[3:55] Roger Drummer
[7:50] The Art of Extracting Herbs in China
[8:44] Why Trust Extraction Method in China
[12:34] What Does it Mean for an Herb to be Wild Crafted
[14:33] Why Not Cultivate the Herbs?
[15:44] How to Know That Herb is Something Good
[18:21] How to Mix Herbs
[19:48] What is an Adaptogen
[21:12] How to Track Adaptogen Effect
[22:30] Clinical Ways to Test Adaptogen
[24:12] Meaning of KSM66
[27:37] What is Resveratrol 98
[29:44] Resveratrol Controversy
[37:00] Importance of Adaptogens in your Life
[45:18] System of Standard Herbs
[50:07] The Main Differences Between Tian Chi and Inner Peace
[52:23] Quantum Physics
[1:01:15] End of Podcast
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In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“Even though the big chemical is important, it's the ratio or synergy between that ingredient and the other one's in it, that make it work the way it does. You are working out but it regulates, your nervous system regulates your glandular system. Have everything easily go in to balance or homeostasis. But again, you have to look at the whole idea of stress. What happens during stress, people get weak adrenals, they get worn out”. “Americans have seemed grown in this country, it's cultivated and it's nothing compared to the energetics of a wild root especially one that grows eight to twenty years”.
Ben: Hey folks, it's Ben Greenfield! And my guest on today's podcast is a guy by the name of Roger Drummer. Now I've personally known Roger for over five years, maybe a little bit even more than that. And I think it's been about three years since I've actually had Roger on a podcast. Roger was actually on a podcast that we did on Chinese medicine. Well, I figured it was high time that I have Roger back on the podcast, not just because we've actually been talking quite a bit about plant-based medicine and wild-crafted herbs and things like that in podcasts of late. But also, because Roger is the formulator of one of my favorite potent little packets of Chinese adaptogenic herbs called Tian Chi which he actually just released a sugar-free version of. And so, I want to ask him a little bit more about that and what goes into that formulation as well. So, who is Roger? Well, Roger is a Chinese herbal adaptogen formulator. He is also a certified nutritionist and a diplomate of Chinese herbology. He has a patent for a process to grow biologically active anthocyanin-enriched medicinal mushrooms and later we will ask him exactly what that is. And Roger really is in my opinion one of the best-kept secrets in natural medicine and health and you won't hear him on a lot of podcasts. You don't hear him as a guest making all the rounds and everything like that. But he's a wealth of information particularly on things like tonic herbs. Roger interestingly has also trained on Shiatsu, Jin Shin Do, Reiki, Kriya Yoga, and he's also a former triathlete. He's a runner, he's a cycling enthusiast, he's got three girls, he's a family man as well. So really interesting guy, wealth of knowledge and today we get the pleasure of learning all about adaptogen mushrooms and much more with Roger. So, Roger, thanks for coming on the show, man.
Roger: You're welcome. I'm really glad to be here.
Ben: Yeah! Which part of the country are you in right now?
Roger: I just moved last year to Henderson, Nevada which is a little suburb of Las Vegas.
Ben: Interesting! I didn't get the chance to talk about this with you but I'm headed down there to Henderson next month to race the World's Toughest Mudder down there. Have you heard of that event?
Roger: Well, no. I haven't. I know they have a triathlon here. That's pretty tough. But I haven't heard that one.
Ben: They have very tough triathlon. They used to have the triathlon world championships down there for half Ironman in Henderson, Nevada on Lake Las Vegas and this year, they are also doing, as they have I think the past two years, the World's Toughest Mudder there which is, I believe, it's a ten-mile loop with as many rounds of that ten-mile loop as you can do in 24 hours, and I think the winner last year did something like 95 miles which during that 24 hours is pretty impressive but to run it with obstacles, monkey bars, swimming and cliff diving and stuff like that, is smokin’. So anyways, I'm curious, you being a Chinese herbologist and a formulator of a lot of these adaptogenic compounds, what do you actually do? When I close my eyes, I picture you as wearing some conical, straw Chinese harvester hat bent over a garden harvesting compounds. But I'm sure it's not entirely like that. How exactly does your day go?
Roger: No, because Chinese herbs obviously aren't grown in this country, you can get them in dry form and I have quite a few buckets of those around the office here but most of the work you do is extracts. The Chinese have perfected the art of extracting herbs. And they have been doing it for thousands of years. You can't get a better herbal extract than something that's made out of China. And I specialize in those types of herbs. I have jars and kilo bags of probably 50 different extracts. That's what I use on a regular basis. And I formulate or mix those whenever I need it. Play around with a formula or to taste it or get samples of it. But pretty much, I get my maximal herbs from one source because I know they are wild crafted. I know how they make every single one of the extract. They are not made like most companies, just make a five to one or something like that, they are specifically made to that particular type of herb and its chemical make-up, and its physical attributes of the herbs.
Ben: Now how is an herb actually extracted? What is it that they are doing in China, for example, that makes that extraction method something that you would trust so much?
Roger: Well, again, they had thousands of years of working with that particular herb and they know the exact part of the country where the best comes from. And where you can get wild-crafted and then what they normally do will make a hot water extract just like they use to make teas. Only they have the temperature regulated in a certain temperature. There's a timing mechanism on it. Something might cook slow per day, something might only cook for a few hours. If it has the essential oils, it has to be taken off and then put back in at the end of the process which is part of the extract itself. There is something different that goes on with almost every single herb. But the beauty of the source I have for herbs is that is the science that they recognize that every herb has its maximum extract strength. In fact, it was so funny when I started ordering herbs on Tian Chi, the first thing they said to me was “do you really want to buy that good herbs? They cost a lot of money.” And I said, “Yeah, I want the really good stuff.” And they go, “nobody buys that. But we'll make it for you.”
Roger: And so, they have every single herb like you've taken herbs that's glutinous, like asparagus roots, eight pounds of that is between four and eight pounds is all you can use to make a pound of extract. Whereas an herb like reishi mushroom, depending on the season, that has to be a 12 to 15 to one extract. Because it's a woody type of mushroom. It's take more of it to make or get a certain level of active ingredient. And the one that always cracks me up is eleuthero ginseng because people will look at the label on eleuthero and go “wow that's a 50 to one! That's really powerful!” No, not really. It takes you a minimum of 50 pounds of that herb because it looks like a piece of wood that you run over with your lawnmower. It takes 50 pounds of that to even get a pound extract out of it. So, that's just the typical number.
