Benefits of Molecular Hydrogen inhalation include incredible longevity enhancing effects along with use in prevention and treatment of neurological, cardiovascular, rheumatological and cancer conditions. This article provides a background on hydrogen inhalation and reviews some of the benefits of hydrogen inhalation based on published studies and clinical trials.
Until many years back, it was believed that hydrogen gas has no therapeutic value, however in the last two decades, research on molecular hydrogen shows that it may be one of the most important medical gases today. Hydrogen gas is the smallest known molecule and can easily permeate all tissues including the blood-brain barrier. Molecular hydrogen can be inhaled using a hydrogen inhalation machine, and hydrogen gas can also be applied externally and is absorbed easily by all tissues when inhaled.
How is molecular hydrogen produced and applied for health benefits?
In hydrogen therapy, molecular hydrogen (H2) is applied in form of hydrogen gas or hydrogen infused water generated using hydrogen electrolysis machines.
Hydrogen gas bubbled through distilled water dissipates small amounts of hydrogen molecules in the water. Concentration of H2 molecules in hydrogen infused water is quite low, about 1-2 ppm.
So to intake 600 ml of hydrogen simply by drinking hydrogen-rich water, you would need to drink quite a lot. However this can be achieved in 1 minute with some of the hydrogen inhalation machines.
A 2012 study in collaboration by scientists from United States and Japan shows that for the delivery of H2 to any particular treatment area in the body, it needs to be in the blood first. The presence of H2 in the blood is best with hydrogen inhalation compared to other forms including intravenous administration.1
Therefore, hydrogen inhalation is deemed a much more powerful therapy besides being much more easily absorbed in gas form. Also that means that hydrogen inhalation is a different ball game altogether, studies that show no benefits with hydrogen infused water, would have much different results if hydrogen inhalation was applied. Today, the technology has evolved to a point where, there is very pure hydrogen and newer machines do not use any corrosives or catalysts such as Lye, and are much safer to use than what was previously available.
How does molecular hydrogen provide health benefits?
Molecular hydrogen benefits many health conditions as hydrogen is an incredible anti-oxidant2, anti-inflammatory and has anti-apoptotic neuroprotective effects3. This means that it affects the cells to self-repair and be more resilient.
Molecular hydrogen targets (Nrf2)-mediated redox signalling under oxidative stress and downregulates inflammatory cytokines and it also prevents free radical chain reactions.4 5 That makes hydrogen inhalation a novel anti-aging or longevity technology today.
Excited?! It’s no wonder that the universe’s simplest known molecule is the building block of life. It’s almost 63% of the body actually if you consider the weight to size ratio!
Let us more learn about molecular hydrogen benefits based on published clinical studies and trials.
Benefits of Molecular Hydrogen
In cell studies and animal models, molecular hydrogen using various strategies of application has been found to improve cognitive dysfunction6, hypertension7, brain injury8, sepsis9, oxidative stress10, cellular dysfunction11, progression of brain hemorrhage12, dry eye disease13, ovarian cancer14 and prevents parkinson’s disease15 among others.
Perhaps the most important benefit of hydrogen inhalation is as an important medical gas to be fitted in ICUs as it has been found to have an immediate beneficial effect on Sepsis. There is on-going interest in utilizing molecular hydrogen inhalation for resuscitation16.
Molecular Hydrogen Benefits Heart Health
In a study from Ehime University, Japan it was concluded that hydrogen inhalation provides benefits in heart disease by reducing oxidative stress and could safely be applied at home as an effective strategy for prevention of vascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.17
In 2017, scientists and doctors from Keio University School of Medicine, Japan, conducted a clinical trial where hydrogen inhalation was found effective for Post-Cardiac Arrest Syndrome. Hydrogen gas therapy was found to be feasible, safe and could promote recovery even six months after an angioplasty with stent or Percutaneous Coronary Intervention for ST-Elevated Myocardial Infarction.18
Molecular hydrogen inhalation can also benefit recovery from stroke and during stroke rehabilitation. In 2017, Japanese scientists conducted RCT to study the safety and efficacy of hydrogen inhalation in treatment of acute cerebral infarction.19
They found that hydrogen inhalation is safe and improves oxygenation. Also they found the MRI signal intensity at the stroke site improve in Hydrogen gas therapy patients. Decent improvements were found in all parameters including physical therapy and neurological impairments. The treatment consisted of 1 hour of 3% hydrogen inhalation. Simple.
Molecular Hydrogen certainly has potential for use in cancer therapy. In a RCT by scientists from University of Pittsburgh, United States, cancer patients receiving radiation therapy were given hydrogen infused water. They concluded that daily consumption of hydrogen-rich water improved quality of life and reduces radiation induced oxidative stress in these patients.20
Evidence is now emerging that Hydrogen Inhalation is an advanced cancer treatment. In multiple ethical trials in China, hundreds of Stage 3 and 4 patients were given hydrogen gas treatment. On the basis of these trials, it was established that hydrogen inhalation can control progression of cancer in 85% of stage 3 and 47% of stage 5 patients.21 This is a breakthrough meta-analysis study that could bring molecular hydrogen to the forefront of cancer clinics worldwide.
