Alkaline Water: The Mystery Unraveled

It’s been known for decades that alkaline water has many health benefits. But scientists have long wondered why. Now they know: it’s the hydrogen gas dissolved in the water that acts as a very powerful antioxidant.

There’s no one medicine that fits every disease. But there is one that comes very close: water. It’s widely available, and in a specific form it has been shown to have therapeutic effects on more than 150 human diseases and conditions.

The story begins with alkaline water—water that has a pH level greater than 7 and up to 12. Alkaline water became popular in the 1930s in Japan and other Asian countries, and in 1965 the Japanese Ministry of Health approved it as a medical substance. This led to a wave of faucet-based water alkalizers for homes—also called ionizers—that has only recently hit North America and Western Europe.

Case studies showed that many people who drank alkaline water were experiencing relief from their symptoms, and in the 1990s researchers—mostly in Japan and South Korea—started investigating. They found that alkaline water had an antioxidant effect, which helps the body battle the influence of today’s junk-food-and-soft-drink-heavy diet and lack of exercise, both of which lead to a more or less acidic state in our body. This higher acidity is associated with conditions such as heart problems, altered hormonal status, and the loss of muscle or bone. While it “is not a medicine for specific diseases,” says Korean biochemist Won H. Kim, of Yonsei University in Seoul, “it boosts the body’s ability to overcome diseases by itself and protects it from external stresses and disturbances.”

For decades, the beneficial effects of alkaline water have been attributed to the higher pH of the water. Today, the bottled-water aisles in supermarkets showcase many brands of alkaline water. However, the therapeutic effect has not been well understood, and critics point out that it’s hard to explain any alkaline benefit in the human body once it gets past the stomach. German engineer Hans-Peter Bartos, from Halle, claims that “alkaline water wouldn’t even make it beyond the stomach, since its gastric juice is highly acidic and would neutralize it immediately.” A simple experiment seems to confirm Bartos’s perspective: just a small drop of lemon juice immediately drops the pH of alkaline water to an acidic level.

However, alkaline water works—that’s clear from some 500 published scientific studies. But why? The answer began emerging in 2007 when Ikuroh Ohsawa, of the Institute of Development and Aging Sciences at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, published a study in Nature Medicine. The study showed that inhalation of hydrogen gas had powerful antioxidant effects. When the researchers studying alkaline water noticed the study, it got them thinking. They knew that water ionizers, which electrolyze normal tap water to produce alkaline water, generate hydrogen gas in the process. Could hydrogen be the therapeutic substance in alkaline water?

Tyler LeBaron, founder of the U.S.-based Molecular Hydrogen Foundation, whose website lists many of the studies of the benefits of alkaline water, says that since 2007 he’s been seeing more studies comparing alkaline water with and without hydrogen gas and that it is indeed the dissolved hydrogen gas that is responsible for the therapeutic effects and not the alkaline pH or any other properties. “You don’t get the same benefits when the hydrogen gas is gone,” he says.

One of the pioneer researchers of alkaline water, Kyu-Jae Lee, from Yonsei University, nicely sums up the shift in the scientific consensus: “In the 1990s, I began studying alkaline ionized water and published scientific articles on its antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic effects, but did not really understand why the water worked. It was difficult to believe. Upon further investigation, I have now confirmed that the benefits from the alkaline ionized water are attributed to the hydrogen gas produced during electrolysis.”

The healing effect of hydrogen is reported in nature, too. There are places in northern Germany, India and Mexico where especially powerful therapeutic effects from spring and well water have been documented. And in all these cases, small amounts of hydrogen gas—produced by anaerobic bacteria or by catalyzed reactions of rocks—have been detected in the spring water.

The health benefits of hydrogen have been reported in almost every organ of the body, and hydrogen has been shown to impact 31 different disease categories that can be subdivided into 166 disease models, according to LeBaron. Its antioxidant effect is the best understood. Hydrogen is the smallest molecule in the universe, and that fact allows it, unlike other antioxidants, to enter the nucleus of cells and the mitochondria—where free radicals create the most damage. Because it has an excess of free electrons, hydrogen has the ability to scavenge free radicals. This makes it a superior antioxidant. Because hydrogen reaches deep into the cells, it has the capacity to protect DNA, and that alone suggests preventive effects on lifestyle-related diseases like cancer and heart disease as well as on the aging process.

