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Molecular Hydrogen Therapy: What Is It? And What Are the Benefits?

Molecular hydrogen inhalation therapy has rapidly gained in popularity, since a landmark 2007 study exploring its antioxidant properties.

In that short time, numerous studies have explored the benefits of breathing hydrogen gas (or consuming hydrogen-rich water). And these studies have found positive evidence of molecular hydorgen’s ability to reduce inflammation and support overall health.

Yet, with any new wellness therapy, questions remain. The two we here most commonly are: What is molecular hydrogen therapy? And what the benefits of hydrogen inhalation?

Ultimately, the idea of molecular hydrogen therapy is simple.

First, the 2007 study found that molecular hydrogen gas selectively neutralizes free radicals and has powerful antioxidant effects. Due to the antioxidant properties of hydrogen gas (H2), hydrogen gas inhalation reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. This may help to slow natural aging processes and facilitate a natural healing reaction.

Sounds promising. But you might be wondering how does hydrogen therapy work? This brief overview provides a closer look at molecular hydrogen therapy, including where it originated, how molecular hydrogen works, key benefits, and what the research says about its efficacy.

Molecular Hydrogen Therapy: What Is It? 

Molecular hydrogen therapy is an emerging medical treatment. The therapy involves inhaling hydrogen gas or drinking hydrogen-infused water. This isn’t just any hydrogen, but a special form called molecular hydrogen.

Molecular hydrogen (H2) is the diatomic form of hydrogen. That means it includes two hydrogen atoms bonded together, and it is the gaseous form of hydrogen.

Molecular hydrogen differs greatly from single hydrogen atoms. For example, H2 is more stable and more abundant in the nature world.  This is why molecular hydrogen is favored for health applications. It’s safer and offers many potential therapeutic benefits.

In 2007, researchers make several landmark discoveries regarding molecular hydrogen.

They found that molecular hydrogen (H2) had powerful antioxidant properties, and also that H2 could rapidly diffuse into tissues and cells. As an antioxidant, researchers noted that molecular hydrogen selectively neutralized free radicals, while protecting cells from them.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that are highly reactive. They’re produced as a natural byproducts of metabolism, but they can also arise due to external factors like pollution, UV radiation, and unhealthy diets.

Free radicals can cause damage to cells, proteins, and DNA by stealing electrons from other molecules in an attempt to become stable. This process can lead to oxidative stress, which is believed to be a major driver of chronic illness, aging, and various diseases. Oxidative stress, however, can be balanced by antioxidants.

Therefore, by neutralizing free radicals with molecular hydrogen, researchers suggested molecular hydrogen could be a powerful tool for reversing oxidative stress.

Since that landmark study, the benefits of molecular hydrogen and its use for a variety of conditions have been studied. Today, researchers continue to test the efficacy of hydrogen therapy on a wide range of conditions. The therapy continues to be very popular in Asia, where it was initially discovered. However, it’s use has grown recently in the U.S.

Types of Molecular Hydrogen Therapy

Generally, when we talk about molecular hydrogen therapy, we’re referring to increasing the amount of available hydrogen for the body.

There are several ways to increase the body’s hydrogen levels. A few of the most common forms of hydrogen therapy include:

All of these methods aim to deliver molecular hydrogen into the body and leverage its potential antioxidant properties. However, molecular hydrogen inhalation offers faster absorption of hydrogen gas into the bloodstream.

However, the actual comparative dose depends on several factors, including the concentration of hydrogen in the gas or water, the duration of exposure or consumption, and the specific equipment or method used for inhalation or water production. The advantage of inhalation lies in the speed of absorption. Drinking hydrogen-infused water, on the other hand, allows for a more sustained intake over time. Both methods have their merits and may be used based on individual needs or preferences.

Molecular Hydrogen Inhalation Therapy: How Does It Work?

