Japanese are known to be one of the nations with the longest life expectancy with 83.6 years. The reason for their long life has been a matter of scientific interest for a long time. It has been vaguely attributed to the diet pattern of the Japanese.
But 2007 research paper on molecular hydrogen has changed the world view on not only hydrogen therapy of diseases, but also on the possibility to increase life expectancy by hydrogen. Since then, there are hundreds of researches done on various therapeutic effects of hydrogen. However hydrogen has long been in use before these effects were discovered. From the ancient times, Japanese used to bathe in natural pools with high molecular hydrogen level. The popularity of electrolyzed reduced water (ERW) in which the water is ionized by using an electrolyser were introduced from the early 1900’s. This water has been called various names such as “shin’nooru solution” or “synnohl liquid”. The electrolyzed reduced water has been known to contain healing powers. Only recently the scientists got to know that the active substance in ERW is molecular hydrogen.
Meanwhile it´s also known that healing waters such as the water of Lourdes or the Hunza-water contain a increased proportion of hydrogen.
If you search the market, there are many companies offering ERW as a way to prevent many diseases. But people are skeptic about these devices due to false marketing strategies. Although Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has approved the use of ERW back in 1965, these products came into the US market only recently. The way they are promoted often has no actual scientific basis. Good scientific basis is needed in order to back up the vast benefits of hydrogen without being shrouded by bogus marketing strategies. Meanwhile a lot of studies have shown the great potential of hydrogen mostly in animal models but in recent time also increasingly in human studies, it means performed with human patients. We have a list of studies that you may be interested.
Many researchers have been conducted to seek the potential of hydrogen molecule. Some of these characteristics include anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, cyto-protective, anti-apoptotic and anti-allergic properties. So how does hydrogen can help people to live longer? The answer to that question lies in these listed properties of hydrogen. Hydrogen has been shown to reduce the aging process.
In a study conducted in Japan in 2013 researchers have revealed that centenarians (people aged 100 years and over) have a high hydrogen concentration in their breath. It was significantly higher compared to elderly with diabetes and healthy young adults. These were especially elderly people who were lean and had no other disease. It was believed that their intestinal micro bacteria produced the hydrogen gas from the undigested carbohydrate and other food particles. This can be affected by the environment and the genetic makeup of the individual.
This was further supported by measuring hydrogen in breath in the offsprings living in the same house of the centenarians. There was no significant difference between the centenarians and their offspring, living in the same home. The research concluded that increased intestinal production of hydrogen gas might contribute to longevity in Japanese centenarians, and it is related to the diet and gut microbiota of these people.
Oxidative stress due to formation of reactive oxygen species have been implicated in many disease processes. Although reactive oxygen species occur naturally in our body due to energy metabolism, it can be made in excess as a result of air pollution, smoking, strenuous exercise, ultra violet radiation and physical as well as psychological stress. Acute oxidative stress is known to occur in inflammation, organ transplantation, bleeding after operations, ischemia reperfusion injuries seen in myocardial infarctions or cerebral infarctions and others. Diabetes mellitus, atherosclerosis, malignant diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, chronic inflammatory processes as well as aging process are being considered to occur due to chronic oxidative stress.
It is important to have antioxidants to prevent diseases and prolong the life. The researchers have found anti-oxidants which people can additionally take, such as vitamins (for instance vitamin E and A), not only reduce the reactive oxidant species but also affect the important molecules used in the signal transduction of the cells. This side effect has increased the mortality and limited the use of anti-oxidants in order to prolong life.
But hydrogen was found to have only reduce the effects of harmful oxygen free radicals such as hydroxyl and do not disturb the physiological free radicals such as hydrogen peroxide. This makes hydrogen the ideal anti-oxidant to be used for prevention of all these disease processes.
One effect that occurs during aging is neuronal degeneration. Even though the lifespan is prolonged, the quality of life can be affected if the brain does not function the way we want it to.
Hydrogen has been known to have protective effects against diseases such as Parkinson´s disease. Mitochondrial dysfunction and associated oxidative stress are the major reasons for the loss of dopaminergic neuronal cells in the substantia nigra of the brain which is seen in patients with Parkinson´s disease. By drinking hydrogen rich water the progress of Parkinson´s disease could be halted in several models with rats.
Recently, there was been a pilot clinical trial to study the effects of hydrogen water on the progression of Parkinson´s disease in Japanese patients. We mentioned this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study in the article about cytoprotective properties of hydrogen. Examined by special scores there has been shown that the disease worsened in the group without hydrogen water application, whereas scores in the hydrogen water group improved (with significance).
Hydrogen also protects the cells against apoptosis or cell death by regulation of genes. This effect is important in diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, where is found a degeneration and loss of neurons. By studies in animal models it has been shown that hydrogen is able to protect these cells and maintain the cognitive function.
