It’s the essence of life. Our bodies are mostly made up of it, and we can’t live without it for very long. Our cells both contain it and are bathed in it. The enzymatic reactions necessary for life require an aqueous solution to work. Don’t think these facts have escaped the woo-meisters, either. Water woo is a a long time favorite of woo-meisters everywhere. Indeed, it began with the “water cure” favored by the ancient Greeks and Romans, who could be forgiven for coming up with it, given that they had very little idea of how human physiology actually worked and at the very least it felt good to bathe in water even if it didn’t really cure tuberculosis. To the ancient Greeks water had an Expulsive Virtue and was able wash wastes and impurities from the body and dissolve and soften all plethoras, thickenings, hardenings and accretions if given enough time. About two millennia later, an imaginative man named Samuel Hahnemann came up with the ultimate water woo, homeopathy, a “discipline” so odd that even homeopaths have to admit that there is no active substance in their remedies and have to invoke all sorts of handwaving about the “memory of water” to justify their woo. Still more recently, we have the exceedinly entertaining and unbelieveable water woo of Dr. Emoto, who seems to think that he can imbue water with his “intent” just by speaking or singing to it, thus rendering it therapeutic.

Of course, all of these methods are–shall we say?–a bit messy. You have to bathe in the water. You have to dilute something in the water 30 times, vigorously shaking it to “succuss” it at each dilution. Or you have to sing or speak at it with “intent,” whatever that means. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have a handy-dandy device that would soup up your water in a few minutes? Of course it would. Wouldn’t it be nice if the device were quick, easy, and convenient? Definitely. Thinks such a device doesn’t exist? Think again. Behold the ADR-4 Energy Stimulator!

But first we need a little background:

Energized water has had its molecules returned to their original life-giving, super moisturizing state. This allows maximum moisture absorption into the cells of your body, pets and plants; a major key to healing, and the maintenance of health and vitality.

Pure, natural, unpolluted spring water is naturally structured water. Since most of us have the mediocre water quality from commercial water producers or municipal services, we need to return tap water to its original, hydrating, life-giving state. Pure, energized, (living, restructured or cluster size reduced) water allows maximum moisture absorption into the cells of our bodies, pets and plants.

Who knew tap water was so evil? My goodness. Why is that? Let’s see:

Without its many anomalies, life would not be possible. One of water’s unique properties is its ability to form large crystalline structures. Ordinary water forms large clusters that resemble geodesic domes consisting of 168 molecules. Only a small fraction of the water we use is in small clusters of 4, 8 or 12 molecules that are permeable to the cellular wall. Almost all of the water we drink does not hydrate, it only irrigates our tissues. Your body has to work very hard to convert the regular water into the small cluster water that is vital to all bodily functions.

The liquid crystal structures formed by water molecules reflect the experiences this water has had. When treated or exposed to pollutants, the arrangement of water molecules changes. This water memory affects all living tissue – homeopathy is based on this quality, and has been demonstrated beyond any doubt.

Several experiments have been carried out to help us visualize the resulting effect dissolved substances, and even just thoughts or sounds, may have on water. The very popular pictures taken by Dr. Emoto and his team. Under a microscope, the arrangement of natural, unpolluted and well handled water molecules appear hexagonal and symmetrical, arranged in harmonious patterns.

Yes! I just knew references to homeopathy and Dr. Emoto couldn’t be far behind. I particularly love the claim that water we drink doesn’t hydrate but only irrigates. This is utter nonsense of course, but it sounds so plausible if you don’t know any chemistry. Strike that. It doesn’t sound plausible even if you do know something about chemistry to say that the reason that tap water is so nasty is because it “remembers” exposure to pollutants. Add Dr. Emoto and his aiming “intent” at water and doing his uncontrolled “experiments” taking pictures of water crystals.

