Water — Its Healing Powers & Hazards

Photo: Our grateful thanks to Tony Reid on Unsplash.

by Marcel Hernandez, ND

When I was quite a bit younger, I spent many happy years rafting and kayaking California’s sparkling rivers.

One of the first things I learned was that whenever I had to bail out of my kayak and bob down the rapids to safety, I should quickly turn and float on my back with legs slightly flexed to serve as shock absorbers to bounce off the rocks.

Ever since, this trick has served as a valuable reminder to stay flexible and alert while floating on my life’s currents, ever ready to bounce off any rocks downstream.

Marcel Hernandez, ND

Water for metabolic detoxification.  There are many reasons why water is called the “universal solvent.”  Water is capable of dissolving a greater variety of substances than any other liquid.

Wherever water goes, whether through the air as fog or steam, over the ground as rivulets and rivers, or through our bodies as blood and other fluids, water serves as life’s main carrier of essential nutrients, minerals, and chemical substances.

Water also transports toxins out of our body’s tissues to be safely excreted.

Water as a spiritual substance.  In scriptures and mystical lore, water serves as a symbolic representation of truth, wisdom, peace, and purity. Most living things depend on water, a fact that unites us with all creation.

St. Francis praised water in his “Canticle of the Creatures”:

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Water is a powerful symbol of inner purification. Many cultures use water in their sacred ceremonies to symbolize new birth, cleansing, and healing.

  • Millions of Hindus bathe daily in the Ganges to symbolically purify and renew their souls.
  • Muslims engage in a daily cleansing ritual known as “Wudhu” to purify themselves inwardly and outwardly before they pray.
  • In Christianity, the ritual of baptism with holy water symbolizes the soul’s rebirth into a life of dedication to God.
  • The Hebrew Bible prescribes immersion in water for purification in several circumstances.

Similarly, other cultures use water to cleanse body, mind, heart, and spirit, and to eliminate any impurities that may be hindering an inner connection with the soul.

Our body’s primary component is water. Most of us know that as much as 60% of the adult body is composed of water.

According to H.H. Mitchell (Journal of Biological Chemistry #158), the brain and heart contain 73% water, the lungs are composed of about 83% water, the skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79% water, and even bones are watery at 31%.

Many living creatures and plants have high body water content – jellyfish and cucumbers are both 95% water.

The water sold in plastic bottles is not only hazardous to the environment, it’s ridiculously expensive, and not always “pure.” 

As naturopathic physicians deeply concerned with human health, we find it difficult not to share some serious water-related environmental issues.

Here are some startling factoids about plastic-bottled water:

  • A 99-cent plastic water bottle costs as much as refilling a half-liter water bottle 1,740 times with tap water.
  • One-third of the money the world spends on bottled water in a single year could pay for projects that would provide clean water to all those living in environments where it is in dire shortage.
  • The life cycle of bottled water consumes vast amounts of fossil fuels, contributes to global warming, and results in severe pollution.
  • More than 17 million barrels of oil are required to produce enough plastic water bottles to meet America’s annual demand for bottled water. (Earth-policy.org, “Bottled Water: Pouring Resources Down the Drain”)
  • Eighty percent of plastic water bottles end up in landfills – and every one of the bottles leaks harmful chemicals into the environment as it decomposes.
  • Studies have shown that the toxins in decomposing water bottles cause a variety of health issues, including reproductive problems and cancer.
  • “Bottled water generally is no cleaner, or safer, or healthier than tap water. In fact, the federal government requires far more rigorous and frequent safety testing and monitoring of municipal drinking water.” (org, “Take Back the Tap.”)

PLEASE, PLEASE use re-fillable, non-plastic water bottles.


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