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Is the Carnivore Diet Healthy? Not Unless You Do This

Today we welcome guest author Dr. Paul Saladino, a functional medicine doctor who researches the link between nutritional biochemistry and chronic disease. His research has led him to adopt and advocate a 100% Carnivore Diet, which you can read about in his new book, “The Carnivore Code: Unlocking the Secrets to Optimal Health by Returning to our Ancestral Diet.” 

 

Is the Carnivore Diet Healthy? Not Unless You Do This

by Paul Saladino, MD

As westerners, chances are, you’re most familiar with muscle meat, but there’s a huge amount of nutritional value you are missing if you pass on organ meats. It doesn’t matter if you’re eating a carnivore, Bulletproof, paleo or ketogenic diet (these are all great options), you will definitely level up your nutrition and performance by eating nose to tail, and including organ meats. Organ meats are the REAL superfoods!

Pssst… you’re already eating organ meats

Before we dive into the benefits of different organs it’s important to clarify something. Most people use the terms “organs” and “organ meats” to loosely refer to abdominal (liver, kidney, etc.) and thoracic (heart, lungs) organs, differentiating these from muscle meat and fat.

Technically speaking, an organ is a specific tissue type with a specialized function. So, muscle is an organ, fat is an organ, chicken skin is an organ … but we don’t think of them in that way. When you go to the butcher to get a steak, you are already eating organ meat!

In westernized cultures, muscle meat is generally the only organ meat we are used to eating. This isn’t an evolutionarily consistent way of eating, and as you’ll see next paragraphs, the other organs of animals have some pretty unique nutritional attributes that we shouldn’t ignore. Just like we probably wouldn’t obtain optimal health eating only liver or kidney, we really shouldn’t be eating just muscle meat if we want to operate at max power.

Archaeological evidence for eating meat and organ meats

Eating animals has been an integral part of our existence as humans for a very long time — probably for at least 4 million years, and there’s plenty of evidence that points to that fact.

Primate evolution preceded humans’ by about 60 million years. During that period, the size of the primate brain stayed relatively constant at around 400cc, with some variation among species depending on body size. This means that 60 million years of eating leaves didn’t result in the landmark jump to a bigger brain for our distant evolutionary ancestors.

About 2 million years ago, the size of your ancestors’ (at that time homo habilis) brains skyrocketed and over time, nearly quadrupled in size from 400cc to 1500cc at about 70,000 years ago. It’s pretty clear that this increase in brain size correlated with upgraded intelligence and a more complex neocortex, the outer part of your brain that’s responsible for sensory perception, conscious thinking, and language. Those milestone brain changes allowed for better communication and more sophisticated group behaviors, like organized hunting.

How did humans’ brains grow larger?

So what the heck was this magical thing that happened around 2 million years ago that allowed our brains to grow, and our ancestors to become more intelligent? No one knows for sure, but there are a couple of key clues in the archeological record. Around that time, archaeologists begin to see the first evidence of stone tools and the hunting of animals, with fossilized animal skeletons showing damage from weapons.

Humans did scavenge before that, but scavenging gave humans access to the leftovers. Hunting animals gave us first dibs on the most valuable parts of the animal — the visceral (abdominal) organs and fat! Eating of these parts of the animal, with all of their unique micronutrients and caloric density, allowed our brains to grow, and made us into the humans we are today. I’ll rephrase that postulate for emphasis: I believe eating animals nose to tail is what MADE us human!

Measurable evidence that early humans were carnivores

A couple of studies[1][2] that measure stable nitrogen isotopes in the bones give us a sense of how much of early modern humans’ (homo sapiens) diets were comprised of meat. By looking at specific isotopes like d15 nitrogen (d15 N), researchers are able to infer where in the food chain animals fall by understanding where they get their protein.

Herbivores generally have d15 N levels of 3-7%, carnivores show levels of 6-12%, and omnivores’ levels fall somewhere in between. When scientists analyzed samples from Neanderthal and early modern humans, levels fell between 12 and 13.5%, respectively, even higher than other known carnivorous animals at the time like hyenas and wolves.

