Episode 65 | Tyler LeBaron | Celebrities Use This For More Energy
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For those of you who don’t have a periodic table at your fingertips, hydrogen is the very first element on that chart.
You’ve all heard of H20, and that H stands for HYDROGEN! What, you might be asking, is why is it so important to our health and wellbeing?
It appears to be an element that does a lot of miraculous things…including slowing down the aging process. And, there is a positive connection between therapeutic uses of molecular hydrogen, and improving our overall well-being.
Today’s guest, Tyler LeBaron, is an esteemed biochemist and one of the leading proponents in this promising and exciting field of molecular hydrogen research.
Tyler is everywhere these days talking about the benefits of hydrogen. He’s the Founder and Executive Director of the Molecular Hydrogen Institute, and his mission is to help further research and education on the benefits of hydrogen. When he’s not in the lab or lecturing around the country, you will most likely find him training for his next marathon, and we might even be seeing him at the upcoming Olympic trials.
In today’s show, you’ll discover…
• The astonishing truth of how molecular hydrogen is being used for skin-perfecting, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant benefits
• What is the impact of the smallest, lightest element in the periodic table on your cells
• Hydrogen’s critical role in your energy production
• Why hydrogen may be the missing link in slowing down the aging process
Get ready to pop in your earbuds, and listen to the episode while you workout!
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Kathy Smith: Tyler, welcome to the show.
Tyler LeBaron: Kathy, thank you. It’s nice to be here. I appreciate it.
Kathy Smith: I had the privilege of hiking with you, Dr. Marcola, Ben Greenfield, Naomi Whittel, a whole bunch in the group. Jeff Hayes was there. When the topic of hydrogen therapy came up, I was a bit uninitiated to say the least, meaning that I didn’t know what the heck you guys were talking about.
Then I had a chance to talk to you, research more about it, and then start using it. I’ll have to say I’m totally fascinated by this whole topic. Let’s just dive in. Why is molecular hydrogen causing such a big buzz in the health and medical communities, and what got you started down the path of researching it?
Tyler LeBaron: Great question. I appreciate your introduction as well so we can actually know what we’re talking about. Because there is a lot of buzz going on with hydrogen, both in the market, the industry, but specifically with the biomedical researches, we’re seeing it to be have therapeutic effects in essentially every organ of the human body in actually over 170 human and animal disease models.
So there are a lot of these benefits, but first to better illustrate or to explain what exactly we’re talking about with molecular hydrogen, there’s the hydrogen atom. That’s the elemental hydrogen, and that hydrogen is going to combine with other things. So if it combines with oxygen, you get water. You get H2O. If it combines with carbon and oxygen, you can get something like sugar, which is carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. But if it combines just with itself, just hydrogen and hydrogen or H2, that’s hydrogen gas. That is molecular hydrogen, and that is the therapeutic gas, the therapeutic molecule that we’re talking about.
Most people know this is an explosive molecule that’s very flammable. You think of the Hindenburg. It’s being used as an alternative energy source, because it’s actually three times more energy dense than gasoline. This is the molecular hydrogen that we’re talking about, and there are different ways that we can administer it, whether it be inhalation like with a gas mask or a nasal cannula. Or we can dissolve it into the water and you drink it. So instead of carbonated beverages for example, with CO2 gas in it, you actually have water that contains the dissolved hydrogen gas in it. So this is the molecular hydrogen that we’re talking about that’s really in the research right now.
Kathy Smith: Okay. So when I asked you what product I should be taking, you gave me a couple of suggestions. I bought the one product – the Fastonic tablets that you told me. Once I read the label, I dropped the tablet into the water. For everybody out there, it’s kind of like an Alka Seltzer. It gets very fizzy and it kind of puffs up. I actually put it in my green drink, I put it in my smoothie and it created the fizzy action.
But let’s talk about what happened. I swallowed that water. It goes, I’m assuming, into my stomach, my digestive tract, into my bloodstream, and then to my cells. If I have that part right, what happens after that? What does this hydrogen do?
Tyler LeBaron: You gave a great explanation. The product that you have, Dr. Dan Pompa is using that one so I thought, “You already know him. You went on a hike with him, so that could be a good way.” But I like your explanation where you took their products and put it in the water. It reacts with the water to produce hydrogen gas. So you may have seen all this effervescence, all the fizz, all the bubbles, and everything. That’s all hydrogen gas.
