Alex Tarnava Featured in SiimLand Podcast | Drink HRW

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Alex Tarnava Featured in SiimLand Podcast
Alex Tarnava Featured in SiimLand Podcast

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Siim Land is an author, content creator, public speaker, coach, and biohacker. He talks about human optimization, optimal nutrition, and peak performance.

#215 Hormesis Molecule for Inflammation and Stress – Alex Tarnava 

 
Alex Tarnava:

And that is terrifying to know that only one in four ingredients, right, so not supplemental brands, ingredients on the market in the US since 1994 has submitted evidence that they're safe.

Siim Land:
Welcome to the Siim Land podcast. My name is Siim Land, and today we talk with Alex Tarnava. Alex is the founder and CEO of Drink HRW, which is a company that sells molecular hydrogen tablets. Molecular hydrogen is one of the most potent antioxidants in nature, and it has a lot of health benefits. As Alex and I will discuss in this episode, molecular hydrogen is like a hormesis molecule that will either lower inflammation or stimulate the nervous system, depending on what is needed.

Siim Land:
I like to drink it in the morning, and it feels great for relieving inflammation or tiredness. If you want to try out Drink HRW, then use the code Siim, S-I-I-M, at DrinkHRW.com for a 10% discount.

Siim Land:
Alex, welcome to the show.

Alex Tarnava:
Thanks for having me.

Siim Land:
Yeah, we met online when I started to research about molecular hydrogen, and your company was one of the few ones that I came across in terms of providing a supplement for molecular hydrogen. And yeah. I recently also had Tyler LeBaron on my podcast, where he talked a lot about the benefits of molecular hydrogen, but I'm also fascinated to talk with you, because you also have a pretty interesting backstory, founding the company and just getting into working, but how did you get into working? What is your backstory?

Alex Tarnava:
Necessity is the reason. About six years ago, I was at my peak physical condition that I'd ever been in my life. I was training four to six, even eight, hours a day, six days a week. The seventh was active recoveries. I was spending hours a day on CrossFit, on martial arts, on hiking, training at my house. I was running another business, and it gave me a lot of free time. I'd be on the road about a week out of the month, and I'd work 100, 100+ hours that week that I was traveling.

Alex Tarnava:
Then, the other three weeks, I'd work about one, two hours a day. So it just was all spent on optimizing my fitness, and I got really sick and they don't know what it was. At first, there were thoughts, "Could it be rhabdo?" And then, there was thoughts, "Could it be central nervous system, fatigue?", but my best friend and roommate at the time got really sick also, and he was a competitive athlete and it hit us in completely different ways. He had pneumonia for a few weeks and missed work.

Alex Tarnava:
Whereas, I had developed sudden onset narcolepsy, right? I'd fall asleep if I sat down for anymore than a minute or so. I was sleeping 16 hours a day or something crazy like that. My body had 70 to 100 times more C-reactive proteins than would be expected. It was at like 34 milligrams per deciliter for weeks on end, so not per liter, per deciliter. It was just crazy, crazy high inflammation. They thought it might be central nervous system fatigue, because I had no loss in strength for things like deadlift, squat, bench press, but I had no explosive capabilities.

Alex Tarnava:
I went from a 54-inch plyometric box jump to I couldn't jump an inch off the ground, from being able to string together 20 bar muscle-ups to not being able to do a chest to bar, right? There was just no explosive ability in my body. When the dust settled, my inflammation just dropped basically in a three-day period, whatever. The doctor I had at the time thought I had a virus that they couldn't figure out, right? So when that dust settled, I had osteoarthritis in 11 spots, including I had progressed to moderate to advanced osteoarthritis in my left shoulder.

Alex Tarnava:
It's continued to be screwed up. I have no cartilage left in my glenohumeral joint in my left shoulder, but at that time, I wasn't ready to come to terms that I basically had a crippled body at 29 years old. I was put on a 1,000 milligrams of Naproxen a day, but my doctor at the time and I had a few cortisone injections and a hyaluronic acid injection, and I continued trying to train as much as I could and just ignore the fact that my body was largely broken in a lot of ways.

Alex Tarnava:
I wasn't modifying, wasn't adapting, just trying to get back into it, but I knew that wasn't a long-term solution. So I was just scouring PubMed, looking for anything that could regulate the inflammatory response. I knew that I couldn't just keep taking 1,000 milligrams of Naproxen a day and getting cortisone injections every few months. It just wasn't a feasible forever solution, especially the fact that I was 29, not in my 60s, 29 trying to train. Hydrogen popped up on my radar, and it had already been on my radar from a few years before, but I had been looking at it from the antioxidant standpoint and ability to neutralize the hydroxyl radical, which was a lot of the early understanding of the science.

Alex Tarnava:
I didn't really care that much about that at 29. I didn't think it was a problem for me. So I wasn't going to spend exorbitant amounts of money on it, but when I started reading papers that it was regulating the inflammatory response, I pulled the trigger. I bought a machine that was like $4,500, thinking it would help me out. Not a lot of time went by. I think it was a September to May type timeframe, and I developed multiple ulcers from the Naproxen use. I fainted in the gym a few times in a week period.

Alex Tarnava:
I wasn't absorbing nutrients. So I wasn't able to train. So I had to completely stop taking the anti-inflammatories. And within a week, my shoulder was completely frozen. I couldn't properly get a shirt on, couldn't do anything and that made me think, "Okay, this hydrogen water doesn't work at all," right? So I went back to PubMed, and frustratingly I saw some more new articles talking about molecular hydrogen. And it, at first, pissed me off, because I'm like, "This is bullshit. This is why you can't trust small human pilot studies and preclinical evidence. It doesn't work in the real world."

