August 1, 2020
[00:01:57] Podcast Sponsors
[00:03:59] Guests Introduction
[00:09:55] On The Frontlines Of The COVID-19 Pandemic
[00:18:04] Tests That Determine Cognitive Function
[00:30:53] Podcast Sponsors
[00:33:44] cont. Tests That Determine Cognitive Function
[00:38:56] The Link Between Immune Function And The Brain
[00:43:27] Recommended Brain Optimization Modalities And Strategies
[00:57:12] Using Plant Medicines For Cognitive Function And Brain Health
[01:04:21] Peptides, Ketamine, Synthetic Substitutes For Plant Medicines
[01:05:36] Upcoming Event At The Kentucky Castle This September
[01:10:06] Closing the Podcast
[01:11:21] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast:
Matt: Some of these plant medicines is more like, getting in a race car in getting there. And while that may sound appealing, if you imagine someone who is crawling to this destination, they've never seen a race car and you try to put them behind the wheel of it. That's a very dangerous situation.
Ben: The benefits of some of these things that might be relied upon as a fast track to a certain goal, are certainly in some cases undeniable. And yet, there's something to be said about the journey itself.
Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Today's episode is on biohacking your brain using medicine. And we kind of went into all sorts of little rabbit holes on this podcast with the doctors from Wild Health. I honestly wish we'd had like four hours, because we kind of, I exposed you guys to a lot of stuff on this show, that I think is really going to get your wheels turning in terms of ways that you can optimize cognitive function. But because it's such a vast deep area, you know, like everything we talked about, we could have spent hours more just talking about that one thing, you know, whether it's neurotransmitters, or red light therapy or anything else.
And so, I unpack a lot of this stuff, that we talk about in my book “Boundless.” So, that would be a great accompaniment, especially the first four chapters of “Boundless” to the podcast that you're about to hear. They're also putting on a fantastic event down in Lexington, Kentucky on biohacking the brain that we discuss in today's show. It'll be available both online as well as if you're like me, because I'll be there, you can attend in-person. And so, that's all going to be in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/WildHealthBrain.
One thing we did not talk too much about on the show, but it's fantastic for your vagal nerve function and for your brain, and that's cold therapy, cold thermogenesis. We are running a huge Cold Thermo Challenge. If you didn't hear yet, if you've been living under a rock we have thousands of people around the globe right now signing up for our huge. If I can overuse that word anymore, cold thermogenesis challenge at Kion. If you go to GetKion.com/ColdThermo, you get a free download of the comprehensive book “Cold Thermo Unearthed,” where we tell you everything you need to know about cold exposure, how long, what temperature, what supplements to take before, after, how to pair it with food, how to pair it with fasting? Daily videos from experts who have been previous podcast guests like Scott Carney is one guy who wrote the book “What Doesn't Kill You” and he's doing really good video show. I'm doing want to how to biohack your cold exposure practice. We got a Live Q&A with Wim Hof method instructors. It's all in there at GetKion.com/ColdThermo. It starts August 3rd. So, get in soon. GetK-I-O-N.com/ColdThermo.
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Alright folks, if I sound a little bit congested right now, it's not because I have the flu or the cold, or the shell. We call it the unnamed pandemic that sweeping the globe. I actually, because this podcast is going to be focused on biohacking your brain, an optimizing mental function. I just snorted an Amazonian herb up my nose. If you heard my podcast with Dr. John Lieurance , we talked about this Zen spray, and I just took a couple of hops of that. I would and basically describe it as smoking a cigarette up each nostril, right before you hop on a podcast. So, that is why I may or may not sound like I need to do the one whole nose blow and clear my sinuses.
Before I even introduced my guests, Mike and Matt officially. Fellas, is that okay with you that I just snorted nicotine? Does that fall into the category of healthy things to do for one's brain?
Matt: I think it's perfect I'm going to. I'm going to picture you with two cigarettes hanging out of your nostril the entire time because that's the image that immediately came to my mind.
Ben: You know, what not to get too crass early on in the show for everybody driving around in their minivan with their children right now listening in. But, I remember, I think it was when I interviewed Aubrey Marcus, he described tampons as pussy cigarettes, based on the potential toxicity of tampons. So, there's another visual for you. I'm not wearing a tampon, but I did indeed spray Zen up my nose. So, that being said, well, let's just call it a show in there.
My apologies to everyone for anyone who now needs to explain pussy cigarette to their children, but let's go ahead and turn to the topic at hand. Dr. Matt Dawson and Dr. Mike Mullen are my guests today. They have been on this show before. These guys are the head honcho docs at Wild Health, which is a national network of physicians who are well-versed in precision medicine, in using genomics, and really good quantification to do targeted and personalized medicine. As a matter of fact, most of the time when I'm making referrals out to physicians for my clients, some people I do consults with. Increasingly, I'm finding myself sending people over to Mike and Matt and the entire Wild Health network, which is at WildHealth.com, just because these folks are trained so well. And I trust them. And you may have heard my first podcast with Matt and Mike about precision medicine and exactly what it is. If you want to wrap your head around that, then I would listen to that show.
And then, I interviewed them again when we really dug into genomics in a podcast entitled “Why Your DNA Is Worthless“? And I will link to both of those episodes if you just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/WildHealthBrain, that's where you'll find the shownotes for today show. And everything that we discuss. BenGreenfieldFitness.com/WildHealthBrain. And the reason that the pretty link is BenGreenfieldFitness.com/WildHealthBrain is because we're going to talk all things brain optimization, brain biohacking, and a real medical-based precision genomics approach to upgrading your brain on today's show.
Matt Dawson. Matt, Hello.
Matt: Hello Ben, how are you?
Ben: I'm well. That's the rollicking voice of Matt Dawson. For those of you listening in who need to differentiate him with Mike. Matt is a precision medicine physician. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky. He has a castle there that I have visited before for an event and a wonderful thing going on down in Lexington. He's the co-host along with Mike of the Wild Health Podcast and has been obsessed with performance optimization for very long time. He has a real background in athletics, and actually got scholarships to play a couple of different sports in college, but instead chose the path of being a physician instead of a full-on jock. And since then, he has lectured in over 20 countries. He's training thousands of physicians through live lectures and online education. He's created textbooks. He's a trainer of doctors and is just really focused on performance optimization all levels, brain, body, and even spiritual optimization, which I really respect and we may even have a chance to delve into that a little bit on today's show.
And then, Mike Mullen is on the other side of the country, he's in Bend, Oregon. He also is of course steeped in precision medicine and is the other person whose voice you will hear if you ever listen in to the fantastic Wild Health Podcast. He completed medical school in South Carolina, trained in emergency medicine in Salt Lake City. He's done a bunch of Ultramarathons, a lot of mountain performance sports and he also is very well-versed in this whole topic that we're going to tackle today about biohacking ones brain, and using precision medicine to upgrade things like mental clarity and cognition.
So, fellas, welcome back, I suppose to the third appearance, which means that you guys are officially becoming the extremely popular guests amongst my audience. And hopefully, they aren't sick of you at this point.
Matt: And I really like your description of me choosing not to go down athletic route, even though. It had nothing to do with my lack of talent. It was a choice.
Ben: Right, right. The only reason that Matt is not in the NBA is because he decided to be a doctor instead. So, you know, what before we actually turn to the topic of the brain. I know both of you guys are kind of on the front lines of COVID right now. And you actually, I mean you're still practicing if I'm not mistaken at some points in the emergency room and on the front lines of emergency care and a little while back on one of my channels. I believe it was on my Facebook page, we released a video where you guys were talking about some of the cool ways that you have figured out how to do more mass testing and how to scale testing for COVID. But, I'm curious about anything that has developed on the front lines of COVID for you guys right now in terms of, especially this whole idea of scaling, testing? And I also know that you're working with a lot of corporations or businesses in order to allow them to be able to test employees. And I don't think this thing is going away anytime soon. So, what's the latest on what you're up to on that front?
Matt: Sure. Yeah, I mean, we're not on the, into COVID because we want to, but it's kind of been thrust upon all of us. So, in this pandemic first started. We immediately realized we weren't good position to help, to translate, what was going on for people instead of hysteria around the cable news, we changed our podcasts. Really focus on translating the signs and the evidence, the treatments that are coming out, what are the risks?
