Hack Your Brain and Your Sleep – Evan Brand Podcast #29

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Sleep plays a huge factor in one’s health, creativity and productivity.  The lack of it affects our blood sugar levels, hormones, ages our skin, as well as make our brain foggy.  Sleep problems can even lead to a more serious illness if not properly addressed.

In this podcast, learn from Evan Brand of Not Just Paleo ways to beat stress, improve brain function, performance and well-being through Biohacking protocols, supplements and other cutting edge techniques for enhancing one’s sleep.

Evan Brand is a nutritional therapist and personal trainer who specializes in Paleo and ancestral nutrition, blood sugar regulation, digestive health, cognitive enhancement, stress management and sleep enhancement.

 

In this episode we cover:

18:40  Adaptogenic herbs

22:20  Brain hacking supplements

30:41  What is PQQ?

32:31  REM Rehab Program

37:29  Grounding and Earthing

39:10  Spirituality and Gratitude

45:05  Moving Meditation

 

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Justin Marchegiani:  Hey, there this is Dr. Justin and welcome back to Beyond Wellness Radio.  Again we have our guest today, Evan Brand, from notjustpaleo.com and we are really fortunate to have you on the show today, Evan.  How are you doing?

Evan Brand:  Hey, I am doing great, Justin and probably ten times better because you and I just got to talk and hang out for an hour beforehand.

Justin Marchegiani:  That was awesome.  Great experience.  I am looking forward to repaying the favor here.

Evan Brand:  Yes, Sir.

Justin Marchegiani:  So, Evan, tell me a little bit more about you.  How did you get into this phase?

Evan Brand:  It started out in college.  I have realized that the nurturing of my grandparents and my parents and all that had been shielding me from the reality of becoming a man.   And I have realized that once you get your first taste of real stress of being an adult that it tends to put an impact on your health.  So I was working at UPS, third shift to pay for college.  They had this pretty cool program there where you get 100% of your tuition paid for at the University of Louisville.  So I thought, cool I am going to try it out and I am going to business school, and I had these, all these dreams and all that and I have always been an entrepreneur.  I started out selling hot fries in middle school to all the kids, you know.  Going to Sam’s Club and buying them for 15 cents a pop and selling them for a dollar.  So I have this entrepreneurial mindset from the very beginning and eventually transition that into other things as I got older.  But really once I was having trouble getting out of bed; it was 3 pm when I was waking up I was having trouble getting out of bed.  My shift at UPS would start a midnight or 12:30 even.  I mean it was ridiculous.  I was killing myself literally.  I just kind of got fed up with it.  My acne was out of control.  My gut was out of control.  I got the official “diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome”.  So it was just sort of a combination of all these things that really started to add up.  I got fed up with being told that all I could do was take acid blockers and take, I do not even know what all, I mean, these ridiculous recommendations that had nothing to do with what was actually the problem.  So, I think, often the best teachers are the ones that struggled themselves with their health.  And so I am kind of the perfect candidate for that.

Justin Marchegiani:  Totally makes sense.  So how was your transformation like?  What was it like?   So you had all these issues.  You had some of the IBS.  You had these skin issues.  What were some of the first steps that you took to kind of get better and heal yourself?

Evan Brand:  Well, I had a friend who was into amateur body building.  So, I took this super-high protein approach.  Just tons of chicken breasts and green beans and broccoli and rice and pasta at that time because, “Oh you got to be high carb, right?”  To be an athlete.  So, I put on a pretty good amount of weight.  I went from 120 pounds to about 170 in about a year or two.  So, fifty solid pounds and stayed relatively lean but my stomach was still screwed up.  And then I found out, “Oh pasta has gluten!”  Gluten tears up your stomach.  And so I pulled it out and then magically all of a sudden my acne was not nearly as bad and I was not running to the bathroom with diarrhea.  I was kind of like, “Whoa, this is ridiculous.”  One little tweaking of the diet, pulling out one, it was a food group, man.  It really was.  Pulling out that food group of pasta was enough to make me feel better.  That was kind of like the catapult into I guess what you call the alternative health space.  I hate that it is called alternative but that was my entry point.  And then, from thereon delving into supplements, delving into herbs, adaptogens, smart drugs, I mean I have done the gamut of, you know, float tanks and acupressure mats and just anything and everything that may make me better or feel better or think better, I am down with that.

Justin Marchegiani:  So what was your experience from people around you and your health care providers when you are like, “Yes, I am just going to cut out these food group, called grains.”  What was your experience?  Was it a blow back?

Evan Brand:  There always is.  I mean, even my grandma, “Evan, you need to eat.  You are going to get too skinny.  You need to eat some bread.”  “Grandma, I am fine.  Look, I promise, you know.”  There was a little bit of blow back but not so much from the medical profession because I just quit seeing them.  I did not have the opportunity to go back and waste my money saying, “Hey, look I am better; here is what you need to teach your people.”  So, I am curious as to what they would have said though.

Justin Marchegiani:  Isn’t amazing how from certain people I find this when you are telling your story to people, they feel guilty?  Their response is like, “Isn’t that extreme?  You just need a little more balance or moderation in your life.”

Evan Brand:  Right.

Justin Marchegiani:  They try telling Superman that he just needs a little bit more moderation with kryptonite.

Evan Brand:  Right.

Justin Marchegiani:  He needs a little bit more balanced approach with kryptonite because it is just kryptonite, right?

Evan Brand:  Yes, and that is the same thing with people that still to this day try to offer you just one bite of a brownie or one bite of a cookie as if there is some sort of, if it is less than this threshold then you are fine.  For me the threshold is zero.  I mean even just a little bit is not worth it for me.  I do not want to feel brain fogged and I think that is something for people to take home is that the little people that want to temp you and kind of poke at you.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Evan Brand:  Just let that blow off your shoulder.  It is definitely not worth the side effects.

