Brain Health and Nootropics with Evan Brand | Podcast #203

In improving brain health, don’t take the quick fix. There’s more to talk about than just taking supplements. One must deal with diet, lifestyle, and digestion. More importantly, the more one helps the gut, and the more one’s going to help the brain.

Today’s podcast talks about steps in improving brain performance, natural nootropics, medicinal compounds, and pseudo pharmaceutical compounds to help improve cognitive function and brain performance.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

00:46    Steps to improve brain performance

03:42    Get the gut right

16:07    Get the inflammation down

18:32    Focus on your diet

32:03    Resveratrols and alcohols

34:27    Pharmaceutical nootropics


Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey! It’s Dr. J in the house. Evan Brand, how we doing today?

Evan Brand: Hey man, life is good. I’m ready to talk with you about the brain. I’ve been tryin’ to figure out if my brain is messed up, or what. So you’ve been giving me some good advice. We were reviewing lab results together off the air so, it’s always fun. It’s less fun when you have to dig into the trenches on your own but it’s still fun. So I– I appreciate your time this morning.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, absolutely. I’m really excited to chat with you about a whole bunch of things we can do to im— improve uhm— brain health as well as kind of natural Nootropics which are just– essentially compounds, medicinal compounds, even some kind of pseudo pharmaceutical compounds to help improve cognitive function and brain performance. So, you know, why don’t we dive in? So, off the bat, one of the first things we can do to help improve brain performance is decrease inflammation in the brain. That’s like the low-hanging fruit. The more inflamed we are neurologically, the more microglia cell activation we’re gonna have. And that’s gonna create brain fog. Mi– microglial cells are these immune cells in the brain. And the more inflammation we have, the more of these brain cells or these– more of these immune cells get activated in part of the side effect of inflammation in the brain. And this immune reaction is gonna be brain fog and cognitive issues. So the first thing, we decrease inflammation. How do we do that? We do it by cutting gluten, and refined sugars, and refined carbohydrates out. That’s gonna be the first thing. The inflammatory grains and or refined junk and trans fats. These things are gonna be more inflammatory to the gut. Inflammation in the gut is gonna cause inflammation in the brain. So the more we can actually help our gut, the more we’re gonna help our brain. And the second thing is actually decreasing dysbiotic bacteria. Dysbiotic bacteria is a compound called LPS – Lipopolysaccharide. Or another term for– it’s actually called endotoxin. And that can make its way through the gut into the bloodstream to the brain. It can create mood issues and cognitive issues as well. So– getting the inflammation in the gut, getting the stress out of a diet, uh– is gonna be huge for cognitive health.

Evan Brand: Yeah, I’m gonna take what you said just a step further ’cause people may have said– they may have heard, “Oh, woah, dysbiosis, LPS, brain, wh– what’s going on here?”. So basically what Justin saying is, there’s various infections you can pick up from the soil, the food, the water, the air, your partner, your spouse, your kids. You can pass bugs between each other. Justin and I have tested literally countless. Thousands and thousands and thousands–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-huh.

Evan Brand: –of stooling your intestine. What we find is that these gram negative bacteria– produce the LPS. So if you have bacterial overgrowth, whether you call it SIBO, whether you call it dysbiosis, whether you call it IBS from your gastro doc who told you you have that, it doesn’t matter what the term is, it matters is if there’s bugs in the gut, your brain will not function well. And so, when we talked about the topic of nootropics, which I was actually hired by a publishing company to write a book on this topic, which– which kind of cool. Uh– the thing is, you can’t go straight to the brain pills or the smart pills or the– the smart drugs. You can’t go straight to that if you just haven’t addressed the gut, and you haven’t addresses the diet like– you see some dude, you know, drinking a 5-hour energy, and is eating like a gluten-free cupcake, but he wants to improve his brain functions, like– you know, smart drugs and nootropics, this is like a– a level-301 course. Like, 101 brain health is the stuff you just mentioned. The gut, the diet, etc., and then you graduate your way up. But in society, we like the quick fix. So we straight to just buying these pills. Which– I don’t know, I’m not judging anybody. I’m just saying– you can spend more money on food first and get your gut fixed, then go to supplements.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. So first thing is get the food right, uhm— get the gut right. And the gut, whatever they’re saying, get– get the gut right. There could be SIBO, there could be infections, there could be some leaky gut caused by the above: by the food, by the gut, by the low stomach acid and enzymes by the dysbiosis, by the H-pylori fungus parasites. So get that in order first. That’s the low-hanging fruit. And again that’s the non-sexy stuff on the cognitive nootropic side because if you– look at any blogs or professionals to talk about brain health, a lot of times they’re not talking about the gut when they’re connecting the brain. Now, Dr. ___[04:14] recently called. I think the brain maker, we talked about like probiotics and these things. I don’t think a lot is addressed on infections. I think a lot is addressed on good bacteria and the bacterial imbalances, but not a lot is talked about infections. So that’s an important component. So once we have that right, and then we can work on– you know, other nutrients that dial things in. So, a low-hanging fruit for brain health is B-Vitamins. Now first off, are you low in B-Vitamins or do you need more B-Vitamins ’cause you’re in stress? Do you need more B-Vitamins because you’re not making your internal B-Vitamins because of dysbiosis? And or you’re not absorbing it well? So you gotta figure out why need them so–

Evan Brand: Explain that– explain real quick. That’s pretty mind-blowing concept for people. You mentioned– m– manufacturing B-Vitamins in your gut, and that being impaired due to dysbiosis.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so– healthy good bacteria actually– eat your poop or actually uhm— you know, eats. Let’s just say this: they eat your poop and they poop nutrition back. Bad bacteria– bad bacteria eats your nut– eats your nutrients then it poops poop back. So good bacteria takes no– not so nice stuff and makes nutrition out of it. Bad bacteria eats your– your good stuff, your– your– your vitamins and minerals and actually produces more toxins and the flip side like LPS, or are various things like that at all so it can disrupt your motility as well. So good bacteria will actually improve Vitamin-K, ex– exogenous production and it’ll also improve B-Vitamin production as well. So that’s really important so if you can tolerate and you can consume healthy fermentable uh– vegetables, uh– probiotic rich foods, that’s great. If you can’t tolerate it, it probably tells me there’s some SIBO or bacterial overgrowth that also needs to be addressed. But, on that note, the next component is, you know, adding some supplemental B-Vitamins can be very-very helpful. So, you know, I have uhm— a mitochondrial support that take that a lot of B-Vitamins in it. I’ll even take some stuff that have amino acids with B-Vitamins in it as well. I think B-Vitamins are great low-hanging fruit. And again this is a concept I hear all the time. People say, “Hey I take B-Vitamins and I noticed my urine gets really yellow, you know, I’m just peeing it a lot”. Well, number 1, you’re really gonna be able to pee out water soluble nutrients. So you’ll only gonna be able to pee out, you know, your– your B-Vitamins so to speak, right? Uhm– take maybe Vitamin-C– too much Vitamin-C will cause those stools. So if you’re taking too much Vitamin-C you’ll know it ’cause you’ll start getting loose stools. But with B-Vitamins, I wanna be peeing my B-Vitamins out. If I’m not peeing my B-Vitamins out, I’m not reaching saturation–

Evan Brand: Uhm…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: –right? So, it– let’s say this is the amount of– of B-Vitamins my body needs; let’s say I take this much, right? I consume this much, right? So the spread that I’m gonna be peeing out will be this much. I don’t pee everything out, I’m just gonna be peeing out this spread, right? And the thing is you– you don’t know– you don’t know how much you actually need on the given day so, I’m fine, supplementally take maybe a little bit on the excess side, and then let my body deal with it. It’s not like it’s a big stressor uh– where it’s a fat soluble vitamin and it’s harder to excrete. It’s a water soluble vitamin. And we’re taking a minerally good forms you know, P5P activated– you know, uhm— methylated B-Vitamins. So they’re– they’re really good, you know, we’re not gonna take any folic acid, we’re gonna take activated folate. So I’m taking a re– you know, a reasonable amount of a high quality activated B-Vitamins supplements. I think it’s a great low-hanging fruit.

Evan Brand: Yeah, here’s the thing that’s kind of annoying with the whole methylation conversation is, people come up with their MTHFR genetic defect and they walk around with it with like some type of label, like a, “I’m MTHFR, oh my God!”. And they act like the protocol has to be so different. Justin and I basically treat everyone as if they have methylation issues. All that means, is we’re gonna use higher quality nutrients. We’re not gonna use a folic acid we’re gonna use to activated folate. Maybe you need a little bit higher amount. But so many people get a diagnosis where they look at their gene and they see one snip off, and then like, “Oh my God, can you work with me, I have MTHFR”. Like it’s gonna change much. How much percent do you think it really changes in the whole equation?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhm– doesn’t change that much. I mean, a lot of the things that we’re doing kind of already a- b– are built in and around that, right? So of course a lot of the synthetic folic acid were making sure any supplements’ not gonna contain that, right? Or it’s not gonna contain junky B-Vitamins that you may see in like a 5-hour energy drink. Number 2, we’re cutting out fortified foods that are gonna have folic acid in it. Things like orange juice, things like your grains, right. These are the big fortified folic acid foods. Again the government found out a long time ago that, hey, you know, folic acid’s gonna prevent like these neural tube birth defect. Uhm– the problem is, you still have a– a large set of population that can– that’s still cannot activate that folic acid and con– convert it into you know, folinic acid to LMTH– LMTHF folate, and some can actually create some of these dangerous cancer-like metabolites. So, we wanna make sure we eat like, good quality animal uhm— foods that are gonna have good folate in there. Lots of good green-leafy vegetables, potentially egg yolks, these things that are really high in choline as well. So we’re gonna be getting all of our really good folate and then– we would supplement with additional high quality activated folate– activated B-Vitamins. If someone has MTHFR, we may look at supplementing, separating the folate, and the B-Vitamins out from the actual B-Vitamin complex. And we may do various other forms of B-12 like adenosyl or hydroxy B-12, typically sublingually to help bypass the gut as well. BUt, there’s 3 major rabbit holes in functional medicine. MTHFR is one. The other one is lyme, and the third one is mycotoxins. And the reason why is– because, any symptom– can be tossed in the basket of those 3 conditions. So if you have any condition– any symptom at all, someone could point you to one of those 3 areas.