But then, we started talking about it, we very quickly also thought, what can we do? What can we do to help not just talk about it? And we happen to have a lab. We have someone else is a PhD in infectious disease, and we started doing COVID testing, we did, we're doing the CDC gold standard test. We wanted it to be available for our patients because they had a really hard time getting it initially. So, we started out that way. But then as things started open back up, we were a little nervous about things opening back up with where we were, and we thought a very important part of opening back up was screening. Doing testing to a lot of people, businesses, for example, you mentioned the castle. So, the Kentucky Castle is a property in Lexington and there we test our employees every week to make sure we don't have an asymptomatic person coming in. Make sure we don't have a meatpacking incident where 1,000 people are infected because you have some asymptomatic people. So, we started helping businesses screen just to make sure they didn't have these asymptomatic spreaders coming in.
And we also, we're helping businesses with initially if someone was to have a headache for example, even if they have migraines and it feels like a migraine. The guidance from the CDC for a while with any symptoms was two weeks of quarantine. And it's tough to run a business with the amount of colds and sneezing and headaches. And then, people being out for two weeks. So, the CDC said, you could get two negative tests if you thought it was just a headache. You get two negative tests and you can go back to work. So, we're helping businesses both going to increase their safety with the screening. And also getting these negative tests when people don't actually have COVID. They just have something else because other things are continuing to happen. So, that's what we're doing with testing right now.
You mentioned kind of the mass testing. For a few months, we've been really kind of beating the drum about pooled testing as a way to really increase capacity. And finally just last weekend, the FDA actually approved pool testing. So, that is going to really help our country be able to scale up to the level, undo the amount of testing that we really need to identify these people who are spreading and then don't even know they have it.
Ben: With pooled testing being for those who aren't familiar with that. What?
Matt: Sure. So, say you have 300 employees you want to test.
Ben: Wait, do I need to know math for the explanation you're about to give?
Matt: You did.
Matt: You have to be able to add and divide.
Ben: Okay. Let's proceed.
Matt: With 300 employees, there's 300 PCR test. That's a pretty simple math for you. But, if these are asymptomatic folks, then our prevalence maybe 1%. So, let's say only three people have it. Instead of running 300 tests, what you could do is divide those 300 into 30 pools of 10. So, you take 10 swabs and you run one test for those 10. If all 30 of those pools are negative, then all 300 are negative. But on average, you want to have three pools that are positive, you have three patients that are positive. So, then you go back to the samples that you already took from the patient. And in those 30 people who haven't ruled out, you run those 30 individually. So, you still get a yes-no answer for every single person in the 300, but you ran 60 tests instead of 300. So, we've been pushing this just because it was such an efficient method, and we have such limited resources with reagents and swabs.
And now, just about two weeks ago, the FDA and the White House started talking about it. And now there is FDA emergency use authorization for it. And our lab actually will be submitting our FDA EUA for in the next day or two. So, we hope to be doing that. And we're already doing over the next month, we're contracted, we'll be doing 50,000 tests. So, we're doing a lot of testing for a lot of businesses already. But having that pooled option will really help to scale tests even more and we won't be having to listen to the news every day of these 7- and 8- and 10-day wait time. I mean our lab, we're turning them around the next day, but we think if we don't do pool testing in the next few months, all the lead times will be a week, which is useless, like it is completely useless to find out a week later if you had this or not.
Ben: Right, right. And with pooled testing, and I even think this got picked up after you guys were kind of ahead of the curve because I think it actually just a couple of weeks ago kind of hit the news headlines. I saw that NPR did a story on it, and I'll link to that in the shownotes for people who want to learn more about pooled testing. The actual testing itself when you're doing that pooled testing, is that the blood spot antibody test or is it the nasal swab that you guys used for that?
Matt: No, it's the actual nasal swab. I mean if we want to identify these asymptomatic who have it, the antibody test as you know just tells have you had it in the past. And that's a bit of a delay. So, we really want to catch is, people tend to be most infectious right before their symptoms, but that's tough, those people, in general, aren't being tested. So, we want to identify those people. So, it's the nasal swab, PCR that we're talking about here.
Ben: Okay, got it. Am I mistaken in that the nasal swab test has progressed to the point where you actually do not need to shove it all the way up into the gray matter of your brain and come out with little pieces of your brain tissue dripping off because you've shoved so far up your nose?
Matt: Yeah, I mean initially I was teaching people to do this by putting, you put your hand on the back of someone's head and then when you feel the swab tinting out the back of their head under your hand and that's far enough. But it depends on who you ask. So, the CDC still says nasal pharyngeal, so its way back there. But the science if you look at it really it seems like saliva and kind of buccal swab is just as good. So, technically we're still doing nasal pharyngeal. But if you don't get way back there, it's probably good enough. I mean their saliva kits have been FDA-approved as well. So, it's getting less horrific as we speak.
Ben: Okay, got it. And if a, someone who is involved in a corporation or business, hears this podcast, and is interested in getting pool testing done for their program. They could just go and contact you guys. Just go to WildHealth.com and let you guys know?
Matt: Yeah, for sure, just the WildHealth.com. There's a tab. We technically aren't doing pool testing until we get our FDA EUA, but will probably actually have that within the next week. So, by the time this comes out, it will probably have it. If not, I mean technically, Quest is the one that has the FDA EUA right now. But we're doing individual testing and then we'll be doing pool probably in a few weeks just whenever the FDA gets back to us.
Ben: Okay, great, cool. And I know that on your guys' podcast, for those of you for pool testing, kind of went over your head or you still need to wrap your head around it if you go to WildHealth.com, they've done a few podcast that really get into the nitty gritties of pooled testing. But warning, you probably need to be a better mathematician than I am to fully wrap your head around this idea of extrapolating the amount of COVID infections from a pool. And then, testing a smaller number of individuals, but it's a fascinating concept. So, I just wanted to touch on that. That's obviously not the main thrust of today's show, but I know you guys are up to that. So, I just wanted to check in on the front lines of COVID.
And, so now let's turn to the topic at hand. Brain optimization. I know this is something you guys are passionate about. I mean, as will discuss later on in the podcast. And now you're putting together almost like a little bit of a small private summit at your castle down there, you know, for physicians to talk a little bit more about brain biohacking and optimizing mental function. But when it comes to that topic, we actually haven't covered it much on the previous podcast that I've done with you, although I know that you guys have a pretty comprehensive approach for optimizing mental function, because if I'm not mistaken at Wild Health you have different tracks that you'll get people onto. You know, such as a brain track or a, you know, or anti-aging track like we talked about in the past, or any number of different tracks. And, when it comes to the brain optimization track that you would put people on, I would love to discuss your approach for optimizing mental function, for your patience, for your clients. And so, I know that you guys are very much into testing as one of the first things that you do, actually gathering data.
And so, I would imagine that would be a good place to jump in as when somebody comes to you and they're wanting to optimize cognitive function or identify areas of cognitive decline or dementia or Alzheimer's risk or anything like that. Are there any specific tests that you're running specifically to assess cognitive function?
Matt: Yeah. So, where do we start? So, we do have specific brain optimization tracks and we're excited to jump in and talk about that, but we also have a strict kind of know-biohacking-before- the-basics rule, when we're talking to people. So, we really do start from the beginning, like you mentioned gathering information. So, with every patient we take their DNA, look at their genomics, their blood work, some questionnaires about their exercise, sleep. Try to get a really full picture, and we've actually developed these health scores to really help categorize and show people where they're deficient. And taking that holistic view to start, not just immediately jumping into the brain. We think it's really important, because we may find when we're looking at the score, for example, that their sleep score is really low. And we really need to focus on that before some of the more advanced things. So, you have to kind of graduate from the holistic optimization and meet some parameters before you can get into the tracks.
Ben: Before you give someone a vial of stem cells from a one-armed monkey in the Himalayas to nebulize, you're starting with the basics.
Matt: Exactly. So, and whichever track, so even if you're picking the longevity, weight-loss, gut health, whatever it is, you got to be able to graduate some, you've got to be able to do some work and meet some defined objectives in the scoring system to be able to do that. And Mike, maybe you could talk specifically about that scoring system. I know you develop that.
Mike: Yeah. So, we kind of, we notice that our patients wanted more numbers. They wanted to have a better understanding, kind of numerically of where their health is now, and then what the potential is for improvement. And it also sort of helped us estimate how long it would take patients, take to get patients optimized. So, sometimes some people come to us and they could be like you Ben and already be optimized and be ready for the tracks. Or they could come to us and there's lots going on that we need to work on.