Justin Marchegiani:  So, it really sounds like you are in touch with what your kryptonite was and then you were committed to kind of cutting that out of your diet to improve your performance.

Evan Brand:  Eventually, yes.  It sounds simple like that but it was a lot trial and error and lot of days spent hanging out near the bathroom because my stomach was just, pshhh… flushed everything out.  But eventually, yes, it became that simple.

Justin Marchegiani:  So, if you could have gone back in time when you were dealing with all of these problems, what would you have told yourself so you could have gotten better faster?

Evan Brand:  That you should not listen to other people mostly and that you need to listen to yourself and that if you go to eat something.  I mean even something like if I were to do a protein shake that probably has sucralose or artificial sweeteners or things that were destroying my stomach I have this inherent gut feeling that something was not right.  But I was listening to other people. “Yeah, man.  You got to take this protein.  This is how you get big.  This is how you build muscle.”

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Evan Brand:  And so, to go back and answer the question, pay attention to myself or me speaking here, pay attention to yourself.  If your gut is telling you something is not right, it is probably not right.  If your heart is telling you that this is not the path that you need to go, that is not the path you need to go.  If third shift is killing you and you know it is killing you, you need to quit that job sooner.  Do not wait two years down the road until you cannot even drag yourself out of bed and now you decide that you want to quit.  So taking action sooner would probably be the biggest message.

Justin Marchegiani:  That totally makes sense.  And I know you coach patients, I think from all over the country, right?  All over the world.

Evan Brand:  Yes, I mean, it is always hard with the time schedule once you get passed a certain amount of time zones.

Justin Marchegiani:  Exactly.  So what are the main issues that you are seeing with your patients or clients?

Evan Brand:  It is always stress related.  I mean I could go in, I probably do not go as deep as you into blood testing or things like that.  That is something I am eventually going to work into.  But for me, I do not need to go that deep because if I can just figure out what are the huge stressors that are causing people their issues, I can fix that without ever having to draw a drop of blood.  I would like to get to that level.  But at this point, whether it is work stress or even relationship stress.  For example, the average 42-45 year old woman whose husband still wants to eat pizza and ice cream and he thinks that dieting is stupid and that Paleo or anything close to it, a Primal or Ancestral whatever type diet, it is a diet.  I do not want to do that.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.

Evan Brand:  And so it is just hard for me to convince the spouse that this is not a diet.  Everyone has a diet.  This is going to make the difference between your relationship because if your mood is jacked up because your gut is jacked up because the diet is not right.  I mean I could probably say that I have saved a couple of divorces from happening because I fixed someone’s gut by fixing the stress, by fixing the diet.  So really that is kind of my approach.  If I could just zoom out and see what are the biggest roadblocks.  “Oh, your husband thinks that what you are doing is stupid.  Okay, let us fix that.”  Usually everything downstream tends to go a little bit smoother.

Justin Marchegiani:   That makes a lot of sense.  And I see it’s a lot of the women that are really proactive.  And a lot of the guys that I treat, they typically come into my office with their wife or their girlfriend kind of pulling them by the ear.  Is that kind of your experience, too?

Evan Brand:  Oh, definitely, yes.  I mean, it is probably 80% women and 20% men.  And the men, they have trouble admitting that something is wrong.   Or they have, I do not know, it makes men feel weak to cry and to say that I am hurting and I am in pain.  And I think we have been conditioned to feel like we have to be so macho.  And I have been broken down to the point in tears, man, just from being ill.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.

Evan Brand:  And that is okay.  And just being honest with yourself.  I mean, that goes really far as opposed to just repressing your negative emotions.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.  And a lot of the guys that I see and treat, they are biohackers.  They are like at a level and they would like, “How can I get to the best level?”  So you get those kind of guys and they are really great patients.  And then you get the other guys that get dragged in.  So, when you are dealing with a woman, a spouse, her husband, and maybe the husband more than likely is not accepting some of the diet changes.  How do you go about getting everyone on the same page?

Evan Brand:  Basically just explaining that it is not anything that sounds ridiculous at all.  I mean there are some guys, especially here in Texas that are hunters that live out in Bastrop or somewhere outside of Austin and they are hunters.  And it is like, “You know what, man?  That deer meat is probably the best thing in your diet.  You know.  You have pork rinds and slim jims and stuff like that but, man, did you know what you are eating, that venison there is probably what I would almost consider a superfood for you.”  And just breaking it down like that it blows their minds.   It is like, “Oh I have been hunting for 20 years, man.  This is just my way of life.”  And it is like, “Okay, you are doing the right thing, man.  There are just a couple of other things that we need to align here.”  And so I try to reward what they are doing right as opposed to hit on what they are doing wrong and to harp on that.  I feel like if you give somebody a compliment that literally opens the door of perception and then you could say, “Hey, but the pasta you are having or the noodles you are putting in your venison chili that maybe is something that we need to swap out.”  And then they are a lot more receptive of that message.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.  So, focus on what is going right, do not complain about what is going wrong.

Evan Brand:  Yes, well, I eventually get to what is going wrong.

Justin Marchegiani:   Of course.

Evan Brand:  But I definitely try to start.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes, that makes a lot of sense.  Now in our pre-interview before the show, you mentioned some really cool things that I did not know about you.  So you mentioned that you formulate and you worked with Onnit Supplementation.  Can you talk to me about kind of what your role was in formulating supplements and how you go about doing it?  Were you researching?   Were you experimenting on yourself?  Can you kind of touch upon that?

