. v.t. says:

    Good one, Rita.

    “Most people begin by charging lower fees and then working their way up as their skills get confirmed by results. ”

    And shouldn’t that be “when they become legends in their own minds”?

  16. VINs Alt Med Folder Consultants “working their way up as their skills get confirmed by results. ”

  17. ellen says:

    skeptvet, bartimaeus, art malernee –

    what’s your opinion of the british institute of homeopathy? is it a legitimate, accredited university or a mail-order diploma mill? deva khalsa and another holistic vet, joanne stefanatos, are members of the faculty.

  18. skeptvet says:

    I don’t see how one can take seriously any organization devoted to teaching homeopathy as if it were scientific in any way. A certification in homeopathy is just like a PhD in astrology–classic Tooth Fairy Science.

    As for accreditation, their web site lists only accreditation from homeopathy groups, not the kinds of educational or governmental groups that accredite normal universities o vocational programs. The exception seems to be the State of New Jersey, but again licensure only means that the politicians are willing to go along with something, not that anyone has evaluated the scientific legitimacy of the practice.

  19. I don’t see how one can take seriously any organization devoted to teaching homeopathy as if it were scientific in any way. A certification in homeopathy is just like a PhD in astrology–classic Tooth Fairy Science.>>>>>

    I am interested in laws about this in other countries. Has any country figured out how to put doctors who make their living selling homeopathy in jail?

    art malernee dvm
    fla lic 1820

  20. ellen says:

    ok, so what about lay people who practice veterinary medicine without a license? isn’t that illegal??

    dog breeders magda aguila (greenville south carolina) and marina zacharias (jacksonville oregon) are homeopaths who diagnose and treat animals. they are very popular among pet owners on holistic pet groups. rumor has it that they can’t stand each other because one practices classical homeopathy and the other practices homotoxicology.

    magda aguila – aquiline animal nutrition and homeopathic consultations

    marina zacharias – ambrican enterprises consultations

  21. ellen says:

    here’s another veterinary homeopath who works by email and uses message boards to drum up business:

    Irene K de Villiers, B.Sc, AASCA, MCSSA, D.I.Hom
    Feline Information Specialist and Veterinary Homeopath (aka furryboots)

    why are people like this allowed to diagnose and treat animals over the internet? why aren’t they in jail? don’t they do more harm to animals than licensed veterinarians who practice homeopathy?

  22. why aren’t they in jail? don’t they do more harm to animals than licensed veterinarians who practice homeopathy?>>>>>

    Great question. Who has better outcomes? The homeopathic vets who really believe in what they are doing or the vets who only believe they can make money doing it.

    art malernee dvm
    fla lic 1820

  23. Ava A says:

    Dr. Khalsa was my veterinarian for 15 years in the Philadelphia area. I took my dog, a pug chihuahua mix to her when the dog tried jumping on the sofa (she was about 7 yrs. old then) and missed,which resulted in her wretching her lower back area, to the point her back legs looked as if they were not attached to her body. I rushed her to University of Penn Vet emergency as she was screaming in pain. They wanted me to leave her there and to operate to fix problem.