So, we developed this Wild Health scoring system. It takes into account things like cardiovascular disease risk, looking at LDL-P and Lp-PLA2, insulin resistance inflammation. It also looks at insulin sensitivity, cancer risks, sleep, diet, exercise. We assign a scoring system to this. And you have to get to a certain point in order to be considered optimize, which usually takes like I said anywhere from zero, but that's unlikely. Usually from two to six months. And then, once we get there then that's when we get to start playing with the cool stuff with the different tracks.
Ben: Okay, got it. So, in terms of actual tests that would be specific to brain function, I guess where my mind was going was using something like a DUTCH test to assess neurotransmitter balance or looking at something that might indicate brain inflammation or compromise blood, brain barrier or anything like that or even genetic tests to identify risk for Alzheimer's, dementia. I mean some real specific things related to cognitive function. Once you've gotten some of those basics out of the way, are you doing anything that would be specifically considered? You know, test flavored for brain analysis?
Mike: Yeah, absolutely. So, we look at, both your genotype and your phenotype. So, what I mean by that? You gave a great example there of the genomics, these are. So, some of the first things we measure is, for example, APOE4, everybody knows that it increases your risk of dementia, your susceptibility, traumatic brain injuries, cardiovascular risk, and we know we can mitigate those risks. But it's also really important to never — like we talked with you about before, look at a specific SNP, an isolation. So, you want to come up with an optimization plan, considering the blood test, the lifestyle, and then other SNPs as well if we're talking about brain function. And dementia risk for somebody other than just that APOE4.
Matt: When we think about APOE4, it's probably associated with Alzheimer's through a combination of inflammation, reduce lipid transport, reduced clearance of amyloid-beta plaques, but there's actually at least 15 other Alzheimer's related SNPs. Like for example, there's CLU, which is related to [00:23:19] _____ transport or CD33, which is related to the immune response. Actually, in fact, the immune response is really interesting area for Alzheimer's. So, if you look at TNF or tissue necrosis factor, this encodes for a cytokine, which is an inflammatory signal. And this one's additive to the effect of APOE. So, patients with the TNF and with APOE3 have a 1.6 times increased risk of Alzheimer's, where people with an APOE4 and a TNF have a 6.6 times increased risk for Alzheimer's. There's numerous other examples of this.
Ben: With TNF being what, again?
Mike: TNF is a tissue necrosis factor.
Ben: Tissue necrosis factor. And so, if you have that and the APOE4, six times higher risk, if you have elevated levels of TNF?
Ben: What would cause elevated levels of TNF?
Mike: Genetics. So, this is a polymorphism that leads to an increase production of tissue necrosis factor. So, you've got a greater inflammatory signal and increases the inflammasome in the brain basically.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So, you're definitely looking at the APOE factors. And for those who aren't familiar with APOE that just stand for Apolipoprotein E. And that's the protein involved in the metabolism of fats in the body. And it's part of the fat binding proteins called the Apolipoproteins. And there are specific, I should be having you guys explain this. Anyways, the APOE gene is something that can be expressed in different ways, and the E4 variant has been implicated heavily in things like Alzheimer's disease and impaired cognitive function. And it's pretty clinically significant if you test and you have that gene when it comes to you probably wanted to do quite a bit from a dietary and lifestyle standpoints to address any risk factors for Alzheimer's or dementia. Will be the APOE44 genotype would be the one that would put someone of most at risk, correct guys?
Mike: That's right, yeah. So, APOE44 is like a 12 to 15 times risk of Alzheimer's just by itself.
Ben: Okay, okay. So, you look at that. You would look at any potential considerations when it comes to autoimmunity which could also contribute to inflammation in the brain. What about something like neurotransmitter balance? You guys setting that at all?
Mike: To some degree, we're looking at neurotransmitter balance from a genetic standpoint. And then, we look at it more phenotypically based on how the patient is likely to respond to things like cognitive behavioral therapy, which actually I think we can probably talk about a little bit later. The Alzheimer's disease risk though is interesting because there's so many different SNPs that are related to it. But, you know, once you get past the prognostic part of it, there's actually some genetics that are related to the therapeutic benefit. So, there's this really interesting. I know you've heard of KetoFlex 12/3. Right Ben? This is like sort of this concept of Keto type diet where you don't eat for 12 hours at night and then you don't eat 3 hours before bedtime, and it's very popular in Alzheimer's disease.
Ben: KetoFlex 12/3.
Mike: Yeah. And if you think about Alzheimer's disease is a metabolic disease, which is definitely been argued and I think has some validity to it. The idea of ketosis makes some sense right? It should offer some benefit, if you're basically feeding the brain ketones instead of glucose, right? But studies are actually showing that just like metabolically, you know, some people benefit from ketones more than others, that it's actually true in the brain as well, and [00:26:45] _____ ketone utilization and cognitive response to ketosis varies based on specific genetic factors. So, specifically, there's a protein called insulin-degrading enzyme, another one called Interleukin 1B. Both of those SNPs correlate with insulin levels in a clinical response to ketones in Alzheimer's disease patients. And what's amazing is, if you got the wrong genes, you're actually not just not going to have an effect cognitively from ketones, you actually have a worse effect cognitively. So, eating ketones it means your cognitive function actually decreases.
Ben: And you guys can test for that gene?
Mike: Yeah, yeah, very easily.
Ben: Can anybody listening in if they've done, let's say a 23andMe analysis, say a lot of listeners who are not only using ketone salts or ketone esters or using some form of nutritional ketosis who this might be a newsflash for.
Mike: Yeah. And, you know, what's really interesting Ben, is this guy is interested in the concept of actually applying this to a healthy population. So, we started testing ourselves. And Matt and I actually have the genetics that we respond well to ketones. And I will tell you personally that when I drink ketones, it feels like I'm using methamphetamine. Not that I have that much experience with methamphetamine. But asking our patients about this too, and it really does seem to correlate. So, those who have higher levels of IO1B or lower levels of IDE, actually seem to have less response cognitively to ketones.
And I'll tell you the SNPs real quick, just so if your listeners are interested. So, IDE, the SNP is RS2251101, and if you've got a T there specifically homozygous TT, you'll have lower insulin levels, increase ketone body metabolism and thus cognitive improvement with ketone use. For IO1B, it's RS1143627 that's a T and then RS16944, that's a C. And you'll have also decreased insulin, increased ketone body metabolism, and in constant improvement as well. So, that's really interesting.
Ben: Now, just the listeners know, we do transcribe these shows. So, if you just want to go and check out the transcript, pull up those genes and you can see whether you have the T or the C variant.
Mike: This is really cool because this is basically where we start getting to use genomics as a predictive model for who's going to respond to a specific neuro optimization tool, such as ketones.
Matt: Yeah. And just as full disclosure, ketones work well for me, but not as good as meth, like Mike said, it's definitely not that strong of an effect. And we can do this with other genomics too. I mean things like PTNF, with someone's lower expression of that. Then lion's mane and black coffee and high-intensity interval training will recommend those things even more than we would for other people. And we look in total at about, we look at thousands of different SNPs. And there's lots of others, the COMT and others that are important.
But your question or two about testing, I think is a good one, because what we're trying to do here, is we're not just interested in expression of genes. If we're going to improve your brain functioning and optimize it, and really understand your potential for optimization. We also have to test not just the genomics, but your actual baseline functioning as well. And so, we definitely do some tests for that.
Mike: Well, Matt's alluding to is something called CNS vital signs, which is the cognitive battery that we've kind of landed on to test for content performance. And this is basically a 30-minute test. Your provider can order it for you. You can do it at home on your computer, you can do in your doctor's office, measures everything from attention, working memory, processing speed–
Ben: Which one is what called again?
Mike: CNS Vital Signs.
Mike: And the cool thing is that, it's so easy to implement and to retest. So, we can actually look and see, are we getting efficacy from the interventions that were doing. And, also, the report that it gives you, allows you to personalize the intervention so that you can attack each one of these domains that have counted performance separately. Say, for example, you do the CNS Vital Signs, and it says here, complex attention is an issue. Well, you might be a great candidate for neurofeedback. If it says that your content flexibility is a problem, then maybe we need to personalize a nootropic regimen for you. If working memory is the issue, and processing speed is an issue, then, maybe we need to do something like Brain HQ, for example, and actually, have you practicing those elements as well.
