Molecular hydrogen (H2) has systemic relevance and has been shown to have great promise for protecting against a wide variety of disorders. In the discussion that follows, I provide a general overview of molecular hydrogen and then a selective focus on its value regarding the brain.
Additionally, I discuss potential enhancement of the benefits of molecular hydrogen therapy by the synchronous use of cell salts. In this reference, I suggest a specific combination of cell salts for the brain that can be administered in concert with molecular hydrogen for a rewarding synergistic effect.
Hydrogen is the most volatile element and it strives continuously to escape from the Earth’s grasp back to the cosmos from which it came. Free hydrogen is a component of volcanic gases. Despite the structural predominance of hydrogen in the universe, the earth’s atmosphere contains only 1 part per million of it, because hydrogen continuously diffuses into outer space. It is the lightest of the elements.
Hydrogen can almost never be encountered on earth in its free state. As an active gas, hydrogen is bi-atomic (i.e., molecular hydrogen; occurs as H2—2 atoms of hydrogen bonded together). Essential oils are primarily hydrocarbons; in other words, they are built from hydrogen and carbon. Among other things, carbon serves to anchor hydrogen and prevent its escape from Earth.
The sun and other stars consist almost entirely of hydrogen. Hydrogen powers the nuclear fusion that generates the solar energy. Said fusion occurs within the sun’s core when the protons of hydrogen atoms violently collide and fuse to create helium atoms.
Nearly the entire cosmos was constituted out of hydrogen atoms. It’s estimated that hydrogen constitutes 90% of all atoms and 75% of the mass of the universe. The thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen nuclei supplies the universe with its light and heat. Anthroposophical physician Gerhard Schmidt, M.D. writes in his book: The Oil-Forming Process: “Nothing is so related to light and warmth as this element: hydrogen.” Along with oxygen, hydrogen has been required for all the evolutionary changes in both prokaryotes (single-celled organisms, including bacteria, that have neither a distinct nucleus with a membrane nor other specialized organelles) and eukaryotes (unicellular or multicellular organisms in which the genetic material is DNA in the form of chromosomes contained within a distinct nucleus). The extremes of oxygen and hydrogen provide balance between the oxidation and reduction reactions that are essential for life.
Therapeutic Use of Molecular Hydrogen
In the body, hydrogen, mostly bound to carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, is part of nearly every molecule, including proteins, sugars, fats and DNA. The hydrogen bond formed between atoms that share a hydrogen atom, is one of the most crucial biochemical interactions regarding the behavior of biological molecules. Thus, hydrogen is an essential factor in physiological regulation.
In the last two decades, research on molecular hydrogen shows that it may be one of the most important therapeutic gases today. Hundreds of peer-reviewed studies have demonstrated the healing potential of molecular hydrogen. When inhaled, it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream via the lungs, and circulated throughout the body.
As noted, hydrogen is the lightest element in the universe. As such, human tissues are very permeable to molecular hydrogen. Hydrogen can cross the blood-brain barrier and has the capability of acting at the cellular level, entering the mitochondria, and, under certain conditions, penetrating the nucleus. Since it readily diffuses, free-radical fighting hydrogen molecules can reach places inaccessible to most other antioxidants.
H2 is a unique molecule that can activate the Nrf2 pathway and also increase endogenous levels of glutathione. The Nrf2 pathway is an intrinsic mechanism that defends against oxidative stress. Nrf2 contributes to the anti-inflammatory process by orchestrating the recruitment of inflammatory cells and regulating gene expression through the antioxidant response element (ARE). The ARE signalling pathway regulates anti-inflammatory gene expression and inhibits the progression of inflammation. The Nrf2 pathway plays a preventive role regarding neurodegenerative conditions, as it reduces oxidative stress and nerve inflammation.
Glutathione, an antioxidant made from the amino acids glycine, cysteine, and glutamic acid, is produced by the liver. It is involved in tissue building and repair, the manufacture of essential biochemicals and proteins, and immune system function.
