Hilda Labrada Gore: Dr. Gerald Pollack is a brilliant man, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Washington who got his bachelor of science from New York University and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a well-known lecturer and author who has made some amazing discoveries about water. Gerry will tell us about the fourth phase of water and how “negative charge creates positive energy.” But first, how did you get into water?
Gerald Pollack, PhD: I immersed myself, so to speak, into water. It happened about twenty years ago. I’d been studying the contraction of muscles. If you read about muscles in textbooks or popular books, you see the proteins that bend and twist and turn and interact, and the contraction at the molecular level. It occurred to me that something was missing from this picture. What’s missing? Water. Muscle cells, like all cells of our body, are mostly water. Two-thirds of our muscle is water, by volume. The water molecule is really small, so two-thirds by volume means that you need a lot of water molecules to fill that volume. If you do the arithmetic and do a molecular count, with all the molecules lined up, more than ninety-nine out of every one hundred molecules in muscle is a water molecule. It struck me as weird that we’re trying to understand how muscles contract, but we omit more than 99 percent of the molecules that are involved.
HG: I see. We are paying attention to the muscle fiber, not the water?
GP: We are paying attention to the muscle
proteins that are in the fiber and not the water, but the water is the most populous member of the family that’s there. It’s certainly possible,as textbooks assert, that the water is nothing more than the background carrier of the more significant molecules of life. However, there is a lot of evidence that that assumption simply isn’t true. We started to think about water and the involvement of water in muscle contractions at the molecular scale, and we found the gold mine. It turns out that water is absolutely essential for everything that muscles do. It also became clear that if water plays a significant role in what happens in the muscles, it probably also plays a significant role in what happens in the nerves, kidneys, liver and in the whole being. That’s how we got started.
HG: This is the theme of your latest book?
GP: The book is called The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid and Vapor. We discovered that the role of water—not only in muscles, but in everything—evolves from a different type of water. What I mean is that although we know that we are two-thirds water, that water is not the same as water in a drinking glass. It’s a different kind of water. It’s a water that builds or gets structured next to solids at interphases. It’s not just a little bit of it, it’s not just a layer of water that intersects or that meets the solids. It extends out by, up to thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of molecular layers. There’s a lot of it. We got interested in understanding this kind of water.
HG: You have mentioned “we.” Who else is involved?
GP: I’m at the University of Washington, and I have a very active laboratory consisting of visiting scientists, postdoctoral fellows, postgraduate and graduate students—as well as numerous undergraduate students, who are actually the most creative and brightest of all. We work together as a group, and we’ve done many experiments. The culmination of those experiments is the discovery that water doesn’t have just three phases, like we’ve been taught. Liquid, solid, gas—it’s got a fourth one. The fourth one is what we call “EZ water,” or fourth phase water. EZ, which stands for “exclusion zone,” is perhaps a misnomer, but when we first found EZ water, its most obvious property was that it tended to exclude everything, including little particles, microspheres and molecules. You might call it “pure,” but “pure” is really also a misnomer. It’s actually a different kind of water with a different chemical formula. It’s not H20, it’s H3O2.
HG: Is EZ water the one that’s in our bodies?
GP: Yes. It’s the water that fills your cells. This is the kind of water that occurs at interphases with certain types of solids, in fact most solids. Your cells are filled with many solids—large macromolecules, ions and such. Next to all of these entities grows this special water. Your cells are so packed with these molecules that practically every water molecule is close enough to one of those surfaces that it qualifies as interfacial water. That’s the water that is fourth phase, or EZ water, that we discovered. I have to tell you a few things about this water. It has a couple of outstanding properties. First, while H20 is neutral, this stuff is not neutral. It’s actually negatively charged. Imagine a surface of some material and the water is sitting next to it. The molecules of water sitting next to the surface—many layers of molecules—undergo a transformation to this fourth phase of water, which has negative charge. What’s going on is that ordinary water molecules split to form negative and positive components. The negative components all line up to produce this zone we call EZ. It’s got negative charge. Beyond that, where you have ordinary H2O, that’s filled with a complementary positive charge. You have the EZ water (negative), and the ordinary water (positive)—it’s a battery. We can get energy from this battery.
HG: What difference does this fourth phase of water make to us?