Swiss physician Thomas Rau, medical director of the Paracelsus Clinic at Lustmühle, near St. Gallen, further explains: “Hydrogen’s small clusters move easily into the smallest capillaries and through the cellular matrix of your body. This speeds up the nutrient and oxygen supply to the millions of cells at work as well as the removal of acidic waste products such as the lactic acid produced by too high a sugar and protein intake.” With this aid to detoxifying metabolic processes, adds Rau, “the immune system receives a boost and the body is aided in fending off the development of heart disease, strokes, immune dysfunctions, and other common ailments.”

For Gisela Schmidt, the chemistry is not important—just the little improvements in her well-being that she’s noticed since she started drinking alkaline water. “I used to have a great deal of heartburn, for instance,” says the 59-year-old accountant from Alfter, near Bonn, Germany. “But when I swapped ordinary water for the alkaline version, that soon got much better, and now I’m free of it.” She also believes that she is less bloated and her overall health is better. “I’ve been doing this for about a year now and don’t intend to stop. It’s such an easy way to feel better.”

The scientific evidence is already overwhelming, and it keeps growing. A 2011 study by the Nippon Medical School shows that long-term drinking of hydrogen water significantly controlled fat and body weight in mice. The study also explains why even a small amount of hydrogen over a short span efficiently improves various disease models. Other research has shown effects on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s in rodents (Center for Neurological Diseases and Cancer, Nagoya, Japan, 2012). Still other studies suggest that hydrogen has great therapeutic and preventive potential against organ injury caused by inflammation. Prevention of premature cell death, offering liver protection, improving diabetes, improving gastrointestinal symptoms and arthritis, reducing the impact of UV radiation—the list of studies is in the hundreds.

It’s important to note that the alkaline-water bottles on the shelves of your supermarket are not going to offer the benefits of hydrogen. This water has been made alkaline through the addition of minerals. These minerals may have their own health benefits—they are often lacking in modern diets—but there’s no hydrogen gas in these bottles. “Even if that bottled water was produced through electrolysis and it did have hydrogen gas initially, once you bottle it, the hydrogen gas will quickly dissipate,” says LeBaron.

The traditional way to get hydrogen-gas-rich alkaline water is through ionizers, although, interestingly enough, most manufacturers don’t even mention hydrogen, an indication of how the newly emerged scientific consensus hasn’t yet reached the consumer world. The electrolysis of water in these machines generated the hydrogen gas that turned out to be the source of all the good alkaline-water news. But there are drawbacks to the ionizers. First, they are expensive, starting around $1,000 and running up to $3,000 (€900–€2,700). They are able to generate 1 to 2 parts per million (ppm) of hydrogen in the water. “That’s an excellent amount,” says LeBaron. But not all ionizers work well. Most machines build up a layer of calcium on the plates of the electrodes after some time, which appears to prevent the hydrogen gas from dissolving in the water. “You have to keep the electrodes very clean, and that requires high-quality electrodes,” adds LeBaron.

There’s a simple, cheaper and possibly even more effective way to get the benefits of hydrogen gas. Scientists have developed a magnesium tablet that releases hydrogen gas when dissolved in water. These tablets can generate as much as 4 ppm of hydrogen in a bottle of water. LeBaron advises one tablet as a preventive or maintenance dose, while people with certain conditions can take up to five tablets a day to get the desired effects. (Search online for “Active H2 tablets.”)

LeBaron says that there’s no evidence of any negative side effects from consuming hydrogen gas in the described quantities. He points to the fact that hydrogen gas has been used since the 1940s to prevent decompression sickness in divers. “So there are a lot of studies on the effects of the gas on humans,” he says.

Adding hydrogen gas to your daily diet may very well be an efficient and economical way to battle the impact of the modern lifestyle, with its stress and diets that cause inflammation in the body—the root of all degenerative diseases. Says Dr. Rau: “You have to continue drinking alkaline water with dissolved hydrogen gas to counteract these impacts.” And Schmidt adds: “I’ll continue with alkaline water—it’s an easy solution that makes me feel good and has never had any negative side effects for me.” 

Jurriaan Kamp already loved driving hydrogen cars.