H2 regulates anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity, mitochondrial energy metabolism, endoplasmic reticulum stress, the immune system, and programmed cell death (i.e., apoptosis) and therefore has applications in a variety of disorders.1
Of course, oxygen, the primary objective of breathing, is absolutely essential for continued existence. Notably, while by weight, the human body is composed mostly of oxygen (which is 8 times heavier than hydrogen), by volume, there is twice as much hydrogen than oxygen.
Molecular Hydrogen Combats Harmful ROS and Free Radicals
The terms free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are commonly used interchangeably as ROS are always free radical compounds. However, not all free radicals are reactive oxygen species in that some free radicals (highly reactive due the presence of an unpaired electron) do not contain any oxygen atoms. By definition, ROS always contain oxygen atoms.
Both ROS and non-oxygen-containing free radicals tend to react with molecules of body cells in order to bond with an electron so that their own unpaired electrons stabilize. In other words, in order to stabilize, free radicals are atoms or molecules on the hunt for a spare electron and robbing these from, and thus damaging, cellular structures.
Because H2 is a neutral molecule, it only reacts with the most pathogenic free radicals. Oxidative stress is derived from reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as superoxide anion radical (O2-), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), nitric oxide, and hydroxyl radical (OH·). Molecular hydrogen selectively reduces the highly toxic ROS hydroxyl radical and peroxynitrite, but not O2-, H2O2, or nitric oxide.
Importantly, some ROS play physiologically important roles in cellular signalling and biological processes, such as apoptosis (i.e., the death of cells that occur as a normal and controlled part of an organism’s growth or development), cell proliferation, and differentiation. Nitric oxide acts as a neurotransmitter that helps facilitate the dilation of blood vessels, thus increasing blood circulation. Oxygen-derived free radicals play an important role in both natural and acquired immunity. Neutrophil and macrophage (types of white blood cells) phagocytosis (the ingestion and destruction of bacteria or other harmful material by white blood cells) involves certain cellular processes for which oxygen is required to produce potent oxidant, bactericidal agents (i.e., these white blood cells use specific ROS to destroy pathogenic bacteria).2
However, the hydroxyl radical, the strongest ROS, reacts indiscriminately with nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins and is a major cause of the oxidation and destruction of essential molecules, either directly or by triggering free radical chain reactions.
To reiterate: Molecular hydrogen does not impact the beneficial free radicals used in cell signalling and immune function. Instead, it selectively targets the highly toxic ROS hydroxyl radical and peroxynitrite. Additionally, H2 programs body cells to start pumping out more of endogenous (growing or originating from within an organism) antioxidants, such as glutathione peroxidase (GSH) and superoxide dismutase (SOD).3
Importantly, H2 is non-toxic because water is the by-product of its free-radical neutralizing reactions. Each molecule of H2 neutralizes two hydroxyl radicals into two molecules of H2O, providing the additional benefit of cellular hydration.
Molecular hydrogen infused-water drinking and inhalation have shown positive results in central nervous system, metabolic syndrome, disorders of the cardiovascular system, digestive system, respiratory system, urinary system and reproductive system, cancer and neurological diseases.4
In a 2022 study, scientists found hydrogen inhalation facilitated hearing improvement in patients with deafness after radiation therapy.5
Molecular Hydrogen, Cell Salts and the Brain
Oxidative stress and neuro-inflammation are a root cause for many neurological disorders such as those following brain injury (e.g., stroke), neurodegenerative disorders, and other diseases.6
As noted, molecular hydrogen functions as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Moreover, inhalation of H2 gas markedly suppresses ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) of the brain by buffering oxidative stress.7
H2 is also a novel neuroprotective, and found to be both safe and effective, in patients with acute cerebral infarction.8
As previously noted, molecular hydrogen can not only pass through cell membranes, it can also cross the blood-brain barrier, enabling it to penetrate both a cell’s nucleus and the mitochondria within brain cells.
The cell is the structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of any organism that is classified as living, plant or animal, and is often referred to as “the building block of life.” Most vital functions of an organism occur within its cells, and all cells contain the hereditary information necessary for regulating cellular functions and for transmitting information to the next generation of cells.
All cells have several different abilities: nerve cells, white blood cells, liver cells, muscle cells. All of these have highly specific functions and all of these functions depend upon cellular metabolism, specifically the production of energy.
