Tuesday, October 24, 2017 by Isabelle Z.
Has someone at the Wall Street Journal been following Natural News? It sure seems like it, as the paper recently published a piece on a topic that the mainstream media usually ignores: The power of nature and the difficulties often encountered by those who want to bring products with natural ingredients to the masses. Rife with articles about the latest chemical solutions lining the pockets of Big Pharma, it’s actually newsworthy when they admit that something natural can be beneficial, as they did in this case with the natural molecule found in licorice root extract known as glycyrrhizin.
Natural News has been talking about the “miracle molecule” glycyrrhizin for at least five years. In February 2016, Mike Adams called it “one of the most astonishing herbal cures story of the decade.” And yet it remained largely unreported in other outlets, despite several scientific studies illustrating its remarkable liver-protecting capabilities.
For example, it has been found to block the cellular damage in the liver caused by alcohol and drugs like Tylenol. As if that weren’t enough, it also has strong anti-tumor, anti-inflammation and antiviral effects, making it a powerful tool for fighting liver cancer, liver disease and cirrhosis.
This ability was not lost on businessman Harsha Chigurupati, who sought a way to make drinking alcohol safer while still a student at Boston University. The focus of the Wall Street Journal piece, he said he had the idea to infuse alcohol with the compound to help protect the liver from its health effects as people drink it.
Chigurupati spent a dozen years and $35 million to develop a compound that can protect the liver from damage by drinking, coming up with a formula containing glycyrrhizin as well as mannitol and potassium sorbate. He named the compound NTX (as in “no tox”), and human trials by a research team in California found that the biomarkers of liver damage were a remarkable 93 percent lower in those who got drunk on the vodka containing NTX compared to regular vodka. Further studies found that the vodka with NTX also decreased the amount of damage to the human participants’ DNA caused by drinking.
Chigurupati then joined forces with the New Jersey spirit brand Bellion to infuse vodka with his NTX compound right after it is distilled. Unfortunately, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau won’t let the product explain its benefits on the bottle as their policies do not allow any type of health claims to be placed on alcoholic beverages – whether there are mountains of scientific support or not.
Among the weak excuses proffered by the TTB for this stance is that Americans could confuse “NTX” with a medication used in the management of opioid and alcohol addiction known as Naltrexone. They’ve also said that claiming on the bottle that it can reduce the risk of developing alcohol-related liver disease would distract people from those health risks it doesn’t protect against, like birth defects and addiction. They also said that it does still raise a person’s risk of liver disease compared to not drinking, albeit by far less than traditional vodka.
He has presented hundreds of studies and petitioned the TTB repeatedly, but his efforts have largely been met with opposition. A small victory with the TTB saw Chigurupati getting the green light to place the statement “Made with NTX” on each bottle, but he can’t say what it is or what it is supposed to do, so many consumers don’t realize the potential benefits of the very ingredient that is the vodka’s main selling point.
An undeterred Chigurupati is still pressing forward. Next, he’d like to infuse gin, bourbon and tequila with NTX as he continues working toward his goal of making alcohol safer. We wish we could say that it’s surprising that someone would meet so many roadblocks in trying to market a product that aims to protect people’s health, but it’s a pattern that is all too familiar as government agencies continue to protect drug companies, hospitals and doctors, who make lots of money on liver disease and liver transplants. Natural News has been discussing NTX’s quest for years, and it’s nice to see the Wall Street Journal following in our footsteps.