Drinking Water On An Empty Stomach: Japanese Water Therapy, What Science Says and More

See What Happens When You Drink Water On An Empty Stomach

A lot has been written about the health benefits of drinking water. Each day we lose large amounts of water from sweating, breathing, urine and stool, and this water loss must be replaced daily to maintain a proper function of our body. When your water intake is below your water output, you can become dehydrated.

Our body is composed of about 60% water, so maintaining an adequate amount of water in our body has a great importance: it helps energize our muscles, helps the kidneys flush out waste and toxins, helps maintain normal bowel function, helps to maintain a good looking skin, and even helps to control calories as a substitute to higher calorie beverages and to make you feel fuller for longer. (1)

Many people kick-start the day with a glass of warm lemon water every morning, and I’ve already discussed in length the scientific studies regarding the many health benefits of drinking lemon water.

It is claimed that morning water therapy is an established practice in ancient traditions too. In this article I’ll discuss Japanese water therapy, and a similar tradition in Ayurvedic medicine, and whether these practices are supported by research.

What Is Japanese Water Therapy?

Some websites claim that Japanese water therapy is well established in the Land of the Rising Sun. They claim that Japanese people have known this simple practice for a long time and have used it to cure different conditions, ranging from headache to cancer.

According to Japanese tradition, water therapy can be used as a natural treatment for many health conditions including diabetes, gastritis, headache, asthma, bronchitis, arthritis, epilepsy, heart problems, tuberculosis, kidney and urine diseases, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, hemorrhoids, eye diseases, ear nose and throat diseases, problems with the uterus, cancer and menstrual disorders.

How Japanese water therapy is performed?

The practice should be performed first thing in the morning, and according to various sources should include the following:

  1. Before brushing your teeth, drink 640 ml (4 glasses of 160 ml) of water. Ideally, the water shouldn’t contain fluoride.
  2. Brush and clean your mouth, but don’t eat or drink anything for another 45 minutes.
  3. Have your breakfast as normal.
  4. After breakfast, don’t eat anything for 2 hours.

According to the original Japanese tradition, the water should be slightly warm, and not cold or at a room temperature. In the Far East, people usually don’t drink cold water with their meals. Instead, warm tea is offered.

How often should you drink water on an empty stomach?

According to the Japanese tradition, the practice of drinking water on an empty stomach should be done regularly, and different time frames are predicted to treat, improve or control different conditions:

  1. High blood pressure – 30 days
  2. Diabetes – 30 days
  3. Gastritis – 10 days
  4. Constipation – 10 days
  5. Tuberculosis – 90 days
  6. Cancer – 180 days
  7. People who suffer from arthritis should do the therapy for only three days in their first week, and then progress to a daily treatment.

It is suggested that if you initially struggle to drink such a large amount of fluids first thing in the morning, start with a smaller amount and then gradually increase to 4 glasses.

Is There Any Research to Support The Japanese Water Therapy?

There is no scientific research that supports the many health claims of the Japanese water therapy, and this has led many people to believe that this is a hoax.

Some of the diseases that the Japanese water therapy claims to treat are serious and cannot be treated easily even with advanced conventional medicine, so claiming that water alone can treat all these diseases is a total deception and can give false hope to cancer patients, for example, who are already in a difficult situation.

Similar Tradition In India

Other websites mention a similar tradition which is also known in India. In Sanskrit, the practice is called Usha Paana Chikitsa, which roughly translates as ‘early morning water treatment’. The difference is that the Indian (Ayurvedic) version recommends drinking 1.5 liters of water on an empty stomach!

As with the Japanese water therapy, there is no scientific evidence about the advantages or disadvantages of this therapy.

Why Drinking Too Much Water Can Be Harmful?

Some people warn against a rapid consumption of such a big amount of water like in the Indian water therapy. They claim that our kidneys can only process 800 to 1,000 ml of water per hour, so drinking too much water can be dangerous.

Also, a condition known as hyponatremia (water intoxication) can develop. This occurs when your bloodstream sodium levels are too low. According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, hyponatremia can be due to a personal medical condition, but excess water consumption also leads to it. (2)

At low levels the condition is harmless. If your kidneys cannot keep up with excess water intake, the extra water will dilute the concentration of sodium. In acute hyponatremia, sodium levels drop rapidly, leading to dangerous effects, such as coma, seizure or even death. (2, 3)

Drinking too much water can be equally as dangerous as not drinking enough. A study from 2003 talks about fatal water intoxication and states that this condition is not well recognized in the medical literature. This is because the early stages of this condition may go unrecognized when the patient may have symptoms of confusion, nausea and vomiting, as well as changes in mental state, so early diagnosis is essential to prevent severe hyponatremia. (4)

While over-consumption of water is an unusual cause of death, and in easier cases may only cause headache, confusion, nausea and vomiting, drinking excess water doesn’t have such a magical effect, and drinking water alone is certainly not the solution to arthritis, diabetes and cancer.

However drinking water certainly has many benefits as we all know. We’ve all heard the advice to drink 8 glasses a day, however your individual water needs depend on many factors, such as your health, level of activity and environment. (5)

Related articles:

Healthy and Natural World