The whole concept of acid-alkaline balance is another highly misunderstood are of health. Unfortunately, sales sites in particular have presented so much information to promote their products that the real truth has become so muddy. For example, the multilevel marketing company Kangen International and sellers of their products have posted various videos and articles full of false and misleading information. I have addressed their claims various times in the past including this review of some Kangen water promotional videos:
I have also covered other Kangen myths and posted other links with evidence in this post:
And have additional information in this post:
I addressed the myths on another site trying to claim acids were the cause of so many diseases here:
The principle of Kangen alkaline water is that the mineral hydroxides formed will alkalize the body preventing disease. Hydroxides though are not only dangerous directly, but can also lead to secondary health issues.
Hydroxides cause tissue damage directly because they are some of the strongest free radicals known and are caustic, chemically burning the tissues. For example, Milk of Magnesia is used as a laxative because it is it consists of magnesium hydroxide. Magnesium hydroxide neutralizes the stomach acid leading to a separate set of health problems. What does not get neutralized itself by reaction with stomach acid reaches the intestines where it chemically burns the intestinal wall. This leads to an influx of water in to the intestines and increased peristalsis. The burning of the intestinal wall leads to an increased risk of problems such as leaky gut and cancer and diarrhea can lead to electrolyte imbalances if used too frequently.
Kangen International has provided a great example of how easy it is to mislead people. Kangen claims they received approval from the Japanese Ministry of Health (JMH) to use these machines and claims that they are in nearly every home in Japan.
The fact though is that the JMH has NEVER issued approval to any alkaline water devices. Yet, Kangen posted a tiny picture of what they claimed was the approval certificate on their site. If it was not a certificate of approval from the JMH then what was it. They made sure the picture of the document was too small to read so I copied the picture in to a Word document then enlarged the photo. The document was merely a business license to make the machines, nothing doing with approval from the JMH as claimed.
I have a friend that comes to visit from Tokyo several times a year so I asked about these machines. My friend had no idea what I was talking about and said most people simply drink tap water there. Therefore, I did some more research and found that only around 10% of the homes in Japan have alkaline water machines. That is a big difference from the Kangen claims of being in nearly every household in Japan.
Those are just a few of the many lies Kangen has been found to have made regarding their machines as well as pH and health.
In reality the body RARELY ever goes acidic, or too alkaline for that matter. This is because either excess acidity, below 6.8, or excess alkalinity, above 7.8 will kill a person. Therefore, the body has numerous redundant systems to maintain its narrow pH range. Although, excess alkalinity is considered more dangerous than excess acidity since the body has various means to reduce acidity, but virtually nothing to combat excess alkalinity.
Respiration is the body’s primary means of pH regulation. If the blood starts to get acidic our respiration increases to blow off carbon dioxide(CO2), which reduces carbonic acid and acidic hydrogen ions. If the body starts to become too alkaline the respiration slows down to retain CO2, increasing carbonic acid, and decreasing hydrogen ion removal. Other means the body can use to maintain pH include:
- Buffering acids with bicarbonate.
- Excreting hydrogen ions, carbonic acid or bicarbonate out through the urine or retain them to adjust pH.
- The pH is also regulated by proteins that either bond or release hydrogen ions in response to pH imbalances.
- Using phosphates and hemoglobin as buffers
- As a last resort excess acidity can be buffered by the minerals present in bone.
This is why we rarely see acidosis (overly acidic blood) or alkalosis (overly alkaline blood).
Acute acidosis can occur with severe vomiting and diarrhea, ketoacidosis, inadequate oxygen intake or utilization (respiratory acidosis), rhabdomyolosis, kidney failure and by poisoning with certain chemicals.
Acute alkalosis can occur with over consumption of hydroxides including alkaline waters, consumption of milk with hydroxides, overuse of carbonates such as antacids or baking soda, prolonged vomiting, excessive aldosterone secretion, diuretic use and hyperventilation.
One Curezone poster claimed that all disease was the result of the lymphatic system becoming too acidic. The pH of the lymphatic system though is kept slightly more alkaline than the blood. Therefore, lymphatic acidosis does not occur.
