[00:00] Introduction/Kimera Koffee
[04:03] About Alex Tarris
[10:59] Why Infrared Sauna and Not Dry Sauna and Steam Room
[11:14] The Biggest Benefits and The Biggest Risks of Infrared Saunas
[18:23] Why the Woods from Most Companies that Produce Saunas are Extremely Unhealthy
[24:12] What an Oxygen Concentrator is and How to use it for “Exercise With Oxygen Therapy” (EWOT)
[30:29] The Deal with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
[37:26] What are Steam Generators
[46:35] What Alex Thinks about Mini-Trampolines, Rebounders, and Whole Body Vibration
[53:06] What to Look for if a Company is Making a Claim of Patent or Proprietary Process
[1:07:26] What Alex Would Put in the “Ultimate Man Cave”
[1:17:59] Why Cheap, Knock-Off Products such as Elliptical Trainers or Whole Body Vibration Can Mess You Up Biomechanically
[1:21:06] Difference Between Something that has Alkalinity and something that has Alkaline According to Alex
[1:26:27] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey, it's Ben Greenfield and today's podcast is brought to you by coffee, but not just any old coffee. See, a couple of weeks ago I actually did a Spartan Race, the San Francisco AT&T Spartan Stadium Race. I didn't win. I ended up taking second place and getting outsprinted to the finish. However, I can tell you that at the starting line to that race my eyeballs were popping out of my head and it’s because of the specific type of coffee that I drank about an hour before that event. I actually experimented with this coffee all the way the entire week leading up to that race. And the reason the coffee kind of got me interested in the first place is it’s actually a nootropic blend of coffee. What is a nootropic? A nootropic is a natural herb. It’s not like a smart drug, which is a chemical derivative, but it’s any natural compound known to enhance focus or mood or reaction time to increase metabolism, to reduce brain fatigue, and to even increase cardiovascular support.
So this coffee is actually coffee, of course, blended with Alpha GPC, L theanine, DMAE, and taurine. If you're really into nootropics you know what all those are. If you aren't, that went over your head. But all I can tell you is that those are all the organic compounds that you’re gonna find in natural nootropic compounds like walnuts and eggs and fish. So this stuff is called KimeraKoffee. That’s K. I. M. E. R. A. Kimera Koffee. You can check them out over at kimerakoffee.com. That’s all with a ‘K’. I’m kind of obsessed with ‘K’. So that’s K. I. M. E. R. A. and then coffee is spelled with a ‘K’ too. So kimerakoffee.com. kimerakoffee.com and we have a 10% discount code for them. The discount code you can use is, no surprise here, ‘Ben10’. So if you want to increase your focus and nourish your brain and get all that proven health benefits that coffee has already been shown to have but now with the nootropics thrown in. Check it at kimerakoffee.com, promo code ‘Ben’, and now onto today's episode.
In this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast:
“Have somebody actually take a picture of you with a thermographic imaging camera while you’ve spent 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes on an infrared sauna and then you’re able to actually see what parts of your body are being warmed up by the infrared rays coming off the emitters.” “Steam generators will release steam as soon as it boils and it’ll be boiling at a lower temperature than usually what a distiller is using. So that first steam that comes off with a lower temperature is filled with all of the stuff in the water you don’t want.” “Either I just get an infrared sauna or I get one that is big enough, want to do some exercise in it and I'd like to put on there probably a stationary bike where I can do some high intensity training on it then I’d probably just design for exercise oxygen training while I’m in the sauna. I’m all about efficiency in time”.
Ben: Hey folks, it’s Ben Greenfield and in today’s podcast you’re gonna get to meet Alex Tarris, and I've only known Alex for about a month or so after being introduced to him by one of my friends who is getting me some information on infrared saunas. And Alex's job is to actually test and review health technology or detox therapy or all these pieces of health gear out there and bio hacking gear like saunas and cold lasers, and infrared, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and oxygen concentrators, steam generators, whole body vibration. You get the idea. Just all these things that you probably see ads for in the internet and that you probably see being talked about a lot in like the alternative health community, but Alex actually kind of gets down and dirty and he's a wealth of knowledge when it comes to this stuff. Everything from like the patents and the engineering to the design to the warranties to just like all the little things to look for and how to know whether or not you're saving money or getting scammed. How to know whether or not this stuff actually works versus has no research behind it.
So Alex and I are going to talk about a lot of that stuff today and he has a master's degree in nutrition. He’s got over a decade of experience working as a consultant for the sports and health and the spa industry and he does have a website as well. His website is over at healthhacksreviewed.com, and I know that's a pretty long URL to remember. So everything Alex and I talk about today along with his website and anything else that you need in terms of goodies will be over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/healthscams that’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/healthscams that's where you can grab the show notes for this episode.
So, Alex, I gotta tell you, man, most folks that I talked to who were in like the detox or the holistic health industry, they have some kind of a crazy story, right, like some cancerous tumor or some crazy autoimmune disease that they went through or something that led them to the point where they started experimenting with some of these things that might not necessarily be accepted as common practice by western medicine. I'm curious. Is that the case for you or is this just all strictly business?
Alex: Yeah, that’s definitely the case and thanks, Ben, for having me on. I kind of started actually back in 2000 and around that time I was going to school then after that progressed into kind of going into my master’s, that type of thing. But the whole time as I’m kind of studying things when I actually got to really test out what I knew in the real world. I started to really notice that unfortunately you can't just always really correct things. To really improve everybody's health situation especially when we’re talking about like high performance and kind of really taking things to the next level. Just so we’re through food, food and diet, it just didn't quite seem to be enough just with based on all the kind of environmental crap out there and you name it. And so, I basically just want to become more effective at what I did. And now this was down in the Austin, Texas, in that area and they just have a variety of different types of stuff and spas and really all kinds of therapies and things like that. It’s like exposed to a variety of different things.
Initially though, back then I just kind of thought a lot of that equipment. When I first came across it was just, it was interesting but I didn’t think it probably did a whole lot basically. But you know, it wasn't until I actually was introduced to company working with 9/11, basically, firemen, trainers or people were basically on the ground at the time got exposed to a lot of toxins. And talking to just a few of those guys actually in person and after hearing the stories of different types of equipment that they were using to detox. That just kind of woke me up. I was hearing just crazy stories. Sweating, neon green, and just all sorts of bizarre stuff.
Ben: And these were firefighters?
Ben: It’s crazy. My dad and my brother were firefighters. Is this just like pollutants that they're getting exposed to in burning buildings?
Alex: No, no, really related to 9/11.
Ben: Oh, specifically related to 9/11.
Alex: Yeah. So when and you always can tell that kind of stuff, there’s just all sorts of old buildings and this actually translates into just individuals in the construction industry, and those type of industries where they work, they get exposed to just all sorts of stuff. Plumbers get exposed to all sorts of toxins, but whatever the heck it was in the Twin Towers, I mean they were sweating out neon colors and they were using heavily different types of equipment to do that. Of course, one of the main things they were using was infrared saunas.
Ben: Hmm. Interesting.
Alex: So it was kind of after that and then I was just kind of shocked and then started to actually try a lot of the stuff myself. Starting to realize that I can’t take anybody else's word for it and I just kind of just started experiment with different sorts of things at different local spas, and found that it got good results with some stuff and honestly not a lot of good results with sometimes different brands at difference spas or detox clinics were carrying.
Ben: So I gotta ask you, dude, ‘cause I guess like in Spokane, Washington where I live there's not a lot of spas or detox clinics or at least I'm not aware of them if there are. I’d imagine maybe there's more, because you're in New York City, right?
Alex: For sure.
Ben: Yeah. Would you just like wander into a spa or into a detox clinic and just like start using their stuff or how does that work exactly? I mean, is that like walking into that place in the mall and using their massage chair?
Alex: (chuckles) That would be nice if that was the case, but unfortunately, yeah, most places have a lot of expensive equipment. They externally want to monetize your investment. So normally different types of places and I have actually helped them structure this different facilities. It’ll be, they usually charge by a half hour or 45 minutes or an hour or 30 minute increments for use of different types of different devices or equipment.
Ben: Okay. Yeah. Interesting. I honestly don't know if I’ve ever been to a place where you… I’ve done like the float tank. I guess I've done the float tank, the cryotherapy. Those are examples of places where you go to rent equipment or use equipment for a certain period of time. So interesting. Okay. So you and I, like I mentioned, we first connected because I am working in a big article about this too that'll be published in bengreenfieldfitness.com I delve into infrared saunas, and I've always wanted to build a sauna and after a ton of research and talking with you and some other folks, I decided that an infrared sauna was gonna serve my needs best. I'd like to hear it from you though. As far as these infrared saunas go, why would somebody want to use something like that as opposed to, say, like dry sauna or a steam room or something to that nature?