Evan Brand: Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And my thing is, this a rabbit hole for those areas, and im— y– you focus on one of those 3, you maybe missing the simple low-hanging fruit underneath, you know,  where we should be starting first. So I look at and say, “Okay, maybe we go down those avenues but we’re gonna deal with diet, lifestyle, digestion, we’re gonna look at your hormones, we’re gonna look at your gut, we’re gonna look at toxicity, we’re gonna make sure you’re infection-free, we’re gonna make simple changes. We’re gonna kind of write off all the foundational stuff and then we may look at doing testing down below to look deeper if we’re not seeing resolution. But I can’t tell you how many patients I see that– complaining of MTHFR or lyme, or mycotoxins, or mold issues. And they have multiple gut infections, their diet suck, they’re not digesting their food, they– don’t have good absorption of the nutrition, they’re not sleeping well, they have significant nutrient deficiencies, very poor neurotransmitter function, and they’re sitting worry about these little rat holes that, you know, you can go down. Not saying those little rat holes or rabbit holes and functional medicine aren’t legitimate. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is– they need to be looked at later on. They’re not the low-hanging fruit. And because any symptom you have could be put in one of those 3 categories. It’s really easy to be jumped on that track.

Evan Brand: Yes. Well it is now sexy too, and, uh– one of our mutual friends and colleagues Jay Davidson, uh– he’s a chiropractor who func— focuses a lot online. He actually turned the corner and he used to just do lyme, lyme, lyme, lyme, lyme. Everything he saw was lyme. And all these protocols he did were all lyme protocols. So you know what, last time we talked, I interviewed him for my summit, he goes, “Evan–“, he goes, “You’ve been doing it right all along”. and I was like, “What are you talking about?”. And he goes, “Well treating lyme disease, I used to go straight after lyme“. He goes, “I don’t do that anymore, I go after the parasites”. Because it turns out if you just get rid of parasites and bacterial infections and you treat those, the lyme disappears with it. He said, “So here I was doin’ all these buhner protocols and these other protocols for lyme, but I should have just went after parasites and bacteria”. And now his success rate is even higher. So that just makes me happy.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and also a lot of the herbs we may use to go after some of the gut stuff, will have some anti-lyme effects as well. So cat’s claw is a big, you know, anti-lyme one. But it’s also really good for biofilms. Higher dose berberine and goldenseals, also helpful for lyme. Silver is also a really good  biofilm buster, also helpful for lyme. So the lot– you know, a lot of the uhm— adrenal supports like a lutherol and ashwagandha which are really good for the adrenals, also helpful for lyme. So a good functional medicine practitioner, you know, they’re gonna create a protocol that has a pretty good net worths targeted, but, you know, other things that were not going after specifically may still get help underneath that umbrella.

Evan Brand: I love saying that. I love saying like, “Hey, we’re gonna kill things that might not even show up on the test.” For example, like maybe we’ve got a false negative of a parasite, but we did this protocol to kill the bacteria, but the herbs to kill the bacteria also have anti-parasitic benefit, so maybe, we got rid of something that you didn’t even know was there that was affecting you. So that’s the fun thing. Now, let’s go back to the topic of the brain. You mentioned a few things. You mentioned the cat’s claw. Cat’s claw can be considered something that can help the brain. You mentioned ashwagandha, you mentioned adaptogenic herbs. You and I love adaptogens. Wo know, that whether we’re talking holy basil, or Rhodiola, or American ginseng, or, you’ve got like Korean ginseng, there’s a many-many ginsengs. These all help in terms of modulating cortisol. And– that’s course up your brain. If you’ve got levels of cortisol that are too high or too low, it kind of mimics the same thing. And this is why you don’t wanna guess because– you know, we’ve seen people where they– they’re exhausted, and we think, “Oh my God, this person must have low cortisol.” But then you test it and it’s actually high all day. And we’re thinking, “Oh, good thing we didn’t throw this person on a bunch of licorice because they’re cortisol is already so sky high.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Evan Brand: [crosstalk]… I was just gonna say but, if they read online– adrenal fatigue–  licorice, I mean it’s almost like a– it’s a– I mean it’s almost like a gut reaction like, adrenal fatigue, licorice. But if you don’t know that there’s a caveat to that, you could measure ‘self up.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, it’s nice to know your pattern, especially if there’s reversed cortisol patterns that’s helpful because cer— certain compounds we may give when cortisol’s higher versus lower. So it’s nice to know that, so we can be specific. And– and also just to kind of highlight higher levels of cortisol can actually atrophy the areas of the hippocampus. And these are areas that are profoundly important for learning and memory. So, someone talks about stress and adrenal dysfunction, can that affect, you know, can I– you know, by supporting that improve my IQ? I would say, yeah. Dave Asprey’s done some testing on himself. Uhm– or he’s found his IQ’s gone up 10 to 20 points, by just improving, you know, inflammation in brain health. So I would say, yeah. If you’re brain’s inflamed huge– I know in college who would take me very long time to finish test cause I would have to like double and triple check all my questions. And– I would still eating some things back then, you know, 15 years ago, there was causing my brain to be more inflamed. And I was having insecurity in my cognitive re– you know, processes out, just double and triple checking, and just not feeling confident and just being slower in my mental processes. And I noticed that, as I tweaked my diet and got inflammation down and supported some of these brain nutrients, I was able to race through questions faster and– and be accurate but also more– more let’s just say succinct and faster going to these tests.

Evan Brand: Yeah, I’m always impressed with your brain, like your brain– I– I don’t think I’ve ever chatted with you where your brain wasn’t working properly like you’re always able to articulate well, you’re always able to like zoom in and zoom out. I’ve always like, looked up to you for that. It’s super cool to see somebody that has a good functioning brain because in society, we have so many people’s brains that don’t work like yours.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well I appreciate it and I think, number 1 for everyone listening, get the inflammation down, that’s number 1. Make sure your food’s nutrient dense choline, uhm— you know, lots of green vegetables that have a lot of good B-Vitamins and folate in there. A lot of your good essential fatty acids, that’s really important. And then from there, you know, play around with some of the other compounds that could be helpful. So for instance, medicinal mushrooms I think are great. I mean, right now, I– I do Reishi, and I’m doing me– uhm— I’m doing Reishi– is it Maitake–

Evan Brand: Yeah–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: –Maitake.

Evan Brand: Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’m doin’– I’m doing Shiitake and Reishi everyday. So I’m doing 46 caps right now, this good as getting a little bit colder. I’m around sick kids sometimes, you know, so I’m just– keep my immune system pretty strong. And then I met a pretty good high dose of ashwagandha, and then I bump up additional B-Vitamins on top of that. Now you can keep it simple. For me and for my job, I’m constantly having a progra— I mean no– you know, like, run through mental programs and thinking and troubleshooting– I want that high level of cognitive stuff. So, you gotta figure out where you’re at, how stressful your life is on a cognitive side. I mean, you can kind of dose at things in– uhm— you know, more steadily. If your– your job isn’t that stressful then maybe just a good diet and just a– a few supplements i— is fine. If you’re a programmer or you’re constantly problem solving then maybe you need more nutrients to the brain.

Evan Brand: I would even argue you could add in like some lion’s mane too. I’ve been having–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah–

Evan Brand: –really good e– experiment, it’s up and running, with like a mixture of the lion’s mane, the reishi maitake shiitake, and then a little bit of ginkgo, kind of a bonus just for the blood flow aspect. ‘Cause we know that you can help increase the blood flow in the brain with ginko. We also use a lot of bacopa, uh– you and I have used vinpocetine before which comes from the– I think it’s the periwinkle plant. Vinpocetine is a really good one and then I’ve got a couple formulas with like, wild blueberry complex in there, that’s really good. And then, there’s also uh– I don’t know if we mentioned huperzine, which comes from the club moss, huperzine is a good acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, so–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Evan Brand: People talk about dopamine and serotonin but– I think, just as much as GABA, acetylcholine is like a forgotten neurotransmitter, and people don’t talk about it. But they should because if it breaks down too fast, your memory won’t be as good. And if you take huperzine, you can keep the acetylcholine in the brain longer, theoretically improving learning and– learning and memory.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: What other ways can we increase acetylcholine outside of taking it, outside of the– the huperzines, or the uhm— the other types of compounds you mentioned.

Evan Brand: I would say focus on the diet piece too, right? Like you could– you could– you could oversee supplement with like Alpha-GPC like the glycerylphosphorylcholine. But, as you mentioned I think earlier about eggs, you know, focusing on eggs is a good source of choline. I wanna say seafood. Don’t quote me on it but I wanna say seafood is pretty high in choline as well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so you’re fatty fish, uh– your egg yolks, uh– your liver, uhm— avocado, these are gonna be your best things for– acetylcholine. Acetylcholine’s really-really important. Again, you have autoimmune conditions like myasthenia gravis where you have an autoimmune conditions to the postsynaptic acetylcholine neuron. And then you can get this kind of like, droopy eyes, droopy face kind of stuff. So acetylcholine is really important. And again a lot of that’s gonna be your meat-rich products. And again, uhm— there’s been research on acetylcholine, right; 800 milligrams a day is ideal, and they find that pregnant women who don’t get enough acetylcholine– there’s epigenetics that increase. That can create increased cortisol, and increase stress response in these kiddos, born in a– choline– acetylcholine uhm— poor environment. So that’s a–

Evan Brand: Ahh…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: –really-really important cognitive function. And when you deal with MTHFR issues, making sure there’s adequate choline, and the diet is very important. Also building blocks for bile, like really having enough biliary support. Because bile is really important for keeping SIBO at bay, right? Bile salts or bile acids– the acids produced, when, you know, the acidic environment produced when bile is stimulated and secrete in form the gall bladder can really prevent a lot of SIBO overgrowth. That’s why with SIBO, it’s a common environment that allow SIBO to form is typically at enzyme low, hydrochloric acid low– low bile salts environment really is a driving factor for let– letting SIBO grow. And of course we know the nutrient deficiencies that can happen with SIBO, and then we can easily draw that back up to the brain, ’cause a lot of these vitamins and minerals are responsible for cognitive function benefits.

