[Transcript] – Caffeine Evolved: The New Darling Molecule Of The Energy Supplement Industry – Everything You Need To Know About “Paraxanthine” With Daniel Solomons & Shawn Wells.

Affiliate Disclosure


From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/update-podcast/

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:01] Podcast Sponsors

[00:05:29] Introduction

[00:09:23] What is paraxanthine?

[00:17:54] The afterglow effect

[00:20:41] The potentiation of nitric oxide transmission

[00:24:50] ENfinity as a brand name for paraxanthine

[00:28:43] Update is not just paraxanthine

[00:32:24] Podcast Sponsors

[00:35:09] cont. Update is not just paraxanthine

[00:40:03] Components of Update

[00:45:02] How can you take it later in the day and still be able to sleep?

[00:46:59] Best time to consume? What is in the packaging/cans?

[00:48:29] Biohacking things Daniel and Shawn use

[00:58:03] Closing the Podcast

[01:00:34] End of Podcast

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

Shawn:  When you increase paraxanthine versus caffeine, you see reduction in errors versus with caffeine increased errors. We're seeing improved endurance and resistance to fatigue and overall improved performance. Because of the things that I was mentioning, you are increasing nitric oxide, you're increasing neuroplasticity, you're increasing serotonin, dopamine, you're decreasing beta-amyloid plaque. All these things that are happening, there is this afterglow period. And again, we're seeing this time effect so that the more you use it, the better it gets.

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

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Alright. So, you, if you're listening, might have heard me talking in the past, recently at least, about this new energy molecule that I've been experimenting with called paraxanthine, spelled with an X, P-A-R-A-X-A-N-T-H-I-N-E. It's super interesting. And, although my guests on today's show will be able to explain this stuff a little bit better, it feels like caffeine but it's a little bit different. You don't get this crash. You get a lot better focus, a lot of people including myself say it seems to give you more swagger and more confidence. You could take it late in the day and still sleep okay. It's super interesting and it seems like energy compounds are a dime a dozen. They're obviously all over the place. You can't swing a dead cap by the tail without hitting some new energy drink or new energy capsule or supplement or patch or something like that. 

And frankly, I use a lot of them just because people send me this stuff. And, I've experiment with it. I try everything at least once and I've had things like the sweaty palms and the racing heart and the crash and the poor sleep, and a lot of the stuff that goes along with many of these fringe molecules that pop up. But, this one paraxanthine is it stuck with me. I like it. I think that the very first person I heard about it from was one of the guests on today's show, Shawn Wells who's been on my podcast before. He's actually known as one of the world's leading formulators and his nutritional biochemist. And, when I was talking with Shawn, I forget Shawn if it was on a podcast or if we were just chatting offline in person, you told me about this paraxanthine stuff. And, I think you sent me a beta batch, some little capsules of it. 

And then, later on, I met your friend Daniel who's also on the call, Daniel Solomons and Daniel had been working with you to figure out how to get it into a drink. So, I tried the capsules and those work pretty well. Then, I tried the drink and that was even better. I think you combined it with some stuff that you can tell us about.

So, long story short is this stuff's super interesting. I don't think a lot of people even know about it yet, but I wanted to break the news about paraxanthine. So, Daniel and Shawn, welcome to the show.

Shawn:  Thanks for having me on.

Daniel:  Thanks so much.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah, for sure. And, by the way, for those of you listening in, we are now doing almost all of our podcasts video podcasts. You can watch this on YouTube or you can go to the shownotes and that's going to be at BenGreenfieldLife.com/UpdatePodcast, BenGreenfieldLife.com/UpdatePodcast, because the name of this stuff that has the paraxanthine in it, this drink is called Update. Now that we're doing video, I should have grabbed the can and brought it down to my office but I didn't. I've actually been drinking it in the late afternoons, my late afternoon pick me up because I still like to have a cup of coffee in the morning. I don't want to double-up and double-fist too much.

But, one other quick thing for people listening in, you probably already familiar with Shawn because he's been on the show before and I'll link to some of the other podcasts that we've done, but he's formulated a thousand different supplements and foods and beverages and cosmeceuticals. He's got 25 different novel ingredients and he's kind of known as an ingredientologist if that's an actual term. And so, he basically studies this stuff in his sleep. 

And then, Daniel has not been on the show before. Sorry, Daniel, you're going to have to keep up with Shawn as a three-peat guest. But, Daniel is the co-founder of this company, Update. He has a background in working to develop some pretty groundbreaking formulas. So, this one amongst them, so Shawn and Daniel have kind of partnered up on this thing. And so, we got both of them on the show.

As is always, the awkward case when I've got two guests. Who wants to be the first person to explain what paraxanthine is? And, I don't care if you get super scientific but just ease us into it. Don't blow too much smoke out of our ears too soon.

Daniel:  Why don't I ease us into it and then Shawn can get super scientific?

Ben:  Alright, cool.

Daniel:  Firstly, I'm glad he told you what paraxanthine was when he sent you the bag of capsules. I didn't get a warning. I was just sent a bag of capsules and told, “Let me know if you like it.” So, that was my [00:09:50] _____ paraxanthine.

Paraxanthine is the main metabolite of caffeine. So, when you consume caffeine, whether it's in a coffee, a tea, an energy drink, it's going to break down in your liver into three metabolites. Paraxanthine being a primary one. It breaks down to roughly 80% and then you have theobromine and theophylline.

Ben:  So, coffee breaks down into those three, paraxanthine you said theobromine and theophylline.

Daniel:  Exactly.

Ben:  So, when you drink a cup of coffee, you're getting all three of those.

Daniel:  Exactly. So, paraxanthine isn't something new, it's not something that we should be spooked out about. It's just something we haven't really known or haven't discussed before until now.

Ben:  If we've been drinking coffee for, I don't know, I forget what it is when that guy first fed his goat's coffee beans and they got all hyped up, but I don't know, those hundreds years ago or thousands years ago or what, I'm not a coffee historian. But, why didn't we really stumble across the idea of isolating this stuff until recently?