Alex Tarnava:
I'll talk later about the not-for-profit I've started to look into what works for individuals and assess data to improve biohacking, but then it just dawned on me. How do I even know there's hydrogen in this water? I had just trusted the salesman's word. So I had actually been talking to Tyler LeBaron by email, because I had a lot of really pointed questions before I got into hydrogen and I found his info, especially because the salesman who sold me the machine made a lot of egregious claims about it curing all diseases, doing all this, that just raised all my red flags.

Alex Tarnava:
So I was just talking to him and trying to figure out therapeutic doses and everything. I found out about the reagent that you could test for hydrogen levels. I got that. I tested the water coming out of my machine. It was getting no detectable hydrogen dissolved. I took it in for a deep clean. It was supposed to work after that. It was still getting no detectable hydrogen. I had to basically triple the input to reduce a single drop. So it was like .03 parts per million, which is one-seventh, the minimum observed therapeutic threshold.

Alex Tarnava:
So it was just no chance that it was going to work in any regard. And then, it just motivated me, because I'm like, "I don't know that hydrogen doesn't work, because I haven't been getting hydrogen," right? So I started experimenting with some other options in the market. All of them I had to make considerable adjustments to, because none of the products back then worked, but once I really adapted another product so that it was no longer recognizable to what it had been sold to me as, within about 10 days, my shoulder unfroze.

Alex Tarnava:
It obviously didn't heal my cartilage or anything, but I could put on a jacket. I could do some workouts that weren't above head. I could sleep at night, because my shoulder hurt so bad I wasn't sleeping through the night. So I thought, "Okay, there could be something here." And from then, it just started as a do-it-yourself project, because again I didn't want to support any of these companies that I had been buying products from and importing. All of them were making a lot of really unethical claims regarding curing a lot of various diseases, just littered with pseudoscience throughout their marketing.

Alex Tarnava:
Several of them contacted me. I didn't realize how embryonic the commercial industry was at that time. So when they see a new consumer ride by, multiple of them would email me, trying to get me to join as an affiliate when I was just trying to buy a product. I haven't emailed them, haven't asked them a question, getting cold-called to be an affiliate because I bought the product. One of the companies even gave my phone number to one of their master distributors, who called me to try and convince me.

Alex Tarnava:
So I just didn't want to give my business to any of these companies, and what I was making was no longer recognizable from what they were selling, right? So I set about my do-it-yourself project, but as I was doing it and I was working, I had a bit of a sober second thought. I understood the chemistry well enough, but I didn't want to win a Darwin Award by blowing up my house.

Siim Land:
Right.

Alex Tarnava:
Right? Dealing with elemental magnesium, it burns at 6,000 Celsius. It's highly explosive. It's the white in fireworks, right? So magnesium and hydrogen, I'm like, "I better get someone to look over my shoulder here and make sure that I'm doing things properly." I found my founding partner. He's a PhD medicinal chemist, runs a team for a pharmaceutical company. At first, he told me it was the worst pseudoscience he had ever heard in his life and said, "I'm doing you a favor. Save your money."

Alex Tarnava:
I answered all of his objections, because I'd been looking in the science for about a year at that time, sent him some of the better publications on it and he quipped after that, while I suppose there's enough evidence for a supplement, started looking over my work. I just sent him a new publication every day to keep reading, and serendipitously I sent him an article on rheumatoid or, sorry, I sent him an article on hep B, right? And I didn't realize at the time, because it wasn't on his resume, but the project he was leading at his pharmaceutical company was for a cure on hep B.

Alex Tarnava:
And he called me for lunch and he said, "Listen, this is just a phase one, two pilot study, but unless this is frauded, this stuff works. This needs a much deeper look into it." For the rest of the articles, he had to basically just accept the conclusions, but for this one, it was a field he was working on and he said, "Why do you want to just do this, just for yourself? Have you thought of making this a commercial company?" I had been thinking about it at the time, but I just thought to myself, "That's a lot of audacity to go into this route."

Alex Tarnava:
I didn't want to just sell a supplement without clinical evidence, right? I had no experience in running clinical research and just there was a lot of doubts like, "Who am I to start this?", but with him and a few other really positive reinforcements at the time, I just decided, "Okay, let's see what we can do here." Took about three weeks for him to refine the chemistry I'd worked on, but then making a tablet and a mortar and pestle, or making millions at a time is very different, to scale up to making manufacturing.

Alex Tarnava:
So it took us a few weeks to get the formula ideal, just mixing 10, 20 at a time, but then it took us thousands of iterative adjustments and over a year and 15 failed scale-up attempts before we got our first commercial-ready product. So from there, we launched four years ago, October of 2016. Since then, I have driven really hard for clinical research, for doing things legally and properly. At this time, end of September 2020, we have six published clinical trials.

Alex Tarnava:
We have two published case studies. We have four preclinical research programs that are underway, and we have 15 clinical trials that are various stages underway, some of them under peer review right now. And I'm constantly emailing new teams every day to expand clinical research. We have a really, really, really firm policy on truth and transparency in research. So typically, whether it's supplements, pharmaceuticals, devices, research for proprietary or private-owned ingredients come with a lot of contracts.

