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100 Voices

Contributor Bio

Alex Tarnava is the CEO of Drink HRW, and the primary inventor of the open-cup hydrogen tablets. Alex runs the clinical outreach program for our company, working with over a dozen universities coordinating research. Alex has also published research of his own. You can find it on his ResearchGate. Additionally, he has been interviewed for many prominent publications, such as Entrepreneur and Forbes, and on many popular Podcasts. You can find all of his interviews and articles on his media page.

100 Voices

When I began developing the hydrogen tablets part of my motivation was a refusal to buy product from, and a desire to force many of the alt med practitioners that were the trendsetters in hydrogen water out of business. At the time I believed that any sort of association with that crowd would delay legitimate research and interest. I was horrified at the thought that something so scientifically promising and potentially profound was being adopted by believers in magical thought, and even worse, purveyors of fear.

As I detail in my “hydrogen tablet origins” series, a conversation with Tyler W. LeBaron changed my perspective. To elaborate on the context, Tyler and I had had many talks on the budding science by that point, as well as the explorative engineering work I was doing on saturating and super saturating different aqueous based solutions to create varying concentrations of hydrogen-rich mediums. Tyler and I already had a relationship where we could speak freely in terms of philosophy and vision. I pushed him on asking why he was associating with certain parties, speaking at certain conferences, asking him if he thought it wise for the advancement of hydrogen water (and gas) research.

Tyler was quite confident in his response, that these people were the ones interested in hydrogen water science, they were interested in hearing about the research, and wanted to know how to communicate it. Don’t misunderstand, they were not the only ones interested and Tyler has presented at other mainstream academic conferences/symposia such as at Harvard Medical School, Cardiovascular conferences, and other international symposia. However, these fringe/integrative groups were the ones interested in immediately utilizing hydrogen therapy, and educating others about it.

This could be extremely problematic if the science of hydrogen water were to be presented inaccurately. This unfortunate trend occurred in Japan, wherein marketers started selling hydrogen products using erroneous pseudoscientific jargon that didn’t even remotely resemble the actual research. For example, claims that the hydrogen water was about balancing pH, or altering the structure of water (H4O), or that it was “active hydrogen” or negative hydrogen ions, and the list goes on.

In fact, the copious amount of pseudoscience in Japan made it difficult for some researchers to get research grants because they had to always clarify that they were doing legitimate research that had nothing to do with active H- and other pseudoscientific claims. It also made it difficult for the market to gain traction because it is so easy to debunk claims of H4O, which although is essentially a straw-man fallacy, it was the fault of the marketers and happened in actuality. Even the Japanese gov. wrote a report that essentially referred to hydrogen water as a scam as they thought it was tantamount with the thoroughly-debunked alkaline water.

Fortunately, Dr. Ohta quickly corrected the Governmental critics utilizing his reputation and influence, and research and education are moving more positively (for instance the Japanese Gov. approved hydrogen inhalation as an advanced medical therapy). Tyler was very familiar with these issues having spent time in Japan at Nagoya University doing research on molecular hydrogen. Having seen the effects of hydrogen, Tyler knew that hydrogen water products would enter North America, and the last thing he wanted was for North America to go through the same problems as did Japan.

This was one of the primary reasons he started Molecular Hydrogen Institute back in 2013. Well-before there were companies selling hydrogen products, Tyler wanted to help educate and spread correct information and accurate awareness. In speaking with him on the subject I am of the impression it’s because he didn’t want to go through the same pillory as some of his Japanese colleagues had, since he was certain that he would continue researching the biomedical benefits of molecular hydrogen.

So when I asked him why he would choose to accept invitations to speak at some of these alternative health conferences instead of just sticking with his normal academic symposia, he was able to easily explain that if the research is presented incorrectly it could do more damage in stifling the acceptance of the research and further impeding additional research being conducted on hydrogen water, than if he were to remain silent about it. While it was none of his business what else they spoke about, as he could not do anything about it, when it came to being a messenger on the benefits of molecular hydrogen, and hydrogen water, he could positively impact their accurate understanding.