The human body is constructed of 50 to 100 trillion cells. The word cell comes from the Latin cellula, meaning small room. Each cell is surrounded by its cell membrane and contains a variety of functional components called organelles. One of these organelles is called the mitochondria. The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. It produces the energy required for supporting cellular metabolism, movement (e.g., blood cells), production of secretions (e.g., hormones and antibodies), communication with other cells and cellular reproduction.
The mitochondria transforms glucose and fatty acids into energy usable by the cells that contain them. Their number varies depending upon the cell’s function and total energy requirements. There may be as few as one or as many as thousands of mitochondria within a single cell.
Mitochondrial dysfunction, including decreased oxidative capacity and increased oxidative damage, contributes substantially to biological aging. Mitochondria are involved in the regulation of the complex processes of synaptic plasticity (i.e., the change that occurs at synapses ─the junctions between neurons─ that allow them to communicate). For this, and other reasons, memory loss and neurodegeneration during aging are related to mitochondrial dysfunction.9
Due to its small size, molecular hydrogen can rapidly penetrate biological membranes and subcellular organelles, such as mitochondria. Able to operate deeply within cells, H2 can penetrate the mitochondria and exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cytoprotective (protection against harmful chemicals) actions.
As the mitochondria is now considered to be an ideal therapeutic target for small molecule interventions, H2, capable of reaching that organelle, may be ideally suited for that regarding mitochondria-related disorders. Studies have shown that molecular hydrogen improves the pathology of mitochondrial disorders.10
The brain is more vulnerable to oxidative stress than are other organs because, despite its high oxygen-consumption (20% of the body’s total consumption at rest), it has relatively low antioxidant levels. Neurons are postmitotic cells. Mitosis is the process of cell duplication, or reproduction, during which one cell gives rise to two genetically identical daughter cells. Mitosis involves the duplication and distribution of chromosomes. Mitosis is essential for cellular development and growth and cell replacement.
A postmitotic cell is a mature cell that is no longer capable of undergoing mitosis. Thus, over the years it suffers cumulative oxidative damage. Accordingly, ROS is suspected to be a central factor in various neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. ROS-induced mitochondrial damage, in particular, is associated with the onset of these disorders.11
Many studies suggest that administration of H2 is efficacious in the treatments of cerebrovascular diseases. For instance, in 2007, Japanese researchers demonstrated that inhalation of 2% H2 could selectively eliminate hydroxyl radical and peroxynitrite anion, and significantly improve cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury.7
Cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury is the main pathophysiological mechanism of ischemic stroke. It induces a rapid decline in blood circulation within the brain during the early stage of stroke. This results in depletion of cellular energy and inhibition of cellular energy production. In turn, this leads to depolarization (i.e., the reduction of a cell membrane’s resting electrical potential, causing its electrical charge to become less negative) of the cell membranes of neurons with resultant imbalances of ion homeostasis between the inside and outside of brain cells.
Molecular Hydrogen and the Cell Salts Kali mur, Kali phos. Ferrum phos. and Calc. sulph.
In the 19th century, a German medical doctor and homeopath named W.H. Schuessler (1821-1898) made a discovery, the importance of which has never been appreciated nor acknowledged by conventional medicine. Schuessler, by way of analyzing the ash of cremated human remains, discovered the prominent presence of twelve proportionately occurring mineral salts.
Schuessler performed similar qualitative and quantitative analyses of various tissues (e.g., bone and muscle) and bodily fluids such as blood, lymph and breast milk. From this, he discovered that certain of these same twelve mineral salts were more prominent than others within specific tissues and fluids. For example, while potassium phosphate and magnesium phosphate are strongly present in muscle and nerve tissue, potassium chloride is more prominent in mucous membranes and calcium phosphate in bone.
Based upon these discoveries, Schuessler theorized that these mineral salts were the essential building blocks of life. He felt that the function of the trillions (the latest estimate are that there are approximately 30 to 70 trillion cells in the human body) of body cells hinged upon the presence of these mineral salts in proper proportions. Therefore, said salts became known as the “cell salts.”
