Magnetized Water: Is There Any Evidence for Benefits?
Over the years practicing integrative and alternative medicine, I’ve heard numerous claims for water treatment technologies that supposedly can improve your health. The list is fairly long and filled with controversy:
- Alkaline water
- Oxygenated water
- Hydrogen water
- Imprinted water/water memory
- Vortexed water
- Nanobubbled water
- Deuterium-depleted water
- Easy water
- Magnetized water
And I’m sure I’ve missed others…
Many researchers are unwilling to explore the science of water, as careers have been destroyed over controversial results. Jacques Benveniste was a well respected researcher until he published a specific article in the journal Nature. He described using extremely high dilutions of antibodies that were still capable of causing white blood cell reactions. The dilution levels were so high that no antibodies were left in solution, and yet they still claimed to see effects (Davenas 1988). The ensuing firestorm around the possibility of “water memory” effectively ended Benveniste’s career.
In my twenties, I was reading a book on health and healing. The author recommended treating your drinking water with a magnet for 30 minutes. Curious, I placed a glass of water on top of a magnet and drank it after the allotted time. Afterwards, I was convinced that I felt a sense of increased energy and wellbeing. Hardly anything more than an anecdote, but to this day, I often keep my water jug on top of a strong magnet.
Since then, I’ve read claims that magnets can change water cluster size, decrease surface tension and change the bond angle of water. But is any of this true? Does a magnet change the properties of water? And if it does, are these changes beneficial for general health?
Water and Magnetic Fields
Generally, water is thought to be diamagnetic, meaning that it is weakly repelled by a magnet. If the magnetic field is really strong, it can actually form a small dimple on the top of the water (Bormashenko 2019). But that still doesn’t imply that the magnet is causing long-term changes to the properties of water.
Some common claims for magnetic field induced changes in water include:
- Surface tension decreases
- Salts and gasses dissolve more readily and stay in solution better
- pH is increased, decreasing acidity
- Evaporation rate increases
- Water clustering changes
The claims around surface tension are difficult to confirm. Reports have varied with increasing surface tension in a magnetic field (Fujimura 2008) to decreased surface tension after magnetic field treatment (Cai 2009). A review article came to the conclusion that surface tension changes are small and measuring them accurately is difficult. Based on these issues, they question most of the published data (Amiri 2006).
A study exploring the solubility of air in seawater reported significant changes in solubility with small increases in a weak magnetic field (Pazur 2008). A separate study looking at solubility of calcium oxalate, the main cause of kidney stones showed increased solubility with increasing magnetic field exposure (Mousa 2007).
A separate study looking at weak magnetic fields also showed interesting effects. Water exposed to a magnetic field allowed for tiny xenon crystal formations, where unexposed water would not. The exposed water continued to show the effect for at least 2 days after being magnetized (Fesenko 2002).
Salt was also more easily cleared from soil using magnetized water (Mohamed 2013). Depending on the soil, they saw between 25% and 39% improved removal of salts from soil with magnetized water compared to regular water.
pH or Acidity
Using several different magnetic treatments, researchers found a small but consistent increase in pH of water exposed to magnetic fields. With treatment, the changes can last up to around 12 hours before returning to normal after exposure (Amor 2018). Another study using magnets and other types of fields showed increased pH that would also eventually return to baseline after magnetic field exposure (Yamashita 2003). Although it is worth nothing, there are reports of finding no change in pH from magnetic field exposure as well (Quickenden 1971).
If you leave a bowl of water out, eventually the water evaporates. The evaporation rate can be affected by a number of factors including magnetic field exposure. One study found evaporation increased by almost 39% from exposure to a magnetic field (Wang 2018). Another group confirmed faster evaporation of water in a magnetic field (Guo 2012).
Increased evaporation rates on exposure to a magnetic field is probably one of the better established effects. A recent review of magnetized water effects highlighted additional researchers who also showed increased evaporation rates with magnetic fields (Chibowski 2018).
Water forms clusters due to hydrogen bonding between water molecules. Magnetic field exposure appears to change the size of this clustering. Experiments using exposure to the north pole of a magnet showed potentially stronger hydrogen bonding which favored smaller water clusters (Toledo 2008). Circulating water through a magnetic field appeared to increase cluster size in a separate study (Yang 2009). A third study looked at hydrogen bond strength as a function of water viscosity. They found magnetic field exposure from an unspecified magnetic pole decreased viscosity, likely from decreased hydrogen bond strength (Wang 2013).
Potential Clinical Effects
Bone Mineral Density
A simple study giving rats magnetized water as drinking water for 45 days showed a significant increase in bone density and bone mineral content (Neto 2017). Another study using DEXA scans, also showed increased bone density in rats with consuming magnetized water for 24 days (Hassan 2018).
In a rat model of diabetes, rats were given either the herb gingko or magnetized water and compared with controls. Both ginkgo and magnetized water displayed protective benefits to the kidneys. There was less diabetic kidney damage with magnetized water consumption. In addition, blood sugar was reduced and antioxidant defenses were increased. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels were almost normalized with magnetized water treatment as well (Zayed 2018).
Another study looked at diabetic rats and pancreatic function with magnetized water exposure. Similar to the previous study, antioxidant defenses were increased with magnetized water. They also saw improvements in pancreatic structure and function with insulin levels almost returning to normal in treated rats (Saleh 2019).
Another similar study looked at diabetetic mice given magnetized water. After 10 weeks, the mice given magnetized water had blood sugar improved almost 12%, insulin 60%, and hemoglobin A1c almost 22% when compared with controls (Lee 2016).
A smaller, earlier study in 2010 on diabetic rats also showed some benefits. Blood sugar and hemoglobin A1c levels were improved with 8 weeks magnetized water consumption. DNA damage was decreased with magnetized water as well. Insulin increased slightly, but not significantly in treated animals. Triglycerides decreased, but like insulin, the difference wasn’t statistically significant (Lee 2013).
A study comparing magnetized water to normal water in an oral water pick found that magnetized water reduced tartar 64% more effectively than standard water (Johnson 1998). Other studies used magnetized water as a mouthrinse and claimed benefits, yet I have significant reservations about the study methodologies due to inadequate controls (Goyal 2017, Gupta 2011).
There are older human studies in Russian and German that looked promising. Unfortunately, they were unavailable online for translation and review.
I have to admit, as an electrical engineer and a naturopathic doctor, I am fascinated by the effects of electric and magnetic fields. While the research is still quite preliminary, it appears plausible that magnetized water may have some clinical effects. Larger studies with more robust methodologies are needed to fully explore the effects before we will know for sure. Until then, since it is cheap and easy, I’ll probably continue to magnetize my own drinking water.