February 4, 2017
[5:38] About Craig Dinkel
[9:20] The One Compound That Research Has Shown to Cause A 58% Chance of a Decrease in Catching the Common Cold
[11:36] How Algae is Cleaning the Blood or Detoxing the Blood
[19:06] How Algae Can Convert Nitrates to Nitric Oxide
[20:50] Why Chlorella Could be the Perfect Pre-Sex Supplement
[22:10] How the Polysaccharides in Cordyceps Contribute Oxygen Molecules to the Blood
[28:15] The Mechanism of Action for Cordyceps to Increase Endurance or Oxygenation
[30:30] How Echinacea Increases Red Blood Cells in Four Different Ways
[35:25] What it Means for Grass-Fed Liver to be “anhydrate” or “desiccated”
[38:40] What it Means for the Iron in the Liver to be “heme”
[44:00] The Surprising Way That Beets Support Muscle Stem Cell Repair
[59:18.1] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, welcome to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show. On today's podcast we're going to delve into how you can legally blood dope without actually sticking needles up your butt cheek or anywhere else for that matter. My guest, Craig Dinkel, is a second-time guest and frankly, we had some audio issues. Not that that ever happens on a perfect podcast, but we did. We had some audio issues so he had to call back in and if you hear the audio gets a little funky in places that's why, is I’d have him re-record some stuff as we went along, but it's still awesome information. I promise not to disappoint.
Anyways though, a few quick things. First of all as you may have heard, I ventured down to Miami, Florida several weeks ago and I had this non-invasive medical treatment done on, of all places, my genitalia also known as the genitals, also known as the penis, also known as the d*ck. I’m not quite sure how many other ways I can say this without getting repeatedly bleeped out. Anyways though, as guys especially, age, and women too, our areas down there, especially the vessels in those areas, can weaken. They get filled with things like micro-plaque and that results in, for example, in men, having a really hard time getting or maintaining an erection and you also lose things like the strength of your orgasm and your ability to be pleasured so to speak.
And so, what I went down to Florida and did, was this painless, high frequency, acoustic-wave treatment that opens up old blood vessels and stimulates the formation of new vessels. It’s called “Gains Wave”. This is a form of therapy that has been used over in Europe for 15 years and is just now hitting the US. The results last for months after you do it. Not just minutes like you get with pills like Viagra and Cialis, and the folks over at Gains Wave were actually offering all of the listeners, guys and girls because girls can get this too, a $150 discount on a Gains Wave treatment. And it’s a very very simple you just text the word ‘Greenfield’ that's my last name, G-R-E-E-N-F-I-E-L-D to 313131 and that'll instantly get you in with Gains Wave. So check it out. A very unique procedure I've had it done and let me just say that the results are pleasant.
This podcast is also brought to you by cumin crusted pork with fig and blood orange pan sauce. I know that's gross. I’m talking about blood orange. Anyways though, the actual meal itself is amazing. So here's the deal. This company sent me dried Turkish figs and then the recipe for a sweet and tart sauce for their roasted pork that I was then able to rub with spices like cumin and coriander and sumac, something I've never even used before. You serve it over a bed of naughty pharaoh and aromatic fennel for this hearty little winter dish. And the company is called Blue Apron. They send food to my house, and we can send food your house, I'll tell you how, every week. And it is established food that has been source sustainably from farms that practice regenerative farming from really clean fish sources. It's really really good ingredients. It’s extremely affordable. It’s less than 10 dollars per person per meal and you get to choose from this variety of new recipes every week or you can let their culinary team surprise you. There's no weekly commitment. You can prepare it all in 40 minutes or less, and you get your first three meals for free with free shipping when you go to blueapron.com/ben and that’s blueapron.com/ben. So check it out, Blue Apron. Alright, you’ve learned how to have better sex and eat tasty meals. So now let's talk about how to dope without doping. Here we go.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“The results suggested that beet root has the potency to preserve bone marrow integrity and stimulates the differentiation of HSCs against iodine and radiation.” “These formulas were developed with the idea of sprinting and athletic performance and blood oxygen and I have many people that report back to me, the increased drive for several reason because not only does it happen with the algae but the cordyceps has an effect on that. And course the beet root has a long long history.”
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and a few weeks ago, I released a podcast called, brace yourself, “Shattering World Swim Records On 25-Piece Fried Chicken Buckets, Climbing Mountains While Eating Defatted, Vegan, Grass-Fed, Argentinian Liver Anhydrate & Much More.” And in that episode which you actually need to go listen to, I'm going to put a link to that in the show notes for this episode, which you can get over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/bloodpodcast. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/bloodpodcast.
I interviewed an athlete mountain climber, former record-breaking swimmer and supplements designer, Craig Dinkel, about a special blood oxygenating formula that he designed called biotropic, biotropic. And after that interview with Craig, I got an onslaught of questions from people about all these fringe ingredients that Craig and I kind of touched on but didn’t take a deep dive into on that show. Things like grass-fed liver, anhydrate, and cordyceps sinensis, and the hidden benefits of beet roots, and the detoxification properties of algae and whether it's true you can really get all the benefits of blood doping without actually blood doping. Without actually taking your blood out and freezing it and reinjecting it while laying down on the floor of a bus as the Tour de France riders did in many cases if you've read books like Tyler Hamilton’s ‘Breaking the Chain’ for example, because I don't endorse that practice but I do endorse a better living through science and also using some of the things that nature has given us in terms of chemicals and compounds that are natural to get a step up on life. And frankly I've been using the stuff that Craig makes and I like it. And frankly, Craig, I didn’t even told you this, but I've been using it lately for something that I don't think it was intended for but that I decided to try for. Anyways, maybe I'll tell you about that in a moment. First of all. I will. Welcome back to the show, man.
Craig: Oh hey, thanks. I appreciate it. It’s really great to be here with you again and I appreciate your coming back around.
