January 21, 2021
[00:00:00] I Got COVID
[00:15:58] Podcast Sponsors
[00:18:17] A Brief Overview of the Peak Brain Institute
[00:26:55] Why a Home Device Isn't Enough for Optimal Brain Performance
[00:34:41] How Close We Are to a “God cap” That Can Track Brain Waves Without Gel, electrodes, etc.
[00:45:06] Podcast Sponsors
[00:47:25] How the Peak Brain Institute Tracks Individuals' Brain Waves Virtually
[00:54:45] How Diet Affects a Person's Neurofeedback
[01:13:47] Nootropics or Smart Drugs That Promote Neurofeedback
[01:20:18] Closing the Podcast
[01:20:50] End of Podcast
Ben: Alright, here's what's funny, or maybe not funny, but interesting. I recorded the introduction to this podcast for you. And then, I went back, I'm actually going back right now as you're listening to me, and recording even more because what you'll hear in a moment is I was recording basically all of my sponsors and my discounts and stuff for you guys before the episode, and my son was recording with me, and I was jamming back and forth with my son about the fact that I thought his mother and I had COVID because I was congested and she was like having trouble smelling her coffee and tasting her coffee, which was super annoying for her.
So, we both went out and got tested, and we both tested positive for COVID. Then I got some people who came back and said, “Well, that test has an alarmingly high false-positive rate.” But then like six other people that we had been with that week also tested positive for COVID, and also were symptomatic, in kind of the same way we were, like just didn't feel well and had the sniffles, and like a little bit of a sore throat. And so, I got COVID. Yeah, I got COVID. And I've realized this isn't the same for everybody. There are people who are metabolically compromised, people with a high level of inflammation, people who are beast, which is basically the definition of having a high level of inflammation, older people with a higher free radical load, people who might be vitamin D deficient, et cetera.
And so, I realized this isn't the case for everybody, but for me and my wife, it was kind of a joke. We actually turn to each other at one point while we were falling asleep in bed and we were like, “Why did the economy gets shut down for this?” And I realize it's very controversial and there's a lot of other considerations here, and I'm not saying that COVID was not a big deal and that it didn't severely affect the lives of a lot of healthcare practitioners and a lot of people who got it, and some people who even died of it, or I think more accurately died with it. But anyways, I got COVID and my wife got COVID. And then, when I tweeted that out, a bunch of people asked me what we did about it because I essentially–I felt fine the whole time. It was about two days' worth of symptoms and I did not skip a beat.
But a lot of people ask me about my approach. So, very quickly, I'll just tell you what I did as soon as I had the symptoms of COVID, and then what I continued to do for about four days after getting it because I didn't want any long haul symptoms. And several physicians, particularly Dr. Matt Cook, who helped me out quite a bit when I pinged him about this. They said that by treating even the asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic cases, they had noted that it resulted in pretty much folks not getting long haul COVID symptoms, like some of the backend stuff that happens with long-term inflammation. So, what did I do? What did I do when I got COVID is exactly what my wife did, and again, we were fine the whole time, and also completely symptom-free after two days of sniffles and a little bit of like a nagging sore throat.
And then again, my wife, I didn't, but my wife lost her sense of smell and taste for about a day. So, here's what we did. First of all, the loss of smell and taste. This is really interesting. What I did for my wife, and she regained it super quickly, was I had her doing rosemary and peppermint essential oil, and this spray that I get from this guy named Dr. John Lieurance in Sarasota, Florida called GlutaStat, which is like a glutathione nasal spray that also has a bunch of essential oils in it. So, she was essentially doing like aromatherapy, literally like sniffing essential oils up her nose or putting them into her hands and then sniffing her hands. So, she was basically keeping her olfactory nerves, kind of like trains to keep trying to smell.
And then, the other thing that we did, and this was just based on a personal hypothesis of mine, was we have these Vielight devices. It's spelled V-I-E-light, and this is intranasal light therapy for activating the mitochondria in neural tissue. And I actually had her using that Vielight every day. For about three consecutive days, you turn it on. It automatically turns off after about 25 minutes. And so, I had her doing that, and then smelling essential oils and using this GlutaStat spray. And the other thing about the GlutaStat spray, and also the peppermint arguably, is there's some antiviral activity to the glutathione and to the peppermint. And so, that's what I had her doing for her sense of smell. And I also did it just because I don't want to lose my sense of taste and smell. I don't know if I would have, but that's what we did for the taste and smell thing was the Vielight and then sniffing essential oils. And we did that for about three consecutive days, and just kind of sniffed the essential oils whenever we felt like it, and then use that glutathione nasal spray, three or four sprays per nostril for about three days few times a day.
Another thing that we really focused on was quelling the inflammation because I think most of the symptoms that you get from COVID are related to inflammation and the cytokine storm. So, what did we do for that? First of all, we both took zinc and vitamin C. I'm not going to give you any product names here, unless it's completely necessary, like that GlutaStat spray. I don't know anywhere else you can get it, so I'll tell you that's where we got the GlutaStat, but I don't want this to sound like I'm trying to make money off of what we used to manage COVID. So, I'm not going to give you guys any links or codes. I just don't want this to be sounding like I'm trying to profit off of COVID or something, or me getting COVID.
But anyways, we did vitamin C, just like a Whole Foods form of vitamin C, and did about right around 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams. So, kind of high-dose vitamin C, but we did that three times a day with vitamin C. We combined it with zinc, and the deal is it appears that for what's called the zinc ionophore activity that you want for COVID, that zinc needs to be combined with some kind of a plant polyphenol. So, we did zinc, but we combined the zinc and the vitamin C with quercetin. And quercetin is a plant polyphenol that a lot of functional medicine docs are using for COVID, but you combine it with the zinc. Okay. So, we did the vitamin C, the zinc, and the quercetin. The other one that we did was vitamin D. And if you listen to my podcast with Dr. Mercola, there's a lot of evidence that low vitamin D may increase your susceptibility to having more COVID symptoms or long haul COVID. So, we both did about 4,000 international units of vitamin D daily. Okay. So, those were our vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and quercetin.
Now, we also were doing that glutathione nasal spray. Okay. But in addition to doing nasal spray, we both have a nebulizer that we use if there's ever a cold or something like that going on. Nebulizer is just like this countertop thing that is like a mask that you put on your face, and then it's got a little container that you can nebulize fluids in. And based off a really interesting discussion that I had with Dr. Joseph Mercola, who swears that in addition to maintaining vitamin D status, nebulizing hydrogen peroxide, like a very low concentrate, food-grade hydrogen peroxide, is super effective. I actually nebulized hydrogen peroxide mixed with colloidal silver. And I would just do that while I work on my desk during the day, one time, about 20 minutes a day for three or–I think I did it for four days consecutively, but I was nebulizing silver along with hydrogen peroxide. That might seem kind of fringe, but it's super easy. I just bought food-grade hydrogen peroxide off of Amazon, deluded it. You can't find the instructions that Dr. Mercola published if you Google because he's banned from Google. But if you go to like DuckDuckGo and search for Mercola hydrogen peroxide nebulize, you'll find the instructions. And I did exactly what was indicated there, but then I added a little bit of silver to it because silver has some pretty cool antiviral activity as well. And my wife did the same thing.
And then, we also did a few kind of like fringy kind of things. You don't have to do this stuff, but I think it's smart. So, we both have–well, we don't both, but we own one of those ozone generators, and we drank ozone water every morning. And for her smell and taste, we also did like the nasal ozone insufflation. You really want to make sure you follow instructions with ozone because it can be damaging to the respiratory tract if you didn't use it properly. But we both use ozone every day. I even have a document if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/viralqa, or I'm sorry, virusqa, BenGreenfieldFitness.com/virusqa. I mentioned somewhere in that document how to get your hands on ozone generator and what we used. Anyways, we just drink ozone every day. That has really put an antiviral activity.
The other fringy things that we did was we both did peptides. We both injected for three consecutive days thymosin alpha-1, TB500, and BPC-157. If you go to the website for the International Peptide Society at peptidesociety.org, you can find a physician who will prescribe you peptides and for quelling the inflammatory firestorm. I think they're super useful. So, we both did that for a few days in a row. We injected BPC-157, TB500, and thymosin alpha. I also got my hands on the pharmaceutical drug ivermectin, which is an anti-malarial drug that's used off label by a lot of docs for COVID, and my wife and I both did the full 24 tablets of ivermectin. So, three days in a row, eight tablets of ivermectin. I don't know if we needed it, but I just did it just for peace of mind because I don't want to get long haul syndrome.
And then, the only thing I should tell you is in the fringe department, I own a BioCharger. You probably heard my podcast I did with the folks at BioCharger. They have an antiviral protocol loaded up into that thing, and I ran the antiviral protocol every day just in the morning while I was sitting in my chair, in my Zen den reading my Bible. It's a 21-minute protocol, so I just play it while I was doing my morning devotions and just kind of blast you with all these so-called rife frequencies that they say are antiviral. Again, I'm not going to claim there's like double-blinded human clinical research behind it, but it was like one of those things of weird stuff I heard. So, I did the BioCharger as well. So, in summary, vitamin C, zinc, quercetin, vitamin D, nebulized silver and hydrogen peroxide, drank the ozone water, did the peptides BPC, TB500, and thymosin alpha-1, took ivermectin, did the BioCharger, and then also did the essential oils and the GlutaStat that I'd huff up my nose along with my wife for the taste and smell.
The only other interesting thing is that my Oura ring score actually showed four consecutive days of temperature increases before I actually even notice any symptoms or anything like that every single way because I went back and checked. My Oura ring showed four days where the temp went up about 0.3 to 0.6 degrees Fahrenheit, my body temp. So, if you haven't had a ring or something that's testing your body temperature and you see it's consistently rising day after day, you may want to go get tested and just check because it seems like if I would have known that in advance and seen it going up day after day, I actually might have even caught this even earlier. So, that's really interesting. And UCSF actually did really interesting study on using body temperature data. I think they actually use the Oura ring to signal whether you might be developing COVID.
So, that was it. Yeah. So, I got COVID, and that was how I dealt with it, and I feel fine. And again, I don't want to downplay it. I think that it can be problematic for many people who are metabolically compromised or have inflammation, or who are elderly, et cetera, but it was kind of a walk in the park for my wife and I, and that's everything we did. So, I hope that's helpful for you. Sorry about going on and on, but now I'll get into the actual pre-podcast banter, now that I've had my pre-podcast banter for you. You can leave your questions in the shownotes, by the way, when I'll give you the URL for the shownotes during today's episode.
