[Transcript] – Is Kava Bad For Your Liver, The Best Kava Stacks, Psychedelics Role In “Knowing God” & Much More With TruKava’s Cameron George.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/cameron-george/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:16] Podcast Sponsors

[00:03:53] Guest Introduction

[00:05:21] What are the effects of kava?

[00:18:38] Not all plants in nature are consumable

[00:23:19] What can kava be mixed with?

[00:32:57] Podcast Sponsors

[00:35:54] Bens’ current position on use of plant medicines and the whole psychedelic phenomenon

[01:03:10] Wrapping up

[01:08:52] End of Podcast

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Cameron:  If you're looking to rebuild your life and your life is symbolically a house that you're trying to build, you're trying to reconstruct it, you've got this empty lot that needs to be excavated first, you can bring in the tools, you can bring in the building blocks and you can just throw them in a pile. And then, you don't have a house and you're like, “Okay. Well, then I'll just take more of it and throw it in a pile and throw it in a pile.” And then, you've got a bigger and bigger pile of rubble that's worse than the clean slate that you had before. So, a house is made out of bricks but a pile of bricks is not a house, right?

Ben:  Yup.

Cameron:  So, the big piece that is missing in most people's process is the structure, the discipline, the integration to take any perspective in any approach that you take and responsibly actively seek to mold it into something that produces more fruit day in and day out. 

Ben:  Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.

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Well, hello folks. What you're about to hear is a podcast interview with my friend Cameron George. He's been on my podcast before to talk about this plant medicine called kava. We not only take a deeper dive into kava on this episode, but he actually had a lot of questions he wanted to ask me about entheogens, psychedelics, and plant medicines. And so, we just had a fascinating discussion. We recorded this at an event called RUNGA in Austin, Texas. We kind of broke away and did one of my famous walking and talking podcasts on the walking trail near the RUNGA facility. And so, I think you're really going to dig this one.

The shownotes are going to be at BenGreenfieldLife.com/CameronGeorge. It's pretty easy to spell. C-A-M-E-R-O-N-G-E-O-R-G-E, BenGreenfieldLife.com/CameronGeorge. And, if you're interested in some of the stuff that we discussed regarding kava, his company is called Tru Kava. I'll link to that and I'll reach out to him and see if I can get some discount codes and for his stuff that I'll also put at BenGreenfieldLife.com/CameronGeorge if you want to try some of his tinctures and drinks. And, I actually really, really like his stuff. I dose with an ungodly amount of kava right before I begin this podcast and actually felt pretty good. The shownotes are BenGreenfieldLife.com/CameronGeorge. Enjoy.

Cameron, I think I'm kind of sort of a guest on your podcast. And, I'm curious if you sabotaged every guest by giving them this strange fringe powdered concentrated extract of kava from some forbidden island or if you're just kind of getting picking this stuff out on me.

Cameron:  Well, I decided whenever I was going to launch a podcast that that would be a core strategy and theme of the show is we're going to overdose everyone on kava going into the episode.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, conversations with Cameron on drugs.

Cameron:  It's a little bit of a truth serum.

Ben:  So, I was telling you when you were dosing me up with kava because you gave me, let's cut straight to this chase, kind of the strong shit that probably isn't hyper-marketable for the average audience because it turns your mouth numb and it's kind of bitter and way different than the stuff you sent to me in my house in the past, which are these nice flavorful canned drinks and tinctures and stuff. 

So, I have had the experience that you just gave me back in the kitchen here in Austin down in Hawaii when I've drank traditional kava in kava ceremonies down there at kava bar. Shoutout to Kanaka Kava, by the way, I think the best poo-poo platter in Hawaii's down there in Kailua-Kona, Kanaka Kava back behind the volleyball course there. But, I've had giant fishbowl-sized volumes of kava from there and experience that same mouth-turn-numb type of feeling but had always associated kava with kind of nighttime relaxation, tiredness, almost a Hawaiian legal form of weed or something that you drink. What you told me was what we just took is energizing.

Cameron:  Yeah. Well, it's kind of funny too because depending on the island that you get your kava at, you can get drastically different effects across the spectrum from just the world of cannabis, there's all these different strains that have slightly different effects. There's sort of the sativa strains that are generally more cerebral and activating.

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  And then, there's the indica strains that are more body that sort of in all the way to that couch block feeling that people if they get really toasted on it. But, it's still there's an overarching effect that feels cannabis. There are certain characteristics that come through no matter what. And, kava's kind of like that except for kava doesn't really interfere with your faculties at hardly any dose, even massive dosages of it.

Ben:  Yeah, it's not psychedelic, right?

Cameron:  Right, right. It doesn't take you into an altered state, it's more a calm enhanced state of natural sobriety. So, it's like they have a saying in the islands. I think we've talked about in the last conversation in Vanuatu where the mecca of kava is — 

Ben:  Wait, Vanuatu is an island?

Cameron:  Yeah. Well, it's an island chain.

Ben:  Okay.

Cameron:  It's right off the coast of Fiji, so everyone knows Fiji. So, it's over there in the South Pacific in Polynesia. So Vanuatu, it's been used for 3,000 years like 90% of the population drinks kava on a regular basis. But, the important thing is they drink it in the food form, like coffee as a food form. And then, there's caffeine powder, which is not a food form.

Ben:  Right, right. And, actually, that's a good point to interrupt you real quick is I tell people this. I'm like, you could buy a bag of concentrated caffeine powder from bulk supplements or whatever on Amazon. And, a few tablespoons of that could literally kill somebody.

Cameron:  Right, right.

Ben:  Whereas, a cup of coffee is not the hyper extracted hyper-concentrated stuff. And, the same would go for — I'm sure you've heard about all the issues with kratom going on, people getting addicted to kratom, people getting sick from kratom, et cetera. Kratom powder that you make a morning glass of tea out of, isn't that big of a deal? But, these high hyper-concentrated versions that a lot of supplement manufacturers using now are kind of messing people up.

And so, back to what you were saying about kava, are you implying that there's certain hyper-concentrated versions that wouldn't be as good and that the islanders in Vanuatu are just drinking this natural powdered extract?

Cameron:  Yeah. Well, actually back here in 2021, the WHO and the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which is a subset of the WHO that sets world food quality standards, adopted an international quality standard that actually by classification separates food-grade kava from kava-like extracts.

Ben:  Okay.

Cameron:  Because it was important enough and it was hurting the kava industry for years that people would sort of get these denatured forms of kava that were extracted with solvents where they sort of isolated a few of the active constituents and turned it basically into a pharmaceutical, which is the same thing that happens with cocaine out of coca leaf tea, which is very safe. It's kind of the same comparison, right? They drink it in Peru daily and it's like robbing convenience stores and losing their life over the weekend or anything.

And, cocaine is one of the most destructive substances you can put in your body. So, its context matters and the devils in the details. But, whenever a lot of these medicines are in their complete food form, they have more of a compatibility with human biology because it's one organism integrating with another organism fully not sort of one bastardized or isolated constituent with that organism. It's just like if you take an individual constituent like a hormone out of the human body and synthesize it and then give it back to a human, you can create problems whenever you do that over time if you're injecting testosterone or something versus say giving a plant medicine that contains compounds that help to elevate testosterone indirectly or if you're say eating some form of meat like raw testicles or something that actually has the bioidentical versions of the hormone in it within a matrix.

