"Bored with ordinary old tetra-water? Try new PENTA-water(TM)!"
What does it do?
Okay, so that isn't technically a quote from the advertising for this product. It's not so far from the truth, however. This bottled water / neutraceutical claims, among other things, that it "helps fight addictions" as well as providing "effective relief from hangovers". Weight loss, anti-ageing, mental health - like any good panacea it has an amazing set of claims. Unfortunately, it seems somewhat unlikely that any of them are true.
How do they make it?
Interestingly for a pseudo-science product, it also makes testable, falsifiable claims. Obviously, weight loss is a testable claim - which products often fail - but 'teampenta' claim advances not only in biology, but also in physics. Indeed, Penta-Water(tm) "is made using a unique physics process" which is patent pending, but doesn't seem to be in the records. A lot of filtration and some osmosis goes on too.
What is it?
Water. In clusters. Pentagonal clusters. No added sugar, no preservatives and non-bio. Using PHYSICS. Oh, sorry - and "a little oxygen (as a partial pressure drive mechanism to help it into the cells even better)". Hmm.
Why is this utter bullshit?
Well let us allow that water does, indeed, cluster. Liquid H2O forms a network of hydrogen bonds that are constantly, and rapidly, breaking and re-forming. There may well be pentagonal structures in this network - along with hexagonal, heptagonal, octagonal and so on. Actually, you might expect six molecule clusters to be more stable than five - but both are far too unstable to form in large enough numbers, and stay that way for long enough, to be present in significant amounts in a bottle of water.
What if you are wrong?
Certainly I am not a computational chemist working on water structure. I do know what a clathrate is, and some small things about the geometry and thermodynamics of water. So it is possible that penta-water really does have the structure they claim (this would, incidentally, be fairly revolutionary science). However, it is the claims about these 'clusters' and their interaction with the body that convince me the least. Specifically, with aquaporin.
All water has to get into the cell to be effective. However, the boundary of the cell is impermeable to water, as it is a kind of fatty layer. Water is therefore channelled inside through a pore called aquaporin(AQP). Far from avoiding this tricky subject, the penta-water website specifically mentions AQP - which it generously calls a "revolutionary discovery". Perhaps so; ironically, they supply a link to the webpage of one the authors of one of the papers on AQP. This paper describes water flux through the pore like so :
"a single chain of water molecules has to pass through the narrowest part of the pore"
I've emphasised the 'single chain', but it does make you wonder how these penta-clusters are going to get through...
- Aquaporins: Phylogeny, structure and physiology of water channels: Heymann & Engel 1999 NIPS 14, 187-194.
- www.pentahydrate.co.uk - a penta-water homepage.