Down the Virtual Rabbit Hole

The interwebs are more than a series of tubes, it has the power of endless distraction and tangents, a series of clickable rabbit holes that can drag you deeper and deeper into the alternative universes that are parallel with our own. One moment you can be on Science Based Medicine, grounded on the terra firma of reality, and then with a click of the mouse you can lose your way in the electronic warren.

It started as an advertisement on a skeptical website, perhaps SBM, perhaps not. The entrances to rabbit holes are Hogwartian in nature, never being in the same place twice. It is how I remember it.

Google serves up ads based on what their algorithm perceives as the content of the website. The algorithm lacks a certain, shall we say, nuance, and fails to understand that advertisements suggesting training in homeopathy or the promoting the practice of chiropractic may not have a close relationship to the content of Science Based Medicine. Still the ad did intrigue me, as it mentioned that the practitioner was Oregon’s only MD Acupuncturist. So I clicked.

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”

Not a particularly interesting site. Nothing special, the usual hodgepodge, and quite a complete hodgepodge, of alternative practices that have no basis in reality as I understand it. If you are a devotee of infection control and sterile technique you will just love the acupuncture photographs.

What I did find on the site were therapies and diseases about which I had never heard: Kangen Water® and Protozoan FL1953. I hate not knowing stuff. It makes my brain itch. So down the rabbit hole I go, a mouse click easier to follow that a tardy lagomorph, and less likely to be a source of tularemia.

Drink Me

Kangan® water is a registered trademark of Enagic and according to the website  they make the real stuff, not like the water from the posers in Taiwan and Korea. What is Kangan® water? As best I can tell it is plain old water.

The water has been filtered, but so is the Culligan water at work, not that anyone needs bottled water when your source is the BullRun watershed.

The water has been subjected to electrolysis with the purpose of making the water more alkaline. I am many decades out of chemistry class but I vividly remember the demonstration of electrolysis from high school. The teacher put the electrodes in water and turned on the current and generated H2 on one probe and O2 on the other. He collected the gases in an Erlenmeyer flask and then, for reason that elude me, stuck a flame in one of the flasks. The flask exploded, send glass shooting across the room missing everyone, including my very surprised teacher. Sort of a Pulp Fiction divine intervention moment.

As best I can remember, and confirmed by the interwebs, electrolysis of water should yield a bit of acid at best and very little since at low voltage electrolysis in pure water is very inefficient.  If all the electrolysis is done on an aliquot of water the net result should be nothing as any acid generated will be neutralized if shaken or stirred by the equivalent amount of base at the other electrode. I cannot find schematics of the Kangan® machine to see exactly how it would work. At over $3900 for a home machine I am unlikely to buy one so I can take it apart, although I do wonder: will it blend?

“Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction.”

The cartoon schematic is confusing, at least as I remember my chemstiry: The H+, which is the acid, is an antioxidant that goes out the alkaline port while the OH-, which is the base, goes down the drain as an acid. Huh? I do not get it. The purpose of this treatment is to make alkaline water, with optimal pH between 8.5 −9.5 Given that the average pH of tap water in the US is 8.1, they do not have far to go.

“Curiouser and Curiouser”

The basic mechanisms by which alkaline water is beneficial is as follows:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves. Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;  All mimsy were the borogoves. And the mome raths outgrabe.

Maybe that’s not it. There are evidently nouns and verbs that are placed in an order to suggest a description of reality. Or a reality. Not mine. Although I recently saw a vorpal sword used to kill some wooden soldiers.

Lets try another series of nouns and verbs and see of they make more sense.

Being in a acid state causes diseases, perhaps all diseases. We run towards the acid by eating acids and by the production of acids by pathogens. Drinking alkaline water will correct the acid state and restore health. Kangen water® has small clusters of 5 to 6 water molecules to make it is extra hydrating and it is an anti-oxidant. Alkaline water will raise the blood pH and make the water molecules smaller and get rid of free radicals. Really. A man in a white coat told me so.

“If any one of them can explain it …I’ll give him sixpence. I don’t believe there’s an atom of meaning in it.”

Wabe and outgrabe at least rhyme. One would think that collections of sciencey words would make for science, but it is not the case. As best I can tell from the alkaline water sites their understanding of chemistry and physiology is one frabjous tulgey.

Acid does not cause disease (lysergic excepted). Drinking alkaline water will correct no acidic state beyond neutralizing a bit of the hydrocholic acid in the stomach, water does not cluster. One of the remarkable results of physiology is how tightly some processes are regulated. Core temperature varies very little and  blood pH even less. Drinking a couple of glasses of slightly alkaline water a day will do nothing and can do nothing except quench your thirst.  And, once absorbed the ionized alkaline will not retain its pH or ionic state. The water becomes, or remains, water.

