Robert Bike, LMT

Reiki Master
Massage Therapy

This is the article I wrote for Touchstone, the journal of the Oregon Massage Therapists Association (www.omta.net). This is a long (and perhaps boring) article about the importance of drinking water.

Originally written as a two-part article, Part 1 is about the symptoms of major diseases that dehydration mimics, and how much water we should drink every day. In Part 2, I wrote about more symptoms and made the distinction between drinking water and drinking substances that contain water. For the purposes of this website, I have combined the two articles.

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Unsolicited Email

Dear Mr. Bike,

It is indeed rare for me to Email one to whom I am not acquainted, but having been so impressed with your article, (from your web page) this is one of those times I felt I should do so.

Thank you so very much for taking the time and effort to explain the how`s and why`s, (in detail!) about the importance of drinking water.

With your permission I would like to print the article for my brother, Randy to read and keep for his own health's sake.

Yours is the first article I`ve ever read that actually breaks areas down and explains, right down to the time factor of our body`s utilization of water.

I learned quite a bit, and both my brother and I can benefit from this knowledge.

Having been so impressed with that page, I also looked upon the rest of your web site.

You, Sir are quite the learned one in a variety of areas.

Thank you for sharing with us your knowledge, wisdom, and wit.

My prayers and wishes are with you.

Kay E. Holmes


Dehydration As A Cause of Disease, Part 1

We see it everywhere. It's all around us. We come into contact with it every day. It's water. It makes up about 75% of our bodies, and about 85% of our brains. In my massage practice, I've noticed an alarming number of clients showing signs of dehydration, some severe. How can this be? What are the signs? What can be done?

Physicians rarely prescribe water, and you'll never hear of a pharmaceutical firm recommending it, but water can prevent and cure many common conditions. Dehydration can cause dis-ease. By the simple addition of a little water every day, you may feel better. (If not, see a nutritionist for help in balancing your diet. Seek professional medical help if water and diet don't help. The information and recommendations I present in this article are based on personal observations, extensive research, and common sense. This is not intended as a replacement for medical advice from a natural physician. The very ill and those with severe renal disease should consult their attending physician before using this information.)

Chronic dehydration is a problem that pervades our society. Advertising for coffee, tea, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages lead adults and children to choose drinks with sugar, caffeine and alcohol rather than water. The human body rations water, and moves it where it needs it most. The brain represents only 2% of the body weight, but gets 20% of the blood circulation and a high priority of the water intake. Tea, coffee, alcohol, and manufactured beverages contain water and a dehydrating agent. Dehydration over time causes loss of some functions.

Dehydration gives signals; medicine silences the signals. Modern allopathic medicine is based upon relieving symptoms, not removing causes. Modern diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, ulcers and allergies are not cured but controlled.

Water is a solvent and transporter. It is the major component in blood and all other fluids in the human body. Loss of water thickens blood and hardens cell walls. We commonly recognize thirst as 'dry mouth.' When we do not experience dry mouth, we assume that we are not thirsty. Wrong! The solvent, the water content, regulates all functions of the body; the solids dissolved or carried produce the signals. Thirst, our body's cry for water, occurs much earlier.

Morning Sickness
Often our dehydration begins before birth. Early thirst signals of the fetus to the mother often show up as 'morning sickness.' Many school systems, trying to raise money, offer soda machines throughout our school years. We become chronically and increasingly dehydrated by early adulthood. When humans lose or mistake thirst sensations, or substitute for water with tea, coffee, alcohol or manufactured beverages, dehydration increases. Often, 'dry mouth' is the last sign of dehydration.

Water is necessary for ATP production at the cellular level. Water makes up the adhesive material part of the cell structure. When the body dehydrates, it has a 'drought management' system. The human body does not have a 'reserve' of water as it does with calcium and other substances; it must prioritize whatever water we drink. The regulation system uses histamine and prostaglandins. Histamine in excess causes the pain sensation. Chronic dehydration causes chronic pain; an area of local pain may indicate an area of chronic dehydration. Some of these chronic pains may include dyspeptic pain, colitis pain, rheumatoid arthritic pain, heart or leg pain during exercise, low back pain, chronic fatigue pain, migraines, and hangovers.