Hydrogen inhalation therapy, or molecular hydrogen therapy, is a therapy that leverages the antioxidant properties of hydrogen. During an H2 therapy session, an individual breathes a mix of hydrogen gas and oxygen (a 2-to-1 ratio) through a nasal cannula, typically for about 15-30 minutes.

The therapy significantly increases the levels of molecular hydrogen in the body.

In fact, it’s been found that hydrogen therapy results in the presence of hydrogen in the bloodstream and brain tissue. Because hydrogen is such a small molecule, it can freely move within cells. Therefore, it can help remove harmful toxins and free radicals, which drive disease and aging.

Stress, injury, and other natural processes lead to an imbalance of free radicals at the cellular level. As a result, this buildup of radicals results in cellular dysfunction, which can drive aging, slow healing, cause age-related neurodegenerative disease and more.

Here’s a brief overview of how hydrogen therapy works:

  • Inhalation:  You breathe in hydrogen gas or consume hydrogen-infused water or saline.

  • H2 Enters the Body:  The tiny hydrogen molecules easily travel through your body, passing through cell membranes and into your cells.

  • Antioxidant Cleansing:  Once inside your cells, hydrogen can neutralize harmful substances called free radicals, acting like a tiny, powerful antioxidant.

  • Protection of Cells:  By neutralizing these free radicals, hydrogen is believed to protect cells from damage caused by these free radicals.

  • Reduction of Inflammation:  Hydrogen can also help reduce inflammation in your body, which can help in healing and recovery.

  • Balanced Health:  Over time, these actions can potentially contribute to better health and prevention of certain diseases. However, short-term benefits include better sleep, more energy, and improved complexion.

Benefits of Molecular Hydrogen Inhalation Therapy

Research has demonstrated that numerous benefits of hydrogen inhalation. Researchers have explored the use of this therapy for brain damage, its antioxidant properties, and more.

Ultimately, the antioxidant properties of hydrogen is the biggest benefit for health. As we age, as we’re exposed to environmental pollution, or we fall into unhealthy eating patterns, free radicals proliferate in the body. Because hydrogen selectively neutralizes harmful free radicals, it’s believed molecular hydrogen benefits overall well-being and can help to reverse age-related disease and conditions.

Recovery and Anti-Aging

Some of the general health benefits of molecular hydrogen include:

  • Antioxidant Properties: As an antioxidant, hydrogen inhalation therapy can help protect cells from damage that can lead to various diseases, and it’s one reason it’s believed to be a powerful anti-aging therapy.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties:  Hydrogen inhalation therapy may offer anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, hydrogen may be beneficial in conditions characterized by chronic inflammation like arthritis and chronic pain.

  • Improved Athletic Performance:  According to one study, inhaling hydrogen for a brief period of time enhanced healthy people’s torso strength and running efficiency. This benefit could be a result of hydrogen’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can lessen exercise-induced inflammation and oxidative stress.

Complementary Treatments

Hydrogen inhalation is also widely researched as a complementary option for traditional treatments.

Key benefits of hydrogen inhalation therapy for disease include:

  • Prevention of Neurodegenerative Diseases:  Hydrogen therapy may be useful for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases. For example, research has shown positive results for Parkinson’s disease in animal models; however a pilot study found no difference when used in a randomized double-blind model.

  • Metabolic Syndrome:  Some studies suggest that hydrogen therapy could help improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

  • Neuroprotective Effects:  Some studies suggest that hydrogen therapy may have protective effects on the brain. For example, hydrogen may reduce damage following traumatic brain injury. In addition, it has been shown to reduce symptoms in acute neuronal conditions like cerebral infarction.

  • Organ Transplantation and Radiation-Induced Damage:  Hydrogen therapy has shown promise in reducing damage and improving outcomes in organ transplantation and radiation therapy.

  • Cancer Treatment – Recent research suggests molecular hydrogen inhalation benefits cancer patients. In vivo studies have found evidence that H2 may help reduce tumor growth. Additionally, this form of therapy has also been shown to help with the side effects of chemotherapy.

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