Let's start with a simple look at
the word Dr. Asai uses: "H-Radical."
The term "free radical" is fairly
well known, but the word "Radical" is often used to mean the same
thing as "free radical." When the word "radical" is connected to a
symbol for some element, such as hydrogen, the term would be
"H-Radical" meaning that it was a "hydrogen free radical."
You could also have an "O-Radical"
meaning an "Oxygen Free Radical."
When you understand the
actions of "atoms" and the action of "free radicals" you soon learn
that these two items are tremendously different in one particular
Free Radicals are not stable,
while Atoms can be and usually are very stable. Now, let's
look more formally at one of the standard definitions for "free."
One of the big differences is that electrons are normally "bound"
into pairs as they circle around the center of an atom -- when there
is an "unpaired electron" in the outer ring of an atom, that is the
definition of a "free radical" and it is also a description of an
atom that is very "free" to combine with, or affect, other
unconfined: free expansion.
- Not fixed in position;
capable of relatively unrestricted motion: a free
- Not chemically bound in a
molecule: free oxygen.
- Involving no collisions
or interactions: a free path.
- Empty: a free
- Unoccupied: a free
Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights
So, an "atom" which is "free"
might be called a "free radical."
Perhaps it could have been called
a "free atom" but however this term got started, the use of the word
"radical" seemed better.
- An atom or group of atoms that has at
least one unpaired electron and is therefore unstable and
highly reactive. In animal tissues, free radicals can damage
cells and are believed to accelerate the progression of
cancer, cardiovascular disease, and age-related diseases.
The American Heritage® Dictionary
of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
It happens that our entire
physical universe is about 75% hydrogen (25% helium and tiny
fractions of other elements). There is more hydrogen in the
universe than everything else put together! An atom of
hydrogen IS a free radical simply because hydrogen is an atom with
one electron in its out ring.
This is worth learning if you want
to understand the "root" cause of all heart disease and cancer -- so
take the time to learn this stuff.
Here is what this looks like in an
model of the hydrogen atom:
You have a central part of the
atom, made up of protons and neutrons. There is then the
outer part of the atom, made up of one or more electrons. This
is a model of a hydrogen atom, with one electron only. Since
the definition of a "free radical" is an atom (or other pieces of
stuff) that has an unpaired electron in the outer ring, this model
of hydrogen is showing that hydrogen, when it exists as a single
atom, IS A FREE RADICAL. Click on the image for an electronic
Study Aide on this subject.
All atoms, in their basic state,
have an equal number of electrons and protons, so they have no
charge. They are neutral.
A free radical, such as hydrogen,
has an unpaired electron in its outer (only) ring, that is what
makes it a free radical. But, it does not have any net
electrical charge because the one electron is balanced by one proton. So, the basic hydrogen
atom is neutral.
Usually when an electron is added to,
or taken from, some atom, that would disturb the basic charge.
If an electron is added to an atom, in excess of its basic number,
the electron, having a minus charge, causes that atom to become have
a minus charge because there is now one more
electron than there are protons in the atom.
Helium is a good element to study
further. Helium has two electrons and two
protons in its basic state. Thus
it does not have any charge because there is a balance between the minus
and the plus electrical charges. It is also NOT a free radical
because it does not have an unpaired electron in the outer (only)
It is not easy to do, but if you
could remove one of the electrons from the helium atom, it would
become an electrically charged particle (plus charge
because there are now two protons and only one electron)
and also become a free radical (because it has an unpaired electron
in its outer (only) ring.
a very stable atom and generally never loses or gains an electron,
so it is not likely to be either a free radical nor have any
As an analogy, you could have a
married couple, very much in love with one another, dancing.
Neither one of them would likely tolerate some person's effort to
"tap on the shoulder" hoping to create a change in partners.
Helium does not give up one of its electrons easily, nor would it
accept a third electron.
Hydrogen, on the other hand, is
When you add one electron to
Hydrogen (which has a basic of one electron) that makes that
hydrogen atom into a "minus atom." It could be
written as "H-."
It is possible to remove that one
electron from the basic atom of hydrogen and that would make it no
longer a free radical, but it now takes on a "plus
electrical charge" because it
has one proton and no electrons. It could then be called "H+."
A "plus hydrogen" or a "minus
hydrogen" could be written as:
web site is a breath
of fresh air in a world of pollution.