When we drink water, it passes through the stomach immediately into the intestine and is absorbed; within 30 minutes almost the same amount of water is secreted into the stomach for digestion. Digestion of solid foods requires large amounts of water: acids secrete onto food, enzymes activate, and the stomach breaks foods down into a homogenized state where it then passes into the intestines for further digestion. More water is required in the intestines to process food ingredients and send the nutrients to the liver. In the liver, specialized cells process digested material, add fluid to the material, then pass the good stuff into the bloodstream, moving quickly to the heart. Then the blood goes to the lungs for oxygenation and exchange of dissolved gases in the blood.

In the lungs, the blood dehydrates by evaporation. Then the material and oxygen-rich blood return to the heart and are pumped first to the heart capillaries and the brain. If there is insufficient water in the blood, the cells of the heart and brain close to protect themselves from dehydration. Drinking eight to sixteen ounces of water within the half-hour before a meal helps with stomach digestion. Drinking water with a meal helps digestion in the intestines and liver. Sufficient water in the bloodstream keeps the cells open and ready to absorb oxygen and nutrition.

Alzheimer's, Dementia, Brain Damage
Mucus in the stomach is 98% water. Chronic dehydration combined with too much salt and too much acid neutralization (from over-use of antacids) alters the mucus, allowing acid to reach the mucosal layer, where pain-sensing nerves are located. Drinking adequate water before and during meals 'backwashes' the mucus layer and removes salt deposits. Antacids that contain aluminum have been linked to brain damage, dementia and Alzheimer-type symptoms.

Colitis, Constipation
One of the functions of the large intestine is removal of excess water from the stool. With inadequate water comes colitis pain and constipation. Drinking adequate water relieves constipation quickly, and often alleviates colitis pain.

50 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis; 200 thousand children have juvenile arthritis. Joints need a lot of water for proper function. In well-hydrated cartilage, friction is minimal; in dehydrated cartilage, increased friction leads to pain. Chronic dehydration leads to permanent damage, commonly called osteoarthritis. Joint pain is often a signal of localized dehydration.

Low Back Pain, Neck Pain
30 million Americans have low back pain. Intervertebral joints and discs depend on the hydraulic properties of water. Water is a lubricant for contact surfaces and supports compression weight from the upper torso. About 75% of the upper body's weight is supported by the water volume of the disc, and 25% by fibrous material around the disc. Movement causes alternating forces of water moving in and out of the disc area. Exercise and massage also move water through the back joints. Bad posture creates problems; good posture alleviates some problems in the back and neck. An inadequate water supply leads to compression of the joint and pain.

Migraines are caused by dehydration, by excessive body heat, by alcohol dehydrating cells (particularly in the brain), and by dietary or allergic triggers for histamine release. Dehydration prevents proper heat regulation in the body. Sufficient water allows the body to self-regulate and reduce the severity of migraine symptoms or eliminate them completely.

Depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
With dehydration, energy levels in the brain decrease. With that decrease, functions that depend on energy also decrease or shut down. Inadequacy of mental function and a series of advanced physiological problems is often labeled depression or chronic fatigue syndrome. One of the first signs of re-hydration is increased mental activity. As you drink more water, you will begin to notice subtle changes in your thoughts or extra-sensory abilities.

How Do I Start?
When you first begin drinking more water, your body first removes excess toxins stored in nearly every cell in your body. It flushes your kidneys over and over again. Once the toxins are flushing regularly and the body believes that the increased water intake is permanent, a period usually of several days to several weeks, your body will begin absorbing large amounts and, using its priority system, begin restoring water volume in all the cells of the body. In most cases, it will take 2 to 3 months to restore the water imbalance. The blood hydrates first, then organs: the heart, lungs and brain, followed by other organs necessary for elimination of toxins. The rest of the body hydrates as needed.