Alex: Yeah. Great question. So you know traditional sauna, traditional steam rooms have been around forever and we certainly know the benefits of that. There’s been plenty of studies with that. And actually a lot of the same kind of principles of using those therapies, those types of equipment do actually translate over to infrared. Really the only difference is when you’re in an infrared sauna it's not so much about the ambient heat in the cabin. It's not going to be 190 degrees or over 200 degrees or somewhere up there. Really the goal of going in an infrared sauna is for the infrared exposure itself, and we actually know a great deal about infrared exposure. And so the real difference is that infrared spectrum penetrates the body. It passes through. It passes through several types of materials…
Ben: Just like sunlight, right?
Alex: Exactly and, obviously, if you're behind glass and the sun, UVA and UVB’s diminished but infrared’s still comes through and of course that's why you have glass windows on one side of your house or upstairs it gets infinitely hotter. It's all infrared. That's what actually is creating the heat there. So infrared will pass through the body and so why that's so awesome really is that it's not cooking you from the inside out but it certainly is raising the resonant frequency inside of the cells. And so it passes in usually about like anywhere from, it depends on the type of tissue it’s been exposed to, but about an inch to an inch and a half, and it's essentially then warming yourselves up or warming your body from the inside out, directly penetrating through fat cells and all these different types of tissues and that's a very big difference than just being around a “heater”, right? Just putting out radiant heat.
Ben: Right, but it's not like a mic, when you talk about vibrating cells we’re not talking about like microwave-like frequencies, right? You're not sitting inside a microwave.
Alex: So the key is that it's all these different types of frequencies from the X-rays, cosmic rays, radio waves, microwaves that’s all in the electromagnetic spectrum, okay, and granted some of that is certainly damaged in like you know gamma wave exposure right, or x-rays. Microwaves are on there but infrared is going to be more closer to the UV spectrum. Basically, some electromagnetic waves are not harmful to the body and your own body actually, really when you get fundamentally down to the cells is working on an electromagnetic spectrum. So for example, you’ll see a lot of these saunas advertise, “9.4 microns”, “Our saunas produced this.” Or infrared saunas. So really where they got that number from is a long time ago. Scientists were actually ever able to measure that the infrared is given off by the mitochondria in cells and that is measurable to around 9.4 microns.
Ben: So your body is actually producing its own infrared.
Alex: Exactly, and it's actually fundamental to the mitochondria working. Literally if they were not using that you’d be dead. So it’s that fundamental electron transport chain…
Ben: Is that what's behind like some of these cameras that will take a photo of you and show that the human body is actually producing a light?
Alex: Exactly. Exactly, and I actually, I’ve used that. People know me for doing all sorts of crazy reviews with all sorts of alternative ways of testing things. And so that's actually a fantastic way to test an infrared sauna before I actually deal with them and then I plug that in the meter in, and then I have my own camera and I can actually just measure. I can measure in a couple different ways and see if that matches up with their specs. So these cameras are actually very useful. They don't really lie per se.
Alex: Yeah, the body’s giving that off so when you walk into a room and it's like, “Oh my god. It's so hot in here.” Hot in this club or whatever you’re going, that's all infrared. Whether really coming off peoples bodies and that starts to build up.
Ben: Now, I've talked about it on a podcast before, Alex, but I actually, and some people make fun of me for this, I sleep sometimes on this infrared mat, this thing called a Biomat and it emits these infrared wavelengths that, like you explained, they heat you from the inside out and they have a little bit of a detoxification effect because they are literally vibrating cells, and from what I understand, causing a little bit of lipolysis and so when you get the fat cells broken open you get some of the toxins, and the PCBs, and the BPA, and the metals, and some of the things that can accumulate in fat cells either getting processed by your liver or getting passed out through your skin via your sweat and…
Alex: Right. The key here is mobilization basically. When we say detox, it’s all liver mobilization. It’s really what infrared’s doing.
Ben: Right. Right. A lot of people, I think, are under the false impression that most of it comes up through your skin, and I actually learned this recently, most of it’s actually coming out through your stool and your urine when you're doing something like infrared, and you actually don't do it a ton of detox to your skin even though the article that I'm writing it right now about my experience so far with infrared kind of delves into ways that you can accelerate that lipolysis detox process. And I’ll save that goody for later for folks who visit the website. But one of the things I wanted to ask you and the reason I brought this biomat was it has, the biomat, has an EMF blocker like a built-in EMF blocker to reduce electrical pollution and the amount of electromagnetic frequencies you begin exposed to from the big controller unit that plugs into the wall, and the heater unit that's heating the actual mat. From what I understand from our discussion, that's also a pretty big issue with saunas?
Alex: Absolutely, yeah. I would say that nowadays actually not as much of an issue. They cleaned up their act a bit literally probably like seven years ago. If you have a sauna basically right now, an infrared sauna, maybe seven plus years older or even older than that seven years, going to the past, yeah, most of those back then where just you’re basically sitting. They didn’t shield the EMF off the wiring or anything. It's kind of like sitting in a cage of wiring around you, and yeah, the EMF’s were very very high and then people really started to get on them about it, and of course, all these companies want to meet consumer request and demand and they had to compete with one another too.
Clearly, like for example, they were the first ones to come out with the EMF free, no EMF and they're a big company and so a lot of companies followed suit after them. Trying to stay competitive, which I have no problem with if they reduced the EMF. But yeah, it was kind of off the charts at that point. Basically, now all the mainstream companies that actually advertise and the people might have heard of, they’ve pretty much gotten their EMF down substantially to probably levels that you would encounter when you're in front of a computer screen or something like that. I still test, obviously, all these to back up their claims and I still do find some hotspots of wiring issues with some of them, but in general, actually they have improved. The thing that now I'm trying to get the industry to take a look at and become the next thing that people get on these companies about is actually off gassing.
Alex: Because that's just now the whole next thing. So they kind of fixed, they did fix the EMF unless you're getting more of an off brand cheap sauna or something like that, but yeah, the off gassing, the real issue with that is a lot of these companies, most of them, are getting there woods from wood manufacturers, mills, and things like that. That are putting, selling their wood normally to different industries for different industry applications not for being heated up by infrared you know having somebody, a real human being, breathing inside this whole thing.
Ben: So these are via [19:07] ______ it’s all organic compounds that these woods are releasing.
Alex: Yeah. I mean think about it. If you’re gonna have wood on a deck or a house or even in the kitchen where it needs to be waterproof, right, on cabinets. I mean all these different applications again are, they have to be treated in a special way.
Ben: Yeah. When I built my house last year we used all low VOC compounds and actually I've got a guy literally, while we're talking right now, standing the barn where we’re keeping the goats. And even for the animals, I have them using a low VOC stand just to reduce the amount of off gassing that our animals get exposed to. That's really interesting about saunas though. I did not know that about the off gassing issue with the wood in saunas which seems like it’d be a pretty serious issue when it’s getting heated all the time.
Alex: Exactly, and to make matters worse, via a lot of the saunas, since they’re mainly just wood, most of these companies mass manufacture, these companies get their saunas from. So to do that really effectively, it's just better to use and it’s easier and cheaper to use glues and adhesives for all the different wood pieces because maybe you have insulation in there. Normally you have like three different layers of wood at least and so they glue almost everything. Now, you have infrared passing through the wood, breaking down chemical bonds very effectively in all the glues. So you have off gassing coming a lot even more so then from the actual wood, from the actual glue itself and all these different adhesives they’re using. And they’ll even go as far as to, most of them are actually even gluing the emitters themselves on the walls.
Ben: Wow. So I'm assuming that there are specific brands of saunas that aren’t doing this or certain types of wood that people should look for?
Alex: Yes. The answer is very few saunas, very few companies were actually avoiding all of these things. And also not using wood that is being treated and used for other specifically untreated and specifically more hypoallergenic and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, in general it's very few companies and it’s a simple reason because their margins are a lot less. Their labor costs are way higher.
Alex: And the reason that they would want to do that is if they are genuinely focused on, number one, helping people therapeutically. Most sauna companies, it’s not. It’s number one, make money. Number two, maybe try to help people.
Ben: Yeah. So are you gonna have a list on your website somewhere? Your health hacks review website of which saunas off gas?