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
Andrew: People are often like, “What's the best device to buy?” And that's not the right question. The right question is, “What should we do with my brain, and what are my goals?” We just [00:12:16] _____ really reduced and the brother is like, “Why am I not getting these amazing results?” And I'm like, “You know, I don't know.”
Ben: So, that's an example of doing like the wrong kind of neurofeedback actually causing damage?
Andrew: And then, that's not reality. It's not a diagnostic process. You haven't decided what is true, you decided what is plausible.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Ben: Remember that one time that we went down to L.A. and we put those funny electrodes on our heads and did a whole bunch of like spaceship flying with our brains?
River: Oh, yeah. That was really fun.
Ben: Yeah. And I think didn't both you and Terran do it?
River: Yeah, we both did.
Ben: Yeah. And we found out that you and Terran had almost identical brains. You can get a little closer to the mic if you want to. There you go. But I think Terran had increased levels of distractibility and spaciness compared to–which is funny because he kind of is that way. We're talking about it with Andrew in here, which I feel bad about. And then, dad's brain showed like a bunch of signs of all my concussions and TBIs. And what's really cool was they had us play all these brain games, we there for like–I think I was there for a week, and I took all the equipment home with me. And you guys trained–how many times did you train?
River: I think three times.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. It's kind of cool though how you can almost think your way. Well, you can't think your way. People should just listen to my podcast. What do you think?
Ben: Okay. This wasn't a podcast, people. It's with Dr. Andrew Hill. All my podcasts with him are absolutely amazing. He's super, super Smart. He's the geeky brain biofeedback wizard and always pulls a bunch of crazy stuff out of his hat, or his head, I suppose I should say.
Ben: And yeah. So, check this one out. And I'll link to all my previous episodes with Andrew in the shownotes as well. Okay. So, do you think I have COVID?
Ben: Maybe. Yeah. Well, here's the deal. I'm kind of sniffly and have a little bit of a cough, And then, mom, two days ago, got sniffly, she got a cough, she was in bed with aches for like half the day. And then, she was fine the next day and she took you guys on a hike, and she came back, and we made a great dinner, a bunch of like fresh sushi and amazing stuff that she should have been able to taste. She was like, “I can't taste this.” And then, I made a really strong cup of tea and she's like, “I can't smell this and I can't taste this.” So, what did we fill her? We filled her up with a whole bunch of Kion Immune, shoutout to Kion, sponsor of today's podcast, tons of bioavailable vitamin C and zinc. Really unique form of zinc that gets absorbed really well.
And then, we did a bunch of glutathione. I had her do ozone aided olive oil, like she breathed in olive oil, which is really cool, which is the only way to breathe olive oil, or breathe ozone without damaging your lungs is to put it through olive oil first. And then, what else did she do? We did a propolis spray, bee propolis spray, also a sponsor of today's show. And what else? Oh, and nebulize. She nebulized glutathione and zinc, and then I gave her a bunch–we joke that our house is the best place on the planet to get COVID, if you get it, because we have everything here. And then, I injected her with thymosin alpha-1, and TB500, and BPC-157.
River: She's now good.
Ben: She feels pretty good. She's totally loaded. And so, all of us now, we're doing like vitamin C and Kion Immune, and zinc, and all this stuff. But anyways, the Greenfield family might have COVID.
River: Who knows?
Ben: It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I mean, for –I don't know. Maybe because we take care of our bodies. But mom went and got tested this morning. Did you know that?
Ben: Yeah. She drove in, got the test. But it wasn't the rapid test. We'll find out, find out soon.
Anyways though, Kion Immune, which is why I thought of this, I'm going to give all you guys a 20% discount. Okay. So, I'm not allowed to say anything about the virus now, but Kion Immune is really good for your immune system. It's really good for your immune system. But like I mentioned, it's a really unique form of zinc, zinc glycinate, and then vitamin C, both of which can manage things like oxidative stress and play a central role in your immune cell formation. And a deficiency in zinc has been shown to severely impair immune function. So, it's just good, all-around insurance. And you get a 10% discount. You go to getkion.com, getK-I-O-N.com/bengreenfield.
And then, like I mentioned, the Beekeeper's, they're also a sponsor of today's show. And you guys have been doing the propolis spray.
River: It tastes really good.
Ben: It's really good, so–
River: It's like a really good candy almost.
Ben: Yeah. So, the propolis spray, basically, you spray it in your mouth, duh. I guess you could spray in some other holes, but I think probably your mouth would be the best way to go. Nostrils. My ears are sticky. So, they do a cough syrup and a propolis, and it's just jam-packed with the same stuff that bees use as kind of like the immune system for their hives. And they have really good honey, and they have really good royal jelly, which–you know what royal jelly is good for?
River: It's what the queen bee eats and I think it's good for something.
Ben: Your brain.
Ben: It's really good for your brain. They make like a nootropic for thinking smarter, and it has a bunch of acetylcholine precursors in it and royal jelly. So, I don't think I've given you much royal jelly before.
River: We had like a spoonful.
Ben: I think I gave you couple teaspoons the other day. Yeah. For a tough school day.
Ben: Did you get straight A's?
Ben: I don't know. You don't really get grades that much because you don't go to, I don't know, graded school. But anyways, so Beekeeper's, they're going to give all of you guys a 15% discount. You go to beekeepersnaturals.com/ben. And I have to spell this out. Shall we do this together?
Ben: They told me I had to spell it out for you guys because apparently, nobody knows how to spell it. B-E-E-K-E-E-P-E-R-S-N-A-T-U-R-A-L-S.com/ben. And that'll get you 50% off of anything from Beekeeper's Naturals. Alright, what do you think? Should we go talk to Andrew?
Ben: Let's do it.
Oh, man, it was back. I guess it was way back in 2017 that I visited the Peak Brain Institute in L.A. for this special kind of advanced brain scan and brain mapping system called quantified electroencephalography, or QEEG. And it was really interesting, and I came back and did a podcast on it because Dr. Andrew Hill, who is the mastermind, pun intended, down there at the Peak Brain Institute, found a whole lot of interesting things in my brain, like evidence of some of my history of concussions and traumatic brain injury, and even a buildup of things like attention deficits, and increased distractibility, and limited sleep onset, and some other things that were limiting my cognitive performance.
I wound up doing a few days of neurofeedback at his facility, which is kind of like meditation on steroids, where I was flying a spaceship with my mind. And every time my brain subconsciously shifted into brainwave patterns considered to be unfavorable, the spaceship would stop flying, or the music generated by the neurofeedback software would fade away, kind of like this cognitive slap on the wrist. And it really went out fully retraining my brain. We did a follow-up QEEG and the results were dramatic. As I mentioned in the commercials leading up to this show, both of my sons, they were, I think there were 9 or 10 at the time, also went through some of the training down there with Dr. Hill, which is also fantastic for kids.
But over the past years since then, Dr. Hill has written a couple articles for my website. And I'll link to all of that if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/peakbrainpodcast. It's P-E-A-K, Peak Brain Podcast. I'll link to the previous article and the previous podcast that I had with Dr. Hill. But there's so much that have happened with neurofeedback of late and he's so plugged into that whole world that I wanted to have him back on the show to ask specifically some questions about a lot of these new devices that are popping up, these consumer devices and how they work, and what the current state of the neurofeedback industry is, and how home training works, and some of the new up and coming topics in neurofeedback. So, if you like to geek out on all things brain and biohacking the brain, then you're going to like this one. So, strap on your spaceship suit and get ready to fly.
Andrew, welcome back, man.
Andrew: Ben, thanks so much for having me. Nice to be talking to you again. So good to hear your voice.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. You, too. And obviously, your place down there in Culver City in L.A., I assume you're still operational?
Andrew: Yeah. We have Peak Brains worldwide. The five offices we have are still seeing clients. We've done a bunch of things to accommodate different types of safety of course and throughput. And we've also shifted a lot more of the business towards virtual and remote services, which were already a big piece of Peak Brain sort of specialty is doing remote neurofeedback. But we've done some things to make that a lot more turnkey, and reliable, and accessible to people. We're definitely still open, but it's affecting the business. We have a gym model business, for those folks who aren't aware of us. We're basically a personal trainer for the brain, kind of business model where people come in and do their fitness assessment in this case of brain activity and attention performance.
Ben: And that's the QEEG, right? That's the so-called fitness assessment?
Andrew: Yeah. We did a few QEEGs with you. We also did I think some attention tests where we had you like–the tension tests are there to get you so unloaded, so bored that we can probe brief resources and attention. I mean, then compare all that stuff, the attention, performance, and the resting brain activity to normative databases where age-matched population comparisons, not to see why you are on average, or the care that you–on average per se, but to sort of say, “Look, here's a way in which you're unusual.” And for a lot of people, this feature could mean X. So, use the ways in which you're really unusual against the average person to sort of predict some bottlenecks and low-hanging fruit or some things that might be regulated in the way you care about.
And if you find things that are at that level, and we found some things as you mentioned for you, then you have really good sense of what might be worth going after because pretty much any bit of data you can measure in real-time you can train using those biofeedback processes. You can exercise your–slow brainwaves down, get CRISPR, your fast brainwaves up, and get better regulated, sharper, or whatever. And the process ends up becoming pretty heavily individualized I think when done well, and that's why we treat like personal training. But it's an interesting thing to be coming in a gym basically in this modern world, [00:22:45] _____ around a little bit.
Ben: Yeah. And obviously, I think one of the first things people do when they hear something like that and hear that neurofeedback, for a deep dive into some of the background of it, they could go back and listen to some of other shows. A lot of people, especially in this day and age, who might not be traveling, or who may want to stay at home, they're out there googling. Maybe even googling right now home neurofeedback devices, and they're going to come up with this list of devices like the HeartMath Institute's HeartMath training device, or this new one I've been seeing advertisements for made by the same people who make Muse called the Myndlift. That's spelled with a “Y.” Yeah, the Myndlift. And I actually wanted to ask you specifically about these because compared to like the expense of going to California or working with you, or getting the large amount of equipment, because it was like a full laptop, and a bunch of electrode gel, and a whole bunch of stuff I had to take back home with me to do home neurofeedback training. Why wouldn't somebody just get like a Muse headband and use their Myndlifts off or something like that?