As you explained, when you put that into your body, it’s going to diffuse into the body through the cell membranes, because we have to remember, hydrogen gas is the smallest molecule in the universe. This is an important thing to also consider, because in order for something to benefit your body, you have to actually ingest it. In order for it to benefit your cells, it has to make it through the digestive process, make it through the liver, the intestines, and everything else and get into the blood, then get into the cells, which is the tricky part, especially when you’re trying to treat brain conditions. You have the blood/brain barrier.
So things that are small, neutral, and non-polar, for example, are going to be able to enter through the cell membrane easier than other things. And hydrogen gas is the smallest molecule in the universe, it’s non-polar, it’s slightly hydrophobic, and so it’s able to easily permeate and diffuse through cell membranes and through the subcellular compartments pretty much easier than any other molecule.
Now, once it’s there, it does the magic. The actual primary targets and underlying molecular mechanisms for how it does this magic is still rather elusive. The research is still quite early. But what we are seeing is the hydrogen gas acts as basically a signal modulator. So it’s able to alter cell communication, because cells talk to each other. They have the signal cascades within the cell. And as you modulate these things, you can have very profound effects.
For example, inflammation. We know with inflammation when you wake up in the morning and you have the aches and the pains in your joints, there’s some swelling. That can be inflammation and if you have excessive inflammation, that can be caused by these pro-inflammatory mediators like cytokines and interleukin 6 for example. The cytokines induce this inflammation response which induce these problems that we see and manifested, let’s say, as arthritis and the example I gave when you wake up in the morning or you’re sore.
Hydrogen gas is able to down regulate these pro-inflammatory mediators. So it actually can decrease the levels of these pro-inflammatory cytokines. There are several ways that it probably does this whether it’s directly working on transcription factors like NF-kB, which produces a lot of these pro-inflammatory cytokines, down rating the TNF alpha, tumor necrosis factor alpha, which is a cytokine and that activates the transcription factor.
So by acting as the signal modulator, that in turn is altering the expression of many, many genes. You’ve heard the statement for example, that your health and everything is all in your genes, but that’s not entirely correct. It’s better to say that it’s all in the expression of those genes. So we want to express the genes in the best way possible. So we know about epigenetic changes and gene expression and different things. Well, hydrogen gas, its ability to be a single modulator is able to modulate and improve the inflammatory status of the cell is one thing, but also and very important, it is the redox balance or the redox homeostasis of the cell.
Kathy Smith: Can I back up just for a second? I’m going to slow you down for just a second only because I don’t want to lose people out there. I can kind of tell when I’m starting to get a little lost myself. I’m going to unpack that a little bit and you tell me if I’ve said it correctly or where we can clarify.
So you wake up in the morning and you’ve got an ache or a pain, your joints are slightly swollen. I know my exact joints – my right second finger and my left wrist. I know that I’ve maybe had too much sugar, maybe I’ve over exercised, maybe there’s a stress response. But I’m feeling something like that. And it’s suggesting that I have some inflammation in my body.
What you’re saying and where I sort of lost you, I don’t know if it’s necessarily that important that we understand it, but it’s these cytokines that you mentioned that are triggering some of this. Then the hydrogen comes in and starts to minimize that impact of inflammation.
Tyler LeBaron: Yeah. Or can decrease those cytokines so that you don’t have that excessive inflammation. We want mild amounts of inflammation. Like when you exercise and you get sore, some of that is due to this inflammation. So you need that. That’s what’s going to make you stronger. In fact, some research suggests that taking high levels of anti-inflammatories, NSAIDS for example, you could actually blunt or negate the benefits of exercise training, because you decrease that inflammatory response too much. So you want some levels of inflammation. That’s how we heal. Wound healing and everything, it’s all about having small levels of inflammation.
Well, as we age, the inflammation becomes dysregulated and we have this chronic low-grade level of inflammation that’s just pervasive and that cause all these problems. So as you explained, the hydrogen gas is able to go easily and penetrate the cell membranes and alter this gene expression and decrease that excessive inflammation and bring it back to homeostasis, bring it back to where the cell is going to operate optimally at.