Ben: So, for eleuthero you would have 50 pounds of the actual root and that gives you one pound of the actual powdered extract that would be used to make, for example, a supplement?
Roger: Yeah! That's true. It takes 50 pounds.
Ben: And they are extracting that with, you said, just temperature-controlled water? There's not like oils or alcohols involved?
Roger: No, there are alcohols involved in certain herbs but those are ones that have a bit of essential oils or active ingredients that just doesn't come out right from water. So, you might do that with particular herbs. But generally, it's a hot water extract. And it's just that time varies for each one. And they have to render the herb into a form that's extractable, so they have to pulverize it, chop it into certain sizes to make it extract well. Like a reishi mushroom, you want to be able to slice it. Then it needs more to be exposed to the water. But then it's just a long cooking process. And then at the end, they spray dry it and remove the water and you're left with an [00:12:11] ______. And this is again unusual we do, we buy just pure herbal essence, we don't use any spray, even filler on the spray like a lot of times, we'll spray it with a starch of maltodextrin and spray it out and dry it on a licorice powder, and we don't use any of that. We just have straight herbal extracts.
Ben: So, what does it mean for an herb to be wild-crafted? You used that term a couple of times so far. I'm curious what exactly that is.
Roger: That means they are not farmed. They're not grown on a farm. They don't have a big plantation where they're just planting that particular herb. And the people in that area, just go out and harvest wild herbs from the forest and out in nature. And they bring it in to be tested and sold at markets so they bring it into the factory to be tested and if it's accepted then it's made into an herbal extract.
Ben: Is there an advantage in doing that? I had a guest who does extractions from a company called Urban Moonshine on a few episodes ago.
Roger: I listened to that. Yes, it's great.
Ben: And he talked about higher levels of anti-oxidants in the wild grown plants because they have been exposed to higher amounts of environmental stressors, and animals, and sunshine, and cold, and heat, and stuff like that. Is that why you would want to go into wild-crafted or is there some other reason?
Roger: Well, that is why. The other one is that it's never been sprayed. But the main reason is there is a wild energy to it. There is a potency that you could call in the western terms like detox, more anti-oxidants, more levels of different chemicals in the plant. But the reality is there is a wild energy to it. It's just more potent. And it's not really any different than people. If you have someone who grows up and everything is given to them and they never have to do anything most of their life and they encounter a crisis, they will handle it the same way as someone who's had lived in the wild in life or didn't have anything done for them and they had to struggle. They knew what struggle and hardship and winning was all about, it's the same. People develop character through hardship.
Ben: Couldn’t you just cultivate the herbs? It seems easier. Couldn't you cultivate them? Farm them? And then for the lack of better word, beat the crap out of them somehow? By introducing some kind of stressors into a farm environment? To me that seems like it would be more productive from a business standpoint but is there a reason they don't do that on farms?
Roger: Well, probably because it's too labor-intensive but in China, there's so much of that country that's wide open, wild space. They have huge amounts of herbs growing in everywhere, millions and millions of pounds of herbs are harvested all the time. For instance, ginseng, not too many people ever really experience great ginseng and that's an herb that is if cultivated it's practically has, in my opinion, very little use. And yet that's most American ginseng grown in this country is cultivated and it's nothing compared to the energetics of a wild root especially one that grows eight to twenty years.
Ben: How do you know where you're at? Like when you order this stuff from China and it gets to you. Are you just like tasting it and seeing what you feel like? Do you have some kind of like analysis equipment that you're looking at? Or are you just going by feel and experience? How do you exactly know when you get something that it's good?
Roger: Well, I have been working with herbs for so long and the company I actually get my stuff through specializes in wild-crafted herbs and I've been using them since the early 90s. So, I'm real familiar with that company and their whole process and how many times they are inspected in China and everything that goes into that. But I also have a real intuitive feel for certain extracts and herbs because in Chinese medicine part of that is just energetics and you kind of learn through your own process of how to become more in tuned with that and feel it. Plus, studying things like Jin Shin Do and Reiki, it's all part of this healing modality thing, you become a little sensitive to things but I can taste this company's extracts and they're just off the charts compared to other companies' extracts. You can just almost when you look at it you can feel the vibrancy of it and you have a feel for it and we used to do experiments in the herb workshop, we would get kilos from five different companies and we would not tell anybody and we just sit out bags and we'd all taste it and feel it and it was always the same company. Every single time, everybody pick the same company over everything else.
Ben: Interesting! It's like blind tasting wine, huh?
Roger: And you know ginseng roots, you can't buy off of anybody. You actually have to go down to a Chinese store in Chinatown that specializes in wild roots and you have to go through the trays yourself to pick those out. So, if you're going to make an extract of that, you have to make the trip to LA which has great ginseng shops. And you have to go to the trays and go to the roots one-by-one. And you'll know exactly which ones you want if you are doing that. It's almost like the root picks you out while you're standing there. Kind of hard to explain.
Ben: You are in your office and you’ve got like buckets of these herbal extracts around, etcetera, dried powders, extracts from 50 pounds of ginseng that's been brought down to one pound of concentrated extracts, how do you decide like when and where to use the herbs? How to mix them, etcetera? What goes into that?
Roger: Well, that's part of a process that's been going on for so long that you have a basic knowledge about how all of them work and how to combine them but the amounts and all that comes from just the experience of standing behind a counter and putting people on program since 1990. So, it's been a long time. So, I have a feel for how things work. I've given tens of thousands of people and I know how they react and besides just giving them, I always get feedbacks on all that's working with the same people over that span of time, so I spent a good 14 years doing nothing everyday but putting people on programs. Cooking people's specific herbs, we have a cooker in the store. Putting them on capsule formulas, powders, making them drinks. I have a feel, it's a feel you just get for herbs. I'm sure just about any herbs from China has that same thing, same intuitive feel that comes to you but it's based on a knowledge that you have about everything and how it works. And even Tian Chi is based on information I started gathering about adaptogens way back in the mid-90s.
Ben: For people who don't really understand that term “adaptogen,” can you explain exactly what an adaptogen is?