What can we make of this? These extremely high levels of d15N isotopes suggest that early humans, and concurrent Neanderthals were carnivores, consuming the vast majority of their protein from large mammals. Who wants to share a woolly mammoth ribeye with me? Sounds amazing, right?

Can you imagine our ancestors taking down a mammoth, doing a happy dance, and then only eating the tenderloin, or rib meat? No way! For survival, our ancestors would have eaten the animals they hunted in their entirety. In the case of the mammoth, from trunk to tail, consuming the fat, connective tissue for collagen, and organs like liver and spleen, in addition to muscle meat.

This is the pattern of eating we also observe in historical accounts of people like the Inuit, and currently living indigenous peoples like the !Kung, Masai and Hadza. Similarly, animals in the wild don’t just eat muscle meat from the animals they hunt. In fact, carnivorous animals usually go for the visceral organs and fat first, leaving the muscle meat for later.

Eatings animals nose to tail just makes sense. It’s no easy task to successfully hunt an animal, and when our ancestors did, they would have made sure to eat every last bite they possibly could. This provided them with the most calories and nutrients for day to day survival.

Bioavailability of nutrients in organ meats

When thinking about nutrients in animal foods, be they minerals or vitamins, it’s also very important to think about bioavailability. What makes animal foods so special is that both minerals, and vitamins in these foods are much more bioavailable than they are in plant foods. This is really the subject of a whole different blog post, but I’ll highlight a few studies here.

With regard to minerals, like zinc, magnesium, and copper, the phytic acid in plant foods makes these much less bioavailable than they are in animal foods. Getting enough zinc is crucial for proper sex hormone function and gene transcription. Magnesium plays a role in over 300 reactions in the body including the utilization of ATP. Copper is also needed for myriad reactions including activation of superoxide dismutase, a very important enzyme in our intrinsic management reactive oxygen species, an excess of which can lead to oxidative stress. Clearly, these minerals are crucial to optimal human functioning, and being deficient in them would be a real bummer!

One article examined the amount of zinc absorbed from oysters, which are a great source of this mineral. When eaten alone, a large proportion of the zinc was absorbed, but when eaten with black beans, which are full of phytic acid, only a tiny bit of zinc could be absorbed by the body.[3] Furthermore, studies suggest that b-vitamins, like riboflavin, aren’t nearly as bioavailable from plants because they are bound to glycoproteins.[4] It’s pretty clear that for basically all of the vitamins and minerals bioavailability is much higher in animal foods. This is just more evidence that animal foods are the true super foods!

So how the heck do people eat organ meats, anyway?

No eulogy of the benefits of organ meats would be complete without some discussion of how people actually eat these. As I mentioned earlier, the only organ westerners generally grow up exposed to is muscle. Muscle is great, but it just doesn’t have all of the nutrients humans need to function optimally. Plants have some amount of nutrients but they’re not always in a form that your body knows how to use, plus they also come with anti-nutrients like phytic acid and oxalates that can do you more harm than good. If we REALLY want to kick as much butt as possible, we should include other organs and as many animal foods in our diets as possible.

Organ meats definitely take some getting used to, but over time many people develop a taste for them and often report noticeable improvements in energy, libido, mental clarity and mood. The easiest way to begin eating organs like heart, liver, and kidney, is to have these mixed into ground beef. This makes the flavor much more subtle and still delivers great nutritional value. A number of companies like nosetotail.org, US Wellness Meats and White Oak Pastures are also now providing products like this, or your local butcher may be willing to do the same. Trust me, you want to be friends with your butcher! Starting with more mild organ meats, like heart, and kidney is also a good idea if you have some reservations about incorporating these foods.

Eating organs by themselves can be done with things like pate, which is a pureed mixture of boiled liver, and egg yolks or tallow/butter +/- onions and other spices, You could easily mix kidney into such a puree and make an incredibly nutritious spread. Liver and onions is a traditional dish, that many may be familiar with. From my perspective as an advocate of the carnivore diet, I suspect many people will have less GI issues leaving the onions out, but you are free to experiment with chopped and sautéed liver, kidney, heart or any organ meat, with or without other plants added for flavor. If a clove of garlic gets you to try kidney, then by all means, add the garlic!

