Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional medical advice. Always consult with your healthcare provider before making any changes to your treatment plan.


In recent years, the medical community has been taking a closer look at the potential benefits of hydrogen gas, also known as H2. Studies have shown that when administered through inhalation or through the consumption of hydrogen-rich water, it may have therapeutic effects on the body. The interest in hydrogen therapy dates back to 1975, when researchers from Baylor University and Texas A&M published a study in the journal Science, demonstrating that hyperbaric hydrogen therapy was effective at reducing melanoma tumors in mice. However, it wasn’t until 2007 that scientists began to uncover the full extent of hydrogen’s potential therapeutic benefits. Through various studies and experiments, it has been found that hydrogen-rich water, also known as “H2 water” or “molecular hydrogen water”, can have positive effects on various health conditions. These findings suggest that hydrogen has immediate medical and clinical applications.

The Therapeutic Potential of Molecular Hydrogen (H2)

The use of hydrogen as a medical gas has been gaining significant attention from researchers, doctors, and physicians worldwide. In 2007, a study published in Nature Medicine showed that inhaling 2-4% hydrogen gas reduced cerebrospinal infarct volumes in a rat model of ischemia-reperfusion injury caused by middle cerebral artery occlusion. The results were even more effective than edaravone, a commonly used drug for cerebral infarction, without any toxic side effects. The study also found that dissolved hydrogen in the media of cultured cells, at biologically relevant concentrations, reduces the level of toxic hydroxyl radicals (*OH), but does not react with other physiologically important reactive oxygen species (e.g. superoxide, nitric oxide, hydrogen peroxide).

Despite being in its early stages, with around 1000 articles and 1,600 researchers, the research on hydrogen suggests that it has therapeutic potential in over 170 different human and animal disease models, and in essentially every organ of the human body. Hydrogen appears to provide these benefits by modulating signal transduction, protein phosphorylation, and gene expressions (See section Pharmacodynamics).

While the concept of therapeutic gaseous molecules isn’t new, hydrogen is unique in that it is a non-radical, non-reactive, non-polar, highly diffusible neutral gas, making it unlikely to have specific binding sites or interact with specificity on a specific receptor. However, from an evolutionary perspective, hydrogen’s role in the origins of the universe and the genesis of life suggest that it plays an important role in the evolution of eukaryotes.

Methods of Administration

There are several methods of administering molecular hydrogen, including inhalation, ingestion of solubilized hydrogen-rich solutions (e.g. water, flavored beverages, etc.), hydrogen-rich hemodialysis solution, intravenous injection of hydrogen-rich saline, topical administration of hydrogen-rich media (e.g. bath, shower, and creams), hyperbaric treatment, ingestion of hydrogen-producing material upon reaction with gastric acid, ingestion of non-digestible carbohydrates as prebiotic to hydrogen-producing intestinal bacteria, rectal insufflation, and other methods.

Hydrogen Inhalation

Inhalation of hydrogen gas is one common method of administration. A 2-4% hydrogen gas mixture is often used because it is below the flammability level. However, some studies use 66.7% H2 and 33.3% O2, which is nontoxic and effective, but flammable. Inhalation of hydrogen reaches a peak plasma level in about 30 min, and upon cessation of inhalation the return to baseline occurs in about 60 min.

Drinking Hydrogen Rich Water

Another method of administering hydrogen is by drinking hydrogen-rich water. The concentration/solubility of hydrogen in water at standard ambient temperature and pressure (SATP) is 0.8 mM or 1.6 ppm (1.6 mg/L). This concentration is easily achieved by many methods, such as simply bubbling hydrogen gas into water. The half-life of hydrogen-rich water is shorter than other gaseous drinks, but therapeutic levels can remain for a sufficient amount of time for easy consumption. Ingestion of hydrogen-rich water results in a peak rise in plasma and breath concentration in 5-15 min in a dose-dependent manner. The rise in breath hydrogen is an indication that hydrogen diffuses through the submucosa and enters systemic circulation where it is expelled out the lungs. This increase in blood and breath concentration returns to baseline in 45-90 min depending on the ingested dosage.


Understanding the Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Hydrogen Therapy

Hydrogen is a unique element that has a variety of therapeutic effects due to its special properties such as hydrophobicity, neutrality, size, and mass. It has the ability to easily penetrate biomembranes and reach subcellular compartments, which allows it to have a wide range of effects in the body.

There are several ways that hydrogen can be administered, including intravenous injection, inhalation, and drinking hydrogen-rich water. The pharmacokinetics of these methods are still being studied, but are dependent on dosage, route, and timing.

Unlocking the Secrets of Hydrogen’s Biological Effects: A Closer Look at Pharmacodynamics and Antioxidant-Like Effects

Despite a wealth of research confirming hydrogen’s impact on biological systems, the precise molecular mechanisms and primary targets remain a mystery. Initially, it was thought that hydrogen’s beneficial effects were due to its ability to neutralize harmful hydroxyl radicals. However, further studies have called this theory into question. For example, in a double-blinded placebo-controlled trial in rheumatoid arthritis, the positive effects of hydrogen continued to improve symptoms for four weeks after administration was halted. Additionally, pre-treatment with hydrogen has been shown to have significant benefits, even when the assault (e.g. toxin, radiation, injury, etc.) is administered long after all the hydrogen has dissipated out of the system.

Furthermore, the rate constants of hydrogen against hydroxyl radicals are relatively slow and the concentration of hydrogen at the cellular level is also quite low, making it unlikely that H2 could effectively compete with the other nucleophilic targets in the cell. Lastly, if the mechanism were primarily associated with scavenging of hydroxyl radicals, then we would see a greater effect from inhalation compared to drinking, but this is not always the case.

