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The Water Cure: How Much & How Often




by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.

Let me give you the single most effective prescription for well-being, improved health, disease prevention, potentially reversible stages of degenerative diseases—and finally the best pain medicine in the world. It needs no doctor’s prescription. It is freely available. It costs nothing. It has no dangerous side effects. It is the medication your body cries for when it is stressed. It is good old plain, natural water—ready cash for the industrial systems of the body.

Every twenty-four hours the body recycles the equivalent of forty thousand glasses of water to maintain its normal physiological functions. It does this every day of its life. Within this pattern of water metabolism and its recycling process, and depending on environmental conditions, the body becomes short of about six to ten glasses of water each day. This deficit has to be supplied to the body every day.

If you think you are different and your body does not need this amount of water, you are making a major mistake. The body uses up the equivalent of between six to eight glasses of its total body water for essential functions. It needs on average upwards of half its weight in ounces of water per day—a minimum of eight to ten glasses. Water should be taken in eight- or sixteen-ounce portions spaced throughout the day. In the same way you don’t let your car run out of gas before you fill the tank, the body must not be allowed to become dehydrated before you drink water.

·      Water should be drunk before meals. The optimum time is thirty minutes before eating. This prepares the digestive tract, particularly in people with gastritis, duodenitis, heartburn, peptic ulcer, colitis, or gas-producing indigestion.

·      Water should be taken anytime you are thirsty—even during meals.

·      Water should be taken two and a half hours after a meal to complete the process of digestion and correct the dehydration caused by food breakdown.

·      Water should be taken first thing in the morning to correct dehydration produced during long sleep.

·      Water should be taken before exercising to have it available for creating sweat.

·      Water should be taken by people who are constipated and don’t eat sufficient fruits and vegetables. Two to three glasses of water first thing in the morning act as a most effective laxative.


Naturally, we wonder why we should drink water and not the pleasing and taste-enhancing beverages that are now the staples of our modern society. After all, they are made from water and do the job of quenching our thirst—or at least we feel they do. In fact, much of the problem of bad health is founded on this misconception.  As far as the chemistry of the body is concerned, water and fluids are two different things. As it happens, popular manufactured beverages contain some chemicals that alter the body’s chemistry at its central nervous system’s control centers. Even milk is not the same as water. Milk is a food and must be treated as food.

The body needs water—nothing substitutes for water. Coffee, tea, soda, alcohol, and even milk and juices are not the same as water.


·      A cup of coffee contains about 80 milligrams of caffeine, and a cup of tea or one soda has about 50 milligrams.

·      Chocolate also contains caffeine and theobromine, which acts like caffeine.

·      Caffeine further dehydrates the body—you urinate more than the volume of water contained in the beverage.

·      Caffeine blocks the production of melatonin in the brain. Dr. Kenneth Wright Jr. discovered the melatonin-inhibiting effect of caffeine in 1994.  This inhibitory effect of caffeine on melatonin production by the pineal gland of the brain seems to last six to nine hours. Melatonin regulates the functions of the body during sleep; it induces sleep.  Thus, melatonin inhibition is one reason why coffee induces wakefulness.

·      Caffeine intake on a regular basis by pregnant women can increase the risk of producing lowbirth-weight infants. It can even cause spontaneous abortion or damage to the fetus.

·      Caffeine inhibits the enzymes used in memory making, eventually causing loss of memory. It has been shown to inhibit the enzyme phosphodiesterase (phospho-di-esterase), which is involved in the process of learning and memory development.

·      Caffeine can be toxic to brain cells. Some plants use caffeine as a defense against their predators.  Caffeine toxicity in predators decreases their natural wit and ability for survival against their own predators. They forget how to camouflage themselves and become prey to their own predators. This is how the coffee plant gets rid of its pests.

·      Seniors and children should not take caffeine. It can affect their normal brain functions, and their wit to survive may become less sharp.

·      People taking five to six cups of coffee a day are twice as likely to suffer heart attacks.

·      Caffeine can damage DNA and cause abnormal DNA by inhibiting the DNA-repair mechanism.

·        Caffeine has been shown to cause genetic abnormalities in animals and plants.

·      Caffeine attacks the brain cells’ reserves of energy and lowers their threshold of control, so that the cells overspend from their energy pool. It indiscriminately turns on many energy-consuming functions to the point of causing exhaustion.  When brain cells that have been influenced by caffeine confront a new situation that demands their full cooperation, they have a shortfall of energy. This creates a delay in brain response—hence exhaustion and irritability after excess caffeine consumption. Caffeine may cause attention deficit disorder in young people who consume too much soda.