Ben:  Yeah. So, kava is like raw testicles basically.

So, Vanuatu would be island where they harvest this stuff and traditionally drink it in powdered form, but when I asked that question, what I had mentioned was this idea that I have always associated kava with being an anxiolytic, with being something that could enhance sleep, something to kind of settle you down at the end of the day similar to my experience in Hawaii how they'll serve it and then you're just ready to go face down in your table or else get an Uber back and go to bed. I guess I'd have Ubers in Hawaii, yeah, hitchhike, back and go to bed at least in Kona. But, whatever you gave me just now up in the kitchen, it was like a blend I think you said of chips and roots, and you said it was going to be energizing and you had me mix it into coffee. So, tell me about that.

Cameron:  Yeah. It's really interesting so we kind of touched on the this just a few minutes ago. So, just like cannabis, you have this spectrum that spans across an effects profile for kava. Real kava in its traditional form, whenever you don't bastardize it with any kind of isolation process or solvent extraction method like we spoke about, contains a really balanced effect of both headiness and heaviness. So, it sort of gives you an engaged activated feeling inside of your consciousness, inside of your psyche while relaxing you and grounding you at the same time. So, a balanced strain of kava will actually sort of give you both of those effects. So, it's not as much stimulating but activating. So, you're not sort of lulled, your brain chemistry isn't lulled, but you are relaxed at the same time. And, that's kind of what this is, but there's a spectrum, just like we spoke about with cannabis, that certain strains have been bred and dialed in to express more of one characteristic than the other. So, this blend that I gave you tears more towards the mental activation and the nootropic effect.

Ben:  Okay. It would almost be like taking caffeine. I'm sure you've heard of this trick and you take 100 milligrams of L-theanine when you have a cup of coffee and it allows the coffee to last a little bit longer, extends the life of the caffeine, the bloodstream that kind of staves off some of the jitter effects of not just coffee but any caffeinated compound.

Now, my experience right now is I dosed up about 20 minutes ago. What I feel like right now is I do feel a little bit like my tongue was kind of numb, my lips were numb as you get with a little bit more of a concentrated kava. And, I've got a little bit of relaxation going on kind of similar to the type of body relaxation I'd experience with an indica strain of cannabis, but my cognition, and of course, I suppose the podcast listeners could judge, my cognition seems dialed in and focused. So, the best way I can describe is my body feels relaxed right now and we're walking as everybody's probably guessed by now, we're walking along this little path outside a place where Cameron and I are staying, and my body feels very relaxed but my brain feels kind of focused. Is that the type of experience that you think I should be having?

Cameron:  Correct. And, the body relaxation I gave you two things. I gave you two things out of the R&D bag, which amplifies some of the characteristics of our standard retail products, the really tasty ones that are sort of the baseline for what everybody starts with. The first powder that I gave you teeters more towards that cerebral effect and the pace that I gave you brings out more of that relaxation.

Ben:  Yeah. So, let's say that I couldn't or somebody's listening in and they couldn't buy what you just gave me in the concentrated form from your website or whatever, but you have the tincture which is a little bit stronger, could I, for example, if I wanted the same effect take your canned kava drink and pour that into a glass and put a few dropper fulls of the tincture in to make it stronger?

Cameron:  Yeah. So, our retail products that are available right now on the website direct to consumers and that we're launching in retail have been dialed in already to contain both of those effects in a very, very smooth sort of marketable form for almost anybody to enjoy right out of the gate. And then, later on in the future, we'll have more specialized products released in direct to consumer and into the medical space that people can kind of amplify one characteristic more than the other. So, yes.

Ben:  Okay.

Cameron:  So, the products right now are very balanced, they're sort of in the middle of that spectrum, which is really where kava showcases its best effects profiles whenever you get it right in the middle that's where it's most popular, that really gives it kind of that social lubricant alcohol-like effect where obviously the effects of alcohol relax the body, relax the mind, but they also engage the person socially. But obviously, we know the negative feedback or deleterious effects with alcohol that don't exist with kava.

Ben:  Yeah, exactly. There's a few kind of more usage-based questions that I know you had some questions for me because I don't know we're kind of doing this for both of our respective podcasts. But, first of all, if I were to drink this let's say in the morning as a substitute for my coffee or tea, does it have calories? Will it take me out of a fasted state that classic supplements question everybody, orthorexic wants to know about?

Cameron:  So, it's basically negligible like our carbonated drink from the website only has five calories in it and it has no sugar so it's sweetened with stevia. And, that was a very, very difficult thing to do to cover up — 

Ben:  [00:16:10] _____ addictive. By the way, I think I drink six of them yesterday.

Cameron:  Yeah, yeah. I mean, everybody absolutely loves the drink because the two main barriers with kava, the effects are profound. And, once people use kava regularly and they get sort of the cumulative buildup effect that it kind of takes, I always tell people to take kava for about two weeks to a month to get to its maximum of what it's going to do for them.

Ben:  Oh, really?

Cameron:  Yeah, yeah. That's an important point because there's a — 

Ben:  I've never heard that.

Cameron:  There's a reverse tolerance effect because of how kava works pharmacologically.

Ben:  Reverse tolerance effect.

Cameron:  Yeah. So, this is something that's been well-documented anthropologically but also in the scientific literature as well is that kava elicits an up regulatory effect and it's kind of a reset to the nervous system into the brain chemistry. So, what we've actually seen in the studies now which had been documented in the South Pacific forever, of course, not from a scientific standpoint, theirs was experiential from the indigenous people. But, what we're seeing the scientific literature is over a long-term usage, we see an upregulation in the GABA pathway and the dopamine pathway. But, we see an increase in GABA receptor density, which is the opposite effect of say a pharmaceutical that would affect the same receptors like a benzodiazepine like Xanax or Klonopin or alcohol.

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  Those things will give you the most and like any illicit drug will give you the most prominent effect the first time you take it and then the receptors adapt to it, they develop tolerance and it's basically when you take most drugs, they're kind of a hack to the body that borrows from tomorrow's brain chemistry to pay for today. Your brain chemistry that makes you feel good, these chemicals are currency. And, if you overstimulate them, then you're sort of exhausting them, right?

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  But, kava is having this effect where it's giving you this acute activation of those systems but it's turning them on and upregulating them. So over time, you need less of the same substance to get the same effect.

Ben:  That's fascinating. Okay. That's very interesting.

Cameron:  That's one thing about kava that not only is it not — because I get this question all the time, “Is kava just a replacement for another drug?” “Am I just switching out one addiction for the other?”

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  Kava has been consistently shown every form of evidence to not only be non-addictive but because of the process I just described, it's actually an anti-addictive substance that helps to interrupt that sort of dopamine/serotonin GABA depletion loop that people get into, which is fantastic for getting off of pharmaceuticals.

Ben:  That makes sense.

A lot of people have asked me if kava is hard on their liver. And, I've seen some people talk about how they think kava might raise liver enzymes or something like that. Tell me about that.

Cameron:  Okay, this is a very, very important point. I get this question all the time and right out of the gate. This kind of alludes to what we were talking about earlier about the form of the plant that you're using, the whole food form versus the drug synthesized isolate form, which is more true for some plants than others. Not all plants in nature are plants that are consumable. In fact, plants are living organisms just like we're living organisms. And, I like — 

Ben:  Plants don't want to be eaten says Dr. Paul Saladino.