Ben: Well, one thing that we know is good for the brain is ketosis, at least for some people, as we've established on this show. And, I've actually been experimenting with a few different compounds in my morning smoothie. One is called the keto base. It's basically just magnesium beta-hydroxybutyrate, sodium beta-hydroxybutyrate, and calcium beta-hydroxybutyrate, in a really good flavors, they play this up with monk fruit and cocoa powder, and it's called an Exogenous Ketone Base. You add it to any smoothie, or water, or coffee, or anything like that and it just shoves you straight into ketosis without actually tasting like rocket fuel like a lot of these compounds do. And it's made by my friends at Perfect Keto. When I make that smoothie, I've been topping it off with their keto butter, they have an almond butter and jelly and a Snickerdoodle-flavored keto nut butter. You talk about crack, that stuff is fantastic. So, I make a keto smoothie then add keto nut butter to it. So, keto is made possible by these folks at Perfect Keto and what they're doing is they're giving all of my listeners 20% off. So, you get a PerfectKeto.com/BGF for 20% off Perfect Keto, and they're going to throw free shipping in there. So, PerfectKeto.com/BGF. May I recommend to you the Exogenous Ketone Base in a chocolate or a salted caramel flavor, and then add the snickerdoodle, or the almond butter and jelly nut butter in, and you have a recipe for a fantastic, fantastic smoothie. PerfectKeto.com/BGF.
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That CNS Vital Sign Test… And I'll link to that in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/WildHealthBrain, is that something that will work on any desktop or laptop computer? Will it work on a phone? Or, what's the actual platform?
The platform is a website and I think you have to have a provider order it for you. I don't, I'm not sure about this, Ben, but I'm not sure if you can go on it just as a consumer and use it. But it's on any laptop. The first time I ever did one was on a plane, on my laptop, I connected to the Internet of the plane, so it was not a problem.
Ben: What about any of these popular brain apps that spit out results? Something like a Brainscape, or a Lumosity, or, even like a–there's one that I've recommended in the past, very simple called a CNS Tap Test, which just measures the number of times one taps with the right thumb and the left thumb on the phone. Any of those more consumer-level apps that you guys are implementing at all?
Mike: Yeah, I think they have some benefits, I think the CNS Vital Signs is really nice for us because it has all of those things at once, and it's standardized. The one that I like, Ben, is the Brain HQ, which I mentioned earlier, which is basically sort of a brain exercise app. It will give you feedback specifically on categories like you mentioned, attention or processing speed, for example. The reason I like Brain HQ is it's been so well-studied. So there's been, I think, over 100 studies looking at Brain HQ in terms of its efficacy. And some of them have shown like 100% increase in auditory processing speed, I mean, pretty impressive data behind that app. So, that's the one that I lean towards. But, I think, from just getting started with this, a lot of these consumer-level tests, at least can help you create a good baseline.
Ben: Got it. And we could talk about testing, probably for a couple of hours. I, of course, know that my audience, yes, you guys, who's listening in, I know how you think. They also just want to cut to the chase and say, “Okay, so, how do I make myself smarter? What are the things that I could do? What are the things I can buy? Or, how do I eat?” etcetera. But, before we jump into that, I have a couple of other questions for you. One, I had already alluded to you, which was the Neurotransmitter piece. Because, even for me and some of the coaching that I do, I'll often have people run a DUTCH Hormone test, the DUTCH Hormone Neuron test. On that test, now, the folks at DUTCH included Neurotransmitter metabolites, and, so, the brain uses things like dopamine and noradrenaline as the entire autonomic nervous system. And, they'll use organic acid markers to reflect your body's production of those neurotransmitters, not specifically levels in the brain, because the urine really reflects what might be in the body, not directly in the brain. Yet, they'll look at these metabolites like Homovanillate, being a metabolite of dopamine, or, vanilmandelate, being a metabolite of norepinephrine and epinephrine. And then, give you an approximation of whether or not you may be deficient in certain neurotransmitters based on the results of that test. Do you guys mess around at all with that type of neurotransmitter testing?
Matt: We do a little bit. We run the DUTCH test and we look at exactly what you're talking about. I think, Mike can give your experience in my experience and it has been that when we do see something off with dopamine metabolism or something else. Most of the recommendations that would come along with that are things that were probably already talking about. With patients like increasing meditation, decreasing, stress, all the things that we know that we need to do. We generally don't really write a lot of prescriptions or really try to mess around with changing that too much because it's so complex. If we see somebody that has a really low, probably really little melatonin, and they have poor sleep and we get that from the organic acids test. Maybe we'll talk a little bit about supplementing with that. But, in general, the neurotransmitters that might give your experience, but they haven't been super proscriptive for me. We can tell people when they are out of balance, but it's kind of general recommendations of what to do from that.
Ben: Yeah. Generally, the main thing that I've seen is if Homovanillate is elevated, which would indicate low levels of–or, if it's low, which would indicate low levels of circulating dopamine, or if it–was it called vanilmandelate, VMA. If that one is low, it could indicate low levels of norepinephrine and epinephrine, all often see this in people will have that cluster of other things like high cortisol, typically some kind of mineral deficiency, low Vitamin C intake, and just a general adrenal fatigue-esque type of scenario. Even though I don't like to paint with that super broad brush just because it can be used as a catch-all term a little bit too much, but I think that those levels can give clues as to some things that might be going on for more of an adrenal or an HPA axis standpoint, then, direct brain deficiencies in neurotransmitters per se. But, I think, it's an interesting test nonetheless, and I like that test anyways just because it's so darn good for hormone analysis in my opinion.
And then, the other one that I wanted to ask you about was related to something you alluded to earlier, which was the link between immune function and the brain. And the reason I wanted to ask you about this was because I recently read a really good book called “The Angel and the Assassin.” “The Angel and the Assassin,” fantastic, actually, listen to the audiobook version of it, but it explores the link between a woman who had an autoimmune disorder, and how that was activating microglia, and how the brain was essentially going into self-destruction mode with this activation of microglia due to the immune system issues. And this book gets into the treatments to basically reboot the microglia, like neurofeedback, and intermittent fasting, and transcranial magnetic stimulation, and gamma light flicker therapy, with these red lights and it's actually pretty intriguing because they're able to to make it pretty big impact on autoimmune-related brain dysfunction. So, when you guys are doing initial testing for the brain, if you are looking at immune system factors, are there specific markers that you have found to be pretty reliable indicators that an immune system issue might be affecting cognitive function?
Matt: There's not that I can think of. That book sounds fascinating, so, I'm going to get that book and check it out and dive into that. Really, honestly, what I'm thinking about most is the references in that book. I want to take a look at the references in the science and see if there's something there we can use, because really not testing immune function, per se, with lab tests for optimizing the brain right now.
Mike: We do some immune test, though, that I would say do directly correlate. So, for example, just the basics like high sensitivity CRP is definitely something that we're looking at. Were also, sometimes, looking at some of the CDs or the TNFs.
But one thing I would mention, Ben, that I think probably does correlate really nicely is gut testing. So, what we do on just about all of our patients is microbiome testing, and, as you know, leaky gut or gut inflammation in the colon leads to immune response that you can see all throughout the body. So, while those cytokines and those inflammatory signals can be transient, and they can be sometimes hard to catch in serum, the inflammation in the gut is fairly consistent. So, when we see a chronic inflammation in the gut, that is our first hint that there is probably some degree of an inflammatory response that is also getting to the brain, attack in the blood-brain barrier. And then, when you combine that with the genetics where we know some people already have this predisposition to inflammation within the brain, that becomes a fairly strong signal that this is somebody where inflammation is going to be a big issue that we're really going to need to have to focus on.
Ben: Yeah, that's fascinating. And, actually, I believe it with Science magazine that recently published a pretty intriguing article on what they call the psychobiome, not the microbiome, but the psychobiome that really highlights some of the intimate connection between the microbes and bacteria in your gut. And, for example, neurotransmitters, we know that microbes convert tryptophan into serotonin, and that's implicated in depression or other psychiatric disorders potentially. Or, they can turn tryptophan into [00:42:11] ______, which would also result in the formation of products that could be toxic to neurons, if bacterial balance is somehow affected. Another really common one is GABA, a lot of people are restless at night or have anxiety, and certain Lactobacillus strains are specifically associated with GABA production. I'll hunt down that article and link to it in the shownotes. But, if you're not testing the gut and you're assessing cognitive function, then you're missing out on a huge, huge piece of the puzzle.