GP: The first thing to recognize is that you’re full of fourth-phase water. What you need to understand is what builds this kind of water because this is an ordered phase of water. Building order and separating charge all require energy. Take your cell phone; your battery is running low, and you plug in to rejuvenate. Right? This is the same. In order to get a battery, like we’re talking about, you have to feed it energy. There is no way you can plug this into the wall to get 120 volts or whatever. That doesn’t work. We scratched our collective heads for a long time before we could figure out the source of energy. The source of energy, which helps answer your question, is light. We were flabbergasted to find that it’s light that builds this phase of water. When we speak of light, most people think of visible light. We think of that, too, but physicists use “light” to denote not only the visible part of the spectrum but also infrared, ultraviolet, and frequencies beyond those two. It turns out that the most powerful wavelength to build this kind of water is not visible light but infrared light. Now, I’m not allowing you to get a word in edgewise because this is so exciting.
HG: Where does infrared light come from?
GP: Think of the electric range or the toaster, glowing bright red, and this bright red glow is eliciting infrared light. Infrared is actually all over the place. In the room where the two of us are sitting, if we turned off all the lights and shut the window shades to make it completely dark, pitch black—where I can’t see you and you can’t see me—if I whip out my infrared camera, I see a beautiful image of you and of the walls and the carpet and the microphone and so on. The reason is that my infrared camera is picking up infrared radiation coming from all of that.
HG: It’s like the night vision goggles that the military uses? And this infrared light is all around us?
GP: Yes, the infrared camera is like the goggles. And infrared light is all around us. You can’t get rid of it. It’s free energy. Some of us who studied chemistry tried to understand it and learn about so-called free energy. It was challenging. However, this is literally free. It’s there all the time for the taking.
HG: This energy is facilitating what I want to happen with the fourth phase of water in my body?
GP: Exactly, it builds it. For example, let’s go back to muscles. Imagine your muscles are aching, and you’ve got a headache, and you’re feeling depressed because of X, Y, and Z, and after you go spend twenty minutes in a sauna, you come out feeling like a million dollars. Why is that? Most people think it must be something psychological, and maybe it is. However, think about the fact that when you sit in the sauna, it’s hot, and you’re receiving infrared energy. That infrared energy is penetrating your body. And what is it doing to the water? It builds EZ water. You need that EZ water in your cells to function properly. You’re feeling depressed, but your brain is not designed for you to feel depressed. Something is going on. When the energy comes in and builds EZ water in the neurons that fill your brain, you’re back to normal and feeling okay.
HG: So, a sauna is a good idea. And what about walking on the beach?
GP: Exactly! I was going to mention it, but you beat me to it. Picture yourself walking on the beach. Why does that make you feel good, or better? Well, it could be because it’s nice to do something out of the ordinary after sitting at your computer all day. However, there is a physical reason. Many people don’t know this, and I didn’t know this until about seven years ago. The earth has net negative charge—it’s not neutral, it’s negatively charged. When you contact the earth with your bare feet, all those negative charges seep into your body. You need those negative charges to build EZ water. EZ water is negatively charged, so walking on the beach will build EZ water, which will make you feel better.
HG: I’ve heard of this. It’s called “earthing,” right? Where you take your shoes off and put your feet on the ground. As children we did it more often but as adults, there is concrete and shoes that come between us and the earth. I’ve heard it described in connection with antioxidants. You’re saying the negative charge is what our bodies need?
GP: Yes, and these all fall into the same category. Our bodies must have negative charge. In fact, it isn’t widely known, but if we were to measure the electrical potential of you, relative to the earth, you’re negatively charged because all your cells are negatively charged. That negative charge is critical for life. I would go so far as to say that it is one of the definitions of life. If you lose your negative charge, you’re dead. You need it. You can get negative charge by earthing, which is the same as grounding. With regard to antioxidants, first think about what oxidants do—they remove negative charge. You need that negative charge in order to flourish and thrive, so antioxidants are good for you because they prevent a loss of that negative charge. You can consider earthing to be an antioxidant because instead of removing that negative charge it is doing the opposite—it is adding negative charge, which you need.
HG: If infrared light is all around us, it must be benefiting us all the time. Does that mean I don’t have to do anything special to get the benefits it?
