For a while we’ve been hearing reports of hydrogen water and its potential benefits to health. These testimonies certainly warrant further investigation, though several recent studies into molecular hydrogen appear to bear out some of the eye-opening claims.
The therapeutic properties of hydrogen have been known for years. Not only does hydrogen – the most abundant element in the universe – have the unique ability to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and enter the mitochondria, but it can translocate to the nucleus under certain conditions, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties bringing great benefit to the cell. Over 500 peer-reviewed articles attest to hydrogen’s massive therapeutic potential for virtually every organ in the human body.
What is Hydrogen Water and What Does It Do?
Hydrogen water – often referred to as hydrogen-rich water or hydrogen-enriched water – is simply water (H20) which contains dissolved hydrogen gas. There are many methods of making such water, but what makes it special? So special that the Japanese health ministry have approved hydrogen-infused saline IVs for medical use to assist in treating a range of illnesses.
When we drink a glass of hydrogen-infused water, trillions of hydrogen molecules are let loose within our bodies. These busy molecules serve as powerful antioxidants, neutralising dangerous oxygen free radicals that advance disease development and inflammation, protecting organs, hydrating cells and helping to lower cholesterol and blood sugar. They also jumpstart our production of natural antioxidants including glutathione and catalase.
“But doesn’t water already contain hydrogen?” you may ask. Yes is the short answer. However, the two hydrogen atoms in the water molecule are chemically bound to the oxygen atom – hence H20. The hydrogen gas molecule is simply two hydrogen atoms bound only to one another (H2), and it is this gas – in its dissolved form, known as molecular hydrogen – which is able to engender a whole host of positive effects.
There are many methods of consuming molecular hydrogen gas, but by far the easiest, not to mention safest, is to drink hydrogen-enriched water. Recent studies have shown that doing so will increase the body’s production of a hormone named ghrelin, best known for stimulating appetite but also famed for imparting protective effects on the brain, liver and vascular system.
Although trials have experimented with various concentrations of molecular hydrogen, the fact is that you can’t get “too much” of it: H2 is a natural molecule common to the body, and rather than building up in our system, it’s easily and quickly eliminated.
Hydrogen Water for Arthritis
The ability of molecular hydrogen to suppress inflammation has been noted in countless animal studies – which is why hydrogen-rich water could be of great benefit to those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic autoimmune disorder.
In one open-label pilot study published in 2012, 20 patients suffering from RA drank 530ml of hydrogen water daily for a month; then, after a 4-week washout period, repeated the protocol for another month. In the end, results showed that molecular hydrogen’s ability to scavenge hydroxyl – one of the most reactive free radicals in the human body – effectively reduced oxidative stress in the arthritic patients. The crippling symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis were also improved with high H2 water, as evaluated by changes in the degree of tenderness and swelling in 28 joints and C-reactive protein levels.
It’s not the only study which should pique the interest of arthritis sufferers. Another, published last year in the American Journal of Translational Research, showed that molecular hydrogen-rich water decelerates the progression of rheumatoid arthritis through – what else? – the inhibition of oxidation stress. The therapeutic effects were found in both a mouse model of RA and in human RA-FLS cells.
Hydrogen Water for Traumatic Brain Injury
One interesting study from 2014 showed that hydrogen water exerted a positive influence on those who had suffered a traumatic brain injury. High H2 water was able to alter the acute neurodegenerative changes commonly induced by a TBI, which can lead to chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Researchers discovered that when mice drank hydrogen after sustaining a TBI, brain swelling was actually reduced by about half!
Such was the extent of their findings, the team concluded that hydrogen water “could be an easily administered, highly effective and nontoxic treatment for acute TBI.”
Hydrogen Water for Athletic Performance
The effects of hydrogen-enriched water on athletes have been under-explored but the novel therapeutical agent could help when it comes to exercise-induced oxidative stress and sports injury.
One revealing study from 2012 found that soccer players consuming hydrogen-rich water before exercise experienced lowered blood lactate levels and improved muscle function. What’s more, they reported lower levels of muscle fatigue post-workout, as well as quicker recovery times.
The report’s authors concluded by saying that hydrogen water could “easily replace regular drinking water on a routine basis and would potentially prevent adverse effects associated with heavy exercise.”
The Mounting Evidence for Molecular Hydrogen
Delve deeper and longer into the evidence and you’ll turn up more and more studies attesting to hydrogen water’s wondrous biological potential. From contributing to atherosclerosis prevention and reducing LDL cholesterol to building insulin resistance and combating dental deterioration, it seems there’s nothing this miracle molecule can’t do.
As stated at the outset, further research is needed into molecular hydrogen, in the form of well-designed clinical trials. Given the current wealth of information though, it would appear that drinking hydrogen-enriched water is unambiguously effective for enhancing – or certainly promoting – general health.
Want to learn more about H2? The Molecular Hydrogen Foundation (MHF) website is a good place to start. The non-profit organisation frequently posts the results of studies, in-depth articles and educational videos. If you’re interested in all things health, the Water for Health blog is another excellent resource.
How to Make Hydrogen Water
After reading this, perhaps you are wondering how to produce molecular hydrogen without the aid of a home laboratory and many bubbling test tubes.
Fear not: it’s a lot easier than it sounds! For a start, you can invest in a good-quality hydrogen water generator.
The Biocera Alkaline Jug is a popular choice. As well as its ability to alkalise water added to it, elevating the pH from around 7.5 to 9.5, the jug’s natural bioceramics stimulate the release of coveted molecular hydrogen. As an added bonus, a measure of contaminant-removal (heavy metals, chlorine) is achieved. All you have to do is add water to the jug and the bioceramics do the rest.
But what are bioceramics, we hear you ask.
Bioceramics are combinations of natural minerals and crystals which emit very low levels of far infrared energy to improve water structure and absorbability. The mineral balls also lend water they come into contact with antioxidant properties, due to the release of molecular hydrogen. Due to their ease of use and safety, they are widely considered to be preferable to electronic water ionisers.
Natural mineral bioceramics are manufactured by a number of companies throughout the world, but the South Korean firm Biocera was the first (and remains one of the few) to achieve NSF certification, the internationally-recognised safety standard.
Alkaline antioxidant water infused with molecular hydrogen: what could be better? The portable Biocera jug sits neatly in your fridge door and can hold 1.8 litres of water. After sampling clean, crisp-tasting hydrogen water from the jug, you’ll never go back to plain old tap water!