When I first came across a “wonder” product called ASEA on the web, I thought someone had come up with a clever parody. The Internet of course is full of of ads for supplements, drinks and gimmicks of every conceivable variety that promise to keep us out of the clutches of the grim reaper. There are extracts of exotic berries and herbs. There are miraculous minerals and mushrooms. There are oxygenated and magnetized waters. And then there is ASEA.
The product’s name derives from the word “sea” and the Latin prefix “a” meaning “from.” From the sea! A very appropriate name. The ingredients on the label tell the story. Distilled water and salt! What we have here is sea water! That’s why I thought this was a parody. Selling salt water as an anti-aging regimen? Isn’t that sort of like selling ice to Arctic explorers? I thought someone was making fun of all the nonsensical products being sold. But it turns out that is not the case. This is a real product, sold for very real money. Lots of very real money.
Asea is promoted in ads as “Time machine in a bottle,” the message obviously being that imbibing in this salt water will turn back the clock. Of course you can’t make any such claim on the product itself because that would require some sort of evidence, so the bottle simply says, “advancing life.” A nebulous, meaningless statement. I suppose one could say that since salt is essential to life, it does advance life. But if you are going to make a case for selling salt water as a rejuvenation therapy, you have to come up with something a bit more impressive than “advancing life.” So what claim did ASEA come up with? “The world’s only Redox Signaling supplement.”
Someone must have been reading the scientific literature and came across “redox signaling,” an interesting and evolving area of research. Our nerve cells communicate with each other through chemicals called neurotransmitters. Some of these chemical messengers are free radicals, which are highly reactive species that can either gain or loose electrons, or in proper terminology, take part in oxidation or reduction reactions. The term redox signaling is used when the chemical messengers between cells are free radicals. What this has to do with ASEA is a mystery. And we don’t get much help from the information on the label which states that “ASEA is a proprietary blend of naturally occurring reactive molecules derived from a patented redox balance process. This unique process rearranges the constituent components into a beneficial mixture that is critical to to proper balanced cellular chemistry enabling the immune system to function at its optimum level.” This is nothing more than meaningless double talk. What reactive molecules are they talking about? The only ingredient listed is salt.
I thought that perhaps I could learn something about the mysterious chemistry involved by watching the company’s video entitled “The Science Behind Asea.” Turned out to be nothing more than a comic series of testimonials about improved mood and energy. Of course you can get testimonials about anything either by hiring actors to play the role of satisfied customers or by interviewing people who are experiencing a placebo effect. I’m still not convinced that this whole thing didn’t start out as a joke by someone wondering if they could sell something as ridiculous as salt water as a health product. They found it worked, and now they are in the business that amounts to selling hair dye to bald people. What I have to say to people promoting ASEA is “see ya.”