Alex: Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. It'll be grouped into tiers. I grouped them into tiers. I think it’s the best way to look at it. It's kind of like best value saunas and here's what to expect in terms of construction. High infrared outputs sort of saunas. Super clean saunas. I mean I get people all the time who have lines with all sorts of different sensitivities and really they can only be in like a super clean sauna. But yeah, I break it all out and break it all down.
Ben: Okay. Cool. Because I mean I'm a huge fan. The reason I'm doing it is mostly for the performance enhancing effect and the recent studies that showed the increase that is up there with erythropoietin or illegal performance enhancing drugs if you go sit in a sauna after you exercise. But I also like the idea of the lipolysis, the detox, then this recent, you probably saw, the Finnish study that came out that showed when you’re visiting a sauna four to five times per week there is a significant increase in longevity, and that's why I’m putting this sauna in my house is because I just can't make it to the gym four to five times a week but I can easily sit in my home and read books for 20 to 30 minutes in my sauna.
Alex: Yeah, and the key is actually when we exercise, obviously, your heart rate goes up right, so the same thing happens when you're raising your core body temperature and your heart rate will increase a little bit. And yeah, I mean you also have increases in circulation and lymphatic system. Infrared does a variety of different things.
Alex: And in combination with that the closer thing to even kind of exercising is taking advantage of that increase in heart rate that we can do with infrared, and then also breathing in concentrated oxygen. So it's something that I've set up a different sorts of clinics.
Ben: Are you talking about hyperbaric?
Alex: No, not necessarily. So really just think about it. Anything that kind of increases our heart rate, and our demand for oxygen and then burning them to ATP, what if we actually deliver concentrated oxygen? And that's actually happening. So for example, the way to super charge infrared sauna kind of situation is with breathing concentrated oxygen. So an oxygen concentrator simply takes the ambient air and actually will concentrate it down to like 97 percent oxygen. Different on oxygen tank, right? That’s…
Alex: Pure oxygen and it’s a little complicated.
Ben: But isn't the idea, I mean I'm just, I'm totally playing devil's advocate here, Alex, but with a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber you're actually getting increased pressure simultaneous to the increased availability of oxygen so that that pressure is able to drive the oxygen into tissue. If you have a greater concentration of oxygen without that pressure, do you actually get more oxygen delivery to tissues?
Alex: I would say that the one thing we haven't seen is, maybe we'll see, is a side by side steady comparison with extra set of oxygen training with a concentrator and with hyperbaric the answer is that, you're correct, that when you have a little bit more pressure with hyperbaric, for sure that's greatly eating the ability for our water to actually dissolve in oxygen which is then supplying the cells. But with the concentrator it's doing it a different way. It's unique in that when you’re lying in a hyperbaric chamber you are going to be not moving. Your heart rates gonna be about the same. Your demand for oxygen will generally be about the same as if you're lying outside of the chamber.
Ben: Unless you’re doing baby crunches. I used to do that in tanning beds. Just sit in tanning beds and do baby crunches.
Alex: I mean you can do different sorts of things in chambers, but it has to be a large chamber.
Alex: Which could get a little expensive, but what you're doing is you're increasing really the demand on cells when you're exercising that they actually require a greater amount of oxygen, chemical substrate, and energy, and ATP. You're then meeting that increased demand. You're actually exceeding in the rate that normally is possible for these cells and then supplying oxygen right then and there when it needs it.
Alex: So you’re kind of able to go above and beyond basically from what you normally could do with just your normal 22 percent concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere.
Alex: So they are slightly different. Basically, my advice is this is hyperbarics are really kind of good for people that can't really exercise or that are really, really weak or have like a major major disease or you know that type of thing. But if you can actually push yourself and really increase the demand on your system for oxygen and then supply it to a tremendous amount in that moment, really take advantage of that opportunity, in my experience the results are actually superior.
Ben: Okay. I was just curious what you would say. I sometimes play devil's advocate even when I know, Alex, but there actually is. There's some interesting data on hyperoxia even in the absence of that partial pressure of oxygen. And I know that it has been shown to increase diffusion of oxygen in skeletal muscle even without the increasing pressure, and I’ll put a link to some of the research in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/healthscams if you guys want to check it out, but it also reduces the rate at which phosphocreatine degrades. And what that means is that you have enhanced creatine availability, and somehow you’re using alternate energy sources such as glucose or fatty acids for that creatine sparing effect. So it's kind of interesting. There's some pretty cool propose mechanisms of action that occur when you breathe concentrated oxygen while in a state of metabolic stress like if you're in a sauna or post exercise that occur even if you're not in one of these fancy hyperbaric chambers. So it’s interesting stuff.
Alex: I want to actually touch on just one difference with part of what concentrated oxygen as well as hyperbaric is doing. It’s just a little bit unique, is that instead of the cells being totally reliant on oxygen coming from red blood cells, just write what most mainstream exercise science, we know all about that, when you do these other approaches where the cells are, you’re actually dissolving a much great amount of oxygen in the actual water around the cells. And so, you’re correct, they're getting an alternative sort of electron transport source. Hydrogen’s then taking oxygen into the cells, but directly through the cell membrane. Directly from the water field around it.
Alex: Versus from the red blood cells.
Ben: That’s super interesting because, and this is a brand new study that just came out recently and it was on chlorophyll. And the fact that when you consume a chlorophyll rich food like a dark leafy green would be a perfect example, and then you get exposed to infrared radiation, particularly from sunlight in this case, you actually produce ATP similarly to what you would produce if you were consuming calories. In other words like plants, humans have a little bit of a mechanism or an ability to be able to produce energy from a combination of chlorophyll and sunlight. I don’t know if you saw that study, but it's really interesting. And the more melanin you have like the darker you are…
Alex: That’s correct. Yeah.
Ben: The greater the propensity for that to occur, which is really interesting because like the darker skinned people tend to come from areas that have more sunlight and more vegetation. Really interesting and I’ll put a link, by the way, for people listening. I’ll put a link to that study as well in the show notes if you guys want to see this brand new study on chlorophyll and sunlight. So you could basically, you could eat dark, leafy greens or like do your smoothie and then go into an infrared sauna and do something like an oxygen concentrator while in your infrared sauna. And sure, you could also go eat kale out in the sunshine, but this seems like a pretty cool little biohack.
Alex: Yes, I completely agree with you.
Ben: Nice. By the way, oxygen concentrator. Is that like a great, big unit you have to drag around or are these like small things that attach to your face? How do those work exactly?
Alex: I actually had a crazy idea yesterday. If I can get a smaller one I could throw it on the back of a bike or something and be using it when I was going around, but they are usually… It depends. It basically has to do with how many liters of oxygen you want to receive per minute. So the ones we’re using for hyperbaric chambers are actually very small. Very, very small and very light. The ones that they’re using for like more exercise with oxygen training have to supply like 100 liters of oxygen and the minutes. So they have a special chamber and all that kind of stuff. So that is really something that is not, I mean you can certainly throw it in the back of your trunk, but it’s just a lot less portable.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. Gotcha. Alright. So in terms of hyperbaric oxygen, obviously we, touched on that a little bit, but there are chambers now. For example, I saw one at the Bulletproof Biohacking Conference down in LA earlier this year that you can purchase for your home and use for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. What's your opinion on those in terms of their health? I mean is it like an infrared sauna where you're getting exposed to EMF? Are they efficacious compared to what you would experience in say like a clinical setting where they'd be getting used for things like wound healing? What's the deal of hyperbaric oxygen chambers?
Alex: Yeah. Sure. So there's a lot of controversy for years with hospitals and a lot of places like that that have been using them for a long time or diving, related things to the Navy, etcetera, but those are not generally hard shell chambers. Much more expensive. Hundreds of thousands to millions, depending on how big they are. And generally, those pressures, the atmosphere pressure in those is much, much higher than what we call soft shell or mild hyperbaric therapy. So there’s ones that you saw at the show. Certainly if you touch it, it’s soft shell, right?
Alex: It collapses down and you can, it’s actually kind of portable. So really doctors in the mainstream were kind of against them for a while because they said, “Well, you know all the studies were done with much higher atmospheric pressure. You know lower atmospheric pressure just probably won't work,” and so on and so forth, and yet the industry still continued to grow despite all that. And then now, at this point, we have at least a couple hundred studies with the soft shells and showing that there is absolutely efficacy of tissue regeneration and just all sorts of different things, right? Reductions in inflammation, etcetera, with lower pressure. When I’m talking about lower pressure it's gonna be somewhere around like a 3 to 3.5 ATA.
Ben: What happens if you use higher pressure?
