Active Hydrogen is a misnomer and inaccurate term to describe the therapeutic agent in hydrogen rich water. Active hydrogen refers a single hydrogen atom which does not exist in water as it is too reactive. The therapeutic agent in hydrogen water is molecular hydrogen, which is two hydrogen atoms covalently bonded together. This molecule exists in the form of a gas and can be dissolved into water. 1, 2
There is no doubt that free radicals can be damaging to the human body. However, not all free radicals are bad as the marketing claims them to be. The Human body is more about balance than elimination. Multiple free radicals (ROS/RNS) can influence gene expression, the body’s immune system, and cellular signaling by acting as signaling molecules. These radicals include superoxide anion (O2-), nitric oxide (NO), and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). This is called “redox signaling”. These ROS radicals transmit biological information which is crucial for a healthy human body. The important part is to maintain balance by eating a healthy diet, filled with a good source of antioxidants, but not so many to the point that you are eliminating too many free radicals resulting In reductive stress. 3
Consumption of excessive amounts of antioxidants can create stress upon the human body. This stress is called reductive stress and is the exact opposite of oxidative stress. Reductive stress by definition is a condition characterized by abnormally high levels of reduced species within a biological system. Remember the human body is interested in balance, not extremes. The human body uses oxidative agents (free radicals) and reductive agents (antioxidants) to maintain optimal health. This is what makes Molecular Hydrogen so exceptional and unique. Because it is selective, it only goes after the damaging free radicals and leaves the free radicals that are helping our body function the way it is designed to function. It also is able to leave your body via the lungs if your body has no further use for it, making it virtually impossible to intake “too much” H2! 7, 8, 9
This assumption is mainly supported in the ionizer industry due to ORP (oxidation reduction potential) meters. ERW (hydrogen water) will produce a negative number on an ORP meter causing people to assume water can hold a positive or negative charge. This misconception is so prominent because the mass majority of users do not understand basic chemistry. Due to the Principle of Electroneutrality, water is prevented from having a charge because positive and negative Ions must balance, resulting in the water being neutral. The actual science behind ORP meters pertains to H2 and pH. ORP meters measure the ratio of H2/H+. The reading displayed on the ORP meter is calculated based upon the Nernst Equation:
Emv = E°- (RT/zF) log [H2/H+], where E0 represents a reference voltage,
[H+] represents the pH (the less H+ in water the higher pH), and H2 is the reductive agent. As you see in the equation, Nernst uses references of voltage to represent the water’s oxidative potential (positive voltage) and reductive potential (negative voltage). We must remember in ionized water the negative number is indicative of the presence of H2 (therapeutic agent) and high pH, not because water can actually hold a charge. 10
The support and popularity of hexagonal water in the water ionizer industry was primarily due to the book written by Dr. Mu Ship Jhon, “THE WATER PUZZLE AND THE HEXAGONAL KEY”. Dr. Jhon used O-NMR (Oxygen-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) to make his claims about hexagonal water, stating that micro-water (hexagonal water) had a lower line-width around 60Hz to 65Hz. Dr. Jhon’s findings were questioned by Dr. Paul Shin (Cal. State Univ., 18 years NMR expert). Dr. Shin’s study demonstrated that Dr. Jhon’s results correlated to the pH of water, not cluster size or hexagonal structure. 11
One of the proposed reasons for this claim is to say that this type of water can get into our cells faster, thus hydrating better. because of this, further observations can also be made regarding this myth:
1. If water was able to hold and sustain fixed “micro-clusters” of water. The size of these water clusters would still be bigger than an actual cell, which would not aid in hydrating the cell better.
2. We know that water molecules enter cells via the Aquaporin one molecule at a time, in a single file fashion. So the fact a fixed micro-cluster of water could contain fewer molecules would make no difference to how the water entered the cell.
3. We know that water molecules are held together by electrostatic hydrogen bonds that are fairly weak and break apart and reconnect very rapidly. This is how water can move so freely and form to whatever container it is in. For the fixed micro-clustered water theory to be true, the water molecule would have to be able to stay that way, which contradicts what science has discovered about water and how water works.
4. If fixed water clusters were, in fact, able to enter our cells faster, then it would more than likely be able to leave our cells just as fast. If this were true, it would defy our biology and we would not be able to retain water as well. It would then be an undesirable quality to have in the water. Making it potentially harmful instead of beneficial.
Although we might see the term micro-cluster in studies, the notion of fixed clusters has no scientific evidence. 12
Molecular hydrogen (H2) has the potential to offer extraordinary therapeutic benefits to the human body. Sales representative and distributors alike claim on marketing materials that molecular hydrogen is the most powerful antioxidants. This is false, as Molecular hydrogen is a selective antioxidant meaning it will not neutralize all free radicals, which is a positive benefit of H2. Many free radicals are used by the body for different cellular functions. In fact, H2 is a relatively weak antioxidant and fragile in maintaining its concentration stability in water. Molecular hydrogen’s power is seen in quantities of H2 molecules that can be dissolved into water and its ability to exert multiple therapeutic benefits outside of its antioxidant function. Even though molecular hydrogen might not be the most powerful antioxidant, it definitely appears to be one of the most unique, multi-functional antioxidant that has been discovered. 13, 14
There is no scientific evidence that water holds a sustainable structure (fixed clusters). Water is held together by (Hydrogen) electrostatic bonds. These bonds are fairly weak. The forces which are being broken are called Van der Waal Forces. Water molecules break and reform bonds 160 billion times a second in a very rapid dance. It is important that these bonds are weak to allow for proper cellular hydration. 15, 16, 17