Andrew: It's not that different from what you did once the edge just moved off essentially. And nowadays, Myndlift when done for goals, like when done with a client, is a process of engaging with a clinician in their database of people who use Myndlift. So, you hire a coach or trainer to do your Myndlift ongoing your protocol selection, your tweaking ideally. And that's really the process. It's a pretty good remote management of neurofeedback, but it does rely on the Muse headset device. So, for folks who are just getting to this stuff, the Muse is a hardware made by InteraXon that has some cool software attached to it. An initial value proposition was around meditation training. And it's not so much neurofeedback for meditation, but it's almost biofeedback for meditation.
Let me give you guys some distinction because I often get asked the distinction, in this case, the pretty squarely one because it's both on the brain. But broadly, you think of old school biofeedback is training the body, the peripheral nervous system like your hand warming or your skin conductance, retention, or your muscle tension for injuries, or your–all kinds of things. Heart rate variability, like you mentioned, Ben, the HeartMath devices, which are great, I think. On all the cases, peripheral biofeedback, training things that are input, if you will, by the peripheral nervous system is a voluntary process. You try, you think, you pay attention to how you're feeling, you try to feel different, you change your breathing, you change your mind, you meditate, you something.
Ben: While you're wearing the device so you can get real-time feedback about how you're changing?
Andrew: In real-time, it gives you feedback, exactly. And your mind is aware of the feedback. All the pitches going up means I'm more relaxed, or me clearing my mind means that the spaceship flies faster, whatever. That's peripheral biofeedback if you're doing something and it's changing because you're changing the peripheral nervous system. You can't really change your brainwaves voluntarily. So, in cases like the HRV systems, HeartMath, you're clipping, you ear clipped your ear and you measure your heartbeat changing moment to moment. You can change your heartbeat. You can slow your breathing down and speed it up, you can change the regulation of it, and it will shift. So, you can gradually learn to feel the shift from sympathetic activation to parasympathetic activation sort of ratio shift as you drop arousal level, which is a great way to be super healthy is to exercise and do your life at a relatively low arousal level, keep that cortisol low.
But you can learn to feel that flex if you will into a low arousal state, into a parasympathetic dominant state by doing HRV biofeedback because you're practicing, teaching the body to sort of like create that spank briefly and you notice it. And over time, it becomes this thing you can reach for, this accessible resource. Neurofeedback, when working on the brain, is often involuntary, almost always in fact, you're measuring things you can't change by trying, like your brainwaves. So, if I measured, and I did this, we measured your brainwave on the right, [00:26:39] _____ the right, plus the ear clips. We measured your theta brainwaves, your beta brainwaves. And whenever your theta dipped on its own and your beta climbed on its own, we rewarded your brain by making the spatial fly faster or the car drive, wherever it was. So, that's an involuntary exercise. So, this is operant conditioning.
Ben: Now, to interrupt real quick. So, in the same way that I could kind of like settle down and use box breathing or, say, like alternate nostril breathing to breathe my way into a state of higher heart rate variability, which I could track with an Oura ring or the emWave by HeartMath.
Andrew: Or the HRV device, HeartMath, or something. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Ben: Yeah. Or any HRV device. Couldn't I do the same thing with my brainwaves? I mean, wouldn't I see a shift from, say, like beta to alpha?
Andrew: Not really, is a short answer.
Andrew: Not in a predictable way, not in a voluntary way. What happens is you can get some growth shifts in the measurements and people think it's a brainwave shift, but it's not, it's actually a muscle shift because muscles are electrical. So, Muse is kind of an evolution in some ways of the old NeuroSky headsets. And then, a different company of course, InteraXon, but it's this forehead measurement device. And that's one of the big complaints I have to get into one of the big issues I have with the Muse category is they tend to focus on the forehead as the place you measure. Forehead is really hard to measure. It's full of muscles, it's full of blood flow, it's full of noise.
Ben: And that's what the Muse is–that's where the muse is contacting is the forehead?
Andrew: Yeah. The old Muse just did that. The newer Muse is there's two of them. One does the sites across the forehead, the temples, the two sites above the eyes. And it has a new jack. You can plug in an extra sensor to put it on the head. There's some flexibility, but it still focuses on the forehead as most of the place you're measuring and training. And again, forehead is full of muscle tension.
Ben: Now, what do you mean when you say noise?
Andrew: Meaning, you're picking up data from the electrodes that are touching the skin, and you're picking up electricity, flexing electricity. And some of that electricity has been generated by groups of neurons behind the bone. And a lot of it's being generated by muscles on top of the bone. And since electricity is so small, about 100 microvolts behind the bone, actually higher than that, but–so it's attenuated, dampened by traveling through bone. So, any muscle tension at all will cause big spikes of activity in the signal because it's EMG, electromyography, or muscle tension, causing electrical discharge. I'm sure your kids, when we were training those guys, I'm sure when we first started playing, they realized they could clench their jaw and make the ship crash.
Ben: Oh, yeah, totally.
Andrew: Whatever it was.
Andrew: Yeah. And that was adding jaw tension, big giant discharge of jaw noise, EMG muscle discharge, swamping the brain measurement signals because their tiny little signal is being coaxed out in some ways from beneath the scalp to measure. So, all the forehead devices have this big problem of measuring through a lot of other things that aren't brain to get the brain activity. And the way you do that, a bunch of ways. It all requires filtering and you have to think of it as kind of mathy. But whenever you're filtering frequencies out, like muscle tension out of a signal, if you're filtering in the frequency math, you end up causing a shift in time. Frequency and time are related, and signals. And so, if you really aggressively push on one, the other one moves.
So, what you end up getting if you filter someone's muscle tension off their forehead to get to the EEG out of it is you get an EEG that is not time-related to the person's brain. It shifts in time. It's decoupled. What that means is you can't do real-time feedback, neurofeedback, in some ways on that real-time signal. But the Muse has this amazing thing of providing almost like an index of, “Hey, wait, I meditated cool with the initial software.” And so, it lets you get into this like habit. It's a reinforcer behaviorally, not neurofeedback operant conditioning, but behavioral operant conditionings that the Muse gives you because it actually encourages you to sit there and relax your forehead to get good signal.
Ben: So, you're still getting benefits, it's just not quite as powerful as traditional neurofeedback training because of the noise.
Andrew: And the other piece of it is that even if you use the Myndlift software and the Myndlift ecosystem, which involves hiring clinician, and going through some goals, and doing some mini-assessments, even if you do all of that and mirror the process, and make a process of working in a neurofeedback coaching environment, it looks a little bit the same, but you still haven't done the full head mapping. You still haven't done the deep clinical reviews. You still aren't getting control over the process in a more nuanced way. Like, I can't use the Myndlift to do the neurofeedback I did with you. And now, I use really high in clinical software. Actually, I upgraded it, too, I think, not too long ago.
But we were really high in clinical software and I can't do things with simple systems that might want to do [00:31:23] _____ coherence, replicating all the flow state, access consciousness work you might want to do. Can't we do that as well? Or targeting stuff individually. If you got trauma work or seizure work or something, the classic one size fits all system says, “Oh, for ADHD, you want to bring up this frequency. But you have trauma, and that frequency tends to like crack open your old rooms in that way, make you super reactive and drop your sleep.” Like people are whole creatures. We both trained a lot of people across different domains, and people are variable.
Andrew: And while every third guy might want to lose 20 pounds and show their abs, the path to get there is a little different. I mean, you know the mechanics really well to get somebody better in shape, in better performance, and feeling better, a lot of different ways to go after it. And you can bring whatever tools you need to bear to tweak the process so that it's a little different if you're coaching me, or you're coaching a 20-year-old, or you're coaching a 70-year-old woman, or you're coaching somebody who has no time, or somebody who insists on being vegan. Like, there's different criteria for what you have to adjust to. And then, brains are more different than bodies. The good news is that change faster so you can get massive shifts rapidly.
Ben: It's interesting though because there's a couple of things, like if you look at Myndlift, for example, sorry for kicking this horse to death, they say they provided detailed snapshot of your unique brain activity, like before you start training. But that's not the same as a QEEG?
Andrew: Not the same as a QEEG, no. It's a spot measurement of a handful of sites instead of this referential normative process. So, it's sort of like one set of ideas. And the same thing that the Muse did when they first came out. The Muse with their meditation software, they did a bunch of EEGs and meditator, and said, “Oh, okay. Meditation is high off the stage, frequencies, et cetera. We're going to put a meter on our little software that says when your alpha goes up and slows down and your beta drops away that you're meditating.” Which is true for like maybe two-thirds of people. They're producing some meditation type waves. But for some people, they're falling asleep and getting meditation meters going up on those apps or some people that are anxious and getting the meditation meters going up. It doesn't make sense because it doesn't actually track.
So, they created this really pretty nice tool to encourage behavior, but not necessarily a neurofeedback tool with the first Muse. And the Myndlift approximates a little closer traditional, personal training style neurofeedback, but it doesn't do sophisticated enough assessments, it doesn't provide the ability to make the process more granular. If you had to train someone who only had some kind of old school clunky, silly fitness equipment that they could use. Really? They couldn't find a boulder or kettlebell, they couldn't find some free weights, they couldn't find anything except for this silly little, not to pick [00:34:13] _____ or something. Yeah. Okay, fine. We'll figure a way to make that work for you.
Ben: Well, it's so funny because if you go to their website, they have like a picture of this guy sitting in front of like a '70s-esque computer monitor with a bunch of electrodes coming off his head. And they say like the only way to train using neurofeedback used to be in specialized clinics that require multiple visits due to the complexity of the EEG, which is basically, they're just describing Peak Brain to me. And then, they say, “Now, you can do it anytime, anywhere with this headset that they ship out.”
Andrew: Well, the device that we ship out now, I mean, I'm a traditional clinical practitioner. I'm not a traditional business model guy because I'm not a therapist. I'm a Peak Brain's work sort of between Apple and Equinox in our mission statement, sort of the brain. And we're not therapists like at Gemma Spa and a mechanic, but everything but your doctor essentially for your brain. So, we provide brain mapping education, we teach you to read your maps, we teach you to use them, provide free maps in the offices for the community of clients and biohackers we work with. So, this is really a growing kind of knowledge base, not just kept in the mind of the therapist or the clinician. So, the problem at Myndlift is latching on to which that's a real thing is to get really good neurofeedback historically, had to work with really good people who had lots of deep knowledge.
