Wherever you or a loved one may fall on the depression spectrum, hydrogen therapy may be the key to a happier, less anxiety-filled lifestyle. In this post, we describe in great detail:
○ The link between depression and inflammation
○ Molecular Hydrogen and its anti-inflammatory properties
○ Hydrogen Therapy’s safe and proven effects on managing depression and inflammation
Let's dive right in!
As science continues its steady march forward, and our capacity for measuring and understanding human physiology continues to improve, we learn more about the physiological basis for disease states every day.
We have come to learn that even states of mind, moods and mood disorders often have a basis in physiopathology.
That’s not to say that something like depression is rooted solely in an individual’s physiology-there is a larger bio-psycho-social framework at play as well.
And it seems likely that if we look at mood disturbances like depression and anxiety, we’ll find that they exist on a spectrum from largely biological to largely external.
Some people are born with genetic depressive tendencies, which is very different from someone who is depressed because of recent events in their life.
In any case, we’ve come to learn that wherever you may fall on that spectrum, there is absolutely a physiological component to neurocognitive disorders.
Depression and Inflammation
It’s been well established that there is a strong link between depression and inflammation.
Neural inflammation is present in most (if not all) cases of neurocognitive disorders, which can run the gamut from depression and anxiety to Alzheimers and dementia.
There is definitely some debate around the chicken and egg nature of these findings...i.e. does neural inflammation cause these mental states, or does being depressed cause neural inflammation.
In any case, treating the inflammation appears to have a beneficial impact on depression and anxiety, so which came first (at least for the context of this discussion) is less important.
Studies have shown that treatment with anti-inflammatories such as NSAIDs can actually improve depression and anxiety. NSAID stands for “Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug” and includes common OTC medications such as Tylenol and Advil, as well as their prescription counterparts.
While this is a very exciting finding, there are a number of reasons that it’s not desirable to take NSAIDs on a regular basis. For one, NSAIDs can be hell on your stomach. Long term use of NSAIDs has been shown to cause gastric ulcers, and some of the prescription NSAIDs have been shown to cause ulcers in as little as 2 weeks. No bueno.
What if there were a safe, effective alternative that could be taken on a regular basis without any side effects?
Well, I’m glad you asked!
Molecular Hydrogen - A Safer Anti-Inflammatory
Molecular hydrogen has been demonstrated to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
What’s more, is that the neural inflammation that appears to be connected to neurocognitive disorders is caused by oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance between the production of harmful free radicals and our bodies’ natural antioxidant defense systems. Ideally these two live in harmony, and we produce sufficient antioxidants to keep pace with the production of free radicals.
However, for any number of reasons this system can get out of whack. In the brain, studies have shown that aging, job stress, long work hours, cognitive load (not to mention diet, exercise, environment, etc) can all lead to an overproduction of free radicals, leading to oxidative stress and oxidative damage. This results in a chronic inflammatory state as your body tries to keep pace with the damage.
Molecular hydrogen is a master antioxidant. It works by selectively targeting some of the worst free radicals, like hydroxyl and peroxynitrite. It also ramps up your own endogenous production of antioxidant powerhouses like superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase.
So it’s perfectly suited for re-balancing the critical anti-oxidant/free radical balance in your cells.
What makes hydrogen so exciting in terms of brain health, is that because it’s so small, molecular hydrogen is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, and diffuse directly into neuronal cells, exerting its powerful antioxidant activity at the level of each neuron.
This works to directly counteract the effects of excessive free radical production and oxidative stress, eliminating free radical damage and knocking out inflammation.
And this isn’t just theory.
Stressed Out Mice
To start, several animal models have looked at depression and stress in mice, and found that administration of both inhaled hydrogen and hydrogen-rich water (such as is produced by our molecular hydrogen tablets) dramatically improved their mood and cognitive performance.
Apparently stressed out mice get depressed. When these mice were stressed, they gained weight, grew lethargic, spent all day in their pajamas, etc. Administration of either inhaled hydrogen or hydrogen-rich water resulted in more activity, no weight gain, and better performance at cognitive tasks than the control groups.
But that’s just an animal study...what about people?
Well, these extremely promising results led to human trials.
Stressed Out People
A randomized double-blinded placebo controlled trial (basically the gold standard of research design) found that twice per day administration of hydrogen-rich water in human adults has extremely beneficial effects on mood, cognitive performance and quality of life in humans as well.
This study also found something else really cool. One of the markers the researchers looked at was activation of the subjects’ sympathetic nervous systems. That’s the “fight or flight” side of the autonomic nervous system.Chronic stress, fatigue, etc. can lead to chronic elevation of your sympathetic nervous system, which leads to inflammation, poor blood sugar control, weight gain, and is correlated with most chronic disease.
In this study, the researchers found that twice daily administration of hydrogen-rich water actually decreased sympathetic activation, basically restoring balance to the subjects’ autonomic nervous systems.
What’s more, is that to remain consistent with prior studies, the concentration of hydrogen used was kept quite low, less than 1.8 parts per million.
For reference, our molecular hydrogen tablets have been independently verified to produce concentrations of hydrogen as high as 10 ppm in a standard glass of water. And a one hour treatment with our hydrogen inhalation machine is the equivalent of taking about 60 hydrogen tablets.
Results of these human trials have been so promising that hydrogen is being investigated for the treatment of other neurocognitive disorders, such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Hydrogen Therapy and the Future
As we become increasingly aware that oxidative stress (and damage) and the ensuing inflammation appears to be at the root of so many of these disorders, it’s becoming increasingly clear that molecular hydrogen has a major role to play in the management and prevention of these illnesses.
One of the most common pieces of feedback from anyone who trials one of our Vital Reaction hydrogen tablets is the almost immediate feeling of an improved sense of subjective wellbeing.
This effect is even more strongly amplified after a treatment with one of our hydrogen inhaler machines. Certainly if you or a loved one is struggling with depression, anxiety, or any other neurocognitive disorder, you should absolutely consult with your primary health care provider for treatment and management.
But Vital Reaction molecular hydrogen is so safe and effective that using it to promote neurocognitive health as an adjunct to whatever other therapies your doctor recommends is (if you’ll excuse the pun...) a no-brainer.
If you’ve been taking molecular hydrogen and noticed any changes in mood, stress levels, or cognitive performance, please share in the comments below!