Kathy Smith: But Tyler, then why would we need the gas in a pill format or any other delivery systems you mentioned as opposed to– if we’re drinking lots of water, lots of H2O, aren’t we getting that hydrogen into our system on an hourly basis if we want?
Tyler LeBaron: I appreciate the question. Again, when we’re talking about molecular hydrogen, it is just H2 gas.
Kathy Smith: Okay. Got it.
Tyler LeBaron: Water has oxygen in it also, but we can’t just drink water to get the benefits of oxygen. We actually have to breathe the air.
Kathy Smith: You’ve got me there.
Tyler LeBaron: Yeah. There’s no hydrogen gas in that pill. It reacts with the water, with H2O and basically proliferates the H2, and now you have hydrogen gas dissolves in the water.
Kathy Smith: Does that mean when I drop it in the water that I should be drinking it quite quickly or right after I drop it in?
Tyler LeBaron: Yeah. Scientifically, it makes sense. The manufacturers recommend that the sooner that tablet dissolves, you drink it. Because that hydrogen gas is just a gas. It’s going to dissipate away. It’s going to go right out. So you’ve got to drink it.
Kathy Smith: Okay. So I interrupted you when you were getting into the redox part of the whole equation.
Tyler LeBaron: Exactly. The redox, meaning oxidation reduction potential or the oxidation reduction – the antioxidant status of the cell. Maybe we need to talk about that just a little bit.
We know that when you cut the apple in half, or the avocado, or the banana, whatever it is, it turns brown. Or rusting for example. All of that is caused by oxidation. That oxidation is also happening to our body. We talk about the importance of breathing oxygen and having oxygen, doing all these things with oxygen, but that oxygen is slowly killing us. It’s slowly oxidizing our cells, it’s slowly causing our internal system to rust. That ultimately causes aging, the wrinkles, and actually can cause inflammation and everything else.
As we age, we get higher and higher levels of this oxidation and less and less levels of antioxidation, and this dysregulation, this out of balance or out of homeostasis is a primary initiator as well as a symptom of virtually every disease. It causes more and more inflammation.
So we needed to have this homeostasis between oxidation and antioxidation or reduction. The reduction is basically the opposite of oxidation – or antioxidant. This is why we know we need to eat a good fruits and vegetables and good food, because they contain these antioxidants to protect or be against that oxidation.
Well, it’s interesting though when you look at the clinical studies that have used these high levels of exogenous antioxidants, they’ve actually had to stop the studies before they’ve been completed because the people taking these high levels of anti-oxidants were actually dying and getting sick and cancer faster than those on placebo.
We don’t know exactly the reason why, but one thing that people often forget or don’t realize is that we also need oxidation. We need to have free radicals, we need to have a set amount of them. We need to have these reactive oxidant species. We need to have some of these. That’s how our cells communicate.
Nitric oxide for example, that’s how Viagra works and these other things. Nitric oxide dilates the blood vessels. Nitric oxide is a free radical, so if we just neutralize that free radical, that would be very bad. We need to have the right amount of reactive oxygen species, and we need to get into homeostasis. That’s how we are when we’re young and when we’re healthy.
Molecular hydrogen really shines because it is able to easily diffuse into the cells and optimize normal redox homeostasis. And actually, it cannot even react or neutralize the beneficial free radical. So if you’ve got a hydrogen gas with the radical nitric oxide together or superoxide or hydrogen peroxide– these are beneficial signaling molecules. If you put them together, there’d be no reaction. Hydrogen gas doesn’t react with these radicals. So it’s very selective. It actually can only react if it does, with the hydroxyl radical, which is the most cytotoxic cell damaging radical that there is.
So the most important thing from this conversation is to understand that your cells need to operate at a specific, optimal homeostasis of oxidation and reduction. There needs to be that ratio of free radicals and antioxidant status. And as we age, and diseases, and different toxins that come to us, we get more and more oxidation. Unfortunately, conventional antioxidants don’t help as much as we would like them to. In fact, sometimes they can exacerbate the problem, because in your cell, you can actually have too much radical damage occurring in one compartment such as the cytosol but not enough oxidation occurring in a different compartment such as the endoplasmic reticulum which holds protein. You can see this dysregulation within the very same cell.