Matt: 100%. And we've been working with Onegevity for gut stuff and one of the reasons we like them is because they send us a giant CSV file on all of our patients for people don't know what that is. It's a giant Excel file that tells us the predominance of every single strain found in their gut microbiome. So, we actually pull that into our algorithm and pull out specific strains that have been just like you were just mentioning, that correlate with specific findings, which is really helpful and actually sort of diving into this on a very particular level.
Ben: Yeah, I love Onegevity. I interviewed Joel Dudley and Chris Mason, and I'll link to that one in the shownotes about their unique flavor of testing the gut. And, so, for anybody who likes to poop into tubes, you'll love that interview because we geek out on Onegevity's approach.
Now, I would like to turn to the fun stuff. Now, if you find that someone needs some fine-tuning, obviously, it goes without saying that if you find an immune system disorder, you're going to tackle that with, sometimes, when autoimmunity diet, controlling inflammation, etc. Or, if you find that it's a sleep-related cognitive issue, you're going to assess basic sleep, hygiene, and those things that–I've covered before that those type of approaches on other podcasts, but when it comes to brain optimization modalities or strategies that you guys find yourself recommending repeatedly, or finding great value in with your clients or with your patients, what is it that you're doing in the brain optimization track that you're finding is really moving the dial in exactly so you might be working with for cognitive function, or in people who just want to be smarter, so to speak?
Matt: Well, you hit the nail on the head when you talked about being personalized, what the deficit is, because once we've measured, where we go from there depends on the person and their goals and what we found. And most people fall into one of two buckets, they either wants their performance like the executive you mentioned where they want to prevent decline if they've got risk factors or family members that have had dementia. So, the tools are really the same in both groups. It's just when we apply them in-house. So, there's things like peptide personalization, nootropics, BDNF boosters I mentioned earlier, the neurotransmitter balance like you mentioned. A lot of times it's simple things though, like breathing exercises and meditation. And that may not come completely from the lab test, but from talking to the patient as well. If you ask for things that really move the needle for a lot of people, those two things as reluctant and as unsexy as they are, those make a big difference. We actually have a different track in the brain optimization of those lot of overlap with mindfulness. And when it comes to mindfulness, we're really excited about a new thing called Therapy Genetics. I don't know if you've heard of this. It's similar to pharmacogenomics. But Therapy Genetics, there's some evidence that things like the CBT, for example, work better if people have certain SNPs related to OPRM1 or CHRM2, and that can really affect how they respond to different therapies. I mean, we use things like peptides pretty sparingly, and things like breathwork and mindfulness a little more broadly. And I know, Mike, you're a really big fan of neurofeedback and feel like it's good for pretty much everyone that's in the brain optimization track. That's probably one that we go to quite a bit.
Mike: Yeah. I've been using Myndlift recently, Ben. I don't know if you've heard of this. It's a neurofeedback tool that's basically built off of a Muse with an extra electrode. And, you use it on a tablet and you basically play a game on the tablet, except you're not using your fingers or your thumbs, you're using your brainwaves to play this game.
Ben: No kidding. And you can use it with the Muse?
Mike: Correct. Yeah. So, it's a combination of a Muse with a second electrode that you put on one of the hemispheres in a few different locations that connects to where the power port goes into the Muse, and then you just basically pull a gel on and stick that one electrode on your brain, and then it's using the Muse. But you play this game with your brainwaves, basically. So, like if I get my theta and my high and my low beta in the right place, then this figure on the screen starts running faster. And then, when they get out of the wrong place, then it starts running slower again. So, you're constantly getting this positive feedback when you get your brainwaves in a certain place based on the protocol and what you're trying to improve, basically.
And it's just so simple, but it's like meditation on steroids because the negative feedback when I meditate is when I realize that my thought has gone somewhere else and I bring myself back to the center, whatever my center is, right? That's the positive feedback is realizing it and bringing back. This machine is doing it for you. It's giving you immediate positive and negative feedback based on what your brainwaves are doing. So it's really, really powerful, I think.
Ben: So, that one's the Myndlift. That's spelled with a “Y”, M-Y-N-D-L-I-F-T. I have a Muse hanging around here somewhere, and I know that the Muse–I think I was talking with Dr. Mercola about this, if I recall properly. It doesn't actually produce an appreciable amount of pulsing EMF. And so, for those of you concerned about frying your brain with EMF, it's actually not that significant. However, my previous experiences with the neurofeedback have been at places like the Peak Brain Clinic in L.A. where even though I purchased their equipment and brought it home and have used home-based neurofeedback, it takes like 15 minutes to hook up all the electrodes and pull the gel on your head and everything. So, if the Muse headband could be used for something like this, that's fantastic.
Mike: I've been doing it daily and it takes me about a minute to set up. One day, it was being kind of finicky and it took me about five minutes, but it's pretty quick. And then, the programs are like 12 to 20 minutes. So, you can easily fit into a day.
Ben: Interesting. Okay. I'll link to that one in the shownotes. Okay. So, those are some of the tools, something like Myndlift. And the other thing I wanted to ask you about when it comes to wearables would be anything else based on tDCS, this Vielight photobiomodulation, the red light headsets, those are quite popular now. What other tools are you guys finding yourself turning too frequently besides something like the Muse combined with Myndlift for neurofeedback?
Matt: Yeah. The Vielight is something that we've had patients use as well. There's not a lot of other gadgets. There are a lot on the market. And so, we have a list that we can go over with people. And the way we approach a lot of them where there's not a lot of great evidence one way or the other, we feel like with neurofeedback, there is good evidence. But some of the ones that are newer and there's just not the evidence, we usually do in one experiment with people, we talk about how it could work, and then we let people try it out, and we just try to help them come up with an objective measure. Is this actually working for you or not? Because you can spend tens of thousands of dollars on all the different gadgets and all the different medications.
So, we try to target it. And then, if we're just not sure if that could be beneficial, and there's more benefit than harm, then we'll try to do some [00:49:39] _____ experiment with folks and help them him figure it out. Even in the neurofeedback, we think it's important to have a coach. Like, we've partnered with a company that really is deep in the neurofeedback and they help our clients who are doing neurofeedback to do that because that's a whole area of science where even if you're doing it by yourself with the Myndlift, it's good to have somebody coaching you and going over your results over time.
Ben: So, you guys are not really using any of these other headsets–even yourselves experiment with anything personally? Because I'm fine with anecdotal N equals 1. “I'm a doc. I tried this. I don't recommend it for all my patients, but it's helped me a little bit.”
Mike: I just tried Halo for a while. I think Matt tried it too, and both of us [00:50:18] _____.
Ben: Yes, which is the tDCS?
Mike: Yeah, that's the tDCS headphones that has little spikes that sit in your scalp, and it's [00:50:27] _____.
Matt: I mean, my head tingled, which was great. And so, I felt like it was doing something great.
Ben: So, something happened. Your head got tickled.
Matt: Yeah, but my squats didn't double the weight or anything else. So, I think things like Halo Sport, there is some good evidence for that. So, that is one that actually I will frequently talk.
Ben: Well, we've already established, Matt, that you were going to play in the NBA. So, you might be one of those highly trained individuals who's a non-responder. All joking aside, I have used that Halo before and I actually have found that prior to musical practice or instrument practice, just because it supposedly elevates the activity of motor neurons or the recruitment of motor neurons, or for more complex activities such as, say, learning the kettlebell snatch, which I used it for a little bit while I was training for my RKC. It does actually seem to be beneficial in cases like that. I loaned it to a friend at one point who did one of his typical obstacle course training workouts and he couldn't move for like two or three days, like rhabdo-esque type of symptoms. And apparently, he was a real tDCS responder because he was recruiting muscles that apparently he just hadn't even tapped into before. So, there's something to it, but I would like to see a little bit more research on that device, specifically. What about the Vielight? What about photobiomodulation or the use of these gamma wavelengths or alpha wavelengths via these head worn devices that also include a nasal probe?