Alex: Well, what's interesting is that they actually have a legal limit. It's actually illegal in the United States, it’s the only thing higher than a 3.5, but there is, in Europe, it’s a little bit higher and that has more to do with probably like the safety of what a chamber can withhold the material. What happens if you go higher? You get better health results. It actually has to do with, what it is it looks like this. If you use a lower pressure soft shell chamber maybe you can do a session for an hour. Okay? But if you use something that's one atmospheric pressure higher, you might shave off 30 to 40 minutes. So essentially, higher pressure is just dissolving the rate of oxygen higher in the water.
Ben: But you can’t get higher pressure in the US like legally? Like you can’t…
Alex: Yeah. So there are ways of modifying a chamber unofficially that some people do to actually increase the pressure. But yes, you can if you have a lot of disposable income and you can get a hard shell chamber, but you know that’s…
Ben: How much is like a hard shell hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber cost?
Alex: Probably for a small one, probably the best price I could source out is probably like 80 grand and up.
Ben: Holy cow. Wow.
Alex: Probably like 80 to 150 and that's on the low end.
Ben: Okay. Gotcha. So compared to, well how much does an oxygen concentrator cost?
Alex: Well, the ones that come with chambers, they usually throw them in free. They might be like 1000 bucks, 800 bucks. Some of the really good ones with high capacity is like 1500.
Ben: So you could spend like 3,000 to 4,000 dollars on an infrared sauna, spend like maybe like 1,000 dollars on an oxygen concentrator, and kind of set up your own chamber that would still supply with high oxygen but wouldn't give you the hyperbaric therapy per se.
Alex: Correct. You’d be doing a little bit more of an exercise with oxygen, yeah.
Alex: And you got to remember that these are really fundamentally synergistic because the mitochondria is using infrared to actually slowdown photons and do all sorts of essential things for its function with the electron transport chain, and at the same time that's increasing the efficiency of oxygen. Actually getting transported across the membrane as well. These are kind of the fundamental things. Mitochondria, hydrogen, electrons, oxygen, its cells require.
Alex: It’s not calories at that level. We’re talking about particles here.
Ben: Yeah. Well, I mean that's why, and sorry to interrupt you but I got to inject this because I know we get people who snicker about like oxygen concentration, hyperbaric, and why don’t you just like go outside and take a walk. And it certainly is true that what we're talking about goes way above and beyond. Like what you were talking about with your own personal story. It goes way above and beyond nutrition and food in calories because sunlight, electrons, water, air, these type of things. Those have a profound effect on our biological system that doesn't get talked about enough compared to like popping pills and eating a specific diet. But I think when we're talking about using something like oxygen concentrators, infrared, hyperbaric, even some of the other stuff I know we're gonna talk about, we're just talking about like better living through science, right. Like concentrating our exposure to the equivalent like the man-made equivalent of things like sunlight, and air, and electrons.
Alex: Yeah. And you got to look at it this way. Sunlight, air, and just living outside, whatever, that would be sufficient if we never stress and we never had any environmental pollutants, and we had no inflammation in our body. So in a fantasy world, it’s great. Go take a hike.
Alex: Literally. But nobody's like that. Nobody. Walking around.
Ben: Yeah. And my take on it is if you're doing like Ironman triathlons, and Spartan racing, and bike racing, CrossFit WODs, and all these things that are technically unnatural for the body or like you, in many cases, if you saw what the inflammation from exercise was doing to your body, you probably would think twice about exercising. Like it's not an anti-aging or longevity-based activity really when you look at what a lot of people are doing, and that's where a lot of this stuff comes into play too, right. It's like, well, yeah for the average person, may be sunshine and water and a fresh walk outside is gonna be enough to repair and recover you if you’re living a low toxin, low inflammation, low sadomasochistic exercise such as lifestyle, but if not, some of this stuff can come in handy. So anyways though, I know we could talk theory all day long, but I've got a few others I want to ask you about. Steam generators. I noticed that you’ve talked about steam generators a little bit. What exactly are those?
Alex: Yeah. Pretty simple. So things that are producing steam in a steam room. A steam generator simply is a boiler. Obviously, when we boil water on a stove, that's producing steam. So that's essentially a really simple way of what actually generators do when it’s taking water through a line, and then it's like going to a little heating coil and heating up that water, and it's building up the pressure and then at some point, so if you’ve ever been in a steam room and a gym, usually they, most of the gyms have pretty cheap generators. So you're sitting there for a while then all of a sudden you hear a loud noise and all the steam comes out, that means the tanks have actually filled up with steam and it’s just being released on a time schedule, and that steam can get to up to 160 degrees. There’s temperature control just like a sauna.
So the benefits are actually very similar to saunas, just regular heated saunas. I’m talking about traditional Finnish saunas. Probably really the main difference is it probably that’d I say is hydration. A steam room, obviously, is much more hydrating because we're talking about tons of water power particles floating around. At the same time however, that can be a big drawback because if you're using a steam room, most of the gyms out there, except for some really expensive clubs, if you're spending 400 a month on your gym, you probably have a better steam room. (chuckles) But in general, they don't filter the line. They don't filter the water that's going into the steam generator. And so we all know there's a bunch of crap in tap water.
Ben: Really. So you’re talking about like fluoride and chlorine and stuff like that. If I’m in a commercial gym, I'm just getting that dispersant air around me when I’m sitting in the steam room.
Alex: So the really terrible thing is that we all know that the lungs not only release two pounds of toxins effectively everyday with your breath, but they can also inhale, I’ll just inhale like glutathione or all these different sorts of therapies or medications. It’s an effective way to get things directly into your bloodstream. So if you want to effectively get…
Ben: Yeah. I mean like vaping marijuana, right? Like that’s a way to just hyper concentrated in your bloodstream.
Ben: So steam generators. Oh my gosh! This is really interesting. So is it possible for a gym or a health club or a spa to filter that water prior to steam generation?
Alex: Yes. It’s a very simple question. Probably the manager may or may not know. They might have to call somebody but you essentially would ask them, “Hey, on your line, your water line to your steam generator, are you filtering that line?” And if you really want to do your homework, it could be a crappy filter. There's a lot of bad water filters out there. So you may also want to find out, “Hey, what's the brand or company that put in that water filter on that line?” and yeah, ‘cause otherwise… Now here's the thing. There’s different, the worst situation is that it's different than distilling. So this might confuse some people. When you distill water, hey, that's a fantastic way to remove almost everything out of water. That's a sure fire guarantee, but this is not a distiller. A steam generator’s not a distiller.
So the goal of the generator is to create the first amount of steam as quickly as possible. So water, what's unique about water and actually mysterious still to the chemistry field, is it has multiple boiling points. So there's a lot of unique things about water which no other chemicals hold. So what that means is steam generators will release steam as soon as it boils and it’ll be boiling at a lower temperature than usually what a distiller is using. So in other words, that first steam that comes off at the lower temperature is filled with all of the stuff in the water you don't want. If you let it go for longer, like a distiller, then it would actually start to really boil off a lot of stuff and then if you condense that water it’d be pretty clean.
Ben: So if you use a steam generator in your home and you do a good job filtering the water in your home, you could use one, but if I'm understanding you correctly, you would actually have to build a full steam room or are these like devices that you could, theoretically, like put a eucalyptus oil in and attach like a mask to your face if you just want to like steam therapy to clear your sinuses or something?
Alex: If you want to do steam therapy I’d just recommend a nebulizer.
Alex: With a nebulizer you need to throw in anything really. Anything into that nebulizer and basically inhale it directly into your lungs and your sinuses. That's a nice little hack for if you want to get stuff directly into your bloodstream. In a steam generator, yes, there’s always ways to add in essential oils as well and drip it in there, but, yeah, you can definitely filter your water really well either with the whole home filter or just filter the line going to the generator and be fine, and breathe steam that’s clean. But actually this redoing a shower, because you have to redo the shower a little bit. If you have one in the bathtub, it’s actually a more popular thing than even saunas and a lot of people do this. They just simply, because it's a pretty simple install and you just convert your shower and just, I would like to add a little note that if you're googling around and checking this out, definitely do not buy a steam shower that's prefabricated. So you see these like showrooms or on online and it looks like a shower kind of thing but it's got all the fixtures in there already and it’s already all lined up. You don’t want those. Almost all of them have problems, cracking problems. I mean you name it. They’re just complicated and expensive to maintain.
Alex: You just want to convert your existing, with a contractor, your existing showers, not that expensive, and then run your steam through there. Just got to seal it properly.