In fact, his biggest concern about lecturing was not the platform but his realization that he still didn’t know all the answers about hydrogen (e.g. the molecular mechanism, the optimal dose and method, etc. These are questions we are still seeking the answers for today, years later. While some answers, mechanisms and dosing protocols have been elucidated, much more work and knowledge is needed).

In speaking with Tyler, his confidence has grown over time not because he has figured out all of the answers, but because he knows what is known and not known, whereas others do not. His confidence is derived from his understanding of the limitations of hydrogen water and hydrogen therapy, and our understanding of it, and ability to discern those without this understanding do not understand what is being studied. Basically, his lack of confidence contributes to his confidence as an expert. This is the true definition of an expert in the Dunning-Kruger graph.

All of this makes sense in the light that Tyler is one of the first handful of hydrogen therapy researchers, having devoted the last decade to hydrogen water and hydrogen gas and forming his understanding of the research during the development of the research. While other more senior researchers have been disadvantaged by the need to “unlearn” and “relearn”, Tyler as a young researcher emerging during the embryonic phase of the science has been able to quickly learn and understand the subject while learning other subjects which may be(at first) counterintuitive.

I quipped that as I was now commercializing, he wouldn’t have to worry about that sort of justification, or that level of compromise. I would ensure that none of them would be in business and fight for accurate messaging. Rather than be enthused or supportive of this, Tyler questioned my “why”, framing my objectives against probabilities of success. Tyler successfully debated his point that when considering my lofty goals with the advancement of hydrogen water, in terms of public awareness, funding for obtaining regulatory approval on my own hydrogen tablets, and contributing to public research I needed allies and not enemies. At least, I needed to work together with those already interested, already open to learning the science, specifically those earlier adopters willing and ready to try, rather than alienate them. Besides, if I was working with them and not against them, I would be able to help in positively impacting their messaging. If I was fighting them, the chance they would revert to more efficacious magical or fear based messaging to counter my campaigns was significant.

As my perception changed and I began getting to know many in the industry I began to notice a pattern. There were a few distinct types of players. In fact, the few types seemed to be equally prominent through all sizes of influence. As I observed the dynamic, I realized that I needed to fight the one, influence the next and the third would follow suit. Any sort of attack on the entire group would be incredibly stupid, unwarranted, pointless and some cases misguided. In fact, it would damage the cause. As a note to skeptics and pro-science communicators, this broad style attack and ensuing unification is a large contributor to why messaging from the natural industry continues to drift further and further from the messaging churned out by your side.

The conmen.

There is no denying it, some of the influencers know exactly what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and likely the implications and harms of doing it. They just don’t care, and in fact may relish the damage they’re doing. I’ve sat in rooms with some of these people out of necessity and curiosity while visiting others to speak about hydrogen water, watched their body language as they’ve communicated to others their carefully crafted lies and heard their all too quick rebuttals to any challenge. Some being MDs, other alt practitioners and some having no background in medicine such as myself.

As a former successful sales trainer, winning poker player, and lifetime student o body language, influence and the subtle arts of communication I recognize many of the tools of influence being employed. These are not experts sharing their keen insights into health, learned from years of careful consideration, but masters of influence and human manipulation. I fully understand the irony in my warning of these individuals given the context of my background. I hope that my openness regarding insights into multiple realms pertaining to my business and the industry, coupled with my unrestricted support of public science to further elucidate the biological roles of what I promote, whether the results show to be positive or negative, will work to allay some doubts. In fact, I suspect how keenly aware I am of this irony, and the dangers attached to my knowledge of influence, have contributed to an almost over compensation in pursuing truth to a high standard (if you ask my shareholders and sales reps, anyways).

I wish I could simply call out those I view as being offenders. Unfortunately, we exist in a highly litigious society, and any call outs would certainly result in legal expenses taking away from my mission. I will say that I know who some of you are, if you are reading this. When high amounts of influence and persuasion is matched with like, truth prevails.

The “little bit too” open minded influencers.

