Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects more than 6 million people in the U.S. over 65 years old. Across the world, some 55 million individuals suffer from the disease.
Today, a cure does not exist for Alzheimer’s, and treatment options tend to include medicinal therapies, as well as non-drug interventions like memory exercises, aromatherapy, and music therapy. However, a new treatment is emerging: Molecular hydrogen inhalation therapy.
At its core, molecular hydrogen inhalation therapy is simple.
Patients breathe in a mixture of hydrogen gas and oxygen. Why this mixture? For one, hydrogen is a powerful antioxidant agent. As an antioxidant, hydrogen can begin to reverse oxidative stress, which is believed to be a key player in Alzheimer’s progression.
Second, molecular hydrogen is the smallest molecule. Therefore, it can penetrate deep into cells and tissues, and bypass the blood-brain barrier. As a result, it’s believed that hydrogen therapy offers neuroprotective properties that may help to slow or even mitigate neuronal damage.
Bottom line, molecular hydrogen therapy is relatively new.
Researchers discovered the autoxidizing properties of hydrogen in 2007, and since then, several studies have explored the many health benefits of hydrogen inhalation. However, recent research looking at hydrogen therapy and Alzheimer’s disease have shown promise that hydrogen gas may prevent neuronal damage, improve cognitive function for AD patients, and reduce drivers like oxidative stress and inflammation.
Treating Alzheimer’s with Hydrogen Gas: A Closer Look
Here’s why H2 therapy garners interest by medical researchers: The therapy offers potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. A variety of research has shown its effectiveness for a wide range of conditions.
As an Alzheimer’s treatment, preclinical models show molecular hydrogen may serve as an effective preventative measure and it may help to limit long-term impacts of the disease. Here’s why:
- Antioxidant properties – Oxidative stress occurs in the body as we age, and it’s believed to play a role in the progression of Alzheimer’s. Molecular hydrogen neutralizes harmful free radicals that increase oxidative stress, potentially preventing or mitigating the damage it has on neuronal cells.
- Anti-Inflammatory effects – Alzheimer’s disease causes inflammation in the brain, particularly around amyloid-beta plaques. Hydrogen therapy may help to reduce this inflammation in the brain.
- Neuroprotection – Some studies suggest H2 may protect neurons from injury, which could potentially help limit cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s populations.
- Reduction of amyloid-beta – In animal trials, hydrogen therapy has shown promise in ameliorating beta-amyloid, a protein aggregate that forms plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. These proteins are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s and researchers continue to explore how and when they influence the disease.
- Reversing mitochondrial dysfunction – Some research suggests that H2 may help to improve mitochondrial function. This could potentially help cells function more effectively and resist the degenerative processes associated with Alzheimer’s.
As a non-invasive treatment, molecular hydrogen therapy is safe, with ongoing research exploring dosage and treatment durations for Alzheimer’s patients.
However, although this form of treatment does show promise, the majority of research has been on animal models, with some early-phase human trials. More conclusive evidence is still required about the therapy’s effectiveness for all Alzheimer’s patients.
Exploring the Science: Clinical Trials Overview
In a research review published in Medical Gas Research in 2018, researchers explored the many neuroprotective properties of hydrogen in relation to neurodegenerative diseases. Some of the key points cited in the paper include:
- Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are believed to be significant drivers of Alzheimer’s
- Hydrogen exhibits anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects
- Hydrogen may stimulate energy metabolism to reduce neuronal damage
- Hydrogen may help to improve cognitive function
Ultimately, researchers concluded “its beneficial effects on AD have been confirmed in many studies, mainly through anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative stress, anti-apoptotic and the regulation of both autophagy and hormone signaling pathway.”
Additional Clinical Trials
A recent small-scale human study, published in 2023, explored the benefits of hydrogen inhalation therapy for Alzheimer’s patients. The study followed 8 AD patients. The patients received 6 months of H2 therapy, followed by 6 months of observation.
The results? Significant cognitive improvement as assessed by the ADAS-Cog, a neuropsychological assessment. Neurons in the hippocampus, a brain region vital for memory, also fared better, based on DTI imaging. These effects were noticed after the therapy protocol, and they were maintained at the 6-month follow-up.
However, results have been mixed. Some trials have shown that there wasn’t a significant benefit in preventing cognitive decline, while another showed slight improvements. Finally, another study suggested that H2 therapy benefited stroke patients, ultimately leading to less neurological impairment.
How Does Hydrogen Inhalation Therapy Work?
In general, there are three primary ways hydrogen therapy is administered:
- Inhalation therapy involves breathing in hydrogen-oxygen gas.
- Drinking hydrogen-infused water.
- Hydrogen bathing, which involves, infuses bath water with hydrogen gas.
Each of these methods exposes the body to hydrogen and its beneficial anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant properties. However, hydrogen baths are generally recommended for skin conditions.
Hydrogen drinking water and hydrogen inhalation are typically recommended for internal conditions, with hydrogen inhalation offering the most comprehensive solution.
For additional research studies, see our roundup of neurological disease studies. Hue Light USA offers state-of-the-art hydrogen inhalation devices, including the H-1200 and H-2000. Our devices are FDA-approved and recommended for home or clinical use. Contact us today to learn more about our products or visit a location.