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A few years ago, the thought of molecular hydrogen might have conjured some strange sort of superhero power. Today, this antioxidant is being touted for its power to heal.

Molecular hydrogen (H2) is a tasteless, odorless, flammable gas that research links to helping battle aging and more than five dozen diseases including cancer, primarily by reducing .

“Hydrogen is a unique and superior molecule, because it can also activate the Nrf2 (life sustaining) pathway and increase the endogenous levels of glutathione and other antioxidants if they are lower then they should be,” says Tyler LeBaron, founder and executive director of the Molecular Hydrogen  Foundation.

“Molecular hydrogen improves cellular communication and provides a cell modulating property to the body to help prevent the formation of free radicals,” says Ed Wunder, a researcher with the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation.

Wunder compares the work of molecular hydrogen to a cleanup operation in a factory belching out black smoke. The black smoke represents toxic free radicals, and the factory represents cell mitochondria functioning poorly.

“Molecular hydrogen will not only clear up the black smoke by neutralizing the free radicals, but it will also go into the factory and fix what is wrong so that the black smoke will not be produced.”

A 2015 study reports that H2 may significantly help keep us better hydrated. A 2012 study concluded that drinking molecular hydrogen water was an effective fluid hydration strategy for athletes.  This is significant considering studies show two of three people are partially dehydrated. Even light dehydration of no more than 2 percent of total body weight and decreases the body’s efficiency. Metabolism and energy levels are directly affected, and this extends even further to mood and mental alertness.

There are several ways to get molecular hydrogen into your system including drinking hydrogen infused water, H2 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 enters the bloodstream and is transported throughout the body.

Molecular hydrogen can also be applied directly to areas of the body where injury and pain occur. Nationally recognized sports nutritionist, strength and conditioning coach Brandon Mentore, believes molecular hydrogen is “extremely important to health.”

“Hydrogen is the most significant element to life itself,” Mentore says. “Hydrogen has multiple cellular protective properties in the human body and has the ability to upregulate virtually all metabolic processes.”

10 Years Of Studies And High Praise

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.

How It Works – A Closer Look

Scientific skepticism has played a large role in why molecular hydrogen is just now coming into its own. Researchers have had a hard time believing an inert gas with only two atoms (the minimum to form a molecule) could have health benefits. But it’s the smallness of molecular hydrogen that makes it an ideal antioxidant. It is possibly the only antioxidant molecule that can reach inside the mitochondria (power generators) of a cell.

“Hydrogen is a very small molecule, the smallest actually,” says LeBaron. “But its cell modulating properties in biological systems is what affords it with various anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, and anti-obesity effects.”

Another important factor is 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.

Working deep within the cellular level puts H2 in the perfect position to neutralize free radicals and reduce. Once inside the mitochondria, previous studies have shown that molecular hydrogen exerts anti-inflammatory properties and protects from noxious chemicals (cytoprotective) in addition to acting as an antioxidant.

There is also evidence that H2 can increase the production of the ghrelin hormone that protects the brain, vascular system, and liver.

All this takes place without unpleasant side effects because when H2 neutralizes a free-radical, the byproduct is water. 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.

10 Reasons To Use Molecular Hydrogen

1. Improves skin/fights aging – Molecular hydrogen is considered a novel antioxidant for combating oxidative damage in skin and promoting a youthful appearance. Japanese subjects showed significant improvements in neck wrinkles after bathing in H2 for 90 days.

2. May help prevent diabetes  – In a 2011 study, scientists tested the effects of drinking hydrogen-rich water in 30 patients with Type 2 diabetes. The patients drank 4 cups of hydrogen water each day for eight weeks. The condition of the patients generally improved and several showed no symptoms of the disease.

3. May battle cancerous tumors – Elevated rates of reactive oxygen species (ROS), collectively known as oxidative stress, have been detected in almost all cancers, where they promote many aspects of tumor development and progression. Molecular hydrogen tends to erase the oxidative stress underlying tumor growth.

4. Fights autoimmune disease – Because of its ability to decrease excessive free radicals, H2 can conceivably help battle lupus (SLE) and other autoimmune diseases.

5. Reduces pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis – Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the destruction of bone and cartilage. A Japanese study proved that “Consumption of water containing a high concentration of molecular hydrogen reduces oxidative stress and disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.”

6. Corrects DNA damage – Wunder says H2 “corrects DNA damage in the cell’s mitochondria.” This would appear to be backed up by a study published in the July issue of the International Journal of Radiation Biology that concluded that “H2 exerts significant protection against radiation-induced DNA base damage.”

7. Combats allergies – An allergic reaction is an immune reaction when the immune system overreacts to a molecule thinking it’s infectious. Molecular hydrogen calms this reaction.

8. Helps reduce fat – Drinking molecular hydrogen infused water decreases levels of plasma glucose, insulin, and triglyceride, similar to the effect of diet restrictions.

9. Improves cognitive function – Due to its ability to easily cross the blood-brain barrier, molecular hydrogen may assist the well being of those with. In rat models of Alzheimer’s disease, H2 prevented neuro inflammation and improved memory.

10. Faster sports injury recovery – Molecular hydrogen may have the potential to improve athletic performance and recovery. A 2012 study concluded, “Adequate hydration with hydrogen-rich water pre-exercise reduced blood lactate levels and improved exercise-induced decline of muscle function.”

Watch this video on molecular hydrogen.

Recommended read for chronic pain sufferers: 10 Ways To Use Plant Medicine. 

Thomas RoppThomas 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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