Schuessler’s twelve cell salts are: calcium fluoride, calcium phosphate, calcium sulphate, iron phosphate, magnesium phosphate, potassium chloride, potassium phosphate, potassium sulphate, sodium chloride, sodium phosphate, sodium sulphate and silica.
Schuessler went so far as to say that the cell salts are the vital portions of the body; the other substances in the body, such as water, proteins and fats are merely inert matter used by these cell salt masters in maintaining cellular integrity. Of course, we now know that to be an erroneous notion unsupported by modern scientific research. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that these cell salts are vital to cellular function, and a deficiency or imbalance in their collective presence will result in dysfunction and disease. On the other hand, supplementation with the proper cell salts, which will correct such deficiency and imbalance, can help to restore body cells to a healthy state.
Schuessler believed that the salts had to engage directly, with diseased or devitalized cells. Thus, being a homeopath as well as a medical doctor, he prepared his cell salts using the homeopathic method of sequential dilution and potentization. The resultant high dilution enables the few remaining molecules of the mineral salt to bypass obstructions in the body. They can then be utilized by the cells independent of the processes of digestion and assimilation that are often weakened and inefficient in an ill or devitalized individual.
Ferrum phos. (iron phosphate) serves a vital function regarding hemoglobin, and thus, systemic oxygen transport. Energy in the brain is generated almost exclusively from a form of metabolism that requires oxygen. As neurons maintain only a small energy reserve, they require a continuous supply of oxygen, especially when communicating with adjacent brain cells. Despite comprising only 2 percent of body mass, the brain consumes 20% of the body’s oxygen intake.
There is a direct correlation between brain activity and blood flow. When neurons in a particular area of the brain begin to fire, there is concomitant increase in blood flow to that area.
Symptoms from the Ferrum phos. symptom picture include: blood congestion of the head, including the brain; dizziness from cranial congestion; cranial congestion resulting from anger; sleeplessness from cranial congestion; congestive headaches; dull heavy pain on the top of the head.
Kali. mur. (potassium chloride) occurs in significant amounts in the brain, indicating that it is essential for brain function. Kali. mur. is required for the formation of brain cells and is one of the cell salts for sluggish conditions. restless sleep, startled at the least noise; epilepsy (chief cell salt remedy);
Kali. phos. (potassium phosphate), a nerve nutrient and an essential component of nerve tissue, is the leading cell salt for disorders in which nervous stress, nervousness and nerve weakness are both prominent etiological factors and symptoms. Kali phos deficiency keynotes include: nerve and nervous symptoms, brain symptoms, and insomnia.
Symptoms and qualities of Kali. Phos. include: nerve nutrient; constituent of brain, nerves and blood; remedy for ailments of a truly nervous character; deficient vitality (deficient chi); deficient Yin; chronic fatigue; languid weariness; atrophic conditions in old people; sharpens the mental faculties; anxiety; nervous exhaustion; brain fatigue from overwork.
While external breathing (i.e., the blood’s uptake of oxygen in the lungs) relies upon Ferrum phos. for its normal operations, internal respiration (i.e., cellular respiration) depends upon Kali sulph.
Given its association with cellular respiration, Kali. sulph. is one of the primary cell salts for supporting mitochondrial function. For this reason, taking a dose of Kali sulph. prior to and just after a molecular hydrogen inhalation session may enhance the beneficial effects H2 exerts upon mitochondrial function.
Both Kali sulph. (potassium sulphate) And Kali. phos. (potassium phosphate) are potassium salts. Mitochondrial potassium channels regulate mitochondrial respiration and the alteration of membrane potential (the difference in electric potential between the interior and the exterior of a biological cell). Additionally, they modulate the mitochondrial matrix volume and the synthesis of reactive oxygen species by mitochondria. Mitochondrial potassium channels are believed to contribute to cytoprotection (a process by which chemical compounds provide protection to cells against harmful agents).12
Administration of H2 and Cell Salts
Most clinical studies apply 1-4% pure H2 inhalation. Inhaled H2 diffuses into the alveoli of the lungs and is then transported via the blood throughout the body. Breathing in H2 and O2 mixture should be in the proportion of 2:1. My hydrogen generator produces 600 ml/min of H2 and 300 ml/min of O2. Lowering the H2 output also automatically changes the O2 output.