Evan Brand: Yeah, well we know, there’s a link to the thyroid too, you know, if you’re hypo– you’re under functioning with your thyroid, that can affect your brain. Also, I’ve seen some stuff about just– you could just– look at the link between hypothyroidism and say gallbladder issues for example, gallstones, occuring in a more hypothyroid environment. So if your thyroid is not working properly, let’s say you have antibodies going on. And those antibodies could always be rooted back in something from diet or gut. But, you know, get– getting some blood work could be helpful in this too. If you’re trying to figure out, “Hey what other things have I done? I’ve– I’ve worked on my gut, I’ve worked on my liver, brain’s still not working”, would you agree thyroid would be a good potential other step in this?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, anything if there’s a hormone imbalance that’s gonna affect energy typically, when energy’s low uh– focus and cognitive will be low. It’s very rare that someone is tired but has good brain function. Meaning, memory, retention, you know, verbal fluency, right, a– they’re typically connected. You need a baseline of energy for your brain to be functioning well. So if there’s low thyroid or low adrenal, that definitely needs to be addressed. There’s other herbs we can use, bacopa is another big one that helps modulate a lot of our dopamine, and serotonin neurotransmitters. We know dopamines’ really important for focus, right? Uh– it’s also can be burnt up, it can be converted downstream to adrenaline. So if it was adrenal stress you can burn up dopamine and convert it to adrenaline. Dopamine’s also needed for TRH release in the hypothalamus. TRH is the thyroid releasing hormone. It goes from the hypothalamus to the pituitary. The pituitary then makes TSH which is thyroid stimulating hormone which then talks to our thyroid to make T-4, little bit of T-3 and then T-4 gets converted periphery and add this– add the– thyroid receptor cells uh– ___[22:16] as well.

Evan Brand: Try to think of any other things I haven’t mentioned from a– from our supplement perspective. Did you mention the Omega? [crosstalk]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s the– the amino acid I think are really important just because of the fact that they’re precursors to all that I just mentioned. Like you just were looking to Omega-3s, great, because 1, uhm— DHCA’s really important neurological building block. The EPA fat is really anti-inflammatory so if we have inflammation or cognitive inflammation going on, EPA can be really anti-inflammatory as well.

Evan Brand: You say DHCA but you meant DHA.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: No, yeah– DHA. De– de– uhm— docosahexaenoic acid, that’s the 22 fattic— uh– the 22 fatty acid kind of compound. EPA is uh– Eicosapentaenoic acid, that’s a 20-carbon fatty acid compound. And then we have the– uhm— linoleic– lino– yeah, linolenic acid that’s like the Flax Omega-3 that’s in 18 carbon. So we go from 18 to 20 to 22, and– the higher up you go, uhm— the better.

Evan Brand: Yeah, we– super important for kids, you know, we got a lot of parents listening. We have a lot of– a lot of parents that bring kids to us, and lot of developmental, a lot of– uh– oh I guess I would call it cognitive performance issues at school. Gotta make sure the kids are getting enough Omega’s ’cause if these kids are doing like grass-fed steaks, I mean, look at the standard american diet for a child. I mean it’s like chicken nuggets and macaroni. I mean, these kids are getting– they’re getting no DHA. They’re brains are just not supported. So, you know, here’s–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh yeah.

Evan Brand: And then of course what is the doctor do, they put the kid on like vyvanse, or ritalin or some other pharmaceutical drug to try to fix the kid’s behavioral issues–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: I mean, Justin and I– [crosstalk]– Yeah, it’s not good. It’s not good. I mean, you’ve– you and I have seen so many cases kids, where like, I– I just actually saw a kids this morning, uh– a little girl, she’s 11 years old, she’s sort of put H-pylori, she had 4 different parasites, like 6 or 7 different bacterial overgrowth, she had candida overgrowth as well. An the mom’s like, “Well, where did all these come from?”. You know, of course we asked about antibiotic history and all that, but the kid can’t focus in school, the poops aren’t good, I mean, the behavior’s not good, they’re moody, it’s like, man! If we could just get every kid in the world, get their gut in shape, the world would be a better place. I mean, these things don’t discriminate. It don’t matter if you’re 2 years old, or– 200 hundred years old. You could still have bugs.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. Now other compounds that are great. Ginseng is excellent, that kind of falls in the adaptogenic category. I’d also put ashwagandha, and rhodiola in that category as well– right? I mean they’re gonna have modulates stress hormones. Uhm– some of them have various glycoalkaloids in there that can be– immune modulating and can also be a little bit stimulating, or– adrenal modulating as well. So it’s stimulating where they– can bump up cortisol if it’s low. But if cortisol goes too high and some can have a modulating effect as well which is– which is nice. And if you look at some of the herbs like ashwagandha which is one of my favorites, it’s– you know, look at herbalists like Stephen Buhner, you know, he kind of gives up the thumbs up a– as a long term herbal approach. And it has some really good immuno-modulating qualities people with lyme can really benefit, or lyme co-infections can really benefit from. So we like that as well. And then you have your uhm— blood flow stimulating compounds like ginko is really good. Uhm– what else outside of ginko— I mean, you can do systemic based enzymes to help thin out the blood which can be really helpful for allowing to improve blood flow. Uh– Gotu Kola is really good like I mentioned–

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: –on top of that. And then of course for inflammation like the uh– the– this– this– uhm— Alpha-GPC, these various choline compounds can be really anti-inflammatory to the brain, and then things like resveratrol can be excellent. I went to a conference where uhm— a coach is interviewed for one of the ma– major like uhm— football university, I think it was Oregon– Oregon State. We talked about that, a lot of the uhm— college players now are getting like diluted grape juice. Or– or diluted like gr– like juice grapes after practice ’cause they found that resveratrol and some of the modulating compounds in there can help in brain inflammation. So they’re starting to wise up to this stuff at the higher collegiate where brain traumas happen. I mean, I would– I would supplement that as well. I mean, these guys are more active so if there’s any extra sugar in there, that’s probably not a bad thing but– most people may do better which is the extract without all the extra sugar along with it.

Evan Brand: I would agree, yeah, and it’s– uh– probably more purer in extract form–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: –versus like some conventional glyphosate sprayed grapes. You mentioned the fish oil, I mean–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly.

Evan Brand: –we could– we could technically probably say that fish oil would be something for the blood flow because it is–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Evan Brand: –thinning the blood a little bit.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It is thinning the blood and then, your other anti-inflammatories like Curcumin as well I think are also very helpful because they help reduce inflammation and they can have some immune modulating qualities. So I like that, I mean, if you’re gonna reduce inflammation that’s gonna have a cognitive benefit. If you can reduce inflammation in the brain like some of these– uhm— choline compounds and or resveratrol, uhm— Curcumin compounds, that can also be excellent as well. Anything else you wanna highlight there?

Evan Brand: Yeah I would say CBD, kind of a dial. I use it almost everyday. I’ve given [crosstalk] to a lot of my clients–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Benefits, yeah.

Evan Brand: To– tons of good benefits kind of balancing out your CB-1, CB-2, uh– receptor sites, you have everywhere in the body. Now some people, you know, for talking like for pain perspectives, CBD alone doesn’t help that much with the pain, they may need a little bit of THC, but you’ve gotta be in a state where you can access the THC. There’s like a 30 different states in the U.S. with either medical or recreational– all of our Canada listeners, they just legalized cannabis completely. So, the doors are wide open now for people to get it and– you know, it may only take a small amount like a 20 to 1 CBD to THC ratio to really help with pain inflammation in the brain. I’ve had some people who they just get miraculous results. Now, it’s not a root cause, right? Like it’s not a deficiency–  

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: –with CBD oils. Some may argue there is such thing as an endocannabinoid deficiency like, we know cannabinoids are naturally in breastmilk so we could argue that we’re built to have these. But I still think the other root cause is you gotta hit those first, you know. If this helps you, great. But make sure you still like, fix your gut. I could’ve taken all the CBD in the world but I still had IBS ’cause I had gut issues.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, what about beta endorphin? How’s beta endorphin connect with CBD? ‘Cause beta endorphins kind of our natural anti– pain, anti-depressant, right?

Evan Brand: I don’t know if CBD modulates it like, when I think of beta endorphin being modulated I think of more like Kratom. But I don’t know if CBD can– can affect that. I– I won’t see it does ’cause I’m not sure.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so I’m looking here, and right now, it says THC has been shown to stimulate β-Endorphin production. And I imagine CBD may as well. So I’m looking at a couple articles right here, yeah–

Evan Brand: Or maybe CBD– maybe– [crosstalk]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: –by triggering their release of β-Endorphin, yes.

Evan Brand: Oh, cool.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: There’s article– there’s articles on this, that CBD and THC. Now the problem with THC is, you know, you’re gonna have some cognitive stuff– uhm— I’m not a fan of using any THC before someone’s at least 25 years old. Because there’s an article came out last week where I can stunt brain development. So, m– males not gonna have their brain fully formed ’till about 25. A woman is more 18 to 20. So I’d be very careful in using THC with someone ben– beneath the age of 25. CBD is not gonna have the same quite effect. But if you look here, there is some research showing that CBD can stimulate β-Endorphin which is good. Now, here’s the thing– what is β-Endorphin made of? Right, that’s the next question. Uh– β-Endorphin, is actually made of 9– 19 different amino acids.

Evan Brand: Ahh.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: People like ___[30:05] that really good benefits using DLPA–

Evan Brand: I love DLPA.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: — DL-Phenylalanine which is a– a– it is a– kind of isomer uh– Phenylalanine which is a precursor to the thyroxine that goes more down the β-Endorphin pathway. Yeah, I’m looking here: the CB-2 re– the CB-2 receptor agonist can invoke the trigger and release of β-Endorphin. So kind of a dial uh– compound. So, I think you’re seeing this increase in β-Endorphin which is a natural anti pain, anti depressant compound. We get β-Endorphin– the runners high, right? That’s β-Endorphin that worked out high, that’s β-Endorphin. Remember, that molecules’ 19 amino acids long. So we need protein to make it. So DLPA and or just good free form amino acids are gonna be important, good protein absorption, good digestion. And the CBD, potentially could help improve that stimulation. But again, I– I’m ver– when I hear the word “stimulate”, I’m very careful because– it s– stimulate what? So, there’s a building– it comes from something, right? So we wanna make sure the building block to make it are also present as well. I hear “stimulate”, Ithink whipping a tired horse, right?

Evan Brand: Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Gotta be careful.

Evan Brand: Yeah you make a good point. Always go into the root. The amino acids are great. ___[31:19] is a huge–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Doing both is probably better, right?

Evan Brand: Yeah, I– I’m– I– I– I wonder if the THC maybe it helps β-Endorphin more ’cause like I said, some clients report as soon as they add in just a tiny amount. The pain relief is way better. So, maybe CBD does it good, maybe THC does it more, I don’t know.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean, the big thing is, with the THC, you have the– the psychoactive components there– uhm— you have a– little bit of decrease in memory– and– and motivation, and then you have a little bit slower reaction time. So you have some things, and there’s some research there to say, “Hey, you know, it can decrease cognitive development as well”. So if you’re gonna use THC, don’t use it ’till uh– if you’re guy until your late 20’s. And if you need something therapeutic, try m– moving more towards the CBD end– of the spectrum.