Metabolic syndrome and especially diabetes mellitus type 2 are diseases that occur more frequently in the present time. This includes derangements in the metabolic processes in the body leading to diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, the number one cause of death worldwide. By drinking hydrogen rich water, the plasma levels of glucose and triglycerides can be decreased and long term use can even lead to reduced fat and obesity. It can protect the liver against changes into fatty liver, which can lead to cirrhosis even though no alcohol has been consumed. Hydrogen has also a positive influence on the development of atherosclerosis (as described in former articles), considering that stroke can debilitate a person and make that person bedridden which can significantly reduce the quality of life.
Molecular hydrogen can also suppress chronic inflammatory diseases. These are seen in elderly people leading to disability and chronic pain. The constant pain can depress a person and adversely affect his health. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are some of the diseases in which debilitating symptoms can be reduced by the administration of hydrogen.
When we age, the body gradually dysfunction and the skin is the first to show that a human is old by being wrinkled and thin. Antioxidants already have been delivered to skin in lotions, creams and others.
Hydrogen rich water has been proven in humans to reduce the already formed wrinkles by preventing cell death and damages to DNA. In a recent study Japanese subjects had take a bath in hydrogen riched water (0.2 - 0.4 ppm H2) daily for 3 months. The result was that type-1 collagen synthesis was increased over 2-fold after 3 - 5 days by an elevated fibroblast activity in the hydrogen enriched water samples compared to controls. The neck wrinkles has been shown to improve significantly at the end of the 90-day bathing sessions. Thus, hydrogen can be a future skin care product. (Infact it has already been made by American dermatologists).
All these evidence points us that hydrogen can turn back the clock in a way and lead us to a long and healthy life by scavenging free radicals, regulating gene expression and modifying signal transduction processes in our cells. Although hydrogen was once considered to be an inert gas with no function at all, it has been shown that it may be the elixir of life we all have been waiting for.
- Ohsawa, I., et al., Hydrogen acts as a therapeutic antioxidant by selectively reducing cytotoxic oxygen radicals. Nat Med, 2007. 13(6): p. 688-694
- Nouril, P. (2017). Is hydrogen the new holy grail of anti-ageing?. The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 October 2017, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/beauty/face/hydrogen-new-holy-grail-anti-ageing/
- (2017). Molecularhydrogenfoundation.org. Retrieved 12 October 2017, from http://www.molecularhydrogenfoundation.org/core-information/alkaline-ionized-water-history-and-medical-approval/
- Kato, S., Saitoh, Y., Iwai, K., & Miwa, N. (2012). Hydrogen-rich electrolyzed warm water represses wrinkle formation against UVA ray together with type-I collagen production and oxidative-stress diminishment in fibroblasts and cell-injury prevention in keratinocytes. Journal Of Photochemistry And Photobiology B: Biology, 106, 24-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2011.09.006
- Aoki, Y. (2013). Increased concentrations of breath hydrogen gas in Japanese centenarians. Anti Aging Medicine, 10 (5), 101-105.
- Kamimura, M., &Ichimiya, S. (2016). Molecular hydrogen stimulates the gene expression of transcriptional coactivator PGC-1α to enhance fatty acid metabolism. NPJ Aging Mech Dis.
- Kamimura, M., Nishimaki, K., Ohsawa, I., &Ohta, S. (2011). Molecular hydrogen improves obesity and diabetes by inducing hepatic FGF21 and stimulating energy metabolism in db/db mice. Obesity (Silver Spring), 1396-403
- Shinbo, T., et al., Breathing nitric oxide plus hydrogen gas reduces ischemia-reperfusion injury and nitrotyrosine production in murine heart. Am J Physiol Heart CircPhysiol, 2013. 305(4): p. H542-50.
- Fu, Y., et al., Molecular hydrogen is protective against 6-hydroxydopamine-induced nigrostriatal degeneration in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease. Neuroscience Letters, 2009. 453: p. 81–85.chondrial function in rats. J Surg Res, 2014.
- Fujita, K., et al., Hydrogen in drinking water reduces dopaminergic neuronal loss in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl- 1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. PLoS One, 2009. 4(9): p. e7247.
- Chiasson, J.L., et al., Acarbose treatment and the risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension in patients with impaired glucose tolerance: the STOP-NIDDM trial. JAMA, 2003. 290(4): p. 486-94.
- Hashimoto, M., et al., Effects of hydrogen-rich water on abnormalities in aSHR.Cg-Leprcp/NDmcr rat – a metabolic syndrome rat model. Medical Gas Research, 2011. 1(1): p. 26.
- Yoritaka, A., Takanashi, M., Hirayama, M., Nakahara, T., Ohta, S. and Hattori, N. (2013) Pilot Study of H2 Therapy in Parkinson’s Disease: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial. Movement Disorders, 28, 836-839.