It is important to note that hydrogen is selective because it is a very weak antioxidant and does not neutralize important ROS or disturb important biological signaling molecules. A metabolic tracer study using deuterium gas has demonstrated that under physiological conditions, deuterium gas is oxidized, and the oxidation rate of hydrogen increases with an increasing amount of oxidative stress. However, the physiochemical mechanism for this may still not be direct radical scavenging. Research is ongoing to further understand the underlying mechanisms and primary targets of hydrogen’s effects on biological systems.

Understanding the NRF2 Pathway and Its Impact on Oxidative Stress

When it comes to fighting oxidative stress, hydrogen is unique among antioxidants. Unlike traditional antioxidants, hydrogen only reduces excessive oxidative stress when the cell is experiencing abnormally high levels that would be harmful. One mechanism that hydrogen uses to protect against oxidative damage is by activating the Nrf2-Keap1 system, which leads to the production of various cytoprotective proteins like glutathione, catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, and heme-1 oxygenase. In certain disease models, the benefits of hydrogen are negated by using Nrf2 gene knockouts, Nrf2 genetic silencing, or pharmacologically blocking the Nrf2 pathway. Importantly, hydrogen only activates the Nrf2 pathway when there is an assault, such as a toxin or injury, as opposed to constantly promoting it, which could be harmful.

Cell Modulation

Hydrogen also has the ability to modulate cells and reduce the formation of free radicals, such as by downregulating the NADPH oxidase system. These cell-modulating effects of hydrogen are responsible for mediating the anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, and anti-obesity effects of hydrogen. Hydrogen has been shown to downregulate pro-inflammatory cytokines and attenuate the activation of various inflammatory mediators. Additionally, hydrogen has beneficial effects on obesity and metabolism by increasing the expression of various genes and proteins.

While the exact mechanism of how hydrogen modulates signal transduction, gene expression, and protein phosphorylation is still being investigated, recent research suggests that one of the mechanisms through which hydrogen accomplishes its various cell-modulating effects is by modifying lipid peroxidation in the cell membrane.

Hydrogen In Scientific Circles

The therapeutic effects of hydrogen on cells, tissues, animals, humans, and even plants is becoming widely accepted, with over 500 peer-reviewed articles and 1,600 researchers studying the medical effects of hydrogen. The quality of the publications is also improving, with an average impact factor of the journals publishing hydrogen being about 3.

Hydrogen also has immediate medical applications to help with many of the current health crises. Studies have shown that hydrogen has potential to help with the top 8 out of 10 disease-causing fatalities as listed by the Centers for Disease Control. Other research has shown that ingestion of hydrogen-rich water is protective against neurodegenerative changes induced by traumatic brain injury in mice. These findings have profound effects for events such as concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

The Potential of Hydrogen in Medicine

As medical research continues to evolve, the use of hydrogen as a medical gas is becoming increasingly popular due to its immediate applications in addressing a variety of health issues. Studies have shown that hydrogen has the potential to aid in the top eight out of ten leading causes of death as listed by the Centers for Disease Control.

One notable study conducted by Dixon and colleagues at Loma Linda University found that hydrogen administration can reduce brain edema, block pathological tau expression, and maintain ATP levels in cases of traumatic brain injury. These findings have significant implications for individuals who may be at risk for brain injuries, such as those who experience concussions or chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

While some individuals may experience dramatic results from hydrogen therapy, including rapid pain and inflammation relief and normalization of glucose and cholesterol levels, others may not notice any immediate benefits. It’s important to note that hydrogen is not considered a powerful drug, and its effects are primarily to bring the body back to homeostasis without causing major disruptions.

It’s worth mentioning that some people are more sensitive to hydrogen and experience greater effects than others. However, more human studies are needed to fully understand the potential benefits and limitations of hydrogen therapy.

Human Health Research

As research on molecular hydrogen continues to grow, many scientists are curious about its potential benefits for human health. While studies on hydrogen’s effects on cell and animal models have shown promising results, more long-term clinical trials are needed to confirm its efficacy in humans. To date, there have been a limited number of human studies on the topic, with a small number conducted in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized fashion with a sufficient number of subjects.

However, the studies that have been conducted have yielded some intriguing results. For example, studies have suggested that the ingestion of hydrogen-rich water may be beneficial for individuals with metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia. Additionally, there have been indications that hydrogen-rich water may improve outcomes for those with Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, mitochondrial dysfunction, and more.

It’s worth noting that, while the research is promising, more studies are needed to determine the proper dosage, timing, and method of administration for hydrogen therapy, as well as which specific diseases and genotypes may be most responsive to this treatment. Additionally, it’s important to note that hydrogen therapy is still in its infancy and more data is needed before definitive conclusions can be drawn. However, the high safety profile of molecular hydrogen makes it an appealing option for further research.

The Safety of Hydrogen Therapy: Understanding the Benefits and Risks

The use of hydrogen as a therapeutic agent has been gaining attention in recent years due to its potential health benefits. However, it’s important to understand the safety profile of hydrogen therapy before making any decisions about treatment. Hydrogen is a naturally occurring gas and is produced by our bodies through the digestion of fibers. Studies have shown that hydrogen produced by bacteria can have therapeutic effects, such as reducing inflammation and protecting against certain diseases.

A large clinical trial from the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) found that taking hydrogen-producing drugs, such as acarbose, can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. Additionally, hydrogen gas has been used in deep sea diving for decades to prevent decompression sickness, and hundreds of human studies have shown that inhaling hydrogen gas at high levels is well-tolerated by the body with no chronic toxic effects.

However, it’s important to note that hydrogen therapy may result in loose stools in some individuals, and in rare cases with diabetics, it may cause hypoglycemia. However, these side effects are generally considered to be mild and temporary. Overall, the safety profile of hydrogen therapy is considered to be high, and further research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits and risks of this treatment.