Evan Brand:  Yes, Sure.  It was a really sweet job that I am not doing anymore. But basically the CEO of Onnit, his name is Aubrey Marcus and he is a guy who has a long history of playing with supplements and things like that himself.  He has formulated most of the product line with the help of a couple of doctors and things like that.  He always knew about my experience because we have staff meetings where, it was kind of like bring your supplements to work daily at the staff meeting.  And I brought in this huge backpack and I started talking among the entire staff.  Like, “Oh, you know this is L-theanine, this is if I am trying to boost GABA levels, you know induce a calm state of nervous system.”  And I just kept going on eventually he cut me off.  He said, “Man, let everybody else go out of the office, let us talk.”  And so we started talking about everything I am up to.  And he is like, “Man, what do you think about the position of helping me work on supplements.  Whether improving them, making sure the research and the science is backed up behind them because you know how competitive it is these days.  You have to have studies that are going to back up your Cordyceps mushrooms, for example.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.

Evan Brand:  Know the oxygen utilization that you are improving, things like that.  So, I said, “Of course, man.”  That is why I moved down to Austin was to work for Onnit anyway so I gladly accepted that position.  And I got to try out a couple little top secret behind the scenes, you know, version 2.0’s and version 3.0’s of supplements that sometimes went really awesome and sometimes I felt like I had to rip my shirt off and sprint out in the woods, you know, to recover because I got boosted up on too many B vitamins a couple of times.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.

Evan Brand:  But it was an awesome experience and it kind of made me have a deep respect for the combination of nutrients out there.  And it really made me respect the position of companies to where they feel like people do not want to have to take 50 pills to get healthy.  But you have to be careful in specific on the interaction between different things.  And so that was kind of what I learned.  And when you look at science you could say that, say Rhodiola has a good adaptogenic benefit and you could combine vitamins B5 with it because you know that B5 is good to support the adrenal glands or something like that.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.

Evan Brand:  And then, oh vitamin C is good for that too.  So, oh add vitamin C.  But just because something makes sense in the science when you actually put it into a capsule, put it into a human, you may get a different effect.  So, I think, I do not know if that answers your question, but that was just a takeaway that I learned from him.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right, right.  So, in isolation, things make sense but when they are combined they may not quite work the same way, you would have thought.

Evan Brand:  Right.  So it is just more power to the thought that you really got to test specifically how the blueberries affect you versus raspberries or how does this vitamin affect you versus this vitamin.  So I did a couple of cool things behind the scenes and ran some trials myself on a product that is not out yet but it was a women’s product that was pretty sweet.  And I got to do the before and after pictures and things like that.  So that gives you a little hint on what I was working on.

Justin Marchegiani:   Cool.

Evan Brand:  It was super fun and then you know, surely before my time was up there, I put in a formulation for another product which may eventually hit the shelf.  So if it does I am going to be super pumped up.

Justin Marchegiani:   That is great.  So, based upon what you are at liberty to talk about now, I know there’s some stuff that is still on the works that you cannot touch upon.  What are some of the, maybe the three coolest things, the three coolest products or things that you learned in your research or your supplement design that works the coolest for you?

Evan Brand:  Well, I would say that part of my job was to work on a product for women.  It was basically a thermogenic product.  And so immediately when you hear something that hints its fat burning, people automatically think green tea extract to caffeine, all of these metabolism-boosting ingredients.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Evan Brand:  But for me, when I started digging into the research first, I had to spend a lot of time researching ingredients before I even knew what to put in there, right.  And I found out, for example the mainstream has taught that fat burning is all metabolism-based and in my experience in working with people fixing blood sugar and therefore fixing hormone issues and things like that.

Justin Marchegiani:   Insulin, right.

Evan Brand:  Yes, fixing insulin had far greater impact on fat loss than me just trying to crank somebody up on caffeine.  So, basically I kind of disguised what I was working on as a fat burning product but in reality it was basically sort of an almost like an anti‑diabetic supplement with a lot of blood sugar support.  Some 7-keto in there and other things that I thought were going to really hit the root cause of why the person was struggling with fat gain anyway as opposed to just, “Oh let me crank you up on caffeine and tell you to jump on the cardio machine.”

Justin Marchegiani:   Totally makes sense.  That makes a lot of sense.

Evan Brand:  So that was one thing I did that I thought was pretty cool.  And then just inside of the research, I think just something that other people can take away from my experience is that to get in to PubMed and to look around for ingredients yourself and to do your own research, it is not really that hard.  A lot of us in the health community we love to talk about studies and things like that.   And there are a lot of people that only want to hear studies and what the results say and what they are, and that is fine.  But the barrier of entry is really not that bad to just jump on there and you could just research a couple of ingredients on whatever supplement you are taking and see what the science says.  So I think that is pretty sweet, it is easy, you know.

Justin Marchegiani:  Very cool.  So this is awesome because you got this experience and you are kind of well-versed around the research and around these topics.  What is your favorite adaptogenic herb?

Evan Brand:  Oh, man.  I would have to say Rhodiola as you and I talked about on my show.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.

Evan Brand:  You are taking Ashwagandha and I am taking that right now which I know it is sort of more closer to a tonic, some sort of long-term thing.  But I really have a lot of good results with Rhodiola especially when I used to work out in the park.  There is a place that people can look up called the Parklands; it is in Louisville, Kentucky and it is 4000 acres.  And so my job was to literally, man, hike all day.  And I was out in the forest.  There were a few lakes on the property where I had to walk around and make sure they were clean and inspect the trails.  Make sure a storm did not knock a tree down and block a trail so mountain bikers comes along, you know, dominates himself on a branch.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.