Andrew: And you had lots of silly hard to manage setup things as well, and both those were [00:35:30] _____. And it was lots and lots of expensive equipment.
Ben: Yeah. And if you click through to like this 700 plus peer-reviewed studies that they're linking to from their website for neurofeedback for ADHD, or anxiety, or PTSD, or–
Andrew: It's not their study.
Ben: Yeah, it's not their study. It's actually using traditional, clinical EEG equipment similar to what you're using. So, it's kind of interesting. I don't know if it's close to false advertising, but it is interesting. So, I love to run this stuff by you just because–I guess many questions about it.
Andrew: Yeah. It's better than doing one size fits all system. I love they have an ecosystem of clinicians ready to jump in and help. I trained a few clinicians who are using their system to administer neurofeedback. I'm hearing the pluses and minuses. I'm seeing and I'm working with a little bit myself over the shoulder people. And it's great. It's trying to solve a particular problem. I'm a little biased, Ben, because I'm trying to solve the same problem in terms of managing neurofeedback. I mean, you and I worked–we were texting back and forth and now we want to slack and–we're refining our communication. At one point, I gave you a Google sheet based chart to work off of. Then we moved on a business process flow app we built. And now, I'm in the process of moving all of that to mobile. I have a quantified self app. It's not just about neurofeedback, but it's about tracking everything: sleep, stress, tension, mood, neurofeedback, exercise.
Ben: And you're able to ship those out to people's homes?
Andrew: Well, we have a neurofeedback software system from Peak, yes. But what I'm talking about is this quantified self-peace of it. So, with management of the process, that's always been one of the hurdles that's hard to manage. People are often like, “What's the best device to buy?” And that's not the right question. Our question is, “What should we do with my brain, and what are my goals?” Because you can do any good–I can do good neurofeedback with almost any system, but it's hard to do sophisticated neurofeedback without some knowledge. You can't do it. You can't take any good system, and with no knowledge, do good neurofeedback, unfortunately.
Andrew: There's no one size fits all self-running system. I don't think that works very well. And some of those systems that claim to be such cause either adverse effects or no effects for some people. And there's a lot of adverse effects for those one size fits all systems out there that I am cleaning up.
Ben: I think I asked you this before, but it was a few years ago in a podcast that we did about why there isn't some easy to apply, like a God cap that you could just pull over your head that automatically fits your head, that doesn't require you to place the electrodes and put the messy gel in your hair and do all of that yourself. Like, how close are they to developing something like that?
Andrew: We're getting closer. We're getting very close. We already have that cap technology where you pull a cap over your head and all the wires are now in the right place 100%.
Ben: Oh, really?
Ben: I didn't know that. Jeez, man, you're keeping me in the dark.
Andrew: Yeah. And there's compromises because individual locations are often more precise, a little bit more precise, and pasting a wire on–it depends what your goals are. If we're doing full head assessments, it makes–nowadays, it's better to throw up a stretchy cap that fits pretty well, gel it up, or you can use saline. There's new caps now that you can still squirt water from saline, and then your mineral gel [00:38:42] _____. But the big problem is brainwaves are really hard to measure. This is the [00:38:49] _____ question is that electricity is behind lots of layers of bone, and tissue, and skin, everything else. It's really, really hard to measure. This is why people should not be all that worried, in my opinion, about non-native EMF, 5G and whatever else, because I've worked for the past like 30 years of my professional and scientific career across different domains trying to get signals across those barriers of fat and skull and everything else, including MRIs, and EEGS, and MEGs, and tDCS, and TMS, and ADCS, and all kinds of different technologies trying to bridge those barriers. It's just so darn hard to get any real signal strength. I mean, anything through that barrier. So, we need to make a really–what's called low impedance connection. We tight electoral connection from those measurement points at the point of the scalp, historically. There are technologies and white papers.
Ben: Yeah. Well, and that normally required for people who haven't seen the videos of me doing this with you, like after you use these shoelace strings with nuts on them, and find one spot, and then put electro gel on that, then find the next spot, then keep my fingers crossed and put in the right spot, and then apply it.
Andrew: Well, we now have a little help. I mean, Ben, [00:40:00] _____. We do everything now with live support. So, what you would do is you would just tuck a wire to your head getting pretty close and take a quick snapshot and just ask one of the coaching team. They'll say, “I'll let you know. Send me the left.” Okay. Great, guys. Thanks. And they have trouble making up on the screen.
Ben: I mean, it still seems clunky though compared to just like being able to just pull on some helmet and just press go.
Andrew: It's a little clunky. So, I'm working on this quantified self-platform to track all of the healthy habits you're doing and build some AI, start predicting for you what's making impacts historically, and help you spot things. But this quantified self app has the neurofeedback tracking platform that I've been building. Built into it and the last piece of it is all the session plans or the workout plans will get pushed and synchronized with the training software in real-time. So, you're really high in clinical software we have called Eager will receive the training plan out of your pocket, or my pocket, in this case. They'll say, “Hey, you'll wake up in the morning. Your Oura ring will tell your phone that you didn't sleep as well. You're shorter in deep sleep suddenly.”
And that will tell my app and I'll look at that and say, “Whoa, Ben sleeps off. Why does he sleep off? Oh, we tried to [00:41:09] _____ yesterday.” Oh, yeah. That one can throw sleep off, then I'll make an adjustment in the next three protocols to try to tweak it, and I'll hit save. And then, you go back to training couple days later and the adjustments are made. And there's a note for you saying, “Hey, I made a small change because your sleep just went off and see if this works better.”
Ben: And how long would a protocol, like if somebody is going to do something like this, use that app to ping them and let them know that it's time to use their home training equipment? How long would a typical session last? Are we talking about like 10 minutes, a half-hour?
Andrew: Yeah. Training session is half an hour, typically, if we're doing EEG training. We often do HEG or blood flow training for vascular support, for migraines, and concussions, and things. And that will add some time, 10 minutes usually. It's almost hyperbaric in the box kind of thing. But these are short sessions and the metaphor of training is really quite valid, right? Because you're doing half an hour, 40 minutes, three times a week, maybe four times a week. You're giving some rest period. You're getting up after effects. You're not getting DOMS in the brain or anything, but you do get effect. I mean, I'm sure you would agree. You train. You might feel it when you're training. You might feel it later on. You might actually feel when you're sleeping, or you might notice it the next day, all of the above, or none of the above. It's a pretty gentle, subtle process, but it unfolds after every session for about a day, day and a half, and then you get to sort of consolidate the learning, observe what the effects were, and iterate, tell your trainer, “Coach, here's what's happening. My sleep had turned off. My sleep was amazing. I was really focused. I wasn't traumatized,” whatever. And then, you get a little adjustment in your training plan.
So, that's my biggest complaint with the systems that are becoming more consumer-focused is–and the other big problem I have just to pile on a tiny bit onto the Muse is the forehead is not the place most neurofeedback works best from. Most neurofeedback works best from the strip that runs ear to ear. There's really a bunch of places that are really critical that are involved with stress performance, sleep performance, and attention performance. And I think if you're not working on those areas, you're missing the boat about how the brain works and foundational stuff, like trying to get good abs that actually work on your diet. Like, there's something else missing in how you work.
So, attention, sleep, and stress have to be worked on. And the combination of sleep and attention is largely regulated by a strip of tissue that runs left to right, ear to ear. And the default mode network, what we're directing our attention to, especially with regards to valuing things, paying attention to stuff, orienting the danger, evaluating things, all the anterior singulate and the posterior singulate. Those are the midline front to back. So, it's an extra plus sign on top of the head, front to back and left to right. So, you have to master these five locations, front midlines, anterior singulate for switching. That's one that gets a little hot in beta waves if you get song stuck in your head all the time, or if you bite your nails a lot, or if you're a CEO. I can't tell if the OCD marker or the CEO marker. It's one of those. You have a hyperlatching on to things in mind, but if it's successful, if you use it, then maybe just have a lot of beta. Again, not to be concerned from a QEEG why you're on average, depending on what's interesting, and go after it if you want to.
For half an hour, you exercise these little waves, and involuntarily, that was describing. And after about three or four sessions, people start feeling it. And after about 15 or 20 sessions, there's enough shift in the actual resting activity, the resources, the actual traits the person has that you can sort of see it on assessment tests. So, we typically do a minimum about 40 or 50 sessions and a brain map at the beginning and halfway in at the end. So, nice three or four-month courses of minimum. And we get across that timeframe, linear change in assessments of attention and brain, performance and brain. So, people end up getting for like attention things, and sleep things, and stress things. A few standard deviations of change across the average person, which usually means going from severely ADHD or concussed to not that much at all, or maybe about average, or knocking seizures back by half, or pointed teeth of PTSD or something.
Well, I want to interrupt today's show, along with my son River–did I even introduced you in the beginning?
Ben: I don't think I even introduced you. Well–
River: We talked about Terran.
Ben: Oops, we just kind of got going. But anyways, for those of you who were wondering who the kid was with me, the young man in the beginning of this episode, it's my son River, and we want to tell you about the Paleovalley grass-fed beef sticks. You remember these ones?
River: They're really good.
Ben: They're fermented. Do you know they actually ferment the beef sticks with bacteria?
River: I thought you just like–
Ben: No. That's why it has this wonderful umami flavor, and it is–well, they're grass-fed and grass-finished. First of all, they're way healthier than the gas station beef jerky. But when they ferment it, they get this amazing flavor, and it has a lot of glutathione in it, which is really cool because that's a supplement that you and I both take, but you also get it from these beef sticks. And you also get something called a conjugated linoleic acid, CL.
River: That's hard work.
Ben: It's like a compound that helps your body to burn fat and helps your mitochondria. So, it's pretty cool, these beef sticks. And everybody gets 15% off, tasty, tasty beef sticks, at least according to River, right?
River: Yeah, they're pretty good.
Ben: Paleovalley.com/ben is where you get 15% off of beef sticks. They're really good for the ski slopes, too, huh. Paleovalley.com/ben.
And then, our other sponsor is Clearlight. You like the sauna, huh?
River: Yeah, I do like the sauna.
Ben: Tell people what you did in the sauna yesterday.
River: Yesterday, we did a 40-minute breathwork in the sauna.
Ben: Breathwork, yeah. Was it pretty tough?
River: It's usually pretty tough, yeah.
Ben: What do you do after?
River: Going to the cold pool.
Ben: Going to the cold pool.
