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Prill Beads and Water: Our Health Writer’s Answer to Your Comments

Recently, Off The Grid News published my article on The Healing Powers of Water. In it I go to great lengths to advocate for water. In a time when it is just as easy to reach for a glass of soda, a cup of coffee, or a bottle of high fructose corn syrup disguised as juice, my hope was to get people thinking about life-giving, health-promoting, yummy tasting water. Yes, water can be yummy! Even if you don’t love the taste of it on its own, you can add a squirt of lemon or a tea bag (either high octane like green, black, or oolong, as well as herbal with fruity flavors) for a little zing! As a long-time migraine sufferer, I learned about 15 years ago that if I don’t consume at minimum 10 glasses of water daily, I am guaranteed to have one of those headaches that has me avoiding light and sound, cuts off my peripheral vision and for sure sets me off in the worst mood.

I figured that if it can cure a migraine (excuse me, PREVENT a migraine), surely it has other incredible benefits. As I discovered and imparted to you fine readers, it does. From preventing hip fractures, to staving off kidney stones and kidney infections (and myriad other benefits), water is truly incredible! As I sit here at the halfway point in my daily quota of the healthy yumminess, I am thankful I live in an area that has clean drinking water. I am grateful in fact. Not everyone has this luxury.

As I was getting set to write an article on a completely unrelated topic—the gallbladder—I got an email from Off The Grid News’ editor letting me know that a few readers would like to know more about Prill Beads and moreover, why I’d neglected to mention them in my article about water. Thrilled that my article got so many comments, I read the email and many of the comments. I was perplexed, however. How was it possible that in my extensive research to support my claims about water, did I completely miss any mention of Prill beads? To be perfectly honest, I was happy to put down the gallbladder for two weeks and look into this for a follow up article. Who really and truly wants to discuss bile? And so off I went. I was surely hoping to be awed and enlightened.

The Process I Use When Writing an Article—Especially Health Related

I worked in Big Pharma for a number of years (to give you a hint, it’s the largest biotech in the world), in the development area. I am not a researcher or a scientist; I was employed as an executive assistant. I worked with scientists and researchers who compiled data and used it to support their claims that the drugs my former company manufactures were safe and efficacious. All the drugs my former employer makes are large molecule and are used to stop the progression of diseases. When their searches for retrospective data yield little, they perform studies, called clinical trials. You would be amazed at the number of those that are even the most skeptical and anti-Big Pharma who, when facing death or horrible quality of life, will happily enroll in a clinical trial in hopes of finding a cure for a disease.

Once these researchers got the answers they needed, they either turned them into an article for submission to a peer review journal, or turned it over to the FDA with the hope of getting a drug approved or a new indication for an existing drug approved.

My job, as the assistant to the department head, was to take whatever these researchers wrote and compiled, and then edit it, not for content, but for grammar. Over my four years there, I saw and read about a lot of disease states, digested tons of data and was trained to look for words that indicated something was good for human beings.

While I will freely admit that the FDA is a pain in the rear sometimes (and clearly they benefit from being in bed with Big Pharma), they also are a regulatory agency that helps keep us alive and out of harm’s way. Do they goof? Fen-Phen is a great example of a drug that was FDA approved and yet cost many people their lives. But for all the goofs, I can think of thousands of drugs they have approved that do everything from relieve pain to treat myriad illnesses (such as syphilis), and to stop the progression of major illness (such as Rheumatoid Arthritis). So, while I am the first to growl over Big Pharma, I also think we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I don’t believe that all of Big Pharma’s solutions are the best for you or me, and I believe strongly in trying alternatives to their drugs. Indeed many of us are living off the grid and are looking for healthy and safe alternatives when treating ourselves for everything from headache to things more serious, so I walk the line constantly when I am researching and writing for you. If I can find it in nature and it works, I would much rather use it and advocate its use over something I have to buy in a drug store. But again, if I am really, really ill, and my method isn’t working, I am going to head to the doctor. I am a pragmatic person who, despite wanting to return to the days of my ancestors, can be reasoned with.

Show Me the Data

No doubt because of my “time” in Big Pharma, when I am researching a topic for an article, whether it is about an organ, a disease state or why we get headaches, the first thing I do is my research. I find as much information about whatever it is I am writing, so I have a fighting chance at sounding intelligent and so I don’t give you readers misinformation. There is enough misinformation out there that you don’t need me doing the same thing.

I love finding data to support what I am writing. Studies by either NIH or a university are my favorite and in lieu of that, Big Pharma will do in a pinch. Yes, given that they are hoping the data will support their drugs, they can be taken with a grain of salt sometimes.

Prill Beads? What’s a Prill Bead?

Having never heard of Prill beads, I did as many of you have done.

I Googled it.

Absent data from any research institute, I was, I won’t lie, immediately skeptical. I noticed several things. Hundreds upon hundreds of sites came up, most of them companies who sell Prill beads. But first, what are Prill beads? From Good Water Biz, I read the following.

“Precious Prills are magnesium oxide infused with Life Force. Originally created to clean up nuclear waste, they are from a new technology that allows us to make very fine “vital water” from virtually any source. This water measurably hydrates the body, and has a favorable oxidation reduction potential (reduces free radicals in the body).