But, supposing for a moment that all this is true (I know, I know, but bear with me), what can you–yes, you!–do about it? Why, first you have to recognize the symptoms of dehydration due to not being adequately hydrated by the nasty water you drink. There are listed 13 symptoms that supposedly indicate that you suffer from dehydration. I won’t go through all of them, but suffice it to say that they encompass nearly every body system you can imagine. My favorite, however, is #4:

High and Low Blood Pressure: The body’s blood volume is not enough to completely fill the entire set of arteries, veins, and capillaries.

Nice! High or low blood pressure can be the indication of this mystical “dehydration.”

Oh, wait. there’s one more that made me howl with laughter:

Premature Aging: The body of a newborn child is composed of 80 percent liquid, but this percentage declines to no more than 70 percent in an adult and continues to decline with age.

You realize, of course, that the decrease in the percentage of total body water that happens as infants grow up into adults has nothing to do with “premature aging.”

OK, enough’s enough as far as the silly health misinformation. It’s amusing enough in and of itself, but not as much as the device that is the center of this woo:

ADR-4® Energy Stimulator is a ceramic-magnetic disc embedded in a special 4-inch diameter casing, which can support containers of food and beverages.

The main component of the disc is a ceramic element on which mathematically defined magnetic elements of precise dimensions and magnetic intensities and element containing substances warranting resonance effects are mounted.

These elements generate specific spatial distributions of complex magnetic fields, infrared radiation and resonance effects required for modification of the intermolecular structure of water molecules.

The resulting cluster structure of water carries a healing energetic influence similar to that of homeopathy and is more compatible with the bodily functions of organisms.

It looks like a hot plate to me.

The best part of this woo is all the “science-y”-looking graphs and charts that litter the bottom half of the webpage. There are charts that claim to show that this “energized water” improves kidney filtration, decreases heartrate, and even improves blood circulation:


Yep. I’m convinced by some crappy infrared photography. Aren’t you? The picture on the left is supposed to be before drinking the energized water, the one on the right after seven days of drinking it. The difference couldn’t possibly be due to differences in technique or the temperature of the room, could it?

My favorite chart of all of these, though, is this one:


Fig. 4. Effects of ADR-4® energized water on energy balance in man, measured with the RYODORAKU method: A – before energized water intake, B – 30 minutes after ingestion of ADR-4® energized water. Section B – clearly shows restoration of energy balance between corresponding points on meridians of the left and right side of the body, visualized by vertical bars of corresponding colors. Also seen is a change in values of energy levels at particular points toward normal level. Subsequent pairs of bars correspond to different organs of the body.

I’d really, really, really like to know what the units of measurement are on the y-axis. Water woo units? Qi flow in J/sec? The authors don’t say. But it sure does look like science.

In any case, there follow a bunch of graphs that are a veritable cornucopia of dubious measurements to tell marks–I mean clients–that there’s something wrong with them. There’s even live cell imaging, perhaps one of the silliest of woo tests. Basically if it’s woo, it’s probably there on that page, and if it’s not on that page it’s probably elsewhere on the website.

I can guess what you’re thinking: This all sounds too good to be true. Don’t worry. There are plenty of testimonials of this nature:

I brought my ADR-4 to a good number of parties. I love teasing people – I pour out a couple of glasses of wine, charge one of them with the ADR-4, and have several people compare the taste of the wine in both glasses. Most can’t believe it is the same drink, and always pick the charged wine as their favorite.

John in Chicago

“I Turn Regular Food Into Gourmet Organics!”

I take my ADR-4 everywhere I go – it is always in my purse. I charge up my drinks, and all of my food. Even fast food restaurant meals taste OK!

Damn! Turn cheap wine into the good stuff and fast food into gourmet organic meals? I’m there! Lest you think this is all nothing more than hype, don’t forget to check out all the awards from INPEX, Eureka, and, most curiously of all, Medal Marie Skłodowska-Curie. It makes me wonder what the judges were drinking (or smoking) when they discussed the ADR-4 device.

