A Scottish mineral water may help reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, research suggests.
Arthritis is a common condition
A study, in the journal General Practice, of 35 patients found lower levels of inflammation among those that drank Deeside mineral water every day.
Researchers at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary said three-quarters of patients reported 'significant benefit'.
However, experts say the boost may have come from standard therapies the patients were also taking.
Deeside mineral water flows from Pannanich Wells, a spring near the royal estate of Balmoral.
It is believed to have been a favourite of Queen Victoria, and has long been famed for its healing powers, supposedly helping to treat rheumatism, skin conditions and stomach complaints.
The researchers, led by Dr David Galloway, believe the water's low alkaline and mineral content may help to reduce inflammation.
The water originates from close to the Balmoral estate
In the three-month study, the patients continued with their usual medication, but also drank a litre of Deeside a day.
Not only did the researchers record signs of reduced levels of inflammation, 15 of the patients reported reduced aches and pains, and a general improvement in their sense of wellbeing.
Martin Simpson, managing director of the Deeside Water Company, stressed that his product was not a "miracle cure".
But he said: "It produces these positive effects because of unusual natural characteristics."
The water is filtered through layers of ancient granite for 50 years, and some believe this is the process that makes it so beneficial for health.
Dr Madeleine Devey, of the Arthritis Research Campaign, said she was "extremely dubious" about the findings.
She said any benefits could have been down to the drugs patients were taking, and pointed out that rheumatoid arthritis was a 'relapsing-remitting' disease with fluctuating symptoms.
She told BBC News Online: "Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious disease, and if I had it I would not be taking mineral water to try to treat it - we now have very effective drugs."
Neil Betteridge, of Arthritis Care, said it would be very difficult to prove it was the water, and not the drugs that was having the greatest effect.
He said: "There are a whole range of things - including some food oils - that are believed to have a mild anti-inflammatory quality, but so far the evidence base for any of these substances is pretty marginal."