What is Molecular Hydrogen?
Did you know that hydrogen is the most abundant and the lightest element in the Universe? In various forms, bound to other elements and ions, hydrogen performs many different functions in the body. As a neutral molecule (H2) it has an amazing ability to help essentially every organ in the body to stay healthy.
Photo source: NASA
Why we need to know about molecular hydrogen: Studies and Research
In 2007 H2 gained much attention after an article published in a prestigious scientific journal, Nature Medicine. (1) The article suggested that H2 can be considered a novel strategic antioxidant, helping reduce inflammation in the body's tissues (in cell's mitochondria - its energy factory) and can be used as an effective antioxidant therapy.
It also highlighted that H2 can quickly diffuse across various membranes to get to a specific organ. For example, because of its small size, it can get through the protective blood brain barrier right into the brain where it reduces inflammation. In other words, it can protect against oxidative damage (too much oxygen = rusting, ageing) caused by free radicals most toxic to the cell.
Today there are over 700 articles and studies; some of them abstracts but majority double-blind placebo controlled clinical studies. To date we know of around 45 human studies as well as those on various tissues and animals.
They show two very important things:
1/that there's no "over hydrogen effect" on the body; and
2/ that H2 has a therapeutic potential in essentially every organ of the human body and in 150 different human disease models. (2) (Skin, joints, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, colon cancer etc.... but also during sports performance)
Vast majority of these studies have been done at University/researcher level.
The most professional study done on colon cancer was colon 26-induced cancer with administration of 5-fluorouracil, a chemotherapy drug in mice. (4) It showed that H2 had a very strong anticancer-like activity.
Some diabetes mellitus studies looked at what happens in the body from the lipid and glucose metabolism perspective when hydrogen's supplied. Consuming water enriched with H2 showed reductions in risks associated with both diabetes mellitus type 1 and 2. "The consumption of 1 liter of hydrogen rich water per day has lead to stabilised serum glucose levels, reductions in LDL cholesterol, reductions in reactive oxygen species (ROS), inflammation reduction, weight loss, and in some cases complete reversal of metabolic syndrome." (5)
Other H2 studies were done on bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and autism. It was found that H2 stimulates ghrelin production. This hormone plays neuroprotective roles and it's beneficial for the recovery of memory, mood and cognitive dysfunction after stroke or traumatic brain injury. (6)
The topic of gut health's gaining more and more attention due to its important function related to immunity and health in general. It's been shown that molecular hydrogen is an integral part of the digestive tract and the intestine. (more below)
Four ways of getting more H2
1/ Our own hydrogen factory (the gut): The body's designed to produce 10 litres of molecular hydrogen per day. In order for this to work, we have to have the right bacteria strains and eat fibre rich foods. When these foods are broken down the E. coli present in the intestinal tract will eat them. As a by-product of this process (flatulence) we end up with hydrogen, methane and a number of gases. The H2 produced in our gut then can get in through in intestinal tract into the body to reduce oxidative stress.
2/ Drinking water with dissolved H2 gas is the most effective and most accessible method of administration to get additional therapeutic dose of molecular hydrogen which gets absorbed in the intestinal tract / the gut.
3/ Breathing in (inhalation) the hydrogen gas is also an option. It's aimed to get through the lungs and the blood very quickly to get to the brain faster.
4/ Topically through skin through bathing in water enriched with hydrogen aiming to skin repair.
Is there such thing as too much H2?
When deep diving, for example, we know that a higher percentage of H2 is being taking in to the body. On the other hand, H2 dissolved in water, which is what the studies mainly use, is present at 1 or 1 1/2 part per million (or a thousand parts per billion). Although it's a very small amount of the liquid you're drinking, it's very powerful from a therapeutic perspective.
Are there any negative side effects from taking H2?
All studies to date show no negative impact to the body.
Summary of therapeutic benefits of molecular hydrogen: (7)
Cell protective and anti-ageing
Converts cell damaging free radicals into water
Helps the body lower oxidative stress
Helps lower cholesterol levels
Protects against radiation damage
Helps with reducing glucose intolerance
Stimulates energy metabolism to prevent weight gain
Supports cognitive function
May help prevent erectile dysfunction
May help prevent age related decline in cognitive capacity
Decreases lactate (lactic acid) build up during exercise
Supports skin health
Watch a video interview with Veronika A. Divincova and Paul Barattiero discussing the benefits of molecular hydrogen:
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You might also like our next blog post called How to produce Molecular Hydrogen.
Disclaimer: Our aim is to share the above information to help you feel more empowered, make more useful choices, to encourage you to focus on prevention and solutions to stay healthy and increase your resilience and joy of living. This article is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
2) sourced from www.molecularhydrogenfoundation.org
5) N. L. Darnell: Electrochemically Activated Solutions: Potential New Tools in the Management of Diabetes and its Complications, Date: 9/21/2013, Version: 1.6.