THE INTRODUCTIONFoundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine:
Hydrogen, #1 on the periodic table, is the simplest and lightest element, consisting of just one electron and one proton. It is also the most abundant element in the universe, the stuff of stars, nebulas, and gas giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn.
On Earth, however, hydrogen rarely exists in molecular form. Hydrogen gas (referred to as H2 because each molecule has two atoms of hydrogen) is so light that it easily escapes our planet’s gravitational pull. And since hydrogen reacts with nearly all other elements, it mostly exists in chemical compound form, such as water, oil, and gas, millions of natural and synthetic chemicals, as well as other organic compounds essential for life.
Hydrogen water can be generated by electrolysis (passing an electrical current through water), which splits H2O into O2 and H2 and dissolves it in the water. Water “ionizers,” which sell for thousands of dollars and are supposed to make “alkaline,” “structured,” or “microclustered” water, actually derive their benefits from the molecular hydrogen they produce.
But there’s a more convenient and effective way to make H2 water. Dunking metallic magnesium in water produces a chemical reaction that breaks the bonds in water molecules and yields molecular hydrogen.
H2 is an antioxidant, a free radical quencher that selectively scavenges the most dangerous and destructive hydroxyl radicals. Hydroxyl radicals initiate their cycle of destruction by stealing electrons from molecules in DNA, proteins, and fats, destabilizing them and setting off a chain reaction of oxidative stress. H2 readily gives up electrons to hydroxyl radicals, which stabilizes them and stops them in their tracks. It also reduces the toxicity of peroxynitrite, another destructive oxidant, and further boosts the body’s defenses by increasing production of natural antioxidants such as glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase.
Ohsawa et al. "Hydrogen acts as a therapeutic antioxidant by selectively reducing cytotoxic oxygen radicals." Nature Medicine. 07/2007; 13(6):688-94. doi: 10.1038/nm1577.
Shen M, et al. "Hydrogen as a novel and effective treatment of acute carbon monoxide poisoning." Medical Hypotheses. 2010 Aug;75(2):235-7. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2010.02.029.
Schoenfeld et al. "A hypothesis on biological protection from space radiation through the use of new therapeutic gases as medical counter measures." Medical Gas Research, 2012. 2:8. doi: 10.1186/2045-9912-2-8.
Nakao et al. "Effectiveness of Hydrogen Rich Water on Antioxidant Status of Subjects with Potential Metabolic Syndrome—An Open Label Pilot Study." J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2010 Mar; 46(2): 140–149. doi: 10.3164/jcbn.09-100.
H2 has beneficial effects on cell signaling and gene expression. It suppresses TNF-alpha and other proteins involved in inflammation and turns on mechanisms that protect against cell death. The small molecules are able to diffuse through cellular membranes, enter the mitochondria and nucleus of cells, cross the blood-brain barrier, and exert their positive effects in tissues and organs throughout the body. But because H2 is selective, it does not scavenge essential redox signaling radicals that play a key role as cellular messengers, especially in the innate immune system.
Shigeo Ohta. "Molecular hydrogen as a preventive and therapeutic medical gas: initiation, development and potential of hydrogen medicine." Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Volume 144, Issue 1, October 2014, Pages 1–11. doi:10.1016/j.pharmthera.2014.04.006.
Zhai et al. "Review and prospect of the biomedical effects of hydrogen." Medical Gas Research 2014, 4:19. doi: 10.1186/s13618-014-0019-6.
Shigeo Ohta. "Recent Progress Toward Hydrogen Medicine: Potential of Molecular Hydrogen for Preventive and Therapeutic Applications." Curr Pharm Des. 2011 Jul; 17(22): 2241–2252. doi: 10.2174/138161211797052664.
Brandon J Dixon, Jiping Tang and John H Zhang. "The evolution of molecular hydrogen: a noteworthy potential therapy with clinical significance." Medical Gas Research, 2013, 3:10. doi: 10.1186/2045-9912-3-10.
Recent studies show that H2-infused water increases the production of a hormone called ghrelin. Secreted in the stomach, ghrelin is best known for stimulating appetite, but it also boosts growth hormone release and has protective effects in the brain, vascular system, liver, and elsewhere.
Mark McCarthy. "Potential ghrelin-mediated benefits and risks of hydrogen water." Medical Hypotheses. Volume 84, Issue 4, April 2015, Pages 350–355. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2015.01.018.
THE VERDICTThere's potential.
» Molecular Hydrogen Foundation: Studies