Ben: Yeah, no problem and just to fill in that gap real quick, I was spearfishing in Costa Rica last week and I was actually taking your supplement because I wanted to increase my breath hold time, but it turned out to be fortuitous because I got hypothermic while spearfishing and I came back from Costa Rica with a cold. And you can hear I’m still a little bit congested, but the BioTropic, and we touched on this in our last podcast, it's chockfull of echinacea which you know most people know it's for immune system, we'll talk later on in this podcast, how it helps build the blood too, but I happen to have your BioTropic with me. And correct me if I am killing myself by doing this, but I tripled the dose and started taking three of the tablets a day just to get a bunch of extra echinacea in my system because I wasn't traveling with echinacea ‘cause like my go to stack for if I get sick I use some vitamin C, I use echinacea, I use elderberry and I use oil of oregano so you know. I was looking at your bottle on the airport on the way back in like, “Well, this has freaking echinacea in it. I'm just going to take a boatload.” And I've been doing it since.
Craig: That’s hilarious. No, you’re a guy that I categorize in that elite athlete crowd. You're burning a lot of calories and you're burning a lot of oxygen, doing a lot of things here. So I, there’s absolutely no way that for your particular body, that calorie uptake that three a day is going to have a negative impact on you. There’s no way. There’s no way.
Ben: Yeah, and for the echinacea, it’s not woo-woo. There’s actually one study, I think you have a study on your website where there's a 58% decrease chance of catching the common cold and duration of a cold by one to four days when you use echinacea. So it is one of those things. There is a lot of stuff floating around out there that reportedly helps with colds like you know, high doses of zinc for example, or glutathione IVs, but I know I echinacea actually has a little bit of peer-reviewed research behind it for that.
Craig: It really does. It's got a long history actually very well studied and documented research behind it and there were two reasons, and I would probably go ahead here. But there are two reasons I put it in there and I actually, the very first reason was for the immune support benefits because athletes, I know you know this, are always fighting a fine line between fitness and health especially those people training at the highest levels and they need the extra support. So that was really the primary reason I had it in there but it does have some supplemental benefits for increasing red blood cell production.
Ben: Yeah, and I want to get to that, and we’ll probably address that later on the show but you know one of the things that lots of people asked me about this is BioTropic. And by the way if you guys want, I'll put the link and the discount code for this BioTropic in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/bloodpodcast. But a lot of the questions that I got were about algae. And specifically the form of algae that you have in this. It was the one with the really long name the, how do you pronounce it? The flos aquae blue-green EFA?
Ben: And I admittedly do not know how to pronounce. I believe it's Athena cinnamon. I believe it’s an amino, a flos aquae. So one question that I got from people and maybe it's because it's a new year and everyone's interested in detoxification or maybe it’s because we mentioned this briefly and didn’t talk about it too much, is that a fact that algae has as a detoxification effect on the blood. And because detox is a woo-woo term that’s turn a lot, and I’m curious if we can delve into how exactly algae is cleaning the blood or detoxing the blood and why you’d want to do that in the first place. Like what’s the deal with algae and toxins in blood?
Craig: Sure, sure. Well first of all, we have two formulas here, the AFA formula and the chlorella formula. So I'm going to do a little differentiation between the two.
Craig: But before I move on here, I just want to make it clear that like you and people listening, I’m a curiosity seeker, and so when I’m trying to figure out what's going to work or not, like everyone else I do the research, and I try to do that research based on academic, scientific and clinical. So sometimes that matter, sometimes it doesn't but for me historically, going way back to my heavy competitive days, I didn’t have that stuff available to me so the only thing that mattered then was what my colleagues, my high-level athlete friends, since I've mentioned to you before many of them were Olympians. Had two Olympic coaches that I trained under and I’ve just been very very fortunate to be around that crowd. And we all shared knowledge.
It was all trial and error ‘cause, as you say, we didn’t have the internet. We didn’t have easy access to what we have today. So I still weigh in on what anecdotal experience gives me, over even academic, clinic or anything else because athletes know what works. Their very sensitive to their bodies ‘cause they live inside them. You know the old saying, “treat it like a temple.” Well, most athletes do. They’re definitely those out there, I think you and I talked about Phelps earlier eating stacks of pancakes, and French toast, and bacon, and sausage, and all that’s stuff. But the reality is, when you’re training at that level and you’re burning six to ten thousand calories a day, that stuff doesn’t stay in your body very long. It gets churned out and burned out very very quickly and they still have to do a lot of things to supplement because there are a lot of gaps in their diet. And so we shared our experiences. And so I still tend to weigh in on what my colleagues say what Ben Greenfield says, I'm actually gonna listen to you more even if there's no real academic study or research to back it up for the reasons I just mentioned.
Ben: Right. Even if it involves shooting coffee up your butt.
Craig: (laughs) That is one of your things isn’t it?
Ben: It is and you do get a huge endogenous production of glutathione when you do it along with a lot of peristalsis of the colon, but a lot of people just don't shoot coffee up their butt because it appears to be woo-woo when in fact there's some interesting research behind it. But we digress from algae and blood toxins.
Craig: Yeah, so what I'm saying here is that, I just want to make it clear that, just so people understand my own personal philosophy and where it comes from ‘cause were going to talk about some of the science, and I still feel like at the end of the day despite what science says I'm going to lean in on what my athlete friends say because those are the people that really know as far as I'm concerned. So I was always my own clinical trial, you know, experimenting with this stuff and figuring out what would work. And then these formulations were built on that and to figure out how they really work, Ben, I sort of had the backward integrate to figure out what it was all about. And so, it just turns out that I happened to concoct these things that really work for me. I'm a blood oxygen guy. I was a sprinter and so that's sort of where I come from. So I’m gonna take a hybrid approach here. A little bit of science and a little bit anecdotal experience. Is that cool?
Ben: That's perfectly fine. I recently interviewed Kamal Patel from the examine.com website and we talked about how often the N=1 and experiential data can be just as good as one of these meta-analysis and larger population studies. Granted we have to assess things under the umbrella of, or through the lens of whether or not you know for example, someone who experiences the effects of something like chlorella is doing the same type of activities as you. Or whether or not they're genetically similar or whether or not their diet is different or similar. But regardless, yeah, there's certainly can be some takeaways. So go ahead.
