Hydrogen peroxide is a transparent, monochrome fluid that dissolves with water easily. It is basically an amalgam comprising two hydrogen atoms and two oxygen atoms and its chemical formula is H2O2. Hydrogen peroxide is produced naturally in the atmosphere when ultra violet (UV) rays of the sun react with oxygen when there is existence of moisture in the air. On the other hand, ozone (chemical formula O3) is basically comprised of one free oxygen (O) and two additional oxygen atoms. As ozone is exposed to water, the additional oxygen atom separates quite effortlessly. Subsequently, water (chemical formula H2O) unites with the additional oxygen atom and turns into hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).
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Hydrogen peroxide is often called an intimate relative of ozone. Besides being identified in the form of a potent oxygenator as well as oxidizer, a particular attribute of hydrogen peroxide it is aptitude to willingly disintegrate into its basic elements - water and oxygen. Similar to ozone, hydrogen peroxide also easily reacts with different materials and possesses the ability to eliminate bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites as well as specific tumour cells.
Hydrogen peroxide is naturally present in the biosphere of the earth - vestiges of this amalgam are often discovered in rain as well as snow. In addition, hydrogen peroxide has also been come across in several healing springs located in different regions of the world, counting Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal and at the Quebec-based shrine of St. Anne. It may be noted that hydrogen peroxide forms a vital constituent of plant life and minute quantities of this compound are also present in several fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, cabbage, green peppers, asparagus, apples, oranges, watercress and watermelons.
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Besides plants, hydrogen peroxide is present in the animal kingdom too and is also concerned with several natural processes of our body. In the form of an oxygenator, hydrogen peroxide has the ability to supply the blood as well as other important systems in different parts of the body with minute amounts of oxygen. In fact, hydrogen peroxide does not deliver oxygen to the body just by generating reasonable amounts of oxygen but it possesses an amazing ability to invigorate the oxidative enzymes that contain the aptitude to alter the chemical element/ constituent of different substances, such as bacteria and viruses, while it itself remains unaffected. Instead of supplying additional oxygen to the cells, the existence of hydrogen peroxide itself improves the cells' natural oxidative processes. This, in turn, augments the ability of the body to utilize the available oxygen.
Hydrogen peroxide is vital for our body, especially for the proper functioning of our immune system. In fact, the cells present in our body those especially counteract contagions, such as the category of white blood cells called granulocytes, make hydrogen peroxide in the form of a first line of protection from bacteria, viruses, fungi and other parasites that are detrimental for our body. In addition, our body also requires hydrogen peroxide for the metabolism of ingested carbohydrates, proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins. In effect, hydrogen peroxide is an offshoot of cell metabolism, which is dynamically broken down peroxidase, a regulator of the hormones as well as an indispensible part of the progesterone, estrogen and thyroxin produced by our body. If all these do not seem to be sufficient enough attributes, hydrogen peroxide is also concerned with controlling blood sugar levels and also generating energy in the cells of our body.
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French chemist Louis-Jacques Thenard was the first person to discover hydrogen peroxide in 1818. In fact, he also named the compound as eau oxygenee, which translated into English denotes 'oxygenated water'. Hydrogen peroxide has been commercially used since the middle of the 1880s in the form of a pollution-free bleaching agent, sanitizer as well as an oxidizing agent.
While hydrogen peroxide is present in nature, it is also possible to make little amounts of it in the laboratory by means of chemical reaction between barium peroxide and cold diluted sulfuric acid. To prepare large amounts of hydrogen peroxide, you need to electrolyse frozen strong sulfuric acid. This procedure results in a chain of chemical reactions that produce a substance known as peroxy-disulfuric acid. Upon warming the solution to room temperature, it converts into hydrogen peroxide. It may be mentioned that an assortment of hydrogen peroxide grades are available and a few of them are discussed briefly below.
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The type of hydrogen peroxide that is found in places like pharmacies and grocery stores is a low-grade 3 per cent hydrogen peroxide. It basically comprises 50 per cent 'super D peroxide' and is watered down. This variety of hydrogen peroxide encloses an assortment of stabilizers, for instance, phenol, sodium stancite and acetanilide. This type of hydrogen peroxide is mainly employed to sanitize wounds as well as cure skin rashes, in addition to an effectual and low-cost (but having an enjoyable flavor for some people) mouthwash. This quality of hydrogen peroxide is utilized around the house also to refresh the bathroom as well as to rinse fresh vegetables and fruits. Although 3 per cent variety of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) should never be consumed.
Another variety of this compound is the 6 per cent hydrogen peroxide that encloses an activator which makes this amalgam an effectual blanching material. 6 per cent hydrogen peroxide is basically used by people like surfers, hairdressers and also by teenagers in the form of a hair colorant.