Cameron:  To me, that's a little bit extreme in the sense of like — 

Ben:  I know, I don't want to be eaten either.

Cameron:  Yeah. I mean, projecting personified characteristics onto other organisms like plants. But, what I would say is that with every organism in the natural ecology and we're part of that ecology, there's opportunities behaviorally to form relationships one organism to another. And, I like to think of bringing a plant or a fungus into your life or another person as forming a relationship with them just like some people have certain guard rails up and have certain adaptations in their life that make them harder to form a relationship with. Plants are the same way. So, some plants are ready to interface with humans in a more direct way and some plants have more adaptive defenses that make it very difficult to do that, right?

Ben:  Right, like a thorn bush or kale.

Cameron:  Yes, or most mushrooms that you pick up off the ground you don't want to eat, right? Meaning like the ground mushrooms, a lot of them. There are plenty of mushrooms that'll make you sick as hell. Some will kill you.

Ben:  Yeah. I think it's pretty obvious. Mushrooms don't want to be eaten, most of them.

Cameron:  Yes. And, of course, there's some adaptogenic mushrooms mainly tree mushrooms, rishi, chaga, shiitake, maitake, all of which have more of an interface with the human body. But, I say all that because some plants across that spectrum are very, very primed for relationship with human biology. And, from everything that we know about kava, it is absolutely in that category; however, there are certain things if you use certain parts of the plant, which goes back to indigenous wisdom, the indigenous people of the South Pacific figured out how to form a relationship with this plant and it is really, really interfaced as well as a protector of the nervous system and a protector for the emotions and also a good processor of trauma in the system, which is a little bit different of a discussion. But, where the liver toxicity misnomer came in, it was really based on ignorance and misperception.

Ben:  Okay.

Cameron:  Back in the early 2000s, kava was starting to sort of make headway in the marketplace and there was one. And, just like anything else, the pharmaceutical companies and industry tries to jump in and — 

Ben:  Yeah, all those stupid millennials.

Cameron:  Yeah. But anyways, there is one pharmaceutical company in Germany that tried to develop a patented isolate of kava and they were using these egregious solvents and they didn't pay homage to the parts of the plant that were used, that were usable or the extraction methods or anything that the indigenous people had helped to curate over thousands of years. So, they just thought they would try to get kavalactones. And so, they ended up with some cheap material, which were leaves and stems of the plant and you're only supposed to use the roots. The roots are adaptable to humans.

Ben:  Wait, not just the roots but the chips too because you've had some chips on what you gave me.

Cameron:  Yes. The chips are technically part of the roots. The roots start at the stump that comes right above the ground and goes down into the lateral roots, which are the stringy parts that go underneath the ground. Anything above the basal stump when it branches off into stems and leaves contain much higher amounts of these plant defense alkaloids that it defends itself from pests, but the below and just stump parts do not and they're highly negligible. So, those parts of the plant need to be used.

Anyways, that wasn't paid attention to and not only did they get the wrong parts of the plant, but then they concentrated these plant defense alkaloids after the investigation took place 15 years post this whole circumstance. They concentrated them with solvents so that you ended up with a solvent isolate of a lot of these plant defense compounds. So, it was no more kava than cocaine is, coca tea, right?

Ben:  Okay, okay.

Cameron:  So anyways, it hurt a handful of people and that created this misnomer and liver toxicity.

Ben:  Yeah, that's unfortunate but it makes sense. Thank you for explaining that because that was one concern of mine.

And then, the other is just more curiosity, you had me put my kava that you gave me today in coffee and you said they will accelerate the effects and amplify the effects. So, we've established that coffee might be one thing good to put kava in if you're looking for the energy. What else would stack well with kava in your opinion if you were to choose some of your favorite things to mix with it?

Cameron:  Well, my favorite things to mix with it are going to be different potentiators and caffeine depending on what you use in kava for. If you're using kava at the end of the day for more of the body relaxation and social lubrication and to get your cortisol levels down, then you wouldn't want to mix it with caffeine. But, early part of the day, if you're using these sort of r blends that are all primed to be totally tolerable at daytime or some daytime blends like Kavaplex MIND Oil, that goes perfect with coffee. Caffeine — 

Ben:  That's the name of the one you have that's more for clarity and focus, Kavaplex MIND that's a tincture?

Cameron:  Yes.

Ben:  Okay, I have that one. I like that one.

Cameron:  Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, caffeine really helps with blood flow and transport of the kavalactones and it gives a very noticeable potentiation effect. So, they potentiate each other. The kava, like you mentioned, kind of the theanine kind of takes the edge off the caffeine, but it also intensifies the natural euphoria. They potentiate each other and the nootropic kick as well too. So, it's one of the best nootropic blends I've ever tried because I like something — 

Ben:  You mean, cava-caffeine combo?

Cameron:  Yes.

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  And, I would throw MCT into that because — 

Ben:  I should clarify, not kava-caffeine K-A-M-B-O, the kava caffeine C-O-M-B-O.

Cameron:  Right, right. And, I would throw MCT into that because MCT helps to transport — 

Ben:  MCT oil?

Cameron:  Yeah.

Ben:  Okay.

Cameron:  MCT oil, preferably C8. It increases the transport of the kavalactones acting kind of a little lipid raft that gets them past the liver and into the bloodstream and everything and across and all that — 

Ben:  Okay. So, that's cool. And then, obviously there's companies that I'm sure you never like it when competitors are brought up, but there's companies like Feel Free that are combining it with kratom, which seems to be an interesting stack that a lot of people like. And then, I have found, and this might be a new one for you, Cameron, 1.3 butanediol is a ketone ester that in lower amounts is used as a performance enhancing aid and in higher amounts can actually be a pretty potent muscle relaxant if it's kind of combined with Ketone Esters, a company a Ketone Aid is making these nighttime drinks like gin and tonic and Moscow mule and champagne, but it's not alcohol, it's 1.3 butanediol with Ketone Ester. So, it doesn't produce all the acetaldehyde and the toxic side effects of alcohol but it gives you this relaxed social lubricating effect.

Cameron:  Yeah.

Ben:  Now, what I've experimented with is taking kava under this theory that's kind of sort of a relaxant anyways or can be and then combining it with ketone drinks, and that's actually a really nice evening cocktail. You ever try something like that?

Cameron:  Yes, yes. It goes greatly. And, for far more reasons than a lot of people realize, so it's not just that you're supplying these two separate things that both either directly or indirectly affect dopamine and different things, which is part of it, but they actually have a metabolic synergy. So, something that's not well-known about kava are its metabolic effects. So, I think we mentioned this in the last conversation, but I like to tell people when talking about — 

Ben:  Wait, just real quick, the last conversation. You mean the last conversation when I had you on my podcast?

Cameron:  Yeah.

Ben:  Okay, I'll make sure if this one gets published on my show, I'll link to that one for any listing in, I'll make shownotes, I'll put them at BenGreenfieldLife/CameronGeorge, which is Cameron's name, BenGreenfieldLife.com/CameronGeorge. I'll hunt down the other podcasts we did and link to it. But, go ahead.