Evan Brand: Yup. So those are question here about, “Is it okay to get resveratrol from red wine or is alcohol ruin the benefits?”. I mean, it is so ridiculously silly that you can do that from wine. I mean, that’s like freakin’ marketing from the alcohol industry. There’s a study I’ve got here from PUBMED. They call it the analysis of resveratrol, in wines, and they’re looking in all these different types. For example most of the red wines tested, they were getting .36. This is 0.36 milligrams per liter of wine. We’re talking less than half of one milligram per– per liter of wine! I’m sure there’s some to have higher, but that was like the average. They found that– uhm— white wines, they contained an average of .5 milligram. So half of one milligram of resveratrol per liter. And when Justin and I use a resveratrol supplement, I mean, typically, we’re doing what, 500 milligrams? If not, more.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. And again, I mean, when they do this studies, they’re probably not testing organic wines–

Evan Brand: True.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: –and they probably looking at the quality of the wine. So, let’s just say if you’re like– like– your companies out there that are– are lab testing they’re wine and– and tryin’ to make sure the– the quality is higher. So if it’s organic, and the alcohol content’s lower– so I know like Dry Creek wines, they do some lab testing where they choose lower alcohol content and it’s organic. You probably may have more of those compounds in it, but I wouldn’t say, hey, if you wanna have a glass or two– wine every now and then, I don’t think it’s a big deal. Just choose higher quality ones but I wouldn’t– say to yourself, “Hey this is gonna be the only place I’m gonna get this extra resveratrol”. I would probably supplement as– as well on top of that.

Evan Brand: Right. Like a– say, you were trying do a lyme protocol and sometimes we choose Japanese knotweed, they naturally contains the resveratrol. And we’re looking at 4 to 500 hundred milligrams. Let’s just say your wine was amazing and organic, maybe it’s got 10 milligrams of resveratrol per liter. And you’re not gonna drink a liter of wine. At least I hope you’re not in one sitting.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so I think you have a lot of food that have just negative uhm— toxins in there as– as well. And so that may negate some of the– that may be a confounding variable that prevents, you know, let’s just say, better findings from happening. So–

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: –I would just say make sure we just have the– the quality aspect dialed in with the alcohol that you’re consuming.

Evan Brand: Yup, well I know we’ve got to run– we’re both uh– late for our clients so we should probably wrap up.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, let’s just hear one last thing here.

Evan Brand: Okay.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Let’s just talk about the– the pharmaceutical nootropics. So you– we have things like modafinil approach ___[34:32], which really is used for like uh– narcolepsy or like, just falling asleep during the day a lot, uh– that can be helpful on the cognitive side but it’s a drug, there’re some not so nice side effect. So you really gotta be careful, right? It can cause sore throats, headaches, vomiting, hallucinations, we gotta be careful with that. We have some of the– the racetam compounds as well, which can fit into that GABA kind of receptor site in the brain that can improve some cognitive stuff there. 5, 400, 800 milligrams a day can be helpful but again there’s some side effects. Uhm– it can interfere with blood thinning, it can cause insomnia, it can cause agitation anxieties, so you gotta make sure you keep an eye on that. And then we have things like uhm— you know, the– uhm— obviously the adderall the stimulants, the– the methamphetamines can be very stimulating and can also burn out your neurotransmitters but– acutely can be helpful but not the– the best thing long term. Then we have things like fenavit which also has a GABA like receptor quality to ___[35:29] acid somewhere to GABA, can help kind of relax the brain a little bit, turn on those inhibition or turn– inhibit the brain, turn on the inhibition centers where I can relax and turn things off. But again, there’re some addictive components there uhm— that can be a problem. Withdrawal stuff, addiction like stuff so you gotta be careful with that. We might try to use things like L-theanine and GABA, and Valerian root, and things that are more relaxing uhm— then– just use fenavit off the bat. Evan, any comments there.

Evan Brand: Yeah, I– I had friends addicted to fenavit so ii— it definitely can be very dangerous if you do too much or too often, so, yeah. It works great, I do carry it, I do use it on occasion with clients but you just gotta be careful. I’m glad you mentioned the potential for it, and I do prefer like you said, some of the other herbs instead.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s interesting because I have seen a lot of information online saying it’s not addictive, but then you see also–

Evan Brand: People saying it can be–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: What’s your take on it, what did you see on your research?

Evan Brand: Oh, I don’t care who says that it’s not addictive. It’s freakin’ addictive my– my buddy who was addictive to it for a while. He was using about, you know, high dose of it. About a gram or 2 per day. And if he ran out of it, he did not sleep. He had panic attacks, he had uncontrollable shaking, I mean, when you hit that GABA receptor that hard, and then you pull out this phenyl GABA, you do not feel well. Anxiety, panic attacks, heart palpitations, etc. A mutual friend of ours Wendy Myers she’s talked about using fenavit or phenyl GABA for sleep. But, you don’t wanna be taking that every single night. I mean, you wanna just have good sleep hygiene and go to bed and be able to sleep. You don’t wanna have to depend on something like that.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah and if you need, just try to use some more of the amino acids, L-theanine or just GABA by itself first.

Evan Brand: Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhm– so that– that’s kinda your best first step. Anything else you wanna add here Evan?

Evan Brand: I– I would just say, you know, test, don’t guess. We talked about a lot of supplements, you could easily go on amazon and buy a bunch of crap that you don’t need. So we would prefer that you get yourself tested because– you’re not gonna– you’re not gonna find that– “XYZ’ is the miracle silver bullet. You know, you’ve got to work on the full body system. And then once you’ve a good foundation, then buy your supplements. And make sure they’re practitioner grade. ‘Cause you can go the whole foods or, you know, go to Walgreens and you could buy fish oil. But, I don’t know if that’s gonna be good enough, you know. So we always want you, just go quality over quantity.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally. Wise words my friend. Well today was a phenomenal podcast. Appreciate the back and forth of you guys. Enjoy to give use the thumbs up, give us the share, we appreciate it, make sure you subscribe if you wanna dig deeper. Feel free and click below here to schedule consults with us if you wanna take that next step. Hey Evan, it was phenomenal chatting, you have a great day and best of luck with your patients.

Evan Brand: Take care. Bye bye.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Take care, bye.


Analysis of resveratrol in wine, from PubMed

Brain Health and Brain Performance with Cavin Balaster – Podcast #182

Welcome to another functional medicine video with Dr. Justin Marchegiani and the author of the book, “Feed a Brain,” Cavin Balaster! In this video, they talk about brain health and brain performance. They delve on healing from brain injuries and neurotherapies. They also talk about improving neuroplasticity and optimal nutrition for the brain in helping your brain work better.

Stay tuned for more knowledge bombs!

Cavin Balaster

Cavin Balaster

In this episode, we cover:

01:00   TBI: Severe Diffuse Axonal Injury

07:30   Videonystagmography and Vestibular Ocular Reflex

23:44   Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Gyrus Stem, Low-level Light Therapy

27:00   Ketogenic Diet and Brain Health

40:30   DHA and EPA for Neurological Health




Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey there! It’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani with Calvin Balaster. Really excited. Today’s all gonna be about brain health. Not only brain health and brain performance— Uh— Calvin’s got a very unique hi— history where he’s healed from brain— a brain injury himself, personally. So, we’re gonna get the nitty gritty of what he’s been able to do to heal, techniques. He also has a book that’s out called, “Feed a Brain,” and you can go to to check out his book, where he talks about optimal nutrition for brain and neurological health, increasing neuroplasticity, helping your brain work better. Calvin, welcome to the show, man.

Cavin Balaster: Thanks so much, Justin. I had to correct you, it’s Cavin, without the l—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, I’m sorry. [crosstalk] Cavin. I alread— I want to go Calvin. It’s like calvin. It’s like…

Cavin Balaster: [crosstalk] Everybody does it. It’s a common fault. That is totally wrong.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …that missing— Yeah. Totally.

Cavin Balaster: [laughs] I’d had people be like, “Hey. Yo— You misspelled your name.” I’m like, “Oh, man!”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [laughs]

Cavin Balaster: “I’ve been doing that all my [crosstalk] life.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: If you’re so smart— [laughs]

Cavin Balaster: [laughs]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I know.

Cavin Balaster: I know. Totally, man.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And I knew it was Cavin. It’s just that like— you know. [crosstalk] Got it. Thanks for the correction. So, yeah, Cavin Balaster here. So, let’s dig in, man. Let’s start out with your history. You have a really unique history. What— 2011, you had a— a TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury. Is that true?

Cavin Balaster: Yeah, Severe Traumatic Brain Injury. A Severe Diffuse Axonal Injury, and if you go on Google and type in Diffuse Axonal Injury, you get source after source that all say 90% of patients with this injury [crosstalk] never regained consciousness.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. [crosstalk] I mean, yeah.

Cavin Balaster: And that the 10% that do most turn to vegetative state.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Unbelievable that you were able to thrive, and uh— I mean, you’re— you’re functioning at higher end. I mean, doing this kind of work. I mean, it takes a brain power. And to come from where you were— what, six or seven years ago, to where you are now is amazing. And you’re helping— you know— thousands of people. [crosstalk] So, that’s amazing. So, what happens? So, you had this fall, right?

Cavin Balaster: So, alright. So, I had from, like you said, like— First of all, I woke up, which is thank God. That’s the— I— I feel privileged, fortunate, lucky  uhm— purposeful-like, but additionally, I— I— I’m looking into what I was doing to protect my— my brain. And I think uh— Ketogenic style metabolism plays into it. Uhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Huge.

Cavin Balaster: And the— And I—  I wasn’t like into nutrition at that point but I wouldn’t eat all day. You now— So, I wouldn’t eat all day. You know, so I was proba— probably enter and do a Ketogenic metabolism. But, that’s a whole nother story. Let me uhm— break down what happened. So, I…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …fell. I wake up from a coma. I didn’t eat, walk or talk for months. My left hands was totally flexed inward. I was breathing through a tube in my neck. I was…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Wow.

Cavin Balaster: …receiving nutrition through a tube in my belly, and I got to put nutrition, air ports.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Cavin Balaster: We’ll come back to that, but yeah. The— the foods they give you are just loaded with corn syrup and soy…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …for protein.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Play out GMO too, right?

Cavin Balaster: Yes, exactly. Exactly. So, uhm— [pause] So, [pause] a lot played into my recovery. Uhm— As I regained my— my everyday in my normal abilities—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And when you fell, you fell head first, right?

Cavin Balaster: I hit my head on steel scaffolding. I was on the rooftop water tower…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …and I hit my head on the steel scaffolding on the way down.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uuh!

Cavin Balaster: And. I hit the back of my head on the concrete rooftop.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh my gosh!