Alex Tarnava:
That's a big slam on private research. What that means is that usually the company that's helping support funding has final say on methodology, protocols, all that stuff so that they can design the trial to try and find an outcome rather than explore if it works. And then, they have contracts that it only gets published if a result is found, and that's why you see so many positive trials and not very many negative trials, and the negative trials you see are predominantly from public researchers.

Alex Tarnava:
They're trying to make this law. I know in Europe, they're trying to make a law that if any grant funds are used in clinical trials, it has to be published, no matter the outcome, but there's very low compliance, like in pharmaceutical. Some pharmaceutical companies are below 50% compliance on this, that they're not reporting data, right? So if you have to run something 10 times to get a result once, did it really work or are you just abusing statistical anomalies?

Alex Tarnava:
So that was something I really fought for with my shareholders and held strong. Luckily, I'm the majority owner, and also luckily all of them bought into what I was saying and what I wanted to do. So we're really striving for truth in research, but on top of that, we did what very few other companies did. We went and got new dietary ingredient status from the USFDA. So the FDA estimates only about 4% of companies that are legally required to have an NDI have obtained one, and that's for only ingredients that are available after 1994, right?

Alex Tarnava:
So anything predating DSHEA in 1994 doesn't necessarily have any proof of safety or efficacy or anything like that. After 1994, you legally have to submit an NDI when you have a new dietary ingredient, but only 4% of companies, estimated, have done this. So that took us a few years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. We had to put together a massive portfolio of all our safety data, evidence to suggest use. I mean, the FDA doesn't approve health claims on this evidence.

Alex Tarnava:
They just want a justification of why you're doing it, but just to make sure it's safe, our manufacturing is safe, everything to do with it isn't going to cause any harm to the consumers. And that is terrifying to know that only one in four ingredients, so not supplemental brands, ingredients on the market in the US since 1994 has submitted evidence that they're safe.

Siim Land:
Wow, yeah. Yeah, that's pretty crazy and the research about hydrogen is pretty fascinating. And yeah, my last podcast with Tyler was also pretty in depth about the science and all the benefits, but I wanted to touch a little bit upon your story, where you fixed your osteo... Or have you solved your arthritis, or is it still there?

Alex Tarnava:
Well, I have no cartilage left, right? There's none left and I have multiple labral tears too, but I'm still able to train. So I'm in my workout gear right now, because after this I'm heading to kickboxing. So I've had to adjust a lot of things. I can't do CrossFit anymore, because I can't do overhead lifts. I can do chin-ups, but I can't do pull-ups, for instance, just because of the grip. I had to relearn to box and kickbox, because it's subpar, because I can throw an uppercut and I can throw a straight left, but I can't throw a left hook, for instance.

Alex Tarnava:
So there's things that I've had to do. Hydrogen isn't magic. It hasn't regrown my cartilage. Nothing has regrown cartilage in humans. There's a couple promising things, a peptide called [S-link 00:19:13] and there's new evidence suggesting in rodents that aggravating the remaining cartilage and then stimulating stem cells can regrow cartilage, at least in mice, right? So there's some things on the horizon, but nothing really works in humans to regrow absent cartilage, but hydrogen lets me sleep at night.

Alex Tarnava:
It cuts the pain. It lets me train in a modified capacity to stay reasonably fit and healthy. There's a lot of other things it does. I mean, that's just the comfort, the pain aspect of me. Getting into hydrogen was about my shoulder, but I realized it was so much more. Our clinical research doesn't really involve arthritis or pain like that. Our biggest clinical trial was on metabolic syndrome, 24 week, 60 participant, double-blind, placebo-controlled, three of our tablets a day. It significantly reversed metabolic syndrome in 18 of the 20 measured outcomes, right? So it was pretty-

Siim Land:
What is the mechanism or reason?

Alex Tarnava:
So I know Tyler's theory is that hydrogen is a very safe form of hormesis, similar to exercise. We know things like exercise can. I mean, diet and exercise are really the only things that do reverse metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. That was another one of our clinical trials was on FLD. In 28 days, it was just 12 people, but it was double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design. So everyone did both placebo and the hydrogen group, and it significantly reduced liver fat.

Alex Tarnava:
It decreased AST by 10% and by HOMA analysis, it improved insulin sensitivity by 11% in the 28 days, but at its core, hydrogen alters cell signal transduction, right? It changes how our cells communicate. It's shown to alter thousands of different gene expressions for positive outcomes. I know Tyler talked with you about, for instance, autophagy, where it's shown to activate autophagy in some models, but other models, like in heart failure, it's shown to deactivate autophagy for a beneficial result.

Alex Tarnava:
Hydrogen's done the same thing with oxidative stress, right? In some models, it's raised oxidative stress when it's needed. In other models, it's improved our antioxidant production, our endogenous production, superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione, because it's driving towards redox homeostasis rather than just being a traditional antioxidant that goes in indiscriminately. It's done the same thing with inflammation, too. It's both acutely raised or blunted inflammatory responses, depending on the model.

Alex Tarnava:
There's some cool models in viral infections where it actually will acutely raise inflammation, and then blunt it and do the same thing with hypothermia to basically kill the virus faster, and then blunt the consequences of it. So there's some really interesting stuff with hydrogen and how it seems to modulate our response to stress. Even with exercise, there's some really cool models that show in rodents, when rodents are giving hydrogen as they're exercising, it will actually acutely raise oxidative stress to potentiate the hormetic response from exercise, and then quickly utilize an antioxidant defense system so redox homeostasis recovers quicker, right? So you're getting more out of your exercise and recovering faster.