Of course, you may think this is too good to be true. It is–if you’re a patient. It’s not, however, if you’re selling this device. Each one is a cool $80 a piece. Not bad for a plastic disc with a ceramic element and a couple of magnets. Just add woo to it, and the profits will roll in.


  1. #1 Big Al
    February 1, 2008

    I just came across a reference, a couple of days ago, which I thought I would mention to you today, it also concerns water. Dr William Clark, a prof of Medicine at U of Western Ontario, was doing some follow up studies after an E. Coli outbreak some years ago. Over 100 people had proteinuria. 56 agreed to further testing, and reduce their fluid intake to 8 large glasses a day for one week, with the PU largely reduced. At first they thought it was due to the use of bottled water after the E.C. outbreak but many had been drinking large amounts before the outbreak. On average 4L some at 6L one at 8L. So what is the name for this Woo?

  2. #2 Adrian
    February 1, 2008

    Disturbing as ever!

    This weekly series is invaluable in demonstrating why investigating/debunking individual claims is a losing proposition and why decent education and critical thought is the real hope. Thanks again, orac.

  3. #3 Andrew Dodds
    February 1, 2008

    Sheesh.. I hope they’ve tested this stuff. If it works that well, it could super-hydrate your body to the point of dissolving..

  4. #4 John Marley
    February 1, 2008

    I still consider this guy to be the master of water-woo.

  5. #5 John Marley
    February 1, 2008

    Damn! All the “your water molecules are too big”, “changes the molecular bond angle” and “water the way God intended” stuff seems to be gone. I’m really upset about this. It was just so funny.

  6. #6 longsmith
    February 1, 2008

    John; that website is a hoot. I almost spit my ordinary tap water all over my key board. I especially liked the “critics debunked” section. Pole vault? Shot put? WTF?
    Thank you for pointing the way.

  7. #7 Niobe
    February 1, 2008

    There’s a reason babies are 80% fluids, they have to be supple to be able to pass the birth canal. They lose this (water) weight in the first days of life.

  8. #8 Marcus Ranum
    February 1, 2008

    Has anyone ever done any Heavy Water(tm) woo?

    I bet I could make a lotta lotta money. Hm. Isn’t there a chance that there’s some naturally occurring heavy water in every gallon of “mere water”???

    If any of you steal my idea I will put a hex on you.

  9. #9 Dave Briggs
    February 1, 2008

    Has anyone ever done any Heavy Water(tm) woo?

    I bet I could make a lotta lotta money. Hm. Isn’t there a chance that there’s some naturally occurring heavy water in every gallon of “mere water”???

    I Never heard of any heavy water woo! Maybe you are on to the new rage of the 21st century! LOL! If I am correct, heavy water is merely deuterium, ( one proton and one neutron in the nucleus), instead of hydrogen. I think there are naturally occurring amounts in many bodies of water, like the oceans and some big lakes, so maybe it is coming out of every tap too?
    You’ve got a good idea! Let’s make a million bucks! Heavy man heavy! LOL!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  10. #10 Jim
    February 1, 2008

    From Wik.:
    Particularly hard-hit by heavy water are the delicate assemblies of mitotic spindle formation necessary for cell division in eukaryotes. Because eukaryotic cell division stops in heavy water, seeds therefore do not germinate in heavy water, and plants stop growing when given only heavy water.

    Sounds like too much heavy water will stunt your growth.
    Someone needs to start selling really pure water with all that nasty deuterium removed.

  11. #11 tomh
    February 1, 2008

    Water was quite the rage in the 19th century. Charles Darwin’s letters contain a number of accounts of him travelling to various places for the “water cure”, sometimes for as long as six weeks. It’s never spelled out just what these cures entailed, though mineral baths seem like a reasonable guess.

  12. #12 Bob O'H
    February 1, 2008

    One of water’s unique properties is its ability to form large crystalline structures.

