[00:00] Introduction/About Roger Drummer
[05:50] How Does a Mix of Chinese Herbs Work on a Chemical Level?
[09:00] Adaptogens in Chinese Herbal Mixes like TianChi
[10:10] How TianChi Can Increase Mental Clarity
[13:08] Why You Need to be Careful with Which Chinese Herbs you Choose and Use
[19:56] Ben Experimenting with Heart Rate Variability
[24:00] When is the Best Time to Take TianChi
[26:48] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, folks! This is Ben Greenfield and I have in the past year or so been using, typically in the mid-morning or the mid-afternoon, a mix of Chinese herbs to basically improve my mental performance, improve my focus, improve my thought clarity. And, this stuff is pretty powerful and I’ve got the guy who formulated it on the call; his name is Roger Drummer. He is a diplomat of Chinese herbology and I’ll have him explain to you exactly what that means. He travels around the world lecturing about the benefits of Chinese herbs. He is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to nutrition. He’s worked with literally, tens of thousands of folks and created several patents on these, or at least one that I know of, on the use of these Chinese herbs, and medicinal mushrooms, and some really, really cool cutting-edge stuff when it comes to nutrition. Roger, thank you for coming on the call today.
Roger: Well, thanks for having me.
Ben: So, I know that I just mentioned that you are a formulator and a diplomat of Chinese herbology. I also happen to know that you’ve dabbled a little bit in triathlon as well. But, it sounds like you keep pretty busy and I’m really not sure what a formulator does. So, can you walk us through, before we talk a little bit more about the mixes that you make, what you do when you wake up in the morning because the thought going through my head is you standing over a vat with a big stick, stirring a bunch of stuff in a big pot. So, what exactly is it that you do?
Roger: Well, it’s funny. Formulating is kind of like cooking, but what I do is… Well, to add some clarity to what a diplomat of Chinese herbology is, that’s the certification title the US government has for someone who practices Chinese medicine, but does not do acupuncture. Years ago they had so many problems with people graduating from acupuncture school realizing they didn’t like sticking people with needles and so they didn’t have anything to do with their education. So many people dropped out of the whole health field and so what they’ve done is they’ve separated it now and decided that for those people that just want to practice Chinese herbology as Chinese medicine because, in actuality, 85% of all Chinese medicine is herbs. So, those people can now get licensed or certified just as a diplomat of Chinese herbology and still practice.
Roger: So, as a formulator, what I do is… I mean, I’ve always had a knack for this from partly because of the type of training I had, the environment I had, but I’ve always loved putting things together. And, in the United States, in the environment I grew up in, it was a store that had 4 or 500 different herbal products, very similar to how they do Chinese medicine in Japan, and it’s called Kampo in Japan. What they do is that’s different than Chinese practicing traditional Chinese medicine is that instead of having single herbs and thousands of them, they have hundreds of formulas and when someone comes in and needs a program, you put together formulas and have them take a certain amount of each to create a new formula for the person. So in theory, I was always formulating with every person that I worked with and I loved mixing and matching. It was a great thing of getting so much direct feedback that I just naturally went into starting to make formulas for the business that I work at, formulas for the bar, the Chinese herbal bar, is where you learn a lot. And then, that translates over into what I do today as, basically, I try to look at different diseases or health states and figure out how to use novel, new ingredients and put it into the theory of Chinese medicine so it works on the same level. So, I formulate for different companies and put together things on my own.
Ben: Gotcha, and just really quickly before we move on into what exactly his formulations are, is it true that you’ve dabbled a bit in triathlon?
Roger: Oh, I did! Yeah, back in the early 80s, I had moved to Arizona from Ohio and really got into running. I loved running and I did a few marathons and a lot of 10Ks and half-marathons. And then, I just kind of discovered triathlon. Dave Scott was the big guy then – he was the original number one superstar as a triathlete. I used to follow that a lot. So, I got into it in Arizona and I just did it all on my own. I didn’t have anybody to train with, didn’t have anybody to talk to, and I just went out and pounded the pavement and rode my bike a lot and got into shape and did a few triathlons. I loved it, but I suffered from lack of knowledge, so to speak. I didn’t have a trainer, I didn’t realize I was over-training, and that whole thing. But, I loved it and I did probably three half-Ironmans. I wasn’t too bad at it for lack of experience. I usually came in the top 10% of the race. I just loved doing it.