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. [crosstalk] I—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [crosstalk] Yo— You— You’re coming to, you’ve mentioned— Or say, so now like what? Walk us through like when were you like, “Okay. Here’s the conventional physical therapy path.” Like, when did you start to deviate and…

Cavin Balaster: Uhmhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …starting to discover these natural therapies.

Cavin Balaster: Awesome. Well, I— Actually, my— my aunt was getting into functional neurology. She is nurse practi— or, sorry…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …non-neurology functional medicine. She’s a— She’s a nurse practitioner, and she asked one of her colleagues. She told her that— that her nephew had sustained a Severe Traumatic Brain Injury. What— Where should he go? You know— And her colleague was like, I— I— you know— know exactly who I had to take you to. It was my loved one, but he lives all the way in Austin, Texas. And uh— my mother lives in Austin. My mom was like by my side within hours and stuck me through— through my five months hot— months hospitalization. And then, brought me to her home in Austin to recover.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Wow.

Cavin Balaster: So, I was in Austin. And so, that’s where I started seeing a functional neurologist uhm— and he introduced me to a…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [crosstalk] What was his name?

Cavin Balaster: [crosstalk] …a special protocol. His name’s Dr. Thomas [crosstalk] Culleton.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Culleton, right? Yeah, I know Culleton. He’s great.

Cavin Balaster: I love Culleton. Yeah, he’s great.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I see.

Cavin Balaster: So, uhm— see— Yeah, well, I’m seeing Culleton, and he uhm— he puts me on a— on nutritional protocol. And, uhm— again, nutrition wasn’t on my RADAR at that point, but I was like, “I’m doing whatever it takes to get better.” And if— you know— if I’ve been steered here, and he says, “Change your diet,” guess what I’m doing— you know.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely.

Cavin Balaster: And then I began seeing how much of a difference nutrition was making, and I was like, “Whoah! Alright.” And so, I dove into study. I began research. First, I was learning what had happened ‘cause I’d been a fog for almost a year since my injury— Total Brain Fog. And so I started going through medical records, text messages, emails like, deciphering what happened. And then, at the same time, why did nutrition makes such a big difference, and how could I optimize my recovery. So, that’s where I went down the a rabbit hole. I— I was studying like my life depended on it because it did. And this is a common story with anybody who w— who was uhm— hit with a— with a debilitating condition, where with something that just changes everything, guess what you do. You study like your life depends on it, right? And so, here I am studying, and then at the same ti— like I’m learning how to walk at this point.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Cavin Balaster: But, we have the internet, and I’m able to reach people all over the globe that are doing things like you’re doing, and— and reaching people all over the place from their homes when they’re unable to go outside— you know. And— and that— So, I’m so thankful of what you’re doing, Dr. J. And—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, I appreciate that. I appreciate it…

Cavin Balaster: Absolutely.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …and i love the stories, the inspiration, because there’s always someone out there, whether it’s someone that got a TBI from a car accident or a fall like yourself, or sports, or just they’re in a Chronic Brain Fog because of their diet and inflammation. I think the principles that you used to help you recover are gonna be at least a starting point for everyone. So, you hook uh— hooked up with— with Cullerton. He did some of the neurological work with you.

Cavin Balaster: Uhmhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Was he doing some exercises and was there any adjusting? What kind of— kind of therapies was he adding to his uh— to your protocol to help get you healed up? And then, we’ll deal with some of the nutrition and supplement stuff later on.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah, absolutely. Yes. He was doing— He was doing a lot of stuff up…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …particularly with my eyes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: Uhm— And I was seeing a Neuro-Optometrist. So, one of the main things he did was uh— [stutter] One of them, like most pivotal things, to my understanding, that he did was that he put me in a uh— he gave me a VNG, which is Videonystagmography. Big words. Basically, you put on these goggles…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …that videotape your eyeballs. And then, he spun me in a chair. Because what happens when you’re spun in the chair is you have what’s called the Vestibular Ocular Reflex. So, your Vestibular System and your Visual System are very connected. So, if I— if like— If I look at you and I shake my head but I keep my I on you, I’m able to do that. Because, essentially, when you turn your head one way, the Vestibular Ocular Reflex automatically tails your eyes to move the other way. Even if your eyes are closed with no visual stimuli, right? So— So, it was really interesting. When I spun in the chair, my eyes barely moved. They slowly moved the other way, and then what would suppose to happen is, your eyes go the other way, then they kind of bounce back and forth while you have like two reflexes sort of battling it out. You have the Vestibular Ocular Reflex, which wants to move in the opposite direction that you’re moving, and then you have uh— you— You want to look straight, like your eyes want to continue looking straight. So, itt kind of boobles back and forth. Mine slowly moved over the one side and didn’t move. And so, there was— there was a problem with this— this very primitive uh— neurological reflex. I mean…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Got it.

Cavin Balaster: …every mammal has this reflex. [crosstalk] And I don’t have it anymore.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [crosstalk] So, what happened next? So he saw this reflex was missing. What was the next step?

Cavin Balaster: So, we started doing Vestibular Therapy, right? I— I actually began uhm— doing his— I have a— Have you ever seen a Gyrus stem?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: Or uh— some of the— some of the functional neurology equipment? So, he didn’t have a Gyrus stem but this is what’s cool. We can— We can mimic a lot of the— the same effects uhm— because I— I got to the point where I was in much better health, nutritionally. And I was able to do— I was doing Aquatic therapy, and I was able to do a backflip in the pool. So, i— he— it was— I mean, he told me. It’s like, “You do Aquatic therapy. Do you think you could do a backflip in the pool?” Not a backflip like out of the water. Into the pool…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Cavin Balaster: Although I do that now, but at the time like I would do it underwater, like just spin myself. Because I would activate the uh— semicircular canals, uhm— and affect my— my brain and affect my eyes, which affects your brain. Like, in fact, you have 12 cranial nerves.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Cavin Balaster: Four of those are dedicated to your Visual system. One-third of your cranial nerves— one-third of the nerves that are— that make up the output from your brain to your body are dedicated to these two little peepers.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: That’s amazing. So, that’s why your eyes are the window to your brain. We’ve heard, “The eyes are the window to the soul,” right? The eyes are— From a neurological perspective, you can see so much about how the brain is functioning, and how well it’s uh— interpreting the world through vision.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. we have our number six (6) cranial nerve. That’s uh— basically, controls the lateral rectus, eyes going out this way and this way. Abducens, right? We have the Superior Oblique…

Cavin Balaster: Uhmhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …which is gonna be down and in. [crosstalk] —the Oculomotor.  

Cavin Balaster: So, yeah. The Trochlear nerve, what you’re talking about, the— it’s a superior oblique.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep.

Cavin Balaster: That was what was partially damaged with me, and it’s very common with Brain Injury, uh— Fourth Nerve Injuries are very common because that…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …that cranial nerve actually wraps around your brain stem, whereas the other ones just kind of straight shot. So, it has more surface area to be damaged.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [breathes]

Cavin Balaster: And it’s pretty common.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, what were the top three exercises that— that Culleton worked on with you that really had the best bang for your buck? Like, you started doing these. These become part of your routine. What really moved the needle for you on uh—exercise stimulation standpoint?

Cavin Balaster: Uh— E— I mean, it’s— It’s very specific to—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …to different patients. I’m actually toured Revive Treatment Centers in Denver, which is a Functional Neurology uh—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, awesome!

Cavin Balaster: …Treatment Center. It’s awesome. I love it here. That’s where we got the uh— the spine over there. Uhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. And uhm— So— So—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And I— And just a caveat for everyone, I know it’s gonna be 100% individualized for you…

Cavin Balaster: Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …with your testing. But just— just for the listeners. We’re not gonna like lis— you know— people who are d— having a brain injury, go see someone and get tested…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …specifically. But I just want to know your pattern. What really moved the needle for you?

Cavin Balaster: I know. Honestly, if you want to learn more, about Functional Neurology…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …check out my podcast. I interviewed all sorts of brilliant Functional Neurologists. Uhm— It’s the Adventures in Brain Injury Podcast.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We’ll put the link below, We’ll put the URL below.

Cavin Balaster: Uhmhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We’ll put it in the show notes. We’re also gonna put So, if you guys are listening and you want to access it, just click below in the description, ether on YouTube or the podcast, and you’ll see it there.

Cavin Balaster: Nice.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hope you—

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. And again, the Adventures in Brain Injury podcasts— I came into this from a brain injury, but we are going way beyond brain injury. Brain—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. Alright. So, uhm— Some of the exercises I did, first of all, the backflips in the pool. Uhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: That— That really helped uhm— get my vision back together to a large degree so, I still have Diplopia or Double Vision but to a much lesser degree than what I did have. And my— my eyes teemed better in my best ability, like, the reflex is better, and all that seems like, “Yeah. It’s your vision.” You know, like uhm— I mean, what I said is like when— when my mom started taking me to a vision therapy, I was like, “So, I’ll have to wear glasses for the rest of my life, big deal? It’s not like other people don’t have to do that.” She’s like, “We’re doing it.” And then, I was like, “I— I need to re— I need to learn how to run and— and— and relearn how to walk and balance, and all these stuff.” And she’s like, “We’re on a vision therapy.” And I am so glad she took me there because, again, your eyes lend so much to everything else when it comes to your brain. So uh—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.

Cavin Balaster: So, there’s a gem for you, like Neuro-Optometry and— and uh— Functional Neurology have to do with the Vestibular Rehabilitation, uhm— Balance, and then— and then, affecting different uhm— different uhm— modes and— and uh— [hisses inward] How do I say this? So, do you know Vibration Platforms?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: Are you familiar with using ones?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. One right to my— right over here in the corner…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …of my gym.

Cavin Balaster: Nice. Nice. Yep. I have one as well. I—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Excellent.

Cavin Balaster: I actually got a Vibration Platform so that I could work with it everyday, because uhm— your balance is so important as well. That’s vestibular, right? And, for many brain injury uhm— Many people that have brain injury or any nerve degeneration, or anything, they have trouble telling where they are in space and time. So, for example, me. Uh— Dr. Culleton said, “Put your feet together, stand up and then, close your eyes.”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: And I did, and I like, “Tuub!” Toppled over. Right? Like, just started falling. And he caught me and all that, right?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: But then, he uhm— and— and he’s like, “Yep. Let’s try putting you on a Vibration Platform and do it.” And did there, and I was able to stand. And, the reason why is because—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: More input.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah, more input, right? And your body keeps on getting, like everything is firing…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …and telling your brain like, “Okay. This is happening over here.” So, that was part of the rehabilitation that was really important.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, the Whole Body Vibration stuff. Are there any specific exercises you’re doing daily that— Do you do any Cardinal gay stuff? Were you following Effinger? Or do you do any of the— Were you following the red and white strips, the— the OPQ—

Cavin Balaster: Uhmhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …kind of O— OPK Strip? [crosstalk] Uhm—- Is there anything else that you’re doing? What’s your daily routine looking like from an exercise, a neurological exercise standpoint?