Siim Land:
It's like, yeah, the most common benefit of molecular hydrogen is the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, but like I said, it can also be a pro-oxidant when it's needed. So it's like a self-regulating response. I don't know what you would call it, but maybe a hormesis molecule or something. That is more appropriate, because it mimics some aspects of exercise. It mimics some aspects of fasting and also these other hormetic activities, so on and so on. So you are automatically regulating the redox status and-

Alex Tarnava:
100%.

Siim Land:
And also, maybe one of the reasons why so many people see these anti-inflammatory benefits have to do with just that they are very inflamed. And in the case of metabolic-

Alex Tarnava:
Exactly.

Siim Land:
In the case of metabolic syndrome, it's a case of just over-expression of inflammation after the stress. And in that scenario, the main benefit molecular hydrogen would do is to lower that inflammation, but in the other case where you would need a bump, then it would do that. So it's a very adaptable molecule, based upon what you need.

Alex Tarnava:
100% and that's the thing. That's why most people think antioxidants are good, anti-inflammatories are good, because most people have too much oxidative stress and too much inflammation, but that's not always true. In fact, even when we look at COVID-19, there's some papers that show that people, in some cases, they're getting no inflammatory response, immune response with inflammation in the early stages when they're asymptomatic. And then, their bodies are panicking, and there's too much inflammation and cytokine storm, and that could be one of the reasons why it's so devastating is basically just the improper inflammatory response.

Alex Tarnava:
That's what hydrogen has shown to do is to regulate the inflammatory response so that there is appropriate homeostatic levels based on the case, but yeah. I mean, hydrogen is hormesis. Tyler has written a couple reviews on that, detailing everything. And it's not just exercise, like you said, fasting. I mean, hydrogen administration has shown to significantly extend fruit flies' survival rates when they're starved. Hydrogen has shown potentially the benefits of cold exposure in a [inaudible 00:25:55] injury, right?

Alex Tarnava:
So hydrogen has gone hand in hand with a lot of forms of hormesis. Even radiation therapy can be one of the most damaging things to ourselves, but there's a lot of papers and a lot of preclinical models showing that very low dose radiation can be a hormetic stress that has beneficial outcomes. And hydrogen has preclinical and clinical evidence showing that it protects against radiation damage, right? In fact, there was one cancer model where it had significantly improved quality of life in patients receiving radiation, and that's another one of our ongoing clinical trials, going on in the USA, is patients with high-grade gliomas getting radiation and/or chemo. And they're also being given hydrogen water from our tablets to investigate improved quality of life and decrease side effects.

Siim Land:
Yeah, but what is that? What is molecular hydrogen that it's so magical?

Alex Tarnava:
This is something that I really want to do some research on, so I don't want to give away my whole thoughts on the subject, but I believe hydrogen may play a physiological role that we were not aware of. When we look, there's a lot of evolutionary ties to hydrogen that I'm sure Tyler talked about in his podcast with you, but we always have a certain amount of hydrogen gas in our cells, right? We're producing about 10 liters a day. There's some hypotheses going on about endogenous production of hydrogen gas and responder, non-responder effect, because in hydrogen therapy, there seems to be about 75 to 80% of participants respond to it, but about 20% don't, but there's also super responders.

Alex Tarnava:
20 to 30% of people tend to be super responders, right? There's a lot of evidence that hydrogen has positive impacts to our microbiota. So it could be something to do with people's endogenous production of hydrogen, because we know that just drinking, say, enough water that gives you 1.6 milligrams of hydrogen will acutely double your cellular concentrations, and it's only in there for five, 10 minutes, completely gone within an hour, right? So it's just a short exposure, but the short exposure of doubling or more of cellular concentrations then shows all of these changes to gene expression, correcting back towards homeostasis.

Alex Tarnava:
So I started thinking about hydrogen like an auditor for yourself or a regulator, right? If you have a Nike shoe factory, and one line is making the insole and another line is making the soles of the shoes, and another is making the laces and another is making the shell of the shoe, and if there's not an auditor going in, all of a sudden, you're piling up too many shoelaces or not even shoelaces. So everything starts getting held behind, and hydrogen seems to go in and turn up and turn down the dials so that systems start running more efficiently, more in tandem with each other.

Alex Tarnava:
So it's something I want to look into, and there is some models I've been talking about with some research teams about being involved in to look at to try and find the physiological relevance of our basal hydrogen levels and how endogenous hydrogen can impact us, because why does it only work in four out of five people? That is true for a lot of molecules. Even something as ubiquitous as caffeine only works in about 80% of people, but that's my current thought is I like simplifying-

Siim Land:
How-

Alex Tarnava:
... calling it an auditor.

Siim Land:
How does the body create it? Is the microbiome doing it, or is it the result of some [crosstalk 00:30:15]-

Alex Tarnava:
Yeah, yeah-

Siim Land:
... or processes?

Alex Tarnava:
It's bacteria breaking down carbohydrates in your small intestine, all right?

Siim Land:
All right. And where do you get it from, like nature? Hydrogen is a ubiquitous molecule.

Alex Tarnava:
Yeah, well, it's in the air. You're breathing it in, right? It's produced in your body through the bacteria in your small intestine. So we're exposed to hydrogen all the time. So that's why it doesn't make a whole lot of sense that such a small amount comes with such profound benefits. When you think the hydrogen tablets, the open-cup hydrogen tablets that I invented can deliver about 80 milliliters of hydrogen gas is what you're getting when you drink down the half-liter at once.

