Needs debunking: "Magnetic water" for treating diabetes

I was extremely dissapointed to find this press release from the University of Cincinnati, which is allegedly a serious educational institution:

Ginkgo biloba may aid in treating Type 2 Diabetes, UC researcher says

The extract of the leaves of Ginkgo biloba, a popular dietary supplement, may offer some therapeutic benefits in fighting Type 2 diabetes, according to a study co-authored by a researcher at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine.

“In diabetic rats Ginkgo biloba had a very good effect on the beta cells of Langerhans—cells in the pancreas responsible for insulin secretion—by creating a restorative effect similar to what we see in healthy non-diabetic rats,” says Helal Fouad Hetta, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow and scientist in the UC Division of Digestive Diseases. Hetta, shown above, is also on faculty at Egypt’s Assiut University College of Medicine in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology.

The study in animal models by an international team of 13 researchers was published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy and is available online. The first author on the research is Ahmed Saleh, PhD, Jazan University in Saudi Arabia. The study demonstrates UC's committment to research as outlined in the university's strategic direction Next Lives Here.

“The extracts derived from Ginkgo biloba have been frequently used in traditional medicine and have been shown to exhibit antioxidant potency,” says Hetta. “Magnetized water, which has been passed through a magnetic field, has also been reported to reduce blood glucose, improve antioxidant status and lipid profiles in diabetic rat models.” ...

After having Ginkgo biloba and magnetized water added to their diets, the mass of the pancreatic beta cells and the amount of insulin in these cells was shown to increase markedly, almost back to normal levels, particularly in the Ginkgo biloba-treated group, says Hetta.

In addition, both Ginkgo biloba and magnetized water improved the anti-oxidant status and reduced the oxidative stress associated with type 2 diabetes by down regulation of the two antioxidant enzymes, glutathione and superoxide dismutase 2, in the pancreatic tissue, says Hetta. ...
Content from External Source
It was a very small study involving only 40 rats, of which only 10 received magnetized water and another 10 Ginkgo biloba.

All of the 13 authors come from institutions in Saudia Arabia or Egypt, and the research was Saudi-funded. One of the authors also happens to be a post-doc at the University of Cincinnati, which is how this news ended up on their website (as well as on sites like Medical Xpress and Science Daily which reprint press releases). I haven't seen it in the mainstream news yet.

Anyway, I wanted to write to the university and complain, but I haven't been able to find any good articles debunking "magnetic water". I think the concept is so physically and chemically ludicrous that no reputable academic journal has bothered to print anything about it. I've found articles by freelance debunkers on various sites, but nothing that I can wave in the face of the university's Public Information Officer and say "Look! You're pushing pseudoscience!"

Any suggestions?

[Slightly-related Metabunk thread: Dubious Claim: Radio-wave treated water improves crop output. But this covers mostly radio treatment and not magnetic treatment.]
Earth has a natural magnetic field. All water can be said to pass through a magnetic field, or even an electric field for that matter. If the research does not specify the nature of the field it's a useless claim on that basis.
The paper itself is a mess. Why they decided to throw in magnetic water is beyond me. Water itself can't be magnetized, "magnetic water" just refers to an unproven method of removing metals from water. If the researchers really wanted to test the effects of magnetic water on their rats, they would have included hard water (lots of metal) and soft water (no metal) as controls. Instead, we have gingko extract and magnetic water being tested on a small sample size. It would have been much more impactful to cut out the magnetic water and only study gingko extract or only study magnetic water with proper controls. The design just makes no sense and you can't possibly draw any solid conclusions from it.
“We still need more evidence about possible benefits for Type 2 diabetes so there is ongoing research,” says Hetta. “Our findings need to be tested in human clinical trials of large sample size.
Content from External Source
This statement by the researcher is a gigantic overstatement on the validity of the research. Their findings need to be tested again with a larger sample size and more controls in rats, NOT humans. Their data in no way justifies funding the use of magnetic water in human clinical trials. There isn't even a plausible mechanism as to how the magnetic water is having the supposedly observed effect. In their discussion, the researchers suggest that it has something to do with scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the cells. But I don't see any plausible way "magnetized" water would do this.

