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What is Molecular Hydrogen - H2?

Hydrogen is the lightest and simplest element consisting of one electron and one proton. It is the center of the prevailing cosmological model that describes the early development of the Universe as well as the origin of life itself.

molecular hydrogen

Hydrogen exists primarily in the diatomic form as molecular hydrogen (H2) gas. It is colorless, odorless, non-metallic, and tasteless. The single hydrogen atom - atomic hydrogen (H) is neutral and has an unpaired electron. It is a free radical and is extremely unstable. When atomic hydrogen is produced via electrolysis it immediately reacts with another hydrogen atom to form stable molecular hydrogen. It has sometimes been referred to as “active hydrogen”, but there is no proof that it exists in a stable form in water.

Molecular hydrogen (aka diatomic molecular hydrogen gas) is the subject of an increasing number of scientific research publications. Over 350 peer-reviewed articles published in scientific journals show therapeutic effect in over 138 disease conditions. Some scientific papers refer to electrolytically produced water as hydrogen-rich water.

The extremely small size of molecular hydrogen and the high lipid solubility allows it to easily diffuse into the subcellular compartments of the mitochondria and other locations.

As a selective antioxidant, it neutralizes reactive oxygen molecules – free radicals - that are toxic to the cells(1), thus protecting DNA, RNA and cellular proteins from oxidative stress.(2) Research shows it also enhances the effect of the body’s antioxidant enzymes – glutathione, superoxide dismutase, catalase - and proteins that protect the cells. (3) Research has also revealed that H2 can alter cell signaling (4), cell metabolism (5) , and gene expression (6). This leads to anti-inflammatory effects, anti-allergic effects, and anti-apoptiotic (anti-cell death) effects. (7) A full compendium of research references can be viewed here.

Healing waters around the world - Nordenau Germany; Tlacote, Mexico; Hit Tenryosui, Japan - contain molecular hydrogen. The presence of H2 in these waters could be from bacteria and algae producing hydrogen gas, or from the water reacting with alkali-earth metals.

How to Get the Benefits of Molecular Hydrogen

You can breath H2 gas, you can inject H2 rich saline or use it as eye drops, you can bathe in it, you can put it on your skin, you can increase the production of H2 by intestinal bacteria ... OR you can create H2-rich water created by a water ionizer or from hydrogen-producing tablets. Which method is best? Early research suggests that the most effective - and easiest - approach is to drink H2-rich water. H2-rich water can be produced using electrolysis, magnesium, or bubbling H2 gas into water.

Water Ionizers produce H2-rich water through electrolysis. This is the same method used to produce molecular hydrogen gas for energy. Most home water ionizers produce only about 0.1ppm of molecular hydrogen at at pH of 9.5. Higher pH levels are typically not palatable, but higher concentrations are possible when the water is run slowly through the machine. The ability to produce high concentrations of molecular hydrogen at a pH of 9.5 is the most important thing to consider when choosing a water ionizer. The Oxidation-Reduction Potential is indicative of the presence of molecular hydrogen, but it is not a measurement of the concentration. A new and easy way to measure H2 has been developed using reagent drops.

Magnesium Tablets are another convenient way to produce H2-rich water. Magnesium reacts with water to produce hydrogen gas in a manner that does not carry any risk of explosion. (Mg + 2H20 >>> H2 + 2OH-) This is the most common method used by scientific researchers for human and animal studies. This method achieves cconcentration of molecular hydrogen at near saturation (1.6 ppm). This concentration makes it possible to ingest a greater quantity of molecular hydrogen without consuming large quantities of water, (1 liter vs 10 liters).

Molecular Hydrogen - the Key Benefit of Alkaline, Ionized Water

Mildly alkaline water (pH of 8 - 10) produced by a water ionizer, via electrolysis, has been promoted as a healthier drinking water in Asia for 35-40 years and in the US since the late 20th century. It is known as electrolyzed reduced water (ERW) in the scientific literature. ERW has a higher pH than the source water, a negative Oxidation-Reduction Potential (-100 mv to -700 mv) and contains dissolved molecular hydrogen gas. Until recently some believed that the molecular clusters of the water were smaller or unique in their structure.

1) DOLE, M., WILSON, F. R. & FIFE, W. P. (1975). Hyperbaric hydrogen therapy: a possible treatment for cancer. Science 190, 152-4.
2) LEE, M. Y., KIM, Y. K., RYOO, K. K., LEE, Y. B. & PARK, E. J. (2006). Electrolyzed-reduced water protects against oxidative damage to DNA, RNA, and protein. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 135, 133-44.
3) SUN, H. Chen, L. Zhou, W. Hu, L. Li, L. Tu, Q. Chang, Y. Liu, Q. Sun, X. Wu, M. Wang, H. (2011). The protective role of hydrogen-rich saline in experimental liver injury in mice. Journal of Hepatology 54, (3) 471-80
4) ITOH, T., FUJITA, Y., ITO, M., MASUDA, A., OHNO, K., ICHIHARA, M., KOJIMA, T., NOZAWA, Y. & ITO, M. (2009). Molecular hydrogen suppresses FcepsilonRI-mediated signal transduction and prevents degranulation of mast cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 389, 651-6.
5) KAMIMURA, N., 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.
6) NAKAI, Y., SATO, B., USHIAMA, S., OKADA, S., ABE, K. & ARAI, S. (2011). Hepatic oxidoreduction-related genes are upregulated by administration of hydrogen-saturated drinking water. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry 75, 774-6.
7) DIXON, B. J., TANG, J. & ZHANG, J. H. (2013). The evolution of molecular hydrogen: a noteworthy potential therapy with clinical significance. Med Gas Res 3, 10.