May 27, 2023
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/andrew-triana-superbrain/
[00:01:26] Podcast Sponsors
[00:05:14] Who is Andrew Triana?
[00:09:31] Neuroplasticity and sleep deprivation
[00:20:59] Vagal nerve stimulation and anxiety
[00:29:11] Is visualization useful?
[00:32:32] Podcast Sponsors
[00:35:32] cont. Is visualization useful?
[00:44:10] How much is the brain in control?
[00:51:55] Andrew’s favorite nootropics or smart drugs
[01:00:04] The benefits of LSD and ketone esters for athletes?
[01:05:10] The application of popular nootropics for neuroplasticity
[01:14:11] Modulating microbiomes
[01:18:47] Andrew’s book and future plans
[01:21:24] Upcoming Event
[01:22:54] End of Podcast
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
Andrew: In my head, I think of visualization as being your sport-specific training and spatial skills are your GPP. So, every single day, no matter what, you're going to do some type of spatial game that challenges your ability to manipulate scenes in 3D in your head. Then, we're going to do some sports psychology, work conversing, getting to know your athlete self and create specific visualizations that help you deal with the negative performance-related things that can pop up on the field. So, it's maybe you realize that you just get fast and aggressive in periods of time where you don't need to be. We're going to practice a visualization drill that involves speeding up and slowing down time. So, maybe you see the drop of water come really slowly off Michael Phelps's goggle. And then, once it leaves the goggle, back to real-time. So, there's a dual training modality that I kind of bring to the table when we talk about training an athlete's brain.
Ben: Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
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Alright, Andy. I'm pretty stoked about all the different directions we could go with this conversation today, but my audience, many of them are totally unfamiliar with you. So, tell me about how you got into all this, man. What got you into the brain and mental performance and marrying it to physical performance in the way that you have?
Andrew: So, it's kind of funny. When I was in school, I went to school for applied exercise science and physiology and moved on to a graduate program where I actually had quite a bad experience with what I expected as far as education, as far as what people would promote and stuff, and it kind of led me to take a change. So, after kind of leaving a graduate program, I started going to seminars. And, I heard so often, “It's all about the brain. It's all about the brain.” And, minimal was followed up with that. Even when I asked a question, “Well, what about the brain? Can we go more in depth there?” There was just so little below the surface, but I did believe it was true just intuitively that I think the brain is all into this. So, it was almost a compensatory manner, if you will, that I dove into the niche. I just really wanted to know more and knew there was more behind the curtain if you will. And, that was just kind of all the desperation and citing incident, et cetera, I needed to go down a rabbit hole. You never go down a rabbit hole just because things are amazing, it's usually something that drives you to go down a rabbit hole that deep.
Ben: For you though, I don't know, I went to University of Idaho and did exercise physiology and biomechanics and kind of had a self-directed master's program in that. There wasn't a lot of talk about the brain and about the central governor or a lot of these neural mechanisms that I know you dig into. Was your education similar? And, where'd you go to school, by the way?
Andrew: Springfield College. For me, it was my graduate level neurophysiology course that was the original tick for it. It sounded so cool, I expected to hear so much about it and we talked about peripheral spinal cord fatigue. We talked about the neuromuscular junction and that just wasn't enough for me. I'm like, there's still a whole another layer. So, I guess, Norman Doidge and his book which was only the first look at the time, “The Brain That Changes Itself” was the first time I was able to get access to research really in depth into neuroplasticity, and neuroplasticity and wrapping my head around it philosophically, as well as itself as a mechanism was the first time I kind of saw into the neuro performance world. Because it's easy to look at neuroplasticity and see it as all these excellent things, but what does that mean to you as a practitioner, can you incite it when is necessary to seek to incite it? And, if you did have successfully incite it, what do you do from there?
Ben: Yeah. What is neuroplasticity, by the way? So, think about hypertrophy as your average adaptation, right? Meaning something gets degraded, something then compensatorily restores it. And, when we talk about the building of new muscle, it happens in such little amounts, micrograms. When we look in the brain from this typical degradation, adaptation response, you did something that was neurochemically taxing for a while, you have your metabolic wastes, you have all this stuff. Your body heals it, gets rid of it, and will typically produce somewhere from 0.01% more to maybe 1% more of the necessary neurotransmitter or an enzyme that fosters that next time. That is not neuroplastic adaptation, that is your typical adaptation profile.
Neuroplasticity is a novelty predicated response. So, similar to the newbie gains concept; because something new has been introduced, we can now actually structurally change neurons. Everything I described prior to this was functional changes. They're enzymes, your synapse. All these little things are molding and ever so slightly shaping differently. Neuroplasticity has to do with actual structural changes. It could even have to do with responsibility role changes like this neuron now to something else compared to this neuron. So, neuroplasticity is describing something that's far greater than your average adaptation curve.
Ben: Okay. Now, it's my understanding that a lot of those adaptations, and I could be totally wrong about this occur during sleep cycles, and that sleep deprivation could pretty significantly hamper neuroplasticity. Is that true? Secondarily, is there anything you can do to kind of stave off some of the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation when it comes to neuroplasticity?
Andrew: I would 100% agree with you if we change the word “happens” to “predicated.”
Andrew: Everything's predicated on the sleep cycle because the problem is when you look at biology, and not the problem but the paradox rather is we only really have sympathetic ligands. We don't have a ton of things that bring us back to parasympathetic states. We basically just wait for the neurotransmitter or the hormone's half-life to run out and then you hopefully go back to normal. Now, the caveat is when we do get back to normal, we can then start recovering. It's more of a circular process when we talk about neuroplastic adaptation or any type of adaptation as a whole.
When it comes to brain centric change, we actually don't get a ton of downtime. When we're sleeping, we have cells called glia that move around and do most of the magic. So, if you're not giving them enough time to do their work as employees, you are certainly going to not just going to have blunted, you're going to have maladaptive responses. So, everything is predicated on the ability you get to sleep because that's the time under tension, time of the curve of functionality for glia to do their job. And, without glia and glia-derived nootropic factors, you're not going to do a whole lot of brain changing.
Ben: Okay, got it. So, let's say you're working with one of your golfers because I know you work with a lot of golfers, you're just telling me before we start recording that you actually moved to Jupiter, Florida because apparently that's I golfing mecca or something.
Andrew: Yeah, pretty much. It's the golf capital of the world out here.
Ben: Okay. So, let's say you got a golfer and they have a tournament coming up and they are sleep-deprived or they need to work on neuroplasticity or learning or memory consolidation or whatever during a sleep cycle, is there anything you particularly focus on when it comes to that aspect of things?
Andrew: So, if it's a kind of an emergency situation, it's the week out and we have stuff to fix, which is something I do quite often consultation wise for professional athletes like, “Hey, Andy, everything's wrong, can you help me out? I got five days.” It's going to be the type of thing where all of your “training effort” is going towards getting to sleep.
Now, we can talk about the typical sleep hygiene stuff like temperature, darkness, et cetera, et cetera, but what we're really going to be looking at is maximizing the opportunity for glia, which actually starts with lion's mane, the early morning before. And anecdotally, I think selenium is a great compliment for that. So, when we actually look at what puts you to sleep as far as the serotonin melatonin cycle, it's starting the morning prior. So, the amount of serotonin that you can catalyze is directly correlated with the amount of melatonin you can deal with. That's why that 5-hydroxytryptophan enzyme works so well. But, if you're not cleaving stuff in the first place, you're never going to fall asleep ultimately.
So, what we're really looking to do is make sure that from the start of that morning, you have an opportunity to go to sleep. So, after the sun goes down, we've hopefully already gotten this stuff into play, now we're looking at making changes that get the heart rate down as low as possible through vagus nerve activation, turning on vagus tone. And, that's going to give you the best chances to fall asleep tonight, but in reality, your whole day can be structured around falling asleep tonight.
Ben: Yeah. I think I heard you talking with Mark Bell about this type of rib reset or rib work that you'll do with athletes to help them get to bed at night. Is that true?
Andrew: Yeah, 100%. So, my original exposure to the concept as a whole was actually in college. Dr. Pat Davidson was a professor of mine, and he exposed us to research from the Czech Republic that incorporated something called a rib-tac. And, this is my initial introduction to the world. The anatomy influences your brain directly. So, foramen magnum, not to get off track at all, is the hole where your spinal cord goes through and connects you to the brain ultimately. The positioning of that in 3D alone can impede your vagus nerve because it's going to go through interventions of the vagus nerve. It's pretty crazy. So, when we look at the diaphragm now, the rib-tac is going to allow that to have a normal rhythm, if you will. And, the rib-tac was the first manual technique I was exposed to that directly influenced the vagus nerve. We see this all the way through small intestine changes because we're going to see blood rush to the gut as well as cardiac and respirations per minute. So, the heart and lungs as well, which are the three caveats to the vagus nerve being turned on.