Cameron:  So basically, kava's main identity as a plant in the natural ecology, it has two main functions. But, the main function and role that it plays in natural ecology is it's a protective organism. It has protective role in the natural ecology where it helps to add some protection to the organisms around it and so on. But, it has developed hermetically a very broad, as far as we can tell, complete set of adaptogenic stress and trauma adaptive compounds that stream across all of human biology, right? 

So basically, whenever you take in kava as an organism, it transfers that adaptability and that that sort of protection status to the human, which is why when kava's been thoroughly studied, it hits on almost every neuro and tissue protective pathway that we know of from the downregulation of glutamate and excitotoxicity is it acts as a cox-2 inhibitor. It's a Nrf2 activator, it's a sodium calcium channel blocker. So, it's this very protective substance. But, I mentioned that because one of the last effects that a lot of people don't really know about or have never heard about is its metabolic effects. 

And, its metabolic effects also feed into that identity because its metabolic effects are also part of its protective nature as far as we can tell because obviously, whenever a person doesn't have food and they go into a recycle mode that's mediated by this AMP kinase pathway and these fat burning pathways that help the body survive in a time which it doesn't have food, that is a protective system in the body that helps the body not only survive in a time when external food isn't present but it also helps to put the body in a recycle state where it helps to clear out its old bad tissues and recycle them to use them as fuel.

So, kava has this mechanism where it helps to activate AMP kinase and it helps to suppress mTOR. Of course, it acts as a modulator, it doesn't always suppress mTOR but it has this effect especially whenever its needed. So basically, kava's been shown to activate AMP kinase, it's been shown to put the body into this cell recycling — 

Ben:  Similar to what Quintons would do.

Cameron:  Exactly.

Ben:  So again, like this one-two combination of relaxation and that longevity autophagy-inducing effect. That's interesting. I didn't realize that.

Cameron:  So basically, it's helping the body turn over energy more efficiently in the form of ketone production but also in dopamine upregulation without having to put glucose in the brain.

Ben:  That's pretty sweet. You're kind of making me want to do a Google image search for kava because I can't say I've actually got my head wrapped around with the whole plant looks like. Are you able to describe it at all when you talk about that protective effects?

Cameron:  Yeah, yeah, it's a shrub that generally grows about 3 meters off the ground, a little taller. But, it has these stocks. It almost kind of look like micro bamboo, these stems, and these beautiful big heart-shaped leaves.

Ben:  Oh, wow.

Cameron:  Right. So, you see it growing big time — 

Ben:  Okay. I'm going to look it up. I'll put a picture in the show — have you been there, to Vanuatu?

Cameron:  Yes. So, our whole supply chain is in Vanuatu and we operated out of New Zealand and also some in Fiji, and some in Hawaii as well too. But anyways, that's why we get those synergistic effects with ketones and stuff as well. It's super synergistic. And, you touch briefly on the combination not only with caffeine and MCT and with ketones, but there's definitely other people, even kava bars popping up and other companies that are stacking it with kratom.

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  That is an interesting short conversation. That can be a little bit of a double-edged sword and the same conversation that we're having with kava about whole plant versus isolate does apply to kratom. However, even whole-leaf kratom doesn't have the same sort of broadly tonic daily use safety profile as kava. It's still a great medicine, but having a lot of experience with it and seeing a lot of use with it clinically and things, there are a percentage of people that are going to get a level of habituation even to the whole leaf extract — 

Ben:  Yeah, I've talked about this on a podcast. It's also based on certain people have a genetic susceptibility based on their CYP enzymes in the liver to get really hit hard by kratom from a biological standpoint as far as liver health and also kind of some people just get knocked on their ass by a cup of coffee because they're a fast coffee oxidizer. The same can be said for kratom. So yeah, I mean, obviously probably the most popular one out there right now is the Feel Free energy drink that's I think it's like 10 parts kava, one part kratom or something like that. And, a lot of people think it makes them feel great. I actually like it, but I've talked to — for everybody who likes it, it seems a lot of people kind of get a little bit messed up by it or use too much. So, I agree, that's a combination that you need to proceed with caution with even though I think there's some efficacy to it. There's no reason you couldn't get powdered kratom and put a little bit in with your kava drinks and kind of experiment.

Cameron:  Yeah, the main thing is I would always just because kratom can be that double-edged sword, I would just want people to be aware of that and to do a little bit of due diligence before and just know to start with small dosages and to just experiment a little because a lot of people just kind of start taking it indiscriminately and I get this all the time and I've seen this. And, actually in Vanuatu, the communities in Vanuatu actually really, really dislike this thing that's popped up with people at kava bars just slipping kratom in without telling people. It's not about trying to deter people from the medicine; what it is is just telling people the differences between the two so that they don't get completely lumped in together.

Ben:  I'm pretty stoked because this is now something I can do when I'm on the go and it's based on this idea that the human body being mostly water. But, what you probably don't know is everything else in your body is 50% amino acids. That means basically water and amino acids are two of the most important things that you can have in your body. And, some amino acids are essential. You have to get them from food, from breaking down steak and chicken and eggs and everything else. But, this stuff called Kion Aminos is a plant-based full essential amino acids profile backed by over 20 years of clinical research with the highest quality ingredients; no fillers, no junk, rigorous quality testing, taste amazing with all-natural flavors. I got on the amino acids bandwagon way back when I was racing Ironman triathlon. Started with branch chain amino acids, realized those were wasted time, switched over to essential amino acids and it has been a game changer ever since.

Now, what did I mean when I said travel? Well, these Kion Aminos, which are the essential amino acids that I take, they have for the watermelon flavor, the lemon-lime flavor, the berry flavor, and the mango flavor, they got stick packs now, so you can take them on the go. I honestly have a couple packs in my fanny pack now. I can dump them in water when I'm at a restaurant, have that instead of a bread basket that comes out or a cocktail. They satiate the appetite. They accelerate recovery. They're amazing pre-workout or during a workout. The list goes on and on. Fact is if you haven't tried essential amino acid, you're a miss now.

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I've worked to achieve many things in life, but my greatest yet most humbling work, I think, has been with my role as a father. Parenting is blissful. It's brutal. It's far beyond anything I ever could have anticipated. My sons are now teenagers. And, the people around us who engage with them often ask if I could write a book on raising children in education and legacy and discipline and all this stuff that goes into raising a good child, a good human. Now, I didn't feel that qualified to write a parenting guide, so I gathered a team of parenting superstars, dozens of my friends; entrepreneurs, authors, neurologists, psychologists, family coaches, a whole lot more. I got all their best tools, techniques, perspectives, habits on again, everything from education, to discipline, to travel, to rites of passage and beyond, and I put it all in one massive book that's like the guide to parenting. So, it's now available. It's at BoundlessParentingBook.com, and that's where you can pre-order your copy today. So, BoundlessParentingBook.com. It has been an absolute adventure putting this thing together. I think you're going to love it.

So, this is all super interesting. What's also interesting is you had actually come up to me in the past couple days here at RUNGA if you could ask me some questions for your podcast and then we wind up recording. And, I've just absolutely learned a ton about kava in the past half hour, but I think you had some things you also wanted to ask me. So, I won't hog the whole podcast. So, if you have questions for me, go ahead.

