When we talk about water, we have regular tap water, filtered tap water, bottled water, purified bottled water, and purified bottled water that has things added to it. Anyone will tell you that tap water is the cheapest option, but clearly many people want more from their water than not developing a parasite. I admit to filtering my own water, mostly because ancient piping to my home contains slightly too much lead for my tastes.
So ASEA clearly falls into the category of purified water with something added. But does it go beyond water? Will four ounces a day really do this? “Regardless of age, gender, or genetic disposition, ASEA Redox Supplement provides your body what it needs to stay active and healthy longer.” It helps everyone?
Well, ask the simpler question? Does water help everyone? Yes, it does. Dehydration can kill. Rehydrating a person can help with anything from constipation to heart failure to failure to thrive in infants. And with our current level of knowledge it is virtually impossible to tell how truly dehydrated a person is. So rehydrating a person, using anything from oral tap water to IV solution is very helpful.
Does that mean that ASEA is what it says it is? Not necessarily. Based on the Amazon cost, ASEA is likely eight times as expensive as a high-end, souped up, flavor added premium water. If you look at Amazon, the results are spectacular to not-at-all to severe side effects (itching, nausea). Despite ASEA’s claim that they are very different from other products, the packaging lists salt and water on the label. A quick search of the internet will find dozens of “water cure” options, (here’s one, though I’m not endorsing it because I don’t believe in one-size-fits-all cures) including many that use salt as an additive. The general idea is to consume massive amounts of water, which then improves your health. By this standard, ASEA falls far short of the required amounts.
So does ASEA have some miraculous way of making sure the salt in the water stays in solution separately? We don’t know. Supplement geek went through all the studies, and I won’t replicate his findings (they are here), just say that the individual claims don’t seem to play out in an overall picture in human testing.
But have the experts at ASEA found a way to maintain redox molecules in solution in a stable form? Let’s start with the reality that they are not doing so chemically, because no other chemical is present. So the only way that they could separate ions and maintain stability would be through an electromagnetic process, either heating, applying electricity, etc. Then the ionized material would be added to the water, or the salt-water itself would be ionized.
Other companies (the image above is from Kangen’s site, not an endorsement) have water ionizers on the market, selling them directly to consumers. They don’t add salt to the water, which would tend to stabilize any ionization. But their products also lack significant human trials (Wall Street Journal article).
Now, the argument would be if ASEA is capable of maintaining the ionization of salt water while on the shelf. But the reality is that normal salt water, without anything magical added, maintains a certain amount of ionization in solution. Salt is an electrolyte, and “electrolytes are molecules that dissociate in water forming cations (positively charged ions) and anions (negatively charged ions).” (This and all following chemical quotes are from a study here, that says way more than you ever wanted to know about redox reactions in the body.)
In regular water this isn’t a huge factor. “The degree of ionization of water is very low and the number of water molecules dissociated into ions is minuscule.” But that ionization can be altered by adding an electrolyte: “dissolved substances alter the concentration of either hydrogen ions or hydroxide ions, a concomitant change of the same magnitude must occur in the other ion to maintain constant the ionic product for water.”
So what happens when you add salt to the body? A great deal. Salt is sodium chloride: “the main anions normally circulating in human plasma are chloride and bicarbonate, while the most abundant plasma cation is sodium. Alterations in the concentration of these ions that modify their relative proportion inducing an electrical imbalance are the predominant cause of acid-base disorders.”
The effect of salt on the human body is so profound that we see regular MDs recommending avoiding too much salt to help prevent cardiovascular disease. This advice may not result in any long-term benefit (analysis here) but it is broad-based and worldwide. So drinking salt water, not necessarily anything with an ASEA-style “magical” intervention, might affect the human body dramatically.
So as far as I can tell drinking large quantities of water, and large quantities of water with salt, will both affect the human body. Glancing at the comments of people drinking ASEA I feel like both the possible perceived benefits and the side effects of ASEA could be explained by drinking salt water. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the proprietary processing of ASEA is likely some sort of ionizing machine that they found wouldn’t hold the ionization in solution without the addition of salt. So they added salt to stabilize the ionization longer.
If that’s the case, does ionized water help humans? Short answer, we don’t know. Longer answer, it may help when the kidneys are severely compromised, but we only have animal studies at this point. (Gruesome study here).