Interestingly, this same poster claims that “nitrate toxicity” poisons people by the formation of methemoglobin that locks up oxygen leading to death by oxygen insufficiency. Actually, it is nitrite that does this, not nitrate. And what promotes nitrite formation? A high (alkaline) pH in the stomach. Yet this poster was pushing an alkalizing drink made with caustic calcium hydroxide. Even though his recipe also included lemon juice to buffer some of the hydroxide, without a pH meter it would be impossible to tell if the solution was alkaline, neutral or acidic. If maintained as an alkaline drink as intended the calcium hydroxide would not only chemically burn the tissues, but it would also neutralize the stomach acid leading to increased nitrite and thus methemoglobin formation. Therefore, the drink he was advocating promoted the formation of the nitrites he was claiming was poisoning and killing people. I addressed his claims here:
And his other claims here:
To make matters worse, neutralizing stomach acid interferes with the absorption of certain nutrients needed to produce more stomach acid. This leads to a more chronic decline of stomach acid further promoting nitrite and methemoglobin production. These same acid dependent nutrients are also required for over 4,000 other reactions in the body that include immunity, energy formation, controlling water balance, prevention of heart disease, etc. This is why I would never recommend this protocol and don’t recommend things that neutralize the stomach acid including Kangen water, baking soda, magnesium oxide or calcium carbonate (oyster shell, coral, dolomite) supplements, antacids or acid blockers.
Because chronic acidosis is so rare and diseases are so prevalent, even common sense should tell us that acidosis is not a cause of most diseases. Most often it is a byproduct of a disease, not a cause.
Still myths surrounding alkalinity being healthy abound. For example, the persistent myth that cancer is caused from acidity and killed by alkalinity. If this is the case though then why do cancer cells have a more alkaline internal pH than healthy cells? Why aren’t people more prone to chronic acidosis such as those with COPD all dying of cancer? Why do strict vegetarians and raw foodists who consume “highly alkaline diets” still getting cancer? The answer is simple. Our pH, which rarely goes acidic or alkaline has nothing to do with cancer formation or treatment.
In fact, the ulcer and cancer causing bacteria Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) protects itself from stomach acid by secreting highly alkaline ammonia to neutralize the stomach acid. As pointed out previously H. pylori is known for causing cancer. Therefore, we have an example of cancer forming in an alkaline environment. On the other hand stomach cancer is very rare in younger people who have higher stomach acid levels. This is the result of most pathogens, including cancer causing pathogens being destroyed by sufficient stomach acid. Stomach acid levels decline with age and this process is accelerated by the use of acid neutralizing substances such as ionized alkaline water and antacids as well as acid blockers (proton pump inhibitors more apt to be taken by older people.
This is also evidenced by the fact that wild dogs in particular can eat bacteria ridden meats that they may be scavenging long after the death of the animal or that they stored for later eating. The reason these dogs can consume these meats full of bacteria that would poison a human is because dogs produce significantly higher levels of stomach acid than humans. These higher levels of acid effectively kill the bacteria they are ingesting preventing them from becoming sick from food poisoning.
Another common myth heavily promoted on alkaline sales sites is that most pathogens are killed by acids and thrive in an alkaline environment. The reality though is that the opposite is true. This is why the parts of the body that help protect us from pathogens are normally acidic. These include the female organs, skin, stomach, parts of the intestines, and sinuses. Urine is normally acidic to control pathogens and to prevent kidney stones. One of the symptoms of bacterial urinary tract infections is an alkaline urinary pH since the bacteria split urea in to highly alkaline ammonia and other alkaline substances to protect themselves from acidity.
Skin infections can occur when the skin loses it natural pH mantle that keeps it healthy and controls pathogens. Soap for example removes the acid mantle. People who repeatedly wash their hands with soap or have their hands in water a lot can develop skin infections as the removal of the acid mantle leads to cracks in the skin and increased pathogen growth.
Other means by which alkalinity can promote disease include:
When people have their gallbladders removed they become at a much higher risk of intestinal cancers. Why? Because caustic, alkaline bile gets dumped in to the intestines instead of being squirted in as needed. This dumping of the alkaline bile burns the intestinal wall repeatedly leading to the increased risk of cancer.
Despite being alkaline, high serum calcium can lead to various health issues. These include high blood pressure, mental fogginess, constipation, etc.
Excessive alkalinity in the blood or urine can also allow minerals to precipitate out where they do not belong leading to various health problems.