Solution News Source

Alkaline Water: The Mystery Unraveled

It’s been known for decades that alkaline water has many health benefits. But scientists have long wondered why. Now they know: it’s the hydrogen gas dissolved in the water that acts as a very powerful antioxidant.

There’s no one medicine that fits every disease. But there is one that comes very close: water. It’s widely available, and in a specific form it has been shown to have therapeutic effects on more than 150 human diseases and conditions.

The story begins with alkaline water—water that has a pH level greater than 7 and up to 12. Alkaline water became popular in the 1930s in Japan and other Asian countries, and in 1965 the Japanese Ministry of Health approved it as a medical substance. This led to a wave of faucet-based water alkalizers for homes—also called ionizers—that has only recently hit North America and Western Europe.

Case studies showed that many people who drank alkaline water were experiencing relief from their symptoms, and in the 1990s researchers—mostly in Japan and South Korea—started investigating. They found that alkaline water had an antioxidant effect, which helps the body battle the influence of today’s junk-food-and-soft-drink-heavy diet and lack of exercise, both of which lead to a more or less acidic state in our body. This higher acidity is associated with conditions such as heart problems, altered hormonal status, and the loss of muscle or bone. While it “is not a medicine for specific diseases,” says Korean biochemist Won H. Kim, of Yonsei University in Seoul, “it boosts the body’s ability to overcome diseases by itself and protects it from external stresses and disturbances.”

For decades, the beneficial effects of alkaline water have been attributed to the higher pH of the water. Today, the bottled-water aisles in supermarkets showcase many brands of alkaline water. However, the therapeutic effect has not been well understood, and critics point out that it’s hard to explain any alkaline benefit in the human body once it gets past the stomach. German engineer Hans-Peter Bartos, from Halle, claims that “alkaline water wouldn’t even make it beyond the stomach, since its gastric juice is highly acidic and would neutralize it immediately.” A simple experiment seems to confirm Bartos’s perspective: just a small drop of lemon juice immediately drops the pH of alkaline water to an acidic level.

However, alkaline water works—that’s clear from some 500 published scientific studies. But why? The answer began emerging in 2007 when Ikuroh Ohsawa, of the Institute of Development and Aging Sciences at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, published a study in Nature Medicine. The study showed that inhalation of hydrogen gas had powerful antioxidant effects. When the researchers studying alkaline water noticed the study, it got them thinking. They knew that water ionizers, which electrolyze normal tap water to produce alkaline water, generate hydrogen gas in the process. Could hydrogen be the therapeutic substance in alkaline water?

Tyler LeBaron, founder of the U.S.-based Molecular Hydrogen Foundation, whose website lists many of the studies of the benefits of alkaline water, says that since 2007 he’s been seeing more studies comparing alkaline water with and without hydrogen gas and that it is indeed the dissolved hydrogen gas that is responsible for the therapeutic effects and not the alkaline pH or any other properties. “You don’t get the same benefits when the hydrogen gas is gone,” he says.

One of the pioneer researchers of alkaline water, Kyu-Jae Lee, from Yonsei University, nicely sums up the shift in the scientific consensus: “In the 1990s, I began studying alkaline ionized water and published scientific articles on its antioxidant, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic effects, but did not really understand why the water worked. It was difficult to believe. Upon further investigation, I have now confirmed that the benefits from the alkaline ionized water are attributed to the hydrogen gas produced during electrolysis.”

The healing effect of hydrogen is reported in nature, too. There are places in northern Germany, India and Mexico where especially powerful therapeutic effects from spring and well water have been documented. And in all these cases, small amounts of hydrogen gas—produced by anaerobic bacteria or by catalyzed reactions of rocks—have been detected in the spring water.

The health benefits of hydrogen have been reported in almost every organ of the body, and hydrogen has been shown to impact 31 different disease categories that can be subdivided into 166 disease models, according to LeBaron. Its antioxidant effect is the best understood. Hydrogen is the smallest molecule in the universe, and that fact allows it, unlike other antioxidants, to enter the nucleus of cells and the mitochondria—where free radicals create the most damage. Because it has an excess of free electrons, hydrogen has the ability to scavenge free radicals. This makes it a superior antioxidant. Because hydrogen reaches deep into the cells, it has the capacity to protect DNA, and that alone suggests preventive effects on lifestyle-related diseases like cancer and heart disease as well as on the aging process.