Similar to other hydrogen peroxide grades, the 30 per cent reagent variety also appears to be safe like water. Nevertheless, this grade of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is basically an extremely concentrated chemical amalgam which is highly caustic. People who intend to use this grade of H2O2 need to exercise stringent precautions. If this variety of hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with the skin, it may result in burn injuries. Even inhaling the vapor or consuming this chemical compound in its complete potency may be perilous and may also result in death. However, when it is employed in the appropriate manner, reagent-grade 30 per cent hydrogen peroxide is also harmless. Since this grade of H2O2 comparatively lacks heavy metals as well as trace elements, it is basically employed in medical studies. It is strongly recommended that the reagent-grade hydrogen peroxide in a diluted form is used in bio-oxidative treatment. You may purchase this grade of hydrogen peroxide from any store supplying chemicals.
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Traditionally, the 35 per cent food-grade hydrogen peroxide has been employed by the food industry in the form of a toxin-free sterilizer. When this variety of H2O2 is highly diluted with water, it is used to spray eggs, cheese, fruits, vegetables and whey products with a view to protect these substances from unwanted or harmful bacteria. In addition, 35 per cent hydrogen peroxide is useful for sanitizing food containers that have metal and foil coating. The dairy industry also uses food grade or 35 per cent hydrogen peroxide in the form of a bactericide and disinfectant. Although this grade of hydrogen peroxide is comparatively less preferred for bio-oxidative treatment, it is much easy to obtain food-grade H2O2 from any major store dealing in natural foods.
Another variety of H2O2 is the 90 per cent hydrogen peroxide that is primarily employed by the military as well as in space exploration in the form of a propulsion resource for fuels for rockets. It is an extremely volatile chemical compound, which may possibly blow up provided it is not dealt with cautiously. It is not advisable to use 90 per cent hydrogen peroxide in bio-oxidative treatment.
Hydrogen peroxide has various uses, including industrial, therapeutic, and domestic as well as in agriculture. Some of these utilities of H2O2 are discussed in brief below.
Food-grade or 35 per cent H2O2 is utilized to wash/ clean milk cans as well as vast containers with a view to obliterate bacteria as well as other different pathogens. In addition, when hydrogen peroxide is appropriately diluted using water, it can be utilized in the form of a spray to rinse barn walls as well as floors. Blends of hydrogen peroxide are also used to sanitize wounds as well as rinse the mammary of cows, which, in turn, leads to lesser content of bacteria in their milk.
Since oxygen is indispensible for both plant and animal life to sustain, presently hydrogen peroxide is being utilized in different manners with a view to augment the pace of growth as well as the yield of plants. Several farmers also utilize hydrogen peroxide to produce an effectual pollution-free insecticide in the field, in addition to a spray for disinfecting the plants grown indoors as well as in gardens.
A consulting physician at the St. Louis based City Hospital, Dr. I. N. Love, M.D., was the first person to report the remedial exploitation of hydrogen peroxide in March 3, 1888 edition of the American Medical Association's journal under the heading 'Peroxide of Hydrogen as a Remedial Agent'. This article was actually based on a lecture given in the preceding month by Dr. Love to the St. Louis Medical Society regarding his success in taking care of patients enduring various ailments, counting nasal catarrh, diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough, severe coryza (also called head catarrh), hay fever, asthma and tonsillitis. In all these cases, treatment basically entailed using a syringe to administer a watered down solution of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into the nostrils. Speaking on the subject, Dr. Love had remarked that the extraordinary nature of hydrogen peroxide suggests that it ought to be a potent antiseptic as well as an eliminator of microbes - anything that completes oxidation as fast, if it may be used with safety and caution, have got to be an exceptional application to infected surfaces owing to the sanitizing effects. Furthermore, Dr. Love also reported the utilization of H2O2 in treating uterine cancer in the form of a 'sanitizer, freshener and promoter' of the healing process.
At the Medical Society of Georgia's annual meeting afterward in the same year, Dr. P. R. Cortelyou, M.D., gave an account of his medical experiences using hydrogen peroxide to treat throat and nose problems. According to Dr. Cortelyou, he watered down hydrogen peroxide and made use of the liquid in the form of a delicate spray to treat patients struggling with sore throat, chronic pharyngitis, tonsillitis, rhinitis, cough and diphtheria. In a number of instances, he also use hydrogen peroxide combined with additional medications available in those days, counting a solution prepared using potash, iodine and glycerine as well as 'muriate of cocaine'. Following treatment of a woman enduring acute cough and high fever using this blend for a period of four weeks, Dr. Cortelyou testified that the condition of the patient's throat had improved so much that the remedy was given just two times every week. He further reported that owing to the treatment the condition of the woman has been good throughout the winter.