Hydrogen gas, because it’s so small, it’s able to diffuse right into the cell membrane and there, it can optimize and bring back this redox homeostasis. Part of the way it does this is, again, it influences gene expression of our body’s natural antioxidants like– you’ve heard of glutathione before or superoxide dismutase. These are our body’s natural antioxidants that our body produces when we’re healthy, and it gets that level we need to. Again, as we age and different things, those levels can actually come back down.
Well, molecular hydrogen can activate what’s called the Nrf2 pathway which is a gene transcription factor, and that leads to the gene expression of higher levels of glutathione, a superoxide dismutase and so on, giving us back that optimal ratio, that optimal homeostatic balance, if you will, of oxidation and reduction of our antioxidants and our free radicals so we can stay in optimal health and longevity. Does that make sense?
Kathy Smith: Yeah. It does. And whatever’s going over my head or the listeners’ heads, we’re going to have more in the show notes, more resources where they can learn about hydrogen and learn more about you and your research.
So let’s talk a little bit about your research and research that’s happening out there and how hydrogen is impacting certain ailments or what it’s being used for. What is it being tested on right now?
Tyler LeBaron: Absolutely. Again, it’s important that we understand the research on molecular hydrogen is really quite new. In fact, it’s only around 10 years old. The pioneering publication came out in 2007 in a very prestigious journal, Nature Medicine, which is a very respectable, credible journal. It showed that hydrogen gas was, in this case, effective against ischemia-reperfusion.
Essentially what they did was they cut the blood supply to an animal model – a rat -and that would cause the brain to not have the blood, then when they’d give the blood back that would cause a reperfusion injury, which is very damaging to the brain. They found that just a small amount of hydrogen gas below the fundability level of only 2% was markedly effective at suppressing the brain damage induced by this middle-stream velocity occlusion – again, cutting the blood supply in the subsequent ischemia-reperfusion injury.
Anyway, this study was kind of a landmark paper that got the excitement of many biomedical researchers. So even though it was only 10 years ago, there are actually over 1,200 scientific publications that are showing the therapeutic effects of hydrogen gas, like I mentioned, on essentially every organ in the human body and in over 170 different human and animal disease models.
The reason for that is because, as I mentioned, hydrogen gas helps attenuate excessive inflammation and excessive oxidation. It helps to bring back the balance, if you will, this homeostasis of antioxidant and free radical status.
The clinical studies are very interesting. There are probably around 50 or so human clinical studies and probably about that many more currently underway or in progress, and they’re seeing some interesting results.
One of them was actually using inhalation of hydrogen gas for the treatment of post-cardiac arrest syndrome and it’s been showing some really good effects. In fact, there’s a major study going on right now in Japan. There are 360 patients in maybe 15 different hospital settings doing this study, because actually the Japanese government approved inhalation of hydrogen gas as an advanced medicine for the treatment of post-cardiac arrest syndrome. So this is being evaluated clinically.
Normally the treatment of the therapy is hypothermia where it’s basically appearing where hydrogen gas is potentially as effective or more effective than hypothermia as well as it can improve the inflammatory status, which hypothermia doesn’t really seem to do.
So that’s one area, but also many of the neurological disorders – for example dementia or cognitive impairments, one study was actually drinking water that contains dissolved hydrogen gas. It was about a year-long with 100 patients or so. They also found that the cognitive impairment scores were markedly improved by those drinking the hydrogen-rich water, especially those with the APOE genotype. Which most people who get Alzheimer’s disease are actually of that genotype or a high majority of them.
There are other studies: rheumatoid arthritis, for example. There are quite a few studies on exercise performance, which we haven’t really gotten into. But hydrogen gas could be a really big winner when it comes to exercise, optimizing, and potentiating the benefits of exercise as well as mitigating against the excessive damage that sometimes you can do with lead athletes training so hard. Or the weekend warriors that their bodies aren’t used to going out and playing basketball for four hours on Saturday. So they cause a lot of damage. There, hydrogen gas would probably be good to help mitigate some of that excessive damage.
Kathy Smith: Or aging athletes. What I find for myself is that I can go out and hit it pretty hard, but I notice that my recovery is much slower or takes more time to recover. So probably the aging athlete could also benefit from it.
Tyler LeBaron: Absolutely, yeah. And there are some studies also on increasing the rate of recovery. And also from soft tissue injuries, hydrogen gas shows some benefit there.