Mike: I thought about the Vielight in metabolically deranged people previously. I'm specifically looking at them because it can be a proton donor, right? So, theoretically, you can bypass the mitochondrial transport chain. But typically, if there's a metabolic derangement, I'm focusing more on that and not looking for a device to skip past the initial optimization. So, I think there's probably a place for it. I do think it's a bit of a niche in my opinion.
Ben: Okay. Alright, got it. Anything else regarding specifically wearables?
Matt: Yeah, the wearables. Again, we're very supportive of them one by one. I mean, the way we approach them is looking at the evidence. And then, if our patient wants to wear them, we support them and just help them through the journey with it. But in general, honestly, we do stay away from a lot of wearable just because like I said, it just adds up the finances of it. I mean, the one thing that I've had the most success with when it comes to a wearable, and I've tried a lot, is not something that is really highly advanced, but it's a really good noise-canceling headphones like the Kokoon. It's really comfortable and can place specific tones, different kind of Wholetones or just something as simple as raindrops. I really use that as a biohacked in the afternoon if I've had a really cognitively difficult day and I need a little bit of a reset.
Ben: And you said that one's called the Kokoon?
Matt: The Kokoon, yeah. It does measure some brainwaves and it can tell you what you're responding better to, which are the music or sounds. But I've trained my brain to around two o'clock or so in the day when it's your lowest cognitively and you're reaching for that cup of caffeine or something else. If I put those on in a really good, dark mask, like a Mindfold mask, those with the headphones, my brain is trained out, but there's a specific sound on the Kokoon. If I turn that on, my brain just basically shuts off for 15, 20 minutes and it feels like I've got a night sleep. So, that's just something for me, but that took a little bit of training to get to that point where I could do that and have that restorative 15 to 20 minutes. So, I don't know if it would work for everyone, but that's just something that is just not a super high-tech thing, but it's really made a big difference for me.
Ben: And is that available to consumers, this Kokoon?
Matt: It is, yeah. And it's spelled K-O-K-O-O-N. If you just Google that, it'll pop up. It's really nice, comfortable pair of headphones, got some little electrodes on it, and yeah, it just works really well for me.
Mike: [00:54:36] _____ so it can tell you how you're–it's meant to be worn before you fall asleep, and then it monitors your sleep stages while you're asleep. But in my experience, it typically falls off because it's a large headphone. The one thing that I did that did come to my mind, Ben, though is the Oura ring, which I think most people would not really think of as offering neurocognitive benefit. But they've actually got a pretty cool new thing on the Oura ring now on the app where you can meditate with it.
Ben: Yes, the moment function.
Mike: Yeah. So, it's monitoring your heart rate variability or resting heart rate and your skin temperature, which I've found has correlated pretty well with quality of meditation sessions where basically, you see a drop in your resting heart rate, you see an increase in your HRV, and an increase in your skin temperature due to the dilation of blood vessels and the neurotransmitter release. So, it's sort of interesting from that standpoint. And actually, I just really like it because it's got great sounds for meditation. There's a few guided meditations that I think are okay, like the Rainscape is one of my favorites, for example.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. By the way, the Kokoon sounds a little bit similar to one that I've been experimenting with called the Powermask. That one's made by SilentMode and comes with an app that walks you through breathe up and breathe down cycles. I also like it because even though it has Bluetooth capability, it allows me to just hardwire straight into my phone, just because I'm not a huge fan of using Bluetooth too much. And that one sounds a little bit similar to the Kokoon. And obviously, these might be a little bit more oriented towards just sleep, although I suppose when you–never mind. I suppose you do use them quite a bit for breathwork and meditation. I use mine in the hyperbaric chamber, for example, quite a bit, which leads me to something that I wanted to mention.
I did recently publish an article on how to stack a lot of these modalities for things like meditation or for brain hacking, so to speak, combining things like the NuCalm with the Apollo sound therapy device with like a Circadia, Fisher Wallace, with hyperbaric, with PEMF. For those of you who do really want to geek out, I have an article I recently wrote about enhancing meditation with a little bit of better living through science. So, I'll link to that in the shownotes for those of you who want to really explore some of the cool tools, so to speak. And I may also be down there at the event that Matt and Mike are putting on and I'm going to unpack a whole bunch of other little tricks I've been experimenting with when I come down there and will fill you in on that shortly.
But I would be remiss not to also ask you guys about compounds, whether it'd be peptides, which you briefly alluded to, whether it'd be nutrients, supplements, smart drugs. I know both of you guys are even somewhat versed in the utilization of things like plant medicines. And so, I would be curious to hear about some of your biggest wins when it comes to optimizing cognitive function using some of those strategies.
Mike: So, there's a lot there. There's a lot of possible places to go with that. I think the first thing that came to mind, Ben, was something that I can't really call as a win, but something that I think Matt and I share a lot of interest in, and that's the idea of plant medicines. I mean, if you look at the literature from 40 years ago, I mean, it's just so suggestive of a really remarkable benefit. Everything from like dependence disorders with alcohol, tobacco, and opiates, there was that recent study with psilocybin. And at the end of life, there's the ongoing research with MDMA and PTSD.
And I was actually re-reading the Psychedelic Explorer's Guide and thinking about [00:58:22] _____ and did a research review recently. I found this study. I don't know if you've seen it, Ben. It was from 2019. It was on microdosing. It was basically just a survey because you can't really do anything more than survey research right now in this realm due to legality. And they studied like 300 different microdosers and something like 90% had an increased mood, 60% had less anxiety. They were drinking less, they were using drugs less, like 15% got off their psychiatric meds. I mean, obviously, survey data.
Ben: Yeah. Survey data and a lot of confounding variables, meaning that–I know a lot of people will start using microdosing and stop coffee, or stop alcohol, or at the same time, make some pretty significant dietary changes because they're spending so much freaking money on microdosing. And so, there's a lot of confounding variables. But for me personally, having lived a pretty healthy lifestyle and also done some washout periods where I'm not using anything else, where I try out some microdosing and then come off it, and assess results objectively, I think that there are some definite things that are occurring from a neuroplasticity level or from a cognitive optimization level.
However, as you guys alluded to earlier, when you mentioned the basics before the biohacking, I have had a lot of folks who are hot under the collar to microdose approached me who have in no way gotten their sleep in order, their inflammation in order, the EMF in their environment in order, their relationships or emotional status in order, and you cannot psilocybin your way out of some of those situations. So, that's where I think a little bit of the danger lies, but I think for a healthy dialed-in person, meaning dialed-in spiritually, emotionally, physically, environmentally, etc., that kind of stuff cannot just be the icing on the cake, but possibly even more than that.
Matt: Yeah, we have to be careful about what we talk about as physicians with medical licenses. I mean, some of the plants are legal like you've talked about the Aztec Dream or Urban [01:00:21] ____. Most of it is illegal. Even though it's illegal, the science is very compelling. We know indigenous people have been using this for thousands of years, and now we're really starting to study it in places like John Hopkins. So, I do think it's one of the most interesting things and potentially something that could really make a big difference positive in the world.
But like every medicine, you said plant medicine, there are risks. I want to stress that. I mean, the analogy that I use with plant medicine is I think we're all on this journey in trying to get to a certain place. Whether you call it enlightenment or peace or contentment. And as we're trying to get there, there are multiple ways to get there. I look at someone just kind of stumbling through life randomly and they make some good decisions, get good feedback, bad decisions, and bad feedback. That person is progressing, but it's like crawling. Whereas if you give them something like meditation, a tool, or they find spirituality and prayer, that's like walking to the destination. And then if they have a guide, maybe they have a good community or they have someone who's wiser and can help them. Maybe that's riding a bike. Whereas some of these plant medicines are more like getting in a race car and getting there. And while that may sound appealing. If you imagine someone who is crawling to this destination and they’ve never seen a race car and you try to put them behind the wheel of it, that's a very dangerous situation. They may get there faster or they may crash and burn.
So, that's why I think people talk about having a guide that maybe his driver and you’re the passenger. And my hope is that we do the science and we get to a place where our decisions around this stuff and how we regulate it and the guide rails we put up for safety, I hope that they become reasonable and evidence-based. Because right now, even if you go to try to find that guide, you just have no idea if they have the experience, skills, or compassion needed to keep you safe while you're trying to get the benefit. But I do feel really optimistic with all the research being done that we're going to get to that place where we can hopefully harness the incredible potential, but also just protect people from the dangers as well.
