Please Don’t Drink Raw Water

I’m all for sustainable development. Eco-friendly houses, recycling, and renewable energy are all great things to be looking into using. Given the current anti-plastic trend, it probably isn’t surprising that people are looking for an alternative to bottled drinking water. One that doesn’t waste the tons of plastic which are needlessly created and disposed of by the bottled water industry every year.

Raw water is not the answer.

Devotees of raw water claim that water taken directly from its natural source has a whole host of health benefits that bottled and tap water lack, thanks to the presence of mineral compounds and probiotics. These things may well be present in raw water. But so will harmful bacteria, parasites and viruses.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, unfiltered, untreated and unsterilized water is currently being bottled and marketed in San Francisco for $36.99 for 2.5 gallons. So it is certainly the case that raw water won’t help to save money!

The Science

The claims made by the companies and people fooled by this particular trend point to the fact that raw water contains minerals and probiotics that are destroyed by sterilisation and filtration in other forms of water. This is ignoring a simple fact about drinking water. We don’t drink water for any sort of nutrient value. We drink water to remain hydrated. Minerals and probiotics should be taken in as part of a balanced diet plan, through food. Water is not meant for nutrition purposes, and the dangers inherent of raw water easily outstrip any potential benefits.

There are a whole range of pathogens that can be transmitted in water. Campylobactor from bird droppings, cryptosporidium from cattle, E.coli and giardiasis, to name just a few. Depending on where the raw water comes from, it could have also washed through rocks containing things like arsenic and radon. Admittedly, that isn’t common and it is very likely the sort of thing that a reputable company would check before selling a product, but it is still a possibility.

Worse yet, untreated water has historically been the cause of deadly outbreaks of cholera and dysentery, which means that if demand for raw water climbs high enough, we could be looking at returning to the sort of infectious cycle that killed hundreds of people before we understood the root causes of these diseases.

What About Tap Water?

Tap water has been my answer to the cost – both financially and environmentally – of bottled water almost since the bottled water craze began. I have to admit that I still fail to see the point in paying £3 for a bottle of water, when I can get easily twice as much water for £0.50 from the tap.

But according to the people selling raw water, I’m a fool. According to them, tap water has lead, chlorine, fluoride, and most of the time prescription drugs in it, because it is recycled water from other people’s drains.

As I grew up in a house with a passionate water engineer for a father, I am fully aware of where and how the water in my taps is sourced, treated, and transported to me. And I am absolutely fine with each step in that process, as it means that I am 100% certain that when I drink water from my tap, it will not be contaminated with some of the truly horrific water-borne parasites and diseases that untreated water can contain.

So, please, before you go and buy any raw water, consider simply using the water from your tap. I can guarantee that it will be cheaper, and it will probably also be a lot healthier.

You Are NOT Oxygen Deprived

This is a claim I have only recently begun to encounter, but it is a dangerous one – to your wallet, if nothing else. If you happen to be suffering from one of the wide range of conditions this ‘treatment’ claims to cure, the damage could be far worse.

The Half-Truth

The people offering this ‘cure’ all point to the work of a German scientist, Doctor Otto Warburg, who published a paper in the Journal of Cancer Research in 1925. This paper was called “The Metabolism of Carcinoma Cells”, and it basically outlines the fact that cancer prevents healthy cells from receiving enough oxygen. He went on to suggest that a possible treatment would be offering time in oxygen-enriched chambers may be an effective cure, but I have been unable to find any papers suggesting this was successfully tried.

The Lie

The sites which support these ‘treatments’ say that:

* Tap water is very low in oxygen because its journey through lead pipes and the addition of chlorine and other chemical contaminants prevent it from being aerated.
* Cooking or heating food reduces the oxygen content in vegetables and fruits, and also kills the enzyme content.
* Processed foods have little to zero oxygen content.
* Air conditioning in cars, homes and offices during the summer, and then heating in winter, depletes oxygen and circulates germs

While those claims may well be the truth, none of the food, drink, and supplements they offer will have any effect on your body’s oxygen levels – unless they are selling oxygen tanks and nebulizers, and even then you should discuss that sort of treatment seriously with your doctor before embarking on it. Pure oxygen is a dangerous chemical, and using it without professional guidance can have serious, damaging effects on the body.

