Founder and CEO Brooks Powell was an undergraduate student at Princeton University taking a neuroscience course and doing independent research on alcohol when he first identified a need for a product like Thrive+.
“I started talking to neuroscience professors and really tapping into the Princeton community and that’s where I got this idea that we can make a healthier way to drink alcohol and do some good in society while also building a business out of it,” Powell told NutraIngredients-USA.
Thrive+ Ingredient breakdown and function claims:
Dihydromyricetin (DHM): Mitigates short-term alcohol withdrawal time.
Milk Thistle (Silymarin): Traditionally used as an herbal remedy to promote liver function and repair. In research, Silymarin opposes alcohol-induced oxidative stress in livers.
Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus indica): Known antioxidant and has been found to diminish an over-reactive inflammatory response to stressful stimuli.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC): Known to be the biological precursor to glutathione and can reduce alcohol-induced oxidative stress and liver toxicity.
Ginger Root Extract: In clinical studies, shown to mitigate both nausea and stomach discomfort that mainly originates from the gastrointestinal system
Electrolytes: Responsible for essential human functions like hydration, muscular contractions, and neuronal signaling in the brain.
B, C, and E Vitamins
The company officially launched upon Powell’s graduation in June 2017 and has added three PhD biotech professors to its board of advisors and three full-time post doctorates working on its research projects.
Beyond binge drinking
While Thrive+ can be used as a hangover antidote after heavy drinking, the company is aiming to reduce the negative side effects of moderate drinking habits as well, which could serve to broaden its market appeal.
“We want to be used any time someone drinks alcohol. Whether it’s one drink, or six drinks, we want people to taking Thrive+,” Powell said.
“The truth is that even moderate levels of alcohol consumption, not binge drinking, can make you feel not 100% the next day.”
Dehydration is partly the cause, but it’s the larger impact of short term alcohol withdrawal and exposure to acetaldehyde, the toxic byproduct of alcohol, that are the bigger health drawbacks, according to Powell.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol is metabolized by two enzymes, alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), that break down the alcohol molecule to help eliminate it from the body. ADH metabolizes alcohol to acetaldehyde, a highly toxic substance and known carcinogen that is “20 to 30 times more toxic than alcohol itself,” Powell added.
Acetaldehyde is further metabolized to a less active byproduct called acetate, which then is broken down into water and carbon dioxide for easy elimination.
“It’s (Thrive+) basically giving it (the body) the ammunition to break down this additional level of acetaldehyde,” Powell said.
To address the short-term alcohol withdrawal side effect, the company’s key ingredient DHM plays the role of binding to the same brain receptor that alcohol does to “satiate” this receptor and reduce the corresponding negative symptoms of drinking, according to Powell.
“I don’t doubt that people are using us occasionally as a hangover cure, but we’re definitely going for a different kind of audience,” Powell (above) added. “We’re trying to make alcohol a healthier and happier experience, we’re not trying to promote binge drinking.”
The company is building an IP portfolio around its Princeton-backed research starting with a granted patent for the combination of DHM and NAC to reduce the negative effects of alcohol supported by a small-scale human study.
Thrive+ has filed a number of provisional patents through Princeton University around the increased bioavailability of DHM, which Powell says will give the company a strong edge in the market.
“Our real competitive advantage lies in the fact that we’ll have a form of DHM that’s ten times more effective because we have this bioavailability,” he claimed.
“That’s the future of our product: Utilizing DHM via a nanoparticle which increases its efficacy.”
The company’s core product is available in capsule form (10 three-capsule doses a bottle) for $29.99 and its second product, Thrive+ ORS (oral rehydration solution) retails for $24.99 per tub.
After generating $1.1 million in sales in last month, helped by an appearance on the television show Shark Tank, Powell said the company is targeting $25 million in revenue by the end of 2018.
Thrive+ is currently sold online through its company website and on Amazon with plans to move into brick and mortar retail.
"We’re definitely growing really fast and we’re excited to keep that growth up,” Powell said.