Something quite unexpected revealed itself to me upon entering this industry. Some of the biggest names, those who I had no doubt were manipulative sociopaths, have struck me as some of the most passionate and kind-hearted people I have ever met. They truly believe in their messaging and believe they are benefiting humanity. They ally with others they believe in, and even sacrifice financial gain to support friendships. They truly believe they are part of a mission for the greater good. They could be, in many regards, but are often misguided and corrupted by the conmen, or perhaps by other open-minded influencers.

I’ve noted an interesting trait in many of these influencers, and a concerning habit in their staff. They accept, usually with little to no skepticism, claims of those they either trust or view as authorities on a subject. Often it is enough that if someone they trust expresses trust or an endorsement, they will listen attentively to the information presented. I’ve had multiple of these influencers take notes as I spoke to them on subjects they absolutely should have been questioning me on. I tend to be reasonably careful with what I relay, especially concerning research and efficacy status, however the complete lack of critical feedback or even intent to fact check, has given me pause for concern.

If I have noticed this and adjusted my behaviour to make sure I am more careful, how have the conmen adjusted their behaviour? I know that I personally have been guilty of speaking assertively in a highly technical and abstruse manner with the intent to embarrass and silence an unqualified critic attempting to flex their intellectual muscles, usually acting as a supposed scientific advisor to someone I am intending to do business with. I’ve found these types are usually outmatched, and quick to fold as they fear looking a fool to their meal ticket. They also tend to parrot approval if they are looped back in after a smackdown with an olive branch to show they’re value and knowledge. I’ve pondered how conmen have used this tactic to gain influence and authority.

Perhaps the biggest breach in the levee of careful and integrous messaging occurs with those tasked with fact checking in these organizations. The influencer in charge has often been conned or mislead by those they trust. Rather than question their boss, or those their boss trusts, those tasked with upholding the truth and protecting the integrity of the organization default to a position of meekness. The very awe and respect for the individual they are supposed to be assisting creates a sense of infallibility with what they’ve been told. If “x” believes it, it must be true. The staff then set about to prove its truth, creating a cycle of self affirmation.

While my criticism of these types of organizations may seem harsh, I deeply respect and appreciate their intent. The flaw is in carefully developed critical and analytical thought, not with a conscious proclivity towards harm and money. These organizations are not the enemy, they are good people open to be influenced in a different direction. Their very openness to communication has caused the dilemma, only further respectful and honest communication can amend it.

The marketers and opportunists.

The marketers and opportunists are the largest group, and the most inconsequential. They are the “me too” companies that observe trends and act upon them. To them, messaging is a business and their business is delivering what people want. They neither try to fully understand a trend nor have any attached philosophy to it. There is no point criticizing what they do as they don’t care; or more accurately, they only care about the majority position, or the position of their channel.

100 voices

When I began this venture, speaking to some friends who shared my early philosophies, and also many of the first Professors and researchers I spoke to, there was a resistance to the suggestion of me supplying to many of the organizations I currently do, or am speaking with. Arguments of delegitimizing what I’m doing, and even discouraging further research. A point I contend to be opposite from the truth in my open letter about testimonials here.

I recently watched a podcast/interview with Aubrey De Grey where he endorsed this philosophy of “100 voices”. He spoke about how he will talk with basically anyone, without worrying about disagreements on other subjects. His research needs funding, and he desires public awareness. He needs more people talking about the issue of SENS Research, and he needs more money- lots of it. He quipped he doesn’t really care who the voices are or where the money comes from, to a point. 
While I won’t suggest knowing where Dr. De Grey’s point is, mine is the conmen. At least those I’ve identified as conmen, I choose not to sell to. I need 100 voices for my cause, and I desire to positively impact messaging. By working with the open-minded influencers, I can inject some accuracy into their messaging, at least pertaining to hydrogen water. That messaging will catch on with the marketers and opportunists. That messaging will spread through the public domain and initiate further research, even if it isn’t involving my hydrogen tablets. 

100 voices. For truth, for accuracy, for the benefit of overall health.