Alkalizing methods, such as carbonates and hydroxides including those from alkaline waters, neutralize the stomach acid. Ironically, sufficient stomach acid is needed to absorb many of the same minerals the alkalosis advocates claim people need to be healthy. Furthermore, a lack of stomach acid inhibits the absorption of the B vitamins B6, B12 and folate. Not only does this lead to nervous system disorders, but also other problems including cervical dysplasia in women, heart disease from elevated homocysteine, neurological disorders, cancer and immune suppression from decreased methylation………
Lack of stomach acid also blocks the proper breakdown of proteins since the protein digestive enzyme pepsin cannot work without sufficient stomach acid. This can lead not only to protein deficiencies, but also partially digested proteins entering in to the blood stream triggering allergic reactions. These allergic reactions further stress the adrenals leading to immune suppression, increased inflammation, chronically low blood pressure or orthostatic hypotension, thyroid issues, blood sugar problems, water retention and other health problems.
I have seen some people claim that neutralizing the stomach acid with things such as alkaline waters will simply cause the body to generate more stomach acid. This is not completely true. Keep in mind that B6, B12 and folate require sufficient stomach acid in order to absorb. These B vitamins though are also required to produce stomach acid. When people wipe out their stomach acid they interfere with the absorption of these B vitamins, which in turn interferes with stomach acid formation. This in turn interferes with the absorption of these B vitamins…………. It is vicious downward spiral. The elderly are the most at risk since stomach acid levels gradually decline with age. People on acid blockers and antacids or that are neutralizing their stomach acid through other means are also at higher risk for the same reason.
If the alkaline supporters think about it why did people start pickling foods? It was not for flavor. Foods were pickled because the acids produced by the fermentation killed any pathogens or microbes that would spoil the food.
Boric acid has been used to treat infections by Candida species:
Acids have also been shown to control Aspergillus fungi as well:
“Utilizing various free sialic acids and other carbohydrates, sialic acid derivatives, sialoglycoconjugates, glycoproteins, -keto acid related compounds and amino acids we have found that the binding of A. fumigatusconidia to type IV collagen and fibrinogen was inhibited by (i) glycoproteins (in a sialic acid-independent manner), and (ii) free sialic acids, glucuronic acid and -keto acid related compounds. However, inhibition by the latter was found to be the result of a shift in pH from neutral (pH 7.4) to acidic (less than pH 4.6) induced by the relatively high concentrations of free sialic acids, glucuronic acid and -keto acid related compounds used in the binding assays. This suggests that previous reports describing inhibition of A. fumigatus conidia binding by free sialic acid may actually be due to a pH shift similar to that shown here. “
Three different stages were found during growth of Aspergillus fumigatus as characterized by the changes in pH of the medium: (1) An acidic phase (phase I); (2) a second phase (phase II) during which the pH rises till values around pH = 8.5; (3) a third phase (phase III) during which the pH remains constant or drops slightly. During phase I a fast appearance of certain antigenic components was found that is ascribed to an active process of excretion. Additional antigenic components appeared in the culture medium after lysis of the microorganisms (phases II and III). Lysis of the microorganisms and appearance of antigenic components are dependent on the glucose concentration of the medium.
Title: Aspergillus fumigatus survival in alkaline and extreme zinc-limiting environments relies on the induction of a zinc-homeostasis system encoded by the zrfC-aspf2 genes.
“Interestingly, this would explain the slightly reduced growth ability of the AF891 strain expressing aspf2 in acidic media (Fig. 9B).”
A great example exposing both the alkalinity prevents cancer and alkalinity kills pathogens myth is the cancer causing Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Not only does this bacteria cause cancer, but it cannot survive in an acidic environment. Therefore, once H. pylori screws in to the stomach wall the bacteria secretes highly alkaline ammonia to neutralize stomach acid to protect itself. Despite the alkalinity created by the ammonia the bacteria can still cause cancer.
People also need to understand that when they try to force the pH in to an alkaline state they just put more stress on the body. This is because the body now has to work harder to deal with the excess alkalinity since alkalosis is a dangerous condition.
To make things worse, most of the products out there designed to alkalize the body also neutralize beneficial acids such as stomach acid and the flora acids that control Candida.
Neutralizing the stomach acid leads to:
- Nutritional deficiencies. Primarily proteins, minerals and vitamins B6, B12 and folate that all require sufficient stomach acid for proper absorption.
- increased pathogens entering through the digestive system
- Improper protein digestion since the protein digestive enzyme pepsin cannot work without sufficient stomach acid.
- Increased risk of allergies from incompletely digested proteins that can enter the bloodstream through the intestines and act as antigens to the immune system.
- Acid reflux from longer digestion time and increased fermentation in the stomach.
- Increased risk of cancer, heart disease and inflammation from decreased methylation, etc.
- Suppressed immune function from decreased nutrition and methylation.