Craig: So, let me just talk a little bit about the algae, Ben, here so just a couple of points here and we'll get down to the chemical structures here, but first off, both AFA and Chlorella, they're Super Foods. And I just think that’s important to know because AFA in particular is considered a complete food. And where chlorella is concerned you really want what's called the ‘broken cell wall’ because that's what makes its bioavailability work. If it's not broken cell walls, it's hard, it tends to go through your body like fiber. So if you want a good fiber source make sure you have a product that isn’t broken cell wall, but that isn’t’ what you want. You want complete bioavailability. So make sure that if you’re buying chlorella, however you get it, that in order to get the full uptake of it, that it’s a broken cell wall.
The other thing is our bodies every day are sailed by chemicals and heavy metals on a daily basis. There’s pollutants in the air. There’s pollutants in the water. There’s pollutants everywhere. So how does it work? So that’s the question, how does it work? The unique chemical structures of chlorophyll enabled it to bind and trap toxins in the gut preventing their absorption and thereby processes elimination there. So it’s believed to be a superior detoxation for eliminating bodily pollutants, heavy metals and other toxins. Mercury and cadmium are two the heavier ones that get knocked up by chlorella.
AFA is similar in structure and make up but I don’t think is has the same blood cleaning detoxification capabilities as chlorella. So the main thing here is what I like to think about when I put together the chlorophyll product, the BioTropic chlorophyll is, I wanted to get a product that would deliver blood development and oxygenation to the muscles when you're training and working out that go to this entire detoxification process also because it was my own view that if you have the vessel dilation which is produced by the beetroot and you have a cleaner blood content going to working muscles then everything's going to be working a lot better.
Ben: Okay. And I, honestly, I’ve never seen any research that shows, that you know, blood is, blood that’s clean is more oxygenated for example is more easily delivered, but I have seen a lot of research behind chlorella, which is just like a tiny little microalgae being able to bind to heavy metals, and then chemicals, and pesticides specifically in the digestive tract and that's kind of like the pathway to the bloodstream or lot of the toxins get delivered and deposited into the body cells. So I know that it does eliminate a lot of unwanted metals and toxins, and I think the interesting thing about it is it’s selective, right. Like chlorella doesn't bind to beneficial minerals. Like calcium or magnesium or zinc, it seems to just selectively go after things like the metals, and the chemicals, and the pesticides. So, it does make sense that it has some blood detoxification properties and I suppose we can theorize that clean blood is going to assure that metabolic waste gets carried away from the tissues and oxygen gets delivered a bit more readily. But that was kind of my basic question was, you had a mechanism of action via which algae can detoxify the blood. It’s really the chlorella component of it. Is that correct?
Craig: Yeah, so to answer your question it’s ability to bind with heavy metals and toxins in the blood, and the gut is absolutely what allows it to clean and detoxify the blood in the body.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Now what about, I noticed on your website you also talk about the conversion of nitrates to nitric oxide. I know the body has the ability to take nitrates from vegetables like beets or arugula and actually convert that into nitric oxide for vasodilation. What I did not realize though, and what it says in your website is that that blue-green AFA that is a form of algae can actually assist with converting nitrates to nitric oxide for vasodilation. How exactly does algae convert nitrates to nitric oxide because that’s something that I had never seen before?
Craig: Yeah, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the National Institute of Health, you’re probably familiar with that site, if not, you should.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. The NIH.
Craig: Yeah, yeah. Believe it or not through the same process, you have on the surface of the tongue, in particular I think they call them crypts actually, that reduce nitrate to nitrite and so it works very similar to the way beetroot does. The interesting thing about it though is that it naturally produces nitrites in its water environment. I think there's a double acting effect that somewhat subjective on my part, but it produces it in the same way.
Ben: Really? So basically when algae interacts with the tongue that's where conversion of nitric oxide take place is in the mouth?
Craig: Yeah, actually it begins with the saliva. Yes, that’s correct. It begins with the saliva and it continues in the gut.
Ben: That’s really interesting. Have you ever heard of people using algae for something very similar to, I've told a lot of people use beet root, use arugula or dark chocolate or red wine or any vasodilator for example to get the effects of Viagra without actually taking a little blue pill. Have you ever tried chlorella for something like you know, sexual performance or anything along those lines to assess vasodilatory properties?
Craig: Well it’s really funny that you asked that. I never bring this up because these formulas were developed with the idea of sprinting, and athletic performance, and blood oxygen, and I have many people that report back to me that it increased drive for several reasons because not only does it happen with the algae but the cordyceps has an effect on that. And of course the beet root has a long long history of increasing drive. So I would not have brought it up if you didn't.
Ben: Yeah, the only problem with that of course, and I suppose another problem with your supplement but I have these like chewable chlorella tablets and my wife won't go near my face when I have the little green specks on my teeth or even just like algae on my breath. So I suppose you supplement has good delivery mechanism for that if you don’t want the green in your teeth and you want to be more kissable. So that’s interesting.
We've got the detoxification properties of algae and then also the conversion of nitrates to nitric oxide, that's a mechanism of action for performance I actually wasn’t aware of for algae. And kind of similarly you have cordyceps sinensis which you talked about a little bit in the last podcast. And you know one of the things that I, again this gets woo-woo. I think a lot of people say, “oh cordyceps helps the VO2max”, or “helps you to breathe better” but not a lot of people talk about how it actually does that. I mean how does cordyceps when someone takes this cordyceps sinensis, like what's going on with the lungs or what's going on with the oxygen that actually causes it to have this effect?
