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I've found some sites which claim that drinking hydrogen peroxide is "very" healthy for detoxification of the body. But these sites lack credible references.

As far as I remember from secondary school, oxygen is very reactive and can cause lungs cancer. I was searching for publications about "hydrogen peroxide therapy", but I haven't found anything. I also searched here on NCBI — Is that a reliable place for searching such topics?

Is it safe to drink hydrogen peroxide according as these sites claim? Are there any more-credible publications about it?

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Ingestion of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), especially very high strength H2O2, can be very dangerous and can cause some serious health risks and possibly even death.

A United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcement made in 20061 says that drinking high strength H2O2, specifically H2O2 of 35%, is extremely dangerous and can cause several serious side effects. "Ingesting hydrogen peroxide can cause gastrointestinal irritation or ulceration." It can also cause other health risks, some of which can be life threatening.

Another article from 20072 talks about a specific incident in which a 39 year old man accidentally drank 250mL of 35% H2O2. Though the man did not experience the worst possible side effects, he did have to go to the hospital and he did experience damage in his stomach. This is a good example of a real life situation in which H2O2 was consumed, and it did not turn out well. Another real world example3 turned out much sadder. A 2 year old girl swallowed two sips of 35% H2O2 and died. This happened because of a cytotoxic (cell-killing) injury in the tissues and formation of oxygen gas (oxygen toxicity) caused by the H2O2.

Ingestion of 35% H2O2 is undeniably dangerous, but what about lower concentrations of H2O2, such as 3%? A study from the 1990's4 studied 670 cases of mostly children being exposed, usually orally, to 3% H2O2. "Exposure to hydrogen peroxide 3% is usually benign, however, severe gastric injury may occur following small ingestions in children." Overall, they found that a majority of the children were not affected by the low concentration H2O2, but there were special cases in which bad outcomes did occur.

Overall, we can see that safeness of drinking H2O2 varies depending on what the concentration is. High concentrations, 35%, are extremely dangerous and should never be consumed, but low concentrations, 3%, present low risks. Now, the question is do the benefits of 3% H2O2 outweigh the risks.

I have been unable to find any reliable sources showing that health benefits of drinking H2O2 of any concentration. Usually, it is used as a topical solution for minor cuts and wounds, not as something to be taken orally. Though the ingestion of 3% H2O2 hasn't been shown to be consistently dangerous, there have been cases of damage in the stomach and other parts of the body.5 H2O2 poisoning can be very dangerous, even with low concentrations of it, so I would not recommend drinkin H2O2, ever. For more on Hydrogen Peroxide Poisoning, see here and here.


[1] FDA Warns Consumers Against Drinking High-Strength Hydrogen Peroxide for Medicinal Use: Ingestion Can Lead to Serious Health Risks and Death

[2] Accidental ingestion of 35% hydrogen peroxide

[3] Fatal accidental ingestion of 35 % hydrogen peroxide by a 2-year-old female: case report and literature review

[4] Hydrogen peroxide 3% exposures

[5] Hemorrhagic gastritis and gas emboli after ingesting 3% hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide poisoning

Hydrogen peroxide poisoning

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According to Wikipedia this treatment is based on 2 claims:

  • Cells produce hydrogen peroxide as an immune response/damaged tissue response.

  • Pathogens can not survive in oxygen rich environment (recall H2O2 decomposes into H2O and O2)

As you may notice the reasoning is rather flawed, even if we assume these two claims to be true. As it turns out though these claims have a weak scientific basis, making the hypothesis for the hydrogen peroxide treatment very far-fetched.

Let's look at the (implied) reasoning:

1) Cells make X to fight disease, so adding X would help fight disease better.
There are 2 problems with this. Firstly, a higher concentration of X does not garantee more effectiveness--there may be side-effects to consider too. Secondly, cells may create it locally, whereas by ingesting it or injecting it into the bloodstream X may not reach the important area.

Both the effectiveness and safety of hydrogen peroxide therapy is disputed by mainstream scientists. Hydrogen peroxide is produced by the immune system but in a carefully controlled manner. Cells called by phagocytes engulf pathogens and then use hydrogen peroxide to destroy them. The peroxide is toxic to both the cell and the pathogen and so is kept within a special compartment, called a phagosome.

2)Oxygen kills pathogens, so adding oxygen to the cells will kill more pathogens.
This claim is complete non-sense. Firstly there is the problem again that the oxygen increase is not local. Secondly this increase may be negligible compared to the normal oxygen levels in the cells.

Claims that hydrogen peroxide therapy increase cellular levels of oxygen have not been supported. The quantities administered would be expected to provide very little additional oxygen compared to that available from normal respiration.

Lastly and most important, there is no proof that oxygen is lethal to cells capable of respiration. Some cancer cells may even depend on a respiration pathway to generate ATP. So the claim that oxygen is lethal to all pathogens is false. This is not surprising as the basis for this claim, the Warburg theory, is also outdated and has been criticized for being a too simplistic view of cancer.

Rather than saying if it is safe, because the context of the question mentions detox, this answer states that there is no reason to drink it.

The American Cancer Society states that "there is no scientific evidence that hydrogen peroxide is a safe, effective or useful cancer treatment". The therapy is not approved by the U.S. FDA.

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