HotAIR - MAY WE RECOMMEND -- Healthy Holy Water


Healthy Holy Water

Items that merit your attention

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, AIR staff

Scientists fascinated by water

Holy water is a simple variant of a chemical compound composed of two parts hydrogen to one part oxygen that has long fascinated scientists. A report by Doug Payne of Dublin, Ireland, in the January 27, 2001 issue (vol. 322, p. 190) of the British Medical Journal brings new information as to the health effects of this remarkable fluid. Payne found that:

Three 14 year old girls from County Kildare were the latest to examine fonts at local churches after one of them developed a rash on her forehead after blessing herself with holy water. Tiny green worms about half a centimetre long turned up in one font they tested while large quantities of dirt showed up in others.

The is, of course, but the latest in a series of such investigations by the scientific community.

Payne describes other recent work. The earlier work, though is ignored only at one's peril. We at the Annals of Improbable Research recommend several of the more pungent reports.

Holy Tlacote

First up is "Amebiasis from the 'Miraculous water of Tlacote,'" Sharon L. Reed, Charles E. Davis, and Horacio Jinich, The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 332, no. 10, March 1995, pp. 687-88. (Thanks to Doris Tuke for bringing this to our attention.) The author warns pilgrims not to drink holy water at the religious shrine in Tlacote, Mexico, lest they suffer a disease-causing amoebal infection.

Holy Hospital

Next is the classic "Holy water—a risk factor for hospital-acquired infection," J.C. Rees and K.D. Allen, Journal of Hospital Infection, vol. 32, no. 1, January 1996, pp. 51-5. (Thanks to Danielle Chung for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, who are at Whiston Hospital, Prescot, Merseyside, UK, explain:

A case of hospital-acquired infection due to Acinetobacter baumanii in a burns patient after exposure to holy water is described. In order to assess the infection risk, 13 samples of holy water were cultured for bacteria, (including legionellae) and yeasts. Viable bacterial counts ranged from 1.3 x 103—3.8 x 108 cfu/L (mean 3.1 x 107 cfu/L). A wide range of bacterial species was isolated including Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter spp. Escherichia coli and Aeromonas hydrophila. Candida spp. were isolated from two samples, but legionellae from none. Holy water would, therefore, seem to be a potential risk factor for hospital-acquired infection.

Holy Radishes

Finally (for now), may we recommend the seminal work that can and must be described as "inspirational":

"Effects of Holy Water on the Growth of Radish Plants," Sandra Lenington, Psychological
, vol. 45, 1979, pp. 381-2. (Thanks to David Johnson for bringing this to our attention.)
The author states that she undertook this research to disprove prior claims that Holy Water
has an effect on the growth of radish plants. She reports success in doing so.

Repository of Knowledge

Inquiries as to the public health effects of holy water should be addressed to the US Food and Drug Administration.

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