Craig: Yeah, I think that's a really interesting question. So just a little preliminary data before I get to the how. Just to bring people up to date here. So what the data hypothesized around this is generally around the key effects of its ability to increase oxygenation and ATP production. And so research has confirmed that cordyceps usage does increase both. The thing that the problem we’re talking about cordyceps is so many good things that it does is that I want to go to this whole list of things that it does and then get down to the how, but maybe I should just jump to that because I’ll just be talking forever on the subject and maybe we can talk and we’ll see about it after that. So how does it all happen? Again, this is very very basic stuff. The presence of adenosine or cordosipen or cordyceps acids. And it's particular polysaccharides vitamins and trace elements they believe are the cause of these well-known effects but in particular it achieves its oxygenation. Through these polysaccharides their long, which is specific to cordyseps. Their long change sugars with lots of oxygen sections within them, and they get broken down and released into the body, if you think of you know, what I think about, I think pancakes when I think of this.
Craig: The reason why I think of leavening. I think of baking soda and baking powder. To make a really good pancake you’ve got enough oxygen in it through that leavening process it makes them really light and floppy. It's the only way to eat a pancake and that's how I think of cordyceps. What it does is it releases these oxygen molecules into the body and they’re absorbed on a cellular level. So you absorbed more oxygen as these polysaccharides release their oxygen sections within them.
Ben: Okay, got it. So cordyceps is actually causing it, is a greater release of oxygen from red blood cells or is it more of an action like on lung tissue?
Craig: No, no. It’s to result the breaking down of the polysaccharides. These polysaccharides as they say are long sugar chains and they have many oxygen sections within those chains. And so those break down in the body. There’s a process in the body which breaks those down and releases the oxygen for uptake in…
Ben: Oh okay. So the polysaccharides themselves when you consume like a cordyceps mushroom extract that actually has oxygen stored within the polysaccharides?
Ben: Interesting. Okay. I’ve always wondered about cordyceps in the actual mechanism of action. So I mean I know it's known as an adaptogen for hormones and for kidney function and liver enzymes, and they've got really good studies on it for VO2 max for example but I didn’t realize it actually has oxygen bound within the polysaccharide bone of the cordyceps itself.
Craig: Yeah, when the sugars are broken down, that's why I used that pancake analogy. So for the cooks out there, they’ll get it immediately. They’ll understand it, but yeah, that's how it works and that's a mechanism by which it delivers oxygen or it creates a hire oxygen carrying capability within the system.
Ben: And how does it cause more ATP to be produced? Is it similar like, does it actually have phosphate bound up within the cordyceps or is it causing some type of endogenous production of ATP?
Craig: No, it causes a production of ATP directly by releasing these sugar chains.
Ben: Okay. So the sugar chains are actually offering the body a source of the precursors necessary for forming adenosine triphosphate?
Craig: Precursors is definitely the right word. They called this, I can’t remember exactly what they call it, but we'll just call it a doubling effect of the benefit of taking cordyceps.
Ben: Okay, got it. And cordyceps like when you get your cordyceps, there's this idea that comes from an insects. Is that correct?
Craig: Okay, so bear with me as I go through this. So there are many species of cordyceps but cordyceps sinensis is the most significant in terms of worldwide demand. It’s often called mushroom. You’ve heard that before or caterpillar fungus but it starts off entirely as a fungus. The fungus seeks out and parasitizes, and germinates in the living larvae of ghost mods which it kills and mummifies. Now, I know that sounds great but the final result is really amazing. And then over time, a stalk-like fruiting body emerges as the cordyceps we know and love today producing what's called the fruiting body. And highest prize of these are typically found in the mountain regions of India, Nepal, and Tibet.
Ben: Okay, and then you harvest the fungus and the fungus is what's actually used to create cordyceps or is the fungus called cordyceps?
Craig: It is called cordyceps and people don't like to call it a fungus. They like to call it a mushroom but technically it's not much. So yeah you hear a lot of people refer to as a mushroom but technically it's not. It just sounds better to say it.
Ben: Right. Mushroom is more palatable for the general population. Nobody likes fungus. We think about that as being something that gives you bad breath or grows on vaginas or something like that. It has to be taken with medications and supplements. So via the fungus then that's harvested and is it like dried to produce this extract?
Craig: Yes. Well, it basically comes in a dried condition.
Ben: Okay, got it. So you got this cordyceps sinensis and then the blue-green AFA which we already talked about, and then something that we hit on already the Echinacea, but this is something I find fascinating. I mean, I know that studies have shown that echinacea boost epo like more than 60%, I mean like huge compared to what you’d get from like illegal blood doping, but what is the mechanism of action? How is echinacea actually boosting EPO naturally?
Craig: Alright. So another really good question and for this I’ll have to do you just a little bit of talking and a little bit of reading because this is fairly new to me too and so I concede. I’m going to pass what's next to you with just a little bit of reading, alright?
Ben: Okay. Let’s hear it.
Craig: What they say is echinacea’s been shown to stimulate microphage activity which in turn can result in increase in prostaglandins, now secretions from active microphages. Makes sense so far?
Ben: No, that's gonna fly over everybody’s head. You need to slow down. I'm serious. Go ahead and run through that again.
Craig: Yeah, echinacea’s been shown to stimulate microphage activity which in turn can result in increased in prostaglandin secretion from active microphages. No I'm not done. I still have four more bullet points here and this is directly off the link I have that did the clinical research on this. So let me just read a few more bullet points if I can. That work?
Ben: Yeah, go ahead.
Craig: And that's also referred to as PGE2. So the prostaglandin I will refer to PGE2 from here on out. So the increase concentration of PGE2 has been shown to increase GMCSF production. So what's that? That's granulocyte microphage colony stimulating factors which is also a blood progenitor and growth factor. Alright? Next point. Echinacea supplementation has been shown to increase the activity level of T cells which is known to synthesize GMCSF and blood progenitor growth factors also in interleukin, pardon me.
Craig: And one more point here, shall I keep going?
Ben: Yeah, go ahead. It’s kind of sort of making sense. I'm piecing this together, so I’ll summarize your geek-speak to folks when you finish up, but keep going.
Craig: Alright. Good. Because as I say, I'm a curious guy and this surprised me too and it was secondary to the whole point of it being in it. So the final point that they made was that the results suggest that echinacea may enhance EPO production and that the mechanism may be mediated through an increase in the circulating concentrations of the PGE2, the I-3 and the GMCSF.