The Truth

On some of these sites, things which will make you feel a great deal better are mentioned, usually as an afterthought to the shiny products. These include exercise, meditation, and a healthy, less-processed diet.

Needless to say, this advice will do you a great deal more good than taking any of their products. If you truly want to increase your body’s access to oxygen, I suggest you drink more, exercise regularly, and look at natural diet options. It will be cheaper and more effective for you.

The Difference Between Herbal Medicine and Homeopathy

A good many people seem to be confused by this, and so I felt that it was necessary to get my opinions about the two down very clearly. It has been a source of irritation for many years that herbal medicine and homeopathy are often confused by people, so I will do my best to outline the differences between the two.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine has been the foundation of healthcare throughout recorded history. Even today, the World Health Organisation believes that around 80% of the world’s population still uses herbs and their properties as a primary source of medical care.

Herbal medicines, just like conventional medicines, have a direct effect on the body and need to be used with care because they can be potentially harmful if not used correctly. Therefore, they need to be used with the same care and respect as conventional medicines, and it is always a good idea to tell your doctor about any herbal medicines you’re taking before starting on a new prescription.


Homeopathy is a complementary or alternative medicine based on a series of ideas originally developed in the 1790s by a German doctor called Samuel Hahnemann. He believed that to successfully treat an illness, ‘like cures like’, and so that a substance which causes a headache should be used to treat a headache.

Very early on, this caused the deaths of a good many of Samuel Hahnemann’s patients, because a good many of the substances he was using in order to  treat people were toxic. Instead of abandoning the idea, he decided that a process called succussion should be used. This process is based around diluting and shaking the original substance repeatedly.

Practitioners of homeopathy believe that the more a substance is diluted in this way, the greater its power to treat the symptoms becomes. In effect, this means that most homeopathic remedies have less than 0.00001% of the original substance available to them, the rest of the solution being water.

There has been extensive scientific investigation of the effectiveness of homeopathy, and there is no good quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition. The results consistently show that homeopathy works thanks to the placebo effect, nothing more.


Please don’t confuse herbal medicine with homeopathy. They are very different things, with very different results. I would never encourage people not to use something that they believe helps them, so if you like homeopathy treatments, by all means continue to use them. But please don’t suggest that a herbalist is a homeopath. It becomes very irritating very quickly.

Autism ‘Cure’ Hoax

Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. It is not an illness or disease, and therefore cannot be ‘cured’. Unfortunately, this does not prevent people from suggesting otherwise.

The Claims

The ‘Miracle Mineral Solution’ is a solution of sodium chlorite in distilled water. It was first suggested by Jim Humble in a self-published book, first released in 2006. There is also a more diluted version of the same solution marketed as Chlorine Dioxide Solution, or CDS.

Jim Humble’s book claims that his Miracle Mineral Solution can act as a preventative against malaria, cancer, the hepatitis viruses, and – most damaging of all, autism. It was not until Kerri Rivera became a promoter that it really began to be sold as a cure for autism, however.

Kerri Rivera has claimed that treating children with Miracle Mineral Solution has removed 170 children from the autistic spectrum. She believes that the cure purges the body of a range of parasites that cause autism. In spite of the fact that her support of this ‘treatment’ has forced her to move to Mexico in order for her to be able to continue to offer it, she is still as vocal a supporter of it as ever.

The Truth

Sodium chlorite is a toxic chemical. It can cause acute renal failure if ingested, and has caused fatalities in adults who have ingested it. This has caused the supporters of it to change the method of administering it to an enema, and say that it needs to be ‘activated’ by adding citric acid.

