No one will ever confuse molecular hydrogen (H2) or hydrogen water with creamy, perfumed skin creams. But while molecular hydrogen may not have the cachet of an expensive cosmetic, it does have science on its side.
Molecular hydrogen is the smallest molecule in existence. It’s also a tasteless, odorless, flammable gas. As an antioxidant health supplement, there are now hundreds of studies linking molecular hydrogen to more than five dozen diseases. It works primarily by reducing oxidative stress, one of the major causes of most lifestyle-related illnesses, cancers, and the aging process. Simply put, oxidative stress happens when there is an imbalance at the cellular level favoring the bad guys (reactive oxygen species including free radicals) over beneficial antioxidants.
Numerous studies also suggest that H2 should be an integral part of your anti-aging arsenal because of its amazing skin health benefits.
“Our skin is our largest organ encompassing all other organs of our body,” says author and certified integrative nutritional holistic health coach Connie Rogers. “It’s constantly exposed to reactive oxygen species (ROS) from the environment, pollution, radiation, and more. Molecular hydrogen acts as an antioxidant, reduces oxidative damage in the skin, and fights inflammation.”
The Free Radical Theory of Aging
In the 1950s, biogerontologist Denham Harman first proposed the free radical theory of aging. The idea is that our skin loses its elasticity and we age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time. Exposure to ultraviolet light can increase concentrations of ROS and free radicals dramatically.
“By taking an antioxidant such as molecular hydrogen, you could help mitigate some of the damage caused by this increase in ROS,” says health care writer and editor Claudia Rallis.
Rallis says H2 shouldn’t be a substitute for organic sunscreen or other UV protection, but reducing oxidative stress through the use of molecular hydrogen “should help slow down the aging process and help give you younger, healthier-looking skin.”
Sunburn: A Hot Topic
Several studies extol molecular hydrogen’s curative powers after skin cells suffer UV damage. One animal study involved hairless mice with sunburns. Group A was bathed in tap water while group B was bathed in hydrogen water. The skin of the mice bathed in hydrogen water showed significantly lower indices of skin injury and lower inflammatory cytokine (harmful protein) levels. Then a similar study was done and found that bathing mice in hydrogen water reduced the level of skin damage as well as increased the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase, and lowered inflammatory cytokines.
This research was further validated in yet another study where hydrogen water was shown to be very beneficial for UV induced skin cell damage. The study showed that Type-1 collagen (important structural protein found in the skin) was synthesized about twofold more in the cells treated with hydrogen water. It also prevented DNA damage, cell death, and decreased levels of intracellular free radicals.
Tyler LeBaron, founder and executive director of molecular hydrogen foundation, says this last human study was particularly significant.
“The study also reveals that in human subjects, bathing in hydrogen water for three months significantly improved wrinkles in the skin,” LeBaron says. “The authors concluded that hydrogen water might serve as a daily skin care to repress UVA-induced skin damage by scavenging free radicals and promoting type-1 collagen synthesis.”
Speaking Of Wrinkles
The desire to have healthy, elastic, wrinkle-free, and young looking skin dates back to primeval times. One popular skin rejuvenation method has been bathing in springs and mineral waters. Unlike unproven lotions, creams, oils, powders, and other cosmetics, bathing in waters that have reductive characteristics appear to provide great therapeutic potential. One study tested mineral water and a prepared water containing H2. The results revealed that bathing in both of these waters decreased the oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) of human skin. Essentially this means a reduction of free radicals at the cellular level.
“Bathing in the hydrogen water not only reduced the ORP of skin, but also improved its elasticity,” LeBaron says.
The Skinny On Diseases
Skin-related diseases are also getting a look to see if H2 can help. A 2015 study showed that psoriasis and skin lesions associated with arthritis can show improvement with H2 treatments. Three different methods of administering molecular hydrogen were used, and in all cases the lesions nearly disappeared at the conclusion of the treatment. This led the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to report that H2 may indeed “be considered as a treatment strategy for psoriasis-associated skin lesions and arthritis.”
NCBI also says that H2 “shows significant therapeutic potential” for rheumatoid arthritis, especially in the early stages by reducing oxidative stress in patients.
Water is absolutely essential for the normal functioning of the skin and especially its outer layer, the stratum corneum (SC). Drink too little water and you can expect dry, flaky skin, among other health issues.
Nationally recognized sports nutritionist, strength, and conditioning coach Brandon Mentore says hydrogen-infused water helps with proper hydration.
“This helps the skin naturally through hydration and detoxification,” Mentore says. “Because H2 has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the natural perfusion of water throughout the body helps process metabolites.”
According to Mentore, all this encourages skin regeneration and rejuvenation over time.
There has been research that backs up molecular hydrogen’s ability to hydrate better than ordinary water, including a study that showed a 4 percent increase in hydration levels after a one-time use.
A 2012 study concluded, “Adequate hydration with hydrogen-rich water pre-exercise reduced blood lactate levels and improved exercise-induced decline of muscle function.”
Hydrogen Water: Drink It, Breathe It, Rub It On
Few if any antioxidant supplements have the versatility of molecular hydrogen. There are several ways to get molecular hydrogen into your system including drinking hydrogen infused water, inhalation, taking an H2 bath, or putting H2-saline into the eyes. The easiest and probably most efficient method is by simply dropping an H2 tablet like Hydra in water and then drinking it. In all cases, molecular hydrogen (H2) easily enters the bloodstream and is transported throughout the body.
As far as how much you should drink, there is no specific amount that’s right for everyone. According to LeBaron, a good general recommendation for significant health benefits is to drink a concentration of 1-3 mg of dissolved H2 per liter of water.
“These doses are simply what have been seen to exert benefits,” says LeBaron.
And there doesn’t appear to be an upper limit of use. Molecular hydrogen is very safe because when H2 neutralizes a free-radical, the byproduct is water.
Dropping A Tablet In Water Is All It Takes To Experience Better Skin And Dozens Of Other Health Benefits!
Tell Tale Telomeres
The end parts of the chromosomes are called telomeres. They are often compared to the plastic protective tips in shoelaces that protect a shoelace from unravelling. In this same way, telomeres play an important role in protecting the DNA and keeping it stable. Telomere shortening has been identified as the primary cause of human aging.
“Once the telomeres are at their shortest length, new cells will not be produced and death occurs,” says Ed Wunder, who holds a Molecular Hydrogen Foundation certification. “It is, quite literally, like living with a ticking clock in our bodies.”
According to Wunder, molecular hydrogen can stop premature cell death (apoptosis) from occurring, by correcting and regulating the natural cellular functions. In this way, it can help to prolong life.
“It is also irrefutable at this point (with over 600 studies) that the usage of molecular hydrogen allows people to live with a much higher quality of life as they age,” says Wunder, “because many common so-called ‘age related’ diseases are unlikely to occur with the help of molecular hydrogen to defend the body against the attack of free radicals.”
Thomas Ropp Longtime journalist Thomas Ropp is an environmental advocate and proponent of living healthier. After spending most of his life in Arizona, he relocated to a Costa Rican rainforest ten years ago and helped with reforestation projects to expand the habitat of the endangered mono titi monkey. He has dual residency in the United States and Costa Rica.
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