Evan Brand:  So, I wanted to have the upper edge on hiking.  And this sort of walking, this long steady state low-impact movement and my diet was good but I still was pretty fatigued at the end of the day.   So, I started adding in some Rhodiola.  I am sure it was extracted to the 3%, Rosavins, I believe you call it.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, Rosavins, exactly.

Evan Brand:  And so I had to make sure it was a good quality one.  But after about a month of taking that every day, I mean, after I got off work I could do another 8 hours of hiking.  I felt so good.  Of course, I was eating a lot of jerky and almonds and things like that throughout the day too to keep me going.  But I was really amazed at how just one little simple adaptogens can make a difference in not only my physical strength but my mental capabilities too.  I was listening to a podcast a lot which also kept me into the health field at that time.  And I felt like my memory formation was better.  I was processing things better.  So it was really amazing to see not only a physical benefit but a mental benefit too.  So, Rhodiola is my pick.

Justin Marchegiani:   That is great.  And what was the dosage you are using?

Evan Brand:  500 mg.

Justin Marchegiani:   Just once a day?

Evan Brand:  Yes, just once a day.

Justin Marchegiani:  That’s it.  Wow!  So when I use adaptogenic herbs, well, let us just back up a little bit.  The adaptogenic herbs are a family of herbs that tend to modulate stress.  So there are some that help more with the adrenal side of things where if you are stressed it actually bring the stress down.  If you are under energized they can actually bring you up.  So, there are certain families where Ashwagandha or Indian Ginseng tends to be helpful with anxiety and thyroid.  Rhodiola tends to be helpful with depression and moodEleuthero for immune system and sex hormones.  Maca for libido.  Ginseng for energy.  So there are all these different families of herbs and they really have a different kind of a profile in how they help.  So you like Rhodiola the best, you said, right?

Evan Brand:  Yes, and I initially went in, I mean, depression was a huge thing for me which you brought up.  That was a huge thing for me and I noticed an improvement in that as well.  And I am sure being out in nature which we could talk about a little bit.  Maybe some of the science behind forest bathing and things like that.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.

Evan Brand:  I was definitely getting my neurotransmitters boosted and/or balanced out from being immersed in literally a dense forest with often times a creek running through it.  That was a huge impact.

Justin Marchegiani:   Very cool.

Evan Brand:  It was nice to see that the depression/energy boost from Rhodiola.  Yes the adaptogens are awesome.

Justin Marchegiani:  They are really cool.  Alright.  So that is Rhodiola as your number one there.  What is your best brain-hacking supplement or your favorite?

Evan Brand:  Oh, man.  Well, so I had free access to Alpha BRAIN which is Onnit’s bestseller.

Justin Marchegiani:   What is in that?  Is that Alpha GPC?  PQQ?

Evan Brand:  No PQQ but Alpha GPC, tyrosine.  There is a little bit of theanine in there.

Justin Marchegiani:   Or GABA.

Evan Brand:  And Phosphatidylserine.  So just a pretty what is considered more of a balanced brain vitamin.  I had a lot of good experience with it.  I would say it is definitely on my top 5.  Another company TruBRAIN.  I had the guy Dr. Andrew Hill, the neuroscientist who formulated it.  I had him come on my show to talk about why he thinks this is a superior product.  And it was full of smart drugs like Piracetam and Oxiracetam.  And also has some alpha GPC’s and tyrosine, magnesium, things like that and so I took that.  I mean, I was blown away.  But those are two separate categories.  You know, you are talking smart drugs that are more synthetic as opposed to like a plant-based brain vitamin.  So, I would say that those are probably the top two.  I cannot think of any others right off.

Justin Marchegiani:  What is that brand called by Dr. Andrew Hill?

Evan Brand:  Yes, it is called TruBRAIN.

Justin Marchegiani:   Those are nootropics?  TruBRAIN.

Evan Brand:  Uh-uh.

Justin Marchegiani:   Okay.  Got it.

Evan Brand:  Yes, and so I am sure they would send you a little care package. What they sent me are the drinks.  They are calling it actually the first nootropics drink and so it is just a little packet.

Justin Marchegiani:  Nootropics.

Evan Brand:  Yes, and so it is like a little squeeze pack basically.  The taste is pretty good.  I think they sweetened it with stevia or agave or something.  But anyway, this is kind of a fun little portable way.  I think I would consider that like a level 2 for somebody.  I mean, if they already had experience with nootropics and stuff they could go into that.  But to start off by going straight to Oxiracetam which is very potent…

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.

Evan Brand:  I do not think that is necessary for most people.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.  And would you do that every day or would you more like to save it for like studying for a test or you are in a really intense conference for a weekend and you are learning a lot?  Like when would you use it?   Would it be daily?

Evan Brand:  Definitely not daily for me and definitely closer to the second thing that you mentioned, conferences I love to be on adaptogens especially like Paleo f(x) and come time for conferences, man.  I am pumping extra vitamins and adaptogens there to be on top of my game.

Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, yes.

Evan Brand:  So that is kind of more my use; use as needed.  The first time I had just received it before I was going to take some test for my schooling that I am going through right now to be a nutritional therapist.  And it was a 3-day weekend.  So I took one dosage of it for everyday for those 3 days for that entire weekend.  And everyone else was so burnt out and so fatigued by the end of three-eight hour workdays, basically.  And I was still feeling pretty good.  I was tired but, I mean, I had a huge improvement in recovery.  The gas tank did not get depleted as much as it normally would have.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes, I see a lot of these adaptogenic herbs and you can use them everyday because of the science in them.  The Russians had so much studies in the 50’s and 40’s and 60’s on theses adaptogenic herbs on their soldiers, on their astronauts, their athletes to really improve function.  They did lots of long-term studies with great success.  So, I see the adaptogenic kind of being like an everyday kind of thing.  And then some of these nootropics is being like an acute, “Hey, its finals time.”  “There’s a conference coming up.”     “I got to cram and get this book done.”  And whatever it is as being a more punctuated kind of a thing.