So, I was like, “Wow, there's a whole world of this stuff.” And, I've been able to migrate and navigate my way around to finding sternocleidomastoid and anterior neck techniques, as well as super occipital nerve and greater trochlear nerve techniques that do the same thing. So, we can kind of look at this axial skeleton from the belly button up as an opportunity to change the vagus nerve. And, it's not a coincidence that that's actually where it travels through in our body.
Ben: That's interesting.
Not that I want to put you out of a job or anything, Andy, but let's say somebody's sitting at home and they're like, well, I want to learn a few of these tactics, I could maybe self-inflict on myself before I go to bed tell you whether it's the rib or the sternocleidomastoid or the temporal area or something like that to be able to kind of modulate the vagus nerve before sleep. Is there any resources or any particular tactics that you think would be useful that people could just try right away?
Andrew: So, the cool thing is that all the typical meditative yoga-like tactics are attempting to poke at this. So, I'm a teacher and mentor by trade. That's mostly what I do besides this pro athlete stuff, I teach people things. So, my initial thought is just look at the anatomy and the muscles in the trunk and the thorax how they connect to your head and having understanding how when you breathe stuff is changing on both sides. And, if you can kind of imagine in your own head, we want ribs that go down and away and dissociate from our skull. As long as you can get into that anatomical position at all, you're going to start poking the bear at vagus nerve intervention much more. So, whether you're the type of person that wants to lay on the floor and meditate or maybe you want to do a walk or maybe you want to do some yoga or anything like that, getting into a position where you get slack at the back of your neck and where your skull is getting far away from your sternum, you're going to automatically poke at the bear here.
Ben: Let's say I were to keep a foam roller or something like that up in the bedroom or in an area where I wanted to do more vaginal nerve stimulation or some type of deep tissue therapy device, are there particular areas that you would target if you didn't have a practitioner like you there to actually work on the ribs or something like that?
Andrew: Totally. So, with the foam roller, what you can start by doing is laying on your back, toss your calves up on the couch or a table and put the foam roller at the bottom of your sacrum so that your spine rounds at the bottom. And, you can gain a little bit of length. Then, support the back of your head with a small pillow, a magazine, a notebook, and just breathe. Aim to getting long low and slow exhales with at least a 4 to 6-second pause before you inhale, but not a contractory like squeezing, holding-on-for-dear-life drowning pause, a true passive relaxed pause and just breathe in that cycle for quite a bit and you'll get at least 80 or more percent of all the stuff I just mentioned by doing that.
If you wanted to use a PEMF monitor, I've used the Omni PEMF brand and I know you've experienced with a couple of those as well. You can just kind of do something meditative in nature. Have that on and breathe in that same manner or even just kind of sit up and keep that same alignment and breathing slowly letting those ribs dissociate from the head. There's a lot more that you can do. Even just massaging the nerves in your eyebrows and stretching out your neck 360 degrees makes a huge difference.
Ben: What about deep tissue therapy for kind of the serratus and the rib muscles because there's one move that I'll do sometimes I have this thing called the Rumble Roller. You've seen that thing. It's the super hard roller with the ridges. And, I'll lay my body over it. If people want to see the video, you could go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/SuperBrain because I'm trying to demonstrate here while I'm walking on the treadmill. But, basically I'll lay my body over it and just roll the entire right side of the rib cage and kind of roll over as I get to the top. And, there's a ton of tightness and tenderness all along there in the serratus and the rib cage and then I'll move over and do the same thing on the left side doing five to six passes, so about two minutes on each side of the rib cage. And, it's even an area that I guess I've worked with a few roll firsts who will sometimes go deep into the ribs, but most massage therapists really aren't doing a lot of that like deep rib-tickling type of activity.
For me, when I do those rib rolls and then sometimes, I'll finish by just literally almost like a penguin going up and down on the foam roller from the sternum all the way down to the belly button and doing a few passes there, I feel incredibly relaxed after I've done something like that. Is there something to that technique of self-inflicted deep tissue work on the serratus muscles and the rib cage?
Andrew: 1 million percent. So, what's cool about that is you're attacking that, it's the same anatomical approach I just talked about; the ribs and sternum depressing and creating space from the occiput. You're looking at it and attempting it from a muscle length tension orientation standpoint by causing direct stress to the muscles and the nerves and motor units it intervenes with. You get Golgi tendon organs that shut off and you get length. The rib-tac is an anatomical manual technique that's inducing through a little bit of local hypoxia and anatomical changes manually the same Golgi tendon release. So, absolutely whether it's massaging underneath your pec minor and in your armpit and just down with your hands. RPR does an excellent job of just releasing the sternum and certainties key fascial landmarks with just oscillating knuckle bones and it actually works quite well.
Ben: What's RPR?
Andrew: RPR is, oh, I don't remember exactly what it stands for. I haven't attended anything from them. I just know a few friends who have gone, but their main claim the fame that I've seen through social media and everything else and friends who have been to it are their sternal and rib and neck-oriented releases where they just do intense oscillation to one of these fascial landmarks like your sternum. For example, we have a two torpedoes of fascia in our thorax, one on each side and then obviously a larger one where the actual skeleton superficially lies. But, the left and right have a little bit of their own fascial dynamics and they kind of meet in certain areas like the sternum where you can release both sides from the center. And, that's what they're looking to do there.
Ben: Okay, that's super interesting. RPR is just a manual therapy type of form. It's an acronym for some form of manual therapy.
What about the rib–are you saying rib-tac?
Andrew: Yes. What is that? That's the name of the technique from the Czech Republic.
Ben: Oh, okay. Are there videos that one could find online if they were to Google rib tack of what some of those techniques look like?
Andrew: Probably not videos, but you could still find the research papers. This comes from the Czech Republic in the '90s. Just look for manual changes to the diaphragm. I think Google Scholar is the best thing on the planet. Growing up coming through school, I'm sure it was the same everyone was all big on bibliographies, but just the lemon problem kind of dissipates with the internet. The more research and publications get out into the world, the less validity you have to things like that. So, you could have a conversation where you tell someone exactly what to research, the key terms and you use key things like parentheses or plus and minuses in your Google search box. And, you can actually find the paper faster almost than sorting through anyone's bibliography nowadays.
Ben: Yeah. And, it is rib-tac, R-A-B-E-T-A-C?
Andrew: I believe so. Yeah. Czech Republic 1990s. I'm not sure if that term will come up in your search engine because I don't know how search engines work with sorting through the paper. That's the term in the paper, but the title of the paper has to do with the manual restoration of the diaphragm.
Ben: Okay, cool. I'm starting to note to myself. I'll hunt down some links and put them in the shownotes for people.
I got to ask you, by the way, I'm going to disappear here for a second and reach down by my office. I was standing on these this morning while I was working and this kind of reminds me what you're talking about as far as vagal nerve activation and potential downregulation, some of the sympathetic activity. These things arrived at my house last night. It's this nail bed that you stand on that you would use is almost kind of an ice bath for the feet, for vagal nerve activation and it's a proprioceptive input. And, you've no doubt seen a lot of these acupressure mats and things like that the folks will lie on. What do you think about using that as a tactic to kind of downregulate sympathetic whether a nail bed or an acupressure mat or something like that?
Andrew: Mark had something similar to that when we did the podcast recently. I think it's essentially the modern-day grounding indoors. I just had a conversation and a consultation with someone earlier today who had vision problems where we talked about grounding and doing some vision training outside is a massive return on ROI for something that you could just do inside. These types of things, it's really the increase in afferent and efferent signaling through our hands and feet. That's the nature's way of ameliorating anxiety.
You can view anxiety as spilling over electrical input into brain areas that don't need to be active right now. And, mindfulness is using the five senses to quiet those. So, when you get outside and ground, obviously you're doing more than just getting afferent, efferent signaling from your feet, but additionally, you're getting light in all this stuff. But, let's say you're just at the desk or doing whatever, bringing something like that inside, I think, is honestly better than doing a whole stretching routine when you talk about return on investment per minute.
Ben: Yeah. You ever mess around the vagal nerve stimulators that they use as electrical input to the size of the neck or sometimes back behind the ears? They're typically these wearable devices that will vibrate or produce almost–very similar to almost like a TENS unit like a mild electrical sensation over the vagal nerve area.
Andrew: I haven't personally, but one of my best friends in the UK, Shane Jermaine has with tons of success, I've seen his biometrics and know his routines in life really well. He loves it. I've experimented with the PEMF monitors that go through actual vibrational frequencies that resonate but very similar concepts.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Those things are super interesting. They seem to relax you pretty well.
Now, related to anxiety that you mentioned. For you, how would you define where anxiety actually comes from? And, I think about this honestly because one thing that I talked with a guy named Dr. Peter Martone about several podcasts ago was he said that he'll relax himself and fall asleep a lot faster if he avoids future processing and thinks instead back to things that have happened in the past as almost the way to kind of shift a lot of activity in the frontal cortex, I suppose, away from that and away from dwelling upon the future making me kind of wonder your whole take on anxiety and future processing. Have you ever thought about that?
