I’d recently heard about food grade hydrogen peroxide. Wait, what? People are ingesting the bubbly stuff I put on scrapes and scratches? Some say it’s great for you, that it cures allll kinds of things by oxygenating the blood. Others swear up and down that it acts as a detox for your body (I know you’re either rolling your eyes at that word, or you’re squirming in your seat with excitement). Regardless of how I feel about detoxes, cleanses, cure-alls, etc., I am still curious about this trend.
What’s the differences between the hydrogen peroxide I keep in my medicine cabinet and “food grade hydrogen peroxide?” Concentration! Here’s the different types of H2O2 available:
3% Pharmaceutical H2O2, what most of us have in our first aid kits and medicine cabinets. Some EndoSisters dilute 3% H2O2 in a hot bath and soak for relaxation;
6% Beautician Grade H2O2, used in hair coloring treatments;
30% Reagent Grade H2O2, used in scientific experiments;
30 – 32% Electronic Grade H2O2, used to clean electrical components;
35% Technical Grade H2O2, used in scientific experiments;
35% Food Grade H2O2, used for food production and processing. It has also been found as an ingredient in improvised chemical weapons (due to it’s high oxidation). This is what many people have been ingesting or breathing for health benefits, although it must be severely diluted prior to use (some dilute it in water and drink it, others dilute it and use it in a humidifier or nebulizer, and yet others dilute it, gargle, and spit). Consuming improperly diluted H2O2 can be fatal. Other ways people use FGH2O2: a foot soak, in the bath, as a douche, as an enema, or as mouthwash; and,
90% H2O2, used in rocket fuel (yes, I just Nerded Out).
There are claims that food grade hydrogen peroxide acts as a natural disinfectant, that it oxidizes and eliminates toxins from the body, and (as we all pretty much have learned growing up) cleans wounds and fights infection. As for claims of a cure, people have said that food grade H2O2 has cured their sinus infections, emphysema, Alzheimers, yeast infections, Diabetes, melanoma, blood poisoning, warts, depression, sciatica pain, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, Lupus, herpes, gum infections, skin infections, toothaches, cancer, AIDS, and so much more. You can find countless testimonials online about the life-changing benefits of users.
On the flip side, people have complained that after drinking or inhaling food grade hydrogen peroxide (even diluted), they’ve suffered from coughing fits, nausea, vomiting, sore throats, cotton mouth, swollen legs, headaches, chest pain, tinnitus, loss of balance, blood disorders, constipation, a burning sensation near the anus, stomach cramps, and flu-like symptoms (body aches, fatigue). One webpage said that these adverse symptoms are merely, “the H2O2 seeking out the virus & streptococcus to destroy.” Others tell these complainants to simply reduce the amount of drops they take each day and the symptoms will dissipate. One concerned user said he got heart pains after consuming H2O2 with tap water…the response from another H2O2 user: that the heart pains are likely caused by the tap water because “God knows what’s in that stuff” rather than the H2O2. Another tap water drinker suffered from extreme bloating after H2O2 consumption, had been to the ER, and was suicidal after the bloating hadn’t receded. She wrote, “I am a victim to not researching this properly and being a complete idiot. Please help me know if in time this will heal.” She doesn’t mention she’ll stop using H2O2…and nobody responded to her question.
In 2006, the FDA published a press release outlining the dangers of ingesting hydrogen peroxide. They urged consumers not to ingest the 35% Food Grade H2O2, for risk of causing “serious harm or death.” They urged those who were already consuming to stop immediately. The FDA has never approved of such actions, and went after companies selling FGH2O2 claiming their product healed illnesses.
Curious to start your own treatment of food grade hydrogen peroxide?
First, bring it up with your doctor and address pros, cons, concerns, possible side effects, and possible interactions with medications or supplements. I’m pretty sure most MDs will dissuade you, but you need to have this conversation.
Secondly, good luck finding the recommended dosage. All I’ve found online are conflicting reports about which percentage of H2O2 to purchase, how many drops versus how much water to dilute, and how best to increase your dosage:
- Some say 3 drops of 35% H2O2 to 12oz of water.
- Some say 3 drops of 12% H2O2 to 11oz of water.
- Others says 4 drops of 8% H2O2 with 8oz of water.
- Some say use 3% H2O2 and don’t dilute it.
- Others say us 3% H2O2 and dilute it further.
- Some say you can ingest the regular 3% H2O2 we all have in our bathrooms.
- Others say no to the 3% H2O2 because it’s full of other ingredients that may be harmful to us.
- Some say to take it on an empty stomach.
- Others say to always eat before you do.
It’s all over the place. And don’t get me started on how many drops you should be taking how many times per day. Some sites warn against laying down immediately after consuming H2O2 as it can cause the gases in your stomach to rise, causing discomfort or trouble breathing.
A 2007 study states that ingestion of hydrogen peroxide can kill you in one of three ways : 1) caustic injury (it burns ya), 2) oxygen gas formation (ya send a bubble to your brain), and 3) lipid peroxidation (the oxidation causes free radicals to strip lipids of electrons and can cause a chain reaction of cell damage/death). A 39-year-old man accidentally drank 8 ounces of 35% food grade hydrogen peroxide (he thought it was water; it was in an unlabeled bottle in a friend’s fridge). He went to the ER after vomiting blood and complained of upper abdominal pain. Upon examination, he had some caustic injury to his stomach, as well as some gas issues. He spent three days in the hospital and was released. The study notes, “the storage and use of 35% hydrogen peroxide for natural health benefits results in an emerging source for more serious ingestions. Thirty-five per cent hydrogen peroxide can be lethal when ingested, and needs to be treated with caution and stored appropriately. Public awareness and regulation of the use of this substance is required.” As a side note, some people believe the cellular and tissue damage caused by these free radicals may aid in the development of adhesions…which nobody wants.