Ben: Well, as annoying as it is for some people to hear, the benefits of some of these things that might be relied upon as a fast track to a certain goal are certainly, in some cases, undeniable. And yet there's something to be said about the journey itself. Not the plant medicine journey, but the journey of doing the hard thing of going and getting on a diet that causes you to engage in some amount of self-control, discipline, awareness, and intuition versus getting a gastric bypass surgery or learning how to recruit muscles with your actual brain while squatting, deadlifting or doing it clean versus using an electrical muscle stimulation device that tortures you for 20 minutes and then it drops you off all sore.
There are some definite advantages to building character through doing the hard work and actually engaging in the long and sometimes difficult journey to achieve a cognitive goal, physical goal, spiritual goal, or anything else. Even if some of that stuff can be fast-tracked, I always find that the long-term stick when it comes to character development, ego disillusion, or anything else typically involves combining that with the hard work, or even if that kind of stuff isn’t appealing to you or accessible to you, realizing that you can often get similar results through doing the hard work.
Matt: Yeah, 100%. And that's why we have the objective measures and the scoring system. If someone wants to go immediately to the plant medicine and that world, I would strongly recommend they really have a mindfulness practice. They do a lot of the work prior because it's important. It's not going to stick. They may have a peak experience, but the discipline you gain from putting in the work, those two things in my mind have to have to go together.
Ben: And what about the slightly more legal side of things that you guys could speak to such as peptides or even synthetic alternatives to plant medicine such as say ketamine mean or something like that? Are you guys using any of that in your practice?
Matt: We are. Yeah. I mean with peptides; we frequently will prescribe peptides. Again, we try to do it a little more sparingly than the things that benefit everyone without the downsides, just because there’s not a ton of literature out about them. But some of our patients have responded really incredibly to Dihexa, for example. Especially if they BDNF SNPs that means their BDNF, in general, is low, they respond well to Dihexa.
Ben: Dihexa being a transdermal peptide applied to either side of the neck? Is that the one you're referring to?
Matt: Yes, exactly. There's an oral form as well, but yet most people use the transdermal.
Ben: It's a fantastic nootropic.
Matt: And there are plenty of others too like [01:05:16] ___, Semax, and some of those, people have really good results with. But those, in my mind, are similar to the plant medicine like we talked about it. There are downsides in any compounds. They just need to be monitored. You can get good results, but some people don't get results, and so they shouldn't spend the money and take on the risk at the same time.
Ben: Yeah, that makes sense. I know we're getting a little bit long in the tooth, and we've really only scratched the surface of all the things one could do, so to speak, for cognitive optimization. And I know that you guys are putting together an event down there in Lexington at the Castle. Can you fill me in on that? Because from what I understand, it is pretty focused on biohacking the brain or optimizing mental function.
Matt: Yeah, so I mean it's a little up in the air as to how much is going to be in-person versus online, just because we don't know what the safety is going to be like. Right now, we are hopeful and we're planning to have in-person. We’re really hopeful that you're going to be able to make it out. There are not any travel restrictions. And then we've got some other really incredible folks coming as well. We hope to have it in person because we want to be experiential. So, when we talk about sauna and cryotherapy, we didn't talk about that at all today, but we talked about the benefits of the brain. We want to then get in a cold tub and get in a sauna with folks.
It's going to be a very small event. The first day we're going to be talking about wild foods. We didn't talk much about food today, but just incredibly, incredibly nutritionally dense wild foods and some wild plants that are medicinal. We're not only going to talk about them, but we're going to go on a wild foods walk and forage for some food, and then that first night have a wild foods feast. Then the second day, you mentioned plant medicine. We’ve got a couple of really expert guests coming to just talk about that a little bit. We’re not going to do plant medicine that night.
When we talk about breathwork, for example, we are actually going to have a breathwork session, a group session that night. It’s a small in-person group, and then we’re also going to stream it, which also is going to be online. So, there’s either option. If you don’t feel safe traveling or it’s not to travel, if you go to WildHealth.com to register for the conference, there’s going to be an online option and an in-person option as well.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. Well, for those of you listening in, yours truly, because I like to refer myself in the third person, does indeed plan to be there. Should there be airplanes that are flying, I will be there actually. You guys can plan on me actually being there and teaching some of my own biohacking stacks and my own flavor to cognitive optimization that does go beyond just snorting nicotine up your nose prior to recording a podcast. I think it’ll be a fantastic event. I, deep down inside, wish that the pandemic wasn’t putting such a hamper to put together events like this. But as you guys alluded to, the whole online component and the streaming component can be useful for people who can’t make it down there to Lexington for the event. And that’s September, was it 26th?
Matt: 26th and 27th, yup.
Ben: Okay. WildHealth.com would be the best place to go to learn more about that?
Matt: Yeah. We’ll put a big link up there. We haven’t talked about this ahead of time, really, but we’ll put a discount code. If people just put the word “BEN” in when they register as well.
Ben: Great. Okay. Cool. We’ll toss in, I don’t know, a free packet of lion’s mane or something.
Matt: Sure. Actually, we’ve got incredibly fresh lion’s mane here. With the feast, I’m sure we’ll have some lion’s mane. I’ve been eating it most days. Right now, it’s in season here.
Ben: Right, yeah. Me too. I actually just was with Dr. Matt Cook down in San Jose and we spent several days down there. We literally got a giant shipment of US Wellness Meats ribeye steaks, sweetbreads, and some chicken and beef in. All the restaurants are pretty much close aside from a little bit of outdoor dining. We took out the Traeger grill and we pretty much did meat. I don’t know they were buying it but they literally had paper bags full of lion’s mane in the refrigerator.
So, we were sautéing lion’s mane in olive oil or butter with just some sea salt, black pepper, and a little bit of turmeric, and eating meat and lion’s mane literally breakfast, lunch, and dinner and just reheating leftovers. It was nothing short of amazing. I felt pretty neuroplastic coming back from that like a neuroplastic carnivore.
Matt: That’s incredible. I actually grow lion’s mane on my property. That’s where we’ll do the wild foods walk and things. I found a nearly unlimited supply about 30 minutes from me. I can’t tell you exactly. It’s a secret because I don’t want to lose my supply. But I’ve got of these locally.
Ben: I was going to say, I’ll give you some money under the table or Venmo you to dehydrate that stuff, Vitamix it, and toss it in some Ziploc bags up to me here in Washington because I have yet to find some good lion’s mane sources up here.
Anyways though, there are so many little rabbit holes that we could dive into when it comes to biohacking the brain and so much more than I know is going to occur at that event coming up at the end of September in Lexington and so much more than you guys have available on your website. So, I'm going to link to everything that we discuss, the Myndlift; and some of the articles on the psychobiome; the pooled COVID testing; books like “The Angel & The Assassin;” my own article I wrote on advanced biohacking stacks for enhancing meditation; the Kokoon, the SilentMode, and all that.
I’ll link to everything at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/WildHealthBrain, which is where you can also get into more information on brain biohacking events. What code did you say folks can use, Matt? Was it BEN?
Matt: BEN, yeah. That's probably pretty easy to spell, so that's a good one to use.
Ben: Last time I checked; I can spell it. And that will be over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/WildHealthBrain. Matt and Mike, as usual, it's been a fascinating and fun discussion.
Mike: Thanks, man. Can't wait to see you in September.
Ben: Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Matt Dawson and Mike Mullen signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com. Have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the show notes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful, “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode help to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. So, when you listen in, be sure to use the links in the show notes, use the promo codes that I generate because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Drs. Matt Dawson and Mike Mallin are the head honcho docs at Wild Health, with locations in Versailles, KY, and Bend, OR. I first interviewed these guys in the episode “How To Use Precision Medicine To Enhance Athletic Performance, Defy Aging, Balance Hormones, Fix The Heart & Much More.” then again in “Why Your DNA Is Worthless (& What You Need To Focus On Instead)“.
In this episode, they're back to talk all things brain optimization, brain biohacking, and a medical-based precision genomics approach to upgrading the brain.
Dr. Matt Dawson is a precision medicine physician in Lexington, KY, co-host of the Wild Health Podcast, and has been obsessed with performance optimization as long as he can remember. He received scholarships to play two sports in college even with “minimal talent” because of his voracious reading and implementation of any fitness or nutritional techniques that would give him an edge. Dr. Dawson continued that obsession in medical school, and as a physician, he has won national awards for education, innovation, and leadership. He has lectured in over 20 countries and trained thousands of other physicians through live lectures, online education, two textbooks, and an educational app. Dr. Dawson combines his training in genomics and functional medicine to give personalized, precise medical guidance. His obsession with performance optimization has morphed from, initially athletic, to now mental performance and longevity.