Andrew: 100%. So, we don't have a center in our brain for the future. The most sophisticated anticipatory center we have is probably the hypothalamus with anticipatory insulin secretion and stuff like that. And, we're looking at minutes to hours tops. You know what I mean? It's funny. When we talk about the best coaches that are just known, they're planning one to two, maybe three, four years tops in advance. Our ability as a human brain to go into the future is frankly trash, but our ability to be present is quite good.
So, if you look at anxiety from a philosophical perspective, a psychology-first perspective, I would say it's putting too much blood flow to future processing using centers that we don't have available for that. And, if I was to look at it from a neurological perspective, I would describe it electrically like I just did a few minutes ago being surplus electricity into unnecessary places in your brain. But, we're always coming back to the concept of white noise or sacrificing electricity and blood flow to the key brain areas for it being turned on in appropriate ones.
Ben: So, what do you do about that? Obviously, golfing has a great deal of potential for anxiety or panic to cause issues. I do a lot of bow hunting and shooting in archery. They talk a lot about the target panic issue where you're anxious right before you do a high-risk or very important activity.
What are your thoughts on management of anxiety and panic based on what you just described?
Andrew: The first thing I would tell anybody is recognize it's never going away, it's a good thing. And, even the best athletes on the planet, the best businessmen on the planet signing the biggest deals still experience it. And, just being at peace with that sometimes, sometimes because people a lot of support because it's easy to believe that, oh, the Walter Payton's of the world, they were never anxious. They just did what they did and they're tough blah, blah, blah. And, that's an appropriate mindset to have, but I promise you every single great athlete and businessman ever felt just as nervous, if not more nervous than you did. The difference was they had strategies and what I call buoys of objectivity to hang on to when they're in the ocean of anxiety drowning and they were just able to survive. So, when you have these anxious moments, the first thing you need to do is re-engage with the world around you from your five senses. Anxiety often has to do with losing touch especially that like term I just mentioned, is a golf term. It's losing touch of how hard these fine motor skills things are happening or we talk about it in wrestling too. Did you push someone so far that it actually negated the setup of what you were trying to do? The concept of touch goes a long way in every single sport across everything.
So, if you lose mindfulness, your five senses, your ability to interact with the world around you, you're inherently going to lose vision. Peripheral vision and behavioral decisions and the five senses are a little triangle, if you will, in their ability to function. So, being aware and accepting, being mindful and present are the two easiest concepts to chase after. If you want to do something, maybe pull out a few arm hairs or just lightly and gently stroke your hand and give yourself a light sensation. I talk about the world's smallest violin. Rubbing your thumb nail over the little fingerprint ridges of your index finger and force yourself to feel that. It's going to bring you to present because that future driven perception is certainly what's driven in anxiety.
Ben: How do you tackle the idea of visualization and motor imagery? And, I've come across a ton of really interesting research lately on kind of those old, was it the psychosomatic books, the inner game of golf or the inner game of tennis where you could actually improve your stroke or improve your performance by using mental imagery, and as we all know probably most notably with the story of Michael Phelps, a swimmer, get visualized like the individual drops of water coming off his goggles. You say that we have a very difficult time future processing or imagining what would happen in the future. I imagine that's a little bit different than visualizing what it is that you want to accomplish or an ideal performance metric. So, how do you deal with visualization? Is that something that you think is actually useful?
Andrew: 100% of the research proves it is and there's a balance between spatial ability that's the skill to participate in visualizations and the quality of the visualization drill itself. You need to be skillful enough. So, when we look at what that is, on simplest terms, it's like Rubik's Cubes. Can you do it in your head? Do you know what to do next? Can you see in 3D if we go from white to red or whatever's on the other side? That spatial abilities as a skill and it's the most rudimentary sense. It's how can you manipulate these things in 3D in your head.
Now, when you add that to Michael Phelps's visualization drill that we just talked about, you're actually decreasing the need to anticipate in the future because you're seeing right here in the present what you believe is about to happen because we understand that faith and belief are inherently actually tied to reality. You would love to believe that there's no research behind faith, prayer, and hugs, but there is very legitimate research behind all three of those things we've seen. So, not only are you using an actual tangible skill, you're actually able to process something that's about to happen better and get ready for it better because you have inherent belief that it's about to happen.
Ben: So, from a practical standpoint, how do you use visualization or use it with your athletes or your clients?
Andrew: So. right away, 100% no matter what, you're starting a spatial skill training regime. And, that's separate from visualization. In my head, I think of visualization as being your sport-specific training and spatial skills are your GPP. So, every single day no matter what, you're going to do some type of spatial game that challenges your ability to manipulate scenes in 3D in your head. Then, we're going to do some sports psychology work, conversing, getting to know your athlete self, and create specific visualizations that help you deal with the negative performance-related things that can pop up on the field.
So, it's maybe you realize that you just get fast and aggressive in periods of time where you don't need to be. We're going to practice a visualization drill that involves speeding up and slowing down time. So, maybe you see the drop of water come really slowly off Michael Phelps's goggle. And then, once it leaves the goggle, back to real-time. So, there's a dual training modality that I kind of bring to the table when we talk about training an athlete's brain.
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You ever use visualization, I guess, for a non-high performance athlete? Let's say the average person going to the gym, hitting the weights, just pursuing better health and fitness in general from preventive standpoint. Anything that you would use with visualization when it comes to those type of folks who might think this is just for the pro athletes?
Andrew: Yeah. I use a drill that I call the chalk outline drill and I force you to be able to manipulate your brain's face related to what you're doing. So, maybe you have a real issue with lower back on deadlifts but literally nothing else in your back never hurts. We could approach that from a neurology perspective and look, you've had so many hippocampal memories associated with this part of your sensory motor cortex that we have substance P just kind of slip into this motor pattern now because it's happened so many times. So, what I want you to do is make this chalk outline and envision the lower back portion of your chalk outline in a calming purple or blue and allow yourself to disengage feelings of vigilance, aggression, pain, or whatever negative. You have pent up in that low back. Then, open your eyes, get ready, and perform a successful deadlift and then do it again back and forth until that pain degrades.
Ben: Interesting. Part of the performance piece that you hear thrown around a lot that I'm sure you've come across is this idea of getting into the flow state. Do you work with that much as far as practical ways to increase someone's ability to be able to get into flow state?
Andrew: Yeah. It's fun for me because you have to reverse-engineer it. Where the research ends on flow state is the different flow state for different people and different sports. I've kind of come to my own categorization of we have dopamine- and norepinephrine-driven flow states for individuals. Some rare people do both, but people are usually one or the other. The type of person where it's having your best friend there, the euphoria of your friends and I made it, that ignites the ultimate performances in you. And, we see these people are anticipatory in nature just like dopamine tends to be.
But, we also see people that function under the “I need to get punched in the face first and then I'm amazing” mindset. These are the norepinephrine people because when we look at Adderall drug studies, we see norepinephrine always comes to the party late. And, that's because it's a constituent of dopaminergic activation. So, what we're really looking at is some people slip into flow state because “slip into” is actually the terminology they use in the research because that's what happens. Some people slip into flow state as things are beginning. And, the environment related to it causes it to them. And, some people attain flow state after that's already begun and they've stabilized. And, norepinephrine as neurotransmitter has to do with focus. These tend to be your somewhat aggressive, stoic face, very kind of goal-oriented individuals where the dopamine people tend to be the types of carefree fun-loving flow state individuals.
Ben: Yeah. Oh, I'm totally norepinephrine. For me to get into the flow state, I got to be in a lot of pain, under a lot of pressure or having been engaged in the activity for at least 15 to 20 minutes before I really get into that alpha state where everything's starting to feel easy. Is that pretty typical for a norepi?
Andrew: 100%. You see this whether it's baseball, football, or golf, this is the guy that needs to strike out once to hit a home run, the guy that needs to bogey the first hole, the guy that needs to have a shit first half so that he can bounce back and have a killer second, third and fourth half. There's pros and cons to everything, right? So, we see the norepinephrine people tend to have less control over their flow state because they're typically responding to something that needs to happen; whereas, we see dopamine people oftentimes have work capacity and behavior efficiency issues like, oh that could have been a layup but you went in for a slam dunk from 8 feet out when you just didn't need to. You needed to take a bunch of caffeine and get all hyped up and get crazy sweaty just to actually ignite what you need to do. All these different things play into the strategies that you nutritionally training-wise and psychologically need to employ, even supplement-wise.
Ben: Yeah, yeah.
And, I want to talk about supplements at some point because I know you have some very unique angles on that. But, what about breathwork? You mess around with breathwork much with your athletes?
Andrew: Tons. The awesome thing about breathwork–I'm a big allostasis guy, meaning homeostasis has to do with the seven key variables that will essentially kill you if they come out of whack, stuff you'd expect; blood pH, oxygen, calcium in the myocardium, all the things you just never mess with. That's homeostasis. So, it's actually a much smaller world. Allostasis makes room for everything else adaptationally, emotionally under the sun, and everything that's kind of related to being altered defended states. Meaning the what-if scenarios.