Kathy Smith: So what would you say for the listener out there? Should everybody be trying this? I know we talked about different diseases and slowing down or preventing Alzheimer’s or slowing down dementia. We talked about something with heart, we’ve talked about earlier, Parkinson’s, jet lag. But in general, is this one of these nutraceutical supplements that you think everybody should be trying to slow down some of the factors that we’re talking about here?
Is it something that we should be dabbling with or is it if you start to notice that you’re having much more inflammation or you’re getting signs of dementia? When do we start the process with hydrogen?
Tyler LeBaron: It’s a great question. When we look at the research, I tend to believe to think that the sooner you start the better. Because when we look at, for example, some of the studies like the Parkinson’s disease study – in this case an animal study – before the induction or the damage was done to the brain to induce Parkinson’s disease, drinking of hydrogen-rich water effectively prevented the development of Parkinson’s disease.
And we see in many cases that this pre-treatment of molecular hydrogen is very effective at preventing these things from occurring in the first place. And the reason why I feel okay about saying, hey, we should do more clinical research, we should try this is not necessarily because we have tens of thousands of publications ten years old to show this is safe and effective, but really, it’s because hydrogen gas is already so natural.
When we eat a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables and these fibers, these non-digestible carbohydrates, they’re metabolized by our gut flora to produce hydrogen gas naturally anyway. Some people may not be producing as much hydrogen gas because of the high amounts of antibiotics, may lower fiber intake, maybe a dysbiosis of the gut microbiome and so on.
But naturally, we’re always exposed to hydrogen gas, and it’s always there in our breath, our blood and so on, and they’ve actually used hydrogen gas to prevent decompression sickness since the 1940s at a literally millions of times higher concentration than we’re talking about. Often helium gas is used, but hydrogen gas has also been used, like I said, at very high concentrations with not chronic toxic effects.
So when we’re looking at the therapeutic use at much lower concentrations, there hasn’t been really any reported negative effects. But it does appear that this idea of this pretreatment of taking the hydrogen gas to attenuate cellular senescence and to improve signal transduction– in fact, some of the studies, they’ll induce an Alzheimer’s disease model, they’ll induce some sort of a problem with the animals. Those taking the hydrogen water also have an increase in the median lifespan of the animal so, again, suggesting this anti-aging longevity effect.
So to answer your question, because hydrogen gas is safe and the preliminary results are very promising, then yeah, just like it’s a wise idea to take your fibers and so on, I think it’s a wise idea to get molecular hydrogen. And I want to hopefully get more research going on this.
Kathy Smith: Yeah. It’s interesting because I’ve heard now a lot about hydrogen, and a lot of people are talking about it within a certain community. These are the people that usually are out there trying things before everybody else. But I’m not hearing about it in the mainstream community yet. Is your prediction that in coming years, we’re going to be having more hydrogen products in the marketplace?
Tyler LeBaron: Yeah, absolutely. Typically, the market is around 10 years behind the science when it comes to introducing products. Well, the science started in 2007 and now, it’s been 10 or 11 years or so. Now, there are more people. You’ve talked about Joe Marcola. I just found he just launched a hydrogen product.
We have these tablets from Dr. Pompa. Ben Greenfield talks about hydrogen products. So we’re getting more and more of these influencers talking about molecular hydrogen. The research is still new, but with 1,200 or 1,300 publications, that’s very exciting seeing everything that’s coming out. So I think probably within the next 5 to 10 years, I think molecular hydrogen will be everywhere, similar to how it is in Asia.
In fact, in Japan, the most recent statistics is about 50% of the population uses, in some form or the other, molecular hydrogen. It’s everywhere. You go to the airport, you go to the store, you see hydrogen. Not everyone understands what it is or why they should take it, but it’s there, and they’ve heard about it and they know about it. It’s nearly a billion-dollar industry actually in Asia alone. So I think it’s coming here to America. It’s hitting the European markets. And the research is growing. We’re getting some research with some universities here in America that are getting going on some things. So I think, yeah, in the next few years, we’ll start hearing more and more about it.
Kathy Smith: Fascinating. Well, what do you think about the dosage? I know that I’m taking the Fastonic, but there are other ways to get your hydrogen – hydrogen water, the pills, there are sticks, there are maybe cans and bottles. But if you’re starting out, you don’t know where to go, what would you start with and what would be your dosage?