Alex Tarnava:
That's 80 milliliters as opposed to maybe 10 liters that you're producing throughout the day, right? Now, when you look at it, that sounds like such a drop in the bucket, but then you look at that on a minute-to-minute, how long throughout the day it takes you to be producing that hydrogen gas and the levels that are in your cells. And then, you look at the spike in cellular concentration for that short amount of time, and that's when it starts to make sense.

Siim Land:
Okay, okay. So yeah, on a daily basis, habitually, the body is producing hydrogen, but it's making it over the span of the entire day. So it's then a very small basal level. Whereas, if you take it as a supplement or something, you increase the concentration acutely. You reach a certain threshold after which your body starts to adapt and turns on these gene expressions and starts to regulate all these processes that we talked about so far. So it's the acuteness of it that matters.

Alex Tarnava:
Exactly, and this is further backed up. There is evidence showing in preclinical models that continuous exposure, hydrogen gas, say you give it to rodents all day long, there's no benefit. Even when you get a smaller dose when it's acute, high concentration, it's effective. Whereas, a lower concentration 24/7 is not effective at all, right? It's something Tyler and I have talked about on the recorded talks I've had with him is he's like, "Every researcher in hydrogen just knows. You expose a cell culture to hydrogen 24/7, and you see nothing. There's no changes."

Alex Tarnava:
Or if the cell is healthy, there's nothing wrong with it. You see no changes, but when you damage the cell and then expose it to a acute blast of hydrogen, that's when you see all the corrections take place.

Siim Land:
Nice, nice. And maybe the same analogies from the nexus or something, or if you were to exercise all day, then your body would probably adapt and you would see less benefit. Whereas, if you were to take the time to-

Alex Tarnava:
You would see no benefit. You look at Olympic athletes or guys that are training eight, 10 hours a day. Sometimes, a guy in peak physical condition can have the testosterone of an 80-year-old man, because he's over-training, right? I mean, exercise is hormesis. It's a stress, right? It's a beneficial stress. There's a very long flatness in the reverse J to benefit and then damage, just incredibly flat as opposed to say alcohol is a very sharp J with a biphasic response, but exercise also has a biphasic response, right?

Alex Tarnava:
So does heat exposure, so does cold exposure. Any hormetic stress is going to have a biphasic response, where it can be both beneficial and damaging, depending on the dose. Likely, this is true for hydrogen, as well. We just have not reached that dose, right? It's so safe that we don't know what the dose is where it becomes damaging.

Siim Land:
Right, right, yeah. If you have already done studies in mice where they are exposed to it 24/7, and they don't see any benefits or changes, then it's probably relatively change. It's almost like oxygen or something-

Alex Tarnava:
Yeah, I mean-

Siim Land:
... something we really hard to overdose.

Alex Tarnava:
The US military in deep-sea diving, they use mixtures with hydrogen gas, and they'll be exposed to a thousand times higher dose than we use in clinical research in deep-sea diving. And in fact, you will see hydrogen narcosis, but it takes a higher dose of hydrogen than nitrogen to reach narcosis. And hydrogen has actually shown some improvements in the neurological outcomes when exposed to the stresses of deep-sea diving too, right? So I mean, from that angle, we know that it takes more hydrogen than nitrogen to cause these issues. And I mean, nitrogen is the majority of what we're breathing all day long.

Siim Land:
Yeah. Yeah, what about the timing then? What would be maybe the best time to take it? You don't want to take it all the time, all day. So when is the best time to take it?

Alex Tarnava:
I am a fan of first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. The reason for this is one of my patent applications involves creating foams and gels with hydrogen and polysaccharides, right? I can basically turn certain fibers with hydrogen gas into Jell-O that's semi-stable. So to me, that's just that if you're drinking hydrogen water with a bunch of carbohydrates, then that will be slowing your outtake, because the hydrogen could be infusing in your stomach.

Alex Tarnava:
So it's a bit of a logical leap, and we don't have enough data yet, but with what we can see in controlled experiments, I'd say at least don't drink your hydrogen water in conjunction with carbs, complex carbs. That could be causing a slowdown of it to enter your system. If you're going to work out, again it seems to be more effective when it's consumed five to 10 minutes before you exercise, but in other ways, I mean our most recently published clinical trial was pitting one of our tablets against 100 milligrams of caffeine after 24 hour sleep deprivation in young healthy adults.

Alex Tarnava:
And it found equivalent raises in alertness in the attention network test, and we hear it all the time. If you say mid-afternoon, you're rundown. You had a bad sleep the night before. You drink hydrogen and it's not a stimulant, right? You're not going to get a burst of energy, like you would caffeine. It's more of the absence of feeling tired. It just clears your head, and you get back as if you weren't exhausted and couldn't think. So we hear that all the time, same thing.

Alex Tarnava:
If you indulged the night before, you went partying and drank, or did drugs, one of the most common anecdotes we hear is hydrogen water impacting hangovers. There's a little bit of preclinical evidence on this, both for ethanol-induced, alcohol-induced hangover and on methamphetamine, neurotoxicity where hydrogen has shown a benefit. It's actually something I'm doing a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial with my wife. Basically, we're looking at the biphasic response of alcohol exposure, primarily on REM sleep at a low, medium, high group, but we're also looking on if hydrogen modulates this.

Alex Tarnava:
So this is something we've been doing, and she hates me for because we've been doing this week after week for the last six months. She has to drink exactly how much I tell her. We have to do our [crosstalk 00:38:56]-

Siim Land:
Check your hormesis.