Roger: Sure! It's pretty simple. If you can think about just the word adapt. What is adapt? So, you're adapting to a situation – you're changing slightly to function better in a situation. That's what adapting is. And your body does it every time you walk into a room with air-conditioning or you walk into a hot room and adjust itself. It's part of homeostasis, right? Well, an adaptogenic herb is an herb that works on a particular part of your glandular system. Because your glandular system is your internal, almost regulating system, that is part of homeostasis that regulates how your body reacts and adjusts to almost everything. And so, an adaptogen will have an effect on one of the major glands, usually the pituitary, the adrenals, the hypothalamus, and some of them will have an effect on every single gland in your body. And it's pretty fascinating that if you have a really good adaptogen like wild ginseng or reishi mushrooms is another one. Reishi mushroom is amazing in that if you take it and have a weak thyroid, the energy will go to your thyroid for about five minutes and then it will move and go somewhere else.
Ben: How are you tracking that?
Roger: I used to belong to a group of healing that did a lot of hands-on healing where you train yourself to feel energy. In fact, you could hand somebody something and actually measure how energy is affecting a certain part of their body. I know it sounds out there but when I started doing it I thought that's crazy. But you know what, after a year or two of doing it I became really good at it. And if you have 10 people do on different occasions measure something that someone's holding, they will all come up with the same idea and they don't know what the substance is. You really start to see that it's something that actually is happening. You could track how things actually move.
Ben: Like muscle testing or kinesio testing, that type of thing? Where you see whether or not?
Roger: You can be asking through kinesiology to test. I was part of a group that met twice a week for years at just was a healing clinic so there is a lot of energetic medicine going on, a lot of healing. It's just asking people how they feel and where they're feeling it in their body; where does it affect them.
Ben: Are there clinical ways to test these types of things or technologies that exists to show that for example a particular adaptogen might be increasing cortisol when cortisol is low or decreasing cortisol when cortisol is high? Or that type of thing?
Roger: Well, there's a lot of scientific tests on adaptogens like ashwagandha and eleuthero ginseng that all shows effects on cortisol. Probably, the one herb that has the most clinical research that I know of for lowering cortisol and actually regulating it. It's not just a lowering effect. It can bring it back up is ashwagandha. Ashwagandha seems to have the most clinical research on it for working on cortisol issues. In fact, in most research it will adjust your cortisol so it will lower if it's excessive by up to 25 to 30% within a month. If you're taking a certain dose of it. And it's not that high.
Ben: That was one of the reasons that I began using and began recommending Tian Chi is because I was dealing with adrenal fatigue issues related to Ironman training specifically. And was using that to help with cortisol regulation and some of other symptoms of adrenal fatigue and I want to kind of delve into the formulations a little bit and exactly what they mean because frankly I don't know how many dozens of different herbal extracts that you have in Tian Chi but there is a few that I want to ask you specifically about. And I guess this ashwagandha that you mentioned can maybe a good starting point. I noticed that on the label next to ashwagandha, it says KSM66. And by the way, if any of you want to view the label, it's over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/askroger. Just go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/askroger, you will be able to see the show notes. But next to ashwagandha Roger says KSM66, what exactly does that mean?
Roger: That is a brand name of an organic ashwagandha that's grown in India. And I love this particular ashwagandha, not only just because it's organic, but it's made by a single-family company and that's the only thing they make. And it's one of the highest qualities and one of the only ashwagandhas that's made traditionally. In other words, they are just using the root. And the root is what is always been used in studies in ayurvedic medicine. It's the only part that they ever really use as an extract, and so it's also one of the only ashwagandhas I know that's been to rigorous testing for sports and has absolutely no negative effects on blood test.
Ben: Interesting! So, they'll take specific strains and evaluate their purity based on things like whether or not you might get tested and banned for doping or something like that?
Roger: Well, because they do have Olympic athletes on it, they pretty much got a profile for that particular herb and where they grow it. It's the extract strength too that makes the difference. You don't ever want to extract an herb out to a single chemical. For one reason, a single chemical type herb, if you take too much of it, it might show up at something, right? But it also won't work the same way in your body. If you extract an adaptogen, let's say, out of just one large amount of a chemical that you thought was only a chemical that herb probably would not work as an adaptogen anymore because there's literally thousands of things in an herb that support the function of what you think might be a big chemical. Even though the big chemical is important, it's the ratio or synergy between that ingredient and the other ones in it that make it work the way it does. And so, you just have to find a company that recognizes that and makes a really good pure extract. Energetically I just felt better taking that ashwagandha than any other one I've ever taken.
Ben: Interesting! So, in the field of herbology, when you see something like ashwagandha or ginseng or something like that, they'll then take specific strains and extracts and give them names like this, like KSM66, so that you know that's the word for that specific strain and that's been tested in a manner and extracted them in a specific manner.
Roger: You know that that particular root has been tested with athletes, it's been put to testing for regulating cortisol. It's been put to testing for increasing sexual energy and testosterone, it's been put through all these different tests and you can just find it real easily on the website, on the internet to check it out yourself.
Ben: Got it! Now another thing that I noticed on the label is the resveratrol. The form of resveratrol is called 98% trans resveratrol and that's something new that changed on this most recent version of Tian Chi. Why is that significant? What is resveratrol 98?
Roger: Resveratrol 98% is trans resveratrol which is the active form of resveratrol and that's the anti-oxidants that's been getting so much research at Harvard and all over the world for being an anti-aging supplement. It regulates your blood sugar, it stops or lengthen your telomeres which is that cap at the end of your DNA that has to do and shows how much you're aging and how fast you're aging. It's an amazing anti-oxidant and the reason we put the 98% on the label is because that particular nutrient is one of the few herbs that you should extract the active ingredient out of and get rid the most for the other herb. Because the herb is a medicinal type of herb that shouldn't be used in a formula like we have. And it's pretty much doesn't have any use of a tonic herb, it's more of a medicinal thing. So, you want to just extract out the 98% and then put it into something else to enhance the energy of it. And most people are selling 50% trans resveratrol extracts. And they're not just very cure and that particular extract again is an organic extract that we get and that's grown in an organic farm, on a plateau in Tibet. We don't put organic on the label just because the rest of it is well crafted so having one thing that's organic doesn't stand out that much but that is an organic herb from a 10,000-acre farm on a plateau in Tibet.