Cavin Balaster: I really love that you know uhm— of— of most of these uhm— most of these [crosstalk] modalities.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Techniques.

Cavin Balaster: [crosstalk] A lot of…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. That’s great.

Cavin Balaster: …functional medicine doctors are not aware. I was like, when I—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think it’s important. Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: I think it is so important, and I really love like how ahead, of uh— of a lot of times, you are, and I’m— I’m hopeful that a lot of your listeners are as well. And I— I love being able to promote and then spread this information so that we can help more people…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I love it.

Cavin Balaster: …in our lives, positively. [crosstalk] Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I love it.

Cavin Balaster: So, all of it was great. Uhm— I— I tend to be extremely busy with things so uhm— So, I— I tried to consolidate my therapy exercises.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Let’s hear it. [crosstalk] How did it look?

Cavin Balaster: So, one of the things I do is a Brock string…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep.

Cavin Balaster: …which basically, you tie a string, you have some beads on it, and you bring it to your nose and you look at the beads. And what happens is your eyes focus on a spot. And, it’s so hard to explain this. And you see like two strings. They go into the dot you’re focusing on, and then go out. And uhm— May— Maybe, you put that in the notes or something because uh— I have been trying to explain that in the way that like most people understand, but most people look at me like, “What the hell are you talking about?” So—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I get it.

Cavin Balaster: [laughs]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. I do that uhm— some uh— you know— and then the rest of the— of uh— and no nose as well. Like as I’m going down on that. As I’m like going up and down on the beads so that I’m testing these different gazes, and I change my gaze a little bit. The whole point is if I didn’t keep my gaze, if I didn’t keep uhm— things single uhm— wh— where I— from whatever gaze, which I am unable to do. But, that’s what I’m working to be able to do because vision lends so much to attention. And attention is everything.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You may benefit from I actually got—

Cavin Balaster: I’ve heard of BrainHQ.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I got this website from a— from Tom Brady, not personally, but in his book. Tom…

Cavin Balaster: Cool

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …was a— you know— famous quarterback from the New England Patriots. Huge Brady fan.

Cavin Balaster: Oh, yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: —is this for Visual Acuity, looking off receivers, you know— being able to look…

Cavin Balaster: Uhmhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …across the field. So, it’s basically computer program that involves things moving. And you look in the center and then you pick up and you count.

Cavin Balaster: Right.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh— You can download the app for [crosstalk] your own—

Cavin Balaster: I had actually— I just remembered, I’ve used BrainHQ. Uhm— I was part of a uh— a study for the University of Pittsburgh, where I had my brain scanned with High-definition Fiber Tracking, uhm— which is just an amazing technology. Basically breaks down the uh— neurons and axons fibers into 2.4 millimeter cubed voxels or three-dimensional pixels.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Wow.

Cavin Balaster: So, we can see where neurons start, where they ends, or where were these groupings of neurons. Because, who want a 4-millimeter cube to super uhm— it’s— it’s super high-definition. However, we have 86 billion neurons in our brain.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.

Cavin Balaster: So, each one of those has like thousands. But, you know, they get damaged in groups so we cannot— We can see so much with them.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [crosstalk] So, I’m just listening to some of the things you’re saying right now. Just to kind of break it off the people at home, I think Vibration Therapy I think is great. Have you had access to a Vibration plate? I think using some of the BrainHQ applications uh— are doing similar with some of the exercises you’re doing at home. So, that’s just two off the bat. Exercises that I’m just trying to give people that are listening at home, things that they could do…

Cavin Balaster: Hm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …maybe just help. Uh—Anything else you want to add, or do you want to add to the BrainHQ stuff?

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. So, BrainHQ, I used it for a bit. It was cool, uhm— but it’s also a— It wasn’t very specialized and it wasn’t uhm— It wasn’t as useful as some of the— the tools that I’ve seen out there, and that I’ve actually uhm— used uhm— myself, like, even apps that you can download for free. I used [crosstalk] one.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Which ones _____[20:15]?

Cavin Balaster: So, I— I used one called Elevate…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …which is great. Uhm— Also, just to keep my brain sharp after my injury, I began doing uhm— Khan Academy type things, where— So—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: Khan Academy was great because it walks you through Math from whatever place you are, and then moving up and up and up. And uh— And I began taking like SAT Questions on my phone as well. So, there’s different aspects of neurological recovery because the thing is, what you want to do to— to keep your brain sharp or to improve your brain— Yeah. To improve your brain or to rehabilitate your brain is basically if something’s difficult, that’s what you need to do.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Correct.

Cavin Balaster: And I— I think of it like uh— like— you know— What you’ve been doing all your life, you’ve— you’ve basically— It’s a pathway that you’ve been do— using for so long that that pathway is now like a six-lane highway. And when you want to do something else, if you want to choose a different route, you need to go through the woods, right?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.

Cavin Balaster: And so, it’s— [stutter] You need some like motivation to go through the woods as well. And with that uh— That‘s a whole nother uhm— a whole nother book that I’m working at actually. It’s about finding motivation and the— the mindset, you need beyond recovery. But to like, for an optimal mind, uhm— using— using your— your brain and your tension, and your uhm— emotions to your benefit, to bring about the outcome you earn for.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I love it. And what are some of the things that you’re trying to accomplish at the Neurological Center up in Colorado…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …this weekend?

Cavin Balaster: So, I’m actually out here uhm— on my way to L.A. to speak for the World Congress on Brain Mapping and Therapeutics.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cool.

Cavin Balaster: And I’m actually going to be bringing up some of the neuroimaging that I did in the University of Pittsburgh, uhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, great.

Cavin Balaster: …because they skin my brain uhm— in October 2016 and then again in uuuh— Ma— May? Yeah, May of two thousand— No, July of 2017. And so uhm— And so— We have a company.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s okay.

Cavin Balaster: So, uhm— [laughs] So, yes uuuh—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 2016, you got the mapping done. And then what kind of uh— plasticity changes uhm— have you seen since then?

Cavin Balaster: Well, so Dr. Okonkwo over at uhm— uh— University of Pittsburgh, he said to me— He was like— you know— “We saw— There were places in your brain that felt out of normal range on— in the first scan. And here in the next scan, we see them within the nerve— the— the normal range.” So, I’m really excited. I’m actually working on getting the actual like scans to present. And it’s kind of been a little uh— a little tricky but remember…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cause I— I remember— We— We talked, like maybe three years ago, one of the PaleoFX’s and I can see over the years you continue to improve. I can see with the eye [crosstalk] and then with the speech, it continues to…

Cavin Balaster: Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …get better and better and better  so, there’s definitely neuroplasticity that’s happening year after year. So, that must be really exciting for you huh?

Cavin Balaster: It’s great. It’s awesome. You know uhm— So, what I’m doing that revived is— is TMS, which is Transcranial…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …Magnetic Stimulation.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: Uhm— HBOT so I prepared Oxygen therapy, uhm— Gyrus stem. So, like the backflips on the like on steroids with the adult-sized Gyrus Scope. Uhm— We’re doing a Low-Level Light Therapy uhm— so— so, Cold lasers. Stimula—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We do it over the area here you hit?

Cavin Balaster: Yeah, and over the area that’s damaged. What’s really cool is that I— I— I have neuroimaging to actually see where there’s— where there’s structural damage uhm— and— And so, it’s— it’s really cool to be able to affect change with this.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Have you done any SPECT Scans at all, like— like Dr. [stutters] Dr. Ayman [crosstalk] does?

Cavin Balaster: Right. No, I haven’t, actually.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Have you done any of the uhm— any of the Neurofeedback Scans that Dr. Andrew Hill does?

Cavin Balaster: I have not. No.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’ve been curious. [crosstalk] I’m really capable of— imagine those probably on your list. You got a lot of things…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …that— that are really queue, right?

Cavin Balaster: If you want to uh— make an introduction or anything, that’d be great.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh!

Cavin Balaster: Uhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely, man. I think with your podcast and everything— you know— it’d be great promotion to get you in there, and it’d be— you know— be awesome to share your experience on the show. So, yeah. I mean if— Let me know. I can get you connected with Dr. Andrew Hill. That’s awesome. I would love…

Cavin Balaster: Nice.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …to see that. Uhm— Whichever collea— uhm— Oh, what’s his name? Ben Greenfield…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …just did something with Dr. Andrew Hill last year with some of the brain mapping stuff. So, I would love to see you connect because I think, with your injury and then the healing process, I think it’s great to see the healing happen over time.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. And uh— I was just on uh— uh— Ben’s podcast, not too long ago.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, cool.

Cavin Balaster: And it was— It was fantastic. Yeah. I really like that guy. And thank you so much for what you said about— about uhm— seeing my improvement.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh.

Cavin Balaster: You know—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s— It’s night and day.

Cavin Balaster: Nice. That’s exactly what Michelle uh— Norris says.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh.

Cavin Balaster: She—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: To—

Cavin Balaster: She—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally night and day.

Cavin Balaster: Then, yeah. She’s seen— seen me going through all this. And what uh— you know— As far as the diet goes, like I was troubleshooting my dietary protocol for a long time, trying to find what was going to optimize my recovery. And uhm— [coughs] And, you know— As— As I figured it out, they were definitely bad days where I’d be like, “Oh, that didn’t work.” And like for…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Cavin Balaster: …example, PaleoFX. Like I’m totally guilty of getting a bunch of Paleo junk food.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, totally.

Cavin Balaster: Ain’t going at it, right? Uhm— And I think that’s— that’s like uh— a piece of the whole like— you know— People thinking, “Well, this is healthy because Paleo.” Well, no, not necessarily. Well, this is— uh— not necessarily, right?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. Uh—

Cavin Balaster: —for you if it’s healthy…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …right?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right. Uh— Paleo tree is definitely better than going full-on out Gluten and stuff, but yeah. We got…

Cavin Balaster: Right.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …to keep it within the 80-20 or 90-10, you know— what— whatever that percentage is for you. So, what’s your diet looking like right now? Are you kind of a Keto, Paleo, really trying to get the therapeutic levels of ketones up?

