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Miraculous Water is Just Bad Science

When I was a kid I became fascinated by the “water from Queretaro” (Tlacote, Mexico) when my most admired basketball hero Magic Johnson, after being diagnosed with HIV, made a pilgrimage to the well to drink the magical water that could allegedly cure any and every disease on Earth. Buses full of sick tourists from around the world lined up to enter the compound where the well was (for a fee of course), but the magical water did not help Magic, or anyone else. By contrast, thanks to advanced anti-retroviral drugs developed by real scientists at real medical research facilities, Magic Johnson is living a normal healthy life.

Many thousands of miles from Queretaro is the Kaaba at Mecca, the holiest place in the world for 1.6 billion Muslims. The famous Zamzam Water (ZW) well is located 20 meters east of the Kaaba. The ancient well is believed by faithful Muslims to contain holy water that can cure any and every disease. But, unlike the water at the Queretaro well, Muslim researchers have taken their belief a step further, producing a series of pseudoscientific papers “demonstrating” the healing properties of ZW. Here I will review the available data regarding the use and composition of ZW, as well as the quality of the evidence showing putative therapeutic properties.

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