Shawn:  That's an amazing question and one I get asked often. I think there's a few reasons. One, when you look at the conversion, imagine caffeine, if you're listening at kind of the top of this pyramid and then there's the split, as Daniel said, into these three metabolites of theophylline, theobromine, paraxanthine, the majority of caffeine converts into paraxanthine. So, you might look at this and say somewhere between 72% and 84% of caffeine's converting to paraxanthine, so why would we really need to take it?

And two, when you look back just 10 years ago, it was believed that paraxanthine did not occur naturally. Now, we've found many food sources of it occurring naturally now. We've done a lot of work on that. So, that wasn't fully understood and I think that held up some things and it was just considered maybe a chemical compound. So, I think it's those two things. But now, we've found that it occurs naturally. And, here's the thing that makes this very different that when you, one, you have fast and slow metabolizers of caffeine looking at the CYP1A2 gene, I'm sure a lot of your followers have looked at this genetic information, and you can decide whether you are this fast or slow metabolizer. And, by the way, it gets super complex. I'm saying this very simply when I've looked this up, there's actually 43 variants of this gene. So, it's not just fast and slow, there's medium, there's people that have deficiencies, people that have no gene.

Ben:  It's like muscle fibers. People hear about type 1 and type 2 and then you actually find out that you've got a whole host of slow oxidative, fast oxidative, fast glycolytic, type 1, type 2A, type 2B. So, yeah, depending with a broad brush, most people just think they're either fast coffee metabolizers or slow I should say caffeine metabolizers.

Shawn:  Yeah. So, here's the thing. We know there's a lot of bio-individuality at the point of caffeine where so much so that some people, the fast metabolizes people say, “Oh, I can have coffee and go straight to sleep,” right? A lot of people are like that out there. 

There's people that have a one and a half hour half-life for caffeine. At the opposite end of the spectrum, we're seeing 10.5, 14 in some literature and then those people that don't even have the gene, it's 152 hours to clear this stuff out. But, there's a lot of us, many of us that it's taking three days to eliminate caffeine from our system. And so, what we're seeing with paraxanthine, if you're the fast metabolizer and you say, “Oh, I can have coffee and go straight to bed,” you're not getting the side effects, which is great, but you're not really getting the benefits either. And, on the other end of the spectrum with the slow metabolizers, those are the people that are generally in the hell created by caffeine where they're not getting the benefits and they're getting all the side effects. 

And so, this is where there's a huge difference when we go directly to paraxanthine because paraxanthine we're seeing is the majority, the lion's share of the benefits that you get from caffeine. So, that conversion is the most important step. And, when you're a slow metabolizer, you're stuck in what's generally a toxic state with caffeine. I mean, think about caffeine was in plants generally for to be toxic to insects, essentially an insect repellent.

Ben:  Like a plant defense mechanism like lectins or gluten would be.

Shawn:  Exactly. And, we see theobromine, which is fairly benign in humans but it has toxicity in cats and dogs. Theophylline is a controlled substance and a bronchodilator, a ton of side effect and so we're seeing that these molecules except for paraxanthine have many side effects, have greater toxicity. And, there's one compound that has all the benefit doesn't have the toxicity, doesn't have the side effects, doesn't disrupt your sleep, doesn't give you the anxiety issues. And then, we're seeing it's 50% better at adenosine inhibition. We're seeing it 50% better at dopamine. So, you are getting more of that as you mentioned like the swagger, the focus, the productivity that comes with dopamine. You're also getting the neuroprotection that comes with dopamine when you look at neurological conditions, degeneration such as Parkinson's.

But, on a pre-clinical sense, we're seeing so many things change. We're seeing BDNF elevated, which is a hot term, the brain drive neurotrophic factor neuroplasticity. We're seeing that upregulated. We're seeing serotonin upregulated along with the dopamine. We're seeing reduced oxidative stress and we're seeing increased along those lines, increased glutathione and catalase. We're seeing a decreased beta-amyloid plaque. So now, think of that as a potential mechanism for Alzheimer's. Increased nitric oxide to the brain via PDE9 inhibition. So, think about how not only are you getting the focus and the energy, but it's not that come at a cost type thing like caffeine's always been. This is actually making you better. And, we're actually seeing this with some early data and I can't really explain it all quite yet because it's too preliminary. But, we're seeing that there is a time effect, meaning when we continue to use it, the results get better.

Ben:  That's interesting because people will say that about Provigil, modafinil. People are like, “Oh, it's like driving a car.” You take it and you eventually learn how to operate and function better and better the longer you take it. And obviously, there's a lot of–at least in my opinion, I don't know what your opinion is, Shawn or Daniel, I think there's some dopaminergic issues with long-term use of a pretty powerful sledgehammer modafinil compared to something like this.

Why would that be, with a molecule like paraxanthine, that the more you use it, the better it works versus what you'd expect with an energetic compound being that the more you use it, the more you need to actually feel stimulated?

Shawn:  Well, it's not just inhibition like this adenosine pathway. It's not just the histamine modulation with Provigil or Nuvigil. And, by the way, there is a study with rodents that showed that paraxanthine outperformed Provigil. And, I'm not making any claims for humans around that. Don't connect that to me, but just since you brought that up. 

But, I think the whole point of this is what I was just saying like people talk about there being no crash and they're almost being an afterglow. After the adenosine inhibition phase, and this is by the way a shorter acting molecule than caffeine, it's much cleaner for that reason, a more consistent bio-individually where people can take this at 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. and have a great workout and still get great sleep.

Ben:  I don't want to toot your horn too much, but I would argue better sleep. And obviously, I'm doing a lot of stuff when I'm going through a typical series of weeks. And, I would say that there were a few things that I did close to the time that I started using paraxanthine. I started to experiment a little bit more consistently with mouth taping, using a lot of different forms of red light in the morning, et cetera. But, I can guarantee that the extent to which it increased my energy levels, again, when I'm using it in the late afternoon, were a little bit concerning to me when I thought about what was probably going to happen to my sleep architecture that didn't happen and my sleep scores have been consistently improving. And, I can't, again, attribute that all to the paraxanthine.

But then, the other thing you mentioned about the afterglow effect. I mean, people talk about that with LSD, microdosing or even macrodose with LSD the next day is amazing. And so, people are noticing something similar with paraxanthine is what you're saying?