A study published in the Journal of Community Health this year reviewed 634 poisoning incidents that occurred between 2012-2013 in California. Of those, 30 reports were related to hydrogen peroxide: seven people used it in their ears, 22 people used it rectally, and one person used it vaginally. This study mentions that a 29-year-old woman went to the ER because she had administered as 12% food grade hydrogen peroxide enema in the hopes to “clean herself out.” She had 10 separate episodes of rectal bleeding before going to the emergency room.
A May 2019 study was of a 26-year-old woman with Endometriosis and a small bowel obstruction who administered a hydrogen peroxide enema. She went to the ER with complaints of bloody stool and abdominal pain. Two weeks prior, she had visited a naturopathic healthcare provider who administered intravenous ozone therapy (a mixture of oxygen and unknown liquids and vitamins) for fertility issues. She reported difficulty breathing and a disturbance in her vision, but those side effects went away. The naturopathic provider instructed her to drink hydrogen peroxide and do the at-home hydrogen peroxide enemas. As instructed, she drank diluted 35% hydrogen peroxide. But when it came time to do the enema, she misread the instructions and did not dilute it. The pain and bloody stool was immediate. In the ER, a CT Scan showed an air embolism in her venous system. After several treatments, the embolism was no longer detected. A sigmoidoscopy showed only inflammatory changes of her bowel. If you didn’t know, untreated air embolisms CAN KILL YOU.
The journal of Critical Care Medicine published a January 2021 study of a 26-year-old woman who suffered from Endometriosis. She had previously undergone a partial bowel resection for Endometriosis causing a small bowel obstruction and had begun treating with naturopaths. Her treatments included IV infusions of vitamins, as well as ozone gas therapy and hydrogen peroxide enemas. She was instructed by her naturopaths to treat three times daily with 8 ounces of water and 15 drops of 35% hydrogen peroxide. After about 20 or so enemas, she developed severe abdominal pain and wasn’t able to insert the enema without pain and rectal bleeding. She also developed body aches and numbness and was hospitalized. A CT scan found gas in her portal vein system (Dr. Google informs me the portal venous system the GI tract’s capillary system) of her liver…which immediately landed her in a hypocritical chamber for an air embolism. She spent a total of four hours in that chamber, and a repeat CT scan found the embolism had resolved. A sigmoidoscopy was performed and found her colon tissue to be irritated due to the hydrogen peroxide enemas. Although IV ozone treatment can also be a source for air embolisms, the authors guess it was the enemas since symptoms occurred two weeks after her ozone therapy. Some air embolisms can result in fatalities…again. Please, be careful. Talk to your medical doctors. And do your own research.
Other side effects of hydrogen peroxide consumption/poisoning may be a narrowing of airways, trouble breathing, burning of gastrointestinal tract, too much oxygen in blood (which may cause an embolism…see the May 2019 study above), and tissue damage. However, I think these were mostly from cases which did not dilute the solution enough…
With an unregulated, unstudied, and unproven “treatment,” I urge you to please do your research and be careful. I know you’re going to treat however you feel is best for you, but do it with an educated mind. Heed the warnings and go into this fully aware of all of the consequences.
Will I try it? You can probably guess my answer by the tone of this blog entry. 😉 But will I judge you for wanting to try it? Not at all…just be careful.
(Updated March 26, 2021)
ATS Journal – (Abstract, May 2019) Venous Air Embolism as a Result of Ozone Therapy
Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology – (Article, Oct. 2007) Accidental Ingestion 35% Hydrogen Peroxide
Cancer Tutor – (Blog, June 2016) Hydrogen Peroxide Cancer Treatment
Critical Care Medicine – (Abstract) Not Your Average Intestinal Gas: Hydrogen Peroxide Enemas Causing Portal Venous Air Embolism
Earth Clinic – (Blog, Sept. 2016) Food Grade Peroxide Cures
Educate Yourself – (Blog, July 2013; updated May 2015) The Many Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide
Endometriosis: Current Management and Future Trends – (Excerpt, 2010) Oxidative Stress and the Pathogenesis of Endometriosis
Heal Dove – (Blog, April 2016) Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and Its Uses
Illinois Poison Center – (Blog, Feb. 2011) Frightening Facts about Food-Grade Hydrogen Peroxide
Journal of Community Health – (Abstract; Feb. 2016) Human Poisoning Through Atypical Routes of Exposure – if you would like to read the entire article, please let me know
Livestrong – (Article, Jan. 2016) What are the Dangers of Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide?
Los Alamos National Library – (Slides, Jan. 2016) Unconventional CW
OBGyn.net – (Blog, July 2011) Stress Reduction for Relief of Fibroids & Endometriosis
Texas Poison Center Network
US Food & Drug Administration – (Press release, July 2006) FDA Warns Consumers Against Drinking High-Strength Hydrogen Peroxide for Medicinal Use
In Vivo. – (Abstract, May 1999) Lipid Peroxidation and Tissue Damage
~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 🙂 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa