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by Ross, R.Ph. Pelton, Lee Overholser

Hydrogen Peroxide


As far back as the early nineteenth century, hydrogen peroxide was widely used in medicine. Many bacterial diseases, including syphilis, responded to H2O2 when no other treatment was effective. In the early twentieth century H2O2 was used to treat several common diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, ulcers, asthma, whooping cough, and tuberculosis. (11)

Hydrogen peroxide's ability to kill bacteria in the human body has been well documented (1, 13, 17), and a 1922 medical textbook describes the use of hydrogen peroxide orally, by intravenous injection, and for topical use. (14) However, as the pharmaceutical industry began to develop powerful new (and high-priced) drugs, hydrogen peroxide was increasingly ignored and finally discarded as a treatment.

Early Supporters

Several fascinating personalities have been involved in the struggle to gain recognition in the U.S. of hydrogen peroxide as a therapeutic agent again. Dr. Edward Rosenow (1875-1966), a physician and research scientist associated with the Mayo Clinic for over forty years, discovered that hydrogen peroxide was the safe, effective antimicrobial, antiviral agent he had spent years looking for. Unfortunately, he died without seeing his discovery become widely accepted.

However, his friend Father Wilhelm, a Catholic priest and chemistry teacher, made a commitment to publicize the wonderful benefits of hydrogen peroxide. In the 1970s he presented Rosenow's research to several large pharmaceutical companies, only to get the same response every time: Rosenow's work on hydrogen peroxide was very interesting and potentially important, but hydrogen peroxide was an inexpensive substance that could not be patented and had no commercial value.

Walter Grotz was the next player in the hydrogen peroxide story. After a 1965 auto accident, Grotz developed arthritis that was so bad he could hardly walk. In the winter of 1982, after retiring as postmaster in Delano, Minnesota, his wife convinced him that a warm Caribbean cruise might lessen his arthritic pain. As fate would have it, the chaplain on their cruise ship was Father Wilhelm. When Father Wilhelm learned that Wally (as he is affectionately called) had arthritis, the good Father began preaching his "peroxide sermon."

Wally began taking small amounts of hydrogen peroxide orally, and within a few months his arthritis pain was totally gone. Walter became as committed as Father Wilhelm, and the two of them have now dedicated their lives to spreading the word about the potential health benefits of hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen Peroxide in Nature

When ozone mixes with moisture in the air, it forms hydrogen peroxide, which comes down in rain and snow. It occurs naturally in fresh fruits and vegetables, some coming from rain and some manufactured during photosynthesis. (6) Hydrogen peroxide is also found in mother's milk, with an especially high concentration in colostrum (the first milk secreted, right after birth).

One researcher states, "The generation of H2O2 in cellular processes seems to be purposeful, and H2O2 cannot be dismissed as a mere undesirable by-product.... The capacity for generation of H202 is now found to be widespread in a variety of organisms and in the organelles of the cells." (12)

The Chemistry of Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a very simple compound, with the chemical I formula H2O2 Essentially it is a molecule of water with an extra atom of oxygen attached, occurring throughout nature and produced by almost every cell in the human body.

Most people are familiar with the common drugstore variety of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide, used for everything from sterilizing a cut to cleaning kitchen countertops. Hydrogen peroxide's sterilizing power comes from its extra oxygen atom. Hydrogen peroxide has a similar oxidizing, or cleansing, power in the body. However, the drugstore variety of H2O2 should never be used internally, because of the chemicals it contains as stabilizers.

Free Radicals

In the 1950s Dr. Denham Harman developed the free-radical theory of aging. Free radicals are molecules that have a chemically active oxygen atom attached to them. Free radicals can damage cells, causing aging and cancer. (15)

At first it seemed that extra oxygen was always damaging, and that the antioxidants were the good guys, responsible for anti-aging protection. Now it appears that not all free-radical reactions are bad. For instance, oxygen helps cleansing enzymes remove toxins, and it is used by the immune system to attack invading bacteria. (4) Also, hydrogen peroxide stimulates natural killer (NK) cells, which attack cancer cells as these attempt to spread throughout the body. (8)

Oxygen and Cancer

Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize for his discovery that cancer cells have different metabolic properties than normal cells. (16) Healthy cells are aerobic; they use oxygen in most of their chemical reactions. Cancer cells have reverted to a more primitive metabolic process, called fermentation which is anaerobic, or without oxygen. This means that cancer cells thrive in a low-oxygen environment.

The main energy source for both normal and cancer cells is glucose. However, a cancer cell's anaerobic processing of glucose yields only one fifteenth the energy per glucose molecule, compared with normal cellular metabolism. This is why cancer cells have such a huge appetite for sugar (glucose).

Mechanism of Action

One possible way in which intravenous hydrogen peroxide can treat cancer is by releasing pure oxygen in the body. By saturating the cells and tissues with oxygen, hydrogen peroxide promotes healthy, oxygen-based metabolism.

Dr. Charles Farr discovered that intravenous hydrogen peroxide stimulates oxidative enzymes in the body, which help to clear out toxins. (5) He found that intravenous H2O2 infusions almost doubled the metabolic rate. These changes may account in part for the observed benefits from H2O2 infusions.

It is important to note that H2O2 apparently does not produce free-radical lipid peroxidation, but instead stimulates important detoxifying oxidative enzyme systems. This is the direct opposite of what might be expected.

Many people, including myself, initially reacted negatively to the idea of taking hydrogen peroxide internally. How could something that produces free radicals possibly have a therapeutic benefit? However, the damage from free radicals comes from chronic exposure to free-radical oxygen, which is part of more complex molecules. The processes of oxygenation and stimulation of the oxidative enzymes may account for the positive effects of hydrogen peroxide that have been observed.

Clinical Studies

In the 1950s Dr. Reginald Holman tested H2O2 on rats implanted with Walker 256 adenocarcinoma tumors. Their drinking water was replaced by a dilute solution of hydrogen peroxide. The optimal concentration was reported to be 0.45 percent, and complete disappearance of the tumors was reported to exist from fifteen to sixty days. (9)

In 1982 Winifred Wirth reported on the effective use of oral H2O2 in the treatment of laboratory mice infected with Ehrlich carcinoma. Effectiveness was judged by the decrease in mortality and the delayed onset of palpable tumor incidence. (18)

More info: http://curezone.com/diseases/cancer/h2o2.asp