Shawn:  Yeah. They're not perceiving the drop-off or the crash that they're used to with a number of these other compounds that you mentioned, these other methylxanthines, including caffeine. We're seeing that because of the things that I was mentioning, you're increasing nitric oxide, you're increasing neuroplasticity, you're increasing serotonin, dopamine, you're decreasing beta-amyloid plaque. All these things that are happening, there is this afterglow period. And again, we're seeing this time effect so that the more you use it, the better it gets. And, it's not just because of wakefulness, adenosine inhibition, there's so many other things going on and you're not having the toxicity of these other compounds, you're eliminating caffeine, theobromine, theophylline. And, their metabolites, by the way, there's even more metabolites from there. So, you're eliminating all that and you're having a much cleaner experience. That's one of the words we always hear is it felt so clean. I hear afterglow. I hear swagger. There's a lot of interesting words that come up but probably clean is number one.

Ben:  Okay. I'm totally ignoring you, Daniel. I'm asking Shawn all the scientific questions, but just we'll get to Update here eventually because I want to talk about this drink too. I know it goes beyond just paraxanthine.

But, I'm curious, just the geek in me and I guess maybe the 0.1% of my listeners who might care about this part of things as much as I do, Shawn. The potentiation of nitric oxide transmission. There's a link between that and increased dopamine release, I think. And, I don't know if you can explain exactly what's going on when you take paraxanthine with nitric oxide and what that has to do with dopamine, but I find it fascinating.

Shawn:  Yeah. There is a link and particularly with these PDE compounds, the phosphodiesterase inhibition, we do see in the brain in particular the PDE9, greater nitric oxide release. And, we are seeing dopamine in particular at the brain level. We haven't looked at things like gut, it would be really interesting to look at gut neurotransmitters and how they're affected, but we also believe that we're seeing all of the neurotransmitters potentially potentiated. So, that is something we're exploring. 

We did see serotonin, we're about to look into histamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, epinephrine. We want to look at all of them because, Ben, I know you've explored and had people on that talk about psychedelics, which work via some of these mechanisms and I'm not saying this has any psychedelic effect, but I am saying that with neuroplasticity enhanced and nitric oxide enhanced, to your point, we do see not just dopamine increase but potentially all of the neurotransmitters come up, which is really interesting. So, we're exploring that more. And, that might be where there's that afterglow impact and just how psychedelics have a very different impact where they potentiate all the neurotransmitters and you look at their impact on depression versus SSRIs, which work on one mechanism, one neurotransmitter don't have a strong of an effect. 

And, I feel there's something going on here with potentiation of all of these neurotransmitters. Certainly, dopamine is maybe the most impactful on our productivity and swagger and some of these things we talked about. But, that's something that we're going to continue to explore. I can't make definitive claims around that, but just saying we're exploring that right now. And, there's a lot of reason to be excited for it right now.

Ben:  Interesting. Now, when you look at something like the active component of or an ingredient in Viagra like sildenafil, I know that inhibits phosphodiesterase enzymes. I think it's PDE5. You said paraxanthine is inhibiting PDE9?

Shawn:  Exactly. The different numbers kind of potentially different body tissues.

Ben:  It's all Star Wars robots, but has this ever been studied for sexual performance then or even erectile dysfunction or anything like that in males?

Shawn:  We're reluctant to really go down that path. We're already on a highly scrutinized path of energy. And, we do have new data coming out on a study that just finished on weight loss, which is a highly scrutinized area. So, we're not going down the libido path quite yet, but I mean, when you're improving mood and swagger and confidence and energy and blood flow, it's very possible. So, it's just not something we have data around yet.

Ben:  Got it. Now, you were the co-author of a paper, I think, almost a year ago that looked at paraxanthine relative to exercise performance. I think it was muscle mass, strength, and endurance. What'd you find with paraxanthine? 

Shawn:  Yeah. So, we're seeing that one, we're not seeing nearly the side effects when we compare that with caffeine. We're seeing that when you increase paraxanthine versus caffeine, you see reduction in errors versus with caffeine increased errors. We're seeing improved endurance and resistance to fatigue and overall improved performance. As far as muscle mass, that is something we're exploring right now with a strength training study. Yeah.

Ben:  Interesting.

As far as paraxanthine goes, obviously, he's got a lot going for it, and I think it was on the Update energy drink label or somewhere in our communication back and forth. I think it was with you, Daniel. You use the term infinity. Is ENfinity just the branded name for paraxanthine?

Daniel:  Yeah, it is. Infinity is the name that Shawn and his colleagues, his team at ING2 have trademarked paraxanthine by.

Ben:  Was it actually hard to create and patent this considering that you can get it from coffee? I mean, I'll admit I don't quite understand how the patent process works when you're isolating something that you can already get from a natural ingredient. But, how exactly did you pull that off?

Shawn:  It's a few things here. And, by the way that's ENfinity with an EN like ENfinite energy kind of thing. There's a number of patents that you can do. You can do compositional patents where we're combining them with certain ingredients. You can do utility or use patents around how you use these things like let's say for muscle mass or for endurance or whatever. And then, there can be synthesis patents. 

And, with paraxanthine ENfinity, you can potentially convert some of it from the caffeine that you would consume in coffee, but the amounts pure paraxanthine that are in coffee, chocolate, some of these tea compounds is extremely low like hundredths of a percentage points. So, you're not going to get appreciable pure paraxanthine. And, the problem is you're going to be getting the caffeine, theobromine, theophylline, their metabolites, all of that going on in whatever caffeine source you're getting whether it's natural or synthetic. So, you're dealing with all that. And so, there's the toxicity with that. There's the bio-individuality with that. There's the metabolism issues genetically with that. So, it's just a wholly different experience.

I can tell you people may think, “Oh, I've probably experienced this before since I've had caffeine.” No. I can promise you it's a very different experience. And, you know that, Ben.

Ben:   Yeah.

Shawn:  You can speak to this too.

Ben:  What would happen if you were to take paraxanthine in capsular form. I don't even know where to get the capsules, all I had was just that unlabeled bottle of little white capsules that you handed me. Unlike Daniel, I knew what I was taking when I took it. I didn't combine it with coffee, but what would happen if you took paraxanthine-like capsules along with coffee?