So, you can think of it as like the 80-20 rule, 80% allostasis, 20% homeostasis. The awesome thing about breast work is actually successfully plays on homeostasis. No matter how you breathe, we're going to maximize oxygen efficiency and utilization the best way we can. If you breathe through your mouth, it's kind of driving that Ferrari where you're able to get a ton of oxygen influx and you're going to need to be able to utilize these large changes. That's why mouth breathing and sharp exhales in boxing and fighting are always correlative with high amounts of force production and being sharp; whereas, nasal breathing, you're straight up getting less oxygen in. So, it's correlated with low blood pressure, efficiency of oxygen uptake, phosphodiesterase enzymes. All these cool things on both ends are actually trainable through breathwork in fact.
Ben: Now, is there any particular form of breath work that you like that you favor whether it's Wim Hof or alternate nostril or anything like that or you use multiple tactics?
Andrew: I think they're all circle goes with circle, triangle goes with triangle stuff. If you want to improve how much force you can produce on exhale and you notice that when you exhale hard, you just go, kind of that quintessential old person we hear in our head. It's like, eesh, you need some help with your sympathetic interventions. Maybe we're going to do Wim Hof breathing and try to get a manly forceful exhale out of you sometimes or maybe you're the opposite, maybe you're the person that, for the love of God, you cannot get out of a hyperventilatory state. That means you can't decrease the legitimate pressure on your vessels enough to slow hemodynamics and everything flowing through your blood down. So, you should probably be the person to practice nasal breathing. So, it's more what do you want to change, what wire goes where to get what you want.
Ben: Yeah. It sounds to me maybe you could use heart rate variability as a self-quantifying method to kind of look at your sympathetic parasympathetic balance then choose more of a stimulatory form or a more relaxing form of breathwork depending on how you happen to be wired generally or wired for that given day.
Andrew: Totally. Let's say you do the hardest workout ever. And, whenever we talk about difficulty in training sessions, I always instantly think multi-variables. So, it's not just creatine, not just heavy breathing, not just aerobic, it's some form of the three is what everyone says is hard. So, let's say you did something crazy like that and your HRV actually went up the next day, you're probably someone who could benefit from some Wim Hof breathing. If something that sympathetic and that difficult, obviously HRV values are an algorithm but pretty much made you “healthier” in a sense, you probably need some more of that in your life. Whereas, maybe one bad night of sleep or even just missing out on an hour of sleep absolutely trashes your HRV, you should probably be of relaxed meditation nasal breathing guy because our palms does a really great job of autoregulating sleep. So, if missing one hour actually quantifiably messed up your HRV score, that's probably where you should put your effort.
Ben: Okay. So, basically looking at sympathetic versus parasympathetic dominance. It sounds to me like what you're saying is that if you find yourself excited or stabilized by high-intensity activities, then maybe more of that stimulating breath work would be beneficial for you; whereas, if you find yourself just super triggered and stressed out by those type of activities, maybe more of a relaxed parasympathetic breathwork approach.
Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. It's just back in the day looking at fiber type dynamics to figure out how you should train. Charles Poliquin was big into that. It's just looking at your individual specificity and then properly supplementing whether it's training, breathwork, vitamins, whatever with your individual specificity.
Ben: Okay, that makes sense.
Now, stepping back big picture, I mean, this might be asking somebody who holds a hammer whether or not the world looks like a male, but how true is it this idea that the brain kind of runs everything from a pattern or a habit cycle? And, do you have any examples of how it is that the brain is so in control if it is?
Andrew: I think you could say that accurately for two reasons. One, there's no behavioral enzymes in your muscles. So, just geographically and real estate-wise, it is running the show. It doesn't mean that it could run the show without the muscles, but just as far as where all the important employees, all the important employees are up north is what I call it; north or south of the neck. Up north of the neck just happens to be where most of the important employees, business buildings, all that stuff lives.
Now, you could also say that because there's plenty of cool research studies that show us its cortical areas of your brain being inhibited or disinhibited that really modulates behavior and you can't step too far outside of that. So, for example, we have famous research that was done with legitimately meth and they were put in a doctor's office waiting while on meth double-blind, they didn't know they took meth, put in a doctor's office waiting and the doctor was never going to show up. There was one other person with them in the doctor's office. And, in both independent variables, one of them was so happy with the doctor. “This guy is just amazing. I'll wait for him for three days if I have to. He's the best doctor ever.” And, the person on meth reciprocated that behavior. They were more than happy to sit there. Then, on the other independent variable group, it was very agitated. The person was banging at the door. “This guy's a scumbag. He's always late. He's not worth it.” The person on meth also reciprocated that behavior.
Now, it's a little convoluted to initially deconstruct in your head, but recreational drugs, something as potent as meth is just going to promote whatever is instinctually going to happen. It's going to make you less hesitant and it's going to make you just kind of go with the flow easier. Now, what it shows is that when that amygdala is turned on because of the environment and your amygdala in any area is going to be sensitive when you're on recreational drugs, it's going to automatically incite aggressive behavior. Whereas, in the other one, we're inciting our anterior cingulate, which is a really important part of the prefrontal cortex where empathy is specifically processed. So, it's more that, we can take, oh, what was his name? I'm forgetting the old story where in the 1800s, the miner who gets the rod, metal rod through his frontal cortex.
Ben: Phineas Gage, that guy?
Andrew: Yes, Phineas Gage. We don't know how true they are, but the stories were his wife always said he was the most docile amazing guy ever. They had a perfect marriage. After this tragic incident which no one thought he was going to survive which also shows us how cool the brain is, he literally had an iron rod go through perfectly the front of his frontal cortex obviously and it changed his behavior because his frontal cortex obviously was atrophied and died neurologically because of the metal rod. So, his amygdala took over as his primary behavioral complex. And, I actually believe not only did he die young of essentially high blood pressure symptoms, he actually divorced his life and everything was terrible at home after that even though he was medically fine.
Ben: It's kind of interesting because the way I think about this about the brain being in control, and I'd be actually super curious to hear your thoughts on this is I can have a massive breakfast totally go outside the norm of my normal calorie-controlled smoothie and take my sons out for waffles and eggs or whatever like 10:00 a.m. for a late big 2,000-calorie breakfast. But, like clockwork, I'll get hungry at about 1:30, my normal eating time, no matter whether or not I've had a big breakfast, small breakfast, fasted, whatever, just hungry at 1:30, that makes me think that the increase in hormones in the gut and the pancreatic enzyme output and all that isn't necessarily in charge and that there's something going on with insulin in the brain or some of these ghrelin or leptin hormones or something like that. Is there something to that idea?
Andrew: 100% whether it's the chicken or the egg scenario that we see people that are obese over time have hypothalamic signaling issues or hypothalamic signaling issues cause you to be more easily obese. We know for sure that it's hypothalamic signaling that is responsible for the amount of insulin you anticipatorily secrete and if you can do so or not. So, if you could follow that quick sentence or two, that also tells us it's trainable. You've trained yourself at 1:30 through your discipline over time to have that hypothalamic response and the sensitivity of your hypothalamus can directly be correlated to the metabolic flexibility you have.
Ben: Okay, that makes sense.
And, by the way, this makes me think, I got to ask you about this. What do you think about people who say you only use 10% of your brain? Not the people but the theory.
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. So, it's funny. If you wanted to be a con artist, you could kind of potentially sway something saying like, “oh, well, so much of this automatically happens,” blah, blah, blah. But, in fact, it's just still wrong. The brain is the most efficient organ on Earth period. It's not even close. Our liver is quite amazing especially when we look at what happens to your liver with exogenous growth hormone on research studies when they correlate the liver changes. Even with PED subjects in research, it's always muscle cell, hepatic or prostate, and the brain, and they measure all the stuff together. The liver is an amazing organ, amazing. It is not even a third of is miraculous as what the brain can do. So, in fact, we use 300% of our brain. The mass and the neurons in our brain alone is not enough to describe how cool and how advanced the things that actually go on up there are.
Ben: Yeah. I love the idea and I came across this a few months ago about the actual increase in metabolic rate, calorie burn, and glucose burn even you're engaged in high-intensity mental activities such as chess or working hard on a project, you actually upregulate brain metabolism pretty significantly in terms of either glucose or ketone utilization. So, it just goes to show that organ is definitely used a lot, right?
Andrew: 100%. It's funny. I used to be quite competitive and strong man and I'm hoping the next year or two, I can have a couple of one or two more fun stabs at the high level. But, just like you, I always have my nutrition in check. I keep tabs. I like to know what's going on. And, the days where I'm coaching, in-person, whether it's for golf or whatever professional sport, I'm not eating much less to recover from it, maybe less than 5, 10%, than I was recovering from Strongman competitions and stuff. It's pretty crazy the amount of food I need to eat after being emotionally invested in watching. And, obviously walking a ton is the same as putting my body through the ringer in a competition for the most part.