    My friend, who accompanied me that day suggested I try Dr. Khalsa before having the dog go through surgery because she had heard so many great things about her. I was able to get an appt. at her office in Yardley, Pa right away. When I got there, there were about 20 cars in the parking lot, many with license plates from about a 100 mile radius.
    Dr. Khalsa took my dog immediately as an emergency and said that she did not need surgery, but acupuncture, which she did on her. Because the dog was in so much pain, Dr Khalsa got down on the floor and sat cross legged there examining and comforting her before gently picking her up to put her on the table.
    She left the acupuncture needles in my dog’s hind areas for about 20 minutes, during which time my dog stayed very still and seemed to relax.
    As Dr. Khalsa removed the needles she said to try to keep the dog quiet and relaxed for the rest of the day. My dog apparently didn’t hear that because she jumped off the table and started running around the room happy! I could not believe it was the same dog. I continued with acupuncture treatments for the dog for 20 minutes for 1 month, and then continued with acupuncture treatments as a preventative 4 x year, and I kept Dr. Khalsa’s as my vet, until she sold her practice and moved to Florida in early 2000. My dog lived to be 20 years old and never had any major illness during that time. I believe that the acupuncture may have been the reason.
    Recently, my cat was diagnosed with liver and pancreatic cancers. I had ultrasound done by my local vet’s specialist, who said that said there were 2 masses. Because my dog did so well under Dr. Khalsa’s care care, I called Dr Khalsa, who now resides in Florida on options available for my cat homeopathically v. chemo and radiation. DR KHALSA DOES NOT TREAT ANIMALS OVER THE PHONE, but gives you her take on the disease from her experience, as a respected traditional and homeopathic veterinarian in the Philadelphia area for over 25 years. She will suggests you FOLLOW ANYTHING YOUR LOCAL TRADITIONAL VETERINARIAN SUGGESTS, and in additional will suggest some homeopathic remedies that may help your animal. She ABSOLUTELY DID NOT TREAT MY CAT BY PHONE, but gave me her take on options available. The reason she did a consultation by phone is because I LIVE IN THE PHILADELPHIA/NJ AREA, as do most of former patients, who are the majority of the people who contact her. If anyone else does call her it may be because she also has a BEST SELLING book(according to AMAZON), NATURAL DOG that promotes healthy dogs by feeding them good, whole foods.
    She suggested that I try a homeopathic remedy that may shrink the tumors, and they follow up 6 -8 weeks with a new ultra sound, which I did. On follow up, was told cat’s tumors were not malignant. Now I don’t know if that’s because of Dr Khalsa’s remedies or not, but I was happy to hear this.

    AS a rebuttal to skepvet, I also attended Penn-Wharton, so I know Penn.It is a good hospital, but just as human medical schools do not teach, as the thrust of their courses, the benefits of eating whole foods and exercise as a way to better health, neither do the veterinary schools. I believe that traditional veterinarians are today motivated by GREED and the medicine they practice does as much harm as much as it helps. Why not talk about the awful, awful processed foods sold by most veterinarians in their offices- food that is so processed and filled with harmful by-products, but is marketed to look like it is specifically for certain diseases in dogs/cats? Look on any label of these foods promoted in any traditional veterinarian’s office and you will see nothing but crap in these foods- by the very nature of them being PROCESSED so much it is crap. And how about the local vet’s push for more and more, now found to be harmful, vaccines they are always telling us pet owner are needed- just so they can make more money, not to mention the those oh so toxic flea meds, when something like cedar oil and silica, which are benign and cheaper and do the same thing?. If traditional veterinarians are so much better than homeopathic veterinarians, how come statistically 1 out of 4 dogs, over 4 yrs. will get cancer?
    Im not saying homeopathy is the be all end all, but traditional veterinary medicine has a lot of greed mixed into it.

    Dr. Khalsa is the only licensed veterinarian I know or TRUST. She charged me for 1 consultation b y phone and has done numerous follow ups by phone and email AT NO CHARGE, unlike my local vet who charges $2 for every nail they clip on my dog. When I talk to her, she is so very passionate about helping ALL animals. I now have 4 dogs and 1 cat and, in my experience have never come across any veterinarian that cared more for the welfare of all animals as she, OR has the scientific knowledge she has. That is why I am willing, no thankful, that I am able to talk to her whenever I have a medical problem with one of my animals.
    I had to write this because whoever wrote about her phone consults v. office visits maybe doesn’t realize that it would be IMPOSSIBLE for her to have office visits when she is located thousands of miles away from her patients in Philadelphia/NJ/NY MASS.SHE DOES NOT SOLICIT CALLS. I would think, it is her former patients who are calling her, just as one would call a former human medical doctor, if he or she moved out of the area and you trusted his or her opinion about your health. Having 4 dogs, I know it is very difficult dealing with other veterinarians, most of which lack the understanding and empathy, once you’ve known Dr.Khalsa. So, I understand why many still call her for her opinion even though she cannot see their animals in person.