Shawn:  Yeah. So, that's taking your pure water and then adding some dirty water to it. I mean, what we're seeing in multiple studies that we have now is that there's actually a kind of converse or negative effect when you take the two compounds together. And, what may be happening is that you're actually preventing the caffeine from being converted into paraxanthine. You may be pushing the pathway back, and this is theoretical but we haven't explored this part, but we show the negative performance both mentally and physically when you co-administer. But, you may be pushing things towards that theophylline and theobromine versus the conversion of caffeine to paraxanthine by stacking the two together. That's a theory I potentially have.

Ben:  Okay, got it. Got it. I know some people will take amino acids and then take a sleep supplement at the same time, and apparently, it competes for tryptophan and you don't get quite of sleep if you take the amino acids with a sleep supplement. I've heard some people report that before. So, it sounds kind of similar. So, you wouldn't want to take this with coffee but you guys have obviously looked into other stuff that you could stack it with because you've got it now in a drink.

And, maybe Daniel, you can tell us a little bit more about this drink. but it's not just paraxanthine, it's kind of this whopping stack of different nootropics that there's a lifts list of them that you have in there. So, tell me about Update, this drink that has paraxanthine in it and what exactly you guys wound up doing with that.

Daniel:  Totally. So, the whole premise behind Update was we live in this world and people are still drinking Red Bulls and Monsters and Rockstars. And, to us, that never really made sense.

Ben:  Sometimes with vodka, by the way, which apparently is very frowned upon in the nightclub industry now because of issues with strokes and heart attacks and things like that. But, I've always thought it interesting that you can still get an espresso martini at the average fancy cocktail bar and yet Red Bull and vodka is now frowned upon. You just have to do it with coffee and espresso and vodka instead at a fancy restaurant. But anyways, we digress.

Daniel:  Exactly.

Ben:  Go ahead.

Daniel:  It's just a pig with lipsticks. When you think about energy drinks, it's always been that way. Red Bull was caffeine plus sugar. Monster came along a few years later with more caffeine and more sugar. Then, Celsius and Bang And all these other drinks come with more caffeine and they start to use chemical sweeteners like sucralose and acetate. And, that never resonated with us. The idea of consuming a copious amount of caffeine in a 16-ounce can branded something you would be embarrassed to walk around with was not something that I would ever touch. No one I knew would ever really touched that either, but we all wanted energy and we also all want to cut down on our caffeine consumption and stop drinking a ton of coffee all day. And so, that's when the idea came to really see if we could create an energy drink but instead of using caffeine as a stimulant, use nootropics.

And then, after a lot of experimenting on my kitchen counter, ordering ingredients from Amazon, not being particularly successful at formulating a drink myself, that's when I reached out to Shawn. I'd actually heard about him on one of your earlier podcasts that you guys did together.

Ben:  Okay.

Daniel:  So, I reached out to him, thought if anyone can help me create this drink, it's going to be Shawn. And, that's when we began our three-year journey working out how to formulate a new energy drink not using caffeine as a stimulant, trying to make it equally if not more effective than what people are used to. So, it was really important that you can't compromise on the energy or the alertness that you would get. You can't compromise on the taste and you can't compromise on the doses of other ingredients that you're putting in. We didn't want to feather dust sins and we wanted all of this in a 12-ounce can instead of a big 16-ounce can. And, we didn't want to use artificial sweeteners only natural sweeteners. And, we wanted it to taste more like a souped-up Seltzer than a full-blown soda.

Ben:  Right.

Daniel:  Which proved to be more of a challenge than Shawn had hoped. That's for sure.

Shawn:  This is zero compromises, Ben.

Ben:  Yeah.

Shawn:  Using sucralose makes things a whole lot easier. Using these non-caloric natural sweeteners is certainly harder. And then, they wanted in the smaller can like the Red Bull can, then they wanted it to be flavored like water in a Seltzer kind of thing and not a fully sweetened drink. And then, they wanted to use the full dose nootropics and then the larger dose of the paraxanthine, the 300 milligrams. It was like, “Oh, my god, this is next to impossible.” And, it took us a while, but the nootropics are full dose.

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Alright, folks. You can now go to BoundlessParentingBook.com and get yourself a brand-new copy of my brand-new parenting manual. You're going to love it. Your parenting journey or the parenting journey of whoever you get this for; teacher, educator, grandparent, and uncle, you name it, is never going to be the same. It's an anthology, a really thorough anthology of vulnerable and radical and inspiring parenting advice from superstar parents, many of whom I've seen raise amazing children: Naveen Jain, Katie Wells, Dr. Maya Shetreat, Spartan Race founder, Joe de Sena, all the way down to the controversial Liver King, Brian Johnson guy. They're all featured in there. The weird, the cool, the amazing things that they do with their families and their children, you get to read about and learn from. There's entrepreneurs, billionaires, single moms and dads, pastors, education experts, legacy builders, wealth managers, and other earth-shaking parents. Huge variety of them. You get all their tips, all their tactics, all their tools, all their wisdom. And, the book is now available. You go to BoundlessParentingBook.com to get a copy. That's BoundlessParentingBook.com. This book is the parenting blueprint and it's amazing if I don't say so myself. I'm pretty proud of this thing. It's big, it's beautiful, it's lovely, you're going to love it.

That's something I've learned from you, by the way, Shawn, is working with flavoring agents. You've worked a lot of people in the industry on flavoring. And, it's a process to actually go from something functional. I'm one of those guys that doesn't care that much. I'll just put a bunch of stuff in a blender and suck it down and drop powder straight into my mouth and not care that much about the flavor. But, I know that's a concern for a lot of people, so you guys actually had to test it. What is it? Mandarin, berry, peach and–

Daniel:  And lime.

Ben:  And lime. Yeah. And, by the way, the berry one is my favorite. Each one's 15 to 20 calories, so there's not many calories at all. We can get into the actual sweeteners that you guys use shortly, but did it take a lot of work with these flavoring agents to actually nail those four flavors?

Daniel:  Yeah, it took about two years.