Evan Brand:  Definitely, man.  Yes, you hit it on the head.  And for me, I am always, not concerned but a little bit skeptical and cautious about dipping my toes into certain smart drugs and things like Oxiracetam where if you look at PubMed you are not going to find anything over ten or even twenty studies on it.  And a lot of the times these were done on rats that were induced with brain disorders, you know.  They would give rats Parkinson’s or something like that and then test it.  Which is showing great benefit but there is just a lack of human studies at this point which still, I think, adds to the barrier of entry for most people.

Justin Marchegiani:   So what do you think about Piracetam or Aniracetam?  One is water-soluble, Piracetam and one is fat soluble, Aniracetam.

Evan Brand:  I have taken both.  I got my dad on Piracetam for a while.  He was taking a few grams per day.

Justin Marchegiani:   Wow!

Evan Brand:  Yes, because his doctor wanted to prescribe Adderall.  I was just like, “Come on!  I have seen way too many people get destroyed by Adderall, long-term, long-term.  And maybe you could pitch people in on that too in your experience.  So I had him on Piracetam for a while and he had pretty good benefit.  Me, personally, Piracetam did not do too much for me but I did not take it very long term.  I took it maybe for a couple of weekends.  I also experimented with things on the other end of the neurotransmitter spectrum like Phenibut then started playing around with GABA levels.  I tell this funny story.  Me and my dad, we went to this place called Huber’s in Indiana.  It is a winery.  And so you are not supposed to mix stuff that is going to mess with GABA and alcohol.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Evan Brand:  So, anyway.

Justin Marchegiani:   That is way you are not supposed to drink and then take Xanax.  Just FYI.

Evan Brand:  Right, right.  So me and my dad took a little pinch of Phenibut.  Some people pronounce it “fe-ni-byoot”.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.

Evan Brand:  And I am not trying to get away from your question but this is in the same category of nootropics here.  So we took a little pinch of that and we did a wine tasting.  Actually, I did not think I was 21 so I do not think I drank anything but my dad did.  And I kind of mentioned, “Dad, you know, you are adding fuel to the fire here.”  And so we went through this little wine tasting.  He tasted maybe five or six, I am telling you, just little pinches of wine. (Laughs)  And by the end of this wine tasting, I mean he was like cloud 9.  I mean, he was feeling good.  He was not sick or anything but he was like, “Oh, my God!”  He was like, “I felt like I drank six shots of whiskey or something and like what is going on?”  And so that was kind of a lesson for me that this stuff can be very impactful but nonetheless, it resulted in that whole area as a memorable day.

Justin Marchegiani:  That is good.  And I am glad to hear that you were not under age drinking.  If you were though, your secret is safe with us and the podcast listeners.  So do not worry.  (Laughs)

Evan Brand:  (Laughs) Thanks for that.

Justin Marchegiani:   No problem.  So, you did kind of side stepped my question so I am going to come back and corner you a little bit.  So you mentioned Piracetam not the best for you.  Your dad liked it.  What do you think about Aniracetam?  I know people like, Dave Asprey like Aniracetam. What is your take on Aniracetam?

Evan Brand:  So, I actually have a bottle with me of Aniracetam from when Dave was actually still, I don’t even know if you would call it, illegally selling Aniracetam, it ended up getting pulled off because you cannot really do that.  But I still have a bottle of it.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.

Evan Brand:  I mean, it is great stuff.  So when I drove down here to Austin, it is a 15-hour drive from Louisville, Kentucky when I moved down here.  I took two capsules of Aniracetam, man.  And that is by far the greatest thing I could have done to improve my mental focus for one on the road.  You know, how you can start to get sleepy on road trips.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Evan Brand:  I was zoned in, man.   I was grabbing that steering wheel.

Justin Marchegiani:   It was like you are on.

Evan Brand:  I was jamming with the music.  I am like get me there.  So I am like more of an acute user of it.  But honestly I have not touched it in the last six months probably even a year.  But when I did use it my brain was on a whole another level.  And while I was driving, of course the road trips are a good time for anybody to think.  My creativity was definitely enhanced.

Justin Marchegiani:   Oh, yes.  That is great.  I have been doing, like the bulletproof coffee with the MCT and then really hitting up high doses of PQQ with adaptogenic herbs and then some of the neurotransmitters for serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine, the 5-HTP and the L-tyrosine, that just like gets my brain on.

Evan Brand:  Tell me a little bit about the PQQ.  I am sure other people are curious about it too.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, so Dave Asprey put in one of these new products and that is a good one too.  But PQQ is this Pyrroloquinoline Quinone, it is really a long kind of weird word, but PQQ is the nickname for it.  Basically, it is like a mitochondria fuel.  And it also has the ability to bring back to life damaged mitochondria which is really cool.  So anyone that is not familiar with bio chem, your mitochondria basically are like little powerhouses of the cell that generate ATP and fuel and it also burns fat for fuel.  So a lot of toxins and a lot of drugs actually damage mitochondria.  So PQQ is going to help your mitochondria create more energy and also help bring back to life some of the damaged mitochondria from neurotoxins or stress or the environment whatever.

Evan Brand:  Sounds like everybody should probably be taking it.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes, I use that with the combination of CoQ10 on days that I really want to be on and it’s like, Boom! Ready to go.

Evan Brand:  That is great.  Well, thanks for explaining that.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.  And you like this TruBRAIN.  So I like that.  I am going to give them a call and try some of this.