GP: No, you don’t, because you are vigorous and healthy. I can see you right before me. You are getting energy from
the environment. We tend to discount it, but it is always there. Plants, for example, do this all the time. Where do plants get their energy? They absorb light. The light supplies the energy for photosynthesis, and photosynthesis is chemical energy. The light is transformed into chemical energy, which is responsible for plant metabolism, growth, bending and basically everything. The first step is the splitting of water. The creation of EZ water is exactly that—the splitting of water into negative and positive. What we’ve discovered is a generic form of the first step of photosynthesis. It is what plants do, and I argue that we do the same thing. We exploit energy from the environment, so you don’t need to do anything. If you just sit there as a blob, you get all this energy that’s coming in. Of course, you can enhance it, for example, by going into the sauna. Even ordinary sunlight has plenty of this energy. Where I live, in Seattle, it is cloudy in the winter almost every day. When the sun breaks through, people feel wonderful. You’re getting the energy from this light that you may be missing.
HG: Explain to me more about what you were saying about charges and how charges attract and why that’s important.
GP: It is a real paradox. I give talks pretty often because The Fourth Phase of Water book has become really popular. I stand up there, and I like casual talks where we can be almost conversing. Sometimes I ask the audience the following question. “If you take one negative charge, one molecule or whatever that’s negatively charged from your left pocket and one that’s similarly negatively charged from your right pocket, and you drop them into a glass of water, and they are close enough that they can feel one another, and they both have the same negative charge, what happens to the distance between them?” Of course, everyone is sure of the answer, although few will raise their hands because they sense there is some kind of trick there and they don’t want to expose their inability at physics. They hesitate a bit, but finally they answer, usually gesturing with their hands that the two negative charges will push one another apart. The feeling is, “Of course, everyone knows that.” However, the answer is that they come together! This is not something that we in our laboratory discovered, but we’ve confirmed it. It’s actually been known for hundreds of years. Some of the greats in physical chemistry are the ones that saw it first. These people were puzzled. How is it possible? Everyone knows that objects of like charge repel each other, so the distance should increase—but actually it decreases. This question was taken up by physicist Richard Feynman, considered to be the Einstein of the second half of the twentieth century. Feynman was a Nobel laureate, prolific author (including author of a popular three-volume compilation of undergraduate lectures), and the hero of every physicist and all graduate students in physics, at least in the U.S. Feynman called the phenomenon that we are discussing “like likes like” because the two like charges come together and obviously must like each other if they come together. Think about people who like each other—they don’t stay apart, they come together. It was kind of amusing. He said that “like likes like” because of an “intermediate of unlike.” Now what does that mean? It means that you’ve got these two negatively charged blobs sitting not too far from one another. In between them, positive charges gather. Those in-between positive charges attract the two negatives, and the negatives come together. We don’t anticipate this because every scientist knows, reflexively, that if you put two like charges next to each other, they repel—but actually, they attract! This has been such an impediment in the progress of physics because of the natural presumption that two like charges go apart, when in actuality they come together.
HG: What do charges have to do with our health?
GP: We are all negatively charged. Every chemist will tell you it is impossible that anything can carry net charge but we have a lot of evidence to the contrary. People have measured our electrical potential, and the same with fruits, vegetables and plants. They are all negatively charged. Charge is really critical. Charge seems to be correlated with health, but we don’t have firm evidence. If you measure individual cells—this is in the literature, people know this—a healthy, robust cell will have plenty of negative charge. If you measure the electrical potential, it might be close to 100 millivolts (mV), one tenth of a volt. However, it has been found that cancer cells, for example, instead of being -100 or -80 mV, are -15 mV. I’ve seen papers about pathological kidney cells that also are -10 or -15 mV instead of -80 to -100 mV. This is a real clue. We used to do experiments sticking electrodes into cells. Typically, they might have been -80 or -90 mV. We knew that when it was going from -80 to -70, -60, -40, and so on, the cell was about to die. The more negative charge the cell has, the more negative charge you have, and the healthier you are. Think about the implications of this. What gives rise to this negative charge? The physiologist will tell you something about the membrane, pumps, channels and such. In my previous book, Cells, Gels and the Engines of Life, I describe the reasons why that explanation is incorrect. Now we know what is correct. What’s correct is that if the cell is full of negatively charged water, then the cell itself is negatively charged. Take a container and throw in some negatively charged stuff—of course it is going to be negatively charged. No brainer. However, if you find that the cell is not sufficiently negatively charged, you have to say, “What’s the reason for this? How come?” Think of the logic. If the negative charge comes from the water and there isn’t enough negative charge, there must not be enough water. In other words, you are dehydrated. You don’t have enough EZ water. That’s why connecting yourself to the earth, or going into the sauna or drinking water containing negative charge are all central to your health.