Ben: Nice. Nice. That's pretty cool. I love this stuff. I'm actually, now that I mentioned I know a couple times already, this article I'm working on about saunas and one of the things I'm talking about, and again, I’ll keep it under wraps for now just until people can read the post, but it's how to biohack your sauna to get more heat out of it using like low EMF heaters and some insulatory concepts. But I love home projects like that that allow you to create your own equivalent of an inexpensive health spa in your own home.
Alex: And let me just throw this one other thing. One of the really good hacks for a steam room is you can actually, very affordably, just get some infrared emitters, the actual parts. And as you're doing that redoing your sauna shower, you can actually just put some infrared emitters into the walls. So while you're sitting in your steam room, you're getting an infrared therapy.
Ben: That’s pretty cool.
Alex: I think that’s pretty cool. Yeah.
Ben: Too bad so many of our listeners are on the cold shower bandwagon. Now they’re gonna start taking hot, steam-filled, infrared showers.
Alex: Well actually, here’s the thing, I'm glad you brought that up, is really we still want to utilize the advantages now of hydrotherapy which is hot/cold therapy. So what I recommend in my protocols is that people use the steam room then when they start to feel warm after five minutes, depends on where you set it, get up and turn on your shower to cold. And depending on where you want to mobilize toxins and direct them, this is back to hydrotherapy principles, is where you should aim that cold water. So in general, always aim that cold water on your lower parts of your body. Aim it around your liver, into your gut basically. Not into your upper body. Otherwise, all that toxins would just go wherever that cold water is.
Alex: So that’s the key and then go back, shut it off. Now, you’re just gonna warm up again then get back up and then do another cold shower again, and I promise you get way better results that way because you're moving your lymphatic system. You’re greatly moving your circulation. Because remember when you’re sitting in a steam room you’re just sitting in a steam room. Yeah, your heart rate’s increasing blah blah blah vasodilation. But then to mix it up with cold you'll actually feel shifts around. I actually feel my lymphatic system in my chest actually move during.
Ben: Interesting. Now I have some clients who have purchased those commercial ice makers off of Craigslist and they keep the commercial ice maker in their garage because that's the one thing that happens when you’re doing like ice baths and cold soaks as you run out of ice superfast and like your tiny, crappy, little freezer ice maker. And so I’ve got a couple of people who will stand in their hot shower, but it'll be right beside like the cold bath and then will go back and forth from the cold bath to the hot shower. So hydrotherapy’s good stuff, dude. I like it. Okay, so I've got another question for you and then I want to jump into a few kind of like the dark and dirty secrets of the whole health industry and that is regarding a lot of these things people make fun of. Like mini trampolines and rebounders, whole body vibration, and stuff like that. Do you use anything like that or do you see any efficacy in that stuff?
Alex: Yes. Yeah. I actually use all of that and so here's the thing. As these products have come back out over the last few decades, what has consistently happened in every product category is something is designed, some studies are done, people are really excited about it, universities are involved. And then what happens is once there’s a little bit of a buzz and some companies see there's money to be made, enter in the off shore, mainly the east usually India, China, Korea, entering these manufacturers that want to get a piece of the action. And so they will flood the industry and I mean really flood it. So if were talking about whole body vibration machines, for example, 95% of them, 95% of the brands are just resellers, rebranded, and they come from the same three manufacturers in China.
Ben: So you could probably like find them on Alibaba.
Alex: Exactly. (laughs) And so if you want to know how much these things really cost, so you know you’re like, “Wait a minute. That manufacturer’s selling it for 350 or 250, but I could get this great deal at my home and garden show on one for 3500 dollars.” This is the reality and, again, 95% are rebrands. So the problem with this is that they have basically spoiled all these product categories in people's minds and so they’ll try several of these machines out, different equipment. That’s another product category. And, yes, statistically the chances of them trying a really good one are very low. They’re just gonna try something that was designed to appear therapeutic or was designed, it just doesn't have the engineering behind it and it’s a cheap machine. And so they don't really get the benefits and then they think, “Well, wait a minute. Whole body vibration doesn’t work or ionic foot baths, they don’t work.” But that's because probably what they tried didn't work, but it doesn’t necessarily mean every product is.
Ben: Okay. So in terms of who's making these products, let's say in the US or in Canada or let's say that they're not some cheap, and I’m not trying to be racist here, but let's say it’s not some cheap Chinese knock off, like what's the difference in the engineering? Like is there something that the engineers over here are doing that's different or is it using more expensive parts? Is there some level of knowledge is missing? Explain to me what the difference in engineering would actually be.
Alex: And of course, it really depends on the product we're talking about because they're all very different. A vibration machine works fundamentally the same as a rebounder, for example, or a trampoline. We're dealing with acceleration forces, G-forces, and things like that on cells in the body, but they're obviously very different when we get down to the actual engineering involved. In general, the short answer is you can always, with a cheap product otherwise manufacturers produce, we can always count on cheap components, cheap creative components. A lot of times they’ll use components that were graded and afford different industry applications that technically work.
Ben: Can you give me an example?
Alex: Yeah, I’ll actually give you an example from the sauna industry, infrared sauna, because this actually accounts for 90% of saunas, which are carbon saunas. They will, almost all the time you see a carbon sauna, and you can tell by the way. If you look inside the infrared sauna, it has black things on the wall. There’s just some black squares, that’s a carbon sauna. They're getting most of that carbon from the flooring industry in China that they use to heat apartments and floors through infrared and that’s fine. It’s a fantastic way to heat your apartment, but when you’re putting it into a sauna, the actual wiring from the EMF to the actual wiring involved to the circuit breaker, all that kind of stuff, all those specifications and gradings of that, certifications that go with that, electrical components. That is graded for that in your floor and construction sort of application. And so, inside of sauna it's a little sketchy because it's not supposed to go next to, for example, wood. It's also not supposed to get to such high temperatures they’re using in saunas. It also runs through a transformer which is putting off massive amounts of EMF and it's right there in front of you because it’s a small sauna. It's not your apartment.
Ben: But the sauna itself could look the same and it would be less expensive and you wouldn't really know anything if you weren’t actually looking into the source of those carbon plates?
Alex: Yeah. So you really have to break it apart. There's so much ways actually if you’ve researched all these different product categories enough. You can actually just tell by the look of something what manufacturer made it. So I can look at 10 different brands of sauna and know what main Chinese manufacturer it came from and again, 95% of saunas do come from China. There is one from Korea, but that's pretty much it, and then one from Japan. Yeah, they may look the same and that's the thing. So several companies could go to one manufacturer and say, “Hey, we would like to brand our own sauna here and import it. Can you make this part of the frame a little bit different? Can you change the door knob?” If it's something that manufacturers are willing to do or wouldn’t really cost them too much, they don’t have to change up their systems, I mean the manufacturing processes, then they will. And then some things look slightly different. A lot of them look identical, but regarding even aesthetics, what really matters, what we want to look at is the therapeutics or something.
Ben: Right. Right.
Alex: That's what really counts and therapeutically they’re all identical.
Ben: Yeah. I know. I don't care if it's ugly. I want it to be safe and I want it to work well, but I care a little. Well, my wife cares if it’s ugly. So I don’t want to ask you about patents because you see like, what’s the word, proprietary. Like that's a big one that gets thrown around and then patented. When people are claiming that things are patented like what do you look for? I mean, how do you find out if it's true versus not true? I mean, when you, Alex, when you’re looking at a company that’s making a claim especially regarding like a patent or proprietary process. What do you look for?
Alex: Well, I would say this. Well, first off a company normally wouldn't lie in their marketing material either on their website or brochures. If they have the patent they’re usually proud of that and it cost them a bunch of money, and it differentiates them from consumers. So I’ve never found a case where the company claimed a patent wherein it wasn’t actually patent and you can actually look that up, obviously, very easily and there’s database, this US patents databases. I always check, anyways, just to see when it was usually filed. So that's real. And just ‘cause something’s patented doesn't necessarily mean it has any therapeutic efficacy to it.
Ben: That’s true. Yeah.
Alex: As long as it’s technically not like anything else and it’s innovative, but the reality is with most of these product categories. What usually tended to happen was the first products that came out, which are usually the best, those who really did the hard core engineering and then everybody kind of followed suit copied them. It’s usually the first guys on the scene who had filed all the patents. And so, because they did that and it's sometimes hard to come up with an innovative solution around the patent, most of these other competitors then will mainly just come up with trademarks terms. I mean you can get a lot of that sometimes falls just under proprietary and usually there's not always a TM behind it, but a lot of the times there is marketing material. And the truth is that if there’s something trademark, of course, even if it holds less water than something patented, almost all the time you see that’s something trademarked no matter how fancy it sounds. And believe me I know very expensive medical device companies who are marking up products tremendously solely based off trademarked terms.
