It is well-known that due to its mass difference, deuterium (D) behaves differently from hydrogen in chemical reactions (called the isotope effect). In other words, deuterium can, in some ways, be considered as an independent element. When deuterium combines with oxygen, the resulting water is referred to as deuterium oxide or “heavy” water –D2O. Semi-heavy water results when one atom of hydrogen and one atom of deuterium combine with oxygen: (HDO). Water made with deuterium tastes and looks the same but has numerous distinguishing characteristics. For example:
- Normal water boils at 100° C; heavy water boils at 101.4 °C
- Normal water freezes at 0° C; heavy water freezes at 3.8° C.
- Ice normally floats on the surface of water; ice made with heavy water sinks.
Gilbert Lewis was the first to produce a pure sample of heavy water in the 1930s. He accurately predicted it’s toxic effects on living organisms. His experiments showed that while tobacco seeds placed in typical water sprouted over the course of two weeks, those placed in D2O did not sprout at all. Tobacco seeds in 50/50 D2O sprouted— slowly. Subsequent experiments on cell cultures and living organisms determined that increasing the deuterium concentration of the water in an organism could disturb normal cell function. Higher concentrations were lethal. While all this was interesting, most scientists considered deuterium to be so scarce that the study of its biological effects were ignored until the 1990s.
Is deuterium really scarce?
On average, one out of every 6400 atoms of hydrogen is deuterium—the equivalent of one or two drops in a quart of water. That might seem like a small proportion—until you consider the amount of hydrogen in living matter. One out of every 6400 atoms translates to a mass of deuterium five times greater than the mass of calcium in human blood. When scientists began to look at deuterium from this perspective, they became more interested in its biological significance.
Deuterium and DNA
Although mainstream researchers have overlooked the long term effects of low-level deuterium, research indicates that deuterium is coupled with DNA mutation and subsequent DNA damage. Deuterium affects the shape of molecules, including the shape of enzymes—many of which are involved in DNA synthesis and repair. The presence of deuterium in these enzymes slows DNA replication, it causes errors in transcription, and it hinders DNA repair.
Deuterium also has an effect on biological processes through the mechanism of hydrogen bonding. The bonds created by deuterium are stronger than normal hydrogen bonds. Tighter deuterium bonding stiffens proteins and requires more energy to break during metabolic reactions. Hydrogen bonds play a major role in DNA structure and are responsible for its helical shape. The class of enzymes and proteins that play a role in DNA replication and repair make extensive use of hydrogen bonds—another reason deuterium has negative effects on DNA.
Deuterium also interferes with normal proton movement in any proton channel—including the channels involved in ATP (energy) production. Its presence causes the mechanism to “stutter” reducing efficiency. With normal concentrations of deuterium, the “stutter” happens about once every 15 seconds in every proton channel. Multiplied by the millions of proton channels in a living organism, this approaches monumental proportions. Given these affects (and others), deuterium is now thought to play an important role in the progression of disease and aging.
Deuterium and Aging
The most widely accepted theory on aging supposes that the aging process is correlated with a gradual accumulation of errors in DNA. According to Kirk Goodall, a senior member of the technical staff with NASA, the number of irreversible errors in the DNA sequence is directly influenced, by deuterium. The lower the deuterium concentration, the lower the frequency of the irreversible errors in DNA structures.
Biological effects of deuterium-depleted water (DDW)
Since water is a major source of hydrogen, and since most living organisms are 50 – 75% water, scientists have begun to investigate the effects of deuterium-depleted water—water with a reduced amount of deuterium. Discoveries in the last fifteen years have been groundbreaking. The biological effects of deuterium-depleted water (DDW), sometimes referred to as “light” water, have been highlighted in dozens of studies conducted on plants, animals and humans. Experiments on plants show a general increase in growth and productivity—up to 200%. Experiments with chickens lead to a 50% decrease in mortality and a near doubling in egg production. Experiments with mice revealed increased life expectancy and an increase in sexual activity. Ten years of research and clinical trials on humans in Hungary by Dr. Gábor Somlyai and his colleges have identified positive effects of DDW in treating diabetes and many types of cancer. His book, Defeating Cancer: The Biological Effect of Deuterium Depletion, chronicles the work. Not only does the consumption of DDW affect the progression of many diseases and metabolic disorders (including hypertension, obesity, and diabetes), according to research conducted in Russia, it also positively affects energy production and immune function. A growing body of evidence shows DDW stimulates skin regeneration, reduces inflammation and slows aging. It also mitigates the damaging effects of radiation (nausea, pain, hair loss).
What is deuterium-depleted water?