Ben: Wow! In a plateau in Tibet just sounds sexy.
Roger: Oh, it does! (laughs)
Ben: (laughs) I am curious though when it comes to resveratrol, wasn't there a little bit of controversy behind that anti-aging research? I remember seeing something like you have to drink 40 bottles of wine to get the equivalent of resveratrol used in the studies, et cetera? What wound up being the final verdict on resveratrol and anti-aging from that study? I remember it was a few years ago, and there's a little of controversy surrounding as everyone rushed out to drink three rather than one glass of wine with dinner.
Roger: Well, the truth is that to have a good dose of resveratrol which we have in our products, we actually have a hundred milligrams of it in our products and we use that much because that is a real potent dose of standard dose that you would want to have of resveratrol everyday so we put that in each strain. Well, to get that amount of resveratrol, this is where the controversy comes in, it's because the wine industry promoted drinking wine because it has that in it. They think that's why the French don't have as much heart attack because they drink red wine. Well, you probably have to drink between, depending on the wine, a hundred to a thousand glasses of wine to get that same dose we have on Tian Chi. It's almost impossible to get it. That's what they call the French paradox by the way. They think that it's the resveratrol in the wine but it has more to do with eating habits. And the fact that they don't live on junk food like most Americans.
Ben: Or snack as frequently as us. That's the thing I've heard about the French is that you don't have the freedom to come in and out of the kitchen and just grab things out of the refrigerator [00:31:30] ______ when you were a kid.
Roger: Yeah. Every time I've been to Paris, I've never seen a single person walking around with a bag of snacks eating anything, chips or anything. I just don’t see it. But the whole controversy on resveratrol was not whether or not it works or whether it did all the things that they claimed that it did. It was the fact that you could get it out of wine. When that research originally came out, the wine sales in America went crazy and it never slowed down. It was the greatest boost to the wine industry of all time in America. It changed the whole industry.
Ben: That’s right. We all take great pleasure in the fact that we are having our cake and eating it too. Indulging in wine while at the same time living longer. I do personally still have a glass of red wine every day but I can't say it's because I think it's got boatloads of resveratrol in it. It's just a good way to unwind. I think it's more the ethanol than the resveratrol that I like.
Roger: Yeah, I drink red wine occasionally too. And I'm not going to lie and say it's because of anti-oxidants.
Ben: So, I'm curious, because we've talked before on shows and in articles about how I consider Tian Chi to also be somewhat of a smart drug in terms of like a nootropic compound that can help to enhance cognitive performance. And you notice a lot these smart drug and herbal formulas for mental performance now are using derivatives of choline, like phosphatidylcholine or other forms of choline. And I did notice that Tian Chi does have a form of choline in it but it's called Vitacholine. I'm curious what exactly Vitacholine is and if it is different in the type of choline I might get in my fish oil, for example.
Roger: Yes, Vitacholine, the reason we use that and the trademark name is it's a specific line of choline. And the one we use comes without any off-taste or odor to it. Basically, they made a really highly clean extract. Most people don't put a lot of effort into cleaning their choline that much so it smells. It smells kind of almost like a fish. And so, the Vitacholine is very clean and has one of the actual highest levels of the actual choline in it. People don't realize when they read choline on the label, it could only be 10% of the actual extract is choline or 20%. And so, we went with Vitacholine because the latest research shown in Europe and it's very fascinating. Europe has this standard that you have to meet to be able to get anything sold in Europe. We had access to this research because someone tried to claim a highly purified extract to get in the European market and they had to prove that it was basically just choline and not the ultra-expensive founding ingredient that it was, and so what they basically proved in the research is that all choline, it doesn't matter what the form is that you ingest, goes a place in your intestines and there it's all broken down to just basic choline and absorbed. So, it doesn't matter what form you're taking it, it all comes to one place and the body takes the essential choline out of it and uses it. And so, vitacholine, besides being clean, it tastes great, it has the highest levels of choline of anything on the market. And it's around 40 to 42%, somewhere around that.
Ben: What is it that choline is doing to cognition that’s important?
Roger: Well, the main thing is that it's combined with the right vitamins. Your body has to have niacin, B6, B5, some of the things we have on Tian Chi. When you have that, it's able to be metabolized into acetylcholine which is one of the four major neuro transmitters in the brain. And it's one most important for attention, focus, acts as a memory, laying down memory, it's the speed by which your brain works. In other words, the ability to process information at a high rate depending on the level of the acetylcholine activity in your brain.
Ben: Okay. Got you, that makes sense! And I want to understand when you use things like aniracetam or piracetam or many of these smart drugs actually increased the rate of choline use or the rate of acetylcholine turnover. And so, if you add in things like fish oil or walnuts or other sources of choline apparently, you get more out of using something like a smart drug.
Roger: You just can't take any supplement and not have a great diet backing it up. Every little thing you do, whether you classify as a nootropic or not has an influence on your brain. In fact, most people when they look at our formula, they think the whole brain activity, the propriety nutraceutical blend that actually the herbed blend of adaptogens is one of the most important things you could actually incorporate in your life if you want to balance how your brain is actually working.
Ben: And why is that?
Roger: Because an adaptogen balances your glandular system. Your glandular system is what is involved in the stress response. When you are having an excessive stress response to where it's not shutting off properly because your system is a little worn out, or you're just involved in so much stress. You have a tendency for the energy in your brain to drop down to the center in your brain that's just involved with reacting to stress. And so, if you're always residing in that area, the next time you have a stressor you just go right into a stressor. Whereas, as an adaptogen because they will activate your pituitary and balance your hypothalamus pituitary that tends to have your brain energy then reside more up in the frontal cortex which is where you have creativity, focus, pleasure, all these different things happening and if you're more in that center of your brain it's not that you won't go into stress but it's harder to go into stress, it's harder to go into full on stress because you're just seeing life differently, you're seeing the bigger picture.
Ben: Okay. So, that makes sense. So basically, what you're doing on one side you're trying to provide the brain with things it needs like choline for example, and also something else I want to ask you about, in a moment, is this D-ribose but then on the other end, you're trying to regulate this HPA access. This hypothalamic pituitary adrenal access so that you're not under a lot of stress. So, that you're not, for example, pouring water on the fire on one end and gasoline on the other end.