Evan Brand:  Yes, definitely.   I can just email them and forward your email over to them.  They would love to hear from you and he would be a good guest for your show as well.  He has got tons of experience working with addiction and rebalancing neurotransmitters and thing like that.  So you guys would hit it off.

Justin Marchegiani:  Awesome, thanks.

Evan Brand:  No problem.

Justin Marchegiani:   So tell me a little bit more about your REM rehab.  I know you mentioned a lot about kind of getting out in nature to kind of reset things: from a sleep rhythm, from just a stress rhythm.  I know you got this new stress program that is out.  Can you talk more about your REM rehab and just some of your experiences with nature?

Evan Brand:  Yes.  So, REM rehab it was my, basically like I mentioned I struggled first and then solved my own health problems.  And so that is why I created it because sleep issues are epidemic.  I mean, it is 70 plus percent of the population.  I mean probably a hundred million or more people are struggling in the United States alone from chronic sleep deprivation and sleep related issues.  So basically this program, it is an e-book, an audio book, and then 4 hours of interviews with naturopathic doctors and other people to give their specific lens on sleep but then I go in to eating for sleep, making sure that you are getting good quality meats that are going to provide the raw materials to make your neurotransmitters.

Justin Marchegiani:  Tryptophan, right, yes.

Evan Brand:  Yes.  So, and kind of explaining the process of the conversion from tryptophan over to serotonin and the co-factors and eventually the melatonin.  And I kind of explained why vegetarians and vegans that come to me they have horrible sleep.  Because they may be eating some nuts but they are not getting the quality meats that are going to provide these raw materials to make neurotransmitters for sleep.  So I am kind of dispelling some myths there.  But then also after providing eating for sleep information I go into some more, I guess you would call Biohacking protocols using things like light therapy.  For example, the average indoor light bulb under fluorescent lighting someone in an office is exhausted.  You are getting maybe 500 lux which is a measurement of brightness and I was using a 10,000 lux light box.

Justin Marchegiani:   Wow!

Evan Brand:  And I was using that before I went to work because obviously I was doing the vampire shift so I was using a light box at 11:30 to basically trick my brain and basically biohack to teach my brain that it is morning when technically it is midnight and I am about to go in for a 5-hours shift.

Justin Marchegiani:   Wow!

Evan Brand:  So, I am not saying that people need to do that but light therapy is one of the protocols that I use in that program to help people reset their circadian rhythms.  If there is someone who is freezing, like you mentioned you are from Boston.  If you are in Boston this time of the year you are freezing and you probably do not want to go outside, so it will be much more easy to convince you to use a light box in the comfort of your home instead.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Evan Brand:  So, that is one thing.  And then also I talk about sensory deprivation tanks.  I am a big proponent of using float tanks to basically not only help for mediation purposes which can clear the mind and allows you to sleep. So I am hitting on the mental aspect of sleep but also just the transdermal absorption of magnesium is super, super helpful for relaxing the nervous system and allowing you to fall asleep easier.  So that is just some of the kind of stuff that is in REM Rehab but people can check it out on my website if they like.

Justin Marchegiani:   We are going to put links to this, Evan on the show notes.  So anyone that really wants to dig a little bit deeper which, I deal with patients all the time with sleep issues.  I am going to have to get this and read it myself and see if I can pick up some more tidbits.  So, we will put it on the show notes and feel free to click on it and support Evan.

Evan Brand:  Sweet.  Yes.  I will send it right over to you.

Justin Marchegiani:   So, without giving away too much, because you want people to get the book, what are like one or two, just from a lifestyle perspective that people can do to help improve their sleep?

Evan Brand:  Well, I think so much in the modern world we are so focused on killing it and crushing it.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Evan Brand:  And you see all these social media pictures and posters about you being a sissy if you are not working any 8-hour work weeks and all of that.  And I think that is ridiculous.  I really do.  I am all about being productive.  You and I are both fans of increasing our productivity.

Justin Marchegiani:   Absolutely.

Evan Brand:  And the minimal effective dose of whether it is exercise or blog writing or whatever, we want to crank it up and get it done, right?

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.

Evan Brand:  I am not a fan of this work until you die mentality.  And it is really detrimental to the body but just to your happiness.  And a lot of sleep issues stem from the fact that people are just working, working, working and they are not meditating.  They are not spending time outside ever.  They are not spending time in nature specifically and so at night the mind is going sort of through this mental detox like, “Look, man! You have never thought about how you are enjoying your current life.  You have never thought about what you said to your wife last night at the dinner table.”  And so now these stuff are going to come up.  Because you know what?  You have not taken the required time that humans always have when we were hunting and gathering.  All these time spent out on the trail walking.  I think that was the time for mental decompression.  And we simply do not have that.  So, one of the things that I hit on is the fact that you have to integrate some sort of either meditation practice, even just a 5 or 10 minute walk around the block.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Evan Brand:  Something to open these channels of thought to really expel some of these pent up emotions and pent up thoughts so that they are not keeping you up at night.  And I think that is huge.

Justin Marchegiani:   That is good.  Good.  And what do you think about grounding or earthing?  I mean, you got like the Earthing mats I sleep on one of those.  What do you think about going barefoot outside before bed?  What are your takes on earthing or grounding?

Evan Brand:  Yes, so it is definitely in the hacking sleep protocol.  It is right there next to the float tanks.  I was sort of skeptical of earthing mats and things like that before.  I definitely have one and I sleep on one a few nights a week myself.  But it is a no brainer.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.