Craig: And I’ll send this off to you so you can read it.
Ben: Okay, gotcha. So for those of you listening, I do have a degree. I have a master's degree in physiology, so I’m picking up on some of this but the idea is that erythropoietin are the precursors to red blood cells. They’re like young red blood cells. Erythropoiesis is what you call production of red blood cells, you know, changing the number or the concentration of red blood cells. And echinacea is causing an increase in erythropoiesis or an increase in the concentration of erythropoietin. The basic idea is that red blood cells come from stem cells. And stem cells get induced to be produced by a whole bunch of different growth factors and those are the ones you just spit out, Craig, like interleukin 3, or IL3, or that granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor, the GMCSF and then also from erythropoietin which I mentioned earlier or EPO. So erythropoietin gets secreted by your kidneys and that stimulates, what’s called, erythropoiesis by promoting the formation and the release of red blood cells and specifically it does that from bone marrow.
So it's really interesting that you get this secretion from the kidneys that stimulates the formation of the red blood cells, the production of the red blood cells in the bone marrow, but then you've also got the production of these prostaglandins, the production of interleukin and the production of GMCSF. All stem cell precursors that also stimulate production of EPO. And with echinacea from what I understand, it actually stimulates this macrophage activity or macrophage activity depending on how you pronounce it that causes an increase in the PGE secretion, an increase in the GMCSF production, an increase in the churning out of these red blood cells from bone marrow, and then like you mentioned the activity levels of T cells which cause other erythro growth factors to be formed. So there's like four different mechanisms of action whereby echinacea is enhancing EPO production. So, and again it's all without actually taking erythropoietin in like a supplement form or without like taking your blood out and re-injecting it into the body. So it's fascinating that it's hitting almost every single mechanism that the body would normally take to produce red blood cells when you use something like echinacea as a way to do that rather than some other illegal methods. So, I mean it really is basically blood doping.
Craig: You make a good point too. I want to just highlight here you mentioned rather than an illegal method. And we both come from that world of high level athletes that get caught up in that stuff sometime, and it’s really really important to find a way to do this naturally and as healthy as you can. And to that point I've made sure that everything inside my ingredients are all World Anti-Doping Association safe. And it's really critical that people take a look at that if they’re athletes and their competing at the level where they might get their blood taken because there are very few but a couple natural ingredients on the water list that will shock you and surprise you that you think of nothing more than something you might pick off the backyard tree.
Ben: Like what?
Craig: I have that list and I’ll send it to you but I think it's something as crazy as some sort of lemon peel extract. Some component in it that does something that water doesn’t like.
Ben: Like [34:03.1] ______?
Craig: I honestly don't remember, Ben. I can't remember exactly what it is. I fortunately don't have to pay much attention to that list anymore except for where pertains to the ingredients that I produced in my formulation. So I honestly don't know, but it's enough to find out. You know what I’ll do? I’ll pick it off the list and send it to you so you know what it is.
Ben: Yeah, that’d be interesting. There is one website that I use quite a bit and I’ll put a link to it in the show notes, it’s called Global DRO. Global DRO, and you can look up your sport, you're sanctioning body, any supplement that you plan on taking if you want to know if that particular compound or that particular chemical shouldn't be in your body when you're competing in the sport you're competing in whether in or out of competition. globaldro.com is a really really good source. I sent a lot of athletes to that so that they could go through their supplement cupboard and know if something they should or should not be using. But yes, send that over to me too because I’d be curious to see some of these common ingredients that folks may not know are sanctioned by the World Anti-Doping Association.
Craig: I was shocked when I saw it because I thought you know someone could really innocently be taking an ingredient like that and never even consider to look at the list because as I say it's a natural thing, but I'll definitely send it to you so you know what I'm talking about.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Cool. So we've got echinacea, we've got algae, we've got the cordyceps and then another one that you have in here is grass-fed liver anhydrate, and we talked about that a bit in the last episode that we did in terms of it being an extremely nutrient-dense source of vitamin A, and D, and E, and K, and how it’s decent source of protein and how there’s some research behind it for everything from B12 to iron, but I have a few questions for you about the liver. Why do you call it ‘anhydrate’? What does that mean?
Craig: It’s just another word for desiccated?
Ben: What does that mean?
Craig: (laughs) This means dry. This means dry. So desiccated liver means dried liver. It's just a way to get delivered to a state that's highly bioavailable and not in the form that most people don't like to eat which is you know, on your plate with onions.
Ben: Is it more bioavailable in when you dry it or is it more bioavailable when it's like on your plate with onions and bacon?
Craig: It's more bioavailable let's say as something on your plate but no one likes to eat it. People, well that may be a bit strong. But most people don’t.
Ben: I dredge it in eggs and then coconut flour, and grill it in butter and then I had some onions. It’s pretty flavorful and you have to, the trick is that you soak your liver in lemon juice or raw milk overnight or at least for a few hours, and it gets rid of some of that like that livery taste that a lot of people don't like, but of course you can take that in your carryon bag on your way to a race or something like that.
Craig: That's funny ‘cause I thought you were joking. (laughs)
Ben: No. No, I'm serious. I love liver and that’s how I make it.
Craig: That's funny because I started young on liver. Knew the value of it as a young athlete and for some reason it, I know the flavor you're talking about but it's more of a texture to me than a flavor that you're talking about. It’s sort of a somewhere in the middle of a bite you know I don't know how to describe this, but it's almost a bit dry-ish or cardboard-ish, but I’ve always liked the flavor and I’ve always liked it with onions and I, it's not like I've ever you know made it a primary source of food for me, but I do like it so I never knew problem with. But it's way easier for people to take in a concentrated form, get a lot of it, to supplementation and the reason why it really matters here is that, and why you get it from a non-plant source like liver. And if you have to get it for vegans out there, that you have to get it from a non-plant sources this a way to go. You get an Argentinian hormone-free, antibiotic-free, grass-fed clean energy form of this stuff. And so that's why I almost, tongue in cheek say, you know vegan-fed because these cows are vegan-fed they are eating the cleanest grass which is Argentinian grass-fed, but the heme iron inside of meat of organ meat, there’s 35% more uptake in heme iron than there is in plants. You can't get the same thing out of a plant that you get out of meat.