How Much Water Should I Drink? A simple rule is to take your weight in pounds, divide in half, and drink that number of ounces of water. Do not over-drink, thinking that you can overcome months or years of under-drinking by drinking a lot in a few days. Drink your amount (as calculated above) daily & your body will fully re-hydrate over a long period of time.

For a medical discussion of how dehydration works in the human body, read Your Body's Many Cries for Water by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, M.D.

Dehydration As A Cause of Disease, Part 2

Many professionals recommend drinking water, but then tell you that if you drink a substance that contains water, such as coffee, tea or soda, that it is the same. Here is why they are wrong.

Sodas and Bones
Minerals and other nutrients have interactions between them that affect their availability or absorption in the body. The body operates most efficiently at a calcium-phosphorus ratio of 1:1. We need 800 to 1200 milligrams of each every day.

Phosphorus is readily absorbed through the intestinal tract. About 70% of all phosphorus we eat is assimilated into the bloodstream. Calcium is poorly absorbed. Only 20% to 30% of what we ingest is metabolized. Therefore, the dietary calcium-phosphorus ratio should be about 2.5:1.

For every gram of phosphorus absorbed in the body, we need to have one gram of calcium be absorbed from our diet also. If the required calcium is not available from the diet, the body will obtain it from wherever it can, usually from storage in the bones. Calcium loss from the bones leads to loss of bone mass, a decrease in bone integrity, and eventually, osteoporosis.

Soft drinks are high in phosphorus, which is essential for carbonization. A typical 12-ounce can of cola contains about 44 mg of phosphorus and 11 mg of calcium. If 70% of the phosphorus is absorbed, about 31 mg of phosphorus makes it into the bloodstream. If we take the high of 30% of the calcium, that means that about 3 mg is absorbed. Since the body likes balance, if no other source of calcium is eaten with the soda, about 28 mg of calcium will be removed from the bones to achieve the 1:1 ratio for each 12-ounce can of soda we drink. Soda companies and their cohorts are pushing 'big gulps,' 'biggie' sizes, and huge containers to drink them from. Since we lose 28 mg of calcium from our bones with a 12-ounce soda, can you calculate how much we lose from a 44-ounce soda?

Caffeine, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Heart Failure
Tea, coffee and cola contain large amounts of caffeine and smaller amounts of theophylline, which are central nervous system stimulants and diuretics. Caffeine releases energy from stored calcium in the cells. Continuous substitution of caffeine drinks for water deprives the body of its capacity for formation of energy. Excess caffeine depletes the ATP stored in the brain and body, resulting in a shorter attention span, chronic fatigue syndrome, and eventually may exhaust the heart muscle from long-term over-stimulation.

Breast Cancer, Alcoholism
Dehydration stresses the body. Once stress is established, there is an associated mobilization of primary materials from body stores. In stress, hormonal over-rides are operative. Strong hormones secrete until the body is out of stress: endorphins, cortisone, prolactin, vasopressin, and renin-angiotensin (RA).

Endorphins prepare the body to endure hardships and raise the pain threshold, especially in women.

Cortisone mobilizes stored energy and raw material. It causes the body to feed off itself, i.e., it breaks down material used in the maintenance of the structural integrity of the body.

Prolactin ensures that lactating mothers continue to produce milk. Long-term increased prolactin production may cause mammary tumors. Increasing water intake in women who have everyday stress may be a preventive measure against development of stress-induced breast cancer.

Vasopressin constricts capillaries and regulates the selective flow of water into some cells. Produced in the pituitary gland, it rations and distributes water in a priority plan when dehydration is present. Alcohol suppresses vasopressin secretion, even in the brain. After alcohol consumption, slight dehydration can become severe in sensitive cells in the brain, leading to pain, such as hangovers. The body tries to overcome the dehydration by producing more hormones, especially endorphins, which are addictive. Thus, dehydration plus alcohol leads to alcoholism, especially in women.