Cavin Balaster: So, yes. I think ketones are awesome.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: However, my book does not require a Ketogenic diet at all because, really, ketones— Well, Ketogenic metabolism— a lot of people aren’t prepared [crosstalk] to metabolize ketones, and to go on a strict Ketogenic diet, it will screw up their adrenals, it can screw up their thyroid…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm— Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …like— There’s a lot of things that— There’s— There’s some new ones that you need to be careful of.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: So, the Feet-to-Brain Protocol makes room for Ketogenic diet and helps you like move into it, because, essentially, what I did is I learned about a Ketogenic diet and I tiptoed into it, and slowly moved and saw how it felt like got my body used to metabolizing fat, bit by bit. And, when I was able to get to a therapeutic uhm— ketone level. Like, now— now, it’s like I very, very, very rarely eat grains. Like, I only eat grains uhm— as a treat like you were saying, right? Uhm— I— I keep an eye on my blood sugar— you know— what— But I pretty much know what my blood sugar is like, based on how I feel…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …because I’ve measured so many times. So, actually, I want to tell your listeners like, that one of the best things you can do for your health is monitor your blood sugar.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hmhm—

Cavin Balaster: And uhm— I— I have an article on my website—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I got my Blood Sugar Meter right here.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [crosstalk] You tell me you have over there too.

Cavin Balaster: Nice. So, uhm— lays out like what the deal is with blood sugar, and yeah, I— I— I uhm— level. I actually used a level device uhm— for breath uh— ketone analysis. Uhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay, cool.

Cavin Balaster: And that things like medical grade uhm— and— and— They had me testing it out. I actually brought it here to revive, and we’re— we’re testing the ketones and seeing how— how uh— how my metabolism is doing as we go through things. So, yeah. Uhm— But as far as— As far as Ketogenic goes, it’s extremely neuroprotective, but your brain health is so dependent on your overall health. So, you— So— So, when transitioning to a Ketogenic diet, it’s not healthy for your brain to just— to— to be super [pause] Ke— m— Keto when your adrenals are shutting down, you know. Uhm— So— So, be careful tiptoeing into it, but yeah. I’m a huge, huge proponent of— of Ketogenic metabolism.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, give us a rundown. What’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner looking like? And I also want to dive into of how you apply fasting or intermittent fasting.

Cavin Balaster: Uhmhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I know there’s some great benefits with the Cellular Autophagy, which is kind of cleaning up some of those damaged cells. So, let’s go into your diet. What’s breakfast, lunch and dinner? And then, how are you applying fasting if you are?

Cavin Balaster: Nice. So, breakfast is— Breakfast means “break fast.”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Break fasting.

Cavin Balaster: So when— It’s really— So, every night, we’re fasting, right? We fast for at least however long we sleep uhm— and usually longer, like hopefully, eight hours at least, right? Uhm— And then we break that fast. A lot of people are so caught up on that breakfast foods need  to be break— or breakfast needs to be breakfast foods. So, it got to be uh— So, it got to be cereal or oatmeal, or pancakes, or bacon…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Peptides.

Cavin Balaster: …or eggs, or pop-tarts— Right! Or whatever— you know— fruit salad or whatever uh— general meals says I should be eating for breakfast, right? And uh— [pause] uhm— [pause] And so, yeah. My breakfast is usually— It’s usually grains with uhm— with proteins like uh— fish or like a coldwater fatty fish…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …hopefully, live-caught, uhm— or steak. I’ll often have steak for breakfast.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, really good protein and fat, and you really jumped— [crosstalk] You’re really getting the fat in there, too?

Cavin Balaster: Absolutely, yeah. Protein—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, full fat meats?

Cavin Balaster: Absolutely, yeah. Some days I’ll— I’ll also incorporate some— some uh— heavily-buttered uhm— drink, or— or…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Of course.

Cavin Balaster: …I— I actually use Ghee ‘cause I— I react to— to [crosstalk] low-fat.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: The Casein and Lactose, right?

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. Yeah. So, I—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So like— Like kind of a bulletproof coffee kind of thing, right?

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: Somewhere there. Right. And— And the whole point is just to get that to like uhm— stoke the fire with some—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Get the ketones.

Cavin Balaster: …with some like wood— with some like heavy wood…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …to— to— to build that fire, instead of throwing kindling on it, which is what general meals wants you to do.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. That— That’s my— I’ve been using that analogy for a decade [crosstalk] with my patient—

Cavin Balaster: [crosstalk] It’s a great analogy.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: —like you got the fire, the wood is— that’s the protein and fat. And then, the more refined the carbohydrates go, the more it goes from twigs to paper to gasoline, which is…

Cavin Balaster: Nice.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …like alcohol refined sugar.

Cavin Balaster: Right.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, yeah. I— I think that’s— I think that’s— I think that’s really good. And then, imagine uh— lunch and dinner kind of the same thing: good meats, additional fat, full fatty cut, veggies. Is that— It’s kind of the— the gist.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: Uhm— And, as far as produce goes, I actually uhm— I separated to three different types of produce…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hmm—

Cavin Balaster: …uhm— that— that I make sure I get. So, dark leafy greens…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …colored and sulfur-containing— the three different types of uh— of produce you get. And then, also, seaweed and organ meats and coldwater fatty fish. I— I have this like a real deal superfood and probiotics, or fermented foods.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, that sounds like you’ve been listening to— to Dr. Terry Wahls, with the— with the three areas. Is that correct?

Cavin Balaster: Yes. Dr. Wahls uh— played a huge part of what it means to feed the brain, absolutely.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Cavin Balaster: Uhm— I really, really, really respect her research, and just who she is as general. I love…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …her work.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I was on a— I was on a panel with her at PaleoFX, maybe…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …three years ago. He’s— She’s great. That’s awesome. Alright. So, we hit the diet, and then just kind of things like— Some people, they may have blood sugar instability, whether it’s Adrenal Dysfunction, or Thyroid issue. They may not be able to do as much fasting. Simple things for the listeners, everyone should be able to do at least the 12-hour fast. So, whether your last meal is at 8:00 PM, you can have breakfast at 8:00 AM the next day. That could be an easy 12-hour way to get some of that Cellular Autophagy recycling. I’m just curious, how are you applying fasting to your— your brain healing program?

Cavin Balaster: Perfect. Thank you. Yeah. Yeah. I also eat one or two meals  day. Usually, two meals. Uhm— and— you know— I— I— Breakfast and dinner, usually. So— But then, sometimes, I’ll— I’ll uh— I’ll fast. And— And here’s the deal. With— When I fast, I fast when I don’t feel like eating— you know—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm— Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: Like, “You know, I— I don’t think I need a meal right now.” Like, “I’m just gonna drink water.” And uh— And that’s how— That’s how I’ll fast. If I feel like eating, you better believe I’m eating, you know.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And you’re making sure you’re getting enough nutrition during the day as well. So, those meals— if you’re doing two meals a day…

Cavin Balaster: Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …they have to be big meals.

Cavin Balaster: Big meal

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: They’re not like— And they got to be very purposeful with— you know— lots of phytonutrients, lot of good fat, right? So, you really got to make sure you get enough calories…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …i.e., nutrients, to sustain yourself, right?

Cavin Balaster: Yes, absolutely, especially, the produce. Uhm— Produce and Protein, I mean, all that— Like, for the brain health, I will— I will have just a massive salad…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …or like two or three of them, with— with some nice healthy uhm— uh— grass-fed, pasteurized or wild-caught protein meat— you know— And then, lots of fats and oils on there…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: Uhm— That’s— That’s what I’ll— I’ll— I’ll do. And, I often do a Bone Broth Fast…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …as well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great.

Cavin Balaster: Yes, it’s great. Here we got the electrolytes. We got the protein in there. And it’s just— It’s— It’s a nice uhm— nice like cleansing. Uhm— It feels great. You’ll— You’ll notice. If you do a Bone Broth Fast, especially, if you add in some— some uh— fats and oils to that, it really— it feels— it feels great. I— I have great clarity from that.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s awesome. And then, do you uhm— take any extra Hydrochloric or acid or enzymes to help with the digestion, or do you feel like you’re able to process everything really well.

Cavin Balaster: I don’t, but some of my clients do. Uhm— I— I— I— I’m— I’m pretty good at this point.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Are you working with a lot of patients now?

Cavin Balaster: I am. Uhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, great.

Cavin Balaster: Actually, I’m out here uhm— in one of my— one of my clients uhm— Her— Her son is I revived. And so, I— I just happen to be coming through and I was like, “This is great. I’ll be able to like see you and meet your family, and hang out with you guys. And it was— [stutters] It’s so good to see them and then to see how we can optimize their— their recovery because honestly— I mean, honestly, one— Like, this is a family that is going to the best— going to the best Neurorehabilitation Clinic in— in— in the world that they could find but it happened there. Well, the— One of the best in the world, and it happened to be uh— Shirley Ryan in uhm— in Chicago. And…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm— Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …that is one of the best, according to the old model of Neurology.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Cavin Balaster: [stutters] And, what we’re doing— what I’m trying to do is— is improve the standard model in Neurorehabilitation. And—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I mean, the standard model of rehabilitation, it’s like you got a brain injury. I mean, uh— I mean, it’s like, sit in the corner i— you know— turn the lights off, wear some sunglasses. Like, what else is there? I mean, they don’t really do much in the mainstream medical system for brain injuries or concussions, or even that matter of fact. I mean, I’ve talked with uh— Dr. Russell Teames, who works with Dr. Brandon Brock…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. [crosstalk] Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …there probably with the Karakin. You know, we talked about the— to just comparing the two models. And you don’t have many options on the conventional side, but there’s a ton of models, where we— you know— all the neurological exercises that you mentioned, all of the diet and lifestyle strategies, and then, all of the supplementation, whether you’re doing supplements to help with— with the Nerve II pathways, whether it’s Green Tea, or Resveratrol, or— or Acetylcholine, or various antioxidant extracts to help with Mitochondrial recovery. So— S— So many more options, so many more tools in our toolbelt, right?

Cavin Balaster: Absolutely. Absolutely. There’s so much we can do. And, I mean, that— you know— they weren’t catching his hormones or pituitary function, or a l— a lot of things that we—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: …we can test for to see like where we are in the pathways because, you know, all is discoursed to weak like let’s— Let’s put him in more physical therapy. Well, he’s not— And this is just an example. Like, well, this patient isn’t— isn’t producing human growth uh— hormone. Right? So, like…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right

Cavin Balaster: …we need to fix that if— Well, like we’re gonna exercise until the cows come home, but we don’t have the ingredients. It doesn’t really matter.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly, right? We need— We need Oxygen, we need stimulation and we need, essentially, blood flow to— to make everything work, right? And if you’re chronically inflamed, and the nervous system that read that— that connectivity is weak, then, it’s gonna hard to get all those muscles communicating, right? So, that totally makes sense, what you’re saying. And if people want to get a hold of you, Cavin, because they— you know— they have some kind of issue they want to work out and they want to work with someone that’s been on the trenches like you, how can they reach you?