Ben: Nice. Okay. Cool. So, in the realm of performance, talking about triathlons, when it comes to Chinese herbs, I think what a lot of people do maybe think about acupuncture, perhaps relaxation, decreasing stress, things like that, but in terms of mental or physical performance, how does a mix of Chinese herbs, for example the mix in the TianChi stuff that I’ve been drinking, how does that actually work on a chemical level? How does using an herb do something like enhance your clarity of thought or the way that you perform mentally?
Roger: Well, what happens is, as far as athletes, an easier way to think of it is that I specialize in tonic herbs which means it’s a class of herbs that they consider to be food that you don’t normally have in your diet. So, they’ve very concentrated foods that of all traditionally for thousands of years been known to strengthen particular organs or glands, and improve digestion and breathing, all these things that are important to athletes. And so, when you use them, it prevents the body from getting as worn out as if you didn’t have them. So, for an athlete, it’s much easier to maintain a certain level of activity without becoming too worn out. So, you recover quicker, you’re able to have better workouts, and not reach that burned stage.
Ben: Now, when you use a term like “worn out,” that seems like a catch phrase. What do you mean when you say “worn out?”
Roger: Well, for instance, when someone is doing a lot of endurance training, it’s very wearing on your adrenals. It’s very wearing on your glandular system. You tend to be… sometimes, when you run out of physical energy, what happens is you start tapping into your adrenals, what the Chinese call “jing,” and then you run on that. A lot of people do that, that are stressed, they skip meals and then they don’t eat and drink a lot of coffee and that basically just hyper-activates your adrenals and they run on that.
Ben: So, we’re talking about too much epinephrine or adrenaline or those types of things that we rely on?
Roger: Right, those type of things. But, the Chinese even look at it a little deeper, like, your glandular system is part of your life force that you’re born with and it holds a certain amount of energy and you’re not supposed to tap into that. So, as an athlete though, it’s easy to go, especially when you get into these real-endurance activities, it’s easy to push yourself because you feel like you can do just about anything, and you get that runner’s high, and you’ve been working out a lot, and then that pushing, oftentimes, you’ll cross that gap to where you’re running out of physical energy, yet you just want to do it and you use too much energy. Herbs have this ability of putting it back into your glandular system.
Ben: Gotcha. So, in terms of putting energy back into your glandular system, how does that actually work? Is that something that decreases the amount of cortisol? I know a lot of stress relieving herbs do. Or, do they work on different levels, the mix of Chinese herbs?
Roger: Well, they all work on different levels, but adaptogens in particular, which is the main part of what TianChi is about. Adaptogens actually regulate the HPA-axis, meaning the hypothalamus pituitary adrenals, so that if you’re stressed you’ll still have a stressed reaction, but your body will be able to shut it off at the appropriate time. Once that shut-off in the body goes into a normal phase of energy where it allows the adrenals to regenerate or to soak up energy again. And so, a lot of people who are hyper-stressed never go into that phase where they shut it off completely. So, they never restore their energy and adaptogens work almost immediately to regulate your pituitary and once that happens, your nervous system calms within seconds and it goes into a different phase.
Ben: Interesting. What about the increased mental clarity? Is it just an issue where you are decreasing stress or is there something in a mix of Chinese herbs that, I don’t know, increases blood flow to the brain or causes enhanced neuronal function or something of that nature?