It may be noted that the British physician Dr. T. H. Oliver is known to be the first doctor to use hydrogen peroxide intravenously in 1920. In the previous year, Dr. Oliver had cured as many as 25 patients in India who were gravely ailing with influenzal pneumonia. Dr. Oliver had injected hydrogen peroxide straight into the patients' veins. It is interesting to note that against the usual mortality rate of more than 80 per cent for influenzal pneumonia, the death rate of Dr. Oliver's patients was as low as 48 per cent. While this process of delivering hydrogen peroxide may possibly result in gas embolism - a condition that has the potential to block the blood vessels and result in a stroke, it seems that this did not happen in the case of any patient treated.
In the United States, renowned chemist plus physician Dr. William Fredrick Koch undertook several studies with hydrogen peroxide on cancer patients during the 1920s. In fact, Dr. Koch made use of a substance, which he named glyoxylide that is thought to be the identical oxygen that is present in hydrogen peroxide. Unlike Dr. Oliver who administered hydrogen peroxide intravenously, Dr. Koch was in favour of administering H2O2 intramuscularly.
Although the treatments of Dr. Koch proved to be successful, afterwards the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initiated legal action against him. While he was not fond guilty, Dr. Koch made up his mind to go away from the United States and go on with his research in Brazil, where he breathed his last in 1967.
Scientists at the Texas-based Baylor University Medical Center undertook several major researches regarding the therapeutic utilizes of hydrogen peroxide during the early 1960s. In the initial researches concerning cancer, scientists discovered that compared to the common cells, the cells which enclosed an elevated amount of oxygen reacted more positively to radiation therapy. Prior to this study, physicians frequently used hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) with a view to oxygenate the cells. However, this was done in a somewhat awkward and costly procedure making use of specifically constructed oxygen chamber from where oxygen was distributed under immense pressure that was more than the standard atmospheric pressure. Nevertheless, physicians at the Baylor University Medical Center discovered that when H2O2 was injected in little amounts into any vein, it was able to accomplish effects similar to those of hyperbaric oxygen at a greatly less cost and having lesser unfavourable side effects.
The researchers at the Baylor University Medical Center also found that H2O2 has an invigorating action on the muscles of the heart and, therefore, using this compound may well be immensely beneficial for patients enduring heart attacks. In effect, therapeutic use of hydrogen peroxide proved to be helpful in providing relief from myocardial ischemia - a condition wherein there is an absence of oxygen supply to the heart muscle. In a report published in the journal Circulation, Dr. H. C. Urschel Jr. wrote that ventricular fibrillation - a grave condition concerning exceptionally fast, imperfect tightening of the ventricle region of the heart could be completely eased by administering hydrogen peroxide intravenously.
In addition, the scientists at the Baylor University Medical Center examined the consequences of administering hydrogen peroxide intravenously and its impact on the build up of plaque within the arteries. They discovered that besides helping to effectively do away with plague accumulation in the arteries, the impact of using hydrogen peroxide in this manner was also lasting. Although the findings of this research gave some hope to people who were otherwise certain to undergo the costly, risky and usually unsuccessful bypass heart surgeries, it is unfortunate that the medical establishment paid no attention at all to the studies undertaken by researchers at Baylor.
It may be noted that hydrogen peroxide is a potent oxidizer as well as an effectual oxygenator. Over the last six decades, research authors have explained several physiological consequences of hydrogen peroxide in many literatures published in scientific and medical journals.
Most of us are extremely familiar with the inferior quality of hydrogen peroxide (3 per cent). When this grade of hydrogen peroxide is applied topically to a gaping wound, it forms bubbles, which is actually oxygen being released from the solution. Nevertheless, only a few people are aware of the extensive assortment of remedial potentials of the reagent grade (30 per cent) hydrogen peroxide or the food grade (35 per cent) hydrogen peroxide when they are watered down and ingested in the form of a bio-oxidative remedy.
Similar to ozone, hydrogen peroxide too has the aptitude to cure a wide gamut of ailments since it eliminates bacteria, viruses, fungi as well as parasites. In addition, hydrogen peroxide also has the capability to obliterate specific types of tumour cells.
The following ailments have been clinically treated with intravenous hydrogen peroxide with varying levels of achievement:
Currently, scientists are engaged in developing different treatment procedures for several different diseases, counting Erlich's carcinoma (a transplantable, defectively distinguished malignant tumour), Legionnaires' disease (a contagion attributable to the bacterium Legionella pneumophila), contagions by Candida albicans, Toxoplasma gondii, Salmonella typhi, cytomegalovirus and even HIV as well as pneumonia related to AIDS and attributable to pneumocystis carinii.