  24. skeptvet says:

    As usual, there is nothing in this rant that addresses the legitimate concerns about the use of unscientific and useless therapies. Personal anecdotes may illustrate that Dr. Khalsa is a nice person (which I’m sure is true), but they do nothing to prove any of the therapies you mention work. And all the mudslinging about “greedy” vets (as if Dr. Khalsa and others who practice alternative medicine, not to mention the companies that manufacture the products they sell, aren’t making a living doing what they do), all the mythology about “natural” and “processed” and “toxic” foods and medicine are meaningless personal prejudice, not good reaons to believe in quackery.

    If the best you can say is your pet got better, you like Dr. Khalsa, and you believe in all the nonsense you mention about homeopathy and foods and vaccines, and you don’t like most of the other vets you’ve met, then you’re welcome to feel the way you feel, but you havn’t really answered any of the concerns or criticisms I’ve made. You can follow whatever approach makes you happy, but your feelings don’t change the verifiable, scientific realities of medicine or make homeopathy and magic water any less useless.

  25. Ted says:

    You failed to notice however that they are published for this research! I don’t believe you gave it a fair critique.

    yes, they were published in Physics Letters A (what more credibility can you have than that?) for showing evidence of stable water clusters at room temperature.

    they BELIEVE it may be important for health and are conducting studies which at this time is speculative and they are pretty clear about saying that.

    yes they are SELLING the water but so what? pharmaceutical industry sell drugs, that does not mean they drugs do not have efficacy.

    I think what happened here is that you saw the word ‘homeopathy’ and then you had a brain freakout reaction.

    They are published, your critique is simply invalid

  26. skeptvet says:

    Apart from declaring my critique invalid, you haven’t actually offerred any evidence that it is. Is the underlying theory implausible and unproven? Yes. Are the health claims implausible and unproven? Yes. Are they making a profit selling something without any good reaosn to think it works (which durg companies, for all their sins, are too heavily regulated to get away with)? Yes. Have the same individuals in the past been associated with quackery and even fraudulent marketing? Yes.

    So far, I think there are a lot of good reasons to be convinced this stuff is nonsense, so you’d be more persuasive if you offered some facts or evidence to back up your rejection of all these readons.

  27. Deb Strohm says:

    Dear Skepvet,
    I didn’t see anything in any of your comments that actually showed any evidences, nor supported your claims with any facts, to show that this Double Helix Water doesn’t do something significant. And I checked and the work IS published in Physics Letters A. If you want to tear something down without being informed on it or testing it yourself, fine, but why? Have you had some losses or failures in the past in trying to help others? That’s a rhetorical question — who hasn’t had such failures? There’s no reason to let one’s past failures fuel a passion for denigrating others’ work without proof, evidence or testing. Help IS sometimes possible and legitimate and real, you know.
    Also, Ellen, I have know a couple of Scientologists and they were actually very decent people. Since when is it OK to make snide comments about someone else’s religion, especially when you obviously have never actually looked at it yourself, only listened to the comments of other bigots and accepted same as being real? I thought we got past religious intolerance decades ago.

  28. skeptvet says:


    I think you have it backwards. When someone claims something, it is up to them to prvide evidence their claim is true. The proponents of magic water claim it has physical properties that are inconsistent with established principles of physics and chemistry, and they claim it has health benefits. It is their responsibility to prove these claims true, especially if they want to sell their product to sick people or the owners of sick pets.

    My post clearly points out that there is no such proof, and the one publication you refer to is not useful because it is 1) published in a substandard and not rigorously peer-reviewed publication and 2) has no relevance to the therapeutic claims made about magic water.

    So what evidence do you have? If you say, “Well, I’ve tried it and I got better,” I invite you to read the many, many resources available (most listed on my archive site which illustrate why that is not a reliable for of evidence. For thousands of years we relied on anecdotes to prove what worked and what didn’t, and we clung to many useless, even harmful therapies such as bloodletting without making any improvements in human health. Then in a couple of centuries since we came to understand the scientific method, we have eliminated diseases that have plagued us for millennia, dramatically reduced infant mortality and doubled the average life-expectancy, things traditional, faith-based medicine was never able to do in all of human history.

    So if you believe this stuff has value, it’s your job to prove it. And you’ve got an uphill battle without any scientific evidence, only faith, to back you up. I’m open-minded, and happy to look at any evidence you can provide, but testimonials of personal faith don’t count.