Swiss physician Thomas Rau, medical director of the Paracelsus Clinic at Lustmühle, near St. Gallen, further explains: “Hydrogen’s small clusters move easily into the smallest capillaries and through the cellular matrix of your body. This speeds up the nutrient and oxygen supply to the millions of cells at work as well as the removal of acidic waste products such as the lactic acid produced by too high a sugar and protein intake.” With this aid to detoxifying metabolic processes, adds Rau, “the immune system receives a boost and the body is aided in fending off the development of heart disease, strokes, immune dysfunctions, and other common ailments.”

For Gisela Schmidt, the chemistry is not important—just the little improvements in her well-being that she’s noticed since she started drinking alkaline water. “I used to have a great deal of heartburn, for instance,” says the 59-year-old accountant from Alfter, near Bonn, Germany. “But when I swapped ordinary water for the alkaline version, that soon got much better, and now I’m free of it.” She also believes that she is less bloated and her overall health is better. “I’ve been doing this for about a year now and don’t intend to stop. It’s such an easy way to feel better.”

The scientific evidence is already overwhelming, and it keeps growing. A 2011 study by the Nippon Medical School shows that long-term drinking of hydrogen water significantly controlled fat and body weight in mice. The study also explains why even a small amount of hydrogen over a short span efficiently improves various disease models. Other research has shown effects on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s in rodents (Center for Neurological Diseases and Cancer, Nagoya, Japan, 2012). Still other studies suggest that hydrogen has great therapeutic and preventive potential against organ injury caused by inflammation. Prevention of premature cell death, offering liver protection, improving diabetes, improving gastrointestinal symptoms and arthritis, reducing the impact of UV radiation—the list of studies is in the hundreds.

It’s important to note that the alkaline-water bottles on the shelves of your supermarket are not going to offer the benefits of hydrogen. This water has been made alkaline through the addition of minerals. These minerals may have their own health benefits—they are often lacking in modern diets—but there’s no hydrogen gas in these bottles. “Even if that bottled water was produced through electrolysis and it did have hydrogen gas initially, once you bottle it, the hydrogen gas will quickly dissipate,” says LeBaron.

The traditional way to get hydrogen-gas-rich alkaline water is through ionizers, although, interestingly enough, most manufacturers don’t even mention hydrogen, an indication of how the newly emerged scientific consensus hasn’t yet reached the consumer world. The electrolysis of water in these machines generated the hydrogen gas that turned out to be the source of all the good alkaline-water news. But there are drawbacks to the ionizers. First, they are expensive, starting around $1,000 and running up to $3,000 (€900–€2,700). They are able to generate 1 to 2 parts per million (ppm) of hydrogen in the water. “That’s an excellent amount,” says LeBaron. But not all ionizers work well. Most machines build up a layer of calcium on the plates of the electrodes after some time, which appears to prevent the hydrogen gas from dissolving in the water. “You have to keep the electrodes very clean, and that requires high-quality electrodes,” adds LeBaron.

There’s a simple, cheaper and possibly even more effective way to get the benefits of hydrogen gas. Scientists have developed a magnesium tablet that releases hydrogen gas when dissolved in water. These tablets can generate as much as 4 ppm of hydrogen in a bottle of water. LeBaron advises one tablet as a preventive or maintenance dose, while people with certain conditions can take up to five tablets a day to get the desired effects. (Search online for “Active H2 tablets.”)

LeBaron says that there’s no evidence of any negative side effects from consuming hydrogen gas in the described quantities. He points to the fact that hydrogen gas has been used since the 1940s to prevent decompression sickness in divers. “So there are a lot of studies on the effects of the gas on humans,” he says.

Adding hydrogen gas to your daily diet may very well be an efficient and economical way to battle the impact of the modern lifestyle, with its stress and diets that cause inflammation in the body—the root of all degenerative diseases. Says Dr. Rau: “You have to continue drinking alkaline water with dissolved hydrogen gas to counteract these impacts.” And Schmidt adds: “I’ll continue with alkaline water—it’s an easy solution that makes me feel good and has never had any negative side effects for me.” 

Jurriaan Kamp already loved driving hydrogen cars.

Solution News Source

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