By Alex Tarnava, Managing Director, DRINKHRW and inventor of our Ultra I LOVE H2 Tablets
With comments from Ian Blair Hamilton, Founder, AlkaWay
“How did you get into this field?” or “How did you manage to invent the open cup tablets?” I get asked this by customers, in interviews, and even by random people I meet.
The background is longer than I can fully elaborate on during normal conversation or in time-restricted interviews, involving random chance, luck, perseverance, and a lot of failures. There wasn’t a single “this is my path” moment, even once I started the process.
Even writing it down now, I am trying to put many random pieces together that lead to my journey. For those that have seen some of my interviews, I have simplified some of these sections in talks as it was not the purpose of the talk and didn’t seem like the time or place to fully detail much of this.
Along the way, I learned significant amounts regarding the history of H2 reactive tablet technology, my predecessors who never quite made it, and those technologies that have become obsolete or are operating outside legal regulations. This will be detailed in the next section, the “prequel” to my arrival on the scene.
The Groundwork – Before They Knew Hydrogen Water
When understanding the history of hydrogen water and hydrogen tablets in North America, we need to consider the groundwork that was done.
While I was unaware of much of this when I started, as I began to dive fully into this journey the history of the hydrogen tablets started playing a role. There were surprisingly only a few players and I have been unable to identify the roles of some of them. Also, while I have spoken to many of the early players, who have corroborated everything being written, there are a few “key players” that I have never (and perhaps never will) get the privilege to speak to.
SoCal: Ahead of the Curve again.
In the late 2000s, there was a growing interest in Southern California for products to add to water to create a negative “Oxidative Reduction Potential” (ORP). Patrick Flanagan, self-proclaimed genius and “health maverick,” probable con artist, had his product on the market for at least a decade at the time. Look out for my upcoming article, including analytical testing from a third-party lab, detailing Flanagan’s fraudulent claims. While claims around his product were numerous, most bordering on completely ridiculous and impossible, popularity through testimonials were plentiful. His product creates molecular hydrogen using a known method, proven by analytical testing. It does this in a manner that is arguably not safe and does not have regulatory status required for legal sale. Ironically, his product may be pre-DSHEA (The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (“DSHEA“)) and if Flanagan had been honest in what he was doing, he would be exempt from some of the numerous regulations he is violating.
Despite Flanagan’s product being around for a decade at this point and its popularity in some of the alt-med scenes high, Flanagan himself came with deep issues burdened by a lawsuit with an MLM (multi-level marketing company) and lingering rumours, which I will not go into as I am unable to substantiate with any solid evidence. This myriad of issues and concerns drove potential partners away. Some of these rumours, true or not, coupled with test results showing the true nature of his product, caused an abrupt halt to major distribution platforms.
Enter Robert & Jack Slovak and other players, such as someone I will refer to as “DM,” his partner “GP,” and another I will refer to as “JH.”
I previously had a conversation on reverse osmosis (RO) technology with Robert here, and alluded to his early work in this field. As mentioned in the talk, Robert and his deceased brother Jack were early pioneers in RO technology holding many patents and continued to work in water technologies their entire lives.
Robert has two degrees in engineering (astronautical and mechanical) from the New York University Guggenheim School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and his brother Jack Slovak attended the Worcester Polytechnic Institute and graduated with degrees in physics and electrical engineering. He then pursued advanced degrees in chemistry and biomedical engineering, eventually teaching physics at the University of Maine.
Sometime between 2009-2010, DM approached the Slovak Brothers regarding a “reactive tablet” to create a “stable negative ORP.” Robert and Jack had a facility in Buena Park, California, they allowed DM to use along with some equipment for testing in order to attempt developing a working formulation. They also offered support by assisting DM along the way with their expertise and suggestions on formulations. At this time, they still weren’t aware of the benefits that came from the magnesium and hydrogen water it created, falsely attributing benefits to the “ORP” and “alkalinity,” which we now know are irrelevant. DM struggled, failed at numerous scale up attempts, and was completely incapable of figuring out how to create a palatable tablet that dissolved in water.
At some point, an individual who at the time was heavily involved in the industry, JH, had some involvement with DM that still cannot be fully put together, as no business relationship ever reached fruition. JH’s involvement with DM is almost indisputable, as numerous documents ostensibly written by DM show “created by JH” and “last edited by JH.” These were documents written as if they were penned by DM and distributed by DM to other parties. In fact, some accounts have JH being involved with DM as early as 2006, with rumours that JH had independently tried to fund DM to create this tablet with no success.
DM abandoned the quest for a dissolvable tablet sometime in 2010, selling the rights and initiating the manufacturing of an ingestible tablet to create H2 internally, a practice that despite still existing, has not been declared to the US FDA or had the necessary safety data produced. In my opinion and the opinions of numerous experts, it will never be able to establish sufficient safety and is likely not very efficacious.
ORP Tablets? or H2 Tablets?
In late 2010, the Slovak Brothers found themselves in a tight spot pertaining the ORP tablets. DM had abandoned formulation work and given rights to his failed technology to another party, leaving the Slovaks with significant amounts of damaged product they had coined Active H Minus. These tablets, which DM had delivered, quickly disintegrated to powder in the bottles and DM was not quick in returning funds or replacing goods. The Slovaks were left with no incentive to market the product and no ability to make any new product themselves.