Improves lung function and protects from pollution
Many animal studies have found benefits of hydrogen inhalation to protect and treat lungs. In 2016, scientists from Hebei Medical University, China conducted an RCT to study the protective effects of hydrogen inhalation on lungs of sanitation workers exposed to haze or pollution from medical waste and air pollution. They concluded that inhalation of hydrogen gas can reduce airway inflammation and oxidative stress as well as improve respiratory symptoms such as cough.22
As we can see from plethora of published research studies and clinical trials, benefits of hydrogen inhalation as an upcoming gas therapy is that it can provide immense relief in many conditions and can also act a protective agent against diseases and aging. We hope that researchers and doctors take interest in such a simple and natural solution to help improve outcomes for years to come.
- 1.Ono H, Nishijima Y, Adachi N, et al. A basic study on molecular hydrogen (H2) inhalation in acute cerebral ischemia patients for safety check with physiological parameters and measurement of blood H2 level. Medical Gas Research. Published online 2012:21. doi:10.1186/2045-9912-2-21
- 2.Ohsawa I, Ishikawa M, Takahashi K, et al. Hydrogen acts as a therapeutic antioxidant by selectively reducing cytotoxic oxygen radicals. Nat Med. 2007;13(6):688-694. doi:10.1038/nm1577
- 3.Barancik M, Kura B, LeBaron T, Bolli R, Buday J, Slezak J. Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms Associated with Effects of Molecular Hydrogen in Cardiovascular and Central Nervous Systems. Antioxidants (Basel). 2020;9(12). doi:10.3390/antiox9121281
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- 6.Tan X, Shen F, Dong W, Yang Y, Chen G. The role of hydrogen in Alzheimer’s disease. Med Gas Res. 2019;8(4):176-180. doi:10.4103/2045-9912.248270
- 7.Sugai K, Tamura T, Sano M, et al. Daily inhalation of hydrogen gas has a blood pressure-lowering effect in a rat model of hypertension. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):20173. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-77349-8
- 8.Liu L, Xie K, Chen H, et al. Inhalation of hydrogen gas attenuates brain injury in mice with cecal ligation and puncture via inhibiting neuroinflammation, oxidative stress and neuronal apoptosis. Brain Research. Published online November 2014:78-92. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2014.09.030
- 9.Zheng Y, Zhu D. Molecular Hydrogen Therapy Ameliorates Organ Damage Induced by Sepsis. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. Published online 2016:1-6. doi:10.1155/2016/5806057
- 10.Guan P, Lin X, Yang S, et al. Hydrogen gas reduces chronic intermittent hypoxia‐induced hypertension by inhibiting sympathetic nerve activity and increasing vasodilator responses via the antioxidation. J Cell Biochem. Published online September 27, 2018:3998-4008. doi:10.1002/jcb.27684
- 11.Iida A, Nosaka N, Yumoto T, et al. The Clinical Application of Hydrogen as a Medical Treatment. Acta Med Okayama. 2016;70(5):331-337. doi:10.18926/AMO/54590
- 12.Matsuoka T, Suzuki M, Sano M, et al. Hydrogen gas inhalation inhibits progression to the “irreversible” stage of shock after severe hemorrhage in rats. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2017;83(3):469-475. doi:10.1097/TA.0000000000001620
- 13.Kubota M, Kawashima M, Inoue S, et al. Randomized, crossover clinical efficacy trial in humans and mice on tear secretion promotion and lacrimal gland protection by molecular hydrogen. Sci Rep. 2021;11(1):6434. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-85895-y
- 14.Shang L, Xie F, Li J, et al. Therapeutic potential of molecular hydrogen in ovarian cancer. Transl Cancer Res. Published online August 2018:988-995. doi:10.21037/tcr.2018.07.09
- 15.Fujita K, Nakabeppu Y, Noda M. Therapeutic Effects of Hydrogen in Animal Models of Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s Disease. Published online 2011:1-9. doi:10.4061/2011/307875
- 16.Zheng X, Sun X, Xia Z. Hydrogen resuscitation, a new cytoprotective approach. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2011;38(3):155-163. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1681.2011.05479.x
- 17.Kiyoi T, Liu S, Takemasa E, Nakaoka H, Hato N, Mogi M. Constitutive hydrogen inhalation prevents vascular remodeling via reduction of oxidative stress. PLoS One. 2020;15(4):e0227582. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0227582
- 18.Katsumata Y, Sano F, Abe T, et al. The Effects of Hydrogen Gas Inhalation on Adverse Left Ventricular Remodeling After Percutaneous Coronary Intervention for ST-Elevated Myocardial Infarction - First Pilot Study in Humans. Circ J. 2017;81(7):940-947. doi:10.1253/circj.CJ-17-0105
- 19.Ono H, Nishijima Y, Ohta S, et al. Hydrogen Gas Inhalation Treatment in Acute Cerebral Infarction: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Study on Safety and Neuroprotection. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2017;26(11):2587-2594. doi:10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2017.06.012
- 20.Kang K, Kang Y, Choi I, et al. Effects of drinking hydrogen-rich water on the quality of life of patients treated with radiotherapy for liver tumors. Med Gas Res. 2011;1(1):11. doi:10.1186/2045-9912-1-11
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- 22.Gong Z, Guan J, Ren X, et al. [Protective effect of hydrogen on the lung of sanitation workers exposed to haze]. Zhonghua Jie He He Hu Xi Za Zhi. 2016;39(12):916-923. doi:10.3760/cma.j.issn.1001-0939.2016.12.003