JING ORB: Electric water woo boogaloo

Remember David Avocado Wolfe, who seems these days just to go by the name David Wolfe? He’s basically a poor man’s Mike Adams, an all-around quack and antivaxer peddling unproven supplements and misinformation about health. I first discovered him nearly four years ago, when I characterized him as man who appears to be challenging Deepak Chopra and Bruce Lipton for the title of most annoying mystical quack in the world, but haven’t really paid much attention to him since. The reason, I suspect, is that he’s really not that unusual in terms of the mysticism, pseudoscience, and quackery that he peddles. After all, if he hasn’t produced something that’s caught my attention other than chiming in on Erin Elizabeth’s bizarre conspiracy theory about alternative medicine practitioners being murdered by the nefarious forces of big pharma, he’s just not that noteworthy. He needed to up his game, and now it appears that he might just have done that with some woo worthy of a Friday. Enter the Jing Orb. (Or should I say “JING ORB,” given that Wolfe capitalizes its name everywhere on the website where he’s selling it.

So what is the JING ORB? Well, let’s go straight to the source:

The JING ORB is a breakthrough health technology designed to recharge your body’s “biological batteries” and in so doing, promote overall wellness by allowing the body to heal itself more efficiently by increasing the JING energy in your body.

To understand how the JING ORB works, think of each cell in your body as a miniature battery… and just like batteries, when your cells don’t have enough charge, they don’t function properly.

Which is where the JING ORB comes in.

By using the JING ORB you are increasing the charge on every cell!

In fact, research has shown how this technology has beneficially increased the cellular charge!

More specifically, the JING ORB is designed to create water-mediated bio energy from electromagnetic energy (electricity). It does this by creating a very safe and specific electromagnetic field in water.

The result is a biological jump start to the battery of your cells.

Here’s a video describing the JING ORB:

Jing Orb Mp4 v1 from Michael Stern on Vimeo.

Ah, the whole “cells as little batteries” trope. It’s a trope that has a grain of truth to it in that our cells do maintain an electrical gradient across some of their membranes and use the energy in that gradient to do work. For instance, mitochondria maintain a proton gradient across their membranes generated by a process of oxidative phosphorylation that is used to generate ATP, the main “energy molecule” of cells whose chemical energy is released when one of the phosphate groups is released. (Biochemists: I know this is simplistic, but, come on, I don’t have to do a whole treatise on cellular respiration and oxidative phosphorylation when deconstructing marvelously quacky woo like the JING ORB. Another form of electrochemical energy is generated by a membrane protein called the sodium pump (or, more correctly, the Na+/K+ ATPase), which cleaves ATP to generate energy to pump sodium ions out of and potassium ions into the cell. For every three Na+ ions pumped out, two K+ ions are pumped in, thus producing an electrochemical gradient that leaves a resting potential that the cell can use for various energy-requiring processes, such as active transport of nutrients like glucose and amino acids. This resting potential is used for many other processes, such as signaling , controlling cell volume, and sending signals along nerves, but you don’t need to know all the details to get the idea.

Quacks love the idea of likening cells to a battery, which can sometimes be a useful metaphor to describe some processes, but just because cells convert chemical energy to electrochemical gradients and batteries convert chemical energy to electricity does not mean that cells are batteries and that, like lithium ion battery, for instance, you can just charge them up when their electrochemical energy is low by running electricity through them or that you can just apply magic water treated with electricity by the JING ORB and have it “recharge your cells.” Yes, that’s basically what the JING ORB is. Before I look at the nonsense that is used to justify this device, let’s look at its claims.

First, what is jing? Basically, it means “essence” (specifically kidney essence) and in the quackery that is traditional Chinese medicine. Along with qì and shén, jing is considered one of the Three Treasures of TCM. Jing is said to be stored in the kidneys and to be the carrier of heritage. Supposedly jing circulates through the eight extraordinary vessels and creates marrow, semen, and serves other functions. So, basically, the JING ORB is supposed to enhance your jing, whatever that means.

The device itself consists of a fancy-looking generator with a small screen on it. The box housing the generator is adorned with illustrations of DNA double helices, a TCM illustration, and David Wolfe’s logo. There’s a power switch, a start button, and an output jack for a cable to connect to the second part of the unit, the “orb.” The orb is a plastic sphere that houses electrodes. That’s basically it. You plug the orb into the generator, place the orb in water, turn it on, and voilà You have magic water. Particularly hilarious is this video of an applied kinesiologist testing JING ORB “enhanced” water. Applied kinesiology, of course, is utter quackery that claims you can diagnose problems through the connection of various muscles with specific organs and that specific muscle weakness can signal distant internal problems. For instance, pectoralis muscle weakness is supposedly associated with liver failure. Placing “bad” substances in a patient’s mouth or on one of his limbs will cause specific muscles to become weak. You can get an idea just watching this video (if you can stand it). Early on, she has a man hold water, which supposedly causes his other arm to become stronger. Then he holds a bottle of vodka, and suddenly that arm goes weak.:

Penelope and Sally Jing Orb charged water Kineseology Test from Michael Stern on Vimeo.