River: Like rest and–
Ben: It's like our favorite one-two combo, and it's an infrared sauna. So, you get near-infrared, far-infrared, red light, safe for young men, right? Yeah. And you sweat, you detox your body's largest detoxification organ, your skin. And if you're still wondering why infrared saunas are so high on my list of hacks, so to speak, go listen to my fire and ice podcast from last month. Just Google Ben Greenfield, fire and ice, and you'll find it. And while you're at it, you can go to healwithheat.com. And if you go to healwithheat.com and you mentioned my name, Ben Greenfield–they could probably mention River Greenfield. They probably figured out over Clearlight saunas. They'll give you a discount and some sweet VIP treatment with your sauna. So, check them out, Clearlight saunas.
Well, shall we get back to the episode with Andrew?
River: Let's do it.
Ben: Let's do it.
The training you would do then in response to this app, you seem to be indicating that there's some kind of like a newer hardware that you're using along with it as well?
Andrew: We're taking the clinical systems, which used to cost 10 grand or so, with amps and software and hardware. And we worked out a way to produce a turnkey home use version of it with the vendors. And so, now we send you home, not just the training software and hardware, but we actually send the QEEG systems, initially. We send them virtually and [00:47:52] _____, and work with them remotely. So, we did the brain maps without you coming into any office. And the device we used the brain mapping is the size of the deck of cards and weighs less, believe it or not, the amplified 21. And you have a cap on your head for the mapping, and we help you gel it up remotely. You send that back, unless you want to buy one of those. And then, we do the training with these smaller amp devices, very similar to what you have, a new software you have.
But the last piece that we'll have out at the end of the quarter is the quantified self-dashboard that round trips all of the coaching clinical management, self-quantified perspective that you're looking at, all the interventions aggregating against the feedback loop. Here's how my sleep is changing, here's how my stress is changing, here's how my day is changing, here's how much alcohol I had today. Because I rely on the fluctuating sleep, stress, made attention reports to know how your brain is changing. One of the most critical aspects of neurofeedback is that people are so individual.
So, as I lean on your brain, let's say your boys had the exact same brain. They didn't, but had they had a similar brain map roughly–actually, I was speaking to two brothers who are adults, and they're twins, identical twins. And they have similar-ish brain maps. So, I made some more guesses about the things I might want to work on, some more resources I may be operating for them, and they were somewhat similar in their complaints, so to speak, or goals. But one is dealing with a lot of different things and much more suffering. And he's getting some really good results over the past like month and a half or something.
And I'm training, I don't know–I think I'm training both brothers and both their wives or something at this point. And one of the brothers–the other brother, the one who's not quite as severe, asked me today. He's like, “Why am I not getting the same benefits quite as rapidly as my brother is?” I'm getting dumb feeling, yet I'm getting some better sleep, I'm feeling some things move, I had some good energy yesterday after training. He's having amazing results. It's been like 15 sessions and we just [00:49:43] _____ brain map and he has a couple of standard results. His OCD is really reduced. Bunch of things are really changing for him. And the brother is like, “Why am I not getting these amazing results?” And I'm like, “I don't know because people are individual,” as a short answer, and with similar brains, and similar goals. I mean, different people are different people, and you have to iterate, and be gentle. And experience changes your brain, and nutrition, and all kinds of things.
So, the process is iterative. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription for ADHD or for anxiety, even if you had one thing you wanted to work on, or for laser-like peak performance or creativity or athleticism. I've worked with a lot of CEOs, a lot of actors, and they come in typically for peak performance goals. CEOs want to perform better. The actors want to perform better. But we look at their brains. Typically, there is some sleep dysregulation, there's some stress phenomena that dysregulated, and they also want to work on those things, obviously, because they're foundational. And so, you end up working on the whole person.
But if you crank on someone's attention who has anxiety, or you crank on someone's creativity that has trauma, you create what are called lab reactions or negative side effects because the person's brain was not really supposed to go that direction. And you can do that with neurofeedback. You can create side effects. If you hammer away without giving feedback to your practitioner and the side effects keep showing up, you will create permanent, relatively speaking, side effects. You'll just regulate sleep and make seizures worse. A kid came in one time, and he was eight or something. He crawled into my office and he was under the chair, the desk, screaming and flapping and really uncomfortable. And she'd gotten a neurofeedback system from somebody like three, four months before, and then 80 sessions of a protocol that someone had given her, not understanding that it's a nuanced process. You don't just work out. You do lots of tailored PT/OT kind of working out. So, she did one thing and his language or grasp, started screaming again. And he went back to his two-year-old self, she was doing pretty well at age seven or something. And we had to spend like about three, four months backing all that out. And then, happy story, the kid graduated valedictorian.
Ben: So, that's an example of doing like the wrong kind of neurofeedback actually causing damage?
Andrew: Wrong thing.
Ben: Could you do something like that with one of those home devices? Like, could that happen with like a Myndlift or something like that?
Andrew: Those happen, yeah. I get people all the time. And I don't want to name names, but I get people all the time who have been using a one-size-fits-all system, who say, “Wow, my anxiety was really made a lot worse and somewhat permanently after a handful of sessions,” or, “My brain fog was really throwing off. My sleep was really disturbed, or I don't feel sharp anymore after using this one-size-fits-all system.” And you have to do a brain map is the short answer, nuanced, thorough, complete analysis of your brain with someone who knows how to teach you to use it.
Ben: And that would be like an actual QEEG with somebody like you?
Andrew: An actual QEEG.
Andrew: Yup. You got to do an actual QEEG, 19 channels plus the years, a full head cap at least every so often. The training does not require it. The training can be like working out. You can pick up kettlebell, simple exercise, and do huge functional movements. Snatch or clean is every single muscle pretty much is involved. And some of the simple one and two-channel neurofeedback protocols have those kinds of whole-brain engagement involvement in training kind of thing. You don't need to put a cap on to train, but you do need to put a cap on periodically to measure the general tendencies your brain has, these things that don't change. And it's important to understand brain mapping or QEEG.
The analysis of a Ben Greenfield's brain against the average guy who's your age today and in a year, there's no change. You look the same against the average person year to year to year, unless you're fatigued, you had a concussion, or you did really good stuff to your brain, like spent six months meditating, did three, four months neurofeedback. Then you see change. But when the brain map picks up the resting tendencies, the traits, the resources, the averages, it's kind of like measuring how tall you are, not if you're sitting up or standing down. It's not how you're using the resource.
So, when you look at a brain map, you have to take into account the goals, the history, the person. And then, that's not reality. It's not a diagnostic process. You haven't decided what is true, you decided what is plausible, and that gives you actionable things to do. You build a workout plan, and then you try it. Oh, these are your goals, athlete. This is your fitness level now, probably. I think I found some relevant things in this DEXA scan, and this strength assessment I did with you. Cool. Let me build you a plan. Let's see what happens to those goals you have for less back pain and better sleep from a fitness metaphor here.
So, it's that kind of iterative process where if you're applying calls and says, “I couldn't lift the groceries yesterday after my workout,” “Oh, okay, we'll back off tiny bit on your arm day or something.” And my equivalent is, “Wow, super focused after the training, but I had a hard time falling asleep. It's kind of weird.” “Oh, okay. Why don't you take a quarter hertz off the frequency of beta?” I bet it will be a sweet spot for you. So, that piece of it is missing, unless you're being very iterative, very nuanced, and kind of working with somebody who is a little bit skilled in the process.
Ben: Now, for you being so plugged into the whole neurofeedback world, I don't think there was like a consumer electronics show this year, I don't believe.
Ben: Is there anything else that's kind of like new and upcoming in terms of developing technologies or approaches to neurofeedback to get you excited right now?
Andrew: The field, as I know, you've lamented, and I'm sure I talked to you about the field, still really stuck 50 years ago and a lot of the basic tech, EG is an old tech. I mean, it's a huge deal. It's like 100 years. While there are things changing, I think that what I'm more excited about is actually all the ancillary sort of quantified self-marketplace, if you will, because 10 years ago, 20 years ago, the idea of doing stuff to yourself to make change in yourself was a little radical, but not so much anymore. And looking at your methylations status, your genes, or your C reactive protein for your heart disease risk, or whatever else it is became something you did in the past 10, 15 years. And now, that's exploding into the brain health and wellness space. So, what I'm excited about is the merging of neurofeedback into everything else. So, I use a bunch of wellness and tracking apps. I tend to aggregate all my information into one that I love called Cronometer.
Ben: Yeah. I like Cronometer for nutrition. That's a super helpful piece of software, just for general polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated fats, calories. You can get a really good breakdown.
Andrew: Yeah. Tons of stuff. And plus, I do a lot of fasting. And so, one thing I'm concerned about is not just watching caloric and macro, but I'm sort of like a little concerned about shorting on nutrition because I do like a couple of months of fasting, not at once but like intermittent cycles of fasting for a few months at a time, and that produces potentially nutritional holes. And chronometer is great for saying, “Okay. Here's something that I think about adding to your nutrition, or here's the whole–” I love it for that, but I also have an aggregate in my sleep. A lot of my little tangent here on other biohacking. But I've been using the Biosense breath acetone device a lot to gauge and range my fasting.
I had this whole program that I've been building about ways take middle age dude and middle-age people sort of insulin-resistant classic American, thick midsection body, and an anti-agent, and get control over it and stop the check trees and get younger and healthier. Mostly, for brain support reasons why I've been doing this for years, but it's gotten critical for me personally having turned 50 a few days ago. So, I about four months ago said, “Okay. If I was coaching somebody else who came to me and said, ‘Yeah, brain cell is good, but how do we get apps?' what would I do? How do I really implement a solid plan?” So, I did a four-month plan for myself doing a variant of the MATADOR dieting program. MATADOR is also a study that showed that if you do diet breaks, you can reset leptin grade levels and not cause this rebound. I have no problem leaving like 50 pound, 30 to 50 pounds by fasting [00:57:34] _____.
Ben: Yeah. That's like an intermittent diet almost where you're engaged in periods of intermittent energy restriction, and then refeeding to ensure them that that metabolism doesn't reset.
Andrew: Exactly. And then, you eat at maintenance or even above. Yeah. And so, the classic MATADOR study was two weeks on, two weeks off, caloric restriction, and then feeding. I don't do that. I do a very–I call it insulin reset or a LIT cycle, leptin, insulin, and mTOR, centralization cycle, which is 22/2, 44/4, and 66/6 fasting cycles, and I shuffle them, and I sort of work up into the 66/6.