Shawn:  Absolutely. Because these nootropics as you know, Ben, you know, you and I know like we've played with these things. And, I don't know of all the categories of supplements, nootropics are the worst. And so, across the board, a number of these ingredients are just rough to use in flavor over. 

Luckily, paraxanthine is similar to caffeine in terms of bitterness. It's not quite certainly nothing like these other compounds that I used to have, teacrine and dynamine. So, these are tough to work with, especially given these constraints. Again, that kind of full 300-milligram dose. Nothing is very dusted in here. Everything's legitimately dosed, scientifically dosed. He wanted to have the claims behind these things and the efficacy. And so, there's nothing like if you're used to energy drinks, maybe the taurine is fully dosed and the caffeine is fully dosed which are both cheap, but nothing else is fully dosed. The rest of it is fairy dusted, the ginseng, all these other CoQ10 or whatever they put in there. It's all kind of window dressing.

Ben:  Yeah. It looks it looks good on the label though.

Since we're talking about flavor, before we talk about these other things that you can stack paraxanthine with, which I think is super interesting, what did you wind up using as your actual sweeteners and why?

Daniel:  We ended up using a combination of allulose and stevia glycosides. Shawn can get into the weights there, but these were sweetness that he'd worked with before that our flavor had worked with before. They're non-caloric or incredibly low in calories. So, all the drinks we have are between 15 and 20 calories each, and they certainly don't give you that sickly sweet feeling in your mouth and taste profile that you would know to associate with a sucralose.

Ben:  Yeah. Allulose is interesting. I think a lot of people see the -ose and confuse it with sucralose and think that they might experience, for example, gut or biome issues, which is sometimes associated with sucralose. And, allulose from what I understand is something that actually can, to a certain extent, stabilize blood glucose or at least not cause a spike in blood glucose, but it's got a pretty similar flavor profile of sugar.

Shawn:  Exactly, yeah. It's a non-glycemic sugar and very much almost non-caloric. I think, it's a quarter of a calorie per gram versus 4 calories per gram. So, very low when it comes to caloric value and essentially non-glycemic as well. Yeah.

Ben:  I think you and I talked about this last time that I podcasted with you Shawn, but stevia which you guys also use in the energy drink, it's got kind of two different forms of it. And, each form of stevia has a slightly different flavor profile. Again, I don't have the can in front of me but I think you or Daniel were telling me you guys kind of combine different forms of stevia?

Shawn:  Exactly. There's a lot of technology there that's happening with the rebaudiosides, when you know about reb-A, reb-D, reb-M, reb-X. They hit at different points. And, when I do flavor work, we look at front end, middle end, back end, and even post-swallow and where that sweetness kind of lasts or hits. It brings out different elements of the flavor so that you can essentially lower your level of sweetness but have it experience more broadly. And therefore, the flavor is experienced more broadly. If you know on the opposite end of the spectrum of what I'm talking about, this is more insidious in flavor science. Think about some of these drinks like the Mountain Dews and whatnots, they actually do research to have all the flavor hit on the front end and have it be empty on the back end so that you keep drinking it. And, there's a really dark science around that.

Ben:  Interesting. So, what you did was you combine the two forms of stevia and then added allulose to that?

Shawn:  Exactly. Yup.

Ben:  Got it.

Now, in terms of I think where the sweet spot lies, again, because I've tried the isolated paraxanthine capsules and then I've tried the Update. And, the Update is notably better in terms of the actual effects from a neural performance standpoint. Let's talk about what else is in there besides paraxanthine and those two sweeteners that we talked about.

Daniel:  Yeah, perfect. So, we worked with Shawn and a team of scientific advisors to really work out what other nootropics would complement paraxanthine being the hero ingredient and really try to optimize that experience you get. So, I've combined it with things like taurine, L-tyrosine, alpha GPC, there's a little bit of L-theanine and a little bit of 5-HTP, and then we also use vitamin B12. And, we found that that really rounded out that experience and kind of elevated it Beyond just paraxanthine.

Shawn:  That's the methylated coenzymated form of B12, methylcobalamin as well.

Ben:  Okay, got it. So, the N-acetyl L-tyrosine, am I pronouncing that the right way, N-acetyl L-tyrosine?

Shawn:  Yeah. You can say N-acetyl L-tyrosine.

Ben:  Or, N-acetyl L-tyrosine. What's that do exactly?

Shawn:  It's going to work synergistically as a dopamine precursor with the paraxanthine. So, it's going to enhance that neurotransmission of dopamine. So, just working hand in hand with the paraxanthine that already has the dopaminergic response.

Ben:  Okay. So, that one's in there and then L-theanine, which a lot of people will combine with coffee. I've recommended that in the past. I think you have too, Shawn, to take 100 milligrams of L-theanine when you have a cup of coffee to increase a little bit of the alpha brainwave production and stave off a little bit of the potential jitteriness of coffee, especially for those slow caffeine metabolizer we're talking about. Anything special about the L-theanine that you put in there or was it just standard dose of L-theanine?

Shawn:  It's standard, but it is the active isomer, the L-isomer, so it is a really clean form. And, you're right, it does have a smoothing-out effect. And, what you brought up is spot on with the alpha brain wave that's associated more with that focus. And, this is the difference between paraxanthine and caffeine, you're getting that CNS stimulation with both potentially, but you're with caffeine, you're getting all of these side effects, you're getting overstimulated, you're not getting into that alpha brainwave state. So, a lot of us tend to think of stimulation, meaning, and now I have the energy to do well to focus. But, there's an element of kind of like that yin and yang here where we need to be stimulated but relaxed to have maximal focus to be in that zone or flow state. We need to be both. And, that's where having some elements of things like the paraxanthine, which is less over-stimulating than caffeine. It's more of a clean experience but also adding some of these other things can really smooth out the whole experience and kind of give you that glow, that flow, that zone.

Daniel:  What we've found which is really interesting is we have a ton of people who are really slow metabolizers who the idea of drinking a coffee is torture to them. They're able to drink Updates, they're able to consume paraxanthine every day and they get the energy that they so wanted from caffeine without having to sacrifice, without having to have a racing heart or have a crash that's going to come a few hours later or feel anxious and jittery. So, that's also something really interesting that we've found with paraxanthine and Update.