Did you also know that the JING ORB can “energize” water specifically to an individual’s “vibrations”? This is hilariously “demonstrated” when the AK quack shows water attuned specifically to an individual caused weakness while water attuned to that individual resulted in strength. (Don’t these quacks even bother to try to blind their “patient” to what the water is?) The way you make magic water attuned to you is to use the JING ORB while you are in contact with the water. However, if you use the JING ORB in water that no one’s in contact with the water, you get magic water that can “energize” anyone!

Yes, it’s amazingly hilariously nonsensical woo! But what is it based on? Wolfe’s website claims there’s actual science (ma-an!) behind it. Two studies are cited, neither particularly persuasive. One study tested cell culture media made using a dilute saline solution to reconstitute the media. In one group, the saline was charged by the magic device compared; in the other group it was untreated saline. I note that the study was unblinded. The authors claim to have found a change in growth and gene expression related to a “dielectrophoretic disassociation of the chloride ion from its chloro-metabolites transforming it into a polymorphic diamagnetically disassociated bio-chloride.” Let’s just say that I’m less than impressed and that, even if the results were as the authors claim, that’s a long way from saying that running a current through water (which, by the way, contains nowhere near amount of sodium that this saline solution used to reconstitute the media contained) “recharges” your cells. The second study was another cell culture study and equally useless for proving any sort of clinical benefit. Both studies are by Marcy Cain Purnell, faculty at the College of Nursing at the University of Memphis, and Terence J. Skrinjar, and appear to be his only two publications indexed in PubMed.

Based on these papers, Wolfe makes these claims:

When proteins are made from DNA, they are initially produced as a string of amino acids…actually the DNA code is translated as instructions to make a series of amino acids that make up the protein. The amino acids are produced similar to a string of beads on a necklace. The function of the protein does not begin until this string of amino acids fold into a three-dimensional structure. This very specific structure is what gives the protein its unique ability.

The process where these chains of amino acids fold into three dimensional proteins occurs in the cell in a place called the Endoplasmic Reticulum (ER). This process is like an assembly line. When things go wrong with this folding process the cell detects a problem and tries to fix the problem. This causes stress as it slows or stops the assembly line. This stress is called ER Stress and activates a signalling network called the unfolded protein response (UPR). This could be likened to what would occur at a highway on- ramp. If traffic on the highway backs up, then the on-ramp traffic backs up and actions are taken to try to correct the problem creating the traffic jam.

This UPR is associated with many health challenges. The cell simply cannot function optimally while under ER Stress.

They found a significant reduction in ER Stress in the cells exposed to this technology.

Oh, goody. Quacks have discovered protein folding and ER stress. I predict much woo, just as when autism quacks discovered redox pathways and mitochondrial disease.

Wolfe opines:

The best way to understand this technology is to experience it. Sessions, whether it is as foot bath, only having one hand in the water, or full immersion in a bath tub, last for 35 minutes.

Even though we describe the results as “charging your cell’s battery”, its use is relaxing and revitalizing without any sense of stimulation you would expect from coffee, for example.

We heartily encourage you to enjoy a session and welcome you to feel how restorative having enhanced JING can be.

I wonder if it removes “toxins,” like ionic footbaths. (That’s sarcasm, in case someone who believes in this nonsense is reading.)

So how much does this wonder device cost? $100? $500? Oh, you of such trust! You seriously underestimate the level of David Wolfe’s grift. If you want the JING ORB, it’ll set you back at least $2,495 ($2,995 if you want the JING ORB Professional model). And shipping isn’t even free! So what does an extra $500 get you for the professional version? From what I can tell, you get two JING ORBs to go with your power unit, and you get 40 replacement discs for the electrode. Discs, you ask? Oh, yes. Like any good grift, there are consumables:

And the cost? A mere $129 for a ten-pack! Yes, electrolysis of water is hard on those electrodes; so buy in bulk! After all, you want to be able to troubleshoot:

The JING ORB appears to be just a rebranded version of something called the Body Recharger, or maybe the Body Recharger is a rebranded version of the JING ORB. Who knows?

I also don’t want to claim that the use of electrical current is not beneficial. It might be in some applications. Using the JING ORB to charge water to “recharge” your cells is not one of them. I do thank David Wolfe for giving me a good chuckle on a Friday, though.