Roger: Well, in general, we’re just talking about herbs, in Chinese herbology, the adrenal energy is part of a system called “jing,” and in their sense of energy, that directly feeds the brain. So, you might… It sounds a little odd because we’re always just walking about energy, but the reality is, think about the last time you were really exhausted: you don’t think clearly, you don’t breathe very deeply, all these different things happen when you’re exhausted, which is a sign you’ve used up too much adrenal energy. So, you want to put energy back into that or prevent it from actually getting to that state. Just keeping your adrenal strong and keeping that energy system strong will allow you to have much more mental stability or clarity all the time. And then, in the case of TianChi, I actually combined the ability to calm your nervous system and to rebuild your glandular system with some very potent, direct nutraceuticals for brain activity.
Ben: Like what?
Roger: I use tyrosine to peak dopamine, which is the main neurotransmitter in your brain that’s responsible for controlling your cravings for sweets. It also powers up your brain. It’s kind of like booting your computer up in the morning. Once you get a dose of dopamine early in the day, your brain stays pretty much powered up for the entire day and you have very less cravings even for alcohol and tobacco.
Ben: Interesting. So, you’re basically increasing the level of dopamine, or as you call it dopamine, and essentially helping yourself to feel almost like more, to use the feel-good phrases, more satisfied and happy?
Roger: Yeah, more satisfied, happy, and able to make better choices because your brain energy isn’t moving all around all day. The typical person that gets up and just has some sort of food in the morning that’s sugar-based or way too much carbohydrate and some coffee, falsely stimulates the dopamine. And so, as soon as it starts to wear off, your brain just goes searching for it and without even thinking for it, you’re reaching for another cookie, bagel, something that’s carbo and you’re on that rollercoaster all day whereas if you started your day differently, you really don’t have those same cravings throughout the day.
Ben: Interesting. So, I’ve personally heard a lot of horror stories about Chinese herbs, like how they sit in bins over in China for years and they get sprayed with ethylene oxide or some other anti-mold or anti-fungal or pesticide or something of that nature. You have to be really careful when you’re using Chinese herbs. So, can you kind of explain how a formulator would get around that issue?
Roger: Oh, sure. I have been around Chinese herbs now for almost 20-some-odd years and there’s a lot of Chinese herbal products I wouldn’t touch no matter what you told me they did and a lot of those are directly made in China and imported into this country as finished products. Hong Kong is famous for copying good, Chinese herbal products and making cheap copies and shipping them over here. So, I wouldn’t buy, literally, anything in a pill or a cap that was originally made in China; I just won’t do it myself.
What you want to look for, and what I do, is I’ve had a very good importer of Chinese herbs that I work with and they’re importing just extracted single herbs, and they’re very highly extracted and pure, and they’re tested for all kinds of any type of chemical. In fact, the only company that I use, all their herbs are wild-crafted. So, there’s no sprays used on anything, they’re all tested, they’re grown in a factory that does kosher testing, it’s organic certified, the factory is. So then, they get sent over to the United States in large, hundred kilo drums that the FDA inspects and does a lab report on. And then, it’s put in a warehouse in the United States and then I buy mixes that I send to them that I want. I buy different kilo amounts of individual herbs and I mix them myself or I have that company mix something for me in China and make it under my direction and that way I know it’s pure, there’s no additives to it, they’re not using herbs that are ever sprayed, all those things are done before I ever get my powders.
Ben: So, once you actually extract the herbal extracts from these raw herbs, are they mixed with something else? How do you actually go from these herbs that you extract into the actual, in this case, a packet that I personally would pour into a glass of water?
Roger: Okay. Well, with the herbs I use, the factory and the company I use will tell you that they’ll have different grades that you want to buy. The normal grade of herbs out on the grocery store or the health food store shelves, it’s usually a 5:1 or 4:1 extract. That’s okay with certain things, but with most herbs, that’s a very weak extract. That means they’ve not extracted it out to its natural strength and oftentimes it’s sprayed, dried with cornstarch or something else. Mine, the reason I use the company I’ve been using for 15 years now, is that they specifically do not spray dry onto any carrier, so it’s 99.99% pure herbs, there’s nothing else to it. And, they extract every herb at its natural extract strength, meaning they take it as high as it will go without losing any of the synergistic components to it because once you do that, then you’ve basically killed off the energy of the herb, it doesn’t work as well. You could always concentrate one single ingredient, but that single ingredient never works as well as something that’s extracted the natural strength and that natural strength is usually between 8 -12 or 13: 1 depending on the herb.
