Molecular hydrogen: A therapeutic antioxidant and beyond

Molecular hydrogen: A therapeutic antioxidant and beyond

Anti-oxidation – Hydrogen Inhalation

Anti-oxidation is the process that prevents the increase of active oxygen that  occurs during cell regeneration, or suppresses over activity of active oxygen species. Anti-oxidation substances can naturally occur in the body (SOD, catalase, peroxiredoxin, glutathione) but one can also experience the anti-oxidation effect through stress management, intake of anti-oxidant foods, exercising, or healthy lifestyle. Anti-oxidation supplements, medicine, and food products currently out in the market requires intake through mouth and sent down to digestive track. Anti-oxidation effect will only show once the product is thoroughly digested, absorbed, and transferred all around the body via blood vessels. The effect will differ based on one’s digestive/absorptive ability, thus anti-oxidant product might not reach a certain area of the body. Especially for patients with lowered metabolic activity, it is even harder to see the anti-oxidation effect. The water that we drink passes into stomach  via (esophagus, in this case). However, hydrogen inhaled through nose will be absorb directly into the tubes that connect the neck to the lungs, which will immediately reach eyes and brain. The smallest element in the universe can easily permeate through skin, bone, muscle, organs, and vessels, reaching into our cells. For important organs such as brain, there is a barrier which only allows certain substances in, and blocking external factors from permeating in. However, hydrogen – a small molecule – can freely pass the barrier and act as anti-oxidant and functions the immune system.

Molecular hydrogen used in an ambulance

Molecular hydrogen gas of high purity acts as an important factor in medical field, especially in emergency medical treatment of cerebral infarction or cardiac infarction. Cerebral or cardiac infarction occurs when the blood vessels of brain or heart gets blocked which also limits the blood supply to the organs. In result, it limits the oxygen and nutrients supply to cells, causing necrosis of the tissue. In an urgent situation where each second matters, usually a normal respirator is used, rapidly supplying oxygen to tissue where it lacks oxygen. This might result in mass production of active oxygen.

Especially during treatment of cerebral infarction, it is important to slow down the cell destruction, lower the brain temperature, and removing largely produced active oxygen. In May 2007, Nippon Medical School’s Dr. Ohta Shigeo’s research paper on “effect of hydrogen inhalation during temporary cardiac arrest state” mentioned the power of hydrogen gas inhalation. For this reason hospitals in Japan introduced molecular hydrogen inhalation devices in emergency medicine system, and performing hydrogen gas inhalation to emergency patients. This is the reason why all ambulances in Korea should introduce hydrogen inhalation device in the future.

Properly Understanding Free Radical Species

Most living things on earth respire through oxygen.Through respiration, in the the electron of an organic matter that is ingested during process of making ATP (energy source Adenosine Triphosphate) in the  mitochondria is passed on to oxygen which produces energy. The oxygen that received the electron transforms with proton into water, a steady state. However, in this process, a tiny fraction of it does not transform into water, and only receive electron to become a radical. In a case it loses an electron instead of receiving it, this chemically denature other cells and holds the tendency to take away an electron from others.



Causes of Active Oxygen Generation
  • Stress
  • Macrophage that engulfs bacteria and virus
  • UV-rays
  • Radiation
  • Chemical substance (agricultural pesticides, pesticides, medicine, nitrogenous compound, etc)
  • Instant food
  • Strenuous exercise (physical labor, overworking)
  • overeating, alcohol, smoking, etc
  • other environmental pollution

Alternative names for Active Oxygen

  • Free Radical


Like so, a molecule with a strong tendency to take away an electron from other tissue cells is called “free radical (Active oxygen)”. Active oxygen species include superoxide radical, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyl radical, and singlet oxygen. But there are two sides to this active oxygen (Free radical). Balanced active oxygen plays a huge role in immune system as it acts as a medium for oxidation return signal which is necessary for maintaining homeostasis. On the other side, too much active oxygen may cause oxidative stress on protein or DNA, which leads to error, halt, apoptosis, necrosis, and etc, during cell regeneration. It is shown in many research papers that this is closely related to cancer, diabetes, autoimmune disease, heart disease, and other diseases.



Hydrogen not only has the anti-oxidant function but there also is an evidence that it can aid in balance and regulation of cell signaling at a molecular level. Dr. Ohno’s report on “molecular hydrogen suppressing acute allergic reaction”, from Nagoya University, stated that acute allergic reaction is not related to active oxygen, thus it is not explainable solely based on the function of active oxygen. To this, Dr. Nakaojun from Pittsburgh university found out anti-apoptosis protein appeared from lung cells once hydrogen gas is inhaled into a mouse during lung transplant, therefore concluded that supressed inflammation is partially due to hydrogen molecule’s function on cell signalling process.

The reason why this study is important is because anti-oxidizing function of hydrogen and molecular cellular response, cell signalling theory between each enzyme can be the beginning of curing intractable diseases such as dementia, cancer, and auto-immune disease.

In recent research papers, hydrogen is effective in anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, auto-immune disease, chemotherapy side effects, competency of athletes, recovery of chronic fatigue, and acceleration of energy metabolism.

Advantage of active oxygen

Some experts claim that “hydrogen is selective and only reacts with bad active oxygen” but this is a groundless claim.

Regardless of its good and bad, the problem is the overly produced active oxygen. There are simply active oxygen that has lost the balance due to over-production. Over-production of active oxygen is due to increase of stress agents which is caused through disease or stress.

Without sufficient amount, hydrogen inhalation therapy will not result in an expected outcome. The more you inhale, the better results.

Back to blog