Ben:  And then, in addition to the tyrosine, the paraxanthine, the theanine that we talked about, the vitamin B12, you have taurine in there. And, that one's kind of a darling of the energy drink industry it seems because it actually does work pretty well. It has a calming effect in my opinion, a little bit similar to theanine, but it's also got that neuroprotective effect for when you're pushing down the gas pedals on the brain.

There's 5-HTP in there also, right?

Shawn:  Yeah. As a precursor to serotonin. And again, we're seeing at least on the pre-clinical level serotonin upregulated and again, we're exploring more of these neurotransmitters. But, there's an effect on that uplifting of mood that is just enhanced even further that we already see with paraxanthine. As you know, Ben, this is a very experiential compound and then an even more experiential drink with paraxanthine maximized at 300 milligrams and then to have all these other nootropics in there. I mean, to say this could replace your morning coffee as an understatement. I mean, this can change your day pretty dramatically, change your mood, your outlook, your productivity, all of that.

Ben:  Yeah. And, explain to me what you think is going on in terms of the fact that you can take it later on in the day and still be able to sleep. Is it because what you mentioned about it not actually blocking the adenosine receptors like caffeine does or is it something else?

Shawn:  Well, exactly. So, it's twofold. Maybe, I'll go threefold. So, it's a shorter half-life and a more consistent half-life. That's really important. And then, you're not getting the toxic compounds in there that your body's having to deal with. Lastly, we're getting all of these beneficial side effects, if you will, again, with the nitric oxide, the BDNF, the glutathione and catalase being upregulated. These are powerful antioxidants. Across the board, the dopamine, the serotonin, the reduced amyloid plaque. 

We're also exploring maybe this is potentially protective for things like TBIs, both prophylactically meaning preventative or therapeutically meaning after an injury happens that maybe this compound could be powerful for that for all those reasons. So, I think that's why we're seeing not only people get a more consistent experience, be able to sleep better. And then, to your point, Ben, we're actually seeing not only people sleep better than caffeine. And, I don't have data on this, this is just anecdotal feedback from a number of people so far, so don't quote me on this, but we're exploring this too. We're seeing HRVs from people wearing wearables improve over baseline and people aren't even using caffeine or paraxanthine. When they're using paraxanthine, it's better. Your sleep is actually better.

Ben:  Interesting.

Shawn:  Now, again, we need to explore that more, but it could be if that's happening because of all of these other benefits to the brain.

Ben:  So, I've got a couple boxes of cans of stuff out of my garage, so I've got some to play with. Do you think that if I were to choose one time a day to drink it, it would be better in the morning or is this more like an afternoon thing or you think it matters that much?

Shawn:  It's a great question. I think it's just out of your need whether you wake up well, get moving well, feel energized in the mornings. If you're someone who sleeps well, then maybe it is better if you do struggle like you're saying, kind of that afternoon lull like a lot of people have, then it could be powerful there. For me, I tend to work out early in the morning and I get up when it's still dark out. And, I'm one of these seasonal effective people that just struggles when it's dark or gray. And so, for me, I use my blue light and red light on the way to the gym. And, I take an Update.

Ben:  Do you guys look at anything related to packaging? Because I just know somebody's going to ask, what's in the can? Are there metals because it is a can? Anything along those lines.

Daniel:  Yeah. So, on the package in front, we used BPANI cans. And so, that's kind of the standard these days, the safest cans you can be using. We buy them from the largest can manufacturers. In terms of the rest of the packaging, it's a can with a plastic sleeve on it right now and the sleeve obviously don't penetrate in.

Ben:  Okay, got it. Got it.

So, I'm just curious for both of you guys, you're obviously interested in brain performance, in nootropics and cognition, in general, especially having developed this. Are you doing anything that would be, I guess, considered kind of tech from a biohacking standpoint that you pair with your use of something like this? Because there's everything from like light sound simulation to PEMF to different forms of brain training. Do you guys have anything that you're really into right now that you think would be interesting for the listeners when it comes to things you can stack with paraxanthine or with this Update drink or things that you're just doing independently that you find to be pretty useful for your own cognitive performance?

Shawn:  I mean, I'll tell you right now, I've microdosed in the past. And again, I don't want to put this next to that and say this is that and whatever. But, the benefits of microdosing would be things like neuroplasticity, enhanced performance, and focus without stimulation, those kinds of things. For me, I've put aside microdosing. And, this is where I focused. And, like I said, my stack on the way to the gym is using a small panel from this company, Light Path, and it has the blue and red light at the same time. And, I'm putting it by my photoreceptors which corner of my eye and ear.

Ben:  What'd you say it's called? What's the company?

Shawn:  Light Path. I really like their panels. Yeah, it's a small portable one. And, I travel so much that I really like it. And, the fact that it has the combined blue and red, I really like it, because I again, red light's awesome, but I'm someone who gets very depressed and blue. When it's gray or when I wake up and trying to go to the gym, especially in the winter and it's dark out.

Ben:  Yeah.

Shawn:  So, for me, that's been a game changer and then kind of waking up my system with the Update on the way to the gym. I mean, I just did this this morning. It's a game changer for me because I work out pretty early in the morning.

Ben:  Yeah, it's kind of interesting you say that, Shawn, because I have a similar strategy even though I don't go to the gym when it's dark. I usually go do my workout sometimes in the late afternoon or early evening and then some sometimes around 8:30, 9:00 a.m. or so. So, I'm up for a few hours before I actually exercise. But, I find the same thing because I flip on the red lights in my office to do work. I have a couple of these Joovv panels. And, for me, as far as wakefulness goes, it's not quite enough. And, a lot of times, I'll put on the red light for the first 20 minutes or so the day to kind of ease myself into light. And then, I've got essentially one of these boxes that would be very similar to what you get for seasonal affective disorder that I then flip on. So, I've got the very, very bright lights going on along with the red lights, a combination of blue and red. And, I think the people who are maybe wanting the best of both worlds to experiment with red and blue light in the morning, it actually is pretty useful. I think the one I have is EVY Lights, a 40 hertz signal light that's very stimulating. And so, I just flipped that one onto the office at the same time as or right after the red lights.