Some people find eating frozen, raw organ meats to be a good “hack” as well. As a physician, I would be remiss if I did not warn of the potential dangers of eating raw or undercooked foods, both from animal or plant sources. Interestingly, there are actually more instances of food poisoning related to plant foods than animal foods in the US on an annual basis. Though the risk of contamination from trusted sources is very low, it’s not zero. This option is possibly worth exploring, but proceed with caution.

If you can’t, or won’t eat organ meats in any other way, you might consider freeze dried powders placed into capsules. Freeze drying is essentially low temperature dehydration within a vacuum, so more of the nutrients will be preserved than traditional dehydration, but some things will be lost. Eating fresh organs is always better than desiccated organ capsules, but when traveling, or if the thought of eating organ meats is just too much for you, these are a great option. Getting more organs in your diet, however it happens, will always be a good thing!

Next week, we’ll go through organ meats from freshman to varsity — which ones to start with, which ones to work your way up to, how to get them, and how to eat them.

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Overcoming Addictions with Plant Medicine – Gerard Powell – #650

In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, I’m talking to a guest who by all outward appearances had it all. A member of the “one-percent,” Gerard Powell made his millions from creating and selling multiple companies. But his life was a mess in many ways, and he battled multiple addictions.

In his new book, “Sh*t the Moon Said: A Story of Sex, Drugs, and Transformation,” he says, “My many addictions during those years—drugs, alcohol, sex—were certainly destructive to myself and damaging to the people around me. But if there was anything good about that behavior, it would be the fact that I was seeking a different state of consciousness. I was seeking it in all the wrong places, but at least I was a seeker.”

Through plant medicine he mapped a psycho-spiritual path that helped him overcome his addictions and achieve lasting peace. Today, Gerard shares his journey and life-changing experience with ayahuasca—as well as how he now brings what he’s learned to others.

Gerard now is a consciousness thought-leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and inspirational speaker. He is the founder and CEO of Rythmia Life Advancement Center in Costa Rica, which is a go-to destination for a spiritually awakening experience.

Enjoy the show!

Listen on Google Podcasts

Follow Along with the Transcript

Overcoming Addictions with Plant Medicine – Gerard Powell – #650

Links/Resources

Website: rythmia.com
Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Rythmia
Twitter: twitter.com/rythmialac
Instagram: instagram.com/rythmia_
YouTube: youtube.com/rythmialifeadvancementcenter

Sh*t the Moon Said

Instagram: instagram.com/sh*tthemoonsaid
Facebook: facebook.com/sh*tthemoonsaid

Key Notes

  • Gerry had a “very bad start” in life 00:06:45
  • How Gerry used plant medicine to heal 00:15:55
  • Does Gerry worry about mind control aspect of these drugs? 00:20:00
  • People can go crazy from meditation 00:21:30
  • Having visions during breathwork versus plant medicine 00:23:4
  • How do you come back from a trip like this? 00:25:00
  • Why Gerry doesn’t vote 00:30:30
  • How do you know you are “merging with your soul?” 00:32:15
  • What the skeptical science minds say about shamanic practices 00:34:00
  • You don’t have to do drugs! 00:38:30
  • The relationship between addiction and trauma 00:42:00
  • The breathwork that Gerry does 00:46:20
  • Is this really happening or is it a placebo? 00:49:30
  • What are “machine elves” 00:54:20
  • Do people like what they find when they do this work? 00:57:45

Go check out my new book Super Human: The Bulletproof Plan to Age Backward and Maybe Even Live Forever and also “Game Changers“, “Headstrong” and “The Bulletproof Diet” on Amazon and consider leaving a review!

If you like today’s episode, check us out on Apple Podcasts at Bulletproof.com/apple and leave us a 5-star rating and a creative review.

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9 Ways to Stay Strong and Avoid Sickness While Traveling

When I started paying attention to the way my environment makes me feel, I noticed that flying takes a huge toll on my performance. I travel a lot — to the tune of hundreds of flights every year. That adds up to a lot of wear and tear on my body and brain if I just sit on the plane and go, without taking steps to counteract the damage.