For a H2/Cell Salts brain-support protocol, I take the cell salts discussed above just prior to, and immediately after, an H2 session. It is best to separate the cell salts from each other by 2 to 3 minutes. In other words, after taking the Ferrum phos., wait 2 minutes before taking the Kali. mur., then wait 2 minutes before taking the Kali. phos. and finally, wait 2 minutes before taking Kali. sulph. This allows the body time to recognize and process each cell salt before moving on to the next one. However, if one is short of time, taking all 4 simultaneously is a viable option.
With the H2 infused-water, adding all 4 cell salts into the water that the H2 will be bubbled may prove of good service. I find that the H2 has a potentizing effect upon the cell salts that are dissolved into solution in the hydrogen water.
Hydrogen gas bubbled through distilled water dissipates small amounts of hydrogen molecules in the water. While inhalation provides a much larger volume of molecular hydrogen, I find that hydrogen-infused water has distinct value. One can feel the uplift from it almost instantly. Also, as hydrogen-infused water is swallowed and has direct contact with the stomach and intestinal tract, it has unique value when addressing inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract. However, if the goal is to infuse the blood with a large volume of hydrogen in order to carry oxygen throughout the body, hydrogen-inhalation is definitely the preferred method of administration.
I’m currently using the professional Hydrogen generator by PEMF-devices.com. It produces 600 ml of H2 and 300 ml of O2 per minute. The machine can be set up to make H2 water as well.
- 1.Ohta S. Recent progress toward hydrogen medicine: potential of molecular hydrogen for preventive and therapeutic applications. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(22):2241-2252. doi:10.2174/138161211797052664
- 2.Knight J. Review: Free radicals, antioxidants, and the immune system. Ann Clin Lab Sci. 2000;30(2):145-158. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10807157
- 3.Murakami Y, Ito M, Ohsawa I. Molecular hydrogen protects against oxidative stress-induced SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cell death through the process of mitohormesis. Arai K, ed. PLoS ONE. Published online May 3, 2017:e0176992. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0176992
- 4.Ge L, Yang M, Yang N, Yin X, Song W. Molecular hydrogen: a preventive and therapeutic medical gas for various diseases. Oncotarget. 2017;8(60):102653-102673. doi:10.18632/oncotarget.21130
- 5.Kong X, Lu T, Lu YY, Yin Z, Xu K. Effect of Hydrogen Inhalation Therapy on Hearing Loss of Patients With Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma After Radiotherapy. Front Med. Published online March 31, 2022. doi:10.3389/fmed.2022.828370
- 6.Emerit J, Edeas M, Bricaire F. Neurodegenerative diseases and oxidative stress. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. Published online January 2004:39-46. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2003.11.004
- 7.Ohsawa I, Ishikawa M, Takahashi K, et al. Hydrogen acts as a therapeutic antioxidant by selectively reducing cytotoxic oxygen radicals. Nat Med. 2007;13(6):688-694. doi:10.1038/nm1577
- 8.Ono H, Nishijima Y, Ohta S, et al. Hydrogen Gas Inhalation Treatment in Acute Cerebral Infarction: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Study on Safety and Neuroprotection. Journal of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Diseases. Published online November 2017:2587-2594. doi:10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2017.06.012
- 9.Todorova V, Blokland A. Mitochondria and Synaptic Plasticity in the Mature and Aging Nervous System. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2017;15(1):166-173. doi:10.2174/1570159×14666160414111821
- 10.Ohta S. Molecular hydrogen is a novel antioxidant to efficiently reduce oxidative stress with potential for the improvement of mitochondrial diseases. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – General Subjects. Published online May 2012:586-594. doi:10.1016/j.bbagen.2011.05.006
- 11.Lin MT, Beal MF. Mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in neurodegenerative diseases. Nature. Published online October 2006:787-795. doi:10.1038/nature05292
- 12.Laskowski M, Augustynek B, Kulawiak B, et al. What do we not know about mitochondrial potassium channels? Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016;1857(8):1247-1257. doi:10.1016/j.bbabio.2016.03.007