Ben: Gotcha. So, you’ve got all these different wild-crafted herbs that you’re using and in this case, and the case of the formulation that I’m taking, this TianChi stuff, you’ve got… I guess I could count, but it looks like maybe 15 different things in there. How do you choose? Is this just a random cocktail that you’re just grabbing some stuff and throwing it all together or is this formulated from a specific scientific standpoint?
Roger: Well, when you formulate a Chinese herbal formula, you always have the main segment which could make up anywhere from ¾ of the formula, but at least ¼ of the formula, and that segment of the thing is what the whole formula revolves around. And, in this case of the TianChi, it revolves around the work of adaptogenic herbs. There’s four, probably five if you want to classify it, major adaptogens in that formula. And so, it’s designed to regulate, and this is one of the main function of it, regulate stress response. Almost everybody is so locked into stress, their body is highly enflamed and it’s literally throws off every function of your body being locked in a stress response. So, that whole segment is to take the pituitary, help to regulate the nervous system and to allow the adrenals to somewhat regroup and soak up energy. And then, the next segment of the formula is designed to help have herbs in it that are directly for building up jing, which includes your adrenals and your glandular system, because once the major focus of the formula does its job of calming your nervous system, you want herbs there that are particularly just great for rebuilding adrenal energies, things like Ho Shou Wu. You talked earlier about how do they affect your adrenals, well, Ho Shou Wu has a chemical in it that is almost identical to some of the very same chemicals your body makes in your adrenals. So, that being there, your body just soaks it up quite readily. And then, there’s a couple of herbs in it that just support the action of both groups of herbs. There’s an herb called polygala and one called Albizia flower and that just opens up a channel in your heart, that’s running between your heart and your adrenals. So, it kind of connects your emotions to your physical energy and it allows energy to move freely throughout the body. So, it’s kind of a connecting-type of herb. Then, there’s a couple of herbs in it…
Ben: That’s interesting. I’m interrupting you because I’ve been experimenting with heart rate variability for the past two months.
Ben: What that means is you can sit down with a unit that is connected in this case, connected to your ear, taking your pulse, and it calculates the amount of time difference between each of your heartbeats. So ideally, when your heart rate variability is in an ideal state or an ideal beat, there’s an even space of time between each beat. And, if you are over-trained or you are over-stressed, then what happens is the delta, or the change in time between each beat, is longer or shorter. And, I have actually noticed a change in heart rate variability when I’m using this TianChi in terms of it actually being more consistent. Now, some of this sounds kind of far out there because one of the ways you’re supposed to be able to improve heart rate variability is not only by being destressed, but also by having lots of love and appreciation and friendship and things of that nature in your life. You can think about those type of things as you’re taking your heart rate test and testing your heart rate variability and it actually helps to stabilize your heart rate variability score. But, I have noticed that when I’m taking TianChi, when I’m doing a heart rate variability training session, I can get into what’s called “the zone,” where the heart rate variability is even, within about 60 seconds. I mean, I can just get right there.
Ben: And heartrate variability is something they’ve used, especially over in Europe, for a long time to track sports performance. It’s just now hitting the US which is why I’m testing everything from supplements, to thoughts, to recovery with it. But, it’s very interesting that you bring that up.
Roger: Well, since you mentioned it, this is fascinating. I’m so glad you told me that. But, part of the whole idea of stress and the formula is with Chinese herbology you’re always looking at the physical ingredients of the herbs, you’re always looking how they physically affect your body, but there’s an energetic component to it also, and it’s the same way with stress. In Chinese medicine, when they say there’s something wrong with your liver, what they really mean is your nervous system is way too piqued. Oftentimes, your liver energy… someone will go to an acupuncturist and they’ll take your pulse and go, “oh, your liver” and the America will think, “oh my gosh, my liver is all messed up” right? But, really what they’re saying is your nervous system is so high-strung that your body can’t relax and so nothing circulates energetically around your body.