    Quite. I was walking on one yesterday. It had a layer of smaller crystalline water structures on top of it as well.


  13. #13 Anon
    February 1, 2008

    Water. Meh.

    I only drink diet water. Watching my weight, you know…

  14. #14 Scytale
    February 1, 2008

    With all the nuclear reactors about there might even be the odd molecule of tritium in your bottled water!

  15. #15 Harry Abernathy
    February 1, 2008

    I don’t know how infrared photography would show better circulation caused by better water. You could duplicate those results by rubbing your hands and arms together after taking the first image so that they were warmer and appeared more intense in the second image. Of course, you could just take the first photo and change the color scale so that the same temperature would be associated with a brighter color. It’s just like increasing the contrast in a normal photo.

    Also, you would thing that with “higher quality water” that your heart would have to work less to circulate your blood, thus making your body temperature go DOWN a little bit.

  16. #16 Marcus Ranum
    February 1, 2008

    Sounds like too much heavy water will stunt your growth.


    I’ll give you a ride in my ferrari when I get it. Kthxbai!

  17. #17 Schwartz
    February 1, 2008

    Big Al,

    I also know about that investigation (followup of Walkerton). They basically discovered that there was a significant number of people in the general population that were damaging their kidneys by drinking too much water (that 8 glasses a day myth).

    The only reason they noticed it was because they were trying to see who else got hurt by e. coli contamination in the city wells.

    I was always surprised how little press that discovery got (the 8 glasses discovery).

  18. #18 Alan Kellogg
    February 1, 2008

    Back when California actually hospitalized depressives when they had a crisis (Curse you, Grey Davis!) during the pre-entry physical exam the internist noted I was a bit dehydrated. So I asked him, “What is the minimum amount of water for an adult?” and he answered, “That’s funny, I haven’t the slightest idea.”

  19. #19 ebohlman
    February 2, 2008

    Your Friday woo-based band name: Well Handled Water Molecules (Mathematically Defined Magnetic Elements was the runner-up, though its abbreviation makes it sound like some new designer street drug).

    Purely OT question: is it correct to refer to an infection acquired in a nursing home as “nosocomial”?

  20. #20 Christophe Thill
    February 4, 2008

    Your Monday woo-based band name : The Ryodoraku Method
    (or perhaps that’s a Japanese SF movie ?)

    “The body of a newborn child is composed of 80 percent liquid, but this percentage declines to no more than 70 percent in an adult and continues to decline with age.”

    How deeply right! They just forgot to add the ultimate proof: once you’re dead, your body keeps losing water, until all that’s left of you is a dried up skeleton. What can be more convincing than this?

    Also, about the “intent” stuff: isn’t there a wonderful method for a perfect crime here? You could buy a bottle of good wine (the 72% or so of water should be enough), concentrate deeply on it while thinking “kill! kill! kill!”, and offer it to your worst enemy. And voilà! Who said woo cannot harm?

    Finally let’s not forget the natural brother of water woo: pottery woo. I went this week-end to a “natural stuff” fair (entrance was free, and there was some great food on sale). One guy was selling very beautiful water jugs, made (by hand of course) of glazed sandstone. But they were not only nice to see! They can also turn your ordinary water into “living water”, whatever it means. Well, the jug with its assorted tumbler was on sale for… 75 euros. Hey, I’m definitely not buying this!!!

  21. #21 wheatdogg
    February 4, 2008

    Let’s not forget all the specialized bottled waters out there, usually available in health food stores. There’s tachyonized water, fractionated water, triple-distilled water .. all at super-premium prices. (People squawk when gas reaches $3 a gallon, but willfully plunk down $2 for a half-liter bottle of relabeled tap water. Go figure.)

    Are these all distant cousins of the anti-fluoride movement of the ’50s, I wonder?

  22. #22 Joshua
    February 4, 2008

    “Living water” at a “natural stuff” fair, Christophe?

    Good heavens, what did the vegans drink?

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