Ben: Wait, what were those numbers again?
Andrew: 22/2, 22 hours of restriction and two hours of eating a nomad, one meal a day. So, when people haven't fasted before, they come to me and they're really heavy, or they're really sluggish, or they're really old, whatever. Then I'll suggest a 16/8. I mean, women at childbearing years is a very particular hormonal profile. Be careful with fasting. But outside of that particular person, 16/8 is a good place to start. Once you tolerate it, the real program is do 22/2s much of the time. Once those are comfortable, throw it a 44/4 every other day.
Ben: Forty-four hours fasting, four hours eating. And during that four hours eating, it's still just one meal?
Andrew: Could be two.
Andrew: But it should be keto, or at least protein-heavy low carb. I don't consider keto a high-fat kind of milieu unless you don't have much body fat, and then it needs to be. But for most of us who are not super shredded, you can lose tons of body fat even faster for keto is a high protein versus a high fat keto. Just keep the carbs low for the nutritional ketosis, then you're good, but all bases covered. So, I've been doing like a high protein, moderate fat, low carb keto, and then cycling, essentially rolling 44s, 44 hours, and then eating two meals, one or two meals that are protein.
Ben: But then you said 66/6 is the last part of that, right? So, you have 22/2, 44/4, 66/6?
Andrew: And then, I do 66 hours about once a–well, I'll do it once a week for a while to really drop weight or being shredded. And then, I backed off about once every two or three weeks on the 66s, because what happens is you often feel good 44 hours in. I tried to make it too regimented at the beginning. I make it very regimented to teach the body how to [00:59:42] _____, but once it's actually over the hump, the 66 becomes a stretch goal. Oh, 44 feels great. “Hey, look, I'm at 48 and it's 6:00 p.m. I'm going to go sleep.” And you end up learning to manage hydration electrolytes when you exercise hard. And there's a bunch of things that would factor in to make all these things easier. But over a few months of that, you end up with beautifully sensitive insulin. I'm using tools like my Biosense to watch blood–
Ben: Yeah. Which is a breath ketone monitor, right?
Andrew: Yeah. And it's mostly so I don't have to measure blood so often because I'm sure you know, the ratio of indigenous ketones, [01:00:20] _____ generate ketones to glucose, the glucose ketone index, GKI, has quite a lot of research validity for the deeper you can get into a low glucose, high ketone state, the more you move into different metabolic environments and do different things. And you can move from anti-inflammatory into a pro-growth, into a sort of like anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-seizure milieu really deep into those numbers. Like you had cancer that's really bad or you're really trying to kick something that's crazy. You want to have seriously high ratios where you have almost very low glucose and very high blood ketones.
But to get a measurement in the blood that is valid, some papers came out recently that I'll dig up and forward so we can put them in the shownotes, but the papers came out recently showing that the variability of BHOB in the blood is so high that to get a really valid measurement, you have to measure pretty much every two hours because it's a fluctuating pool. But acetone is a signal of the generation of the pool. It's not that useful like BHOB. It's almost like an outflow of the process. So, acetone changes more slowly. What I've found is that I can think of my calories i.e. my ketogenesis, my acetone, in like a two to three-day window. Whatever I'm eating in the previous two to three days is what effects my acetone today. There are some drawbacks to the meters like these meters, this one here, my Biosense, which I love, tops out at 40 parts per million(ph) acetone, which is about four ketones. And I can reliably get about four.
Ben: Yeah. Biosense is interesting. They're using like the latter part of the escalation to supposedly get a more accurate level of breath acetone detection.
Andrew: Yes. They have a cool little thing. They watched the pressure of the breath. And as you finish the exhale, they capture the last segment of it, and I found it to be pretty. There's just a couple of quirks to it that I'm going to be pretty good at tracking information and it's given me a much better sense of my own. I mean, I know how to do paleo, and I've been doing all kinds of things for like 20, 30 years. I was doing the Rob Fagan natural hormone thing. Years ago, I've done all kinds of crazy low carb diets, and paleo, and primal, and who knows. But I never really understood what the edge was. I know what the math was, but now I know where the edge is in terms of fat, carbs, ketogenesis, how long it takes me to kick back into ketosis after carb loading, whatever. So, I have a much better relationship with the whole process and it helped me refine, essentially what I've been coaching other people on from a gerontology, insulin reset perspective. It helped me do it properly for myself and cement some of the routines and analyze for myself, not just the numbers.
Ben: Yeah. It was I think a few years ago in the International Journal of Obesity. I saw that study about the MATADOR diet, which I think stands for minimizing something thermogenesis and deactivating obesity–
Andrew: Adaptive, yeah. It's the rebound from–
Ben: Yeah. I forget. It actually stands for something.
Andrew: Meat going down, like–
Ben: Yeah. But the idea is they actually did a pretty good study on it, and interrupting energy restriction like this so-called intermittent energy restriction with these energy bound's rest periods. It did reduce compensatory metabolic responses. So, improved weight loss efficiency, and we've known that for a long time. I've told my clients that for a long time. You go for about four weeks and you tend to see kind of a rise in TSH and droppings of thyroid function, drop in metabolic rate, and it's that whole idea of–even women who come to me who want to lose weight. I've met like a, in many cases, like a Weston A. Price-ish type of diet, a lot of like organ meats, and ghee, and fats, and then lift heavy weights and they're all like, “Oh, I'm going to balloon,” and they all wind up seeing this really, really nice metabolic response. And you still have to pay attention to calories in versus calories out, but it's pretty amazing what you can do when you play with the metabolism in a way that goes beyond just the strict calorically restricted diet, which just doesn't work out well from an endocrine standpoint long term. Is there anything else you were doing weight loss wide? Like, are you following a specific exercise program with this whole body transformation thing you're doing?
Andrew: Yeah. I'm halfway into–I wouldn't slowly of course. MATADOR is [01:04:23] _____ to do it. So, I've been doing like a two week on, one week off or something, or two weeks on, two weeks off sometime to the fall. So, I'm 14 weeks–sorry, 16 weeks in about 15, 16. And I'm about halfway to [01:04:34] _____ physically, and that has been the cycling, the fasting, going keto. I keep my calories somewhere between the BMR, which for me about 1750, and a high TDE of–when I'm being very vigorous, is about twice that, [01:04:50] _____ little higher. So, I eat somewhere that range ever the day, maybe every day, but then I'm doing 22. It's like I was saying. I'm doing fasted, low intensity, moderate intensity exercises every morning. In this case, ashtanga yoga. So, I do half an hour minimum, usually about an hour. But ashtanga, which folks that knows a flow, Vinyasa style yoga, your breathing. You generally heat your body. It's very inefficient and it's among the most calorically dense exercises you can do, so to speak.
Ben: But it's not done in a hot room like Bikram, right?
Andrew: No. It's a similar type of yoga, act very similar. But in ashtanga, you're generating the heat internally. In Bikram, hot power core, the room is hot, and the heat warms you up, and your muscle is soft and you can move. But in ashtanga, you're generating the physical metabolic fire. You're really getting hot. So, I can do ashtanga and a cold in anyone's barn and be sweating within 20 minutes all over the place. But ashtanga is done in a certain rate, certain breathing pattern with a meditative focus. So, I use it for exercise, for meditation, and breathwork, whatever, very efficient. I use it as a sort of ritual more than exercise. But I do believe in fasted exercise in the morning. So, cortisol, low arousal level, some moderate to low exercise for fat loss, for [01:06:03] _____ sensitization, for maximal autophagy support, low arousal levels.
So, walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, not MMA weightlifting craziness. What I've been doing the past few weeks, just the past week or two really, is fresh in my learning about kettlebells, and I'm just starting to add now in a four-day week kettlebell program as well, in the evening, something sort of–I finished yoga before sunrise and I'm doing kettlebells at sunset. And yogas every day, but kettlebells were like four times a week. Just don't add that now, basically.
Ben: Yeah. And it's interesting by doing that morning fasted exercise in aerobic state and not severely depleting ATP because you keep the intensity levels low. You don't get this buildup of AMP that can actually result in a little bit of the other competitor calorie eating response or a little bit of a minimization of autophagy or muscle cell catabolism. So, I'm actually in the same page with you. I'm a fan of, if the schedule permits, of doing morning fasted exercise along with morning cold and heat if you can. And then in a fed state later on in the day, doing more of the resistance training, high-intensity interval training, which is nice, too, because you upregulate your glucose transporters, render yourself almost like temporarily just as insulin sensitive as you'd normally be in the morning. So, then you can go have dinner, which tends to be a meal that a lot of people like to have a little bit more free anyways as far as what they're going to eat. And so, I think that's the most beautiful scenario for weight loss is morning aerobic, fasted cold, heat, and then afternoon, intense exercise, et cetera. And then, you do any type of carb refeed or anything like that at the end of the day for those days you're exercising hard in the late afternoon.
Andrew: Sort of what I'm doing, but I'm staying in here. Most of the time, my carb refeeds are once every two weeks at this point in my plan going forward. And I'm also adding in more fasting.
Ben: I use that approach and I'm staying in keto as well. And if you look at a lot of the research studies, especially on hardcore athletes, 200 up to 300 grams of carbohydrates in some studies in these athletes as refeeds, and they were still staying in ketosis. And granted, I'll use like glucose transporter upregulators like berberine, or bitter melon extract, or cinnamon, or apple cider vinegar, like prior to that evening refeed, along with an intense exercise session like weight training or something like that. But I mean, I'll do breath and blood ketone testing. And occasionally, I'll be out of ketosis, not that I'm super-duper strict about it, but for like one to two hours, I'll be out, and then I'm fine after that. So, I think it's a pretty good way to train and eat.
Andrew: I'm trying to have only mostly protein and fat meal in the morning or the first meal. I did two meals and it's a six-hour, four-hour to two feedings, essentially. And then, I make it. I move all the carbs to the second meal when [01:08:48] ______ the fasting. But I'll give you some numbers. I started off a little about 23% body fat at about 195 [01:08:55] _____ and I'm about 170 and about 15% now, which isn't bad considering that only half the time is caloric restricted. But 15%, that fits health really well. Doesn't fit vanity is a 50-year-old dude? Come on. I got a little shredded. So, I'm continuing the alternate fasting. What I'm finding is morning fasted yoga's fine, fasted, because I've been doing it for years, exercised that way. So, I'm good at pushing through that piece of it, enjoying it as a process. But I have a hard time picking up weights when my body is saying, “No, no. Conserve all that extra energy because there's no glycogen in your system late. Sit down. No, no. Sit down, hold still.”