Well, one of the things about opening up your heart on an energetic level, again, with Albizia and polygala, is that when you open the heart center up to allow it to go back to its normal state of energy, the liver, energetically, it just naturally calms. The energy center associated with it has to shrink when the heart regains its normal size. So, part of the formula, again, is to open that energy center so that the body relaxes a bit and allows energy to move and not stagnate in any place of the body. When the liver stagnates energetically, it causes energy to sit on your chest and you feel pressure, you feel overstressed. That’s the type of person that will wake up at two in the morning and feel like someone’s standing on their chest because they’re so stressed. They think there’s something wrong with their heart when in actuality it’s just their liver is not processing energy.
Ben: Interesting. Yeah, this stuff is fascinating. I’m going to make sure that I put a full list of all the TianChi ingredients, or a link to it, on the website on the show notes where I release this post. But, in terms of just use, if somebody gets this stuff and wants to use it, how do you maximize the results? Like, empty stomach in the morning, with a meal at lunch, when should you take it?
Roger: Well, the best way to always take it is on an empty stomach. For a lot of people, let’s say, for example, someone dieting, the best time to do it is first thing in the morning by itself, don’t eat for 45 minutes because the way it sets up your brain for the power to which it works and how fast it works will immediately happen and it will curb your cravings for sweets, which is the main issue in most dieting. And then, you basically stop your brain for the whole day. Now, if you can’t do that, if you’re someone who really has to have breakfast with maybe coffee or tea or something, that’s perfectly fine. But, then wait 2 ½ hours and maybe take it a half hour/an hour before lunch, or if you’re someone who has a huge evening ahead of you, you can take it in the middle of the afternoon. But, always give it a couple of hours from your last food so it goes in your body completely on its own.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Cool. I know that we are going to offer a free shipping code for folks for the next week after this podcast comes out with Roger if you want to get your hands on some TianChi. I’ll put that coupon code in the show notes for you over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com. I’d highly recommend you grab at least one box of this stuff and try it out for about 20-30 days. Like I said, I’ve been using it pretty regularly recently. A few of my clients have been using it. It’s one of those things where some supplements you just blindly take and assume that it’s helping you get healthier, like say, fish oil. This stuff kind of amplifies your mental performance in an enormous manner, I’ve found. Also, that heartrate variability bit really impressed me as well.
Roger, thank you so much for coming on the call and explaining this stuff to us.
Roger: Oh, you’re welcome. Part of what I do is just educate people and that’s why I travel around so much. I love teaching people basic things about Chinese herbs and demystifying how it all works.
Ben: Yeah, it’s good stuff. So, folks, that’s Roger Drummer. I’ll also put a link to his website in the show notes if you want to go check out some of his articles and some of his writing over at his AskRogerDrummer.com site. I highly recommend it. So, until next time, folks, this is Ben Greenfield and Roger Drummer signing out from BenGreenfieldFitness.com.
If you read “12 Mental Performance Hacks: A Cheat Sheet For Boosting Your Brain Power“, you may have noticed that suggestion #7 recommended that you take a compound called “Huperzine”, and mentioned Chinese herbal mix “TianChi” as a source of club moss, since club moss contains natural levels of Huperzine.
But that article just scratched the surface when it comes to how to use Chinese herbs.
So in today's audio interview with the inventor of TianChi and Chinese diplomat of herbology Roger Drummer, you'll learn everything you need to know about how to boost your brain power with Chinese herbs.
You'll also learn:
-Why you need to be careful with which Chinese herbs you choose and use…
-How most Chinese herb supplement manufacturers “water down” their formulations…
-The best time of day to take Chinese herbs…
-A shocking discovery Ben made when he combined Chinese herbs and heart rate variability testing…
-And much more!
The highly concentrated Chinese herb mix that I've personally been taking on a daily basis is TianChi. I'd highly recommend that you treat yourself to just one box and use it for the next 20-30 days so that you can see what it feels like to have your neurons firing at peak capacity.