Ben: And heme iron, like H-E-M-E iron?
Craig: Correct. Yeah.
Ben: Okay. Got it. What does it mean for iron to be “heme”? What's that mean?
Craig: Well it's classified, so let me walk you through this way. In animal foods iron is often attached to proteins. So in animal foods if it’s attached to protein it's called a heme iron. In plant foods, it's not attached to a protein. So it's classified as a non-heme iron. So the heme iron in meat is attached to a protein and that's the difference of it. And protein it gets released and you have a 35% uptake that you don't get from anything that comes from a plant source. That's the difference. Does that makes sense?
Ben: Okay, got it. Got it. So when it comes to consuming this heme-based iron and it makes total sense when it comes to consuming it, are there any studies that have shown this to increase endurance or increase oxygenation, or like why is it that you would put this particular form of desiccated liver into a tablet like this?
Craig: Right. That’s another really good question. So liver is, first of, loaded with copper, zinc, phosphorus, all the B sweet vitamins. The B sweet vitamins are very very important for energy producing B12 and B9, by the way, I never even talked about this with you but B9 and B12 which are loaded up of the highest quality in liver also combine to make RBCs. You should check that out.
Craig: Yeah, it is so and it's another reason to have it folate in 12 act together to create red blood cells. So another reason why you should get that stuff in your body no matter how you have it.
Ben: Now one the guys that you talk about on the site is Doctor Ershoff? Is that correct?
Ben: This guy that did the study on animals and endurance. What did he find?
Craig: Yeah, Ershoff’s study is pretty interesting and that occurred over a 12-week period used rodent as subjects. What he did was he got three different groups of animals and the first was given an ordinary diet and that group showed the least amount of growth over that period. The second group, he gave a B vitamin complex and that group experienced a little higher growth rate relative to the first group. But the third group was given a 10% liver anhydrate added to their diets and results of that group or that they grew at about 15% more than group one. But there’s also this thing called a fatigue factor and as far as I know science hasn't quite figured out exactly what's causing that and it's a good thing. And it's a benefit to all of us but what the doctor did secondarily is he placed his subjects into a drum of water where they couldn't get out, and they have to keep swimming before the doctor would handpick them out himself. And the results are pretty interesting. The subjects on the original diet, and I’m cheating a little bit here, the subjects on the original diet swam for about 13.3 minutes before they gave up. The second group which had added the B vitamins, swam for 13 to 14 minutes before giving up, and at the last group the anhydrate users, 12 subjects in all, three swam for 63, 83, and 87 minutes, and 9 were still swimming vigorously at the end of two hours when the test was terminated. So, the liver anhydrate subjects could swim almost 10 times as long as the others without becoming tired.
Ben: Hey, it's Ben Greenfield. Interrupting today’s show to tell you about something I stick in my ears. Basically, there are 3 chemical compounds, serotonin, and dopamine, and noradrenaline that can get released when certain photosensitive areas in your brain get stimulated by light. So after several years of research this team over in Finland found that you could stimulate these photosensitive proteins on the surface of your brain using a special wave form of light. And they developed this device that you can literally just stick in your pocket and carry around with you. And when you want to stimulate those centers of your brain for anything from performance to jet lag, to mood, you name it. You just whip these bad boys out. They look just like earbuds like you'd use in MP3 player and you put them in your ears. And it works with just about 12 minutes per day. It's like having the sunshine in your ears. It's called the human charger. I use mine every day and you get a 20% discount on it. It's very simple. You just go to humancharger.com/ben. That's humancharger.com/ben and a 20% discount code that you want to use is BFitness. So human charger.com/ben and use code BFitness.
This podcast is also brought to you by the Nutritional Therapy Association. They’ve got this big conference going on in Vancouver, Washington. March third through the fifth and tickets are on sale now. I am speaking down there. So you can come and hear me speak. That outta be fun. You go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/NTA to register. And just tell them I sent you, and they also certify nutritional practitioners so that you can learn how to use nutrient-dense foods and real whole food to nourish the body. And to do that you go to nutritionaltherapy.com. Nutritionaltherapy.com, and that’ll get you in on their nutritional therapy practitioner and consultant certification. So check it out if you wanna help people eat better. Alright. Back to today’s show.
Ben: So you’ve got the liver in there and in the last one, which you already mentioned a little bit is beet root. And of course it's no secret. A lot of people know beet root causes vasodilation and beet root kind of opens up blood vessels. It's like Viagra for the whole body. But when it comes to beets, one thing I noticed on your website is you talk about how it assists with muscle stem cell repair. How does beet root cause muscles stem cell repair?
Craig: Yeah, so I wanna be clear on this point to that you know my preferred usage of beets is for the nitric oxide support. That's primarily what I think of when I think of beet root is the high quality of its ability to produce nitric oxide in the body. Well, let me read to you what the objective of this one study was. So they say that beet root not only stimulated salt proliferation but also minimize DNA damages of splenocytes now…
Ben: Which is where we get a lot of like our T cells and our B cells, a lot of our immune cells, a lot of those macrophages you were talking about in association with red blood cell production like a lot of those are produced by the spleen. It’s interesting. It's why free divers have really high amounts of oxygen carrying capacity because your spleen gets super-duper compressed when you get below about 30 feet when you're diving for example in the ocean and that's spleen compression actually causes a big production in new red blood cells.