Evan Brand:  It is one of those things where people have to have some scientific explanation.  It is like there is not even a need to explain it.  We have always been bare feet.  We have always been immersed in nature.  We were always touching the grass or touching the dirt or touching the trees.  So to be skeptical about the idea that that could heal and even reduce inflammation and improve your sleep quality, I mean, it is a no brainer.   So, yes I love the idea of earthing. And for people that are travelling over multiple time zones, I would say anything more than like three to four time zones that is the best thing you can do.  I told my dad when he flew over to China for work, and I told him, I said, “Dad, when you get over there you are going to be jacked up.  You need to make sure you that you get your bare feet on some grass over there and take a little bit of melatonin to make sure that you are going to adjust.”  And he said that it helped him.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, and I think, just to add on to that.   I think exactly what you said it is seeing, taking the melatonin at sunset but also being grounding and watching the sun rise is really helpful.  Gets that pineal gland and the hypothalamus, it is just like, “All right this is the new rhythm now.  Sun is coming up cortisol needs to come up now.   So, I totally agree.

Evan Brand:  Yes, and also try to have this undertone of adding spirituality to your overall life.  We are spiritual creatures by nature and that does not automatically infer religion or anything like that.

Justin Marchegiani:   Right.

Evan Brand:  But we are spiritual creatures.  I mean even the Native Americans thought that the rocks, and the wind, and the waters, and the trees all spoke and had this certain alive energy and they are alive.  And I think just trying to re‑frame your current outlook on nature.  I mean, you could work in a 50-floor high rise in New York City while you are listening to this show but you are still dependent on the natural world for your produce, for your water, for the very food that you eat that sustains you.  And so, I think trying to bridge the gap between that disconnection to the natural world can be really helpful for not only reducing your stress but therefore improving your sleep quality.

Justin Marchegiani:   Great, great question.  You touched upon one of those trigger words for me, spirituality.  It is a very abstract word.  So I want to dig a little bit more into that at how someone could be more spiritual.  Is that more about gratitude?  About realizing you are part of something bigger, giving forward to your community, in saying thanks for the food you eat.  What does that mean to you?  And how can our listeners try to be a little more spiritual?

Evan Brand:  Yes, I would say a gratitude journal is the best place to start.  Actually I just had to look at a study yesterday talking about how people like you and I, people that are health care practitioners are chronically stressed.

Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Evan Brand:  And more stressed than the average person.  And so they took some nurses and had them do either a complaint or a gratitude journal and then of course there was the control group.  And they had these nurses fill out a gratitude journal only twice per week for four weeks.  And that was enough to significantly reduce their stress.  And I am pretty sure they threw the word spirituality in there somewhere because that was the context that I was searching for.  Health care practitioners aside, everybody could add gratitude to their life.  It is so easy to get caught up in, you know, the first world problems and thing like that.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.

Evan Brand:  That we really lose sight of the great luxuries that we have presented to us.  I mean the light switch, the availability of clean drinking water and things like that.  Those are super amazing things that would blow the minds of people across the planet today.

Justin Marchegiani:   I totally agree.

Evan Brand:  And it is easy to forget that we have that, man.  So every time I even take a drink of spring water it is not like I am bowing down to it but I just try to, “I am so thankful for this water that is going to hydrate me right now.”

Justin Marchegiani:  I agree.  I think you hit it right on the head.  It is really just realizing, you know, we are part of something deeper and then really having gratitude and thanks and humility for it.  I start my day personally, I wake up, I get my shoes on and I do some reading to really get my, change my state and I go into a state of gratitude for about 5 to 8 minutes just as I am walking and I am just kind of talking to myself or thinking about all the things in my life that I am thankful for.  And it is a huge shift in the stress.

Evan Brand:  Oh, man that is beautiful.  You are already a proponent and it sounds like you are already experiencing the results too which matters the most.

Justin Marchegiani:   Especially a lot of the people that listen to our show, they are doers, they are executives, and they are entrepreneurs.  They are out there doing, doing.  And it is so easy when you are motivated to be just focusing on what is next, what is next, what is next and you are focused on getting to point B but you have not looked behind you and see how far you have gone from A to B.  And you got to kind of have some gratitude and thanks for that.

Evan Brand:  Amen, yes.  I mean I am guilty of that myself.  I see the podcast stats and I have hit like 23 on the top health charts.  And I like, “Man, I want to be top 10!”

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.

Evan Brand:  And I feel like my content is top 10 worthy but yet I do not realize just two years ago I was in my bedroom just scribbling on a little notebook of this idea of what is now called “Not Just Paleo”, you know.  And I had to basically slap myself and say, “Look, man!  Look where you’ve came from.  You were just a dude, a college kid struggling and now you are helping people.”  And it is kind of like a slap to the face to really let me re-frame and appreciate the journey that I have been on myself.  And I think everybody could do some sort of re‑framing activity like that and find that there’s a lot to be grateful for.

Justin Marchegiani:  I totally agree.  And I think it has a huge help and a huge support, I mean, on the neurotransmitters and on the adrenals.  And I have talked to and worked with a lot of professional athletes.  And when you work with people at a high level, even for them it never ends.  Like, okay let us say your goal is to get to the NFL or the NBA.  Now once you are there, now the goal is to be the best, to win the World Cup, or to win the National Championship.  Or now it is to be, you know, the All-Pro and get the MVP, it never ends even at the highest level.  So it is like you just got to stop resetting yourself and really have some gratitude.  Because it would just never end no matter how good you are at.

Evan Brand:  Oh, definitely.  I think that is part of why we have come to what we are.  I mean, if the caveman was happy with the cave he never would have built a hut.  And if the guy who built the hut was happy with the hut he never would have built the village and then the civilization.  And then now we have the mansion and then you have the speedboat but now you want a faster boat and you want a bigger boat.  You know, it is cool to do that.  It is awesome to continually advance and I think that is what makes us a great species.  But also we got to appreciate the small wins and look at where we have become.  I mean even a light bulb, something like that would have blown your great grandparents minds, you know.