  29. Take a look. I’m surprised you evidently haven’t seen this before.

  30. skeptvet says:

    Actually, I have seen it. It has been thoroughly analyzed by a couple of different scientists, and the bottom line is that it actually does not demonstrate the effects the authors claim. You can read the detailed analyses, but in essence, the authors looked at the results, found that the “control” substance (the alcohol solvent) killed both normal and breast cancer cells and the homeopathic remedy looked like it might have killed more. However, they literally just looked, they didn’t do any statistical or quantitative comparisons at all, which is totally unacceptable scientific procedure. Eyeballing in vitro cytotoxic effects is like calculating the trajectory of a rocket to the moon by holding up your thumb, squinting one eye, and basically guessing about where you should point the rocket. It is also a huge invitation to seeing what you hope and expect to see, which is why scientific research with proper controls and statistics is necessary in the first place.

    This is exactly the kind of poor-quality, biased study that creates the false impression of legitimacy to homeopathic remedies. Proper studies can be done, and they don’t find positive results. The only way to make it looks like it works is to ignore the safeguards normally built into good quality research.

    A Homeopathic Bit of Breast Cancer Science

    A Giant Leap of Logic from a Piece of Bad Science

  31. ellen says:

    deb said: “Ellen, I have know a couple of Scientologists and they were actually very decent people. Since when is it OK to make snide comments about someone else’s religion, especially when you obviously have never actually looked at it yourself, only listened to the comments of other bigots and accepted same as being real? ”

    sorry for not replying sooner, deb, but i thought this thread was closed several months ago. scientology is more of a cult than a religion, but either way, if someone chooses to believe in the supernatural, that’s fine with me. live and let live. however, i would prefer to have someone who is a science-based critical thinker make medical decisions for my pets. jmo. btw, i have a good friend who is a former scientologist. i also have a friend who is a creationist. while i don’t agree with their belief systems, they’re decent people too. 🙂

    Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power,9171,972865,00.html

  32. Josh says:

    As far as water clusters, it seems that there is something here. One can see the paper by Lo et al. 2009 (Evidence for the existence of stable-water-clusters at room temperature and normal pressure )
    As far as homeopathy is concerned, I am not persuaded that it is all bullshit. Many people have a positive attitude and experience from hoemopaths, and, moreover, it seems that homeopathic remedies do not have just placebo effects. I guess that instead of fighting homeopaths and homeopathy, one should deal with the fake trials by big pharmaceutical companies and their policy against poor countries such as the case of AIDS in Africa.

  33. Bartimaeus says:

    So Josh, what is the evidence that you think shows that homeopathic have more than placebo effects? As to the big pharma accusations, they are nothing more than a tu quoqe fallacy. The Skeptvet is not defending or criticizing pharmaceutical companies, and their failings really have nothing to do with whether homeopathy works or not. Homeopaths have been pretty bad about going to Africa or other third world countries and claiming to be able to treat malaria, AIDS, and many other deadly diseases without any evidence of efficacy whatsoever. While I am sure these homeopaths are well-meaning and kind to their patients, they are not actually helping them. At least the antivirals and antimalarials produced by pharmaceutical companies actually do what they claim they do, despite the misbehavior of companies like Pfizer in the past in Africa. Finally, links are your friend-there are a lot of “Lo et al” papers from 2009-providing a link or reference would help others find what you are referring to.

  34. Bartimaeus says:

    Just to be clear Josh, I believe you are referring to the same paper that the SkeptVet referenced and linked to in the main post. There are also links to other responses critical of Lo’s work in addition to the concerns addressed in the post. Do you have any other evidence or did you not read the post very carefully in the first place? That paper is poorly peer-reviewed and challenged on the basic physics, besides saying nothing about what would happen to such a dilute solution after entering a living body.

  35. ReachForTheSun says:

    Fun fact…

    The water really does work

  36. skeptvet says:

    Says you. Or it doesn’t, says me. How useful is this? That’s why we need a little thing called “evidence.”

