Q: My friend is taking drops of 35 percent food grade hydrogen peroxide by mouth for his arthritis and wants me to try it. Is it a healthy thing to do?
A: No, and it can be dangerous at that high concentration. “Food grade” hydrogen peroxide is marketed as a virtual cure-all, which is always a red flag. It’s promoted in a book called The One Minute Miracle (“miracle” is a sure sign that you should keep your wallet firmly closed). The liquid is purchased in bulk from chemical plants and packaged in various concentrations for sale via mail order and in health-food stores. These solutions are promoted as purer than the ordinary disinfectant you can buy in the drugstore. You’re told to add distilled water to bring the products down to 3 percent strength or less.
This solution is supposed to increase blood levels of oxygen (it doesn’t), and has been promoted as a cure for scarlet fever, diphtheria, arthritis, cancer, AIDS and dozens of other diseases (no way). The idea that a shortage of oxygen in the body promotes all sorts of illnesses has been around for a long time, but there is no evidence this is true. Hydrogen peroxide is also promoted as a way to “detoxify” the body, which is even more nonsensical.
Drinking a 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide is of no value. Though this low concentration is not corrosive, it’s an irritant and can cause vomiting and bloating—symptoms the marketers say are merely an indication that a “cleansing” is taking place (baloney). At higher concentration, hydrogen peroxide can cause a chemical burn, so you shouldn’t let it to come in contact with your skin, and you definitely shouldn’t drink it. An undiluted 35 percent concentration is dangerous, and drinking even small amounts of it has killed children who mistook it for water.