September 25, 2020

Deuterium-depleted water: What is it?

hydrogen vs deuteriumDeuterium is an isotope of hydrogen that contains a proton and a neutron in the nucleus of the atom. The extra neutron doubles the mass of the hydrogen atom.

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 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 with a reduced deuterium content may have the capacity to transmit information more clearly. The extra neutron may create a “pucker” in the water matrix that is involved with information storage and transfer. 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

    heavy water

    Left: Ice made with normal water; Right: Ice made with Heavy water

  • 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 its 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 can have 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 for many biological organisms.

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. The most recent research reveals that the ability to deplete deuterium decreases with age; weight gain, illness and lack of quality sleep are also factors.

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. 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. Over ten years of research and clinical trials on humans in Hungary by Dr. Gábor Somlyai and his colleges have identified effects of DDW. His book, Defeating Cancer: The Biological Effect of Deuterium Depletion, chronicles the work.

What is deuterium-depleted water?

All natural water contains deuterium. Most water contains about 150 ppm. Water with a concentration less than 140 ppm is considered deuterium-depleted. According to clinical work conducted in Hungary, Japan and Russia, even this seemingly small reduction in deuterium may influence health.

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. Water from the Rocky mountains in Western United States has been measured with 136 ppm 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. Water from Antarctic ice measures 90 ppm deuterium and water beneath the Sahara desert measure 180 ppm deuterium.

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. In fact, the water produced in the body (referred to as metabolic water) is deuterium depleted.

First International Symposium on Deuterium Depletion


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  2. Gedeon Rok says

    There was the 3rd International Congress on Deuterium Depletion in 2015

  3. Fascinating information thank you. What do you think of the electric hydrogen makers on the market? There seems to be an abundance of them. I am not sure how they work but get the impression that they split the water molecule into oxygen and hydrogen.

    If we were supposed to consume more hydrogen would nature not have added more to the air or a different ration in our water supply?

  4. In our continued work with Deuterium-depleted water, we have found that the degree to which water can be depleted often depends on the minerals in the water (influencing hydrogen/deuterium bond strength) We had the water tested by a certified lab in Eastern Europe where they have more experience with this kind of testing and found that the process we originally posted removed very little deuterium, so since the process was so involved, we felt it was not worth people’s time.

  5. Dave Clark says

    What is your opinion of the John Eliis E5, which makes deuterium depleted water? It is expensive, but if it works it is worth it. Unless you can recommend another effective machine that makes DDW.

    • The last time we looked into it, there was no information on the degree to which the Ellis distiller may reduce deuterium. We use the word “may” because there is no evidence of testing or analytical work to support the claims. Any reduction in deuterium would depend on the nature of the source water and the kind (and amount) of minerals present. If the distiller does reduce deuterium, we are of the opinion that in some instances it may be so small as to be insignificant. Perhaps that is why there is an obvious lack of information on the subject. You don’t have to reduce the deuterium by much to say that it is “depleted” but whether or not it is significant enough to produce any results is another story.
      The level of expertise required to produce deuterium-depleted drinking water of reputable quality (and with low levels of deuterium) is quite high and has only been achieved by a handful of companies so far. Unfortunately none of those companies are in the US.

      • Shalom, I have tested the output of Ellis water and the ppm of Deuterium increased by 1ppm.
        That machine is NOT a DDW producing machine as it is not designed to take it’s “distilled” output and run it through the machine again repeatedly.
        I owned one to carry out this research at an ISO 17925 accredited lab by Health Canada.
        I asked Mr. Ellis to remove his ad for false advertising and he fails to do so, therefore my comment here.
        DDW is produced by vapour distillation towers that are designed to capture to the “light isotopes” which evaporate “UP”.
        They are up to 20 feet tall and about 15cm in diameter.
        The Ellis machine is sold on mainly third party claims. I have several taped calls with the man.
        Mr. Ellis could not substantiate or even name the methods or means to measure the hydrogen bond angle he repeats in his messaging.

  6. Would water that is naturally at 140ppm be considered “low deuterium”?

    • I suppose that depends on where you live. If you live at the equator where the deuterium content is about 150 ppm, then 140 is lower than the average in your area, but if you live in the mountains, where deuterium concentration is normally about 130 – 135 ppm, then it is high. Is 140 ppm considered to be low or deuterium-depleted? No.

  7. Vince O'Reilly says

    How does the sap from trees ,such as Birch measure in regard to Deuterium?

  8. We tried a method similar to this, (based on the fact that heavy water freezes before deuterium-depleted water) But we were not able to reduce the deuterium content–even by repeating the process several times.

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