Roger: Right, the beauty of it is that you can have your stress response because we're all going to have them but your body being in a more balanced state will then go back into healing phase where it shuts it off and regenerates again. And for the people who are just caught up in the stress, they never experience that shutting off. That self-regulation, their body never fully goes into homeostasis even when they're sleeping.
Ben: Got you! You also have something called D-ribose, bio-energy D-ribose, and I noticed that on this new label that it's been raised from one gram of D-ribose up to four grams of D-ribose. What exactly is the reasoning behind that?
Roger: Well, one of the reasons is that, ribose is probably the simplest way for your body to just rebuild energy stores. It's used in the metabolic process of making ATP. So, if you or someone who works out a lot really hard or you're extremely stressed and you have a lot of issues going on that way or let's say you have a heart attack and you're trying to recover, all these things involved using a tremendous amount of energy and then having to make it again. And having D-ribose in your system because it’s the building block on how the whole process starts, it's really easy for yourself to just replenish continuously having D-ribose in your system. And so, what we led to the process in deciding that we needed to take the sweetener out of our drink, we used to have six grams of fructose in our drink and we decided that we would try replacing it with something and D-ribose is just a natural way to do that. It looks like sugar, it flows. Flow is really important because all these patterns have to go through a machine and it needs weight. It needs bulk. It helps the herbs break up and all these different things. So, D-ribose, we just thought it's perfect for that because we have so many people that are athletes anyway using our products. And if we can enhance their experience and at the same time take the sugar off, in the end D-ribose is just good for your brain, as it is for your heart and for anything else. It's an amazing nutrient. Your cells need energy no matter what process you are talking about. And so, it's just a natural thing to increase and make our Tian Chi with.
Ben: So basically D-ribose is something that your body uses like sugar without actually spiking blood sugar but it produces enhanced ATP levels.
Roger: It does. In fact, D-ribose actually regulates your blood sugar. It has an effect of lowering it, and regulating it. So again, it's a perfect type of nutrient to add to your drink. Blood sugar issues are huge in this country.
Ben: I wanted to ask you about sugars too because in the past we have talked about Tian Chi. One of the biggest things people have brought up is that the label says fructose or used to say fructose. And it used to when you look at the total amount of sugar, I forgot how many grams, but there are enough grams of sugar on there I would frequently get e-mails and inquiries from people who wanted to know why I would recommend using, for example, this little packet of Chinese herbs in the mid-morning when it was potentially spiking blood sugar levels. What did you do to the formula to reduce the sugar or the fructose and what exactly did you replace it with, if anything?
Roger: Well, part of it was D-ribose. We took six grams of fructose out and we added an extra three grams of ribose so we have four grams of ribose in each pack which is a really good dose. So, if you're taking ribose and buying it by itself in the standard dose is just between four or five grams. And so, the other thing that we did though is we used an herbal sweetener. And we used different forms of it. In fact, everybody is familiar with stevia. And stevia is one of things that's extracted out into a white powder. Its 99% pure and it’s the one molecule that stevia side that's really sweet. But you know what, that does not have any body to it. So, you can't really cover anything up with stevia by itself. It just doesn't work. But we found an extract that, was one of the first forms of stevia that ever came out of the market, it's actually a brown herb. If you noticed in the Tian Chi formula that we actually have stevia listed in the herbal formula itself. That is because the herb when it's extracted and used as an herb actually has a blood sugar regulating effect on your system. And it tastes like molasses. But nobody in this country makes it. We have to have it specially made for us out of China and have it imported ourselves because nobody has it. So, we found that out and started using that extract and because we have the D-ribose level brought up and because that's slightly sweet and by combining the two stevias we are actually able to come up with a flavor profile that completely get rid of the sugar in it.
Ben: Interesting! I was actually pretty happy to see the sugar lower even for many active people. The amount there initially is three or four grams or something like that but essentially a speed bump for an active person will still interesting to see that the sugar was removed. I know there's a lot of folks that kind of a Paleo/ketogenic/low carb environment to appreciate that.
Roger: They inspired us to actually do that. I have to admit myself, I didn't mind the sugar. But once I got the sugarless, I don't want to take the one with the sugar.
Ben: Yeah, I know it holds a special place in my refrigerator. I actually liked the taste better than the previous taste. So, I'm curious in terms of the overall formula of the Tian Chi complex, it's a shock ton of stuff. Again, if you look at the label, I'll put a link to label folks and check it out at bengreenfieldfitness.com/askroger. Roger, is there a rhyme or reason behind the herbal blend in terms of amount of things you put in there or does an herbologist say “okay, these 15 things are good for you so I'm going to mix them altogether.” How exactly does it work in terms of choosing what goes where?
Roger: No, it never works like that. What you do is that you come up with an idea of what you want to do. And Chinese herbologist are standard thousand years’ technique in making the formulas. You have the king herbs, you have the herbs that support the king, and you have the little peasant herbs down the bottom. They have a system by which they have the standard herbs. The king herbs mean that it's the herbs that the formula is centered around. That's the reishi mushrooms, schizandra, the ashwagandha, rhodiola, the eleuthero, those are all adaptogens. Now even though they're all adaptogens, you might wonder why we have five but each one of them even though they regulate your glandular system. They most have the predominant for one gland and they have other attributes to them. Like schizandra which is the first herb which is an amazing herb to detoxing your liver and energizing your lung. They build lung chi, so you'd breathe deeper. You make more out of your breath every time you breathe. It has a clearing effect on your mind. And so, it's one of the best adaptogen, what we would say tonic herbs as the food source herb. It's one of things you can have in your system every single day. And it's just beneficial for you. It's used in beauty formulas all over China because it has an amazing effect on the quality of your skin. So, it's a very powerful anti-oxidant.