- Further declines in the production of stomach acid due to decreased methylation required to form stomach acid.
In addition, over alkalizing the system can promote candidiasis. There is a very persistent myth that Candida albicans cannot survive a high (alkaline) pH. The fact is that C. albicans can survive very acid to extremely alkaline pH. The primary difference is the form the Candida takes on dependent on the pH. Candida is a dimorphic microbe meaning it can exist in two forms. Candida can exist as either yeast or fungus depending on the pH of the terrain it is in. At a low (acidic) pH C. albicans remains in a benign yeast form and its growth is inhibited as the Candida growth gene is turned off. When C. albicans is exposed to a high (alkaline) pH the Candida gene is turned on and the Candida morphs in to its pathogenic fungal form. In its fungal form the Candida develops finger-like projections known as hyphae that allow the Candida to dig in to and damage tissues. C. albicans hyphal growth is inhibited at an acidic pH of 4 or below reducing tissue invasion and damage. I have compiled some research from non-commercial sites to prove these facts. The growth of C. albicans in an alkaline environment, as well as an acidic environment in a pH range of 2 to 10:
“In vitro, C. albicans can thrive over a remarkably wide range of extracellular pH, at pH values of 2-10 (Odds 1988)”. They also point out that alkalinity promotes hyphal growth of C. albicans.
“Upon response to environmental stimuli C. albicans can switch between yeast-like and filamentous, hyphal growth. This allows C. albicans to generate niche specific responses, form biofilms, adhere, and invade epithelial tissues. “
It is this switch to the hyphal growth, from alkalinity, that allows C. albicans to become pathogenic by more readily invading tissues:
Hyphal growth has been shown to be inhibited at the acidic pH of 4 in all strains of C. albicans showing that an acidic pH helps to prevent C. albicans from being pathogenic. An alkaline pH on the other hand promotes pathogenesis of C. albicans as it promotes hyphal growth. The article from the following link points out what I have been trying to explain to people for decades. Stomach acid helps to control pathogen growth, including Candida. The same applies to the skin, which is normally slightly on the acidic side. When the pH is raised to the alkaline side candidiasis of the skin is promoted.
“In tissue samples from mucosal surfaces with a non-acidic pH, such as the tongue, oesophagus, intestine, and most skin areas, filamentous forms of C albicans predominated, and most of them exhibited both 1H4 immunostaining and an invasive phenotype (fig 3A ). In internal organs having a non-acidic pH (liver, lung, heart, and thyroid) from patients with systemic candidiasis, variable numbers of yeast cells were found, together with hyphae or pseudohyphae in virtually all cases. In these tissues, both yeast and filamentous forms showed strong 1H4 immunoreactivity (fig 3B , C). In contrast, in those tissues with an acidic pH, such as the stomach and collecting ducts of the kidney, the predominant form of C albicans was the blastospore (yeast). Interestingly, in these locations yeast cells essentially showed no 1H4 immunoreactivity (fig 3D , E). However, when adjacent tissue invasion was present, hyphae or pseudohyphae were the predominant form.”
“The ability to undergo transition from the yeast to the hyphal form appears to be crucial in the pathogenesis of invasive candidiasis. 4– 6 Both yeast cells and hyphae are found in infected tissues and contribute to pathogenesis. Yeast cells are better suited for rapid haematogenous dissemination, but together with hyphal elements they are also capable of breaching epithelial and endothelial barriers to cause extensive organ damage. 4 During the infectious process, yeast cells and hyphae may encounter different microenvironments within the host. At acidic pH, C albicans grows mostly in the yeast form; at an alkaline pH, it grows primarily in the filamentous form. 2, 6, 7 Gastric acid provides an effective barrier to most microorganisms (normal gastric pH values are 1–3.5). In contrast, achlorhydria and the use of H2 antagonists, which raise gastric pH, have been found to be associated with a higher proportion of invasive gastric candidiasis. 17 Similarly, although the skin is relatively inhospitable to fungal growth, 18 the experimental increase of skin surface pH yields more pronounced cutaneous candidiasis in human volunteers. 19″
Another risk of fungal Candida overgrowth is the increased risk of leaky gut syndrome. As the hyphae of fungal Candida dig in to the intestinal walls the damage leads to increased intestinal inflammation. In turn the intestines become more permeable and allow antigenic protein solutes to absorb through the intestinal wall in to the bloodstream. These antigenic proteins can then trigger off adverse immune reactions such as allergic responses.