Then there’s the fact that airplanes are basically flying petri dishes. There’s a lot of opportunity to pass germs around through air travel. Planes pack a lot of people into close quarters, recycle the air everyone’s breathing… rinse and repeat without a lot of downtime to clean in between trips. It’s pretty nasty when you think about it.

I pack a lot into my days, and I can’t afford to feel run down or get sick every time I fly. Here’s what I do to fly without jet lag and without catching colds and viruses when I travel.

Charcoal mask

When you travel, bring along a mask that has a layer of activated charcoal woven into it. Sometimes, when the airplanes are landing or taking off, they vent jet fuel into the cabin. Jet fuel will make you weak and give you brain fog.

You don’t have to wear it the whole time. If you smell jet exhaust, pull out your charcoal mask and wear it for ten minutes or so until the exhaust dissipates.

Pro tip: If you want to buy one, do a search for “activated carbon mask.” If you search for “charcoal mask,” you’ll get results for black peel-off skincare masks. Those won’t help you breathe.

Get a charcoal travel mask here

Nasal spray

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that comes from birch trees. Aside from tasting sweet, it also keeps bacteria from adhering to surfaces — that’s why people started putting it into saline-based xylitol nasal sprays. With the moisture from the saltwater, you’re less likely to get cracks, and if you do, the xylitol will prevent bacteria from hanging around your nasal cavity to cause an infection.

Give yourself a few sprays before you fly, and if it’s a long flight, spray a couple times while you’re in the air.

Get xylitol nasal spray here
Get colloidal silver here
Get iodine here

Ketones

Don’t eat sugar and carbs when you fly. In fact, it’s better that you fast while flying. If you’ve been following a low-carb, high fat, ketogenic diet, you’ll have ketones present, and you’re good to go. You can use Brain Octane Oil to bump up your ketone production before your flight.

Ketone expert Dr. Richard Veech said in an episode of the Bulletproof Radio podcast that ketones protect you from inflammation and even some forms of radiation you’re exposed to while flying.

Get Brain Octane Oil here

Supplements

Power Up Your Mitochondria with KetoPrime_KetoPrime helps with ketosisAir travel causes a lot of inflammation and weakens your mitochondria, the power plants of your cells. I take key supplements to counteract some of the cellular effects of air travel.

  • KetoPrime contains oxaloacetate, which makes your mitochondria more efficient at producing energy
  • Unfair Advantage contains CoQ10 and PQQ, which work together to help you power up your existing mitochondria and grow brand new ones.
  • Glutathione is your body’s master antioxidant, to help combat inflammation that comes with flying
  • N-acetyl cysteine helps your body make even more glutathione

Compression pants and socks

Airplanes have all of the ingredients for impaired blood flow: low air pressure, dehydration, restricted movement, and hours of sitting. Flying actually increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), aka blood clotting in your legs, by 100-200 percent.[1] Compression clothing improves circulation and prevents blood clots from forming.

Get compression socks here

Water

Woman drinking water after workoutDrink as much water as you comfortably can when you’re flying. Avoid airplane water. It comes from a tank that is rarely washed, and has a lot of pathogens in it that can increase your toxin load, which makes you sick and weak. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-08/tcuo-2aw082919.php Fill your own water bottle at the airtport, or order bottled or sparkling water.

This travel bottle is equipped with its own filter so that you don’t have to fill with water fountain tap water.

Noise-canceling headphones

You may not notice the constant rumble of the engines after the first few minutes in the air, but your body and brain do. It takes a lot of brain power to filter out the sounds you want to hear from the background noise at jet-engine volume. Noise-canceling headphones not only make it easier for you to hear your podcast or movie, but they also save some brain power for you when your flight is over.

In-ear noise canceling headphones are much more travel friendly, because they are small enough to pack anywhere and they don’t get in the way if you want to lean against the window and sleep.

Get noise-canceling headphones here

Filtering out blue light

How Blue Light Messes With Your Sleep -- And What To Do About It_header_newFluorescent lighting in airplanes (or anywhere) make you tired and weak. Fluorescent bulbs take away all the biologically helpful wavelengths of light, and replace them with blue wavelengths — the light equivalent of junk food.

