Why I Say No to Distilled Water Only

By Chet Day
Updated 1/31/10

Paul Bragg. Norman Walker. Herbert Shelton.

I bet you recognize the names of the above three "big gun writers" of the modern natural health and raw food movement.

Each of these men advocated a predominantly uncooked vegetarian  diet (though Walker allowed cheese and Bragg allowed occasional  meat or fish and Shelton ate cheese and drank clabbered milk in private), and each also advocated distilled water as the only kind of water to drink.

It's amazing to me how blindly most health seekers follow the advice of the above three gurus as well as the advice of modern health writers who use Bragg, Walker, and Shelton as their main sources of truth.

Indeed, if you spend more than about ten minutes reading many modern natural health writers, you'll quickly learn that all serious health seekers should shun any kind of water other than distilled water. Why? Because Paul Bragg, Norman Walker, and Herbert Shelton said so.

Well, I bought into this commonly-accepted "truth" back in 1993 when I started my health journey, and I continued to buy into it for more than five years before I started to question its validity.

I started to question the value of drinking distilled  water for the long-term when I finally opened my eyes enough to  realize I was relying on information that was, in most cases, more than 50 years old.

Let me say here that I still consider distilled water the short-term water of choice when detoxing or working to heal a serious health challenge. To quote Dr. Zoltan Rona, author of the article "Early Death Comes With Regular Drinking of Distilled Water," who feels the same way:

Distillation is the process in which water is boiled, evaporated and the vapour condensed. Distilled water is free of dissolved minerals and, because of this, has the special property of being able to actively absorb toxic substances from the body and eliminate them. Studies validate the benefits of drinking distilled water when one is seeking to cleanse or detoxify the system for short periods of time (a few weeks at a time). Fasting using distilled water can be dangerous because of the rapid loss of electrolytes (sodium, potassium, chloride) and trace minerals like magnesium, deficiencies of which can cause heart beat irregularities and high blood pressure. Cooking foods in distilled water pulls the minerals out of them and lowers their nutrient value. (Click here for the full text of  Dr. Rona's article.)

I opened my eyes because I started hearing from long-term distilled water drinkers who had been consuming only distilled water and who had developed troubles with their hair either thinning or falling out in clumps. I've subsequently learned that hair loss is a condition often associated with various mineral deficiencies.

Since I'd been advised by a serious natural health student whose opinions I value that distilled water might well contribute to such problems, I started telling people with hair problems that they might try going back to filtered water or bottled water to see if doing so wouldn't help resolve the symptoms. Interestingly enough, many reported that their hair loss problems improved when they stopped drinking distilled water.

Digging deeper, I started reading more carefully the advice of natural health experts who weren't necessarily coming out of  the raw food and Natural Hygiene schools of health, and I couldn't find a single one of them who recommended distilled water as the water of choice.

Yes, all of these experts advocated drinking lots of water -- at least eight full glasses of water every day -- and all of them said a good filtered or bottled water was just fine. For example, I know Lorraine Day, MD, (no relation) doesn't advocate distilled water and neither does the Iranian medical doctor F. Batmanghelidj, who wrote what I consider the bible on water, "Your Body's Many Cries for Water."

Another medical doctor whose practice is devoted to natural health feels the same way about distilled water. Dr. Gabriel Cousens, a living foods advocate, writes on page 509 of his book Conscious Eating,  "distilled water is dead, unstructured water so foreign to the  body that one actually gets a temporary high white blood cell  count in response to drinking it."

Additionally, my understanding of medical doctor Zoltan Rona's article is that long-term distilled water consumption may well contribute to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular problems. Dr. Rona writes,

The longer one drinks distilled water, the more likely the development of mineral deficiencies and an acid state. I have done well over 3000 mineral evaluations using a combination of blood, urine, and hair tests in my practice. Almost without exception, people who consume distilled water exclusively, eventually develop multiple mineral deficiencies. (Click here for the full text of  Dr. Rona's article.)

Given what these health-oriented MDs have concluded about distilled water, doesn't it make sense to further research the topic rather than relying on opinions formed more than 50 years ago?

If you prefer to ignore what these health-oriented medical doctors have discovered in their active practices, then let's take a look at the brutally deceptive "organic and inorganic mineral" argument that so many natural health writers use to justify distilled water drinking. (They also mistakenly use the same argument to erroneously conclude that all supplements and all cooked foods are bad.)

Unfortunately, their oversimplification of the organic and inorganic mineral theory and, indeed, their general lack of understanding about college level chemistry and physical laws, calls into deep question the validity of many of their  conclusions about health and diet.

The health writers who like distilled water better than a ripe nectarine usually write a lot about the Hunzans, the folks in Pakistan's Hunza Valley who allegedly live healthfully well into their 90's and beyond. Interestingly enough, these same writers don't mention the point that the Hunzans drink a glacial water so full of minerals it's almost milky in appearance.

If you'd like up-to-date facts about organic and inorganic minerals instead of over-simplifications and erroneous conclusions, click here.

Another point involves alkalinity and acidity. Natural health writers generally agree that the body maintains best health when it maintains a pH leaning to the alkaline side rather than the acidic side, and yet distilled water quickly turns highly acidic, about 5.8 in an open air container.

Does it still make sense to you to drink eight glasses a day of distilled water that can potentially help to over-acidify the body?

I'd been putting off writing this article for over a year because I didn't feel that I had all the facts. I still feel the same way, but I also feel confident enough with what I have learned to present my current viewpoint to help others make a more informed decision before investing a lot of money in an expensive distiller that may well contribute to health problems in the long run.

You will note, of course, that the most vociferous advocates of distilled water are also those who sell high-profit margin distillers. They are also the ones who continue to quote Paul Bragg and Norman Walker as the sources of their extensive research.

Oh, one more very important thing. The World Health Organization has research that clearly proves the dangers of drinking distilled water. Click here for their report on "Nutrients in Drinking Water" and then click here to read "Health Risks from Drinking Demineralised Water".

In closing, I trust this article raises some questions in your mind that you can now research in more detail on your own so you can then come to an informed conclusion about what type of water is best for you and your family.

Editor's note: We received a letter on 1/21/10 from Randy at http://cyber-nook.com, an excellent resource and informational site on all things water. He has the following counter-point about the distilled water claims made in the article above:

One would expect that a paper with the alarming title, "Early Death Comes With Regular Drinking of Distilled Water", by Dr. Zoltan Rona would contain conclusive and compelling scientific evidence to support that claim, particularly when it seems to be one of the main sources of the claim that "distilled water is harmful to health" - the paper has been reprinted or quoted in books and on hundreds of web pages.

Unfortunately the paper is apparently a statement of beliefs based primarily on Dr. Rona's clinical observations (rather than experimentation) and misunderstandings of how the body regulates extracellular and intracellular pH and the differences between soft water (water lacking calcium, magnesium and other "hardness minerals") and distilled water (water lacking all minerals and other contaminants).

Here is an article on cyber-nook.com discussing distilled water and the health claims surrounding it.

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