You will recall that I am not a scientist, so I didn’t immediately understand what it was that I was reading. Well, I could easily understand each word I read in the description, but fitting them together presented a challenge for me. And so I did as I was taught to do with anything I don’t understand. Break things down into baby steps.

Magnesium Oxide

Although not always reliable for dates and historic events, Wikipedia generally does a decent job of explaining in lay people’s terms all things scientific. I felt fairly confident that I could rely on it to explain what otherwise might elude me because I am so non-technical. And so, according to Wikipedia, chemically expressed as MgO, magnesium oxide is formed combining the elements magnesium (Mg) and oxide (O). Oxides, as in oxidation, occur when elements are exposed to air. You will see this with copper (look at your pennies that pre-date the year 2000). Exposed to air over a period a time, your penny will go from its shiny state to eventually forming a light green or blue powder. MgO is solid, white, and a mineral that is naturally occurring in periclase (metamorphic rocks used to make bricks and cement). It is also used as an insulator in cables as it is fire, mold, and moisture resistant.

Manufacturers of OTC antacids have discovered its usefulness in minimizing indigestion and heartburn. Other uses include abating nausea and vomiting, and it is often used as a laxative. However, over-usage can result in bowel obstruction.  Oh, that’s not good, now is it?

Infused with Life Force

No one source seems to agree on what Life Force is. However, I found a couple on Google that I found fascinating.

A hypothetical force (not physical or chemical), once thought by Henri Bergson to cause the evolution and development of organisms. Once thought? Did he no longer even believe it himself, I wondered?

Life Force is evidently a concept of spiritual energy, as well as a video arcade game.

A 1985 Film: Life Force with no known actors, a one-hit wonder director, and a plot that is utterly ridiculous.

Businesses: Several companies in the U.S., Australia and the UK use the name for their businesses. Many claim to heal everything from psoriasis to asthma, to migraines and cancer.

Then I got stuck on the word infused. Infused implies that a liquid (at almost boiling point) was extracted and either poured into or injected into something else. So I asked myself … was it the hypothetical force, the concept of the spiritual energy, the arcade game or the film that was extracted at near boiling point and then infused with magnesium oxide?

Originally Created to Clean Up Nuclear Waste

I found absolutely nothing to substantiate this. What I did learn is that this particular line is used again and again in companies’ claims that Prill beads work. With no ability to back up this claim, or refute it, I am left to believe that companies bank on consumers’ unwillingness or disinterest to verify information for themselves, and just continue perpetuating the same claim to sell products.

The problem with this, of course, is that companies get away with claiming things, which could possibly harm consumers. They aren’t required to get FDA approval to back up their claims because, I am guessing, Prill beads fall under the label “herbal medicines.” I have tremendous difficulty with claims like this because, again, the FDA can be a pain in the rear, but remember, most of the things you use, whether NSAIDs, antibiotics, thyroid medication, the saline solution for your contact lenses, statins, etc. were approved by the FDA. So, the whole baby/bathwater scenario applies here.

“They are from a new technology that allows us to make very fine ‘vital water’ from virtually any source.” They (I assume to be Prill beads themselves) are from a new technology? I suppose the notion of infusing magnesium oxide with anything is new (especially life forces), but the mineral itself is naturally occurring and goes back millions, if not billions of years. So I am not sure how new it is. Even if, for the sake of argument, I believe that the Earth was formed by God and only 6,000 years old based on a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, magnesium oxide is at least 6000 years old. Hardly new technology…

Vital water? All water is vital to our existence. But this company claims to make a fountain that makes your water clean, vibrant, and living. Ooh, I don’t like when I read things like this. A reverse osmosis system or disposable filter can make your tap water clean (assuming you don’t like what your water treatment plant is doing to your water). I don’t know if I want my water to be vibrant. I think I am full of enough energy and am lively enough, thank you very much. But if I should change my mind, I can always add a little carbonation to my water. And when I see quotations around words or phrases, I am generally pretty skeptical. Kind of like, “free.” Is it really and truly free?

“This water measurably hydrates the body, and has a favorable oxidation reduction potential (reduces free radicals in the body).” All water hydrates the body. How can something that uses an oxide, which I already explained above implies oxidation, then go on to reduce oxidation potential? It is all far too contradictory to me. Reduces free radicals? I would love to some data supporting this. I know vegetables and coffee have antioxidants in them, but if infused with life force magnesium oxide added to my water does this as well, I personally want to see proof.

The Bottom Line?

Absent any data, even testimony by hundreds of people who have used it and not fallen ill (or at minimum had their bank accounts drained), I am challenged to advocate for it. If Prill water detoxifies the body, surely somewhere there must be people who have used it and are willing to prove this to me (or at least visible some place on the Internet). But I personally would want to know precisely what occurred in their bodies for me to buy into it.

I am rather disappointed, in all honesty. I had hoped to be enlightened and to have come across something that was as amazing as the shoelace, the funnel, the refrigerator or even my Frisbee-catching dog.

But unfortunately, I believe Prill beads are nothing more than click on me.

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