Justin Marchegiani:   I think that is really great.  Our human needs are infinite and I totally agree.  Just that kind of a little exercise in re-centering is important.  You touched upon meditation.  Can you talk about what someone could do if they wanted to get into meditation?  Right now, I use the Headspace app.  Because it is like meditation for dummies that kind of holds my hand through it and it kind of creates accountability for me.  But what are you doing right now for your meditation?  And what can our listeners do?

Evan Brand:  Sure.  I would just say go for a walk outside.  I happen to live on a place where there is a patch of land here that is about 50 acres of forest.  And I think that is the easiest level of entry.  No matter where you are, I know you maybe in the city but I guarantee there are some places you can go and just go for a walk out in nature.  Whether it is with your dog or just by yourself, and I think that is the best way to get introduced to the idea of meditation.   If you are somebody who has heard of it and all you can picture is just somebody sitting there with headphones and binaural beats and their eyes closed and legs crossed and all that.  I am a big fan of moving meditation.

Justin Marchegiani:  Huge fan.

Evan Brand:  Yes, and you could probably attest to what happens in your morning walks that you have alluded to.  There has got to be some meditative aspects to that.  Otherwise, you would not continue doing it.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.  Absolutely.  I totally agree.  And I just want to shift gears just backwards a little bit.  Kind of bring it back to your book, REM Rehab.  You have mentioned a couple of things there about melatonin.  I use melatonin. I try not to get my patients on it every night unless I see it low on a lab test.  I always want to get to the root cause of it.  But what is your take, as you are a supplement researcher as well, what is your take on melatonin, on the pineal gland, on the various feedback loops?  What is your take on it?  Is it safe to use every day?  What doses?  And how do you kind of wrap your head around that?

Evan Brand:  Definitely not safe for every day usage.  It is definitely over prescribed, over abused, over used.  And the, whatever you call it, alternative health’s self-help health category, I mean it is ridiculous.  You will see 5-10 mg melatonin tablets.  That is ridiculous.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes, I know.

Evan Brand:  And I found that the pineal gland is only going to secrete micrograms, I mean not even a milligram in most cases.  And maybe in your lab results, you can fill us in more but I have never seen the reason to use anything over a milligram, maybe 3 mg at the most, an acute use dose if you are doing some extreme travelling, you are just really having some issues with setting your Circadian rhythm.  Maybe you have just, I do not know, went on a vacation in another part of the world and your rhythm is just so screwed.  But it is literally sort of the only use it for emergency, break the glass open and pull out the bottle and use it.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, I am kind of the same approach.  I try to only use melatonin just to reset my cycle for the week if I am up late.  And I only recommend it to patients that again have low melatonin on their lab tests.  And then will use, again I try to do about a half a milligram for myself or at the most 1 mg.  So I am in that same boat as you in using them.

Evan Brand:  Yes.  So I had access to the melatonin, these little chewable tablets that also contain lemon balm and things like that.   And so it is a 5 mg tablet.  So if and when I needed to use it I would literally just nibble a corner, and then that will be it.  And so I am going to guess that was probably half, maybe 0.75 mg and that was enough to do the job.

Justin Marchegiani:   That is great.  Awesome.  So, I think now we are going to wrap up the show here.  But before we do that, I want to just give you an opportunity just to kind of fill in our listeners what the three most powerful things are that you are doing right now that would help them in their lives?

Evan Brand:  I feel like a broken record.  But honestly going for daily walks in nature.

Justin Marchegiani:   Cool.

Evan Brand:  Right after you and I get off here I am probably going to go for another walk.  We finally got sunshine back in Austin again.

Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, it is great out today.

Evan Brand:  Number two, I would say to cultivate and nourish love in whatever aspects.  I got married in July so I am still pretty much a newly wed.  But just really feeding into love and feeding into a relationship.   I do not care if you love your dog and that is all you have to love right now.  Just loving something it really is a powerful thing.  And you have heard so many quotes throughout your life.  Some of them cheesy, some of them really profound about love, you know, overpowering fear.  But that is a good one.  And then thirdly, I would just try to create some sort of plan on paper for your life.  There are a lot of people that are listening to your show that want to take it on the next level, like you have mentioned.  And you are focused on B, you can see B know what point B is, you know that you want to have your own business, you want to become a health coach, whatever it is.  But the road to get there and I will tell you myself it is not going to go the way you expect it to go.  It is going to have tons of ups and downs.  Some months are going to be so much better than others.  Some years are going to be better than others.  You have been in the health field much longer and you could attest that there is an ebb and a flow to success.  And everybody is achieving success in some shape or form.  But my recommendation for you is to write down just simple little baby steps to how do you get there.  What is the first step?  For example, if you wanted to start a podcast, you first need to figure out where you get a microphone, you know.

Justin Marchegiani:   Yes.

Evan Brand:  Okay, now what do I want to talk about?  Who do I want to interview?  And so instead of you just visualizing the end result that you want to have a top rated health podcast and you are changing millions of lives across the planet that is cool.  But just start by figuring out how you even hold a microphone and speak into the microphone properly.

Justin Marchegiani:   Exactly.  I remember that journey last year and I get it.  You got to break it up into small little baby steps.  That makes a lot of sense.

Evan Brand:  So, yes, that is number three.

Justin Marchegiani:  Evan, thank you so much for coming on the show.  We are going to have you back next year.  Really appreciate the great info and I think the listeners would love it, too.

Evan Brand:  Well, thanks for having me, man.  You are an awesome dude and an awesome host.  So, I wish you the best of success and you are going to continue to change lives with this show.  So, thank you for having me.

Justin Marchegiani:   Thanks, Evan, you as well.

 

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