And then you have reishi mushroom which we talked about earlier which has an effect in every gland in your body but particularly it does have a very powerful effect on your pituitary for regulating your entire system. Eleuthero is a famous one but its more on the adrenal type of herb. And so, as you can see they all have different aspects to it. But that is the main working just in the formula. Regulate your nervous system. Regulate your glandular system. Have everything easily go in and to balance your homeostasis. But again, you have to look at the whole idea of stress and what happens during stress, people get weak adrenals. They get worn out, they get burned out. So, then you look at things like we have epimedium, we have cistanches, eucommia, lycium, ho sho wu, all those herbs are actually what are considered kidney tonics in Chinese medicine. Meaning that they support the health of your kidneys, your adrenals, your skeletal system. Those are all herbs that somebody could take if they broke a bone. Or had a fracture because it will just heal your skeletal system so much quicker. And when you add them to adaptogens, now the adaptogens can regulate your glandular system and when it happens actually your adrenals go to that phase where you want to shut off the stress response. They want to soak up the energy, you have the herbs there to do it. Energetically, everything is set there to actually do it.
And then we have some other herbs there at the bottom that just support the action of the whole formula. Things like polygala opens your heart to your more heart centered space which works really well with adaptogens especially reishi mushrooms. Just a little bit of licorice actually makes the herbs, the energetics go into every meridian in the body. So, it doesn't take much. Licorice is kind of like throwing a pinch of salt in the dish when you're just done cooking it. It just makes everything taste better and work better. And that's kind of how that works. So, the whole thing has that energy to it. So, when you put some together like that, I can kind of look at that as just being one herb. It's because it all becomes almost like a meal to direct the body into its own state of balance. And it has everything there to support that process no matter what the person has going on.
Ben: And it's best to use these kinds of things on an empty stomach. Correct?
Roger: It does. It works best on an empty stomach. Although if you're pretty healthy it doesn't have to be exactly empty.
Ben: Okay. Now, there's also one of the thing that you formulate and it’s not a packet of powder. It's a capsule. It's called Inner Peace. It's something that all sometimes like for an afternoon nap. I'll take two or three prior to lunch and then I'll settle down after lunch for a nap. It's relatively fail-proof in terms of settling me down for a good 40 to 60-minute nap every time I take it. But the label appears somewhat similar to Tian Chi. What are the primary differences though between Tian Chi and Inner Peace?
Roger: Well, Inner Peace is the herbal portion of Tian Chi and the whole idea was that certain people didn't want to be up when they take Tian Chi. Tian Chi is formulated to get you up to have fun, to be able to handle work, to be focused, to be engaged and to do all these things. Inner Peace is more for that person who is extremely stressed or just wants to unwind at the end of the day. It helps your body go back in the circadian rhythm real easily so it helps people sleep at night. It shuts off the stress response. It helps your body regroup and a lot of people just take it with their evening meal. They sleep better, they tend to shut down from their stress at the end of the day. So, it's really just taking the herbal part of it making a separate formula, almost like a recovery formula for your day. And that's really the difference. Tian Chi has all this supporting brain nutrients and all these things that make you really focused and clear for performing no matter athletics or just work.
Ben: But you could theoretically use if you needed to for example a Tian Chi in the mid-morning and Inner Peace before bed?
Roger: Oh yes, you could. It all depends on the person but the average person falls into that, take Tian Chi in the morning, Inner Peace later in the afternoon. But we've had people with anxiety, panic attacks and they'll take nine Inner Peace a day. And it will just space them out. And it just works perfect for them. And within a few weeks, they cut it down to something else. But you just kind of find your dose and what's actually going on in your life and see how it works.
Ben: That's interesting! I've never personally taken more than three. Nine sounds like a boatload. (laughs) I can try that N=1 out sometime when I have a bed nearby. So, another question that I have for you. And this was actually a question or topic that you brought up to me in an email exchange and something that I want to talk to you about. You said that one of the things you find important is the role of stress reduction in epigenetics and then also, this caught me by surprise, quantum physics. When we’re talking about wild-crafted herbs reducing stress, etcetera. How exactly does Quantum Physics fit into this equation?
Roger: Well, Quantum Physics is kind of a hobby of mine and what I find fascinating about Quantum Physics, if you look at any of the books written by Amit Goswami, he's been writing a lot on theoretical Quantum Physics. And basically, Quantum Physics is explaining to me things they talked about 5,000 years ago, in Ayurvedic and Taoism out of China and out of India. The principles which everybody thought were so based on spirituality like Tantra and certain aspects of Taoism are easily explainable by Quantum Physics because they're really talking about different dimensions of energy and they're all not just a physical body. There's other energy aspects going on in our health. And if you've ever read anything about morphogenic fields by Rupert Sheldrake, it gets into how science has never actually figured out how a human being develops from one cell into all the different things that are going on in your system. Think about it. You start out as one cell and it starts dividing. How does that cell at a particular junction turn into your toe, and one of them turn into your eye, and one of them turn into your nose. They're all the same cell with the same DNA. There's no program actually in it. So, there's got to be a field which has been classified as morphogenic field that actually carries the blue print by how everything develops. Now think about this which is really fascinating. When a human being is conceived, it goes through a process and one part of that process, it actually has the tail and it has fins. And then you lose them. So why does that happen, right? They don't know if you're going to be snake or a frog, right?
Ben: The tadpole stage.
Roger: Yeah, the tadpole stage. So why does that happen? Well, there's a pattern in nature. There's a field that directs everything. Science recognizes that but they don't know how to explain or how it works. And the same thing is talked about through for thousands of years in different spiritual practices. So, what you kind of decide is it's something actually spiritual or is it just part of the human experience we haven't explained. So, that's where Quantum Physics comes in. And epigenetics is really about they're saying how what determines your expression of DNA is actually a signal above the cell. It doesn't happen in the cell. It's a signal telling the cell what to do. And where does that signal come from? Well, a lot of times they talked about it just being your emotional state. Because your emotions do make up the signal that actually goes into every cell. But it might just be that extreme emotional stage shut off the signals to your cell and it's responding in that way. So, that gets back into what is the field above everything else that's influencing your whole body so that it determines how to make everything and then how can you tap into that to make sure that your body is following the same blue print to be in its best position to always be in that radiant state of health. It's not just the stuff you take into your body that your physical body makes. It's the reaction of your body to the field around you. And that's why one of the reasons why whole foods are so good for you. The whole food plant and this is measurable by a certain topography, a whole food plant has an intact energy field and different nutrient. You know it has different nutrients than a processed plant, right? And it has a different stable energy field that is incorporated into your system and has in effect separate from the nutrient. This is why you want to take your herbs and extract it right, why you want to have organic clean whole foods. It all has an effect.