Ben: Oh, yeah. I mean, my family knows after I've had a morning of podcasting, half of which is walking a treadmill talking with super smart people like you trying to keep up with them that they better be the first to grab the food at the dinner table buffet because I'm coming up and I'm punishing a lot of food for dinner after a day of podcasting. And, I don't think it's just due to the physical activity. I think it's part of the mental activity as well.
And, yeah, when it comes to fueling the brain, you sent me your fantastic new book on nootropics, which if it's out in time for this podcast I'll link to it at BenGreenfieldLife.com/SuperBrain. You talk about certain things in there, one of which I think a lot of people be familiar with such as choline, you talk about noopept, which I'd love to hear you touch on because that's one that perhaps not as many people know about. But, you have some really interesting ideas when it comes to particularly supplement stacks and nutrients for mental performance. So, this might rabbit hole a little bit, but can you talk to me about some of your favorite nootropics or your general approach when it comes to nootropics or smart drugs?
Andrew: My general philosophy here is ameliorate inhibition first. Hit the gas pedal second. What I've seen from just prescribing things and recommending things to people over time is that the amount of performance increase you can get from stopping, shooting yourself in the foot, whether it's conscious or not, it's just so much greater than the amount of increase in performance you can get through pushing yourself further over time. Especially because most of the time when I talk to people like this are highly motivated individuals who are already pushing themselves so far. So, the reason I love nootropics and their effectiveness is because the same way if, I know a lot of people who listens are super intelligent, when they see the breakdown of putting the amino acid is you have your amine group, your nitrogen group, your ribose group, we have groupings together that allow us to say something is x. So, if you see a brand new molecule is formed and it's like, well, we don't know what it is but it has an amine group, it has our nitrogen, it has our ribose, we could probably plump this under amino acids eventually. Nootropics have an antioxidant function that's necessity to call it a nootropic. They also need to have some type of association between some cortical area being turned on and all cortical areas being turned on reciprocally shut something else off.
Ben: So, that's your definition of a nootropic, those two variables?
Andrew: Yup. And, they always encompass a perk. So, there's always something special about this guy versus this guy, right? So, when I look at picking a nootropic, I want to make sure that we're using the antioxidant for the right reason, bolstering the immune system. I want to make sure we're targeting the right brain areas. And lastly, I want to make sure that I'm picking this for a synergistic reason. I think one of the coolest ones is emoxypine succinate is my favorite form of it.
Ben: Emoxypine succinate like S-U-C-C-I-N-A-T-E?
Andrew: Yup, exactly. Emoxypine is cool because its antioxidant properties actually impact cyclooxygenase genes through prostaglandins. So, similar to Advils. We've seen it in research actually be the first nootropic that can be used for mechanical lumbar non-specific low back pain and reducing it successfully. But, it's cool because it's acting on the brain. Emoxypine is also going to drive blood flow to the vagus nerve and the capillaries in the eyes, which is really, really cool. And, it's got tons of other small little perks as far as altering the Gaba receptors and acetylcholine interceptors. So, it's got this widespread conglomerate; whereas, noopept also has the antioxidant portion but it's doing it in a different manner. It's relieving glutamate toxicity, which is excess calcium.
Now, when we look at the brain cortical area function, noopept is biased to the sensory-motor cortex and Broca, Wernicke, and our arcuate fasciculus or our speech motor areas too. And, its perk is that it really does a great job of incorporating memories via the hippocampus with these two areas. So, there are two compounds that are similar in what they do but also vastly different at the same time. And, that's why in my mind's proper categorization of antioxidant plus brain plus a perk.
Ben: Based on the slight differences between emoxypine succinate and noopept, would you potentially stack the two?
Andrew: You easily could. And, that's what also makes it in my mind a proper definition for categorizing nootropics because they can be in the same category but be different enough that you could easily use them for the same day twice, different parts of the day and have no inhibition or interference, or you could take them at the same time and they end up being synergistic, which means they are properly placed in this category.
Ben: Now, it's my understanding that both of those would, to a certain extent, potentially deplete the brain's choline levels more quickly. And, correct me if I'm wrong on that, but based on that, would it be wise too if you're taking a nootropic or a smart drug supplement with additional choline in some form?
Andrew: Yeah. And, they do and that's the same thing as saying exercise improves glycogenolysis, the release of glycogen from a cell. It's like, well, yeah, because that's what we're paying for it with. You pay for lifting weights with glucose straight up, whether it's from your liver or your mouth food, or store it in a muscle cell. That's just how you pay for lifting weights is with glucose. We pay our communication brain to brain, neuron to neuron, and even neuron to muscle with choline. So, it is wise whether it's so little that you just ate a couple of eggs that were good quality and you only want it or needed a little bit or we're looking at an acetylcholine donor like ACAR or Alpha-GPC, which is raw choline. It's usually worth your money especially because acetylcholine products are typically pretty cheap.
Ben: Yeah. ACAR is carnitine. I've heard some things about a lot of folks really getting into injectable forms of carnitine. What do you think of that and what will be the efficacy of something like that?
Andrew: So, acetylene-L-carnitine is super different from the injectable carnitine.
Andrew: View it as acetyl-L-carnitine is going to be the carnitine up north, north of the neck active in the brain. The carnitine you inject is fully myotropically and biologically active. Not so much as far as your actual brain stuff. It'll cause some norepinephrine but it's not like it's actually intervening the same way. So, oral carnitine typically does not work well in the muscles in biology. Acetyl-L-carnitine goes up in the brain and it allows for acetyl group reformation. So, when we use up acetylcholine in the synapse, we have an acetate group left over and we can actually recycle choline with a new acetate group. So, acetylcholine production is actually a little smoother with fresh new acetate that we can cleave off the carnitine upstairs.
Ben: So, you could potentially, if you were really pushing your brain or even using nootropics or smart drugs, do something like take alpha-GPC and acetyl-L-carnitine and both of those would help to replenish the brain's fuel levels a little bit more readily?
Andrew: Yup, that's how we talk about increasing time to fatigue. When they say creatine monohydrate increases time to fatigue, eating carbohydrates before the gym, taking caffeine, all typically in what they do it's called TTF, increases time to fatigue. That means you can participate longer before you have to stop participating.
Andrew: It doesn't mean that you break down differently. You just go longer for the same amount of money spent if you will.
Ben: And, what would be the main benefits of the injectable carnitine?
Andrew: Now, injectable carnitine is doing what the research typed up oral carnitine to do originally. It's going to go from transporting fatty acids to allowing more fatty acids to be liberated from cells to promoting glycogen sparing, which means you could do a little bit more work and save like it sounds glycogen a little more. You can use those fatty acids a little more. You can participate in glycolysis for longer at higher heart rates. That type of stuff.
Speaking of glycogen sparing or increased fat utilization, I think it was you I heard talking about this idea that a very surprising number of ultra-marathoners and endurance athletes not only will sometimes use something like THC for either some of the pain-killing or the focus-enhancing effects but possibly also LSD for its shift to the body in the beta-oxidation or something like that. Is that true? Is it actually something that's beneficial for endurance athletes, LSD?
Andrew: Probably the most common [01:00:35] _____, but everyone in the ultra-marathoning world, maybe they don't all use it the day of but they've used it at some point because the potential for extreme aerobic adaptations that intervene with something that happens at LSD at an incredibly low dose. Even sub-microdose, sub-therapeutic dosing is the research term. Meaning you would take such little of it and you won't even theoretically notice its activity. But, when we see it present, two cool things happen. Through LSD's dopamine and dopamine receptor-driven environment, we get more protein kinase A, which allows us to do more of actual ADP to ATP, the actual making and recycling of energy. It's facilitating that through dopamine. What's even cooler is through serotonergic receptors, it's fostering phospholipase A and C activity differently. Phospholipase A is essentially going to cleave it in a position where you get rid of the backbone and have one free fatty acid attached to it still and you just have another one that's free-floating afterwards because we can have two fatty acids attached to a full what we call a triacyl glycerol. That's the full big-ass fatty acid. You're going to have two that get liberated and one's going to hang on.
Serotonin via LSD novelly favors phospholipase C. Phospholipase C is really novel because it's going to be kind of the inverse. We're going to have the tail, which is glycerol base completely separated from the free fatty acids. So, we're going to get all of these free fatty acids at once to be used for ATP recycling and they'll also be used right away because of what I just said about protein kinase A. So, it's just novel and that you can't really take another supplement, especially saying it's just one supplement to do that and it's novel in the sense of how essential that mechanism is for super physiological running. If you're running even a 10K, you could do this on your own. But, if you're trying to do some crazy stuff, it's something you realistically can't get anywhere else to be honest.
Ben: Yeah, theoretically from a glycogen-sparing effect then, you've already named three things that particularly for endurance might be beneficial, the injectable L-carnitine, lysergamide, like LSD. And then, the one that I think of is potentially something like ketone esters, which of course also have a pretty significant glycogen-sparing effect and some good mental application as well. Have you messed around with those much?