So Cal Loves it! He came back every day we exhibited, finally
Regardless, the “powder” product was a “hit” with SoCal practitioners and the benefits were reported as being almost unbelievable. This inspired the Slovaks to move forward, however, there was still some uncertainty regarding whether the benefits were attributable to the magnesium, the hydrogen water or the “ORP” and “alkalinity.”
Encouraged by the testimonials streaming in, they began trying to work on the product themselves, contacting manufacturers, and seeking solutions. A few years passed and serendipitously, as a team member of the Slovak Brothers company, “PG” inquired at a supplement industry tradeshow booth in early 2014 on if they could assist in the formulation, a new player who had formulated a different hydrogen tablet was at the same booth, known from here on as “MK”. Almost unbelievably MK had been working on developing a reactive tablet himself but knew the importance was the molecular hydrogen, despite still believing alkalinity to be necessary. MK was at the booth trying to discuss the technology he was developing.
Ian: MK introduced himself to me at a trade show in SoCal. I remember it well.
We were exhibiting the UltraStream water system, capable of ultra-pure alkaline water, high ORP water, and H2 production.
He walked up and said to me “This is all bullshit! I can do this with a tablet!”
He came back to talk to me every day I was at the Expo. Finally, I said to him. OK. Enough! Go and do it. Call me when it’s ready.
Six months later he called me.
The Slovak Brothers quickly brought MK in, investing in his initial start-up. They launched Active H2 in 2014, however, the formulation came with some hiccups. The tablets tasted awful and generated very low levels of H2. Regardless, the product was a “hit” yet again in the practitioner market, and the product started selling “off the shelves.” By this time, MK and the Slovaks knew that H2 was the therapeutic agent in the tablets, largely as MK had brought on a young brilliant scientist as a consultant to help work out some kinks during development in 2014, a name that needs little introduction. A young Tyler W.LeBaron had entered the fray, working out delicate chemistry issues for MK, that had previously left him baffled.
Yet again, “JH” entered the scene and despite initial funds, support, and information being provided to MK by the Slovaks, MK inexplicably, secretly agreed to run production for JH first, unbeknownst to The Slovaks. Simultaneously, MK made the remarkably stupid decision to attempt to file for a patent on the existing tablet work, work which was documented as being done before his knowledge, for processes established in the literature, while breaking agreements in doing so. This is a patent application (and subsequent second application), that has since been abandoned due to rejection notices (https://patents.google.com/patent/US20160113865). Inexplicably, the patent attorney MK hired seemed to have no history in the law and based on his attorney license # being past retirement age.
Enter Tyler LeBaron
At this time, MK decided it was wise to simultaneously place Tyler W. LeBaron on the patent, which is legally required due to Tyler’s contributions as a consultant while having Tyler sign rights and assignment to MK’s tablet while work was still taking place. MK then promptly reneged on his deal with Tyler, refusing to pay consulting fees or donate funds verbally agreed would be earmarked for research.
What many of the early players previously did not know is MK could not actually get the manufacturing done at the time he agreed to take JH’s order. He took JH’s funds, and could not deliver as he did not have a facility that would touch the required ingredients. Just weeks after, he took funds from the Slovaks under the terms a proper cGMP (certified Good Manufacturing Practices) facility license and COA (Certificate of Analysis) was required.
The story goes that MK made the first batches of product in his kitchen, which at the scale we are talking was a massive hazard to himself and his neighbours (and highly illegal), pressing the tablets at a manufacturing facility after hours and “off the books”, unbeknownst to JH. MK seemingly knew the risks and premeditated this by sending his wife to Europe for an extended trip to give him space and privacy. JH received the terrible product. MK also had a hard time obtaining the active ingredient, as I would expect as it cannot be delivered legally to a residence. One story from several of the above-mentioned individuals claims he admitted to illegally purchasing the active ingredient under the guise of using them for fireworks at a proper facility and then driving them across the country, violating numerous laws concerning HAZMAT.
As MK was enacting his “plan b” to deliver the product to JH, he did not stop searching for a legitimate facility to use, as he needed one to fulfil guarantees for the Slovak brothers. MK happened to meet CL, who set him up at his first facility, teamed him with his future formulating partner, and built much of the groundwork for MK. MK pulled it off, miraculously, and Robert and Jack then received the first “proper” GMP produced tablets in 2015.
MK continued his trend of shady dealings and winner take all habits. While simultaneously breaking promises to JH and the Slovaks, and ripping off Tyler, MK also alienated CL, the person who had bailed him out and helped establish his operations. MK seemingly believed that no one could ever replicate what he had done, despite there being significant flaws in his design, and his product still not being legally distributed (no New Dietary Ingredient (NDI)status from the FDA as well as violations in numerous other governmental bodies). While MK had a short run, at the same time, another group was figuring out everything he had, and much more, while building the legal and regulatory groundwork up in Canada…
Ian: Every year MK would tell me he was coming to Australia and to book accommodation for him here in Byron Bay. He never appeared.