Ben: Yeah, and a trademark is just, that's like a name, right? Like you can define like a color or a sound, or a smell, or just like a title as a trademark.
Alex: I mean if you have some sort of feature basically that’s unique, you can still come up with a unique feature. Doesn’t mean it’s therapeutic at all, but if it’s unique and then we file for a trademark. There you go. Sure, another company can't use the same trademark terms. So really the only value with trademarks is purely marketing, purely about sales. Patents are different. Again, those that you have to look into to see if it actually has any therapeutic value to it, but in general that's a good sign. If you do see a company that has a couple patents or this or that and you say, “Okay. We at least know this company’s more committed to investing in their products.”
Ben: Yeah. And some stuff can be both patented and trademarked, right?
Alex: Absolutely, and a good company would do that, of course, if you want to be in…
Ben: Yeah. I mean, I caught flak just in the past month because I was talking about hybrid nano engineering because I came out with this CBD product that is hybrid nano engineered and people are like, “Oh, it’s just like some catch-all phrase.” But if you go and look at the actual patent that Doctor Mewa, the guy who I worked with to design this water soluble form of cannabidiol, that’s not just a phrase. Yeah, it is trademarked, the term hybrid nano engineering, but he's actually patented the process of combining the cannabidiols with curcuminoids to make like this tiny little nano engineered particle. There's an actual process that's taking place. It's not just like a fancy marketing term whereas you could say, I'm trying to think of an example now of like, let's say like a sauna. It could trademark the term “extra” whatever like some…
Alex: I’ll give you one. Like “360 Wave”.
Alex: “360 wave”. I still have to figure out what that means. But there are some of the next generation carbon panels. Yeah.
Ben: And all that means like “360 wave” like you’ve got infrared panels around you in the sauna, but it's the same as the other sauna that's not using the “36o wave” trademark term. So it’s interesting, the whole trademark versus patent, and the difference between like patented, really innovative, functional features that have engineering behind them versus like trademarked terms that they're using to entice you into increased perceived value.
Alex: So see with the patents, this is what it helps with a lot research and all these product categories, if you do see that patent, you look it up, you see what company. You can also find that manufacturing information sometimes that way. At the time when they filed that patent which was usually based off some R and D that the company actually did. And so vibration machine companies spent one million dollars or two million dollars on their R and D and also came up with these two patents on their machine. Meanwhile, this other company has a few trademark terms. No patents. They were founded, when you look up the LLC, etcetera, and they have absolutely no R and D or anything invested in their company.
Alex: So it’s like, just right off the bat, you start to see, “Well, okay. I should probably start look a little bit further into the company who spent a couple million dollars. They seem to be pretty,” You don't spend a couple million dollars just to market a shoddy product.
Ben: Okay. So speaking of shoddy products, what if it says it’s made in the USA and I realize that there's some jeeps and Fords, for example, no offense to anybody who drives them, but like I drive Japanese cars or like I drive Toyotas. I drive back Acuras. I drive Hondas. Those are the only cars I drive because they just last for freaking ever and I barely spend anything on their upkeep and maintenance. But in many cases, I do look for made in the USA because a lot of the time something made in the USA is working better. So everything from like my bows to my chain saws, to things that I have in my garage for home improvement. Like a lot of that stuff is made in the USA. My tools are made in the USA and they just work way better. When it comes to a lot of these like detox therapies and personal health equipment, if it says it’s made in the USA, what's that actually mean?
Alex: Yeah. So as long as it doesn't have a ‘TM’ after the ‘Made in the USA’, because that could be made in Zaire with a ‘TM’ after it, but as long as it doesn’t have that it usually means that, and you still even want to check by the way. The rule of thumb is you never trust any company, but yeah, generally it means it is manufactured in the United States. However, sometimes if you read a little bit further in, I have seen cases where it's made in USA, but they were likening that term and they did explain themselves in the small print too that it was assembled in the United States. So sometimes why you want to look a little bit further into it.
Ben: So basically you can have a bunch of like prefabbed pieces from China that have been assembled in the USA and they can honestly say it’s made in the USA?
Alex: Yeah. They could snap on one, again, even with super expensive medical device I’ve seen this, they could snap on one piece and just check over everything. Make sure that everything looks good or maybe test it out and now it's made in the US. But in general, what I'm saying is all these different therapeutic product categories, and this is a good rule of thumb, at least 90 to 95% of them are coming from China, are coming from India. They’re coming from those areas. And so you will just always assume that, basically, is the rule of thumb and you can just count them on your hand, the company, in any product category. And generally, it's also not a coincidence that the ones you can count on your hand that aren’t manufactured in those places are the ones that actually work. It happens again and again.
The reason they flooded the market was to just copy things so they appear to work, but the margins are just ridiculous. And I just actually want to add in one thing here is that you have to think about the reality of what it's like for a manufacturer overseas. One of the reason things just get worse and worse over time in quality is because these manufacturers are competing with one another. So anything that one does, they’ll try to copy that and vice versa they're all trying to make for a better margin, profit margin, for their US importers or the companies that are gonna resell. They have to appeal for them more, “Hey, my margins are five percent better this year.” Well, how did they improve that margin? There's only one way. Usually with the way they do it is they just find cheaper grades of components or just little short cuts. So it's not a good model especially when we're talking about things that should be therapeutic.
Ben: Now how about like the people selling you this stuff. Like on the website or over the phone or in person like the sales and customer service people. When you're buying, let's say, like a sauna because we’ve talked about saunas a lot today. What do you look for? Like how educated are these people if I call, let's say, some sauna company up on the phone as far as what's actually gonna work for me?
Alex: Well, there’s two things. They are usually very well-educated specifically on their product, on their company. They’re trained. Just like any sales people are and they’re trained to represent their company well, but that's it. And also just legally contractually just working for them they’re required also to not say certain things to adhere to specific sales protocols and guidelines. Like for example, if you call a different steam generator companies and you try to get some dirt on another company and say, “Hey, what do you think about this brand over here?” you know like they have this and this feature and patent. A lot of times the sales people would say, “Yeah. We don't know. I don't know. We have no idea.” So you can't talk to them and have them help you, of course. Even if you're trying to bring up a point about a different feature another company has and you want to see if theirs is better. They usually you can’t even explain that. The only thing they can do is just really, a very marketing type of way, sale-sy way, just kind of talk about their one thing and usually almost all of them are never educated with health.
Alex: And so if we’re talking about therapeutic products here, we're not talking about tar that you’re gonna pave on your driveway and if it's a good consistency. I’m talking about something that could majorly impact your health. Those types of products, you really want to talk to somebody who is not just there to sell you something, but who actually can talk to you about your health and how your unique health goals are going to match up with the product. It just really surprises me that you really can't even talk to them when it comes to getting more background research or any sort of proof or evidence for their claims that they might make in their materials. You really have to go to the top if you had any hope…
Ben: That's a good point. I have two observations on that. First of all, going to the top or doing your own research and not necessarily trusting what a sales or customer service rep says, I actually bought an incline trainer. Like an incline trainer treadmill from Nordic Track recently and I wanted to know if there was a way to actually turn off the Wi-Fi so you didn't have exposure to EMF. So I’m asking the sales and customer service person and the entire time they're trying to upsell me on the benefits of keeping my Wi-Fi on because they know that one of the ways that they continue to make money on like a Nordic track is when your Wi-Fi is connected. They can feed you the ability to be able to purchase extra workouts from like Jillian Michaels and whoever. So they wouldn't tell me whether or not the Wi-Fi was something I could turn off and eventually I just wound up doing like forum research. Like classics forums where you go on and ask other people in forums are using in it and found out that I could turn it off, but ultimately that person, they just wanted a sale and didn't really know the product that well.
And then the other example of this is like it's actually something I pull my hair out about because like I have a website and we sell things like supplements and health items and people have specific questions like about how to use a fat burner or some kind of supplements that's supposed to control like postprandial blood glucose or something like that, and a lot of times I’m one of the only people who knows the answer. And when it comes to like usage and interference with medications and the actual biochemical mechanism of action and you know all these things that I went to school to learn. But it's hard because that means that I have one stand. Like on Fridays I spend four to five hours just replying to questions in forums and customer service questions from people who need to know things and I could outsource that to a sales or a customer service person but frankly they just don't have, I wish I could clone myself. That's kind of like the issue that I run into sometimes, but ultimately it’s an example of how actually it would be super-duper easy for me to hire one of these customer service teams and like India or wherever and just get folks’ questions answered in like a boiler plate format that says, “Yes, this will work.” “No, this won't work.” etcetera but that's tough. Anyways, man, I want to ask you a question about you.
