OXYGEN, HYDROGEN, AND HEALTH
Why do I leave out hydrogen in my study of humen energy systems? Why do I not focus on hydrogen in my theory of aging? Isn’t hydrogen the fuel of life? Doesn’t it provide electrons to oxygen to begin its work in most reactions?
It is true that human metabolism uses hydrogen ions (high-energy [electron-rich] form of hydrogen) as one of its primary fuels. Oxygen extracts electrons from hydrogen to initiate most human metabolic reactions. Most of the hydrogen ions come from hydrogen atoms contained in fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. During metabolism of those foods, many toxic organic acids are produced which the body gets rid of at a substantial energy cost.
If the fuel could be pure hydrogen, metabolic mating of oxygen with hydrogen would produce clean energy and pure water. That, of course, would be the most desirable energy reaction.
The problem is while we use so much hydrogen, we understand very little about it. In recent years, some “hydrogen pills” have been heavily marketed to treat disease and promote health. Alas! those products have yielded only limited and short-term results in my own experience. That did not surprise me, nor should it surprise any serious student of human health. Dysfunctional oxygen metabolism, once established, is far too deep a problem to solve with pills of single remedies, regardless of how effective they might seem in theory. Furthermore, human ecologic systems, once battered, are far too complex to be restored with single therapies. Major ecologic disruptions call for broad-based ecologic-restorative measures.
The theory of “hydrogen economy” (for industrial, transportation, and home uses), seems to make much theoretical sense. Indeed, there is much current interest in hydrogen in the energy industry. Consider the following quote from a recent issue of Nature (2000;404;233-4): “What fuel will drive the coming century? As we look back over the past millennium, the progression of fuel useage has been from wood to coal to oil. Now, at the turn of the millennium, methane gas appears to be the preferred clean fuel of the major electricity generators. But we are moving inexorably towards hydrogen as the ultimate clean power source of the future.”
It seems likely that hydrogen will become a major source of energy production for industrial, transportation, and home uses. Indeed, in the March 16, 2000, issue of Nature, Park and his colleagues described a fuel cell in which hydrogen is directly oxidized to produce energy, thus opening up the possibility of a “flame-free future.”
It is also possible that some effective “hydrogen health products” will be developed in the future for medical uses. I look forward to the day when that theoretical possibility turns into a reality, and I can add “hydrogen therapies” to my list OF oxytherapies in clinical use.
How does the notion of hydrogen economy fit into my oxygen theory of aging and my view of the clinical efficacy of oxy therapies? First, none of the considerations of hydrogen as an antioxidant and as a source of clean energy is in any way inconsistent with my theory or my clinical observations. Second, and more importantly, oxidation is a spontaneous process of decay and dying while reduction (where hydrogen comes into play) requires energy. One is a process of breakdown and the other of building up. Common sense tells us—as does the Second Law of Thermodynamics—that each living being one day must decay and die. Oxygen is the driving force behind that process of decay and death, not hydrogen. Until new information is developed that compels me to consider the roles of oxygen and hydrogen differently, I continue to consider oxygen as the organizing influence of human biology.
The oxygen models of aging and disease have explanatory power. They provide answers to many questions not answered by the prevailing classifications of diseases based on microscopic observations after the tissues have been injured. Nor can they be answered by any hydrogen-based model of aging or disease. However, no medical theory has any validity unless it can be tested with true-to-life situations and real patients. In the twelve volumes of The principles and Practice of Integrative Medicine, I presented a large body of clinical and laboratory data concerning the integrative protocols tested and validated with long-term clinical outcome studies. The common denominator in all such studies was restoration of oxygen homeostasis. Some might consider such evidence to be indirect. However, the number of biologic variables in any illness is very large. It seems highly unlikely that studies can ever be designed in such a way that direct evidence for one-cause one-effect relationships between intracellular oxygenative and dysoxic phenomena and their associated clinical symptom-complexes can be established. I am confident that the benefits of oxytherapies will be readily attested to by all those who undertake such therapies in earnest.
Returning to the subject of hydrogen, I am not aware of any such data that is based on the restoration of hydrogen homeostasis.
My last point in this context is: if and when the biologic roles of hydrogen in health and disease are established and the molecular biology of hydrogen is significantly revised, I do not think that will invalidate the core tenets of oxygen models of aging and disease. Rather, new information will further validate these models.