Adding citric acid to sodium chlorite produces an aqueous solution containing chlorine dioxide – a toxin commonly used in bleach. It should be obvious that giving a child an enema of bleach is a damaging process which will do nothing to combat the symptoms of autism.

In spite of the claims that the vomiting, nausea and diarrhea the product causes are proof that it is working, this is not the case. It is simply due to the fact that the solution is toxic, and the body is programmed to attempt to purge toxins as best it can. Chronic exposure to even small doses of chlorine dioxide can cause reproductive and neurodevelopmental damage. It has been shown to impair thyroid functions and reduce red blood cell counts when tested on animals.


Please do not give your children MMS ‘cures’. They do not work, and use of them is abuse, no matter how well-meaning your intentions might be. If you need help and support in dealing with autism, I encourage you to visit the National Autistic Society website – they offer a wide range of services, and should be able to point you in the right direction to find the help you need.

Why You Should Avoid Ear-Candles

Ear-candling involves placing a tube of cloth into your ear canal and getting a trusted friend to set the top of it alight. Exactly where this started is cited as many places, but most commonly it is referred to as Hopi Ear Candling, a fact which the Hopi tribe of Native Americans dispute strongly.

Wherever they originated, the claim is that the process creates a low-level suction force which draws wax and other debris out of the ear canal. Some people claim that this process claim that impurities are also drawn from the sinuses or even the brain itself, although exactly how this works is vauge at best.


Most ear candles are relatively cheap, ranging between £5 to £10 in the UK. They can be made of either linen or cotton, which is usually left unbleached because practitioners of ear-candling claim that chlorine is bad for the ears. These cloth tubes are soaked in wax or paraffin and allowed to harden – although some manufacturers only use pure beeswax because they claim that paraffin is a carcinogenic. Some waxes contain herbs or other substances, included sage, chamomile, rose, rosemary, burdock, and many others.


Most instruction direct the person undergoing the procedure to lie on their side. A collecting plate is placed above the ear, and the candle is inserted through a hole in the plate and into the ear canal. The candle is lit, and usually trimmed as the wick burns down. Some practitioners use a toothpick to maintain a hole in the top of the hollow candle so that it maintains its ‘chimney-like’ appearance. Once the candle is blown out and removed, a cotton swab is used to gently remove visible earwax from the ear.

Why This Does Not Work

Since earwax is naturally sticky, the negative pressure needed to pull wax from the canal would have to be so powerful that it would rupture the eardrum in the process. Ear-candling has been tested, and it does not produce any form of suction whatsoever. Researchers who measured the pressure during candling have found that no negative pressure is created.

The notion that the ear canal is in any way connected to structures beyond the eardrum is also false. Anyone with a basic knowledge of anatomy – or access to a local library – should be able to realise this very quickly. The external ear canal, with an intact eardrum, is not connected to the brain or the sinuses.


Candling poses several very real dangers. The most serious of which are caused by the hot wax or paraffin from the candle dripping into the ear. There have been cases where this has actually punctured the eardrum, requiring surgery in order to reverse the damage. Even when this does not puncture the eardrum, the added wax can cause ear canal blockages which require minor surgery in order to remove.

There have also been cases where people have been burned or fires have been started by the use of ear candles.

Given that adding things to the ear can bring with it the chance of infection, and ear candles go reasonably deeply into the ear canal, they also bring with them a serious risk of secondary ear canal infections of various kinds.

In short, ear candling is a dangerous and useless procedure, and places those who use it at significant risk without offering any documented benefits whatsoever.

Vaccines – Myth and Reality

Vaccines seem to be a constant source of concern, particularly for new parents, who have hundreds of other things they should be worried about. Anyone reading the rest of this blog knows that I am all for natural medicine, but I do have very strong opinions about vaccinations. They can be summed up in two words – GET THEM.

I know there are scare stories out there, and that they resurface every other year or so. The studies they are based on are almost universally resting on studies which were debunked over two decades ago. While the fear over the safety of vaccines is completely understandable, it has also been proved to be unfounded by years of research. So here are a few of the top scare stories, and the truth about them.