RA is activated when the fluid volume of the body is released. RA is active in histamine production and in the kidneys. It is activated to retain water, promotes absorption of sodium salt, and tightens capillary beds and the vascular system to prevent slack or empty areas (when tight can be measured as hypertension). The kidneys are the main sites of RA activity. The kidneys produce urine and excrete excess hydrogen, potassium, sodium and waste. The body must have sufficient water volume to sustain urine. Only copious water and some salt can turn the RA system off.

High blood pressure (hypertension) is the body's way of adapting to gross body water deficiency. When eating, circulation is directed to the intestinal tract by contracting some capillary beds elsewhere. After digestion, blood is re-directed to where it is needed most. The body has an order system for directing blood: brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and glands, then muscles, bones and skin. During the slow process of dehydration, cells that are low in the priority system dehydrate first and lose water to the blood in circulation. Some capillary beds close entirely. When muscles exercise, capillary beds open. Exercise is vital for those with hypertension. In order for the water we drink to get into our cells, it must be first in the blood; during dehydration, some cells get no water, some in priority order get sufficient water, most cells get a smaller ration of water or none. Hypertension indicates a need for more water in the circulatory system.

High Cholesterol
High blood cholesterol is a body defense mechanism to keep sufficient water in the blood. Blood gets concentrated when too much water is released to the cells during dehydration. Cholesterol is a natural blocking agent that makes cells impervious to the passage of water. Cholesterol is the agent that regulates the permeability of the cell membrane to water. Excess cholesterol may denote dehydration.

If you do not drink water before or during meals, the process of food digestion that requires so much water removes the water from the cells of your body. The brain's central control system, when it recognizes low energy levels, sends a signal to drink water. Unfortunately, this signal is often felt as hunger; so we eat, and eat, and eat. We eat when we should drink water. When we drink water before meals, it is easier to separate the feelings. If you have a weight problem, drink water when you feel hungry. Eat only at regularly scheduled meal times, and drink 16 ounces of water before meals.

Asthma, Allergies and Orange Juice
Asthma and allergies are a sign that the body is producing extra histamine, which is an indication that the body is dehydrated. Histamine regulates bronchial muscle contraction. A lot of water exits the body through the lungs, so histamines constrict the lungs to reduce water loss. Concentrated blood (dehydrated) promotes histamine production to protect the body's stores. When the body is dehydrated, histamine activity is exaggerated for water preservation. Histamine production decreases with increased water intake. It takes three to four weeks of increased water intake to notice a difference. High amounts of potassium promote histamine production. Orange juice is high in potassium. If you suffer from allergies or asthma, limiting your intake of orange juice to eight or fewer ounces per day may reduce the effects.

Diabetes, Cancer, Pain
There are generally two types of diabetes: insulin dependent when the pancreas no longer manufactures insulin, and insulin independent when the pancreas can manufacture insulin, but the body no longer controls the amount. Some insulin independent diabetes symptoms may be alleviated by water intake. One function of the pancreas is to regulate water for food digestion. The pancreas produces insulin and a solution that neutralizes stomach acid in the intestine. The insulin inhibition is an adaptation process to dehydration. In a dehydrated state, the brain, which is not dependent on insulin, benefits from insulin inhibition. The brain revives itself with sugar.

Dehydration may cause a severe depletion of tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that, along with lysine, is used in the correction of errors in the DNA formation. Tryptophan may be a key to the prevention of cancer cell development in the body. When there is adequate tryptophan in the brain, you can endure more pain. Tryptophan also is involved in the regulation of salt in the body. Normal levels of tryptophan in the brain leads to increased efficiency of the functions of the rest of the body. Decreased water in the brain affects the level of tryptophan.