·      Water by itself generates hydroelectric energy. Caffeine in the same water stimulates the kidneys and causes more water to exit the body than is in the drink. This exhausts the brain cells’ reserves of energy.

Caffeine-containing sodas with artificial sweeteners are more dangerous than those containing regular sugar. Artificial sweeteners are potent chemical agents that fool the brain cells by masking as sugar. Sweetness normally translates to the entry of energy into the body. The sweeteners, through the taste buds, program the brain to behave as if ample sugar for its consumption has reached the body and will imminently reach it through the circulation. Since there is strict control on the level of sugar in the blood, the brain calculates the outcome of the sweetness and instructs and programs the liver not to manufacture sugar from other raw materials, but to begin storing sugar. When the sugar that was promised through the taste buds is nowhere to be found, the brain and the liver prompt a hunger sensation to find food and make good on the promise of energy. The result is a state of anxiety about food. It has been shown that people who consume artificial sweeteners seek food, and eat more than normal, up to ninety minutes after the intake of the sweetener.  This is part of the reason why more than 37 percent of the population is obese.

Caffeine-containing diet sodas, therefore, constitute a sort of double jeopardy to the body in that caffeine causes many complications, while artificial sweeteners have their own detrimental chemical effects. Decaffeinated diet sodas may be particularly harmful in diet programs, especially if the sweetener is aspartame. Aspartame has been implicated in the increased incidence of brain tumors and seizures.


·      Alcohol in beverages causes dehydration—the kidneys flush water out.

·      Alcohol prevents the emergency water supply system to the brain. It inhibits the action of vasopressin and causes brain-cell dehydration. It is brain dehydration that signals as a hangover after you have taken a few drinks.

·      Alcohol can be addictive and functionally depressive.

·      Alcohol can cause impotence.

·        Alcohol can cause liver damage.

·      Alcohol can suppress the immune system.

·      Alcohol consumption may increase the chances of developing cancers.

·      Alcohol produces free radicals (acidlike substances) that normally attack and damage some sensitive tissues if allowed to circulate freely. Among other things, melatonin is used up to scavenge these free radicals. This results in low melatonin content in the body.

·      Alcohol addiction may be caused in part by dehydration of cell membranes, particularly brain cells.

·      Dehydration promotes the secretion of the natural endorphins in the body—the addictive factor. 

Now that I have mentioned alcohol, let me also tell you that most alcoholics are actually searching for water. Water has a natural satiety impact through the hormones motilin, serotonin, and adrenaline, which culminates in the enhanced action of the body’s endorphins. Alcoholics learn that alcohol, through its stressful dehydrating action on the brain, will also cause the release of endorphins. This is how they become addicted to alcohol. If alcoholics begin to increase their water intake, or reach for a glass of water in place of a beer or a shot of their favorite hard stuff, their cravings for alcohol will tend to decrease and they will be more likely to kick the habit with surprising ease.

The natural action of alcohol on the brain is an across-the-board inhibition of all its functions, including its pain-sensing centers. The inhibitory centers of the brain are depressed first. This is how some people get an emotional release in the presence of others from taking alcohol. If these people are by themselves, alcohol will probably put them to sleep. In short, alcohol is a depressant. Depressed people should not take it. Water, on the other hand, does not depress the brain, and it provides a more satisfying and enduring high, with lots of energy to perform whatever is desired.


Replacing the water requirement of the body with juices or milk causes different problems. Too much orange juice increases histamine production and can cause asthma in children and adults. Even the natural sugar in juices will program the liver into fat-storing mode—a prescription for getting fat.

Milk should be considered a food. Infants who receive formulated milk other than mother’s milk need it in a much more diluted form than is manufactured at present. Non-breast-fed babies should receive more water in their diet. It has been shown in some autopsies that infants who were not on mother’s milk had developed heart arteries that showed signs of cholesterol. It is true that milk is a good watery source of calcium and proteins for health maintenance, yet milk should not be taken as a total replacement of the water that the body needs. It should be remembered that cow’s milk is naturally designed for the calf that begins to walk within hours of its birth. To give undiluted milk to babies or children who are not moving much may be inviting trouble.

It is clear that the human body has many distinct ways of showing its general or local water needs, including its production of many localized complications such as asthma and allergies. Other drastic signs of the body’s water needs are localized chronic pains such as heartburn, dyspepsia, rheumatoid joint pain, back pain, migraine headaches, leg pain when walking, colitis pain, and a most advanced sign, anginal pain. Complications such as hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, cholesterol blockage of the arteries (leading to heart attack and strokes), and diabetes may also be connected to dehydration. Ultimately, cancers, I believe, may also be a major health problem connected to persistent water shortage of the human body.

