Drinking hydrogen-enriched water does not provide therapeutic benefits to patients with Parkinson’s disease, results from a Japanese clinical trial revealed.
The study,“Randomized, Double-Blind, Multicenter Trial of Hydrogen Water for Parkinson’s Disease,” was published in the journal Movement Disorders.
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by reduced levels of dopamine (a critical brain signaling molecule) caused by the degeneration and death of brain cells responsible for its production, called dopaminergic neurons.
It is not yet fully understood what triggers the disease, but the underlying cellular mechanisms involved in Parkinson’s disease are known to promote and be supported by higher levels of oxidative stress.
For cells to create energy, they “breathe” oxygen received by the food we eat and the air we breathe, and as a result, reactive molecules are created. These residual molecules are the free radicals responsible for oxidative stress.
In addition, in our everyday life, our bodies are exposed to reactive oxygen species (ROS) as a result of the environment around us. When something doesn’t work well in the energy extraction process and cells become full of ROS compounds, oxidative stress occurs.
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As such, antioxidant agents that could help reduce and manage the levels of the damaging oxidant molecules may represent an attractive strategy to ease Parkinson’s symptoms and prevent their progression.
Molecular hydrogen (H2) reacts with strong oxidants in cells, and its potential for preventive and therapeutic applications has been proposed. Hydrogen has a number of advantages that demonstrate extensive effects, and it can rapidly diffuse into tissues and cells, and it does not disturb metabolic reactions or affect signaling ROS.
There are several methods to ingest or consume hydrogen, such as inhaling hydrogen gas, drinking hydrogen-dissolved water, or injecting hydrogen-dissolved saline.
Japanese researchers explored the potential benefits of the antioxidant activity of hydrogen in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
After 48 weeks of therapy with hydrogen-enriched water, the patients experienced a mean reduction of 5.7 points in total Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) scores, whereas placebo-treated patients scores worsened by 4.1 points during the same time period.
The UPDRS is a comprehensive 50-question assessment of both motor and nonmotor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.
To further explore the therapeutic activity of hydrogen-enriched water, researchers designed a new trial (UMIN000010014) that enrolled 178 patients across 14 hospitals in Japan. Among the participants, 154 were receiving treatment with levopoda during the study period.
Evaluation of disease status by UPDRS scores failed to demonstrate significant improvements after the 72 weeks of treatment with hydrogen-enriched water compared to placebo.
In this new study the treatment did not promote any changes between the two groups in each of the UPDRS individual parts, Parkinson’s Disease Questionnaire-39 (PDQ-39) score, and the Hoehn and Yahr stage (all standard measures to assess Parkinson’s status and progression).
Researchers believe these results could be due to the fact that hydrogen doses being administrated with hydrogen water 7.0 are too low and act more as a placebo.
In addition, the patients included in the study had slower disease progression rates compared to prior studies, making it difficult to recognize possible therapeutic effects during the study period.
Collectively these results “revealed that the consumption of [hydrogen] water was safe, but did not show beneficial effects in patients with Parkinson’s disease,” the researchers wrote.
“Further development and application methods will be required to accelerate effective treatments for Parkinson’s disease,” they added.