Which Water?
There are many types of bottled waters and water filters, along with well water, spring water and tap water. It's not always easy to figure out the marketing and glossy packaging. Always read the labels to know what you are getting.

For those of us who live in cities, tap water is the easiest source of water. Cities capture river water or use wells. They filter it, then add deadly chemicals to kill microorganisms in the water. Then they send it through pipes, often old and rusty, often with lead joints, to our homes. There are many filters sold today that filter out the harmful chemicals and minerals. Almost all of them are adequate for our needs. You can also buy distillers, reverse osmosis systems, and other complicated devices. Most of these are very good.

But we're not always at home. What about bottled water? There are several sources of bottled water. Many simply filter city water.

Spring water flows naturally from an underground source and is collected directly from the spring or through a hole that has been drilled into the source that supplies the spring.

Mineral water comes from a geologically and physically protected underground source. It must contain specific quantities of minerals or trace elements to distinguish it from other types of water. The mineral content of the bottled water must be consistent with the water's original state at the source.

Well water is collected from an aquifer, an underground source, through a hole drilled into the ground.

Artesian water is flows up naturally through a drilled hole.

Purified water is water treated by distillation, micron filtration, deionization, ozonation or reverse osmosis.

Sparkling water contains carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide can be found in the water at the source or can be added at the time of bottling. Soda water, club soda and tonic water are not considered sparkling waters because they may contain sugar, salt or other additives.

And then there are juices, drinks, flavored water and multitudes of advertised drinks. What is the best? Plain water. Water with anything added to it requires the body to filter out the nutrients, sugar and junk that is added. Your body needs water, not the additives that manufacturers and advertisers push on you.

Some Final Tips
Drink at least 64 to 96 ounces of water a day to remain properly hydrated. Increase that amount during the summer. Active people should drink more. Drink 8 to 16 ounces of water just prior to exercise. Drink water while you are exercising, 6 to 12 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes. Drink more when it's hot. Never rely on your perception of thirst to guide your water intake. Thirst is the body's cry for help. It activates when your body is deprived of water and closes down well before you have had enough water to drink.

During dieting and weight loss, kidneys eliminate toxins formed from lost fat and muscle. Water flushes these toxins out. Water also helps control food intake by curbing your appetite.

Drinking water while you fly may prevent the symptoms of jet lag because the air inside airplanes is extremely dry. If you live in or visit high altitudes, increase your water intake. This is especially important when you are active in elevated altitudes because of the low humidity.

Children are at risk of becoming dehydrated, especially during the summer months. Encourage your children to drink 8 glasses of water a day, more if they are playing or participating in sports.

Re-hydrating your body will cause amazing changes. You may hurt less. You may lose weight if you are overweight; you may gain weight if you are underweight. Nagging symptoms may disappear. Your blood pressure may self-regulate. So may your cholesterol. Good hydration will regulate your body temperature, carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells, and remove wastes and toxins before they become a problem for you.

And while water can alleviate the cause of many symptoms, it is not a cure-all. Consult your natural physician about how you can achieve optimum health.

For a medical discussion of how dehydration works in the human body, read Your Body's Many Cries for Water by Dr. F. Batmanghelidj, M.D., the source of some of the material in this discussion.

Put more life in your years!
Robert Bike, LMT, Teaching Reiki Master, Webmaster
Member OMTA & ABMT

I am an Oregon Licensed Massage Therapist (#5473) doing Biblical Aromatherapy and massage therapy in Eugene, Oregon. I offer energy work, light to deep massage, Reiki, and Jin Shin Do acupressure. I wrote a book on healing using plants mentioned in the Bible. I offer Reiki classes. I do On-Site chair massage at businesses, fairs, events & parties. And in my "spare time," just for fun, I write about interesting characters from my hometown, Freeport, Illinois. Call any time for more details: 541-465-9486. E-mail: .

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