Think of molecular hydrogen (H2) as the Napoleon of molecules, small but tenacious, leading a revolution in the way antioxidant supplements battle everything from diabetes to cancerous tumors. And while this hydrogen warrior has been around awhile, it’s just now coming into its own.
Actually, the medicinal properties of molecular hydrogen appear to have been touted as early as 1798. But it wasn’t until 1975, when Science published a Baylor University study on H2 as a possible treatment for cancer that the mainstream scientific community took notice. Then in 2007, molecular hydrogen’s profile ascended to a new level with a study published in Nature Medicine, which demonstrated H2’s selective antioxidant properties.
Since then, there have been hundreds of articles on molecular hydrogen’s therapeutic potential. Research links H2 to helping battle more than five dozen diseases, primarily by reducing oxidative stress, one of the major causes of most lifestyle-related diseases, cancers, and the aging process.
Still never heard of molecular hydrogen (H2)? Here are some basics to help you get started:
6 Most Asked Questions About Molecular Hydrogen (H2)
1. How do you take it?
There are several ways to get molecular hydrogen into your system including drinking hydrogen infused water, inhalation, taking an H2 bath, or putting H2-saline into the eyes. The easiest and probably most efficient method is by simply dropping an H2 tablet in water and then drinking it. In all cases, molecular hydrogen (H2) easily enters the bloodstream and is transported throughout the body.
Nationally recognized sports nutritionist, strength, and conditioning coach Brandon Mentore says molecular hydrogen can be applied directly to areas of the body where injury and pain occur.
2. Doesn’t water already have hydrogen in it because water is H2O?
The way Molecular Hydrogen Foundation founder and executive director Tyler LeBaron explains:
“The water molecule has two hydrogen atoms, chemically bound to the oxygen atom. This is different from the hydrogen gas molecule (H2), which is just two hydrogen atoms bound only to each other.”
This makes the hydrogen molecule available for therapeutic benefits when dissolved in water because it isn’t bound to oxygen. This is the same reason why oxygen is available so we can breathe it. If it were bound to hydrogen it would be water and not a life sustaining gas.
3. Does molecular hydrogen (H2) help with hydration, too?
Mentore says that while claims of super hydration may be exaggerated, hydrogen-infused water does in fact help with hydration, a salient health factor considering 75 percent of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration.
There has been research that backs up molecular hydrogen’s ability to hydrate better than ordinary water, including a study that showed a 4 percent increase in hydration levels after a one-time use. A 2012 study concluded, “Adequate hydration with hydrogen-rich water pre-exercise reduced blood lactate levels and improved exercise-induced decline of muscle function.”
4. How much hydrogen water should I drink to get the benefits?
There is no specific amount that’s right for everyone. According to LeBaron, a good general recommendation for significant health benefits is to drink a concentration of 1-3 mg of dissolved H2 per liter of water.
“These doses are simply what have been seen to exert benefits,” says LeBaron. “The effective concentration for some people and some diseases may be lower or higher.”
And there doesn’t appear to be an upper limit of use. The more hydrogen infused water we consume, the better, especially for those suffering from a particularly grave condition that needs to be turned around quickly.
5. Is molecular hydrogen safe?
Hydrogen-rich water is normal water that contains dissolved hydrogen gas. For example, there are carbonated waters or beverages (soda pop), which contain dissolved carbon dioxide gas (CO2), or oxygen water, which contains dissolved oxygen gas (O2). Similarly, you can have water that contains dissolved hydrogen gas.
LeBaron says to think of it this way: “You can make hydrogen water by taking a tank of hydrogen gas and bubbling it into a glass of water. It is simply water that contains dissolved hydrogen gas.”
Molecular hydrogen as an antioxidant supplement has no unpleasant side effects because when H2 neutralizes free-radicals, the byproduct is water.
6. It’s hard to believe something so simple can do so much. How is this possible?
Earlier this year, a detailed, scholarly analysis of molecular hydrogen appeared in Scientific Research. The paper spent considerable space explaining the incredible ability of molecular hydrogen to penetrate deep within the heart of a cell:
Hydrogen has some distinct advantages as an antioxidant. Hydrogen as a gas dissolves in physiological fluids and distributes rapidly. It can easily penetrate cellular membranes and enter intracellular compartments. Most antioxidant supplements are limited in their cellular distributions and are poorly taken up by organelles like mitochondria.
Working deep within the cellular level puts H2 in the perfect position to neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Once inside the mitochondria, previous studies have shown that molecular hydrogen (H2) exerts anti-inflammatory properties and protects cells from harmful agents in addition to acting as an antioxidant.
It also helps that molecular hydrogen is hydrophobic, meaning it is not diluted by water, which allows mitochondria access. In contrast, vitamin C as an antioxidant is hydrophilic, meaning it becomes diluted in water so it has problems in trying to pass through a cell’s fatty layer.
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There is also a study that suggests H2 can increase the production of the ghrelin hormone that protects the brain, vascular system, and liver.
This study also discussed molecular hydrogen’s advantage of being able to “penetrate the blood brain barrier,” a very delicate interface that separates the brain from the circulatory system and protects the central nervous system (CNS) from potentially harmful chemicals while regulating transport of essential molecules.
Due to this ability to easily cross the blood brain barrier, molecular hydrogen may assist the well-being of those, for instance, with Parkinson’s disease. In rat models of Alzheimer’s disease, H2 prevented neuro inflammation and improved memory.
Thomas Ropp Longtime journalist Thomas Ropp is an environmental advocate and proponent of living healthier. After spending most of his life in Arizona, he relocated to a Costa Rican rainforest ten years ago and helped with reforestation projects to expand the habitat of the endangered mono titi monkey. He has dual residency in the United States and Costa Rica.
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