HG: Does regular water have enough of a negative charge to help the EZ water itself?
GP: It doesn’t help a whole lot, but all of this needs to be objectively tested. We would like to do that, but the granting agencies are not thinking along those lines. Their framework is, “Water is just water, it isn’t important.” Testing the health benefits of certain waters is not so interesting to them. We’ve tried several times, but to do a study properly, we would need several million dollars. There are so many experiments that need to be done to test and see which waters are best for your health. It’s a hypothesis at this time, but I think that what you really want, at least theoretically, is water that contains a lot of EZ fourth-phase water. You can’t take a glass of EZ water, that doesn’t exist, but you can find water that contains some EZ fraction. We hypothesize that the higher the fraction, the better it is for your health because you are replacing the EZ water that is missing from your cells. Because the water has negative charge, it restores the negativity of your cells. You can probably also get that by earthing (grounding) or in the sauna. To digress a bit, hyperbaric oxygen therapy may also be helpful.
HG: Please say more about that.
GP: It works. A postdoctoral fellow of mine got a job with one of those hyperbaric oxygen therapy companies after he left my laboratory. He started to educate me on it. He said that hyperbaric oxygen therapy was first used by the military. People would have wounds that would not heal, no matter what they did. They put them in this hyperbaric oxygen chamber and they healed. Since then, they’ve found that hyperbaric oxygen is good for so many afflictions. We started scratching our heads: “Why is that?” A hypothesis is that the high oxygen and the pressure may build EZ water. We studied this in the lab and published a paper documenting that it is absolutely true. And if you build EZ water, it should improve the function of every organ in your body, at least in theory. This brings me to aspirin.
A lot of people do take aspirin. It’s natural. It comes from the bark of a willow tree, I think. The list of aspirin’s benefits is long. We know that if you have a headache, it takes away your headache. If you have inflammation, it reduces that. It reduces pain and can address allergic reactions. Many studies also show that it is good for your heart. Just last year, a group from Harvard reported that taking aspirin was associated with decreased breast cancer mortality in women with breast cancer. It seems that aspirin may have broad beneficial effects.
The question is, why? If you think about it, there are two possibilities. One is that aspirin has ten different mechanisms of action for ten different conditions. Alternatively, one mechanism of action may be dispersed throughout the body. We hypothesized that aspirin builds EZ water and can build EZ water everywhere, not just in your left kidney or whatever. When we tested this hypothesis in the laboratory, we confirmed that aspirin indeed builds EZ water. Our system for testing involved adding a little aspirin in the exclusion zone, or fourth-phase water. The aspirin increased the EZ water by a factor of two or three. We started testing other agents that are generally good for your health, and so far, they all build EZ water.
HG: This is so interesting. The fourth phase of water is an unusual concept for those of us who don’t run in your circles What has been the reaction among your colleagues and peers, meaning scientists, physicists, and so on?
GP: Their reaction has been surprisingly positive. I have been doing science my whole life, and I have a tendency to look into areas that may disagree with conventional thinking. My reasoning is that if you are doing research in areas where conventional thinking is okay, why bother? Instead, you might want to look into areas where there may be some difficulties or problems with conventional thinking. That said, I know very well what happens when you propose something that runs against the orthodoxy. You take hell for it, and it manifests itself in many different ways. I expected chemists and physicists to jump all over this work, but to my surprise there have been far fewer negative responses than I expected. On the other hand, the number of people who have embraced this work is staggering. This has become so popular I almost can’t believe it! I tell my wife how many emails I’m receiving from people I’ve never heard of. About a year ago, it was two or three new people per week, and now it’s two or three new people per day. I can’t handle all of the inquiries. It is gratifying though. I think there are more than eighty reviews on Amazon, and the response has been amazing. The published reviews of the book that I’ve seen are all glowing. What can I say? I’m really pleased with the response and the unexpected popularity of this work.
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2017.