How about you, Daniel? Are you using any type of tech for your brain?

Daniel:  Mostly Update quite frankly.

Ben:  That's not tech, dude, that's nutrition.

Daniel:  Yeah, that's nutrition. But, that would be it, really. That's kind of my go-to.

Ben:   Anything else that you guys consider right now in your own protocols to be something that you kind of standby in your routine and it doesn't have to be brain-related, anything that you're excited about right now that's a part of your routine that you pair with Update or that's just something that's making you a better person on the daily.

Daniel:  From my point of view, I used to be a huge coffee drinker. I would drink five cups of coffee a day. And, the price of coffee also just continuing to rise. And, for me, what I've found is I'm now drinking maybe one cup of coffee in the morning because I want a hot drink and it happens to cool down faster than tea for some reason. And then, I'll have an Update mid-morning or early afternoon. And, for me, I've been able to really reduce my caffeine consumption, which I feel better about. My body is telling me that I'm physically feeling better as well. I'm not getting stomach aches in the afternoon, not getting the sweaty palms when I'm trying to work, and I also don't get any headaches if I don't drink Update for a few days. So, for me, that's really been my biggest change.

Ben:  So, for you, it's pretty much 100% Update. That's all you do.

Daniel:  Exactly.

Ben:  Anything for you, Shawn, besides the blue combined with the red light on your way to the gym?

Shawn:  Yeah, I've been exploring doing infrared light and combining that knowing that there's that mitochondrial biogenesis and reduced dysfunction and kind of ramping up mitochondrial functionality with actually at the same time very high dose niacin. NMN, NR, you don't get the flush. And, niacin, I actually feel is the most potent NAD activator. Now, at 500 milligrams twice a day, you're going to get pretty intense paresthesis, that tingling effect. And, some people don't like it, okay. And, I know that. And, for 45 minutes, it's kind of itchy burning looking skin, but I've gotten used to it. And, I've been stacking that with going into the sauna and I feel the blood flow, the paresthesis, the tingling, the activating of the nervous system especially superficially is actually going to enhance the impact at that superficial level of the infrared light in all of that spectra that's penetrating my skin. So, I feel I'm exploring this synergistic idea of using the niacin along with the sauna.

Ben:  Are you familiar with Dr. Nathan Bryan? Does a lot of research on nitric oxide.

Shawn:  No.

Ben:  You should look at him. He's got some cool products. He has one called–I think, it's N101. It's a nitric oxide lozenge. And, I've actually tested it, they make these little mouse strips you can use to see how much nitric oxide you're actually producing. Shockingly, with the use of either mouthwash or any fluoridated compounds like fluoridated toothpaste, your ability to convert, I believe it's nitrates, in the nitric oxide in the mouth is significantly decreased. And, you won't see these strips light up that much at all even if you're using nitric oxide or even niacin or something like that and you don't have the stuff in your mouth to allow for the conversion if it's an oral nitric oxide or niacin type of supplement. But anyways, he's got these nitric oxide lozenges. And, similar to you, I get a lot of the flushing if I take niacin product to a sauna even though I've used that protocol before, the high dose niacin with the sauna. It's a popular detoxification protocol. I forget who made it popular. It's another doctor. I'm blanking on his name. But anyways, the nitric oxide lozenges, I actually like those. They give me a little bit of a similar feeling as doing the niacin without the flush.

Shawn:  Yeah, I've done those before too and those as well. I didn't know that was the researcher attached to that. But, yeah, those are great. And yeah, you bring up a great point, by the way, with mouthwash in particular that if you're someone that's battling ED or has troubles with blood flow or certainly cardiovascular issues, be very careful with mouthwash. It's crazy that it's even out there given this data.

Ben:  Yeah. And, that is also interesting that we say about niacin. I'm hearing that a lot more from a lot of people how good they feel using niacin. Sometimes even more than NR, NMN or NAD. Probably the two things I've heard because I talked to a lot of people obviously on the podcast and just via texts and phone calls and things like that, two things that have come up is beyond paraxanthine. One is slightly higher dose niacin and then the other one is slightly higher dose iodine, which might be a topic for another day. But, there's a lot of people who are feeling pretty good by adding–I shouldn't say higher dose, but by supplementing with iodine to a certain extent. So, two interesting things.

Have you done much with that with iodine?

Shawn:  I have. A friend of mine, I think you've had him on the show, Barton Scott, has some of those nano minerals. And, I've used his product and I've seen pretty good benefits. And, as you know, salt in particular used to be iodized and now we're not getting much iodine in our diet anymore, especially if you're not eating sea minerals, algae, seaweed, those kinds of things, you're not getting much iodine in your diet. So absolutely, there can be thyroid issues. And certainly, if you turn that on, if that's been off for you for a long time, you were going to feel night and day different.

Ben:  Yeah. Well, for people listening in, I don't know if that podcast will have been released before this one comes out, I think it probably will have been, but I interviewed Dr. Leland Stillman, a really cool doctor. He flew out to my house and we went on a long walk and talked amongst other things quite a bit about iodine. So, take a listen to that one if you want to wrap your head a little bit more around the iodine piece.

And, in the meantime, I know that Daniel and Shawn have a discount for us going for Update. For those of you who want to try it, how could you not after listening to this? I'm serious, that actually does work really well and I'm loving it. Well, you can go to the shownotes if you just want to dig into some of the research that I'll post there and my other podcasts I've done with Shawn. That's at BenGreenfieldLife.com/UpdatePodcast. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/UpdatePodcast. And then, also if you just go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/UpdateDrink, I think is what it is, BenGreenfieldLife.com/UpdateDrink, there's a discount code and it's BEN, and that'll save you 10% off of any of the flavors or the cases of Update. I recommend you try all four of them. My favorite is the blue one. The blue one is berry, right?

Daniel:  The blue one is berry.

Shawn:  Which one's your favorite, Daniel? Mine's actually peach. I'm curious.

Daniel:  My favorite is mandarin.

Shawn:  Okay. Well, alright, that's interesting.