Whether you're a professional athlete or a grandparent optimizing your mental clarity and mobility to keep up with your grandkids, Dr. Dawson is passionate about helping you perform at your absolute peak.
Dr. Mike Mallin is a physician in Bend, OR who is obsessed with health performance and precision medicine and is co-founder of the Wild Health Podcast. He completed medical school in South Carolina and trained in emergency medicine in Salt Lake City, UT, where he competed in several ultramarathons and found his love for the mountains and performance. Mike currently practices in Bend, OR, and Lexington, KY in his precision medicine clinics. He is also co-founder of the Ultrasound Podcast, an educational podcast that has taught thousands of physicians all over the world how to use ultrasound.
In this podcast, we discuss the September brain biohacking event coming up in Lexington, KY, September 26-28 (use code BEN to save 20%).
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-Matt and Mike's work on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic…10:30
- Educate the public via the Wild Health Podcast
- Provide education and research on COVID-19 testing
- Help transition back to a sense of normalcy with sound guidance
- Identify actual COVID-19 patients from those who exhibit one or two symptoms
- Pooled testing recently approved by the FDA
- NPR story on pooled COVID testing
- Contact Wild Health for info on pooled testing
-Tests that determine cognitive function…19:10
- “No biohacking before the basics”
- DNA, genomics, etc. to get a full picture of the health
- Scoring system takes into account cardiovascular health, insulin resistance, inflammation, cancer risks, and other metrics
- You get to a certain point when you're considered “optimized” and ready for more advanced brain tests
- Examine both genotype and phenotype
- APOe4 most associated with Alzheimer's; many more SNPs associated with Alzheimer's
- Don't examine specific SNPs individually
- Tissue necrosis factor (TNF) + APOe4 gene elevates risk of Alzheimer's by 6x
- TNF levels are determined by genetics
- Neurotransmitter balances are determined from a genetics standpoint
- KetoFlex 12/3 (The Bredesen Protocol) – thinking of Alzheimer's as a metabolic disease
- Efficacy of ketones on the brain
- Insulin degrading enzyme and interleukin 1B correlate with insulin levels in response to ketones
- The wrong genes lead to a worsening of conditions when ingesting ketones
- Genomics as a predictive model
- CNS Vital Sign Test: attention, memory, processing speed, etc. to determine appropriate further tests
- CNS Tap test
- Brain HQ app
- N-Back training app
- DUTCH test
- Organic acids test (Organix® Dysbiosis Profile (Organic Acids)-Genova Kit)
-The link between immune function and the brain…39:00
- Book: The Angel & The Assassin by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
- No specific markers consistently link immune function and brain health
- High sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP)
- Gut and microbiome testing
- Inflammation in the gut is consistent; some degree of response in the brain
- Meet the ‘psychobiome’: the gut bacteria that may alter how you think, feel, and act -Science magazine article
- BGF podcast with Drs. Joel Dudley and Chris Mason of Onegevity Health
- Onegevity Health's Gutbio ™ microbiome test (use code BEN20 to save $20)
-Recommended brain optimization modalities and strategies…43:30
- Peptide and nootropic personalization
- Breathing exercises, mindfulness and meditation make a big difference
- Therapy Genetics – new service offered by Wild Health
- Myndlift:”meditation on steroids” – neurofeedback tool used with the Muse headband
- Peak Brain Institute
- Halo Sport
- Support patients if they choose to wear wearables, but don't be dependent on them
- Kokoon noise canceling headphones playing Wholetones while wearing dark masks like a Mindfold
- Oura ring with the moment function for meditation
- SilentMode Power Mask
- Ben's article “Better Living Through Science: Two Advanced Biohacking Strategies & “Stacks” For Enhancing Sleep & Meditation.“
-How to and how not to use plant medicines for cognitive function and brain health…57:15
- 2019 study on microdosing – Psychedelic microdosing benefits and challenges: an empirical codebook
- Analogy of crawling, walking, car, race car (take care of the basics before the advanced tactics)
- Focus on the journey, the hard work (mindfulness, meditation, relationships, sleep, etc.) and use psychedelics accordingly
-Peptides, ketamine, synthetic substitutes for plant medicines…1:04:20
-About the event being held at the Kentucky Castle this September…1:06:00
- Wild Health Brain Optimization Summit this coming September 26~28 in Lexington, KY.
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
– Wild Health:
- Wild Health Podcast
- Ultrasound Podcast
- Wild Health Brain Optimization Summit this coming September 26~28 in Lexington, KY.
- Podcast: How To Use Precision Medicine To Enhance Athletic Performance, Defy Aging, Balance Hormones, Fix The Heart & Much More.
- Podcast: Why Your DNA Is Worthless (& What You Need To Focus On Instead)
– Podcasts and articles on peptides:
- The Peptides Podcast: Everything You Need To Know About Anti-Aging, Muscle Gain, Fat Loss & Recovery Peptides. – with Dr. Jean-François Tremblay
- Peptides Unveiled: The Best Peptide Stacks For Anti-Aging, Growth Hormone, Deep Sleep, Hair Loss, Enhanced Cognition & Much More! – with Dr. William Seeds and Jeremy Delk
- What You Didn’t Know About CBD & THC, Fixing Lyme Disease, The Full Body Blood Change Reboot, Peptides 101, Hyperthermia & Much More! – with Dr. Matt Cook
- How To Use Growth Hormone Stacks For A Better Body: Everything You Need To Know About IGF-LR3, GHRP, and GHRH Peptide Stacks.
- The Dark Side Of Peptides: Why You Need To Proceed With Caution When Using These Powerful But Potentially Carcinogenic Molecules.
- Demystifying Growth Hormone-Releasing Peptides – Everything You Need To Know About GH, Ipamorelin, Tesamorelin & More!
- How To Use BPC-157: A Complete Dummies Guide To Healing The Body Like Wolverine.
- How To Build New Blood Vessels, Regenerate Muscle Tissue Fibers, Increase New Cell Growth & More With Something Called “TB-500”.
- Muse headband
- Vielight photobiomodulation device
- Halo Sport tDCS device
- Kokoon noise canceling headphones
- Mindfold sleeping mask
- Oura ring
- SilentMode Power Mask
- CNS Vital Sign Test
- DUTCH test
- Organic acids test (Organix® Dysbiosis Profile (Organic Acids) – Genova Kit)
- Genova gut testing
- Viome microbiome testing
- Gutbio ™ microbiome test (use code BEN20 to save $20)
– Other resources:
- Book: The Angel & The Assassin by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
- FDA approves sample pooling in COVID-19 diagnostic testing
- NPR article: Pooling Coronavirus Tests Can Spare Scarce Supplies, But There's A Catch
- Science magazine article: Meet the ‘psychobiome’: the gut bacteria that may alter how you think, feel, and act.
- 2019 article on microdosing: Psychedelic microdosing benefits and challenges: an empirical codebook
- The Bredesen Protocol (KetoFlex 12/3)
- Ketone esters
- Brainscape app
- CNS Tap test app
- Brain HQ app
- N-Back training app
- Peak Brain Institute
- Zen nasal spray
–Kion Cold Thermogenesis Challenge: If you've never tried cold showers or cold plunges, this is a great way to “dip your toes” into the practice of cold thermo with the support of thousands of others. The deadline to register is August 2nd, so act fast!
–Organifi Glow: A plant-based beverage that helps support the body’s natural ability to produce collagen, smooth fine lines and wrinkles, and protect the skin from sun exposure and toxins. Receive a 20% discount on your entire order when you use discount code: “BENG20”
–Perfect Keto: Perfect Keto helps make a low-carb lifestyle easier with snacks and supplements formulated by Dr. Anthony Gustin, plus the best low-carb recipes and information. For 20% off your order + free shipping, use discount code: BGF
–Water and Wellness: The best solution for clean and safe drinking water. Water and Wellness also offers an amazing line of essential water additives such as Quinton Marine plasma which contain over 78 trace minerals and elements from the ocean to help restore your biological-terrain. Get 15% off your order when you use discount code: GREENFIELD