Water Woo

[BPSDB]We all know that homeopaths sell their marks patients sugar or water and claimm it contains the mystical memory of magical medicine. One Dr Batmanghelidj goes one step further and claims that water itself is a panacea. He is interviewed by Mike Adams, the self-styled “Health Ranger” here.

Batmangheldi promulgates the same myth as that beloved of the bottled water companies – that we must drink water regularly because we are unable to tell when we need it:-

“…from the age of 20 onwards, we gradually, imperceptibly become dehydrated without knowing it. We lose our perception of thirst. By the age of 70 we may be totally thirsty and obviously thirsty and yet not recognize the need to drink water, even when water is put next to us.

This was done as an experiment. A scientist asked a group of elderly people to withhold from drinking water for 24 hours, and similarly with young people. After 24 hours when water was made available, the elderly did not recognize that they were thirsty.”

This sounds fascinating, especially as one would have thought that several hundred million years of evolution would have weeded out animals that did not drink when they were thirsty and needed water. Unfortunately no references are given for this experiment. Not even the name of the scientist is given.

Elsewhere in the interview Adams says, regarding diuretics:-

“Isn’t this an example of the arrogance of modern medicine in believing that it knows more than nature, it knows more than the body?

Which rather contradicts Batmangheldi’s assertion that the body is unable to let us know when we need water but neither he nor Adams seem aware of this. For someone who claimed to be a qualified medical docor, Batmangheldi’s grasp of basic science was a little shaky:-

We should not wait to get thirsty, because water is the main source of energy. By the time you get thirsty, you will have lost energy from the water that you should have drunk and made available before you get thirsty. So, if you don’t allow the gas tank of your car to come dry before you stop and take some gas, then why should you let your body become thirsty so that it stalls on the roadside before you drink water?

Water is most certainly not a source of energy. Your body actually gets energy from oxidising sugars and fats. It is rather difficult to oxidise water.

According to Dr B, just about any kind of pain is caused by localised dehydration:-

“The human body also has its emergency calls for water. These are localized emergency calls. We call these heartburn, rheumatoid joint pain, back pain, migraine headaches, colitis pain, fibromyalgiac pain, even angina pain — signs of dehydration in the body.

And the mechanism is very simple — when there isn’t enough water to be evenly distributed and certain parts of the body are working but not receiving enough water to deal with its toxic waste and metabolism, and the toxic waste builds up that area, the nerve endings in that area register the chemical environmental change with the brain. And the brain translates this information for the conscious mind in the form of pain.”

Localised dehydration does not happen, the process of osmosis ensures that water remains evenly distributed throughout the body. This misinformation is quite dangerous – it would be rather unwise of an angina sufferer to believe she could cure herself with a drink of water.

From pig-ignorance Dr B. quickly moves on to even more dangerous nonsense, claiming that AIDS is not caused by HIV infection. He describes this as “a fraudulent statement by those people who presented it”. He further ‘explains':-

“the human body is the product of many, many years of having fought various viral diseases, and has survived. Smallpox, polio, measles, and all the other viruses that can kill very easily, and the body has an ability to mount a defense system against these hot viruses, viruses that actually very quickly can kill. But having survived those, how is it possible that the slow virus would kill us in the name of AIDS? I can’t understand it.”

What can you say about this pseudo-scientific gibberish? First he is arguing from personal incredulity. In his view the fact that he does not understand something and therefore does not believe it is proof that it is not true. Second he is arguing that because people sometimes recover from smallpox and other fast acting viral diseases, AIDS cannot be a viral killer as it acts slowly. Apart from the fact that immunity from one disease does not grant immunity to a totally dissimilar one, AIDS actully ‘kills’ by weakening the immune system so that the sufferer falls prey to opportunistic infections and it is these which actually kill. Dr B rejects the knowledge acquired over the past twenty years in favour of his own notion that dehydration prevents essential amino acids getting to the bodies cells and so the body cannibalises itself.

Dr B thinks that many other diseaes such as cancer and depression are also caused by dehydration and offers no more evidence than he does for his AIDS denialism, other than to say that Big Pharma is making gigabucks from selling drugs so are “suppressing” the fact that water is such a wonderful cure-all. The obvious answer to this is that while it may be true that privately run health care systems – such as that of the US, may thrive on keeping treatments as expensive as possible, state-run health care systems such as Britain’s National Health Service would happlily reduce their pharmaceutical bills by treating patients with water – if it worked.

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3 Responses to “Water Woo”

  1. draust Says:

    Fereydoon Batmanghelidj (1931-2004) was a well-known water nut. He has his own Wikipedia page (I won’t post the link as WordPress is stripping links out of all my comments for reasons I can’t work out, but it is easy to find).

    There is an entry on Dr B and his “water cure” on Quackwatch – it is the first hit if you google:

    Batmanghelidj quackwatch.

    As an interesting aside, Dr B’s daughter, Camilla Batmanghelidj, is a well-known “social entrepreneur” in London and runs the charity Kids Company (both she and it are also on Wikipedia). She appears frequently in the media – has even been on Desert Island Discs, and I am pretty sure I once saw her on Question Time.

  2. Mojo Says:

    “This sounds fascinating, especially as one would have thought that several hundred million years of evolution would have weeded out animals that did not drink when they were thirsty and needed water.”

    It wouldn’t weed out animals that only exhibit this behaviour when elderly though, which from the above seems to have been what Batmanghelidj claimed is the case with people. Anything that happens after the usual child-rearing age is pretty much irrelevant in evolutionary terms.

  3. Michael K Gray Says:

    “Anything that happens after the usual child-rearing age is pretty much irrelevant in evolutionary terms.”

    Unless one is a member of a social species, such as say: Ants, or Humans for example.
    Species with either a sterile component, or nurturing ‘grandparents’ are most certainly NOT irrelevant in evolutionary terms.

    This revelation in no way supports the cargo-cult “science” that is the subject of the article, mind you!

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