Andrew: Yeah. Well, you could do all three of those at the same time in fact for ultra-marathon running because glycogen sparing is a biological skill if you will. And, every skill you want to train in the gym or in life, you can skin that cat in multiple vectors. And, what makes a truly effective protocol is you can use multiple supplements to impact one vector properly and make 1 plus 1 equals 3. So, when you do maybe a low-dose carnitine with a 20-microgram dose of LSD, which again is sub-therapeutic, you'll never feel it, with a little bit of ketone ester and you're already obviously fat adapted whether you're keto or not you just use fatty acids very well, that's going to be an insanely potent way of running really, really far while liberating minimal liver glycogen.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's pretty rare that I've had a microdose 10 to 20 micrograms of LSD and not had a fantastic workout afterwards. Of course, you need to be very careful with dosing, it's very easy to overdose. I happen to have a jar of liquid. It's actually LSA, not LSD. I actually think LSA gives you a little bit more of a stable mood when using but one ounce of that is the equivalent of about 10 micrograms of LSA. And, I once mixed it improperly resulting in 1 ounce being 100 micrograms. And, I sometimes do some deep thinking during my evening massages and I took an ounce and laid down on the massage table at about a half hour into the massage, felt as though it was going insane and of course had these complex geometric figures forming inside my head and finish up the massage and went up and laid by my wife in bed. And, I kept saying, “Babe, I think I'm going insane. Every time I close my eyes, I'm seeing cartoons.” And yeah, so you definitely want to be careful with something as potent as that as would be the case with, I think, any of this kind of plant medicine type of compounds.
But, that actually leads me something I want to ask you, what about things like DMT, psilocybin, some of these popular things that folks are claiming to be using for neuroplasticity, mental performance, et cetera? Any application for that in a similar novel fashion is something you describe the LSD for?
Andrew: I think it's a perfect time to bring it up especially because now because of what we talked about so far, we can talk about, is it neuroplastic or not? Is it a true nootropic or is it nootropic-like effect which you saw me go quite in depth to into the book because I believe that delineation matters? Everything has a use, but we have to be very specific about why we think it's working.
So, the psilocybin is not a nootropic. It has nootropic-like effect, which is still excellent but it's not in itself a nootropic. What you can aim to do with any of these types of new wave behavior modulating compounds even though they're not new but they're seen as new for the purpose, these new wave compounds, if you will, what they're doing is they're giving you a novelty response that you might not normally get through having blood and electricity in a key brain area that's not normally there. And, you really can't find an environment besides traveling to a brand-new place; getting married, you'd have to do something that big to induce a response similar to a psilocybin microdose. So, that's why they're novel tools. You can use it to overcome traumas and to do all this stuff, but it would be through a different mechanism than using noopept to overcome a trauma.
So, let's say you have a fear-based response in my world of sports, every time I set up to do x, I just get this rush of fear and anxiety and that's not me. Noopept would allow you to get a better hippocampal response to success and drilling it properly; whereas, psilocybin would alleviate the emotional response to it. You'd be able to be there mindfully better and dissociate from that memory. So, one's a lot more hard and tangible and the other is more metaphysical. They're both incredibly useful but they're totally different avenues to get to the same end outcome.
Ben: Okay. So, could you therefore say that some of these things that present the novel stimuli to the brain such as DMT or psilocybin could be paired quite well with tasks of creativity learning or memory to enhance your ability to be able to engage in those tasks?
Andrew: I think in my mind, that's the only use for them because if you just take it and do nothing, I mean, sure, it might be fun to chill out, but if you wanted to chill out, you could have done something else. You know what I mean?
Ben: What about kratom? What are your thoughts on kratom?
Andrew: I like kratom. I'm very sensitive to stimulus, so kratom is an awesome opportunity to drive glutamate in a not-so-brutal fashion for me, but I think it's a lot more potent than people think. I don't think it's anecdotally in behavior as close to an opioid, but when we look at what it's actually doing, it is relatively close. I think kratom's an awesome tool because the problem with opioids is they're so much more detrimental to work with than LSD. LSD is just mass. But, worst case scenario, I mean, even if you took 200 micrograms of LSD, you're not going to die. Yeah, sure, you'll have a bad time but you'll be fine. You know what I mean? Not that it won't be psychologically brutal, but there's just no risk there. However, if you accidentally mess up the math on an opioid, you're dead.
Ben: With kratom, I think something that some people might not know about is it seems to have some enhancement of sexual performance or particularly the ability of a guy to get hard. And, I've seen the same set of something called inositol triphosphate. Is that actually true? And, if so, what exactly is going on there?
Andrew: It's true, I'll say that. So, the paradox is when we have something like kratom, we're getting sympathetic. And, this is using them in the wrong terms. You're getting excitatory through what's typically a non-excitatory need. The GABA receptor has a U-shaped function in behavior, meaning low activation of the GABA receptor will make you sleepy. Medium to high levels of the GABA receptor will put you up through the roof even cardiovascularly and then omega, mega, mega dose is going to put you right to bed again.
So, what we see happening with something like kratom is it's putting you in a really optimal range as a male for excitatory activation neurochemically, but it's not putting you over the edge from an adrenal or glucocorticoid aspect or from a blood pressure aspect. For a guy to get super hard, you need an excited brain and a chill blood pressure, which is easier said than done. And, that's why kratom ends up being such a good supplement for that pair.
Ben: Okay, got you, versus something like say nicotine which we call vasoconstriction increased blood pressure but the simultaneous increase in the risk of something like erectile dysfunction because of the blood pressure effects?
Andrew: 100%, but the funny part about sexual supplementation is it's incredibly individual. If you're someone that has a problem with getting erect and finishing too soon, you would take the wrong supplements to get the sexual performance you want. In that case, you actually want a little bit of caffeine to inhibit it just enough so that you last more than 90 seconds.
Ben: Right. If you want to go longer, you take a sympathetic nervous system stimulant that could potentially cause vasoconstriction or a slight rise in blood pressure.
Andrew: Yes, just to extend it.
Ben: That makes sense. What about the refractory period about coming back again after an orgasm or something like that? Is anything one could do to decrease the refractory period of time?
Andrew: So, there's obviously an ATP cost. What's funny is sperm actually run on what's called GTP. It's a slightly different energy source, but something that agonizes sex hormones with glucose tends to go really well for this as far as pure energy mobilization. But, that's not the big problem, the big problem is what happens when you finish. Was it so depolarizing to these sexual brain areas that the amount of electrical stimulation needed is crazy high now or was simply because we just had a rushing of excitation to the nerves that intervene with you coming? There's a difference.
So, not to be crude, but if you just yank on yourself long enough and you're hard enough, you'll come eventually just because you were there long enough. Whereas, if something was so mind-blowing, that's a very different finishing of the orgasm. And, that's what you need to identify. If it was something that was just on the mind-blowing end, that's so depolarizing, it messes with the chemical electrochemical gradients to get that thing going again. So, that would have to do with taking something that agonizes sexual desires, maybe a Sabroxy, so oroxylin A, maybe a kratom because that can do that as well.
Ben: PT-141 would be another one that comes to mind.
Andrew: Exactly, exactly, that type of stuff. It's a true desire-driven, but if it was just chemically driven, like I said, you were just yanking on it for 78 minutes, it's just going to happen eventually. That's going to have to do with just going full circle with your cardiac cycle.
Ben: Yeah. That's interesting that you say that about the GPT and the phosphate groups responsible for part of the refractory period mechanisms kind of makes me think because it just anecdotally if I've had a high amount of carbohydrates say for dinner and in making love afterwards, I've noticed a significant reduction that refractor period possibly because of what you've just described from a macronutrient glucose standpoint as far as the refractive period goes. What about phosphate groups? Things like creatine phosphate or I think you've talked about inositol triphosphate before, anything to be said for that as far as something like sexual performance is concerned?
Andrew: Especially you were on a specifically low-carb diet for whatever reason.
Andrew: That was a great way to turn that around because the hypothalamic response with whether it's exogenous or endogenous insulin takes care of a lot of those phosphate groups for you, especially if you're eating a high carbohydrate whole food meal. The beauty is that it's taken care of for you. But, let's say you're specifically on a low-carb diet and you want to look into something like that, creatine phosphate through whatever supplement you want is going to support that along with methyl donors. A little bit of folate, a little bit of P5P, trimethylglycine. Anything like that could also be beneficial.
Ben: Interesting, interesting. For those who are trying to keep up, I'll take some copious notes and put them in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife/SuperBrain because I know we're covering a lot here at a pretty rapid pace. But, what about the microbiome. Do you take that into account much when it comes to, of course, the gut-brain access and particular hacks or nutrients or things that folks could use to modulate the microbiome in such a way that it either decreases distractibility or ADD-like symptoms, which some people talk about being a gut issue or increases mental performance in general?
