You might find yourself drinking hydrogen peroxide deliberately or accidentally because it is a clear liquid that can easily be mistaken for water. But is that enough reason for alarm? Do you think it is harmful to your body? And does it have any health benefits? Hydrogen peroxide is a colorless and odorless liquid that consists of both hydrogen and oxygen. It is used mostly in school and hospital laboratories to test the presence of catalysts, among other functions. It is found in different concentrations ranging from 3-90%. Different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide are used in different ways. A less concentrated liquid is harmless to the body, and you can use it to treat different diseases. Higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can be harmful. That said, let’s highlight the health benefits of hydrogen peroxide and its risks.
Health benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide
Used as a disinfectant.
Low concentrated hydrogen peroxide of about 3% is used as a disinfectant. People use it to dress minor cuts and wounds. Consequently, Wounds form a hard coating that prevents germs from entering the affected area, hence fast healing. It is also used to disinfect surfaces. Others use it as a hand sanitizer as it can kill germs.
Treatment of diabetes.
Hydrogen peroxide is usually added to drinking water to treat diabetes. Diabetes patients have shown improvement with this treatment. Scientific research is needed to support these findings.
Treatment of sore throat.
Sore throats cause an irritating effect on the throat. Adding hydrogen peroxide to warm water can help in the faster easing of this effect.
Hydrogen peroxide can be used to wash vegetables and fruits. 3% concentration of hydrogen peroxide on 20 liters can is recommended to be sprayed on vegetables. After washing in this solution, you should rinse them to wash off any hydrogen peroxide left on the veggies. For tough-skinned fruits such as passion fruit, you can soak for about 3 minutes. Other soft vegetables should be soaked for fewer minutes.
Treatment of cancer.
Low levels of oxygen have been linked to causing cancer. Drinking hydrogen peroxide increases the oxygen level in the body. It is believed that once cancer cells are flooded with oxygen, they cease growing. This treatment is known as toxicology or oxymedicine. More research is needed to back up this claim since cancer cells develop so fast that blood vessels do not deliver enough oxygen. Cancer cells can survive with or without oxygen.
Dentists use low concentrated hydrogen peroxide to treat stained teeth. Some products are sold in the market containing different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide used to brighten teeth. Be careful to check their concentration. Any product with more than 10% sodium peroxide can affect your teeth.
Veterinary recommends that once a pet has eaten a poisonous food, you can induce vomiting using 3% hydrogen peroxide. However, this solution is also dangerous for ingestion. Ensure your pet has vomited the solution together with the poisonous substance.
Washing shiny surfaces.
Washing glasses and mirrors using hydrogen peroxide makes such surfaces shiny.
Used to remove stains.
High concentrated hydrogen peroxide can be used to remove stains on surfaces. Some stains, such as juice stains and bloodstains, are hard to remove on clothes. Adding this solution to washing water can help eliminate them.
Used as a brightener.
White clothes usually develop a grimy hue. Adding hydrogen peroxide into the washing water act as bleach. It can give your cloth a shiny and brighter look. Soaking the cloth for some time would give you better results. The period of soaking depends on the degree to which the cloth is affected. More grimy clothes should be soaked for a longer period.
Breaking seed dormancy.
Some seeds might take long before germinating. Soaking such seeds in a 3% sodium hydrogen peroxide solution can trigger faster germination. It is also believed to increase the chances of plant yield.
Used as hair dyes.
Hydrogen peroxide is by hair professionals to lighten the hair. It is a permanent hair dye. However, regular application of this dye on your hair corrodes the hair strands making them weak. Eventually, the hair breaks and develop split edges that cause stunted growth.
Risks of using hydrogen peroxide
It may cause a heart attack.
Drinking hydrogen peroxide can lead to serious side effects. It reacts with enzymes in the body to produce oxygen. Too much oxygen in the body can be dangerous as one might not burp it out. It may accumulate in the blood vessels leading to stroke or heart attack.
Swallowing hydrogen peroxide causes stomach pains and discomfort. The excess oxygen in the stomach causes this discomfort.
Bloating and vomiting.
Once hydrogen peroxide is swallowed, there is a production of excess oxygen in the body. It reacts with body enzymes producing oxygen. Accumulation of this oxygen in the body causes bloating. Bloating can lead to vomiting.
May cause kidney failure.
Kidneys eliminate toxins from the body. Once you overload your body with these toxins, the kidneys might be overloaded and fail to eliminate them. Hydrogen peroxide is toxic. A high concentrated or high amount of hydrogen peroxide might overwork the kidneys to eliminate it from the body leading to kidney failure.
The reaction of oxygen with enzymes produces foams. The mouth contains enzymes that are found in the saliva. The reaction between hydrogen peroxide and these saliva enzymes would cause foams in the mouth.
Drinking a large amount and high concentrated hydrogen peroxide can lead to serious breathing difficulties. Difficulty in breathing can also lead to death. If you happen to ingest hydrogen peroxide of unknown concentration, seek immediate medical attention.
Cause hair breakage.
Hydrogen peroxide is used as a permanent hair dye. Regular use of it on hair cause breakage and split edges. Split edges cause stunt growth of hair.
The bottom line
Drinking hydrogen peroxide has not been scientifically proven that it has health benefits. Therefore, you should avoid drinking it at any concentration. It has serious health risks such as causing stroke, breathing difficulties, kidney failure, damage of the alimentary canal, among others. If you happen to drink it accidentally, seek immediate medical care.
We would like to thank the below contributors who have helped us to write this article:
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