Tyler LeBaron: Great questions. With the Molecular Hydrogen Institute, we don’t sell any products. We’re a science-based non-profit just focused on the research of molecular hydrogen, so we don’t really recommend or endorse anything. But a few areas of guidelines are unfortunately, there are products out there that don’t have good amounts of hydrogen or actually don’t have any molecular hydrogen. Because some people will assume it’s already water. Water is H2O; therefore, it has hydrogen like we talked about.
Kathy Smith: I know. We debunked that one already.
Tyler LeBaron: We have to make sure it actually contains molecular hydrogen. So you do want to do some investigation on the company and see if they’re trusted. Don’t just go to the first thing on Amazon or Alibaba and say, “Oh look. It says hydrogen; therefore, it must be good.”
You can test the concentration of molecular hydrogen. There’s a novel redox titration-reagent, H2 blue, that basically reacts with the hydrogen gas and converts methylene blue to leucomethylene blue to make it clear. Anyway, you’re actually able to measure the concentration of hydrogen gas and test it for yourself.
Some ready-to-drink products will sometimes have it in plastic bottles. You want to stay away from all of that. Not just the plastic issue, but the fact is, plastic bottles can’t contain molecular hydrogen. The hydrogen gas is so small – smaller than CO2 or oxygen – so it’ll actually escape through the plastic container and it won’t be in there anymore. So you have to use very special forms of methods of packaging in order to maintain the molecular hydrogen in there. So it is possible, but it’s not done in plastic.
When it comes to the dosing of hydrogen gas, we don’t know still. That’s why we need more research. We don’t know what the optimal dosing is. Like, if you have this disease, you’re this old, and you weigh this much, how much hydrogen gas should you take and what is the optimal method of delivery? Should it be through water, should it be through IV, should it be through hyperbarics, should it be through drinking the dissolved hydrogen water?
Let’s just look at the clinical studies. Typically, the dose of hydrogen gas that’s being administered is between 0.5 milligrams to 1.5 to 5 milligrams and on. So I think that’s kind of a minimum.
In fact, I’m also a core member of the International Hydrogen Standards Association, which is a group of researchers and scientists looking at what do we think is that dose of hydrogen that we probably need in order to see an effect of molecular hydrogen? When we review the clinical studies, it appears that the lowest dose is probably around .5 milligrams of hydrogen.
You just want to make sure the product you’re getting does test positive for molecular hydrogen and it’s a good, reputable company.
Kathy Smith: I think, again, for most of our listeners, this may be their first introduction to the topic and hopefully not their last. Because there is so much. The more I delve into it, the more articles I’ve read, the more podcasts I’ve listened to, especially ones that obviously you are on, the more repetition I get in hearing about it, the better equipped I am to go to the store, to ask other people to start to use it and use it wisely.
We can only cover so much in a short episode like this. But my big take away is that this is cutting edge. It’s new, but it’s also tested. It’s not some funky fly-by-night, try this and you’re going to lose 20 pounds in a week. It’s really tested, and I admire the fact that you’re a scientist, you get in, that’s your passion to learn more and more about a product that has such ability to change people’s lives.
Since I like trying new things, I jumped right in and I have to say on a personal note, I noticed that there is an alertness after I take it. I put it in my green drink. I take it and everything seems to be absorbed a little better. It seems I’m a little more alert, a little more focused, a little more energy. So I’m in the beginning stages of it, but I’m looking forward to using it and feeling more and more the effects of it.
I thank you for being here. And I think my very last question is, are you marathon training?
Tyler LeBaron: Well, I am running. That last marathon I ran was a 2:30:00. So I have to cut 10 or 12 minutes off my time. I’m just so busy. I was in China for a few weeks researching and speaking at conferences over there, so it’s hard. I am running. I’m putting in some miles, but we’ll still see, because I like to stay in shape. I like to be able to compete when I can.
Kathy Smith: Well, I look forward to helping you stay in shape next time you come to Park City with maybe all of us doing a hike or something again. In the meantime, thank you so much for being on the show. We’ll put some notes out as far as where people can find you, find all your information, learn more about hydrogen, and learn more about the products.
Thank you so much, Tyler. I appreciate it.
Tyler LeBaron: Awesome. Thank you, Kathy.
Kathy Smith: Okay.