What can the water be used for? Everything. Flying Crane Acupuncture recommends Kangan water® for

cancer, auto-immune disorders, chemical sensitivities, GERD, allergies, candida, Lyme Disease, Biofilms, protozoan FL1953, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, leaky gut syndrome, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, psoriasis, sinusitis, and all people on the standard American diet.

There are innumerable testimonials as to the superiority of alkaline water. And we know how reliable water testimonials are.

Is there any clinical data to suggest the validity of any of the claims of alkaline water? Nope. Clinical trials? Nope. Biologic plausibility? Nope. Anything besides the glowing recommendations of the marketers of the machines and their users touting the benefits? Nope.

Color me unimpressed.

“Well, I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense.”

Have you ever read a list and did a double take. I did when I saw the uses of Kangan water®.  Good thing I wasn’t drinking the water when I did or my local environment would have become more alkaline.  Protozoan FL1953. It is part of my job to know bugs, and while I cannot have seen or heard of every organism out there, I know the most of the ones that cause disease. I never heard of Protozoan FL1953. Off to Pubmed. I find… nothing. Oh. It has another name, Protomyxzoa rheumatica. Pubmed that and…nothing. Same on Google Scholar.

It turns out that only one person has information about this protozoan, Dr. Stephen Fry MD, who has discovered the organism and has the only diagnostic testing. He has yet to publish his findings, but he finds it as a potential cause for CFS, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, Morgellon’s and more (Start at 8:16).

According to Dr Fry he has discovered, using molecular analysis and stains, a protozoan in the blood of people with a large number of chronic inflammatory diseases. As I understand him the protozoan infection leads to immunosuppression and then a fungal super-infection.  He has developed a diagnostic PCR, special stains and is working on antibiotic susceptibility testing.

“What is the use of repeating all that stuff, if you don’t explain it as you go on? It’s by far the most confusing thing I ever heard!”

There are few pictures of the protozoan that I can find. I have looked at a lot of microbes in my day. It looks like a red cell to me and nothing more.  Other photographs are equally hard to identify as an organism:  here and here.  It all looks like artifact to me, but with no published information on the special stains, who can say? The beast can be grown in the lab and they have even sequenced the genome, both of which are very impressive accomplishments.  I can’t grow Protozoan in our clinical labs.   I have to send my Leshmania cultures to the CDC and genomic sequencing is not a trivial.  The results of this work suggest it is a:

a slime forming complex protozoan, trying to become a helminth [parasitic worm], trying to become a worm… it’s progenitor with some ameba, or some protozoan in the past. But it is a little more complex than say, malaria or babesiosis genetically. Actually it is sort of in-between, again, a helminth and a malarial type organism.

An amazing discovery, especially given the marked differences between protozoans and helminths.  Discovery of a new organism could change the approach to many patients.   Just imagine those thousands techs and docs looking at millions of blood smears over the centuries and not seeing this organism, the ultimate gorilla in a basketball game.  Unfortunately he can’t get this work published as “Look, this is too political, too new, really a radical concept.”

There are two issues about publishing. There is the description of a new pathogen: photos, cultures, genome.  Then there is whether it causes disease: is it the next  H. pylori or the next XMRV? The beauty of the Internet is you could benefit thousands of people by publishing on-line. I wait with great anticipation the announcement by Dr. Fry demonstrating the existence and pathogenicity of his new discovered protozoa.

“That’s nothing to what I could say if I chose.”

I suppose it may be best to avoid the path of that attention seeker Barry James Marshall with his publications in peer reviewed journals and grandstanding Nobel prize awarded for the discovery that gastritis and peptic ulcers are due to H. pylori. Who wants that kind of notoriety  Which is a shame, since I can obviously neither confirm nor deny the Protozoan as a cause of disease or even as a new organism based on the published literature, or even information on the interwebs.

I have always been torn between the idea that those who discover something new be rewarded for their work and the concept that medical knowledge should be freely available for the benefit of everyone. I mostly favor the free spread of knowledge for the benefit of all, although interviews suggest the information is being kept proprietary pending patents.

But you can only click links for so long, the brain fogs over trying to incorporate all these alternative and new realities. New water, new protozoans.

“I think I should understand that better, if I had it written down: but I can’t quite follow it as you say it.”

So true Alice.

Posted in: Energy Medicine, Herbs & Supplements, Humor

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