Alex Tarnava:
Yeah, yeah. Well, and it's something that really interests me, because we just have such a girth of human evidence on ethanol and what it does, and the evidence we do have is really perspective cohorts where they just do questionnaires, look at outcomes and everything like that. And it's something I've been talking to one of our new contributing writers at Drink HRW, who's an epidemiologist and his study is alcohol's effect on the Australia population.

Alex Tarnava:
And there's just such a lack of evidence on personalized response, because there's so many factors at play. With any form of hormesis, but especially something with a tight reverse J, like ethanol, what is your genetic makeup? What's your ethanol clearance, right? What's your body weight, your gender? What's your activity? How much are you working out? Even how hot is it outside in the day. What did you eat? What were your macronutrients? We know that all of these play an important role in blood alcohol concentration.

Alex Tarnava:
So why wouldn't they on our physiological response to the stress? And research doesn't tackle these questions. And that's why with something like alcohol, I think the preclinical evidence is more telling than the clinical research, because the clinical research is so structured with the one-size-fits-all approach to things when there's so many factors at play, even timing. Say maybe you drank a glass at wine at 10:00 p.m. before you go to sleep and it disrupts your sleep.

Alex Tarnava:
What if you drank it at 5:00 p.m., and you blow a zero by 6:00, right? Now that stress happened to you early evening, and you're fully recovered and you might improve your sleep. And again, these are really important things we need to look at, not just for alcohol but for hydrogen, exercise, cold exposure, heat exposure. I know you're really interested in hormesis. I am too, right? It's one of my favorite topics, and I think the future of hormesis is personalized responses and knowing what the appropriate stress is for each person.

Alex Tarnava:
For someone like me, I get heatstroke incredibly easily. I cannot make it through a hot yoga class. I'll faint, right? I'll take ice water. I'll be applying the ice water to my head. I just can't do it. I go on a tropical vacation, and sometimes I'll be holed up in my hotel room, because I was out for four hours and got heatstroke. Whereas, the cold, I can walk around in -30 in a t-shirt and be fine, right? I can go into a cryo-chamber and I barely shiver, and I can hold a conversation.

Alex Tarnava:
The cold doesn't affect me. I mean, I know you like cold exposure. I don't even find it cold. I have a [inaudible 00:42:07] and I have my air conditioning at 17 Celsius, and it's not cold enough for me. My wife has to wrap herself in blankets, because she's shivering and I'm still running hot.

Siim Land:
Yeah, yeah, totally. Everyone has their own, let's say, stress adaptation level. And there are different mediums for stress adaptation and different types of stressors. So yeah, you can really train either the cold, or you can train the heat, or you can train exercise, but they don't necessarily carry over to each other. So yeah, that's why you have to find out which ones you can do best or which one suits your lifestyle the most, and especially what you need.

Siim Land:
Maybe someone who has cardiovascular disease, then for them they can't, although the sauna can be beneficial for cardiovascular disease and lowering blood pressure and that sort of thing. It may not be the best idea to go into a really hot sauna, because they're going to get the negative side effects much more easily, and the negative side effects may be more dangerous as well, compared to someone who's already used to doing a lot of exercise and that sort of thing. So yeah, it's very personalized. So that's where-

Alex Tarnava:
100%.

Siim Land:
That's where maybe the molecular hydrogen is also an exception, that it doesn't matter what your status or what your condition is. It can always work based upon what you need in a [crosstalk 00:43:33]-

Alex Tarnava:
Yeah, at least for 80% of the people is what the responder data seems to represent so far, but I mean what you're saying is exactly why I started this not-for-profit that I was telling you a bit by email is so people can learn a bit of basic scientific controls and record their data. I mean, I'm firm in the belief that with the wearable technology that we have available to us today, we have more access to information than the top researchers in the world did just a few decades ago, but it's going to waste, because people aren't tracking their data.

Alex Tarnava:
They're not comparing it to control sets. They're trying 10 things at the same time rather than one thing at once. So this not-for-profit I've funded and founded, there's a scientific advisory board of volunteers also. We're teaching basic scientific principles and how to control case studies on yourself, how to record the data and write in templates. So you want to try cold exposure. Here's a template of what you should do, what you should be recording. Now, look at your data before and after, see if it worked.

Alex Tarnava:
And then, it's going to be basically documenting all of this information. So you can look and say, "I wanted to sleep better because of cold exposure." 10,000 people have tried this. It worked for 6,000 people. 2,000 weren't sure. 2,000 said they had a worse response, and you can start seeing trends, and that's something we're really lacking, I think, in society and data. When the project gets into it, we're going to allow people to confidentially submit their genetic reports.

Alex Tarnava:
And then, it'll only be available to public researchers, not to private teams or anything like that with profit consent and everything, but then public researchers can start going in and looking at target genetic carriers. What alleles do people have that they respond better to cold or to alcohol or to this diet or that diet? That's another thing that I firmly believe with diet is there is no best diet in the world. There's a best diet for each person, right?

Alex Tarnava:
And it's why there's so much conflicting data on diet science, because one diet might work fantastic for 30% of the people but be detrimental for another 20% based on multiple factors, like your genetic makeup, your microbiome, your activity level. I know for myself and I know there's a lot of good research on say the keto diet, and I put myself into ketosis once in a while, right? I do two 48-hour fasts a week. I do six 72s a year, and I do two 120s for year. So I'll acutely go into ketosis, but I carry one APOE4 allele.