There's sort of like caloric restrictive state, which I'll get into sometimes, 44 hours' resistance training like before, and an hour of yoga in the morning before, an hour of yoga this morning, and then this afternoon, I'm like, “Oh, can we sit down for a second?” Oh, yeah, sitting still feels good. And then, I'm like, just knock and I want to go pick up those kettlebells later on that day is what I'm finding. So, my strategy, which is to keep the fasting going for the growth hormone, for the autophagy, everything else, but I'm going to start breaking the fast, if you will, with just a couple 100 calories, kilograms calories of amino acids, BCAAs and some HMB to kick off muscle synthesis before I work out as a pre-workout with an [01:10:14] _____ protein or something for complete.
And then, afterwards, because really all the research is showing that this may be impactful after I work out refeeding, basically work at the point of glycogen depletion or your shaky muscles with kettlebells, which is about 15 minutes at this point. And then, refeed with ketones, exogenous ketones, because there's some really lovely research showing that trained athletes get a nice mTOR upregulation in the muscle tissue that's pretty profound if you post-exercise refeed with exogenous ketones. So, I'm going to try to like put my thumb on the wheel everywhere, [01:10:48] _____ everywhere and see if I can't [01:10:51] _____.
Ben: Yeah. Good. One thing I would consider doing is the BCAAs from a pure muscle protein synthesis standpoint, potentially even due to do the higher amounts of leucine from an insulin sensitivity standpoint, I don't think are as good as essential amino acids. And I realize, like I own a company that sells essential amino acids, so it's kind of like the fox guarding the henhouse. But at the same time, everything I've looked into and every researcher I've talked to on this show about BCAAs versus the AAs, the consensus is for everything from fasting to muscle gain to neurotransmitters and beyond, like EAAs are better.
Andrew: Yeah. I think you're right, probably because I'm eating so clean, so to speak. The days that I am eating, I think I'm probably getting a pretty high hit of broad-spectrum, so to speak, amino acids. And then, the other I'm doing, which is relevant to your question, in the evening, I'm supplementing with a mixture of melatonin and phosphatidylserine.
Ben: Melatonin and phosphatidylserine? Is that more for mental function?
Andrew: PS100 has mental functions. So, it's cortisol, [01:11:47] _____. But no, these are both relatively low doses to cause a signaling effect on evening cortisol that accelerate the drop, basically. And I microdose melatonin [01:11:56] _____.
Ben: Yeah. I've seen good data on phosphatidylserine for lowering the evening cortisol for sure. That's a good one if you tend to. I mean, I think folks should get like a DUTCH test, like a dried urine test to see if cortisol actually is high in the evening, or potentially, if cortisol is high, but cortisol clearance is low. Meaning, you're not producing excess cortisol, you're just clearing it slowly. And then, decide whether or not to take phosphatidylserine. But for most people, that's phospholipid that does a pretty good job.
Andrew: Well, yeah. I'm a 50-year-old middle-aged guy. I know my hormones support broadly. I mean, choline and serine metabolism could probably use some support, and it's good for me. I'm also really trying to target belly fat because I'm a middle-aged dude. So, it's all about the cortisol right now. And then, all these things are about circadian stuff, right? So, exercise. And when you eat are a bigger impact on circadian rhythm in light or sleep. So, that not eating too late at night thing, they're doing some fasting, not eating first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, those are actually bigger circadian support things and fat loss things effectively and anti-aging autophagy things. Then blue blockers or blackout curtains are hacking your sleep in other ways.
So, I find that I can get decent good sleep in a shorted amount, six, seven hours to get really quality sleep by dialing in first thing in the morning before dawn exercise. It's a powerful for me thing that drives my body to wake up the next morning. And fasting before bed so that I have a cortisol spike, because if you eat before bed and you're about 25 years old, you won't have any growth hormone release at night and there'll be no corresponding cortisol spike to wake you up, basically. It's just not a good thing as you know. These are all cortisol and circadian timing things that I'm trying to just spin the wheel faster with, basically.
Ben: Yeah. And I would be remiss not to ask you, and this is probably the last thing I have time to visit today. You talk about phosphatidylserine, and melatonin, some of the BCAAs, this MATADOR diet. But for you, again being kind of plugged into the neurofeedback and brain optimization world, are you still messing around with any kind of nootropics or smart drug? Is there anything you like that tends to, I guess, generally be safe? I know you're not a physician who's going to recommend medical advice here, but what do you like right now as far as a nootropic or a smart drug?
Andrew: Well, I still use the TruBrain stuff periodically, but I use it more as a spot intervention here in there, [01:14:25] _____ new drinks and things that are kind of Amazon. They're pretty great, actually. They're fun when I need to be a little more on or write a little bit more or something.
Ben: I haven't talked to them forever. I forget, what are the ingredients in TruBrain?
Andrew: There's a bunch of new ones, but the ones in Amazon are Noopept-based power drinks and they're — It's the orange boost drinks, Noopept-based, which is pretty cool. Noopept is not my favorite, but it's decent. And I think the centrophenoxine [01:14:48] ____ there, which is a decent stack. But what Kris is–
Ben: And that one's like a liquid shot, right? Almost like the carbohydrate gels a cyclist would use?
Andrew: Yeah. A little one-ounce shot. Exactly. It's a little one-ounce shot, little one ounce of energy drink kind of flavor. And then, recently, they just sent me some to try. Recently, they got a whole bunch of ketones out. So, a mix of esters and salts in a powder. It's like a nice little blend. And they have also some food bars that are nootropics embedded. I haven't tasted those yet. But there's a handful of new product.
Ben: Okay. I haven't connected with them for a while, or looked into what they're doing. So, that's interesting. I'll have to look them back up because I think when you and I first started working together down at the Peak Brain, you introduced me to the TruBrain stuff and I tried it and I liked it. What happened really was I wound up switching primarily to Qualia, and then got into microdosing with like LSA, and psilocybin, and a little bit of wachuma, and some basic microdosing protocols, and then of course just a couple of organic coffee. I never got into experimenting with that many other nootropics of late, but I'll have to go back and check out the TruBrain stuff and see what they're–
Andrew: Yeah. The short answer though in terms of what I'm into is I tend to dial in a strategy for every person that's a little bit different with nootropics because I find that I have to take a functional neuroscience approach. I mean, even from like which B vitamin you need, or which [01:16:07] _____ something of that kind of stuff, a little different person to person, the same way that I have to build customer feedback I would have to build a custom nootropics strategy ultimately when it gets really deep into it. So, there's a handful of things I like, and my mom calls me every three months and ask for more of the same stuff. But I still don't think that there's necessarily a foundational level thing beyond stuff like D3, omega-3 fatty acids. Those are absolutely things–and then what I'm going to a little bit now and thinking this is all relevant for the body stuff of course is creatine has some nootropic properties that's not insignificant. And I haven't started to use it.
Ben: I know. I've actually written a few articles about that recently. I take 5 grams. I mean, I don't know if I qualified as a nootropic. A lot of times, I say I take it for performance, but yeah, I use Creapure. We actually make it now a creatine. We have a Kion Creatine and I take 5 grams a day year-round.
Andrew: Let me give you a request for a product then because I found an old product that I was–there's a specific compound that you combine the creatine that I used to be bound every so often, and I found a version of it. It's called alpha-ketoglutarate. An AKG, alpha-ketoglutarate, bodybuilder stuff, but it turns out it has massive anti-aging properties in the Krebs cycle. Not there is virtual certain one stressful ones, but like other ones, almost like the different–the other side of the coin, the NAD, NAD+ kind of anti-aging. The AKG is the other half of the coin. So, you get massive anti-aging effects in animal models in AKG. So, I'm interested in getting a little deeper into trying just personally alpha-ketoglutarate blends of creatine.
Ben: Yeah. I talked about that. Actually, Episode 419 in my podcasts, I actually talked about that new research on alpha-ketoglutarate, and I found one company. They actually wound up sending me some to try. I think it was called Rejuvenant, I believe was the name of it, Rejuvant, something like that. But yeah, I talked about that new research study and I took it. I didn't really measure telomeres or anything like that, but it is interesting, some of the research I get.
Andrew: And it's one of those things that tends to float up. You see in the '70s and '80s stuff in Broscience, and 20, 30 years later, you see a research study on the same compound and you're like, “Wait a minute, not every bit of Broscience was crazy.” The keto diet that I'm converging on is almost identical. It's twice a day thing. It's almost identical to Vince Gironda steak and eggs diet, by the way.
Ben: Yeah. It all comes back around. I forget the name of the book. It's got a picture of a guy flexing on it and it's like the story of physical culture in America. And I read it, and man–I'll find the book. And if you guys are listening and you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/peakbrainpodcast, I'll link to it because it was super entertaining, but it was essentially like the whole history of physical culture, and it was covering some kind of a newspaperman who used to make a bunch of magazines and stuff related to physical culture. I think it may have been Bernarr Macfadden. I don't remember. But yeah, like half the stuff in the book that happened in the '30s and '40s and '50s all just came back around, everything from intermittent fasting to ketones to animal flow, all of it is crazy.
Andrew: Well, Ben, let's touch base maybe in a few months and I'll send you a pre and post [01:19:16] _____ took some four months ago. Maybe in a few months, I'll get your take on all the physical transformation because we all can't be Ben Greenfield specimens, but you also didn't pop out fully formed as the guy you are. You took some time to build that form, and so I'll be inspired by you to take some of that path.
Ben: Yeah, for sure. And for those of you listening in, everything that we talked about I'll link to over in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/peakbrainpodcast along with my previous podcast with Andrew, and an article they wrote for the website that's I think really, really good.
Andrew: Yeah. We also have a discount link there. You have peakbraininstitute.com/ben because you are one of our first podcast ever did Peak Brain–sorry, Ben Greenfield listeners get a better discount than anyone else ever does.
Ben: Yeah. I think it's actually Peak Brain–yeah, peakbraininstitute.com/ben. Yeah, something like that, or BGF, I forget.
Andrew: Yeah. I will update it when the show goes live for you, but people get a discount because they come in via your show on the ongoing services and things. So, we can support you guys getting shift wherever you want to.