Andrew: Yeah. It tends to be a criterion-based thing. It's funny because I think I'm kind of instituted as the brain guy a lot of times. I don't think there's anything more complicated than the bacterial microbiome. And, we have a skin microbiome, a mouth microbiome, a sexual microbiome for your organs, which is different than the local skin on your quad, which is different than your gut. We have intestinal microbiome, which is different than your gut microbiome. So, the bacterial world is super, super not my forte, but I know enough to tell you that if you take care of kefir fermented foods, have them in your diet often, you'll more than the 80-20 rule. You'll have pretty much everything you need. What seems to be the deal with bacterial biomes as a whole is their resistance to change. So, an unhealthy biome is going to encompass any new bacteria into the biome with [01:15:29] _____ low exposure and it's now as part of the biome.
“Strong biome,” it's almost like it has a powerful shield where you can be exposed to streptococcus and it's not part of your biome now, it's not going to get into the cells because we know that the way you get viruses is through mRNA, tRNA, basically DNA transferring from the bacterial cell to your cells. So, the microbiome as a whole is your shield really to the world around you and the gut seems to be the central governor of all the biomes. So, if you take care of that and notice that you don't get sick often, you can eat high carbohydrate or low carbohydrate meals or just high calorie, low calorie or shit food/good food meals and has minimum dysregulation in skin, HRV, energy, et cetera, like smell of your sweat even is correlative, then you're good enough to not worry too much.
Ben: I don't know if you ever heard of Dr William Davis. He wrote a book, I think it's called “Super Gut.” I had a fantastic interview with him about this yogurt that he uses for a wide variety of issues managing cardiovascular disease, modulating the microbiome, improving sleep, increasing oxytocin levels, et cetera. And, it's basically a 36-hour fermentation recipe without a goat's milk or cow's milk or there's a plant-based option with coconut milk, but he uses primarily a significant amount of L-reuteri probiotic and seems to just swear by that. And, during our podcast, he talked a lot about its impact on mental stability, mental performance, and decrease in ADD and ADHD-like symptoms.
Have you looked into L-reuteri or this Dr. William Davis guy at all?
Andrew: I've heard of Dr William Davis. I haven't read the book, but I'll definitely tune into that episode. Lactobacillus reuteri is actually the only commonality amongst children on the autism spectrum disorder realm. So, it's such a wide spectrum of things. There's really only three variables that we tend to see repeat: lactobacillus reuteri, glutathione production endogenously by the liver, and oxytocin production by the brain cerebrally. Lactobacillus reuteri is the strongest correlations. It's pretty much every single kid on the spectrum, not that they're all kids, they turn to adults eventually, but you get what I mean. Every single person on the spectrum whether they're 99% high functioning and 0.01% not or the autistic children who benefit from charities tend to be on the lower functioning scale because they need the most help. Everyone on that spectrum and everywhere in between is close to 100% deficient in lactobacillus reuteri.
Andrew: And, the correlations are just not as strong although still strong with ADHD, but I mean, you know research well enough. For someone to say 99 or 100%, that's basically stone in fact. It's really impossible to get that value.
Ben: Yeah. Well, I'm going to keep eating my 36-hour fermented yogurt. I throw a little gelatin in there, a little grass-fed gelatin at the end. It gets all thick and creamy almost like jello. It's so good. It's creamy reuteri rich jello. So, it's one of my favorite ways to snack. Do that with a little bit of dark chocolate and dessert before bed. It's amazing.
Andy, you obviously put out a ton of content. You're working on a new book. Got an Instagram Channel. What's the deal with the book?
Andrew: So, the nootropic eBook is going to be released on Mark Bell's website. It's going to be live tomorrow the 27th of April. Not sure when this will be out.
Ben: A little after that but that's okay. I'll link to it.
Andrew: Oh, yeah, yeah, for sure. We both have access to Mark, so you can just grab the link, but I'll send it to you personally. But, my career is taking a change where I just have more and more in-person time that I need to dedicate to athletes and professionals. But, I have this burning desire to help people and that's what goes to Super Brain is. So, I'm making a shift from consultations. This past week, I just did my last real consultation for a while because I just need more time and help more people.
So, I'm going to be creating a course that's going to be eight weeks taken through people with a facilitator. I'm going to be hiring to facilitate the eight-week course. And, it's going to be on the three topics I did consultations on the most, which are blood work, cognitive fitness, and lifestyle and supplement acts for being great. So, I'm going to put that together to kind of ameliorate the need for consults. I'm going to be doing a lot more so the nootropics eBook I shared with you is a user manual. I'm going to make other user manuals where they're eBooks dedicated to using x compounds the best. So, I'm going to do a lot more of sharing my theories now because I feel I've been in the game long enough where I can do that and say, “I have my own theories.”
Ben: Yeah. That's what I was thinking when I was reading the eBook. You could totally be part of a bigger series. You could do one on blood work, on lifestyle, on other stacks, et cetera. And, you're very good at writing or at least expressing your thoughts and having it put together. So, is it instagram.com/goSuperBrain?
Andrew: Yeah, yeah. So, Instagram is goSuperBrain. I'm developing a new website at the moment that'll be up in the next two or three months. But, right now, [email protected] and the Instagram is the only way to find it.
Ben: Cool. Good follow on Instagram, you guys, if you're listening in. And, I'll again link to all the resources all Andy stuff, his new book and plenty more if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/SuperBrain. And, you can also leave your questions, your comments, your feedback and your thoughts about this episode for Andy or I or anyone else who cares to read. Andy, thanks so much, man. You're just a wealth of information. It was super cool to get to chat with you and pick your brain.
Andrew: Dude, likewise. Pleasure. Hopefully, we can keep in contact in the future. Certainly honored to be on the show.
Ben: Yeah. Well, we'll keep in touch for sure. You'll probably be a repeat guest I'm guessing, but we'll see what the listeners think.
Alright. Well, folks, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Andy Triana signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.
Alright, folks. It's coming up quick. VIP event with me that occurs during the time that I am in London for the Health Optimisation Summit. I'm throwing in a private VIP meetup at HUM2N Labs with Dr. E over there. This is one of the most advanced biohacking facilities I've ever stepped foot into. We're opening up to a select group of VIPs, very small group. You could be one of them. Kicks off at 5:30 p.m. in London on Monday, June 19th. You're going to get to network with me and a bunch of the other biohacking enthusiasts and physicians there. We will do a special talk on age reversal. There'll be a Q&A, a variety of healthy organic foods, biohack cocktails, a swag bag where you get to try IV, cryotherapy, red light therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, different types of nootropics and smart drugs that they have there. So, it's going to be a pretty cool event. And, you can get in now if you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/HUM2NLondon. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/HUM2NLondon. If that's too much for you to remember, just go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Calendar and everywhere. And, I'm going that I'm speaking where you can join me. All the events are also there on the Calendar at BenGreenfieldLife.com/Calendar. But, this HUM2N event Monday, June 19th is going to be a good one.
More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be, and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
- Bad experience with how he expected with his graduate program
- Started going to seminars…it's all about the brain
- Wanted to know more about the brain; went down the rabbit hole
- Took a Neurophysiology course at college but wasn’t enough for him
- The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge
- The book gave him access to deep research in neuroplasticity
- Neuroplasticity has to do with actual structural changes, not just functional
- It is far greater than average adaptation
-Neuroplasticity and sleep deprivation…09:31
- Everything is predicated in the sleep circle
- Glia cells do most of the magic while we sleep
- They need enough time to do their work, you get a maladaptive response
- If it’s an emergency situation, the training effort is going towards gaining sleep
- Maximizing the opportunity for glia
- The amount of serotonin you can catalyze is correlated to the amount of melatonin you can deal with
- Make sure that from the start of the day you structure everything to go to sleep
- Mark Bell and rib reset
- Dr. Pat Robertson
- Research from the Czech Republic that incorporated a “rib-tack”
- Anatomy influences your brain
- Rib-tack influences the vagus nerve
- Meditative and yoga tactics attempt to poke at this
- A position where you get slack at the back of your neck
- A position where the skull is getting away from the sternum
- Foam rollering and breathing exercise
- Andy uses Omni PEMF
- Deep tissue therapy – Ben doing deep rib rolls on his Rumble Roller
- Golgi tendon organs
- The rib-tac is an anatomical manual technique that's inducing a little bit of local hypoxia and anatomical changes manually the same Golgi tendon release
- Reflexive Performance Reset (RPR)
-Vagal nerve stimulation and anxiety21:00
- What is Rib Tack?