  37. ReachFor The Sun says:

    In the Double Helix Water book where clinical studies were done at UCLA by Dr Boniveda, head of the Immunology Department, titled “Induction and Regulation of Human Peripheral Blood”, where it was shown to improve Cytokine production which has a significant affect on your immune system…

  38. skeptvet says:

    Could you provide a citation of the study you refer to so I can read it? Or better yet email a copy to me?

  39. gail says:

    My Vet is Dr. Khalsa. She helped my dog and hundreds of others heal when all the other allopathic Vets went “DUH” is hard for people that are use to a single and limited understanding of science to grasp “quantum physics” since it is impossible to study that under a microscope, much the same way you can’t study gravity but we all know it is there. Why not read some books about Nikola Tesla to get another perspective of science before you throw people under the bus..healthy skepticim is something I support but criticim about things that are out of your realm of reality may limit learning of regenerative medicine and advances in healing.. modern allopathic medicine is young and is nothing more that symptom suppression with no understanding of healing and health and regeneration of the body. Not sure why people get so angry, it would be nice to have a discusion.

  40. skeptvet says:

    1. Your personal experience has obviously generated a deep faith in the alternative approach Dr. Khalsa uses. Unfortunately, personal experience is emotionally compelling but not reliable. An even cursory review of history will illustrate how easily we all believe in things that are not true based on anecdotes and experiences which don’t mean what we think they mean.

    2. Quantum physics is hard to understand. My only objection is that those who push pseudoscientific nonsese like structured water pretend to understand it when really it is just a metaphor for a kind of New Age mysticism. Quantum physics can be studied and understood experimentally and mathematically, just like gravity, and it is. We know a lot about quantum phsyics, and none of this understanding supports the claims made for magic water.

    You seem to assume, as people so often do, that the only way someone could disagree with your theories is through ignorance. This is really quite an arrogant idea. The fact is that lots of people disagree with such claims because they have thoughtfully and carefully considered the arguments and evidence and found them to be untrue.

    3. “Allopathy” is a meaningless buzzword which is only used by people who disdain the methods and conclusions of science. Scientific medicine is relatively new. And in a couple of centuries it has doubled our average lifespan, dramatically reduced infant and maternal mortality, and completely eliminated numerous causes of death and suffering that went unchecked for hundreds of thousands of years of human history. Youth is hardly a compelling argument against such a successful method. It’s not perfect, but it is far and away the best game in town. And quantum physics is certainly one of the youngest scientific fields anyway, so if youth were an argument against an idea than if would weigh against your notions of quantum physics far more than against what you call allopathy, which has been around quite a bit longer.

    4. As for Tesla, people often site historical figures who were disbelieved or criticised and eventually vindicated as if it somehow means we must accept all wild ideas as equally likely to be true. The reality is most crazy ideas really are crazy and get forgotten. The few exceptions we remember mean we need to consider the arguments and evidence for all ideas carefully, but not that we should never decide an idea is simply mistaken.

  41. gail says:

    I think SkepVet needs a homeopathic for his anger. Can you please prove to everyone here that Dr. Khalsa is crazy? What are you basing that on? What proof do you have? Why do you think I am ignorant? What proof do you have? In order to make yourself right you have to dismiss anyone who does not agree with you and you try and do that by using insults. Which is really more a reflection of who you are than me or anyone like Dr. Khlasa. People often using insulting and dismissive statements when they have no power and feel desperate to be heard. As you know just because a research study is a double blind, placebo controlled, full text, peer reviewed, research study means nothing. Anything can be proven or the opposite. I was hoping to have an intelligent exchange of ideas not a pontificating rant about why you hate “mysticism” when you have no idea what that even means…

  42. skeptvet says:

    Where did you get the idea I was angry? I hear a lot more anger in your tone than in anything I’ve written.

    Where did I say Dr. Khalsa was crazy? I’m sure she is a kind, intelligent, well-meaning person. I’m also sure she is spectacularly wrong about Double-Helix Water and many of the other theories and products she promotes. Nice, smart people are wrong all the time.