Alex Tarnava:
And every time I try the high-fat ketogenic diet, even for a couple of months, pushing past [inaudible 00:46:43], I lose muscle. I gain fat. I sleep more. I feel stupid. I lack energy and it wasn't until I analyzed my genes and saw that, that I'm like, "Okay, this makes sense. This diet is not for me." It could be fantastic for a significant percentage of the population but not for me, right?

Siim Land:
For sure, yeah, absolutely. Looking back at your journey, did you figure out what caused this health problems, arthritis and that sort of thing? What was the maybe reason that happened?

Alex Tarnava:
They couldn't figure it out with either myself or my friend, right? It hit me a lot worse. I would've preferred to have pneumonia for a few weeks. He definitely took a hit. A lot of his old injuries are still bugging him now. He fell apart a little bit right after too, but not to the extent that I did. Of course, I had a lot of damage. My shoulder that developed really bad, it was going to be a problem at some point in my life. It just sped it up, but I broke my shoulder a quarter inch below the joint in football, and it pierced through the muscle.

Alex Tarnava:
So every spot that I have arthritis now, I had a really bad break. I've broken a lot of bones, just playing contact sports my entire life, but no, they didn't know. They ran tests every week, couple times a week, for a couple months and they couldn't figure out what I had. The GP I had at that time just said it was a mystery virus, must've been, yeah.

Siim Land:
Wow, yeah. That's pretty crazy, yeah. And it's especially weird, because it happened to physically healthy and fit people, who are excelling in sports and that sort of thing, and then completely changed or completely took another turn in their life. So it's really weird to think about. Most people would never expect something like that happens to athletes and fitness people.

Alex Tarnava:
Yeah, I mean, it was mind-boggling. Like I said, my friend was a fairly competitive amateur athlete, too. He'd top five in things like Spartan Races at all different distances and top 10 in triathlons, and he basically just taught himself how to swim a year before he started top tenning in triathlons. This guy who wasn't a runner but could run a 34-minute 10k when he picked up running within a few months of training, just a natural athlete, really fit and it just devastated both of us, but I mean, hey, turning lemons into lemonade, right? If that hadn't happened, I wouldn't have been doing anything I'm doing right now.

Siim Land:
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Every curse can be a blessing.

Alex Tarnava:
Yeah, yeah, you just got to roll with the punches and see where it takes you.

Siim Land:
Yeah. You mentioned that you got the water generator, but it didn't work. So what's the difference between the tablets and water generators?

Alex Tarnava:
So different water generators use different types of technology. The one I bought was a water ionizer. The generators pretty much all use electrolysis, but there's a couple different methods with this. It's the decomposition of water into the hydrogen and oxygen molecules. So this one, the ionizers, they're running an electric current through and they're decomposing the water molecule. Now, what ends up happening is hydrogen is very insoluble in water. It's only slightly soluble in water, so the reaction and dissolution kinetics play a big role.

Alex Tarnava:
These electrolysis machines, they really depend on your source water. You have to have a high total dissolved solids for conductivity. So in Vancouver, Canada, we were less than three PPM in TDS. That's why my machine didn't work at all, but then if you have too much TDS, something called scaling happens. It's a calcification and a calcium buildup on the plates. As this happens, the bubbles that are being formed, they coalesce between the plate and the calcification, so they become larger and larger and larger.

Alex Tarnava:
The bigger the bubble, the harder it is to dissolve, and everyone knows from popular movies and media and stuff that physics gets really, really weird the smaller you get. Well, it actually gets weird, even below about five microns. So when you go below five microns, whether it's a particle or a gas, it no longer obeys the same rules that a larger particle would. So hydrogen, it's lighter than air, right? So when they're big bubbles, they just pass straight through and they go up into the atmosphere, because it's the lightest molecule there is, but once you go below five microns, they just move in eddy currents.

Alex Tarnava:
They maintain until they coalesce larger. So the smaller the bubbles you create, the more stable it is in the water, the quicker it saturates. And then, you can actually keep more gas in beyond the saturation point without need for pressurization. So I'm using elemental magnesium and hyaluronic acids, but I figured out that reaction kinetics and the dissolution kinetics to create bubbles in the low nano range. So at our first burst when the cloud turns white, the water turns white, the average bubble diameter is about 30 nanometers in size.

Alex Tarnava:
So it takes a long time for those to coalesce to escape solution, right? So when it's at that peak, we've been able to test and figure out that the true hydrogen concentration is about seven and a half milligrams a liter of PPM, but with the nano-particles of magnesium that are slowly reacting along with it and react basically the instant it hits your stomach, it's more like 12 and a half milligrams a liter of PPM. To get that equivalent dosage, saturated with the machine, you need to pressurize it to about 130 psi, right?

Alex Tarnava:
So that is in addition to our truth and transparency policy. That high dose we're getting and the indication from the evidence that a higher intermittent dose is superior, leads to better results, is why so many of the research teams around the world are turning to work with us. We're working with 12 universities right now, and it's because our technology gets this high dose, high concentration, intermittent bursts. It's easy. You just drop it in a half-liter of water. It reacts.

Alex Tarnava:
We can easily placebo-control it. We've made a placebo tablet that is the same shape and size, that reacts in the same amount of time, gives the same amount of magnesium and just gives CO2 bubbles instead of H2 bubbles. So we can easily placebo-control it. And yeah, that's the additional benefits to researchers as it makes for a good trial, a trial that everyone can ensure the dose, that it's placebo-controlled properly, double-blinded properly, highest dose possible. And they have the freedom to make a good study and publish reports, no matter what.

