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

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.]
 

Doug Keenan

New Member
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.
 

Dan Wilson

Senior Member.
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.
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: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3572224/pdf/nrp-7-34.pdf
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). https://www.pnas.org/content/102/40/14171
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.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
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.
 

Dan Wilson

Senior Member.
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. http://www.chem1.com/CQ/magwatscams.html 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

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. :)
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
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'.
 
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