As scientists travel along the path toward discovery, often there is no telling where that journey will end.
Enter Arthur Nonomura, Ph.D.
Senior vice president and chief science officer for Brandt iHammer, Nonomura has devoted his career to helping others through science and, to that end, has developed innovations that promote healthy plants and healthy people who grow them.
Nonomura, who along with golf course superintendent Mike McBride, is the man behind Brandt's iHammer line of plant nutrients, also holds patents on products that he says help people feel better.
Stress inhibits the health of the turf plant, and stress affects the health of people, too. We have this natural chemical defense system that can be inhibited by exogenous chemicals. . . . You must maintain a robust defense system, such that your cell's sentinel, P450, can identify these exogenous chemicals and get rid of them.
While the iHammer line has been helping golf course superintendents grow healthy turf for nearly two decades, Nonomura's latest discovery is the Defense line of healthy hydration products sold under the hellowater (sic) label, a line of wellness water products. Twenty years in the making, Defense beverages had been in research and development, and just finally made it to market in June. Nonomura says his product is designed to boost the body's natural self-defense mechanism, the cytochrome P450 enzyme complex.
Nonomura and McBride met more than a decade ago, some time after the former served as a Fellow at the University of California-San Francisco and the latter was superintendent at Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio.
Together they eventually formed iHammer in 2004, and the company came under the Brandt umbrella in 2014. Philosophically speaking, there is not much difference between creating a plant nutrient or healthy shot of water.
"Brandt is very entrepreneurial and is always looking for new technologies, from the functional beverage to the agriculture industry," McBride said. "These are life-changing to a lot of people, and we're involved because of our innovative technology and ability to move the ball down the court."
In an era where we tend to put "me" first and the bottom line seems to dictate just about any conversation, Nonomura's work on developing what now is the Defense line of hellowater has been nothing but benevolent in nature. As a matter of fact, he began research on a healthy hydration product with California's farm field workers in mind.
"I'm all for making people feel better," Nonomura said. "That includes making plants that are healthy and increasing people's quality of life. It's hard to sell products based on altruism, but that is what I am being here – seeking the greatest benefits to humankind. I wish to help people feel better."
It was through years of research looking for ways to maximize health based on natural products that Nonomura, who earned a doctorate from the University of California, first thought he could do the same for people by creating a beverage that hydrates the body and helps it eliminate toxins.
"Stress inhibits the health of the turf plant, and stress affects the health of people, too," Nonomura said. "We have this natural chemical defense system that can be inhibited by exogenous chemicals. When you inhibit the cytochrome P450 complex, your body has reduced its natural defenses. You must maintain a robust defense system, such that your cell's sentinel, P450, can identify these exogenous chemicals and get rid of them."
I'm all for making people feel better. That includes making plants that are healthy and increasing people's quality of life.
Nonomura's research has been wide-ranging. During the Middle East Oil Embargo of the 1970s, when he was a doctoral student at Cal, Nonomura worked in collaboration with the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Melvin Calvin to find and cultivate a plant for growing gasoline—sustainable biofuels. After graduating from Berkeley, he undertook scientific investigations at UCSF, which is dedicated entirely to health sciences. It was while Nonomura was delving into how and why viruses infect animals and people, that he began working with cytochrome P450, the natural defense mechanism in every living thing. While his work eventually led to the advent of iHammer, it also paved the way for his Defense line of healthy water.
"I have been investigating cytochrome P450 since I graduated from the Cal," Nonomura said.
"When looking for an antiviral, you try to draw on everything in the life sciences to figure out how a virus infects people and the mechanisms response to an infection. You take into consideration all things. In biology, you have to get involved with all aspects of life to figure out what approach to take, and the answer often comes from putting concepts from a multiplicity of seemingly unrelated fields together.
"And with a system wide instrument of discovery like the University of California, you have the resources to investigate the science of all things."