Can The Smallest Molecule Help against The Latest Coronavirus?

The first preliminary report on COVID-19 patients (n=90) from China has been published demonstrating that Hydrogen/Oxygen mixed gas inhalation has superior effects compared to Oxygen alone (Journal of Thoracic Disease. 2020).

Molecular hydrogen has been shown to have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is 'the one and only' antioxidant that can both penetrate the mitochondria and neutralize the reactive oxygen species (ROS) (Med Gas Res. 2020).

It was discovered and reported in Nature in 2007 by a team in Japan, that inhaled hydrogen gas could act as an antioxidant and protect the brain from free radicals. This sparked the interest in its potential health benefits worldwide and led to many published and on-going clinical research.

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Published in 2017, a group of researchers in China suggested that hydrogen-rich solution therapy may be a safe, reliable, and effective treatment for Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome (MODS) induced by influenza and other viral infectious diseases (Ref).

A review in 2019 that included 113 references, has also focused on the potential mechanisms of molecular hydrogen against sepsis to provide a theoretical basis for clinical treatment (PubMed Central).

COVID-19 is easily transmissible. And while the mechanisms as of yet remain to be fully understood, many scientists and medical experts are suggesting that one of the most severe complications arising from the virus may be largely attributable to a “cytokine storm” — a hyperactive immune response from an individuals’ own body involving inflammatory cytokines.

Below, we have compiled and updated a few significant studies, clinical trials and related reviews and news on Coronavirus treatment with molecular hydrogen.

Research doesn't stand still. This list is a work-in-progress list as new evidence might be added from time to time.

According to a recently-published NY Times article,

“When the body first encounters a virus or a bacterium, the immune system ramps up and begins to fight the invader. The foot soldiers in this fight are molecules called cytokines that set off a cascade of signals to cells to marshal a response. Usually, the stronger this immune response, the stronger the chance of vanquishing the infection, which is partly why children and younger people are less vulnerable over all to coronavirus. And once the enemy is defeated, the immune system is hard-wired to shut itself off.

‘For most people and most infections, that’s what happens,’ said Dr. Randy Cron, an expert on cytokine storms at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

But in some cases — as much as 15 percent of people battling any serious infection, according to Dr. Cron’s team — the immune system keeps raging long after the virus is no longer a threat. It continues to release cytokines that keep the body on an exhausting full alert. In their misguided bid to keep the body safe, these cytokines attack multiple organs including the lungs and liver, and may eventually lead to death.

In these people, it’s their body’s response, rather than the virus, that ultimately causes harm.

Cytokine storms can overtake people of any age, but some scientists believe that they may explain why healthy young people died during the 1918 pandemic and more recently during the SARS, MERS and H1N1 epidemics. They are also a complication of various autoimmune diseases like lupus and Still’s disease, a form of arthritis. And they may offer clues as to why otherwise healthy young people with coronavirus infection are succumbing to acute respiratory distress syndrome, a common consequence of a cytokine storm.”

The article goes on to explain:

“There are many variations on the phenomenon, and they go by many names: systemic inflammatory response syndrome, cytokine release syndrome, macrophage activation syndrome, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.

Broadly speaking, they are all marked by an unbridled surge in immune molecules, and may all result in the fatal shutdown of multiple organs.”

Here’s a visual explanation of cytokine storms from the scientific journal The Lancet — https://twitter.com/AFPgraphics/status/1246330114171961358/photo/1

The scary part is that this overwhelming inflammatory response can happen to individuals at any age, which may help to explain why there have been some seemingly healthy younger people who have died from complications due to COVID-19.

So how does this relate to molecular hydrogen, and why is H2 being tested in several registered clinical trials right now as a potential treatment option for COVID-19?

There have been a plethora of studies on hydrogen’s effects on inflammation, in particular in regulating/controlling inflammatory cytokines. For example:
  • In a 2017 lab study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, “HRW treatment significantly reduced EtOH-induced increases in serum alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, triglycerol and total cholesterol levels, hepatic lipid accumulation and inflammatory cytokines, including tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin (IL)-6.”
  • Another study in 2013 stated “The serum levels of cytokines such as IL-10, TNF-α, IL-12p70, and GM-CSF of mice administered with HW (hydrogen water) was significantly reduced as compared to PW (placebo water) group.”
There are at least 30 other high-impact scientific studies that mention hydrogen’s observed balancing and lowering effect on inflammatory cytokines.

Beyond the existing scientific studies that show a reason for excitement, hydrogen gas is also now being recommended in China as a therapy for individuals suffering from COVID-19, and there are very positive evidence as of July, 2020.
The science behind the virus and potential treatment is, of course, far more complex than this, and we do not intend to simplify the situation whatsoever. Nonetheless, the potential here is extraordinarily exciting.

We will have to see what happens as the science develops and more clinical trials are conducted, and we will update this article with more information as it becomes available.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to replace any guidance from your healthcare practitioner — we would like to present the evidence in order for you to draw your own conclusions.

Editor's Note:

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important to understand that no supplement, diet, or other lifestyle modification have been 100% proven to prevent or to cure COVID-19. According to The Lancet, physical distancing (more than 1 meter), also known as social distancing, face mask and eye protection are proven methods to protect you from COVID-19. Proper hygiene practices (hand washing and sanitiser) should also be included as part of the 'new-normal' habit to reduce the spread of this COVID-19 virus.

So, what are the best practices for you and the doctors? Is there a shortcut to get over COVID-19? To know more, check out Here's What You Should Do If You Have COVID-19. Also do take note that there are many Immune Nutrients and Supplements to Calm Cytokine Storm, not just molecular hydrogen. You might even want to consider them as a combination in order to maximise the potential benefits.

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