There only seems to be one other paper looking at magnetic water in a diabetic rat model. They also don't have the controls I mentioned above but claimed to find beneficial effects. However, in their introduction they say this:
Recently, the interest in magnetized water has been increased along with the interest in the functionality of beverages. Magnetized water is hexagonal water obtained by passing water through specially manufactured permanent magnet that can activate and ionize water molecules to change its structure hexagonal, like water in our body.
Content from External Source
Hexagonal water is basically a marketing scam. These shapes have been observed in water but they last on the order of femtoseconds (that's 10^-15 seconds).
Molecular dynamics simulations and ultrafast two-dimensional infrared spectroscopy indeed show that strained HBs [hydrogen bonds] rarely persist for >200 fs
Content from External Source
Overall, I'd say that their research is very sloppy but that alone does not qualify their work as pseudoscience. Their claims, however, are 100% pseudoscience and not supported by any body of literature.
Thanks for the comments -- I agree.

Does anyone know where I can find a good "scholarly" explanation of why magnetic water is bunk?

I'm trying to look at it from the viewpoint of the university Public Information Officer who wrote the article. On the one hand, he's looking at a peer-reviewed published paper from a journal that claims to have a 3.319 Impact Factor, which is not completely awful, from a publisher who doesn't appear on the late great Beall's List of predatory publishers. On the other hand, he's got (or will get) an irate e-mail from me, and my only references are blog and forum posts from people who claim expert knowledge. I'd like to be more persuasive than that.
On the one hand, he's looking at a peer-reviewed published paper from a journal that claims to have a 3.319 Impact Factor,
he's got (or will get) an irate e-mail from me,

and still his entire article and title are focused on Ginko Biloba. and even with that the article is using words like "promising", "may offer" etc.

Hetta is the only one mentioning magnetized water, which is part of the rat study the article is about. And he say ginko Biloba "has been shown to", where as magnetized water "has been reported to".

Bunk or not, the article is just reporting the findings of the very small study in male rats. Noone, not even Hetta, are claiming you CAN use magnetized water to treat diabetes.

If you want scholarly, try Google Scholar.
Does anyone know where I can find a good "scholarly" explanation of why magnetic water is bunk?
I'm not sure that you will find scholarly articles written directly about magnetic water. Instead, you would have to read other articles that describe properties of water and magnetism to understand the principles that explain why it is bunk. Luckily, people like Steve Lower mentioned in the post above have already done that.
Thanks, all. I tried digging a little further. is a good starting point; it led me to a rather gigantic "Water Structure and Science" site by chemistry professor Martin Chaplin. Here is his section on Magnetic effects on water, which covers a lot of ground in five paragraphs, has lots of references, and led me into a rat's nest of journal articles, some of which support the magnetic water concept. Are they believable? I don't know -- I think I could spend months trying to answer that.

Here's some interesting speculation from 20 years ago: The elusive mechanism of the magnetic ‘memory’ of water


It has been claimed that preliminary water treatment with magnetic or electromagnetic (EM) fields can help descale metal surfaces, improve cement hydration, change ζ potential of colloids, make plants irrigated with such water grow faster, enhance efflux of calcium through biomembranes or influence the structure of model lyposomes. The effects persist minutes or hours after the water treatment. It is well known that relaxation phenomena in water occur on a picosecond to second timescale. The nature of these ‘mysterious’ and questionable phenomena uniquely known as the ‘magnetic memory of water’ has recently been scrutinized. Based on our recent work as well as other recent publications, we propose a model for the observed phenomena. We propose that the gas ∣ liquid interface is perturbed by the action of magnetic and electromagnetic fields. As in the case of the sonochemical gas ∣ liquid interface treatment, some free radicals and/or reactive oxygen species are observed after the treatment (ozone, superoxide, hydroxyl radicals, singlet oxygen, atomic hydrogen, hydrogen peroxide, hypochlorous acid, etc.). The perturbations of the gas ∣ liquid interface relax more slowly (minutes to hours). The presence of gases, such as carbon dioxide or noble gases which promote clathrate-like structures of water, significantly enhanced the observed effects. Some reactive oxygen species such as hydrogen peroxide are also stable for hours or days in the absence of heavy metals. The ‘magnetic memory of water’, we propose, is the combination of perturbations of the gas ∣ liquid interface and the production of reactive oxygen species. This model is still speculative and will be tested by other researchers. Numerous tests in different independent laboratories are needed before any final conclusions can be made.
Content from External Source
Anyway, I guess I'm done. Maybe after my wife retires from her chemical engineering job, we can tackle analyzing all this stuff just for fun. :)
In my school years I read in a popular Soviet magazine about similar "properties" attributed to meltwater ('талая вода'). Half a century later, this belief still goes strong in Russia, merging with 'magnetic water'.