Vaccines Cause Autism

This was first suggested by Andrew Wakefield in a study published in The Lancet in 1997. Since, Andrew Wakefield has lost his medical license, and the study has been thoroughly discredited due to ethical violations and financial conflicts of interest.

Unsurprisingly, however, the medical community took the hypothesis that vaccines might cause autism very seriously, and have conducted several other major studies since. None of these future studies have found any link between any form of vaccine and the chance of a child developing autism.

While the true causes of autism remain a mystery, recent research has offered evidence that autism actually begins to develop well before birth, meaning that no vaccine could have any degree of influence over it.

Infant Immune Systems Can’t Deal with Vaccines

This is a more recent myth, but one that will understandably concern many parents. And to debunk it, you need to look at the number of antibodies present in the blood. When you do this, it rapidly becomes clear that the immune system of a new-born baby would have the ability to respond to around ten thousand vaccines at any one time.

Obviously, that would be utterly ridiculous. But rest assured, even if all 14 scheduled vaccines were given at once, less than 0.2% of their immune capacity would be used. The immune system can never truly be overwhelmed, because the cells are constantly being replenished.

Finally, even though it seems like there are more vaccinations today than ever before, the vaccines we have today are more efficient than ever.

Natural Immunity is Better than Vaccines

This one is at least partially based in truth. In some cases, natural immunity – meaning catching a disease and getting sick – results in a stronger immunity to the disease than a vaccination. Given that the effects of the diseases in question can be permanent paralysis, or even death, the risks of this option far outweigh the potential benefits.

Vaccines Contain Unsafe Toxins

This myth comes from reading the ingredient lists of vaccines without fully understanding what happens within the body. The three big concerns are formaldehyde, mercury, and aluminium.

First of all, vaccines only contain trace amounts of these chemicals. In the case of formaldehyde, the body actually produces more naturally than is contained in any vaccine. The compounds and levels of mercury and aluminium contained within vaccines have also been proved not to be harmful.

Hygiene and Sanitation Are Really Responsible for the Lower Disease Rate

Don’t get me wrong about this point – vaccines cannot take complete credit for eliminating the rates of infectious diseases. Increases in sanitation, nutrition, and the development of antibiotics have certainly played their part. However, even when these factors are taken into account, the role of vaccines in preventing the spread of some truly deadly diseases cannot be denied.

Vaccines Can Cause the Disease They are Meant to Prevent

Vaccines can cause mild symptoms resembling those of the disease they are protecting against. This has caused a common misconception that these symptoms are a sign of the disease itself. In fact, when this occurs, it is the sign of the immune system responding to the vaccine, not the disease itself.

Disease Rates are So Low, We Don’t Need to Vaccinate

Thanks to a concept called ‘herd immunity’, as long as the majority of a population are vaccinated, the unimmunized population are protected, up to a point. This is important, because there is always a portion of the population – infants, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems – who cannot be given vaccines.

However, if too many people don’t get vaccines for themselves and their children, the collective danger from the diseases grows, which opens up opportunities for these diseases to establish themselves and spread.

Vaccines Aren’t Worth the Risk

Despite continued scare stories, children have been successfully vaccinated for decades. In fact, there has never been a single credible study linking vaccines to long term health conditions.

As for immediate danger from vaccines, in the form of side effects or allergic reactions, the incidents are so rare that it is impossible to truly calculate the risk level. The overall incidence rate is around one case for every one to two million injections.


Vaccines are one of the great pillars of modern medicine. For children in particular, the return to a world where diseases like measles, whooping cough, and rubella can return is a scary thought – all of those diseases can be fatal, and today they can be completely prevented with a simple injection.

So as science continues to advance and tackle new challenges, people should not forget how many deaths and illnesses vaccines have prevented. And we should embrace the fact that we no longer need to wonder if our children will survive their infancy.