Ben: Specifically like you obviously review a ton of this stuff. We’ve talked about steam generators and oxygen concentrators and saunas and whole body vibration, I think you even mentioned the ionic foot baths for detoxing. The ones with the nasty photos on the internet where the foot’s clean and then the water’s full of like dirty algae black crap. Anyways, though, like let's say you could build your ultimate man cave, right. Like your ultimate detox cave whatever and you were gonna build some kind of a chamber in your home that have like all of the best like health and detox and exercise equipment you could have in it. What would you include? And I know this is always tough. I hate the numbered questions because I feel like they limit you, but I’ll just give you a range like what are the top like two to five things that you’d include and then what would you just like totally avoid because you know it's total bull and doesn't work?
Alex: Sure. Sure. Yeah, I’ve set up these exact types of situations and you're correct, by the way, that normally to get really, really good results is what I've seen people is it usually comes down to having three or more types of equipment. And the synergy of it just does a lot better as, again, there's no silver bullet one product. So in there, depends. You never said how much money I could spend. But if…
Ben: Sky’s the limit, dude. I actually, you know what, no. Not like the 80,000 dollar hyperbaric, but let’s say like you're going to spend me like what you make in like your work for one to three months. So significant portion. Like same rules if you’re gonna buy an engagement ring for some chick.
Alex: Right. And I just want to throw this one to the side here that if I did have unlimited funds then I would, I actually know somebody who can turn the whole space, the whole room into a hyperbaric chamber. So anything I do in there is in concentrated oxygen. That's my dream. I would have that, but yeah…
Ben: That’s similar to my dream except it's actually hypo. I would love to have like a full on elevation room that's like 15, 20,000 feet.
Alex: Yeah, they do that make them that you can sleep in.
Ben: Yeah, I've seen them before in gyms that you can actually train in. I think hypoxia makes some for gyms that you can like at least fall on glass boxes. Anyways though, we digress. Go ahead.
Alex: Yes. So if I had a six figure salary or something or less then in my priorities would be with an infrared sauna that was big enough. Either I just get an infrared sauna or I get one that was big enough where I could do some exercising and I'd like to put on there maybe like probably a stationary bike actually or just something pretty simple like that where I could do some high intensity training on it. It could be a rowing machine. Maybe I’ll swap out different types of things in there and then I probably, for sure, with that run a concentrator that's designed for exercise with the oxygen training while I’m in the sauna. I’m all about efficiency and time so right then and there, I mean think about doing three different things that I could be doing in 30 minutes or an hour. That’s probably how I’d set that up. If not, I could have some of that equipment outside the infrared sauna. There is also some, I probably have a hyperbaric chamber as well just from the standpoint of I can actually take naps in there, power naps. I don’t know what kind of sleep cycle you have or whatever, but there’s different types of sleep cycles.
Ben: No, I actually nap everyday on that biomat.
Alex: Exactly. So what you can do too is, and I would actually have done this different clinics, is you put an infrared pad or mat or some sort of PEMF machine and you can do that in combination while you're in a hyperbaric chamber. Lots of those you work in there as well in the hyperbaric chamber, and I'd probably also have a chi machine in there as well, if you’re familiar with those. They kind of shake the legs a little bit. So while you're lying in the chamber you're actually getting some lymphatic movement as well at the same time.
Ben: Chi Machine? Is that like something you attach to your legs that vibrates them?
Alex: Kind of. It’s actually an older device, came out a couple of decades ago. You put your legs up on it.
Ben: Is that like C-H-I?
Alex: Yes, C-H-I and it’s a couple companies that actually work with that have basically copied the same thing but for a lot less. So it’s like a very, very simple device and it just moves your legs to the side back and forth in a rhythmic movement.
Ben: It's almost like a vibration platform that your legs go on while you’re lying on your back on the ground?
Alex: Yeah, and it just moves side to side. It’s a very unique, there is really nothing kind of…
Ben: My dad's into some of these like detox therapy protocols and stuff like that, and so when I go visit my grandma in Florida she has like a mini-trampoline and like a vibrator, a vibration platform. Never thought I’d talk about my grandma’s vibrator on a podcast.
Alex: Vibration platform. For sure, I’d love to have.
Ben: But yeah, she has like one of these like foot vibrator things. It’s kind of interesting. So it’s a chi machine?
Alex: Right. Yeah. So you could use that in there as well. I always try to combine as many things as they can and then the other thing I sometimes combine in the infrared sauna that I would want to put in there is for sure an ionic foot bath because it's just so convenient when you're already sitting in an infrared sauna. I could be reading or meditating or whatever. Doing breath work, etcetera while I have my feet in one of these baths. Just keep in mind that 98% of them are pretty bad and they don’t really work.
Ben: Yeah, I was gonna say like that. I've seen a lot of the evidence that that’s just some chemical reaction that they put into the actual…
Alex: Yeah, let me give you the quick synopsis because there’s so much confusion. With the studies that were done is the thing that really killed the industry was not just the flood of electrolysis machines. They don't do anything. But the real issue was the belief and it was marketed this way that there's actually some crap in your body coming out through your feet. So that was the problem and the problem was also that the few studies that were done were looking for stuff in the water. I mean it was already doomed from the start. They weren’t gonna find anything. But if you start to now really learn how cells work, and I really mean that, with sole polarity and zeta potential of the blood and redox potential, electron transport chain, all these really basic fundamental things things, then you can start to very easily understand how potentially an ionic foot bath actually works. And it's creating and supplying a huge huge amount of negative polarity in the water in negative ions and your pores do have, and there’s 20,000 pores at the bottom of your feet. So you do release a lot of toxins outside your feet just normally walking around. Again, it doesn't work that way when you’ve got your feet in a salty solution, but what your body can readily absorb for sure is negative ions. You know you can inhale it at the beach.
Ben: I've got a negative ion generator right underneath my feet right now.
Alex: Exactly and, for sure, ions are small enough to pass through the pores of the feet. And if your body needs them, if it actually needs them, it’ll actually draw them in. And, of course, there’s much more talk about it than that, but I just wanted to explain the basic mechanisms to the way it's actually helping the body. It really has more to do with electrostatic potential and really electrically what it's doing to the cells and making those resources available. Another way to look at is it's very similar to like a product like a mega hydrate or something if it’s working when you're ingesting a huge amount of negative hydrogen ions. And so you’re just instead, absorbing the negative ions from the water. But then, again, most of the machines don’t really do a good job of that at all. Anyways, so that's an easy thing that I do in there as well. PEMF, for sure, I would have in there as well then again I could use the…
Ben: That’s the pulse electromagnetic frequencies?
Alex: Yes, and there's, again, a lot of them are grossly overpriced. They are falsely inflated margins and 98% of them were based off with incomplete research because all of the research got botched when they actually published it and that was originally done by Doctor Dennis and this was like 20 years ago. We’re doing it for NASA and Darbo when we created these devices. In fact if you see a PEMF that’s expensive it’s just like seeing an IBM computer from 1992. How much would that cost today? Well, it should cost like 40 bucks or less, but back then it’s expensive.
So if you see those devices that are really expensive just know that, well, that's how much they were costing because they were very expensive in old technology back then, but I actually use an Icese. It’s I-C-E-S-E and that's small, portable, about 17 years advanced, has all the complete research actually behind it by Doctor Dennis. That's the perfect thing that I use while I'm doing these different types of therapies because it's so portable and localized. I could be using up my brain, different parts of my body, I'm in the sauna chamber on a bike. I mean it fits my pocket so I'm always doing that. I would have to have that therapy for sure in my man cave. I’m trying to think what else.
Ben: Okay. So let me ask you this. What’s one thing that you would like never put in there but you see people buying?
Alex: What I mostly see people buying is a lot of the product categories we’ve talked about and I've worked with but just buying the wrong brand. Just buying something that isn’t what it appears to be.
Ben: Like what would be an example of that?