Ben: Cool. Alright. Well, it's always good talking to you, Andrew. And hopefully, I'll make it down there at some point to pop in and see what other fun things you have going on the clinic down in L.A.
Andrew: And if not, we'll send you some gear up to your area and you can do a brain map or something. We can maybe do like caffeine pre, post-fasting versus carb-heavy pre, post, and that kind of stuff. It's pretty easy to do the remotes now, so we can do some cool things.
Ben: [01:20:40] _____.
Andrew: Yeah. Talk to you guys soon. Everyone who's listening, thanks so much for listening and I look forward to support you where I can.
Ben: Alright, catch on the flip side, man.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also, know that all the links, all the promo codes, that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. When you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that I generate, because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Special Announcement: At the beginning of this episode, I describe how I got COVID and what I did about it. Enjoy!
Back in 2017, I visited the Peak Brain Institute in Los Angeles, CA for a special type of advanced brain scan and brain mapping system called quantitative electroencephalography, or “QEEG,” and I was shocked at what they discovered in my brain.
Dr. Andrew Hill, a UCLA-trained cognitive neuroscientist and lecturer, oversaw the entire mapping protocol and discovered what he described as some pretty severe patterns of excess stressful beta waves, excess theta waves, and excess delta waves in my brain.
What's that mean, exactly? Basically, it suggests that I had some history of concussions and traumatic brain injury (which I indeed have had, in everything from football to mountain biking to kickboxing), as well as built-up deficits of attention, increased distractibility, limited sleep potential, and less-than-optimal cognitive performance from life, travel, toxins, head injuries, and beyond.
Two months after the scan, I hopped on a plane back to LA and ventured back into the Peak Brain Institute for three days of intensive training to fix my brain and returned home to Spokane with a briefcase packed with a laptop, electrodes, conducting gel, and everything I needed to use neurofeedback to fix my brain. For the next three months, I trained for 30 minutes every other day using a style of neurofeedback I can best describe as “meditation on steroids.” Mostly, my protocol involved flying a spaceship with my mind. Each time my brain subconsciously shifted into brainwave patterns considered to be unfavorable, the spaceship would stop flying, and the music generated by the neurofeedback software would fade away, very much like a cognitive “slap on the wrist.”
So how exactly does neurofeedback work? Technically, it’s a non-invasive form of what is known in the medical industry as “central nervous system biofeedback.” It trains the brain to develop new resources by encouraging certain areas to raise or lower the amplitude and ratios of particular brainwaves. To a very large extent, and unlike peripheral biofeedback such as practicing a physical exercise like a handstand, neurofeedback is an entirely non-voluntary process in which you are shaping your brain by giving it feedback only when it’s doing certain things. Professional clinicians report that about 90% of users notice a significant positive impact from this style of training, and it can be used for everything from decreasing anxiety and stress to inducing faster sleep onset to even resetting tolerance to marijuana and alcohol.
Neurofeedback training simply involves the placement of electrodes on the scalp, which produce a signal then picked up by an EEG amplifier. These signals are fed into software that then sends back to the user some form of visual and/or auditory “feedback,” or reward. This reward stimulus is given when the brain produces desired brainwave changes in amplitude or frequency.
Unlike what many books and magazines would have you to believe, this type of protocol is slightly risky and not just something you download a free neurofeedback app to do. Neurofeedback is a powerful tool and every brain is different, so the single most crucial aspect of neurofeedback training is selecting the proper protocol. Although the QEEG provides crucial information about one person’s brain, the training plan itself needs to be adaptive and iterative, based upon how someone responds to the training, which is why it's important to have the entire testing and training process overseen by a neurofeedback practitioner. Heck, when I did my three months of training with the Peak Brain Institute, Dr. Hill and I were text and email buddies nearly every day.
Neurofeedback can produce side effects, although they are generally minor and short-lasting—and also informative to a neurofeedback practitioner. If you get adverse effects, protocols can be adjusted to steer your brain in a different direction. But, if you are training yourself with no supervision and no sense of what’s actually happening in your brain, you can easily produce negative side effects, and if you keep doing it you can cause these negative effects to become permanent. So, proceed with caution, but with the understanding that neurofeedback is one of the more powerful pieces of headgear that can be used to enhance or change your brain.
Since recording “How To Rewire Your Brain For Better Sleep, Reset Your Brain’s Tolerance To Marijuana & Alcohol, Fly Spaceships With Your Mind & Much More” with Dr. Hill and featuring articles by him such as “How To Increase Your IQ, Decrease Your Distractibility, Create Better Sleep, Enhance Cognitive Performance & Maximize Your Ability To Enter The Zone” and “The Little Known Truth About Smart Drugs And Nootropics (Audio & Article),” much has happened in the world of neurofeedback, so in today's podcast, Dr. Hill is back!
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-A brief overview of the Peak Brain Institute…18:18
- A personal trainer for the brain
- Moved to a more virtual model in the last year (2020-21)
- QEEG: Quantitative electroencephalography
-Why a home device isn't enough for optimal brain performance…26:54
- Muse headset device
- You need real-time feedback from a trained professional
- Peripheral biofeedback
- Neurofeedback is often involuntarily
- Muscle shifts can be misidentified as brainwave shifts
- Filtering frequencies can cause a shift in time-related brain signals
- Muse provides an index of sorts for brain activity
- There's no one-size-fits-all solution for an individual
- Sometimes sleep will register as meditation on a device
-How close we are to a “God cap” that can track brainwaves without gel, electrodes, etc…34:42
- The cap technology is already there
- Individual needs require precision
- Brainwaves are simply harder to measure than other parts of the body
- We shouldn't be worried about non-native EMF (5G and such)
- Live support via the internet to enable home measurements
- Other tech such as Oura rings will sync with the Muse device
- EEG training session is typically ½ hour
- Most neurofeedback works best on the strip that runs ear to ear, not the forehead
- Default mode network
- 40-50 sessions before a “brain map” can be created
-How the Peak Brain Institute tracks individuals' brainwaves virtually…47:25
- Device used for brain mapping is very small; training with a coach at the institute
- Quantified dashboard tracks all data to create a “feedback loop”
- Different people will progress at different paces
- Typical clients are already peak performers who want that extra edge
- Side effects that go unreported to a practitioner will eventually become permanent
- One size fits all systems are prone to regress, rather than progress
- An actual QEEG is necessary
- You don't figure out what is true, you figure out what is plausible to make a realistic plan
-How diet affects a person's neurofeedback…54:45
- The actual EEG tech is rather ancient
- Merging of neurofeedback with self-quantification tech
- The MATADOR Intermittent Fasting Diet
- Intermittent energy restriction improves weight loss efficiency in obese men: The MATADOR study
- Ashtanga yoga
- Morning fasted exercise; more intense training in the afternoon prior to a bigger dinner
- Ceylon cinnamon
- Apple cider vinegar
- Essential amino acids are superior to branched-chain amino acids
- Refeed with exogenous ketones
- Quicksilver Melatonin (use code GREENFIELD10 to save 10%) and Phosphatidylserine in the evening for mental function
- Not eating until late at night is a bigger supporter of circadian rhythm than biohacks such as blue light blockers, blackout curtains, etc.
-Nootropics or smart drugs that promote neurofeedback…1:13:46
- Trubrain nootropic
- Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials
- Kion Creatine
- Q&A 419: A New Way To “Spot Reduce” Fat, Are Plant Anti-Nutrients Really That Bad, The Dark Side Of Daylight Savings Time & Much More, on Alpha KetoGlutarate
- Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet by Mark Adams
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
– Dr. Andrew Hill:
– Previous podcasts and articles with Dr. Hill:
- How To Rewire Your Brain For Better Sleep, Reset Your Brain’s Tolerance To Marijuana & Alcohol, Fly Spaceships With Your Mind & Much More
- How To Increase Your IQ, Decrease Your Distractibility, Create Better Sleep, Enhance Cognitive Performance & Maximize Your Ability To Enter The Zone
- The Little Known Truth About Smart Drugs And Nootropics (Audio & Article)
- Q&A 419: A New Way To “Spot Reduce” Fat, Are Plant Anti-Nutrients Really That Bad, The Dark Side Of Daylight Savings Time & Much More, on Alpha KetoGlutarate
– Gear and supplements:
- Biosense Breath Ketone Monitor
- Ra Opitcs Blue Light Blocking Glasses (10% discount automatically applied at checkout)
- Blackout Curtains
- HeartMath emWave 2
- Ceylon Cinnamon
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Kion Aminos
- Quicksilver Melatonin (use code GREENFIELD10 to save 10%)
- Kion Creatine
– Other resources:
- Mr. America: How Muscular Millionaire Bernarr Macfadden Transformed the Nation Through Sex, Salad, and the Ultimate Starvation Diet by Mark Adams
- The MATADOR Intermittent Fasting Diet
- Intermittent energy restriction improves weight loss efficiency in obese men: The MATADOR study
- Ashtanga yoga
- Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials
– What Ben did after he and his wife Jessa tested positive for COVID-19:
- Aromatherapy for Jessa's loss of sense of smell and taste:
- Rosemary and Peppermint essential oil
- Glutastat Nasal spray (3 or 4 sprays per nostril a few times a day for 3 days)
- Vielight Intranasal Photobiomodulation device
- Quelling the inflammation (most symptoms of COVID are related to inflammation and the cytokine storm):
- Vitamin C + Zinc (about 2000~3000 mg 3x a day)
- Plant polyphenol Quercetin
- Vitamin D
- Nebulized low concentrate, food grade Hydrogen Peroxide with colloidal Silver (20 minutes/a day for 4 days)
- Ozone generator and ozone water
- Ivermectin (8 tablets/day for 3 days)
- Biocharger 21-min. protocol
- Oura ring data showed a temperature increase (0.3~0.6 °F) in the 4 days before experiencing any of the symptoms
–Beekeeper's Naturals: A wellness company specializing in innovative nutraceuticals made from healing hive compounds and plant-based ingredients. Get 15% off your order when you use discount code BEN.
–Paleo Valley Beef Sticks: 100% grass-fed AND grass-finished. Keto friendly and higher levels of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Receive a 15% discount on your order when you use my link.
–Clearlight Saunas: You can be sure that I researched all the saunas before I bought mine and Clearlight was the one that stood out from all the rest because of their EMF and ELF Shielding and their Lifetime Warranty. Mention BEN GREENFIELD and you’ll receive an extra discount on your purchase.