And, by the way, for folks listening in, I know occasionally we get a little bit of wind popping up where Cameron and I are walking like this six-minute-long trail like there's one corner we go around where you get a little bit of wind but we're totally on brand. You guys know me, I love to walk and talk and get sunshine, so I hope it doesn't bug you too much.

Alright. So, Cameron, what do you got for me?

Cameron:  Alright, exactly. Yeah.

Well, I think this is a good segue kind of into this. We're already talking about plant medicine and everything. This interests me so much, you did this podcast so you did a couple podcasts recently, I think you did a two-parter talking about your sort of re-examination of the whole psychedelic phenomenon and where you're at with it personally and where, from your perspective, your experience is and where you think some of the misnomers of the dangers, the potential dangers in just indiscriminate use of them. 

And then, I saw you did podcast with Josh Trent as well where you guys had a great discussion on it. So, I was fascinated by that to kind of pick your brain on where you're at with that because I have my own thoughts on that. And, a lot of what you said really resonated with me at least as far as the potential dangers that aren't spoken of a lot right on that topic.

Ben:  Yeah. Well, prepare to laugh your ass off at me because I'm a spiritual guy. I'm super into science but we kind of live in this scientific materialistic hyper logical post-reformational era in which things need to be proven by science or seen to be believed. And so, when I say something like a trip dose or a journey dose of shrooms actually has the capability to open up a portal to the other world and allow you to be able to interact with entities and spirits who without a certain type of entheogen in your system, you might have not really been able to interact with; at least the average person would not have been able to interact with, I'll get laughed at, which I think is kind of funny because there's very few atheists who will go to Ayahuasca or psilocybin or ibogaine or DMT or something of the and not come back with some type of belief, often a strong belief in the existence of a spiritual world or a belief in God or something like that because they've encountered some type of deep love and light, or they've encountered some type of entity, or in many cases, they've even come out of an experience having a feeling as though they're possessed by something, which is often the case when you're working with a shaman in the Amazon, for example. And, this doesn't happen to everybody but it's kind of an example of the idea that these entheogens and this is the case for thousands and thousands of years in humans have been a method via which human beings interact with the Divine or interact with the spiritual world.

And so, my concern is now that it's become quite trendy and popular to use these medicines, either traveling to the Amazon to do so or they're widely available as I think most people know in the average loft or apartment or Airbnb where you have your shaman with the weekend certification come on over and serve you up a nice little brew, we've now got a whole bunch of people who traditionally would have been priests and shamans and chiefs in indigenous societies having access to some pretty powerful medicines that bring them into a spiritual experience. And, in many cases, the type of entities or spirits one is encountering in that space might not necessarily have your best interests in mind. 

And, we're talking about everything from demons to spirits to angels to a Lucifer, Satan masquerading as an angel of light. And again, this is to the average white lab coat-wearing scientists complete Huey yet I believe that we're souls with a body, not bodies with a soul, and that we're surrounded by a spiritual world that very few of us interact with on a daily basis but that exists nonetheless and is accessible through several means; prayer, devotion, meditation, silence, solitude, fasting, the so-called chopping wood and carrying water of the spiritual discipline kingdom but also more rapidly and easily accessible without necessarily doing that work and by popping a pill or sipping a brew.

And, the problem that I have with that is A, for every nine people who have a fantastic experience, a fantastic mind expanding spiritually uplifting experience with plant medicines, there's one person who comes out of it kind of effed up like psychosis, schizophrenia, kind of completely confused about their path in life and often in need of some type of, again, don't laugh, exorcism or the need to release whatever entity possessed them while they were in that space. Furthermore, in addition to the dangers that are inherent with that one person who might be a little bit more prone to getting messed up psychologically by that experience, there's also this idea that it's the ultimate path to spiritual enlightenment. And, that really the best way to find God is to engage in the use of plant medicine. 

Well, if that's the best way to find God, there are billions and billions of people who may not have access to or cannot afford plant medicines who all of a sudden are left behind by these spiritual mystics who are the chosen few who are able to engage with these compounds and everybody else just kind of gets the thumbs down approach. And, that's because they're unable to access these or interact with them. And so, essentially, I would never want to give people the message that in order to find God or interact with God, you need to take some exogenous substance because God is free. And furthermore, I think it's a little bit dangerous and a lot of people don't know the spiritual world that they're messing around with.

And, that all being said, I don't think that plant medicines are all bad. I think there are certain use cases. For example, I still microdose occasionally I would say about once every 10 to 12 days or so with psilocybin or LSD or huachuma cactus powder in very small amounts for enhancing things like creativity or focus or social ability. I don't think there's an issue in the proper set and setting, a medically controlled set and setting not necessarily via ayahuasca tourism in the Amazon, which by the way isn't that great for the environment either. I think there's a set and setting for things like end-of-life therapy for terminal cancer or deep trauma that needs to be pulled back out of the system and dealt with in some way. And, the only way to kind of shut down the frontal cortices and access that trauma is by tweaking some neurotransmitters via the use of these plant medicines. And, perhaps for things like sensory enhancement, for hunting experience, or something along those lines, there's a few use cases. But, the problem is it's becoming way too popular, way more widespread without a big enough warning sign and without people being informed or educated on the idea that this is a deep spiritual experience that doesn't necessarily involve just all angels and lights and positivity and in fact can involve interactions with dark entities and dark spirits who may not have your best interests in mind.

And, that's where my concern is. And, I've been asked, “Well, Ben, did you just have some kind of a bad trip that made you not plant medicines anymore?” And, the fact is I've never had anything but a deeply positive and life-changing and profound experience whether me or me and my wife with plant medicines. And, I believe part of that might be because I lived a really plain Jane childhood as did she with very little trauma to pull back up. And, we're also Christians, which I think has probably helped us out a little bit in terms of us having some good spirits on our side. But, you can't tell me that you're going to go into some plant medicine experience all prepared to interact with these entities because they've existed for tens of thousands of years and who are you to say that these demons and spiritual entities who have known how to manipulate many, many generations of humans before you are things that you're strong enough to be able to handle yourself and come away from unharmed. So, I'm not flat-out against plant medicines. I think that there should be a much, much bigger warning sign placed on them. And, I also think that people are being told too much that it is the way to God or it is the way to spiritual enlightenment when in fact you don't need any of that for spiritual enlightenment.

And, the final thing I'll say and then I'll shut my yapper is that I think that we do have access to synthetic compounds that can allow for a mind expanding and left and right hemispheric coordinative effect in the absence of some of the unpredictable weird dark energies that plant medicines carry with them. Sasha Shulgin, for example, did a lot of research on some different synthetics that can have similar effects to things like psilocybin and DMT without necessarily the unpredictability of them. There are ways that you can get similar effects of ayahuasca such as pharmahuasca type approach without necessarily getting that natural organic plant medicine approach that demons and other entities seem to so favorably choose to interact with humans.

And so, I think there is a little bit more safety with synthetics. And, even since publishing that article just to do my research properly, I have journeyed a couple of times with purely synthetic compounds. And, the best way I can describe it is it's not as spiritual, there's not as much of a feeling of God and angels or any entities in the room or anything like that, but you kind of get that same effect you might be looking for with mind expansion like thinking in different ways, approaching business or personal or relationship issues in different ways, being able to control the experience with your breath but not being distressed by some dark energies that I think are present with the plant medicine approach. And, those I think the technical term for them is clarogenic compounds. And, I think if one were to mess around with a plant medicine-esque experience, that would be a far safer route. Unfortunately, there's very few practitioners that do not mix the synthetics with plant medicine compounds thus introducing some of the same risks that I'm concerned about.