Ben: So basically, this morphogenetic concept is that when a human being is developing, you get areas of cardiac cells that eventually becomes hard tissue in areas of limb cells that eventually become arm or leg tissue, and that even though we don't quite understand why cells are differentiating to become those specific regions of the body that that doesn't stop when we're being formed in our embryonic stage. It's basically other things such as stress or perhaps even like electrical pollution or water or poor relationships or anything else can also continue to affect us biologically even after we're born.
Roger: Yes, and all those things you mentioned are forms of stress – environmental stress, emotional stress, all these things tend to block your energy and how you're connected to that field. So eventually, maybe in the future medicine will be involved in how to put you in a state with that field because it contains your original blue print by which everything in your body was made. So, what if you could tap in into that with certain illnesses and things and have it direct the body back into regeneration. And changing the disease process.
Roger: It's pretty fascinating.
Ben: Yes, it is. It's kind of a cool thought experiment. You know we could go on forever but ultimately, I think that if someone is listening and if you haven't yet tried this Tian Chi stuff, these wild-crafted herbs, I recommend you get your hands on a box. Try a packet. My preferred method is mid-morning on an empty stomach or about 20 to 30 minutes’ pre-workout on an empty stomach. And like I mentioned I like the Inner Peace capsules prior to, for example, like an afternoon nap, I pop a few before lunch and then fall asleep for an afternoon nap. But if you want to look over the full label and all the ingredients in very specific form, or if you want to ask Roger or myself a question or if you have a comment about a Chinese herbology or something else that you want to clear up from this podcast episode, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/askroger and I'll have a link to Roger's website, and Tian Chi, and Inner Peace, and all these other pretty cool Chinese herbology concepts. So, Roger, that being said, thanks for giving your time and coming on the show today, man!
Roger: Oh, I loved it! I'd be glad to do it anytime you want.
Ben: Awesome, awesome! Cool! I will drop you a line if I survive the Tough Mudder and have any time to kill down in Henderson. Come over to your place and sniff a few buckets of these wild-crafted herbs, and see him up close face to face. So I may be in touch here. So, we'll just have to see if I survive the actual event or whether or not I end up dying down in Henderson. Thank you! You can come out and watch.
Ben: Alright, cool. Folks, thanks for listening in and again you can visit bengreenfieldfitness.com/askroger for the show notes and until next time on I’m Ben Greenfield, on with Roger Drummer, signing out. Have a healthy week!
My guest on today's podcast is Roger Drummer.
Roger is kinda like Raiden from Mortal Kombat (pictured above) – you know, the guy that wears the conical, straw Chinese harvester and can generate magical orbs of electricity from his hands.
Except, in this case, Roger plays with adaptogenic herbs. He's a Chinese herbal adaptogen formulator, a Certified Nutritionist and NCCAOM Diplomate of Chinese Herbology, holds a U.S. patent for developing a process to grow biologically active, anthocyanin-enriched medicinal mushrooms, and is in my opinion, one of the best-kept secrets in natural medicine and health enhancement. Roger even formulates personalized tonic herbs for thousands of clients, including many notable celebrities (which I ask him about in this podcast episode), and has trained in Shiatsu, Jin Shin Do, Reiki and Kriya Yoga, along with being a former triathlete, runner, cycling enthusiast, husband and father of three girls.
I've personally known Roger for over five years, and it's been about three years since I've had him on a podcast (see “Chinese Medicine & Why Sugars Don’t Add Up Right on Food Labels.“), so I figured that it was high time I had him back, especially since he just released a sugar-free version of my favorite adaptogenic herb complex: Tian Chi.
So what is an adaptogen?
Adaptogens are a unique category of herbs that facilitate your body’s “adaptation” to stress. They help your body maintain, build or fix its own natural healthy processes, even if you’re exposed to a wide range of external and internal stressors.
This means, that, for example, adaptogens can help increase cortisol if cortisol is low, or decrease cortisol if cortisol is high. They can also be used for anything from cognitive performance to enhanced endurance at altitude.
Roger is actually the inventor of the exact Chinese adaptogenic blend that holds a special place in my refrigerator: the one I mentioned above called Tian Chi . Here's the label:
Tian Chi is a tiny packet that contains an herbal tonic blend of the most renowned adaptogens in the Orient.
Every herb used in TianChi is far more pure and potent than typical old, ineffective and often dangerous or nasty-ingredient laced herbs on the market. Very few products contain 100% whole herb extracts. On average the herbal extracts are at least 10:1 yields, meaning it takes 10 pounds of raw herb to produce 1 pound of pure extract. Most manufacturers start with pure yield and cut them to concentrations of 4:1 or 5:1 by adding filler. This produces a cheaper, but less effective extract. Imagine buying a 5:1 extract that originally was 45:1!
In stark contrast, the herbal extracts used in TianChi yield 12:1 or greater, and there is even one herb in TianChi that is a 45:1 yield. In other words, you would have to take 9x as much herb from any other source to equal the potency in TianChi. And you would be getting mostly filler, harmful ingredients, and very few results.
All of the herbs in TianChi are Non-GMO, Kosher Certified and non-irradiated. They are extracted in purified water and test free of heavy metals. And the creator uses only wild crafted herbs – herbs found in their natural state, free from pesticides and exposure to pollution.
You will feel this stuff instantly, guaranteed.
Below is a complete list of the pure and potent herbs you’ll find inside each pack of TianChi, with a guarantee of extreme freshness.
-Schizandra – the “Five flavor berry” is known as a beauty enhancing herb, one of the main herbs pictured with Lady Maku the Goddess of Beauty. It helps restores proper water metabolism to the cells, detoxifies the liver and lungs, and is an important herb for building lung energy. It tonifies the reproductive system, builds sexual fluids and moistens the skin. Schizandra has been successfully used in China to treat hepatitis. It contains over 20 lignans that bind to carcinogenic substances and safely removes them from the body. A mild adaptogen and powerful anti-oxidant, schizandra is the Chinese equivalent to milk thistle.
