Anti-inflammatory Effect of Hydrogen

Anti-inflammatory Effect of Hydrogen

Anti-inflammatory effect is one of the qualities of hydrogen that is being extensively researched. This quality opens the door for immeasurable potential in curing diseases as almost all the disease processes involve some form of inflammation in their pathogenesis. Before we go into how hydrogen acts to reduce this inflammation, let us see what this inflammation is and how it affects us.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is in simple terms, body’s response to injury. These injuries can be of various natures. It could be a bruise, cut, and foreign body, pathogens like bacteria, virus, and fungi or due to chemicals or radiation. The area will be red, swollen, hot and painful connecting with reduction or loss of function of this part of body. These features suggest that there is acute inflammation. This is the normal immune response of the body to curb infections and to heal injuries. Inflammation brings about substances like cytokines and cells like leukocytes, macrophages which can in fact speed up the healing process. But in some cases, this acute inflammatory process may be harmful. The swollen tissues can impinge on other vital structures affecting their function and causing disease.

Normal inflammatory process can become pathological in chronic inflammation. In chronic inflammation many harmful substances are released which can damage the organs of the whole body over long periods of time. Diseases with chronic inflammation include rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic hepatitis etc.

How hydrogen act to reduce inflammation?

Hydrogen has shown to reduce inflammation in animal models and in humans. This effect is related to the fact that it reduces oxidative stress by free radicals which play an important role in inflammation with inflammation promoting the formation of free radicals and the formed free radicals promoting inflammation. The effect on hydroxyl free radicals is supposed to be the main mechanism of how hydrogen exerts its anti-inflammatory action. It may also act by suppressing the formation of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF α) from the macrophages as it is one of the mediators of inflammatory process. At the same time there is an up-regulation of interleukin-10 and general regulation cytokine expression towards anti-inflammatory profiles. As the exact mechanism is not fully understood it may have other actions too.

Effects of anti-inflammation on organs

The anti-inflammatory properties have been able to help with many disease processes concerning various organs and body systems.

In gastrointestinal system hydrogen enriched water has been able to reduce inflammation and the development of fibrosis of the liver in parasite induced liver infection in animal models. Hydrogen water was also able to protect liver against ischemia reperfusion injury. This was thought to be due to its anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.

Further animal studies have shown the following results:

After major surgery in the liver, such as hepatectomy, liver failure can occur. Hydrogen rich saline given intraperitoneally can reduce occurrence of this complication by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines. Some of these cytokines are TNF α, interleukin 6 (IL 6) and HMBG 1.

Hydrogen inhalation has been shown to reduce inflammation and graft rejection in intestinal transplants.

Hydrogen rich saline given as an infusion has been shown to be protective for the heart in case of myocardial infarction or a heart attack. There have been found enhanced levels of superoxide dismutase and Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase activity, lowered Ca(2+)-ATPase activity and decreased interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor-α levels in the serum. This has lead to reduction in the infarct size, improved function in left heart and reduced pathological changes of the left heart.

Drinking hydrogen rich water has also prevented the development of atherosclerosis in a special mouse model after 6 month. Atherosclerosis is the process which narrows the blood vessels by forming cholesterol rich plaques in the blood vessel walls.

Hydrogen rich water is also effective against diabetic retinopathy by influencing the inflammation process.

Molecular hydrogen is also effective in neuro-protection against acute neurodegeneration. It has been found that there is increased expression of anti inflammatory genes.

In patients which be ventilated by mechanical ventilation a ventilator-induced lung injury can occur due to oxidative stress and inflammatory response. It's a major cause of mortality and morbidity of patients in the intensive care unit. In a mouse model hydrogen inhalation has been shown to improve the gas exchange process and reduce the ventilator associated lung injury.

Hydrogen is also important for the well being of the bones. The cytokine called TNF α plays one of the most important roles in chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and post menopausal osteoporosis. Treatment with hydrogen gas can reduce inflammatory effects of TNF α on osteoblasts. Osteoblasts are the cells in bones that are involved in forming new bones. In mentioned diseases the function of osteoblasts are impaired. Hydrogen therapy can reduce the oxidative stress which also plays a role in pathogenesis of these chronic diseases.

There is a small Japanese clinical study with 20 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) showed that drinking daily 530 ml of hydrogen-enriched water for a total of 8 weeks resulted in a reduction of biomarkers of RA damage (such as C-reactive protein and others). 5 of these 20 patients has an early manifestation of RA. 4 of these 5 patients have shown complete remission of this disease, becoming symptom-free with no further evidence of elevation in biomarkers of the disease.

Pulmonary hypertension is increased blood pressure in the lungs. It is different from systemic hypertension. This pressure irreversibly damages the blood vessels in the lung. Since right ventricle of the heart has to pump against added pressure, it hypertrophies. These changes are usually considered irreversible and there are only a few drugs for symptomatic treatment of this disease. Oral or injected hydrogen rich saline has shown to prevent the development of hypertension and hypertrophy of the right ventricle of the heart in a rat model. This was supposed to be due to the-antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of hydrogen.

Apart from these uses anti-inflammatory effect of hydrogen has been used in skin conditions like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. A small Asiatic clinical study has shown: The administration of H2-enriched (1 ppm) saline by intravenous infusion in patients with psoriasis, drinking H2-enriched water (5 ppm) or using 3% H2 gas inhalation over a period of 4 weeks improved all of the symptoms of psoriasis (psoriasis area severity index) and biomarkers DAS28 as well as interleukin-6 significantly. The psoriatic lesions almost disappeared in all of the patients treated with hydrogen.

How are we going to benefit from hydrogen?

Inflammation is implicated in many disease processes and it is mediated through substances such as cytokines. This cytokine production can be reduced due to the anti-inflammatory effect of hydrogen. It is useful to take hydrogen as a therapeutic method. It´s also useful as preventive method for maintaining the general well being.

Hydrogen is effectively administered for instance via a nebulizer since it directly goes into the lung and then it can get diffused into the circulation. It´s recommended to use an own electrolyzer to generate hydrogen at home with safe concentrations whenever you need.

Drinking hydrogen enriched water can also be an effective method. Scientists are still researching for ways to introduce hydrogen as a standard treatment option for patients. The advantages of hydrogen were discovered very recently with many ongoing researches and it´s ongoing.


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