Cameron:  Well, first of all, thanks so much for summing that up for us just for the listeners and everything because, I mean, it's really important for people to hear sound bites here and there without actually hearing your entire higher thought process behind a conclusion like that. And, I think it is important too because a lot of people are hearing that term “plant medicine.” Whenever you're talking plant medicines, you're talking about the classic psychedelic class, primarily the serotonin analogs, the tryptamine compounds like psilocybin, DMT, LSD, ayahuasca, anything that creates a super hyper perceptual altered state of mind that brings you either out of body or into a full-blown trip state where you're highly vulnerable to both positive healthy and negative unhealthy influences of all types. And, I think it's really important just even listening to that just to let listeners know.

If you're someone who hears Ben's explanation of his current position on this and says, “What are you talking about, Ben? You're talking about a lot of things; angels and demons and things, that aren't tangible that we can't prove and sort of. What am I supposed to do with this?” Well, I mean, first of all, the first response to that is if you ever read Rick Strassman's book “DMT”: The Spirit Molecule” where he did this series of studies where they gave people DMT, and Rick actually pulled out of this research afterwards, I believe, because he felt he was irresponsible just to give people these compounds and see what happens, right?

Ben:  Right.

Cameron:  Because they all came back having this hyper-perceptual experience that I mean, virtually every patients or clients within the study came back describing some form of spiritual experience. So, whether or not you think that these experiences are some hyper phenomenon of brain activity and you subscribe to the more reductionist perspective of consciousness that you think that the brain is more of a generator of consciousness than anything that happens in our brain is just sort of an imaginary sort of outplay — 

Ben:  Soup of chemicals, yeah.

Cameron:  Right, exactly. And, it creates this sort of subjective experience that's all in your mind or you believe in sort of Rupert Sheldrake’ morphic resonance theory behind consciousness where you believe the brain is more of a receiver transceiver of consciousness where it's like an antenna that's picking up things. And, people like Dennis McKenna have talked about this too. Well, first of all, let me say that no matter which side of the fence you're on there, the experiences are real. And, the experiences can have potential detrimental effects if they go wrong or if the person is either not well prepared or if they're in a situation in which the circumstances and all of the variables are not in place. And, the problem is that you can't fully ascertain that.

Ben:  Or, the shaman or the facilitator is not an upright person who has that individual's best interests in mind, which was the topic of a recent 10-part podcast series by New Yorker magazine which would be interesting to listen to about rampant sexual abuse and financial abuse in the industry just because people are a little bit more manipulatable under the influence of some of these compounds. 

It's also important to note that for people listening in who are Christians or who read the Bible, there is a term that's used in the Bible called “pharmakia.” That term directly translates into using drugs to divine with God or to divine with the spiritual world. That's actually a forbidden practice in the Bible to go and say, “Okay. Well, let's take this pill or this compound and see what God has to say to me or enter into the spirit world.” And, I think the reason for that is God's pretty smart and knew that human beings might not have the capacity to be able to handle that with wisdom. And, it's interesting also because it is differentiated from sobriety. Sobriety is something that's recommended in the Bible, really commanded in the Bible like temperance not getting drunk. I think it's a great recommendation for societal stability and to not have people being plastered and wandering the streets at night having had too much beer or wine. But, there's not that many people who have a deeply spiritual experience on beer and wine.

And so, pharmakia is actually different than drinking alcohol because it's a whole different experience altogether, but it's kind of listed in the Bible as one of the more serious kind of soul scarring mortal sins right up there with cheating on your lover, and defying that sacred sexual relationship or worshiping idols other than God or in this case, taking drugs and exogenous compounds to commune with the divine. And so, if you believe in the Bible, and as a Christian, I have to bring that up because I rely upon the Bible as my source of absolute truth. This is actually what got me down the path of researching this a bit more in the first place was because I kept reading that word in the Bible and I was kind of ignoring it. And then, I started to research it I thought, well, geez, every time I'm journeying with psilocybin or having some type of mind-expanding experience, which I had done quite often for 10 years, I'm actually doing exactly that thing that's technically forbidden in my handbook for life. And so, I realize not everybody follows the Bible as their guidebook for life, but it's important to understand that when the Bible says “pharmakia,” it is literally referring going to the Amazon to do Ayahuasca or taking a heroic dose of psilocybin. And, for people who want to learn more about that, there's a fantastic book by an author named Robert Orem. I'm going to have my podcast pretty soon called appropriately enough pharmakia. So, that's something to think about also.

Cameron:  Yeah. I mean, it's all very interesting. And, as time goes on, even this idea for those who are even questioning the idea that this class of compounds could have the ability to take you into a hyper-perceptual space to experience things beyond a normal state of consciousness and things that exist in other places in reality, it's becoming less and less of a theory and it's actually starting to intersect too with modern science. I mean, we actually have mechanisms now, proposed mechanisms that really kind of coincide with what we know in quantum physics.

For example, one of the mechanisms or the main theory behind what these compounds do and people like Dennis McKenna have talked about this a lot is that we think that they're modulating a process called sensory gating in the brain through these 5-HT2A receptors.

Ben:  Yup.

Cameron:  And, what that does is these receptors are the primary receptors that modulate what comes in, what information is allowed in from the environment. And, by plugging into those receptors and temporarily disabling those receptors, it’s opening the brain up, it's like an antenna that all of a sudden it can get 5,000 more channels, right?

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  And, that's the main theory behind this. It's actually a really, really credible theory. And, to some people, that's a good idea because the idea of expanding awareness, whenever you're on psychedelics, you notice micro details about your environment that you never did before. You'll stare at an ant hill and look at all the intricacies and you can learn things under that. And so, my perspective on it, because as someone — I mean, Ben and I both have had many, many experiences on all kinds of psychedelics. And, like Ben, I've derived primarily positive experiences from them. So, I went through this long period of time where I sort of believe that they were indiscriminately good because of it.

Ben:  If it's good for me, it must be good for everybody, bro.

Cameron:  Right. And, it's one of those things, but I also have had a couple horrific experiences as well too. And, while I do say that where I can stand today, I reflect on those horrific experiences and learned a lot from them, there was — I think that whenever you're stepping into a hyper perceptual state no matter if you think that it's sort of a reductionist circumstance or if it's truly is hyper perceptual or interdimensional or whatever, the experience itself is still a realm that entails both great risk and potential opportunity.

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  And so, I have always been of the mindset with psychedelics after I sort of got out of that initial phase of taking them years and years ago that because I've seen it go both ways that I personally would never tell somebody to engage in a psychedelic experience because as far as on those compounds because I don't know all of the variables in which they're going to have a good outcome or a bad and neither do they.

Ben:  Right.