All natural water contains deuterium. The amount of deuterium varies from 90 ppm (parts per million) in melted Antarctic ice to 180 ppm in underground water below the Sahara desert. Most water contains about 150 ppm. Water with a concentration less than 130 ppm is considered deuterium-depleted. According to clinical work conducted in Hungary, Japan and Russia, even this seemingly small reduction in deuterium content can have a significant influence on a number of health parameters. Studies conducted with concentrations between 25 and 125 ppm –all show response.
Natural deuterium depletion
Since evaporation favors hydrogen over the heavier deuterium, water vapor is lower in deuterium. (Deuterium evaporates last and condenses first.) In areas where there is a greater degree of evaporation (equator and deserts) the deuterium content of the surface water is high. On the other hand, where there is less evaporation (polar regions and mountains) the deuterium concentration of the surface water is lower. Natural deuterium concentration depends on a number of factors:
- Temperature/Season— Water in cold climates contains less deuterium than water in warmer climates. Winter precipitation contains less deuterium than summer precipitation.
- Water source (fresh vs. ocean)—Oceans contain more deuterium than fresh water. The deuterium concentration in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean remains fairly constant at 156 ppm. Polar oceans have a much lower concentration.
- Altitude—Water at high altitudes has less deuterium.
- Distance from coastline—Heavier water precipitates first so the surface water along western coastlines contains more deuterium than inland areas.
- Distance from the equator—Equatorial waters contain more deuterium than water at the poles.
Organisms in various parts of the world tend to have deuterium concentrations comparable to the water in the area. However, both plants and animals maintain a lower deuterium concentration than the surrounding surface water. This indicates that organisms have a preference for a deuterium-depleted status.
Is Hunza water Deuterium-depleted?
In the 1960s, a team of Soviet scientists studied two populations in different parts of the world whose members lived to old age in a very healthful conditions. The living habits of both populations were different, including their diet, but they had one thing in common: both populations drank glacial water with a significantly lower deuterium concentration. This is interesting in light of the fact that the Hunza region in Pakistan has also been studied for years in an attempt to identify a reason(s) for its long-lived, healthy population. Inhabitants of the Hunza Valley live to be in their 90s while maintaining an active lifestyle. This has always been attributed to their water (glacial). Everything about Hunza water has been studied over the years: mineral content, molecular structure, colloidal status, zeta potential, etc. but no one has considered the deuterium content of the water—until now. Hunza water is naturally deuterium depleted—estimated to be about 133 ppm deuterium. According to recent studies, this reduced deuterium concentration is enough to make a difference in numerous health parameters.
Why drink deuterium-depleted water (DDW) ?
Research shows that consumption of DDW gradually reduces the deuterium concentration in the human body. Over a period of weeks and months, consumption of DDW allows the body to expel excessive deuterium from the body. This could reduce the ongoing, adverse effects of deuterium (ie. DNA errors during replication and repair). At the same time, a number of health parameters may improve. Dr. Somlyai’s work in Hungary revealed that healthy cells respond well to reduced amounts of deuterium in water. However, cells with chromosomal mutations (cancer) are more sensitive to deuterium depletion. Cancer cells, particularly tumor cells, cannot adapt quickly resulting in tumor regression without any side effects on healthy cells. Dr. Somlya and his colleagues also studied DDW for metabolic disorders—particularly diabetes—with favorable results. From another perspective, It makes sense that water with a reduced deuterium content may have the capacity to transmit information more clearly. The extra neutron may create a “pucker” in the liquid crystalline matrix that is involved with information storage and transfer.
Where to get DDW
In Hungary and Romania, where DDW has been researched in clinical trials for over 10 years, (and where it is an accepted treatment for cancer) bottled DDW is widely available. Europe also now has a product called Preventa in several different deuterium concentrations. But in the U.S. there is currently no one producing DDW. You can buy deuterium-free water (< 1 ppm deuterium) water from chemical stores but the cost is prohibitive at $100.00 for 100 ml.
Those who advocate drinking DDW on a prophylactic basis, recommend 1 liter/day (100 ppm deuterium or less) for at least 1-2 months every year. For regenerative benefits, drink DDW for 8 months out of every year (preferably March-October). Healthy individuals may notice more energy, better sleep, improvements in mental clarity, and heightened immune response. There are no contraindications. Those with health issues should consider the regular consumption of more than 1 liter/day for a longer duration. They may want to read Dr. Somlyai’s book for information on the protocols used during clinical trials.
An international patent search reveals that DDW is being incorporated in a variety of food preparations, including beer and soy sauce, for the purpose of improving health. It is also being used in the formulation of skin care products with success on many skin conditions. You can use DDW in your tea, soups and other food preparations. It can also be incorporated in a variety of homemade personal care products.