    Your superficial pop-psychoanalysis of me only highlights the fact that you make no effort to show the claims you or Dr.Khalsa make are factually true or consistent with science in any way. Almost all the angry comments, like yours, I get on this subject are personal attacks on me or personal defenses of Dr. Khalsa. Almost none are rational, fact-based rebuttals to anything I’m said. This demonstrates more clearly than anything that what you are defending is really a form of religious belief, not a scientific approach to medicine. And of course, everyone has a right to pursue whatever faith-based healing methods they happen to believe in, so long as they don’t misrepresent those as based on science or fact. I kno what “mysticism” is, and I don’t hate it at all, I simply want people seeking treatment for their pets to be able to distinguish mysticism from scientific medicine.

  43. MajorRay says:

    Traditional science is bias and I would not dismiss people just because they do not fall within your definition of an intellect. There is a difference between being a scientist and truth seeker. I believe the double helical water structure based on his science, not his hype. I do not care what bias peer review people say. While I do have a PhD in chemistry from a respected university, real science is not simple proving other people published and accepted ideas. You are mostly water and the carbohydrate scaffold (HA) common to all living creatures can also form double helices, circular wheels, and all the structures DNA can form. These molecules form a HA-water “helix -in-a helix” wheel, which could serve as a nanoscale incubator for stem cell genesis (I see living creatures as seeds for a common original created species). The problem is that people are attracted to complexity and not simple processes. If information is transferred through water, then shape could be conserved. “Biomatrixgenesis” is my conjectures that information could be transferred from the invisible (unseen) dimension through water, and then through HA, which serves as a biomatrix scaffold directed by DNA and mediated by proteins. Now having an invisible spirit shape your biomatrix through “vibration commands” may sound impossible to those brainwashed by the bias science. But even if I have the scientific proof, where can I publish and who will collaborate with me? In my opinion, only a jackass would believe in Darwinian evolution. I don’t care what university degree they earned. Truth is not science alone. Truth has to past the science test, the design test and the theology test. Your spirit and soul trumps DNA regardless of how important DNA appears to our carnal minds.

  44. skeptvet says:

    What you are promoting is religion, not science, and your proof is simply the strength of your faith, not evidence. You are entitled to your belief, but others are entitled not to just take your word for it.

  45. Todd says:

    Perhaps if the pharmaceutical funds where behind the product then the studies would prove weather or not the product had value. The testing process is amazingly expensive and therefore limits any product that does not have the financial backing. Considering that medical insurance now covers acupuncture, there must be some benefit so all alternative medicine cannot be without value. Remember at one point, bleeding a patient was considered a normal scientific treatment. Remember as well that the appendix just recently was recognized as having value though clearly it had value before the AMA recognized it. Remember as well that like aspirin, some modern drugs have their roots in herbal remedies. Alternative medicine has it’s history of health tonics that where without merit.
    Alternative medicine typically means medicine not sanctioned by the AMA. The AMA has it’s own less than glamorous history. With it’s ties to the pharmaceutical industry which jointly direct most of the educational institution’s curriculum, the concept of mainstream medicine without a bias could be questioned.
    In both mainstream and alternative medicines there are clearly financial interests and clearly those who could have personal gain by supporting or destroying this product.
    Although I have not tried the product, to judge it’s value by these testimonies without considering the background of the critics and promoters seems irresponsible. Perhaps viewing the comments with a perspective of their background will provide a closer truth here.

  46. skeptvet says:

    The testing process is amazingly expensive and therefore limits any product that does not have the financial backing.

    This is true. However, it is not an argment to support giving untested remedies. We requrie rigorous testing of pharmaceuticals because that’s how we maximize safety and efficacy, and even then we can’t perfectly predict what drugs will do in all circumstances. Not testing remedies just means playing Russian roulette with our health.

    Considering that medical insurance now covers acupuncture, there must be some benefit so all alternative medicine cannot be without value.

    Insurance coverage does not equal good evidence of benefit. It is determined partly by consumer demand and legislative requirements, which is based more on perception than scientific evidence. Undoubtedly there are benefits to some therapies now considered alternative, but without proper testing we’ll never find thebits of wheat amidst all the chaff.

    Remember at one point, bleeding a patient was considered a normal scientific treatment.