Chronic dehydration produces many symptoms, signs, and, eventually, the degenerative diseases. The physiological outcome of the sort of dehydration that produces any of the problems mentioned earlier in the book is almost the same. Different bodies manifest their early symptoms of drought differently, but in persistent dehydration that has been camouflaged by prescription medications, one by one the other symptoms and signs will kick in, and eventually the person will suffer from multiple "diseases."

We in medicine have labeled these conditions as outright "diseases" or have grouped them as different "syndromes." In recent years, we have grouped some of the syndromes—with some typical blood tests—and called them autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, insulinindependent diabetes, and so on.

Medical research has until now been conducted on the assumption that many conditions—which I consider to be states of dehydration or its complications are diseases of unknown etiology. From the presently held perspectives of human health problems, we are not allowed to use the word cure. We can at best "treat" a problem and hope it goes "into remission."

From my perspective, most painful degenerative diseases are states of local or regional drought—with varying patterns. It naturally follows that, once the drought is corrected, the problem will be cured if the dehydration damage is not extensive. I also believe that to evaluate deficiency disorders—water deficiency being one of them—we do not need to observe the same research protocols that are applied to the research of chemical products. Identifying the shortage and correcting the deficiency is all we have to do.

It is now clear that the treatment for all dehydration produced conditions is the same—a single treatment protocol for umpteen number of conditions. Isn’t that great? One program solves so many problems and avoids costly and unnecessary interferences with the body.

The first step in this treatment program involves a clear and determined upward adjustment of daily water intake. Persistent dehydration also causes a disproportionate loss of certain elements that should be adequately available in the stored reserves in the body.

Naturally, the ideal treatment protocol will also involve an appropriate correction of the associated metabolic disturbance. In short, treatment of dehydration produced diseases also involves correction of the secondary deficiencies that water deficiency imposes on some tissues of the body. This multiple-deficiency phenomenon, caused by dehydration, is at the root of many degenerative diseases.

A change of lifestyle becomes vital for the correction of any dehydration-produced disorder. The backbone of The Water Cure program is, simply, sufficient water and salt intake; regular exercise; a balanced, mineral-rich diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables and the essential fats needed to create cell membranes, hormones, and nerve insulation; exclusion of caffeine and alcohol; and meditation to solve and detoxify stressful thoughts. Exclusion of artificial sweeteners from the diet is an absolute must for better health.

It should also be remembered that the sort of dehydration that manifests itself as asthma leaves other scars within the interior parts of the human body. This is why asthma in childhood is such a devastating condition that leaves its mark on children and may expose them to many different health problems in later life.  My understanding of the serious damaging effects of dehydration during childhood is the reason I have been concentrating much of my efforts on the eradication of asthma among children.

The first nutrient the body needs is water. Water is a nutrient. It generates energy. Water dissolves all the minerals, proteins, starch, and other water-soluble components and, as blood, carries them around the body for distribution. Think of blood as seawater that has a few species of fish in it—red cells, white cells, platelets, proteins, and enzymes that swim to a destination.  The blood serum has almost the same mineral consistency and proportions as seawater.  The human body is in constant need of water. It loses water through the lungs when we breathe out. It loses water in perspiration, in urine production, and in daily bowel movements. A good gauge for the water needs of the body is the color of urine. A well-hydrated person produces colorless urine—not counting the color of vitamins or color additives in food. A comparatively dehydrated person produces yellow urine. A truly dehydrated person produces urine that is orange in color. An exception is those who are on diuretics and flush water out of their already dehydrated bodies and yet produce colorless urine.

The body needs no less than two quarts of water and a half teaspoon of salt every day to compensate for its natural losses in urine, respiration, and perspiration. Less than this amount will place a burden on the kidneys. They will have to work harder to concentrate the urine and excrete as much chemical toxic waste in as little water as possible. This process is highly taxing to the kidney cells. A rough rule of thumb for those who are heavyset is to drink a half ounce of water for every pound of body weight. A two-hundred-pound person will need to take one hundred ounces of water.  Water should be taken anytime you are thirsty, even in the middle of a meal. Water intake in the middle of a meal does not drastically affect the process of digestion, but dehydration during food intake does. You should also take at least two glasses of water first thing in the morning to correct for water loss during eight hours of sleep.


Excerpted from Water for Health, for Healing, for Life by F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. Copyright © 2003 Fereydon Batmanghelidj, M.D.. Excerpted by arrangement with Warner Books, Inc. $14.95. Available in local bookstores or click here.



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