Is Kangen Water the miracle elixir it’s claimed to be, or is it just another overhyped health fad?
In this Kangen water machine review, I will address the following:
- What is ionized water and what are its purported health benefits
- What is Kangen water, and are the company’s products worth their high price point?
- What does evidence-based literature say about these health benefits?
- My clinical take: Dangers associated with consuming alkaline water
- My recommendation for clean water
Let’s get into the details…
- Kangen water is rich in hydrogen and is claimed to suppress oxidative stress.
- Kangen water can be created through electrolysis using Kangen water devices.
- Health claims related to consuming ionized water are not supported by research and negative health effects have been reported.
- Ionization of water does not remove heavy metals and other contaminants.
- Purifying water using water filters is safer and healthier.
What is ionized water?
Naturally formed ionized water
Ionized water can be formed naturally or via a process called electrolysis.
When water passes through mountains and ground sediment aided by gravity, ionized water abounds naturally.
As it does so, the water picks up minerals from the ground, such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which then dissolve into the water.
This type of water, also called “mineral water,” is marketed and sold by companies such as Icelandic Glacial Natural Spring Alkaline Water and IndigoH2O.
Ionized water formed by electrolysis
When water undergoes electrolysis, an electric current is passed through it to separate it into a weak acid and a weak alkali (H+ and OH- ions).
The U.S. Department of Energy has a great resource that explains the process of water electrolysis in language that is easy to understand.
You can read it here.
This is the process that Kangen claims to use according to its website.
However, this process differs from the natural ionization of water because I could not find any information on the website that states minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium) are added back into the treated water.
According to its website, Kangen claims that its alkaline water is rich in hydrogen ions, which are claimed to have beneficial effects on human health (I’ll explore this concept later in this article).
The other component of Kangen’s processed water is acidic water, the purported benefits of which I will also discuss below.
What is Kangen Water?
Kangen Water treatment products are manufactured by Enagic, a Japan-based company that has been operating for over 4 decades.
According to the company website, Kangen means “return to origin” in Japanese.
The Kangen machines are expensive, as can be seen in the price list below:
- Leveluk K8 Water Machine: $4, 980
- SD501 Platinum: $4,280
- SD501: $3,980
- Super 501: $5,980
- Leveluk JRIV: $2,980
- SD501U: $4,980
As of the date of writing this post, Kangen’s alkaline water machines can only be purchased through the official company website and authorized official distributors.
If you intend to buy Kangen water ionizers, I do not recommend purchasing through third-party sellers or Amazon due to the high-ticket nature of these products and unauthorized sellers.
Is Kangen Water a pyramid scheme?
Now, let’s dive into the specifics of the Kangen business model.
Some critics label it as a pyramid or multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme.
However, the company defines it as a direct selling model.
Here are some key aspects to consider:
- Enagic Kangen water machines can only be purchased through a distributor.
- Distributors earn commissions not just from their own sales but also from the sales made by their recruits.
- Each Kangen water machine comes with a lifetime warranty.
- Enagic provides comprehensive training and support to its distributors.
- The video below from a YouTube channel called “Anna’s Analysis” explores Kangen Water and its business model in incredible detail.
- It is a rather long video, but I highly recommend watching it.
- As of the date of this post, the video has over 342,000 views:
My clinical take on Kangen water
So, does ionized water containing hydrogen ions impart any beneficial health benefits to humans?
As I researched this topic in the scholastic peer-reviewed scientific journals, I was intrigued by the evidence supporting these beneficial effects.
Let’s look at each of these closely:
Hydrogen-rich water, or HRW, is a new and interesting way to promote health and well-being.
Some people think it has special antioxidant powers that can help eliminate harmful free radicals in the body.
Studies also suggest it can be good for preventing damage caused by oxidative stress, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic properties.
In this newly published systematic review, the authors suggest that HRW may have antioxidant, anti-apoptotic, cellular protective, and anti-inflammatory effects on the human cell.
They also claim that HRW can improve acidosis brought on by physical exercise and improve athletes’ strength performance.
Additionally, the study investigators tout HRW’s role in improving oxidative stress, cardiovascular health, blood urea nitrogen in dialysis patients, mental health, liver function tests, and aging effects such as neurodegenerative disorders.
BUT, I have to put on my clinician hat here.
I am not really convinced yet that drinking ionized water will miraculously prevent or reverse depression, cancer, or dementia.
I think more robust research is needed before I make the semantic leap and accept these potential health benefits of HRW.
I also want to state a scientific fact here:
When the alkaline water hits your acidic stomach, it is immediately neutralized (a simple acid-base reaction)!
You are NOT getting any health benefits from alkaline water.
This video from a board-certified kidney doctor wonderfully debunks all of the claims about alkaline water:
Despite claims of potential benefits to consuming ionized water, we need to be aware of the dangers as well…yes, there can be serious consequences!
Consuming alkaline water in excess can result in a serious condition called metabolic alkalosis.
The medical literature is full of case reports of people presenting to the hospital with lethargy, difficulty walking, vomiting, heart rhythm disturbances, and hyperkalemia (too much potassium – especially if the water pH level is greater than 9.8).
In this case report published in 2022, a child presented to the hospital with acute kidney injury, alkalosis, and hypercalcemia (too much calcium) after drinking alkaline water.
Clinicians also share concerns that drinking alkaline water can throw your absorption of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients out of balance and interfere with growth.
As a clinical pharmacist, I know that alkaline water can DIRECTLY interfere with the absorption of prescription medications.
Older adults typically tend to be on several life-sustaining medications due to their chronic medical problems, and in my opinion, adding alkaline water to one’s daily regimen is courting disaster, hospitalization, and possibly even worse outcomes.
If you drink kangen water or any ionized water, you may be putting yourself at risk for adverse events – there…I said it!
Another important point to consider is the water source and quality BEFORE ionization.
City, municipal, or rural water may contain contaminants, pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxicants.
Not even tap water is safe, as this medical review found!
A water ionizer will do nothing to remove these impurities.
In my opinion, drinking filtered water can lead to more positive health outcomes and keep you safe and healthy.
My recommendations for clean water
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If you want to consume safe drinking water, using the Brita Soho is an inexpensive way to filter your water.
It has been proven to reduce heavy metals and microplastics from your water source greatly.
You can learn more about this brand from the Amazon link here.
If you are a more discerning customer, I suggest the Rhino Whole-house water filtration system by Aquasana.
When you use this system, EVERYTHING is filtered and purified – your tap water, shower water, even your toilet water!
An important note: Several inexpensive and portable alkaline water filter dispensers are available on Amazon.
I am including the link here to provide you with all options.
That said, I VERY strongly caution against using these filters because of the health concerns I raised above.
Some of these water filters state they can alkalinize water up to a pH level of 9.5.
Recall that the potential for developing hyperkalemia increases when you consume ionized water at this pH level.
I also highly recommend consulting your doctor first before drinking alkaline water.
This is especially important if you have underlying health issues!
Kangen claims that its water ionization technology produces hydrogen-rich alkaline water with anti-oxidative and other health benefits.
The current body of medical literature does not support these claims.
On the contrary, case reports and studies suggest severe adverse effects befalling people who consume ionized water long-term.
Purified water, which removes heavy metals and other contaminants from tap water, yields much better health benefits.
For these reasons, I do not recommend the Kangen alkaline water system.