-Reishi Mushroom – Reishi is known as the “Mushroom of Immortality,” and “Herb of Good Fortune”. It is the most highly revered herb in China for its ability to brighten the mind and spirit. Historically used for boosting immunity, liver detoxing, blood purifying and building, and is known as a potent stress reliever.
-Ashwagandha– Ashwagandha is known as Indian ginseng and one of the most famous of all Ayurvedic herbs. It is a premier adaptogen and has a profound effect on regulating the HPA Axis (hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal axis) which is the basis of stress response. Although many herbs have been crowded into this category I still maintain that the “Gang of Four”, ashwagandha, rhodiola, reishi and eleuthero, are truly substances that can effectively regulate stress response.
-Rhodiola – Rhodiola is known as the “Rose of Heaven” and “Plateau Ginseng.” It is one of the premier adaptogens in the entire world and one of my personal favorites. Regarded as life-prolonging and wisdom enhancing, it can reduce stress response, is blood purifying and is said to balance both creative and cognitive functions of the brain. One of the best herbs for blood oxygenation, it is useful for all endurance sports. Used to treat depression and chronic fatigue and protects against radiation. It is a favorite herb for cosmonauts and mountain climbers. Rhodiola is a “Three Treasure” tonic, it builds Jing, Chi and Shen.
-Ecklonia Cava – Ecklonia Cava is a seaweed extract that is the most potent plant based antioxidant known. Because it is partially fat-soluble it crosses the blood brain barrier and is particularly useful in controlling inflammation in the brain. Ecklonia Cava lasts for 12 hours in the body, much more than any other antioxidant.
-Eleuthero – This is the herb that launched all of the studies on adaptogenic herbs. Commonly used as an adaptogen in regulating stress response and strengthening adrenal function. It’s famous as a physical endurance and mental enhancing herb used by cosmonauts for its blood oxygen enriching properties. Eleuthero is a great herb for anyone who’s involved in sports or work that demands strength and endurance. It’s more Chi building than Jing, even though I use it primarily for its effect on the kidney-adrenal energy. Eleuthero is seldom sold as a bulk herb as it’s not very nutrient dense. It takes over 40 lbs of good root to make one pound of powdered extract.
-Epimedium – Fepimediumamous as “goat sex tea”, epimedium is known throughout the world as herbal aphrodisiac. Lost in its reputation is that it’s also a great herb for increasing circulation in the brain and improving general immunity. Epimedium adds a spark of Yang or fire to the adrenals and has been shown to increase fertility. It is a Jing tonic.
-Cistanches – Its Chinese neucommia barkame is “Duzhong” having been named after a doctor who took it and achieved great intellectual success. Eucommia is a premier Jing tonic as it contains a perfect balance of Yin and Yang energy. Its main use is in bone strengthening formulas and can be used for increasing fertility and regulating blood pressure.
-Gotu Kola – Gotu Kola is one of the most important rejuvenating herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. It’s used to help revitalize the brain and nerve cells. Gotu Kola is historically used to increase intelligence, memory, longevity and decrease senility. It has been known to support normal immune function and adrenal energy. It is also a powerful blood purifier and is commonly used in Ayurveda to treat chronic skin diseases. Gotu Kola is commonly used by monks and yogis in the Himalayas as an aid to meditation; similar to how Reishi is used in China by the Taoist monks.
-Albizzia Flower – This flower is known as the herb for “forgetting cares and sorrows” and “collective happiness flower”. It is an ultimate Shen tonic and is often used improving memory, circulation, and has mood elevating properties.
-Astragalus – Astragalus is one of the greatest Chi tonics in all of Chinese Herbology. It’s often used as a ginseng replacement in younger people. Recently it has gain great popularity as an immune building herb. It’s used to help strengthen digestion and lung function, for recovery from illness and as an energy building herb. It is said to build Upright Chi, meaning when the lungs are strong and the breath is deep, it promotes good posture and holds the organs in place. Astragalus is an excellent herb for maintaining the Protective Chi circulating on the surface of the skin helping to ward off seasonal illness. If the cold wind seems to bother your neck it’s often a sign you’re Protective Chi is weak.
-Green Tea – One green tea of the most powerful plant-based antioxidants, green tea builds immunity, increases circulation and is a best known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown it to be valuable for memory enhancement. Most of green tea’s antioxidant polyphenols are from a class called catechins of which EGCG seems to dominate. It has been described as natures most potent anticancer agent.
-Polygonum (Ho Shou Wu) – translates as “Ho’s black hair” one of the main kidney restoratives in Chinese herbology. Legend has it that Ho, an aging lonely hermit living on the edge of town saw a vine intertwined on his walk through the forest. The vines resembled a couple embracing and so he harvested the root, cooked it and consumed the tea. His hair turned back to black from snow white (hence the name) and he actually married and had a son. They both lived to over 100 years old and the herb has since been called Ho’s black hair.
-Lycium (Goji) – LyciGojium is a restorative for the liver and kidneys, popular these days as Goji, and one of the 5 most famous herbs in China. Reputed to be the main food of Li Chen Yuang for the first 125 years of his life (he added some ginseng root for the next half of his life). Li died at a banquet in his honor after consuming a heavy dinner (he was a Taoist hermit who lived on herbs and vegetables) causing a national uproar and disgrace for the public official who hosted the event.
-Other herbs: Anemarrhena, Licorice, Polygala, Clubmoss, Cocoa Bean Extract, Stevia Leaf, Acerola Cherry, and Raspberry.
During my discussion with Roger, you'll discover:
-The delicate process via which wildcrafted herbs are actually extracted in China, and exactly how they find their way to the USA…
-The important difference between wild and cultivated herbs…
-Roger's top herb recommendation for regulating cortisol levels and eliminating adrenal fatigue issues…
-The truth about whether resveratrol really does have an anti-aging effect…
-How D-Ribose rebuilds your energy stores and ATP levels, and exactly how much you need…
-Why so many smart drugs and nootropic compounds use the substance “choline” in their formulations, the form of choline that contains the highest concentrations of actual choline…
-Why Roger isn't a fan of using regular stevia mixed with adaptogenic herb extracts, and instead uses a specialized form of stevia root…
-The main differences between Tian Chi and Inner Peace…
Resources from this episode:
-My previous podcast with Roger “Chinese Medicine & Why Sugars Don’t Add Up Right on Food Labels.”