Black water's health claims are murky

Providence Health Team

Black water gets its color from fulvic acid.

Proponents say the water detoxifies and promotes nutrient absorption but there are no scientific reviews to back up those claims.

Plain water is always a great choice.

Black water may sound completely unappealing to drink, but believe it or not, it is being touted as one of the latest health fads. If you’re not thrilled by the prospect of consuming something that looks like sludge, you’ll be relieved to know that the health claims don’t hold water.

“People are just making money on all this stuff; it’s just somebody selling something,” cautions Terese Scollard, RDN, regional clinical nutrition manager and a registered dietitian nutritionist with Providence Health & Services in Portland, Oregon.

Black water gets its color from fulvic acid. This compound is produced when plant matter decomposes and is found in dirt, coal, streams and other natural sources. Purportedly, fulvic acid supplies black water with antioxidants, electrolytes and minerals, allowing the body to allegedly detoxify itself and maximize nutrient absorption. However, there are no peer-reviewed scientific studies to back up these claims. Scollard advises that you should look for the research behind any diet-related fad. 

“Be skeptical,” she says. “Many things jump from a small scientific review without the proper research. For many things, if they worked as directly as they claimed, they would already be in the mainstream.”

Black water is the latest in a line of waters that come with different buzzwords and health claims. However, water is already a pretty perfect beverage as is, Scollard says. “Everybody puts something in water to try and sell it,” she says. “Plain water is just fine, and it’s pretty cheap, too.”

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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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