Craig: Yeah. So what they say in the studies, beet root also repopulated S-phase cells and increased KI 67 or cKit positive cells in bone marrow. Further, beet root treated mice showed notable boosting or differentiation of HSCs into burst forming unit erythroid along with increased production IL3. Beet root treated mice displayed enhancement of in the level of hematocrit and hemoglobin as well as other number of red blood cell and peripheral blood. And so they came to a conclusion that the results suggested that beet root has the potency to preserve bone marrow integrity and stimulate the differentiation of HSCs against iodizing and radiation. And to quote them, this is a direct quote, “According to striking results, advance molecular researchers will be beneficial for enlightening a beet root effects in the stem cell field.” So I've always been an early adopter on things. I read things like this and I know that beet root is a safe, healthy thing to take, and I figured that if it's gonna produce a secondary benefit beyond the nitric oxide, I can't lose by doing that.
Ben: Okay. And back this up a little. What did you say peripheral or proriferal?
Ben: Because affirmative with peripheral blood cells. That’s what you are referring to?
Craig: Yeah, peripheral. Yeah.
Ben: Okay. Yeah, those are just all the cellular components of blood. So it’s like red blood cells or what we were talking about earlier, erythrocytes and white blood cells, the leukocytes and platelets and those are all found within blood and not necessarily a sequestered within like the lymphatic system or the spleen or liver, the bone marrow instead those are like the circulating cellular components of blood. So what you're saying is that the beet roots assist with the actual formation or the upper regulation of many of these peripheral blood cells.
Craig: That is what the study says. That's what the researchers says.
Ben: Okay. Interesting.
Ben: It is as well as formation of new stem cells or blood cell precursors.
Ben: Interesting. You see that's something I wasn't aware of but it would cause me a hazard to guess that you know that beets or beet root maybe something that one could take also when injured. You know I had a fascinating podcast with Shawn Stevenson where we talked about the use of other stem cell precursors or things that have a very very high concentration of growth factors. Like colostrum, or like aloe Vera, or you know goat milk and some of the things that we talked about on that podcast included some of things we've talked about here you know. Algae for example is something that we touched on in and liver, but it looks like beet root may actually be something that a lot of people would think of as being only a performance aid but it appears to us as quite a bit with cellular damage and oxidative damage as well which is really interesting.
Craig: Frankly I find it all riveting and it's extra special to have you here today to explain some of the things that I as a non-scientist do not know and just learning also.
Ben: Yeah, I was waiting for this podcast to be able to delve into some of this stuff. And admittedly I'm kind of learning from you too as we go because I’ve been popping this stuff for the past month and a half, or I guess it’s been like 2 months now just before like my endurance-based workouts or you know lately when I’ve been sick but it's interesting to have this opportunity to delve into the literature a bit more as much as for those you listening in. This might seem like we're kinda on the spot going into this stuff. It's actually really fun to be able to take some of these things that nature has provided to us, put them all together and then see what happens when you do something like climb a mountain or dive down deep under the water. So one of things I wanted to also ask you about, Craig, and this is another question that I got after our initial podcast, and that is the AFA, so you’ve got your biotropic AFA and your biotropic chlorella. Is the only difference that you’ve used a different form of algae in both?
Craig: That is essentially the difference. So let me tell you what’s thematic between them. It's probably obvious at this point. You know, coming from a sprinting background, everything that’s thematic in them has to do with blood oxygenation, blood development, immune support, the B12 sweet which I'm a big big believer in the B12 the B9, all the B sweet vitamins I think are critical to have them from the highest, cleanest possible source. So the thing that they share is blood development and oxygenation but what I call the prime movers in them are, and the one formula, the AFA, and then the other formula the chlorella, and so what's the difference? I know people asking that's where you're headed. What's the difference and who should take what.
It's so subjective and I personally like the chlorella formula the best because I have always liked the idea of blood detox. I like blood detox. I like the idea of cleaner blood. I like the idea vasodilation in the chlorella formula taking, what I hope to be cleaner, more purified blood with the cordyceps, echinacea, and the desiccated liver and it going into my muscles when I’m training hard. So if I can get more of that, all of that good stuff in cleaner blood going into training muscles, I have always felt better with that formulation. So I’d say people who were looking for the detoxing capabilities of the formula, as I've experience the athletic improvement I would say the chlorella would be for that crowd. The AFA is you know that's the creme de la creme of, so they say I agree with them, of the algae supplements.
Ben: Yeah, that’s if it’s harvested from like Klamath lake in Oregon. It's used in this other supplement I think called Thrive that has that same form of algae and it's like for supplement companies who want good algae, that's like the go to source for algae, right?
Craig: It's an amazing algae. It's just, there’s so many good things that I don't think it personally feel, although the research is there and it does back it up as a good plug detox agent. I think the chlorella’s the best blood detox agent there is to the extent that such things exist, but what the AFA does that’s so amazing is that, again, along with the blood development oxygen theme, and the B12 and that whole sweet of blood oxygen development, the prime mover here being AFA, that’s what, the reports I get back from that are, it has an ingredient in it called PEA and PEA is a mood enhancer and used in a lot of nootropics to increase cognitive focus and mental clarity. So people feel good on the AFA product but it also is known to be a stem cell producer. Produced stem cell recovery in the body. It's a better recovery agent. It is a blood detoxer but I think chlorella is better but people feel good on it because of the mood enhancing properties of the AFA. So I'd say if you're an athlete that needs higher level focus, a lot of athletes need that. I was very very fortunate that as a competitor I had no issues with concentration or focus or clarity. None. Zero. Just very very lucky that for me I didn’t have that problem but some people do and even at the highest level they do. So I'd say if a pick me up is what you need and you're looking for a better recovery tool in the potentiality of stem cell repair, AFA is the way to go.
Ben: Got it. And PEA that's a phenylethylamine. That's found in a lot of like nootropic and sport drug compounds.
Craig: Yes, and it's natural to AFA. And in fact it’s such a good form of it, it's been used in clinical trials and academic research as a supplement to help attention deficit disorder as well.
Ben: Yeah, it causes you to produce more dopamine and some other things too like acetylcholine, and norepinephrine, and serotonin, and a whole bunch of neurotransmitters. So it's cool stuff. I did not realize that algae was a source of that though. That's really interesting.