Siim Land:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. One of the benefits of the tablets is that you get this into the cells much more easily, because it's so small and it's more bioavailable this way, and I also like the combination of the magnesium in there, because you get more bioavailable magnesium as well into the cells. So that's much more, because most people are already deficient of magnesium, as well. So it's good. [crosstalk 00:55:09]-

Alex Tarnava:
100% and most magnesium supplements aren't bioavailable, right? Magnesium compounds are very strong molecules. So you take the magnesium oxide. And for the average person, it's only four or 5% bioavailable, because our stomach acid isn't strong enough to break the bond between the magnesium and the oxygen, right? Well, our reaction's doing the work for you and deliberating the H2 with the buffering acids we have, it leaves three magnesium ions. So with magnesium supplements, your stomach has to do the work of breaking the compound down so that you get the magnesium ion.

Alex Tarnava:
When you drink down that hydrogen water with our hydrogen tablets, the magnesium is already in ionic form, free from any other part in the compound. So your stomach has to do no work, right? So from a biochemistry standpoint, it'll be completely bioavailable.

Siim Land:
Yeah, that's good. Well, it's been great to talk with you and very fascinating. I would imagine that we could really go into more detail with all the topics and especially with new research coming out, but before I ask my last question, where can people learn more about you and your work?

Alex Tarnava:
So for the hydrogen, it's DrinkHRW.com, and I write pretty extensively, a lot of opinion pieces but a lot of hydrogen, too. In the last year and a half, I've written about 300,000 words of content. So there's no shortage of information. I am well-versed in the subject. On top of being the inventor of the technology, I am working a lot of the research from that angle. So I've got a couple papers that I'm a contributor to that are under peer review right now for preclinical research, and I co-authored a book chapter with Tyler LeBaron for a medical textbook for [inaudible 00:57:16] USA.

Alex Tarnava:
I'm well-versed in the subject. When you read my blog, it's not marketing stuff. There's a lot of science. If you want to get nitty-gritty on the science, I go into it a lot. And also, if you're interested in adding the scientific method into your biohacking, then it's myjourney.science and we're taking emails now. We're hoping to be live by early 2021.

Siim Land:
Awesome, that's good, yeah. And yeah, I also use your Drink HRW. So I find it really useful for, yeah, if you sleep bad or if you, I don't know, suffer from something highly inflammatory, so to say, to mitigate it. You do feel it quite rapidly, that you're just more relaxed.

Alex Tarnava:
Have you tried one of the baths yet?

Siim Land:
Sorry?

Alex Tarnava:
Have you tried one of the baths yet?

Siim Land:
The baths. No, no, I haven't, not yet.

Alex Tarnava:
So give it a try after you kick your ass in a workout. One of our new clinical trials is under peer review right now. It was just a small pilot trial, because we were curious if it was going to work after a single bath, but after a single bath and across a bit of time, it significantly reduced delayed onset muscle soreness, both by the bath score and by creating kinks.

Siim Land:
Wow.

Alex Tarnava:
So it basically protected all those of creating kinks, which is one of the major contributing factors to muscle soreness.

Siim Land:
Okay, I'll have to try it out. Well, it was good talking with you. And yeah, my last question is what's one piece of advice or habit you wish you'd had sooner?

Alex Tarnava:
I think I wish I would have recorded all of my outcomes sooner. I've always tried to do things. When I started with hydrogen, I took pictures in the mirror every day, and I measured my mobility in my arthritic joints. I think, I wish I'd structured my biohacking attempts better from day one. I started systematically doing it about six months ago, maybe a little bit longer where I'll run a 30-day control, and then I bring on a protocol. And I'll monitor all of my outcomes by my O-ring to look if something did, or I have other devices.

Alex Tarnava:
I've got a ring. I actually think this one is from Finland. It's a mood ring for your levels of stress, but I have all sorts of devices when I'm just systematically looking into every biohacking practice to see is it benefiting me as an individual, because I think that's important. Some things, it might be good, but is it in conjunction with the protocol I'm already on, or does something cancel each other out?

Siim Land:
Yeah.

Alex Tarnava:
Right, and there's one device, in particular. I haven't published it yet, but it's interesting, because I've got some research on it. And I even ran it for an extra month, just to see if something happened, but overwhelmingly it decreased my health outcomes. It's a really popular biohacking wearable device, that is supposed to aid in recovery. And maybe it does work for some people, but for me it really decreased a lot of my parameters of sleep, for instance.

Alex Tarnava:
It actually decreased some of my recovery parameters after exercise in another controlled experiment I did with it. And after washing out and stopping using it for a few weeks, my markers have actually... My sleep quality and my recovery and everything has returned to where it was at the base, right? So I'm fairly confident that this device actually had a negative effect on me, which means it's working. It's working in some way, because anything that can be beneficial can also be harmful, because it's eliciting a change physiologically.

Siim Land:
Yeah, exactly. Well, it's good advice. And yes, you have to measure, at least have some feedback about what you're doing to know whether or not it is working properly.

Alex Tarnava:
Exactly.

Siim Land:
Well, it was good talking with you. And yeah, we probably will have to do another podcast in the future when we have more research.

Alex Tarnava:
Sounds good. There's some really cool stuff that we have under manuscript prep right now, stuff I'm working on, stuff other guys are working on, new clinical trials, new preclinical stuff regarding sleep, some really cool research that I'm sure you'll be interested in.

Siim Land:
Awesome. Well, yeah, we'll leave all the links in the show notes, as well. And yeah, thanks for coming.

Alex Tarnava:
No problem, thanks for having me.