Ben:  Not to be used as a cocktail mixer, folks. You heard it here. Taurine and all that other stuff doesn't mix too well with vodka, et cetera. We could talk about mocktails later on. My go-to for cocktails right now if I want a cocktail alternative is just the 1,3-butanediol that ketone esters like KetoneAid, speaking of canned drinks, they have a gin and tonic. They got ginger mule. They've got a new pina colada flavor. So, in the evenings if I want to do a canned drink for relaxation, those things are pretty bomb. I don't know if you guys have experimented much with ketones as a cocktail alternative, but they do the trick.

Shawn:  I have. I like it.

Ben:  Also, not to be combined with alcohol. Alright. Well, again, folks, BenGreenfieldLife.com/UpdatePodcast is where the shownotes are. The drink if you want to grab some is at BenGreenfieldLife.com/UpdateDrink. If you do, you can use 10% discount code, BEN. And, I also would love to hear what you think if you try this stuff because again, not a lot of people know about it yet and I think it's going to kind of take the world by storm. Everybody I've given a can to has just absolutely loved it. Even people who just don't like energy drinks, in general, have really dug this stuff.

So, Shawn, Daniel, thanks so much for coming on the show and sharing this with us and for formulating a cool new thing.

Shawn:  Thank you for having us, Ben.

Daniel:  Thanks so much, Ben.

Ben:  Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Shawn Wells and Daniel Solomons signing out from BenGreenfieldLife.com. Have an amazing week.

More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be, and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.



You may have heard me mentioning a magical little molecule introduced to me by “The World's Greatest Formulator” and my friend Shawn Wells, who I interviewed at:
The name of the molecule is “Paraxanthine”. Paraxanthine is basically caffeine-evolved.

In addition to benefits for focus and athletic performance, without any of the negative effects of caffeine, the new paraxanthine ingredient is being felt by myself and everyone I've recommended it to “in a way that they’ve never felt caffeine”.

  • More clear energy and laser-like focus.
  • Greater swagger and confidence.
  • The ability to be stimulated, yet sleep just fine (or even better) later on in the day.
It's kinda crazy, so on this podcast, I decided to interview Daniel Solomons and formulator Shawn Wells about all things paraxanthine and the new Update energy drink that features it.
Daniel Solomons is the CEO and co-founder of Update, the world’s first evolved energy drink. Update leverages a new ingredient called Paraxanthine, that gives you the benefit of caffeine (i.e. energy, focus, attention etc.) without the negative consequences (no jitters, no crash etc.). Update is the first and only energy drink to use Paraxanthine in lieu of caffeine to derive its source of energy and Daniel spent over 3 years working with his partners to develop the groundbreaking formula.

Shawn Wells MPH, LDN, RD, CISSN, FISSN is the world’s leading nutritional biochemist and expert on Health Optimization. He has formulated over 1000 supplements, food, beverages, and cosmeceuticals and patented 25 novel ingredients and is now known as the Ingredientologist – the scientist of ingredients. Formerly a Chief Clinical Dietitian with over a decade of clinical experience, he has counseled thousands of people on natural health solutions such as keto, paleo, fasting, and supplements. He has also personally overcome various health issues including Epstein-Barr Virus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, depression, insomnia, obesity, and a pituitary tumor.

As a world-renowned thought-leader on mitochondrial health, he has been paid to speak on five different continents. His insights have been prominently featured in documentaries, nationally syndicated radio programs and regularly on morning television. His expertise can help any health-conscious individual to better manage stress and experience higher performance and more energy through utilizing his practical wholistic solutions.

During our discussion, you'll discover:


  • Paraxanthine
    • Like caffeine
    • No crashes
    • Better focus
    • More confidence
    • Doesn’t interrupt sleep
  • Ben’s experience with paraxanthine
  • Shawn Wells and Daniel Solomons
  • Update Energy Drink (use code BEN to save 10%)

-What is Paraxanthine?…09:58

  • Main metabolite of caffeine
    • Around 80% is paraxanthine
  • Caffeine breaks into 3 metabolites
    • Paraxanthine
    • Theobromine
    • Theophylline
  • Why hasn't it been isolated earlier?
  • Slow and fast caffeine metabolizers
    • Many people need 3 days to eliminate caffeine from the system
  • Caffeine is an insect repellent
  • Paraxanthine doesn’t have the side effects of caffeine; the more you use it, the better it works

-The afterglow effect…19:11

  • Ben’s experience with paraxanthine and sleeping
  • No crash, afterglow effect
  • No toxicity of the other coffee compounds

-The potentiation of nitric oxide transmission…21:50

  • A link to increased dopamine release
  • PDE (phosphodiesterase) compounds
  • PDE-9 – greater nitric oxide release
    • Dopamine increase
    • All neurotransmitters potentially potentiated
  • Currently exploring different dopaminergic impacts; similarities to psychedelics
  • Impact on erectile dysfunction may be possible but not yet studied
  • Research about paraxanthine and exercise performance
    • No side effects compared to caffeine
    • Improved endurance and resistant to fatigue
    • Overall improved performance

– Is ENfinity the brand name for paraxanthine?…26:26

  • Enfinity is the patented brand name
  • ING²
  • Paraxanthine provides a very different experience than caffeine
  • Paraxanthine capsules combined with coffee
    • Like taking pure water and adding dirty water
    • There are negative effects when the two compounds are taken together

-Update is not just paraxanthine…28:45

-Components of Update…40:14

  • 300 mg of paraxanthine
  • Nootropics combined with paraxanthine
    • Taurine (calming and neuroprotective effect)
    • Acetylated L-Tyrosine (dopamine precursor)
    • Alpha GPC (a precursor to acetylcholine for memory formation)
    • L-Theanine (enhances alpha brain waves)
    • 5-HTP (a precursor to serotonin)
    • Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin)

-How can you take it later in the day and still be able to sleep?…45:03

  • Shorter half-life
  • No toxic compounds
  • Beneficial “side-effects” (nitric oxide, BDNF, etc.)

-Best time to consume?…47:08

  • Depends on your need

-What is in the packaging/cans?…48:01

  • Standard can, the safest cans on the market

-Biohacking things Daniel and Shawn use…49:40

-And much more…

Upcoming Events:

Resources from this episode:

– Daniel Solomons and Shawn Wells:

– Podcast:

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