Craig: Yeah it's fascinating. And so the other thing I'd say is I did develop these and I want to be very transparent about this. The purpose of these formulations were developed with athletic performance in mind and I stand by that, but responses I get back from people, people tell me that, I’ve had several people tell me on the AFA product that they've lost weight including people who really didn't even need to lose weight. Not a bad thing. It's easy to put weight on. It's not so easy to take it off. So there has been the side benefit of weight loss but I want to be clear of that.
Ben: Why would that happen? I mean are people just taking it and exercising more maybe?
Craig: You could sort of hit on where I was going to go. I don't really know and I don’t think there’s any great science behind it, although there is research to weight loss, but I haven’t been able to really back it up so I don't touch on it. So I have to go with anecdotal on this but I think the reason people lose weight on it is exactly what you said. They feel better. They work out more. They work out a little bit longer and if the getting the lift from it that they say they're getting, this might sound funny or even a little woo-woo, to use your term, but they might be happier about the whole process.
Craig: I didn’t have those issues as an athlete. Again, as I said I didn't, I was just so laser light focused. I was just looking for the thing that would give me the cleanest possible energy and for me personally, highly subjective, I felt that was chlorella, but as I say, people reporting all these great you know, also the nootropic affect. I have several testimonies of people saying they’ve never felt clearer on anything they’ve used before than on this product. So I mean there’s a lot there, so maybe I should recap here. AFA for mental clarity, focus, feeling a little better and blood oxygenation support and delivery and the chlorella…
Craig: Yeah, and the chlorella really for the same things but highlighting the blood detox capabilities of it.
Ben: Okay. Interesting. And yeah with the fat loss thing I mean who knows. Since chlorella clears up toxins from cells perhaps you’re getting a little licing of fat cells for example in folks you take something like that, or you know the other possibility and I think this happens when a lot of people take supplements especially fat loss supplements. You know you take the supplements and you’re like, “Oh, I’m supposed to go exercise after I take this to get the greatest benefit.” And then they exercise and you know it comes out to the claim that something causes fat loss when in fact perhaps there's a lifestyle modification that goes hand in hand along with it. But either way, I don’t think anybody’s complaining.
Craig: But I think you just nailed it. I just want to underscore your point that I believe you gotta move. You have to move and unless you're taking a product like this or something similar purely for the health benefits of it, which is okay there's nothing wrong with that, otherwise you know you have to move. You got to go work out. You got to do something to get the benefits of these things. I don’t pretend that anything's a panacea. I really believe you got to move in supplementation to support movement.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Well this is fascinating and I’m super stoked that we got a chance to delve into some of these ingredients because I, myself, was curious about how some of the stuff works and you inspired me as we talked during this episode to get the wheels in my brain turning about how exactly, you know things like cordyceps, and algae, and Echinacea, and grass-fed liver, and beet root can actually assist with some things that perhaps we don't know about or were aware of before. So I will link to some of the studies and send me over whatever you’d like Craig, and I can also put some of those in the show notes. I’ll link to Global DRO, I’ll link to your blog oxygenating supplement. I know we've got a code, ‘ben’, code is ‘ben’. Where you can get a 20% discount.
So if you wanna try that, the AFA or the chlorella for yourself, you know either version of Craig’s biotropic, you can. I’ll put links to all that stuff over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/bloodpodcast. That’s bengreenfield.com/bloodpodcast, and when you're there you can leave a comment or a question for Craig or myself. You can go listen to the previous podcast that I did with Craig in which we really got a little bit more into Craig’s fascinating background as an athlete and as somebody who started to piece together a supplement like this. And of course if you enjoy this episode you can always pop over to iTunes and leave a review or say something nice as well. If anything in here was compelling to your or you came across something you didn't know before because that's my goal is to give you guys stuff that goes above and beyond the run of the mill information that you're gonna find a lot of times in nutrition speak, or in the fitness industry, or in the longevity sector, or the biohacking sector, anything else. So I hope that this has been helpful for you if you're listening in. Craig, thanks for coming on the show and sharing all these with us man.
Craig: No, it's my pleasure. It really is my pleasure. It was great the first time. It's been better this time and it's always a joy to talk with you and I learned a lot from you. You really are an expert in the field and we all appreciate that you’re helping us out.
Ben: Awesome. Well, thank you for those kind words. I appreciate it. Giving me a big head and a red face, or maybe it’s just the beet root, and folks listening in, until next time. Bengreenfielfitness.com/bloodpodcast is where you can get the show notes. I'm Ben Greenfield along with Craig Dinkel signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
In the podcast episode “Shattering World Swim Records On 25-Piece Fried Chicken Buckets, Climbing Mountains While Eating Defatted, Vegan, Grass-Fed, Argentinian Liver Anhydrate & Much More” I interviewed athlete and supplement designer Craig Dinkel about a special blood oxygenating formula called “Biotropic”.
After that interview, I received an onslaught of questions about everything from grass fed liver anhydrate to cordyceps senesis to hidden benefits of beetroots, the detoxification properties of algae, whether it's really true you can get all the benefits of blood doping without actually blood doping and more.
So today, Craig is back to answer those questions, and during our discussion, you'll discover:
-The one compound that research has shown to cause a 58% chance of a decrease in catching the common cold and the duration of a cold by 1 to 4 days…[9:20]
-The mechanism of action via which algae can detoxify your blood…[14:55]
-How algae can convert nitrates to nitric oxide…[19:05]
-Why chlorella could be the perfect pre-sex supplement…[20:50]
-How the polysaccharides in cordyceps contribute oxygen molecules to the blood…[22:10]
-The mechanism of action for corydceps to increase endurance or oxygenation…[28:15]
-How echinacea increases red blood cells in four different ways…[30:30]
-What it means for grass fed liver to be “anhydrated” or “dessicated”…[35:25]
-What it means for the iron in the liver to be “heme”…[38:40]
-The surprising way that beets support muscle stem cell repair…[44:00]
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
–BioTropic Blood Oxygenating supplement (use code “ben” to get a 20% discount)