Alex: So you know like vibration machine or something like that. Could be any of the products we’ve talked about that just don't last. Like for example vibration machines, 90 percent of the time they actually lie about their specifications. Literally, that’s hard to believe, but they actually lie. It’s like going to a car dealership and them saying, “Well, this goes up to 180 miles an hour and you see the odometer and it gets 20 miles to the gallon.” and then lo and behold, you find out that they were completely lying. It actually doesn’t do any of that. So good luck trying to find something on your own. That's what commonly happens. I would say there are some types of exercise equipment that was not engineered properly with biomechanics in mind. That’s the other thing you got to look at is all these companies that copy some of these original products and sell them out there. They don't have engineers that are studied in biomechanics of the body, the physiology, and actually understand. Though very many times some of them make mistakes in designing equipment because they don't really understand how the body actually works. So I’ll give you a really common example. This might be a little controversial to some people but elliptical machines. So how popular are those?
Ben: Yeah, well…
Alex: Right. So people buy those all the time. People, I get asked about them a lot, but when they actually develop them even the original one, I was [1:18:30] ______ not long ago so like early 90s. Yeah, they didn't really have very educated consultants with biomechanics. And further, they did do some studies at different biomechanical universities and all that sort of thing and despite having that information come out that it's weakening different parts of the body and the legs because it keeps your foot really unnaturally flat as you're going through that full range of motion that keeps it kind of fixed. That was causing problems. It will cause problems long term. And this is common by the way in different industries, so in light of getting that information they still didn’t make any changes because who the heck reads those studies and that's in some old journal articles somewhere. So that’ll be a common mistake.
Ben: So just like the average elliptical trainer or a lot of these elliptical trainers that are inexpensive home versions because I've seen the same thing even at gyms. You get on them and when you compare those to like one of the more expensive, let's say like a, pre core elliptical trainer the range of motion just feels like it's destroying your hips and your knees even though it's a “elliptical trainer”. So yeah, a lot of these things that lock you into range of motion. You will never find these in my home like a Smith machine, like a lot of like this nautilist-style equipment that is simply cheaply made and so your joints aren’t placed the proper angles. I think anything that has you loading a joint that is not biomechanically made or engineered properly. Like that to me is a bigger risk and obviously we’ve talked about some of the other stuff as far as like EMF and heavy metals and ion exposure and things like that. But there is one other thing I tell people I probably wouldn't have in my house, one of these counter top water alkalinizing machines. Like that pass water over at metal plate to alkalinize water. I get questions about those all the time.
Ben: And yeah, just because you get water that has metals in it, and I’ve talked to people who, they jack this thing up like 9.0 for alkalinity and one lady I was talking to, her child started having seizures from using these countertop because she was like more alkalinity is better. I didn’t really understand that like there's a certain acid alkaline balance that you can definitely step outside of if you’re over alkalinizing your water and using like one of these countertop machines.
Alex: So there’s that, and really because you just brought it up, this is the quick 10-second explanation of that whole debate and this is how you clear up the whole thing with that alkaline water and all those kind of products is there's a difference, and people can Wikipedia and Google this, there's a difference between something that has alkalinity and something that's alkaline. So a lemon, for example, has alkalinity potentially in it after it runs through your system. Remember alkalinity potential a lot of the time has something to do with the, for example, trace minerals that are in something. Right?
Alex: But just because you change the water to alkaline, sure, and put your pH strip in there and yeah, it’s obviously alkaline, that doesn't mean that in your body it has alkalinity potential. There's a variety of different things especially mineral related that your body has to use in order to balance the acid alkaline sort of thing. For example, so if you really actually wanted more of the benefits of alkalinity in your water you would add something to your water. You’d actually add like a trace mineral matrix or heck just put a tiny pinch of baking soda, squeeze a little lemon, and maybe put some real hydrate salt in there. Suddenly your water has alkalinity and, yes, you could test the pH and it might be alkaline, but that's way different than just running through a device, just doing a little bit of ionization. That's just alkaline water. There’s no alkalinity to it. And so the problem with that is your stomach is what to actually have a healthy balance, different regions of your tract have different PHs. Your stomach does not have an alkaline pH.
Alex: So now, you're swallowing a whole bunch of alkaline water all day long or around meal time and it's like, “Well, wait a minute. Your stomach’s supposed to be very acidic.”
Ben: Yeah. My take on water is get rid of chlorine, get rid of fluoride, get rid of metals and cryptic minerals and then just like squeeze a little bit of lemon juice in there if you want some alkalinity.
Ben: Obviously, we could probably have a very, very long discussion of water filters because I have this entire elaborate system set up in my house, but maybe that's a discussion for another day because we've been going for a while here, Alex, and this is just a ton of really good information. So here's the deal. If you're listening in, I've been furiously taking notes and you can go grab all the show notes, all the goodies Alex and I talked about over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/healthscams. That’s bengreenfieldfitness.com/healthscams. I’ll put a link to like the infrared sauna stuff, the research I discussed about concentrated oxygen training, the research about the Cells powered by sunlight and chlorophyll. We talked about this Icese unit that Alex mentioned for PEMF. I know there’s a good website on, I believe, lifehacker about that one or maybe it's self-hacked. But anyways, a ton of information. I’ll try and give you guys some good links. Alex’ website, like I mentioned, is healthhacksreviewed.com. Also what I'll put in the show notes, and I'll tell you about it right now if you want it, 15 percent discount on anything like any of the saunas, any of the stuff Alex reviews. I like that he's not just like selling one brand. He just reviews stuff and he can act as a middleman to get you good deals on stuff but anyways, he’s graciously offering all of us a 15 percent discount on any of the stuff that he features over there and that code is ‘Ben Green 15’ That's ‘Ben Green 15’. So ‘Ben green 15’ will give you a 15 percent off anything on Alex's site. You can use that code anytime, as much as you want. healthhacksreviewed.com. Tips on his site. Show notes are at bengreenfieldfitness.com/healthscams. Alex, thanks for your time, dude.
Alex: Absolutely. It was a lot of fun and I would love to jump in with more information in the future.
Ben: Yeah, for sure. And now, I feel a little bit better about going out and getting one of those dorky little foot baths now that I know a little bit more about it.
Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Talk to me before you get it.
Ben: Alright. Cool. I’ll do that. I'm gonna talk to you now about anytime I buy anything for my little man cave. You’re gonna be the first guy I call up. So alright. Cool. Well, again folks, bengreenfieldfitness.com/healthscams. Thanks for listening in and have a healthy week.
In today's podcast, you get to meet my friend Alex Tarris.
Alex's job is to test and review health technology – stuff like saunas, biohacking gear, cold lasers, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and oxygen concentrators, steam generators, whole body vibration, rebounders, infrared mats – you get the idea. He has a masters degrees in nutrition, and over a decade of experience working as a consultant for the sports, health and spa industries.
Sounds like an interesting job, especially in an industry fraught with cheap Chinese knock-offs, product scams, overpriced equipment and a severe lack of proven, credible research findings.
In this jam-packed podcast episode, I interview Alex about detoxing, saunas, popular wellness-enhancing gear, health scams and much more. Alex's website is HealthHacksReviewed.com, where you can use code bengreen15 for a 15% discount on anything there (a few exclusions apply). Alex also has specifically mentioned you can also leave any comments or questions you have about our conversation below, and he'll personally answer.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
- The biggest benefits and the biggest risks of infrared saunas, and what you must be cautious with when you're sitting in one…
- Why the woods from most companies that produce saunas are extremely unhealthy…
- What an oxygen concentrator is and how you can use it for something called “Exercise With Oxygen Therapy” (EWOT)…
- Why certain versions of hyperbaric oxygen therapy are actually illegal to buy in the USA…
- How the average steam room at a gym can fill your lungs with chlorine and fluoride, and how to easily make your own steam room in your own shower…
- What Alex thinks about mini-trampolines, rebounders, and whole body vibration, and whether it is silly “fake” exercise…
- Why cheap, knock-off products such as elliptical trainers or whole body vibration can mess you up biomechanically…
- The difference between patented truly innovative functional features backed by engineering and research vs. features that are simply trademarked terms that a company is using for the marketing appeal of their content to entice you into an increased perceived value of their brand…
- What Alex would put in the “ultimate man cave” if he were going to build some kind of chamber that contained all the best personal health, detox, exercise equipment he could have in it.
- Why your elliptical machine could be destroying your hips and knees…
- And much more!
Again, for a 5-15% sitewide discount (depending on product you choose) on anything Alex and I discuss in this episode, just visit HealthHacksReviewed.com, and use promo code bengreen15. Just put that promo code in the section that says Promocode in the Contact/Support page response form. That'll give you 5-15% off anything on his site (depending on product you choose) and you can use that code anytime, as much as you want (the specific sauna I use that Alex and I discuss in this episode is the “Clearlight Series Y Infrared Sauna – which you cannot get from Alex's website, but you can learn more about and get a big discount code for in this article).
Resources we discuss during this episode: