Inhalation of molecular hydrogen positively affects the course of recovery in post-Covid patients. This was shown in a study conducted in 2021 by scientists from the Department of Natural Sciences in Kinanthropology at the Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc. Their research is the first in the world to present the possibility of using molecular hydrogen in post-Covid therapy based on objective data, and its results were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
“The study results confirmed our hypothesis that molecular hydrogen may also help people suffering from acute respiratory disease – not only athletes, in whom the use of molecular hydrogen has been shown to have a positive effect on performance and fatigue reduction,” said the main study author Michal Botek, who has been studying the effects of hydrogen with his colleagues in the Exercise Physiology Laboratory for some time. Using the existing knowledge of hydrogen’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-apoptotic, and fatigue-reducing properties, they decided to focus on Covid-19 during the epidemic.
The research lasted for the entire year 2021 and involved nearly eighty people who had experienced a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection with a mild or moderate course. Participants underwent baseline examinations, such as spirometry and a six-minute walk test to assess their current functional capacity after the illness. For the following two weeks, study participants inhaled hydrogen daily for the period of 120 minutes – two times 60 minutes – through a device that generates hydrogen from purified water by electrolysis. In addition, they recorded subjective feelings regarding fatigue, sleep quality, muscle pain, and perceived shortness of breath. The two-week inhalation was followed by retesting at the UP Faculty of Physical Culture.
“Using randomisation, participants were divided into a hydrogen group and a placebo group, so that we could determine with great accuracy how effectively hydrogen can revitalise a post-Covid patient. The group that inhaled hydrogen according to our methodology for two weeks improved by an average of 64 metres in the repeated six-minute walk test, i.e. about 10% over the baseline test, while the placebo group improved only minimally, by an average of only 9 metres,” said Botek about the results.
“What is also interesting about the whole thing is that we found an older foreign study of treatment after severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which has a similar design and came to similar results as ours. However, there is one major difference: while the previous study participants had to undergo six weeks of very well-controlled fitness training, in our case a mere two weeks of hydrogen inhalation was sufficient. Our results make us optimistic that hydrogen can be used as an option for time-efficient therapy in the post-acute phase of a disease like Covid-19. On the other hand, the question now is whether the induced positive effect is long-term. After all, despite more than 1,600 studies published worldwide on the effects of hydrogen, this gas is still waiting for its first big opportunity in Czech clinical medicine,” noted Botek, adding that the results indicate a vast range of topics for further research.
The study, innovative in its design, is the first in the world to focus on the possible positive effects of hydrogen therapy after having contracted Covid-19, therefore Botek calls it a small scientific miracle. “We tried to make the most of what we had, and we are all the more pleased with the positive feedback from our fellow academics, doctors, and other experts who have had the opportunity to get to know our work. We are grateful that the Faculty of Physical Culture allowed us to carry out this study,” he added.
In addition to Botek and his colleagues from the UP Department of Natural Sciences in Kinanthropology, also other experts participated in the research: Andrew McKune from the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise at the University of Canberra, Australia, and Petr Konečný, head of the Department of Clinical Rehabilitation at the UP Faculty of Health Sciences and head of the Medical Rehabilitation Centre in AGEL Prostějov Hospital, and sports physician Dalibor Pastucha, director of the ReFit Clinic, head of the Department of Rehabilitation and Physical Medicine at the University Hospital Ostrava and head of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ostrava. The study was carried out in cooperation with H2 World Health & Beauty Company, which provided the researchers with some of the hydrogen generators used for the research therapy.
The full text of the study can be found here.