- Research form Check republic in 1990s
- Manual restoration of the diaphragm
- Nail bed for feet feet vagal nerve stimulation
- Modern day grounding indoors
- Increase in afferent and efferent signaling through our hands and feet
- Anxiety is like spilling over electrical input into brain areas that doesn't need to be active
- Wearable devices that vibrate or produce mild electrical sensation over vagal nerve
- Vagal nerve stimulators similar to a TENS (Transcutaneous Electric Nerve Stimulation) unit
- Anxiety and future processing
- We don’t have a center in our brain for future
- Anxiety is a result of putting too much blood flow in future processing
- Podcast with Dr. Peter Martone:
- Managing anxiety
- Anxiety is a normal thing, everybody experiences it
- Coping with “buoys of objectivity”
- In anxious moments, you should
- Re-engage with the world around you from your 5 senses
- Being aware and mindful is the key
- Give yourself a light sensation to bring you back to the present
-Visualization and motor imagery…29:11
- Research proves that visualization is useful
- Visualization skills
- Seeing in present what you believe is going to happen
- How to use visualization?
- Spatial skill training regime
- Manipulating 3D scenes in your head
- Visualization to deal with negative performance related things
- Speeding down and slowing down time
- Visualization for the average person
- Chalk outline drill
- Flow state
- Dopamine and norepinephrine driven flow states for individuals
- Ben is norepinephrine driven
- Got to be in a lot of pain in, under a lot of pressure to get into an alpha state
- Norepinephrine people tend to have less control over their flow state because they're typically responding to something that needs to happen
- Dopamine people oftentimes have work capacity and behavior efficiency issues
- Homeostasis and allostasis
- 80-20 rule, 80% allostasis, 20% homeostasis
- Breathwork successfully plays on homeostasis
- Breathing through the mouth – oxygen influx and high amounts of force production
- Nasal breathing – less oxygen and correlates with low blood pressure
- Wim Hof method
- Different types of breathing depending on one’s needs
- HRV to look at your sympathetic parasympathetic balance then choose more of a stimulatory form or a more relaxing form of breathwork
- Podcast with Dr. Jay Wiles:
- Look at your individual specificity and then properly supplement with training, breathwork, or vitamins
-How much is the brain in control?…44:10
- There's no behavioral enzymes in your muscles so the brain is running the show
- The experiment with people on meth waiting in doctor’s office
- Phineas Gage case and the frontal cortex injury
- Ben’s example with his eating routine
- Obesity and hypothalamic signaling issues
-Do we really use only 10% of our brain?…49:21
- The brain is most efficient organ
- The liver is also amazing organ but the brain is the most eficient
- Mental activity burns a lot of calories
- Fueling the brain
- Go SuperBrain | User Manual: Nootropics by Andrew Triana
-Andrew’s favorite nootropics or smart drugs…52:25
- Ameliorate inhibition first, hit the gas pedal second
- Two variables of nootropics
- An antioxidant function
- Turning on some cortical area and shutting something else off
- It’s important to target the right brain areas
- Emoxypine Succinate (currently unavailable at Nootropics Depot)
- The first nootropic that can be used for mechanical lumbar non-specific low back pain
- Drives blood flow to the vagus nerve and the capillaries in the eyes
- Alters GABA receptors
- Noopept has an antioxidant portion but doing it in a different manner – It relieves glutamate toxicity, which is excess calcium (use code BEN to save 15%)
-Can you stack Emoxypine and Noopept?…56:03
- Nootropics can be in the same category but be different enough that you could easily use them at the same time and they end up being synergistic
- Choline levels when taking nootropics
- Lifting weights release glycogen form cells; we pay with glucose when lifting weights
- We pay brain to brain, neuron to neuron, and even neuron to muscle communication with choline
- Acetylcholine donor like ACAR or raw choline Alpha-GPC (use code BEN to save 15%)
-What is the efficacy of injectable forms of carnitine?…57:45
- Difference between oral and injectable forms of carnitine
- Injectable carnitine is fully myotropically and biologically active
- Oral carnitine typically does not work well in the muscles
- Taking Alpha-GPC (use code BEN to save 15%) and Acetyl-L-carnitine would help to replenish the brain's fuel levels
- It's like how Creatine monohydrate increases time to fatigue
- Injectable carnitine
- Transporting fatty acids to allowing more fatty acids to be liberated from cells
- You can participate in glycolysis for longer at higher heart rates
-The benefits of LSD and ketone esters for athletes…1:00:03
- Everyone in ultra-marathon world have used it at some point
- The effects of LSD on the body
- Very low doses
- Ketone esters, injectable carnitine, and LSD are insanely potent for running
- Ben’s experience with LSA
- Important to be very careful, easy to overdose
-The application of popular psychedelics for neuroplasticity…1:05:12
- Is it a true nootropic or it just has nootropic like effects
- Psilocybin is not a nootropic, just has nootropic effect
- The effect of Noopept and psilocybin on fear and anxiety (use code BEN to save 15%)
- They're totally different avenues to get to the same end outcome
-Could DMT or psilocybin be paired with tasks of creativity, learning or memory to enhance your ability to engage in these tasks?…1:07:23
- That's the only use for them
- If you just take it and do nothing, it might be fun way to chill out, but if you wanted to chill out, you could do something else
- The effects of kratom
- It seems to have some enhancement of sexual performance or the ability of a guy to get hard
- Inositol triphosphate
- Does kratom enhance sexual performance?
- How does kratom work
- Behavior of GABA receptor
- Vasoconscription effects of nicotine
- Sexual supplementation is very individual
- Supplements for the decreasing of refractory period
- Ben’s experience
- Inositol Triphosphate (IP3) Phosphates for sexual performance
- On a low-carb diet, creatine phosphate supports with methyl donors
- Bacterial microbiome is very complicated
- Skin microbiome
- Mouth microbiome
- Sexual microbiome for the organs, which is different than the local skin on your quad
- Intestinal microbiome, which is different than your gut microbiome
- Bacteria microbiome is resistant to change
- Kefir fermented foods often to stay in the 80-20 rule (80% allostasis, 20% homeostasis)
- Microbiome as a whole is a shield to the world around us; a strong biome is like a powerful shield
- The gut is the central governor of all the biomes
- Super Gut: A Four-Week Plan to Reprogram Your Microbiome, Restore Health, and Lose Weight by Dr. William Davis
- Podcast with Dr. William Davis:
- L. Reuteri coconut yogurt recipe
- Any of the coconut milk or creams:
- Aroy – D canned coconut milk (not organic and not BPA free)
- Aroy – D canned coconut cream (not organic)
- Aroy – D coconut cream (not organic)
- Thrive Market organic coconut milk
- Traders Joe's organic canned coconut cream
- Thickener (any of the following)
- Yogurt Starter
- Any of the coconut milk or creams:
- L. Reuteri manages cardiovascular disease, modulates the microbiome, improves sleep, increases oxytocin levels, etc.
- L. Reuteri and its impact on
- Mental stability
- Mental performance
- Decrease in ADD and ADHD-like symptoms
- All people with autism spectrum disorder L. Reuteri is deficient
-Andrew’s book and future plans…1:18:53
- Go SuperBrain | User Manual: Nootropics by Andrew Triana
- Currently preparing an 8-week course covering the following:
- Blood work
- Cognitive fitness
- Lifestyle and supplement
- Also making user manuals on how to use x compounds
- Working on a new website to go live in 2 or 3 months
- To contact Andy:
-And much more…
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Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to learn from the best in the field and take your biohacking journey to the next level. You’ll get the chance to be involved with a private network of biohackers, a live discussion with myself and Dr. E, a live Q&A, an experiential biohacking experience, tasty food, and a chance to win some mind-blowing prizes! Learn more here.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar!
Resources from this episode:
– Podcasts And Articles:
- The Problem With Sleeping On Your Side, How To Sleep On Your Back, Little-Known Sleep Enhancement Tricks & Much More!
- How To Blast You (And Your Child’s!) Physical, Mental, & Spiritual Resilience Through The Roof With Breathwork.
- How I Track My Heart Rate Variability, Recovery Status, And Training Readiness (And Why These Metrics Are So Important).
- A Deep Dive Into HRV: How To Use Heart Rate Variability To Optimize Your Sleep, Stress, Recovery, Performance, Nervous System Balance & Much More!
- Everything You Need To Know About Healing Your Gut, Mood, Energy, Libido & Sleep With A Little Known Bacterial Strain (& An Amazing DIY Yogurt Recipe!) With Dr. William Davis, Author of Super Gut.
- The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science by Norman Doidge
- Super Gut: A Four-Week Plan to Reprogram Your Microbiome, Restore Health, and Lose Weight by Dr. William Davis
– Other Resources:
- Lion’s Mane
- Emoxypine Succinate
- Noopept (use code BEN to save 15%)
- Alpha-GPC (use code BEN to save 15%)
- Kion Creatine
- Ketone Esters
- PT-141 (use code BEN to save 15%)
- Inositol Triphosphate
- Aroy – D Canned Coconut Milk
- Aroy – D Canned Coconut Milk
- Aroy – D Canned Coconut Milk
- Thrive Market Organic Coconut Milk
- Trader Joe's Organic Coconut Cream
- Agar Agar
- Tapioca Flour
- Yogurt Starter
- Rumble Roller
- Omni PEMF
- Wim Hof method
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