Cameron:  And so, it is a situation; however, I do believe that there is a level of personal responsibility in all of this that if a person feels drawn or called to a given experience and they have a positive outcome, then I personally am not going to shy them away from that in that sense. But, I believe that's a personal choice that is between them and their own experience and whatever they consider to be the source of where life emanates from, the intelligence, God, whatever somebody would put the label on it. That has been my approach to it because I have seen a tremendous amount both a lot of the work that's coming out with maps and different things and people who have benefited so greatly. I look at the psychedelics like this. I look at them like a tool. For me, my life experience has shown me that the devil's in the details and context matters. There are some things in this world that are indiscriminately unadaptable and bad like drinking a thermometer full of mercury or something, right? You're not going to get hormonesis off that or adaptation. But, there are certain things that aren't good or bad, in my opinion. They don't have a moral aspect to them that the moral dimension comes in with the application and the use.

And, I'm at the point where I kind of see most of these compounds kind of a scalpel. A scalpel can be used to save someone's life in surgery under an emergency state whenever you have to go deep into a wound to reset it. It can be a nasty experience. It can be hard, but it can go deeper and faster. It's a tool that can be used to bring about a positive outcome. It's a duality principle immersing yourself into darkness sometimes or going into a difficult experience. Scalpel can be used to save someone's life, but the tiniest misstep, you can kill someone.

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  So, that's kind of where I see those tools, but like you, I love how you've re-examined and that you're taking this position of like, and that you are brave enough to just to tell people, “Hey, look, I did it this way and I'm updating my perspective. And, I don't believe it's my responsibility to tell people to use a scalpel.”

Ben:  Yeah, because you've noted it's dangerous, so you better have a really damn good reason beyond “I broke up with my boyfriend or girlfriend” or “I'm trying to figure out what kind of career I should follow.” To do something like this, you better have some really, really good supervision from somebody that you absolutely trust. And ideally, in my opinion, you should be using more predictable compounds than some of the pure plants such as the synthetics. And, I don't necessarily think everything's supposed to be safe and pleasant. But, at the same time, I think that more people need to have a complete understanding of what they're getting into, more people need to do the hard work, chopping wood, carrying water, doing meditation and devotions, and engaging in the spiritual disciplines, and silence and solitude, and study and journaling, and breath work, and all these things that people seem reticent to do because they know the easy pill popping route is right around the corner. 

But, the way I to think of it is this. When you take plant medicines, oh, you definitely experience God or at least many people do the full-on light and love. And, like I mentioned, very few atheists will use the plant medicine and come out the other end still believing that there is not a God. But, there's a difference between experiencing God and truly knowing god in your day-to-day existence following God's law, loving your neighbor as yourself, following the Ten Commandments and many of the moral foundations upon which our country at least America was founded upon. There's a tendency, I think, for people to get super excited from a plant medicine experience kind of changed their whole life temporarily fall back into their old ways and then go back to the medicine at some point for a reboot. By engaging in the spiritual disciplines and doing the hard work each morning, even if it's just 15 to 20 minutes of devotions and then a prayer at the end of the day, you're actually engaging the equivalent of a daily exercise session versus a gastric bypass surgery every once in a while.

And so, I do think that many people will turn to the drugs of the plant medicines out of pure laziness and not want to do the hard work. That's not everybody, but there's a certain element of the integrative process that occurs or is at least recommended after plant medicine that I think should occur for a very long time before plant medicine. And, I think if people engaged in that, there would be far fewer people actually feeling as though they needed plant medicine. I mean, if you look at the Johns Hopkins studies on psilocybin and nicotine addiction and the success that they've had with the use of psilocybin for nicotine addiction, I have that entire study in my office reams upon reams of paper, visualization, and talk therapy, and NLP, neuro-linguistic programming, and all these things that people are doing as a part of that study plus psilocybin. 

But, guess what, they never actually did a study where they had people do everything except the plant medicine. And, I suspect that if they had, they would have seen some pretty remarkable success in terms of nicotine addiction or staving up nicotine withdrawal symptoms, et cetera. Basically, what I'm saying is more people need to do the hard work before they turn to something like plant medicine. If they did, they probably wouldn't have as deep a desire or a need for that experience.

Cameron:  Yes. So yeah, I'll say a couple more things about this as we move towards wrapping this thing up.

One of the main aspects of this conversation that I would just highlight more than anything is integration, integration, integration, right? It's a huge piece that's missing in any of this health and wellness personal development pursuit kind of thing. And, it comes down to a base core choice or trajectory and mentality, which is a choice kind of between victimhood and between personal responsibility. They can't co-exist really at the same time. And, one certainly leads to progression of a person and personal growth and one leads to the victim circumstance replicating itself over and over and a person becoming more ill. It doesn't mean everything that has happened to you in your life is your fault but it is your responsibility. To deal with it, you're the only one that can change it. 

So, it is one of those things with the conversation around plant medicine like I kind of referred to, I kind of see these really powerful medicines as really powerful sort of heavy-duty use tools. And, just like any tool or just like any building block, if you're looking to rebuild your life and your life is symbolically a house that you're trying to build, you're trying to reconstruct it, you've got this empty lot that needs to be excavated first, you can bring in the tools, you can bring in the building blocks, and you can just throw them in a pile. And then, you don't have a house and you're like, “Okay. Well, then I'll just take more of it and throw it in a pile and throw it in a pile.” And then, you've got a bigger and bigger pile of rubble that's worse than the clean slate that you had before. Now — 

Ben:  Right. You have no clue how to interpret it or what to do with it.

Cameron:  So, a house is made out of bricks but a pile of bricks is not a house, right?

Ben:   Yup.

Cameron:  So, the big piece that is missing in most people's process is the structure, the discipline, the integration to take any perspective, and any approach that you take and responsibly actively seek to mold it into something that produces more fruit day in and day out, right?

Ben:  Yup.

Cameron:  So, this is a really, really important point with any form of therapy that you're choosing to engage in. And, to your point too as well, just about the landscape of plant medicines and the risk and the benefits, I mean, it's going back to the beginning of the conversation not to just talk about kava over and over, but that was actually this class of compounds whether it'd be clarogenics or whether it'd be this sort of landscape of subtle tools like more subtle compounds that don't take you into this sort of super hyper perceptual state. I've found these to actually be more useful tools long-term in many cases because of their broad tolerability. Because as where stronger psychedelics kind of shout a message at you, these more subtle compounds kind of whisper it. 

I mean, kava is certainly at the all-star on my top of my list. And, whether you're using a compound like that whether you're just engaging in more disciplinary practices, I do believe that sometimes the best medicine is not the one that hits you over the head with a hammer or just throws the pile of bricks in a pile too fast for you to actually integrate them, but putting one brick slowly at a time and getting you into a state where you can actually apply what you've learned and not overburden yourself and bury yourself in bricks so that you get smothered.

Ben:  Right, I agree. It's the concept of running 20 minutes a day versus a marathon once a month. It's the concept of doing a little bit of prayer each morning versus some deep weekend spiritual experience on a very seldom basis. It's just this idea of chopping wood, carrying water, doing the little amounts of work each day. And, I think that that's really what the human body and brain and spirit is better equipped to deal with.

And obviously, we opened up a lot of different talking points there and we're kind of back at the compound, you might hear the music in the background and everything. But, what I'm going to do Cameron is I'm going to kind of open up the discussion at BenGreenfieldLife.com/CameronGeorge. I know you're going to put this out on your podcast as well. But, as with any of my discussions, I would welcome people to engage and jump in at your own flavor, your own color, your own comments, because this is just an ongoing conversation. And, I love to hear the perspective of everybody else too.