    It was a widely accepted treatment, but it was never “scientific.” It was part of Traditional Western Folk Medicine, which like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and most ehrbal practices was based on pre-scientific ways of judging what was effective and what wasn’t. Once we discovered the scientific method, we abandoned it as a useless (and in fact harmful) treatment. That’s one example of why science works better than tradition/opinion/faith. Here’s a more complete version of the story.

    Alternative medicine is not defined by the AMA or any other organization, and as a vet I have no association with them. It is defined as a collection of often inconsistent practices that people believe in but which have not yet shown good evidence of true value, or which have been clearly shown not to work (such as homeopathy). Bias is certainly an issue, but it is strongest in those who stand to benefit from promoting the therapies. I gain nothing by examining the evidence and challenging those methods that don’t have any, and I do so only so that pet owners will have access to information other than that provided by those promoting these approaches.

  47. Nick Marini says:

    David Rockefeller, one of the main investors in Modern Medicine and the coming Pharmaceutical companies in 1910, died at the age of 94 and his private doctor was a homeopath. The queen of England’s private physician happens to be a … homeopath. Perhaps these super rich people knew something that most so called science based research thumpers such as the writers behind SKEPTVET don’t.

    There’ are plenty of science based research books that would help the Skeptvet team take their heads out of the sand: “The Field” by Lynn McTaggart and ” Source Field Investigations ” by David Wilcock are some among many.

    Do they know that modern medicine was based on a false premise? It is actually based the fake research of Louis Pasteur, a self avowed quack, who admitted before he died that he had been wrong about his theories. However, the paradigm continued with its ” shock and awe” strategy of poisoning, nuking and butchering millions and millions of people for the last 100 years. It’s past its centennial now and is standing on its last leg, fighting for its last breath, the dead paradigm that it is.

    Get a life, Skeptvet!

  48. skeptvet says:

    Thanks for illustrating the far extreme of nonsense available on the internet. What’s a “self-avowed quack?” Why is it necessary to be abusive just because you disagree with someone?

  49. Ojeronimo says:

    Skeptvet when you stop using such judgmental terminology such as “Your superficial pop-psychoanalysis of me only highlights the fact that you make no effort to show …….”. Then maybe a dialogue might begin. When we give up arguing and commit to learning then progress is possible. If one begins to look at the stable water cluster concept as a working model and forget personalities and homeopathy then many possibilities for nano technology become open for exploration. Personally I would like to see science move beyond 19th century materialism and begin to use, in practice, the many theoretical models of the 20th and 21st centuries that at the moment remain learned discussion topics in the leading universities of the world.

  50. skeptvet says:

    I find it interesting, and suggestive of an a priori bias, that you choose to criticize my response to an ad hominem attack without showing any disapproval of the attack. I try very hard to stay focused on ideas rather than personalities, and I think if you are honest about reading my blog and the comments, you’ll admit that “superficial pop-psychoanalysis” accurately describes many of the comments that choose to focus on my motives rather than anything substantive, including the comment I was responidng to. “Judgemental” as a perjorative implies it is never appropriate to judge, but that seems self-evidently false. What is inappropriate is reflexive judgement without a fair consideration of the arguments and the evidence, and I do not accept the implication that I am guilty of that here.

    As for stable water clusters, the reason I am discussing them at all is that they are frequently cited as evidence in support of homeopathy, so suggesting that I forget about homeopathy is kind of missing the point. My critique is specifically of the inappropriate use of abstract theoretical ideas as justification for real-world clinical interventions that have repeatedly failed to prove their validity or worth. I am a clinician, not a theoretical chemist, so my interest in the subject is related to it’s use in support of medical claims, and you have provided no additional argument or evidence to suggest this use is legitimate.

    Finally, I question the wisdom of disdaining the materialism which has led to the unprecedented improvement of human health and well-being, particularly if you wish to replace it with a vague mysticism cloaked in the terminology of quantum physics or other nanoscale domains that have questionable relevance for medical interventions, as the homeopaths I am challenging due. Science does make progress, and the theories of the 20th century that have withstood the challenges necessarily leveled against them in pursuit of true understanding are being integrated into technology, medicine, and other applied science fields. But that is a different thing alltogether from repainting vitalism with a patina of advanced theoretical science and claiming it is a new advance in medicine.

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