Cavin Balaster: So, you can go to my website, or, uhm— and you can email me at uhm— consult at “Feed a Brain” or “Adventures in Brain Injury.” And just let me know what’s going on, and then, if uh— if I think that we can— we can uhm— We can have uh— a powerful chat together…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …you could discovery call, I’ll send you a calendar link and we’ll— we’ll schedule a free consultation.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think that’s great ‘cause I think people need hope that someone’s been there before. And then, if they’ve been there before, they can help you navigate through, which I love. I think that’s great. And I want to get a sense. Number one, I want to just know what are the some of the supplements that you’ve done on the neurological side to improve your brain and performance. And last but not the least, if there’s anything else that you’ve done that we haven’t been able to touch in this conversation, what’s that next thing that you did that was a big needle mover.

Cavin Balaster: No, man. There’s a lot there. [laughs]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I know.

Cavin Balaster: So—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Let’s start with supplements first. I’ll— Then, I’ll come back to you…

Cavin Balaster: So, yeah. So, supplements. I actually have a handout on like…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Great.

Cavin Balaster: …it’s around in the middle of the page.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm— Get uh— five supplements that— that uhm— I take and uhm— I’ll— I’ll tell you what they are also so we have uh— Omega-3, specifically ones high in DHA and EPA, uhm— and especially EPA, or— Sorry. It’s actually DHA, just confusing.

Cavin Balaster: Right.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, EPA’s gonna be the 20 Carbon. That’s the— The eat— That’s the one that’s gonna help with inflammation…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …and you’re saying DHA, the Docosahexaenoic, that’s for the neurological health, right?

Cavin Balaster: Right. You’re right. And I mean, if you have— if you have inflammation in our brain, you definitely want EPA. And, of course, they come together and they work synergistically. So, if you have both, it’s awesome. So, uhm— And— And that— That comes mostly from— from fish oils. I mean— But if you get a fish oil and look on the back and it doesn’t tell you what the EPA and DHA ratio uh— amounts are, that’s not what you want.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Are you using the one from Apex?

Cavin Balaster: I’m not. No. I’m uh—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Which company? Carlson’s or—

Cavin Balaster: No, I’m not. I’m using— Right now, I’m using Xymogen uh—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup. That’s a good product.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. It’s good.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Excellent.

Cavin Balaster: The— The DHA one. I really like the ones—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: What’s next? What’s next…

Cavin Balaster: Uhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …on your list?

Cavin Balaster: Next, uh— organ meat supplements.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cool. Love it.

Cavin Balaster: Because— Because organ meats are awesome if you have a taste for them. Or— you know— But ho— honestly, I travel all the time and uhm— and it’s hard to get organ meats or— or like it. I’m staying with a friend. I’m like, “Hey, I’m gonna cook some organ meats.” And they’re like, “You’re gonna do what?” [laughs] Not hear you huh? So— So, I get supplements. So, there’s this company uhm— called uh— called Ancient Nutrition uhm— or no. No. I’m sorry. Ancient supplements. Ancient Nutrition is like— is like…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. [crosstalk] Ax— Access company. Yup.

Cavin Balaster: [crosstalk] …buy Ancient Supplements. Uhm— And, you can go there. You can use coupon codes FEEDABRAIN for, I think ten or 15% discount…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, cool.

Cavin Balaster: …on there. And then, may [stutters] They have all sorts of different organ meats because a lot of companies are— The companies that do this usually do beef liver, and that’s it. And the fact is we evolved eating all of those organs— you know— like— So, getting a variety of different organ meats is really important as well. So, I really like what they do. They have— They have different kinds for the meats and they also have one that’s like a blend. Uhm— So, that’s— That’s another one. Where— you know— if you dn’t eat organ meat every day, that’s a great option.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it. And then, with the organ meats we’re getting what? We’re getting B12. We may get some extra Iron in there. We may get some fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin A in there. What other powerful nutrients are in organ meats outside of those that you said?

Cavin Balaster: You’re also getting Choline…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, Choline?

Cavin Balaster: …which is…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Cavin Balaster: …super important for— for all sorts of neurotransmitters.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Egg yolks are great for Choline. What else?

Cavin Balaster: They are. They are. Uhm— Uridine as well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mmm—

Cavin Balaster: Uhm— And Uridine is— is— is also one of the nutrients for synaptogenesis that I’m talking about in the book uhm— because in during each created in the pathway can be created from Choline. But it’s kind of limited. Uhm— we include Uridine monophosphate. It— It just enhances neuroplasticity a great deal.   

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Awesome. I think that’s also a building block for your RNA, too. Right?

Cavin Balaster: Yes. Yes, it is.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [crosstalk] Great. What’s next?

Cavin Balaster: alright. So, uh— Organ meats— Oh! Sea vegetables. So…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Iodine.

Cavin Balaster: …sea vegetables, yeah, for your Iodine. right?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: Because the majority of the Iodine Americans get are from Iodized salts, which uhm— which isn’t really an optimal. It’s— It’s not very close to food, right? Uhm— So, we can do so much better with— with uh— with sea vegetables. And switching up what sea v— what kinds of sea vegetables you get is also really cool. So, I actually suggest two different supplements. One is  a Cho— a Kelp supplement, one is a Dol supplement, and I recommend alternating between the two.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Great. Excellent.

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Anything else?

Cavin Balaster: Neeeed Probiotics. I like…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay.

Cavin Balaster: …Probiotics, as well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Probiotics for gut health, right? ‘Cause remember uh— you know, right? The gut’s the second brain. I’m just curious. How much success did you have healing your brain by focusing on the gut. What did you notice?

Cavin Balaster: Extreme. Extreme. You know, when I said the nutritional protocol that Culleton put me on, that was a leaky gut protocol. So, I was supplementing with leaky gut healing uhm— compounds, like uh— Glutamine, and Marshmallow root extract.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: And then, I was also uhm— sidelines in a little bit for my brain with like Alpha-GPC and— and some other uhm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Cavin Balaster: …and some B, D Vitamins to support my brain health, and then, an elimination diet to heal my digestion. And that’s when I regained clarity. That’s— That would— That changed everything. It [crosstalk] changed everything. So, the—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And I saw on your— on your Feed a Brain website, you interviewed Dr. Kharrazian, and…

Cavin Balaster: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …Dr. Kharrazian lectured before talking about how brain injuries can actually create leaky gut. So, I imagined…

Cavin Balaster: Exactly.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …by helping the brain, you also have to fix the gut, ‘cause you probably developed a leaky gut with the brain injury, right?

Cavin Balaster: Do we have time for— for me to uh—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: …to write…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Go ahead.

Cavin Balaster: …analogy here?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Cavin Balaster: So, alright. So, what— Yeah. A— absolutely right about brain injury screwing up digestion. I mean, basically, your brain’s the puppet master, right?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhmhm—

Cavin Balaster: Everything is a puppet, [laughs] right? So, your brain controls everything in your body, and so if you— if you bucked your head and you— you screw up the communication between your brain and your gut, like now we’re having some problems with digestion. So, intestinal permeability or leaky gut is extremely common with brain injuries or any neurological condition, actually. And, Alzheimer’s they said can be— can be uh— uh— what does that— Constipation is so common with— with Alzheimer’s. It’s one of the— like— biggest telltale science of— of neurodegeneration.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Great. Great information.

Cavin Balaster: Awesome. Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Is there anything else you wanted to mention? I didn’t hear you mentioned like too many like antioxidant compounds. Uh—

Cavin Balaster: Hm—

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: What’s your take on those, like Curcumin, or Resveratrol, or the Green Tea Extracts? What’s your take?

Cavin Balaster: I’m a huge fan of them. Uhm— In— In stages when you need them. Uh— I— I prefer to get my antioxidants from diet at this point from my food uhm— by eating— you know— produce and antioxidant-rich foods.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Of course.

Cavin Balaster: Uhm— But of course, yeah. Uh— Resveratrol is great…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: What moved the needle for you? ‘Cause I get there’s a lot  of theoretical things. Which things did you incorporate into your protocol that helped or that you saw maybe a palpable improvement on?

Cavin Balaster: Uhm— Well, I— I— Uh— At what point are you talking about?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I would just say over the— you can just be very broad in it. You know, early on this helped but what long-term this has been better.

Cavin Balaster: Alright. Uhm— Let’s see. I mean, overall, healing my gut was fantastic.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Of course.

Cavin Balaster: And then, moving towards Ketogenic and moving towards a healthy uhm— version of a Paleo diet, because Paleo is a great template for me. But I wanted to go further, because as we talked about there’s a lot of Paleo junk food. So, narrowing in on— on the nutrients and really writing the book uhm— really gave me an— a really clear idea. I— It helped me to solidify exactly what I was doing to optimize my brain function. And, you know, the book really— really just is— it is the resource that I wish I had— you know— as I was going through dietarily to figure out what I could do to feed my brain optimally. So— So, it’s— It’s hard to say like one or two things to the book. [laughs] Check it out.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Awesome, man.

Cavin Balaster: Yup, feedabrain, first letter of the alphabet.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh—, and then, we have your uhm— podcast, Adventures in Brain Injury. We’ll put the links below, everyone. Cavin, is there anything else you wanted to add before we wrap up here?

Cavin Balaster: Man, uh— You talked about my interview with Dr. Kharrazian, so that was for the Feed the Brain Interview Series, which was a dream come true for me. I get to interview the— the— like top brain nutrition experts of our time. Sorry. Some of the top brain nutrition experts…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.

Cavin Balaster: …of our time.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.

Cavin Balaster: I don’t want to offend anybody.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Nah, no.

Cavin Balaster: [laughs]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great. It’s just great information out there. Anyone listening, that— that’s dealt with any of these type of issues and wants to— to walk with someone through their journey and— and Cavin’s could be a great fit for you, so reach out to him. Cavin, amazing having you man. Are you gonna be at PaleoFX this month?

Cavin Balaster: Yeah. You know it, man. I’ll be there. I’ll see you.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Alright, man. Hey, I’ll look you up. It was phenomenal chatting with  you. You have an awesome night and uh— have a safe trip back to Austin, too.

Cavin Balaster: Awesome. Thanks so much.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Take care, man.


David O. Okwonko, MD, PhD | Neurosurgery | University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Terry Wahls,, www.feedabrain/bloodsugar,,

The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Justin Marchegiani unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Justin and his community. Dr. Justin encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Marchegiani’s products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using any products.