And, Cameron it was pretty fun walking and talking with you and hearing your perspective.

Cameron:  Oh, absolutely. Anytime, man. I love these conversations. They're why we do what we do. I mean, at the end of the day, we're all one collective community that really just wants tomorrow to be better than today. And, even if we disagree on micro things I'm sure there's a lot of people that may disagree with things that I said or things that you said and some of these polarizing topics. I mean, what we're all really trying to do is we're really just trying to learn how to live life and to grow and to progress as responsibly and safely as we can, right?

Ben:  Yeah.

Cameron:  And, it's always a learning progress that's why I love having conversations with you and conversations with anybody who's delved into these topics and has direct experiences delve into the research. And, it's just great to get a conversation going too. And so, with comments and questions and stuff, it's like we all have part of the answer, maybe, and trying to evolve the conversations.

Ben:  And, the conversation dosed up with more kava than I've probably ever had in my life and surviving, I'm pretty proud of.

So, if you guys can check out the Tru Kava as well that Cameron and I were talking about. I'll link to that in shownotes at BenGreenfieldLife.com/CameronGeorge. Cameron, thanks man. That was a fun chat.

Cameron:  Oh, yeah, thanks man, anytime.

Ben:  Oh, wait, we weren't recording. No just kidding. Alright, thanks for listening everybody.

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.



Cameron George knows more about kava – including the confusing myths and truths surrounding this somewhat controversial plant – more than anyone I know.

On this podcast, I had a chance to go on a walk with Cameron and talk all things kava, plant medicine and beyond. Cameron has been a previous guest on the show “The Natural Drug And Alcohol Alternative That May Transform The Future Of Mental Health: Everything You Need To Know About Kava With Cameron George.“, and as you'll discover, he's a fascinating guy.

So who is Cameron?

Cameron is a researcher, writer, entrepreneur and the founder of TRU KAVA, a company that is striving to set the industry standard for quality, safety and education around kava within the mass market. TRU KAVA is focused on developing scalable user-friendly products that deliver the full therapeutic action of the traditional kava drink, which is the only form has been highly prized in south pacific islands for over 3000 years. Cameron has spent years working within a network of functional medicine physicians with whom he has been involved in clinical research and protocol development for Neurodegenerative and trauma related conditions. Since discovering the amazing effects of traditional Kava during his own chronic illness, Cameron spent years investigating Kava and has collaborated with many of the most prominent experts in the world within the fields of Kava research and historical Kava use. The goal of TRU KAVA is to provide the safest and most effective Kava products on the market, as well as educate the public on the complex story surrounding all Psychedelic plants including Kava, explain some of the myths, the massive variation of quality on the market, and the many amazing benefits that Kava can offer to the modern world when it’s used correctly in its traditional form. TRU KAVA is an initiative to educate on the clear distinction that the scientific literature and historical accounts have made between Safe and questionable Kava products, as well as to advocate for the use of only lab tested safe Kava varieties.

During our discussion, you'll discover:

-What are the effects of kava?…5:48 

  • Tru Kava (use code BEN10 to save 10%)
  • Previous podcast with Cameron George:
  • What is kava? 
    • Hawaiian drink that usually has the effect of cannabis 
    • Not psychedelic, doesn’t take you into altered state 
    • Enhanced state of natural sobriety 
  • Kanaka Kava
  • Codex Alimentarius Commission (WHO) separates food grade kava from extracts 
    • Extracts – denatured forms extracted with solvents that isolate a few of the active constituents, turning it into pharmaceuticals
  • Real kava in its traditional form contains a balanced effect of headiness and heaviness; gives activating and relaxing effect at the same time 
  • There is a spectrum of kava effects – expressing one characteristic more than the other 
  • Ben’s experience – body very relaxed, brain focused 
  • Tru Kava – balanced, contains both effects, in the middle of spectrum  
  • Tru Kava plans for the future – specialized products that amplify one characteristic over the other 
  • Cumulative build up effect of kava – it should be consumed at least 2 to 4 weeks 
  • Reverse tolerance effect of kava 
    • Well documented anthropologically and scientifically 
    • The effect of drugs – over time you need more substance to achieve the same effect, tolerance and addiction is developed 
    • The effect of kava – over time you need less substance to achieve the same effect, no tolerance, non-addictive 
    • Great for getting off from pharmaceuticals, anti-addictive 

-Not all plants in nature are consumable…18:37

  • Some plants are ready to interface with humans in a direct way, others have adaptive defenses that make it difficult to interface with human body 
  • Kava belongs to the first group 
    • Protector of the nervous system, emotions, good processor of trauma 
  • Liver toxicity of kava – a story based on ignorance and misperception  
    • One German company tried to get kava lactones 
    • Ended with cheap, low-quality material 
    • They used leaves and stems, only the roots should be used 
    • They concentrated plants defense alkaloids 
    • Hurt many people and led to misconception 

-What can kava be mixed with?…23:31 

-Bens’ current position on use of plant medicines and the whole psychedelic phenomenon…39:00 

  • Podcast with Josh Trent:
  • Psychedelics have the capability to open up a portal to the other world 
    • Allows you to interact with entities and spirit 
    • A method to interact with the spiritual world 
  • Concerns – entities or spirits you encounter in that space might not have your best interests in mind 
  • Regular methods for interacting with spiritual world – prayer, devotion, meditation, silence, solitude, fasting 
  • Taking a pill or a brew to enter the spiritual world is problematic 
    • 1 out of 9 people come out of it with serious mental problems – psychosis, schizophrenia 
  • The idea that plant medicines are the way to reach God is problematic 
  • Became way too popular without a huge warning sign 
  • It is not necessary for spiritual enlightening 
  • There is a little bit more safety with synthetic compounds 
    • Less spiritual experiences 
  • DMT: The Spirit Molecule by Rick Strassman
  • Biblical term pharamakia – using drugs to commune with the Divine or God 
    • It is strictly forbidden by God 
  • Pharmakia by Robert Orem
  • 5-HT2 receptors 
  • The Cover Story podcast
  • Cameron’s experience with psychedelics  
    • Some things are neither good nor bad; depends on the way you use them 
  • The difference between experiencing God with plant medicine and knowing God in your day to day existence 
  • Plant medicine podcasts:

-Wrapping up…1:06:39 

  • A choice between victimhood and personal responsibility 
  • The piece that is missing – structure, discipline, integration 
  • Plant medicine can be used as a tool 
  • Building a house with bricks and tools analogy 
  • We all learn how to live life, grow, and progress as responsibly and safely as we can 

-And much more…

Upcoming Events:

  • Six Senses Retreat: February 27, 2023 – March 3, 2023

Join me for my “Boundless Retreat” at Six Senses from February 27th, 2023 to March 3rd, 2023, where you get to improve on your functional fitness, nutrition, longevity, and the delicate balance between productivity and wellness. Complete with a healthy farmhouse breakfast, yoga spa sessions, and sound healing, you learn how to live a boundless life just like me, and I'd love to see you there. Learn more here.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Cameron George:

– Podcasts:

– Books:

– Other Resources:

Episode sponsors:

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Kion Aminos: Aminos are building blocks for muscle recovery, reduced cravings, better cognition, immunity, and more. Go to https://getkion.com/bengreenfield to receive 20% off on monthly deliveries and 10% on one-time purchases. 

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