On top of that, some airlines flip on decorative blue lights, which are especially hard on your delicate eye tissues and mitochondria, the power plants of your cells. The wrong wavelengths at the wrong time disrupts your sleep and fatigues every cell in your body.

True Dark glasses were designed to block the wrong wavelengths and let in the right ones, so that you don’t feel the negative effects of blue light.

Get True Dark glasses here

Disinfect your seat

If you’re on the first flight of the day on your aircraft, the plane is as clean as it’s going to be all day. It’s a good idea to give your seat, tray, and armrests a good wipe down before you settle in. You can use anything that’s effective against microbes, like:

  • Wipes
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Natural disinfectant spray (spray onto a towel, then wipe, so you don’t intrude on your neighbors)

Get travel-sized cleaning wipes here

It’s also a good idea to open the lavatory door with a tissue, and wash your hands when you’re finished.

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Fundamental Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Brains Present Unique Risks

Today we welcome Lisa Mosconi, PhD, founder and director of the Women’s Brain Initiative and associate director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. She’s also an associate professor of neuroscience in neurology and radiology at Weill Cornell and an adjunct faculty member at New York University’s Department of Psychiatry.

Her new book, The XX Brain: The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Maximize Cognitive Health and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease highlights some of the fundamental differences between the brains of men and women, and how that impacts medical evaluation and treatment.

Listen to her interview on Bulletproof Radio: Women, Menopause and Alzheimer’s: XX Brain Connections With Lisa Mosconi, Ph.D. – #675

Unique Risks to Women’s Brain Health (excerpt)

by Dr. Lisa Mosconi

From The XX Brain: The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Maximize Cognitive Health and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, is a condition caused by a blow or jolt to the head. This can affect blood and oxygen supply to the brain, while producing inflammation. TBI, especially if followed by a loss of consciousness, has been associated with an increased risk of memory loss and dementia later in life.

Even a “mild” TBI can also be disabling, causing:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Emotional swings
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Slowed thoughts and word recall
  • Impaired decision-making
  • Reduction in the ability to plan and function effectively

While these symptoms may resolve in months, in some cases they can last for years.

For decades, TBI research suffered from the same gender bias noted in other fields. The majority of research on brain injury focused on male-dominated sports. Nearly all the brains donated to brain banks devoted to researching TBI were male, with the result that doctors treated concussions in men and women the same way.

But new research is disproving that notion. Not only do women tend to receive more concussions than men in similar sports, but they also experience more symptoms and then take longer to recover. Hormones, along with the physiology of women’s more delicate cranial bones and neck muscles, are possible reasons why women experience concussions differently. For example, female athletes tend to be at greater risk for concussion depending on which phase of their monthly cycle they are in. Recovery times also vary depending on hormonal levels.

Another group of women has been suffering from concussions, though largely in silence: the survivors of domestic violence. Data on this topic is sparse, in part because domestic violence is still largely stigmatized and underreported. While not discounting male survivors, direct experience of being subjected to domestic violence is five times greater among women. Clearly, this needs to change. This is not the book to offer strategies or solutions for domestic violence but to provide a different kind of advice. I want to emphasize that the support for victims needs to go beyond psychological and legal counseling (both very much necessary) to also include medical strategies to address any possible neurological consequences to the brain—chiefly, inflammation.

Women’s brains and inflammation

Inflammation can occur in a variety of forms. Whether a harmful bacteria or virus enters your body, you scrape your knee, or you have a tooth abscess, each of these events signals the body’s defenses to kick into high gear. A similar first- line defense exists inside the brain, where cells called microglia are on constant patrol. They trigger inflammation to defend brain tissue against things that shouldn’t be there, including viruses, bacteria, cancer cells, and Alzheimer’s plaques. Once their mission is complete, the immune system calls them off, and all calms down and returns to normal.

Except when it doesn’t. Sometimes, for various reasons, this inflammatory response can’t manage to shut itself off, and chronic inflammation ensues. Unlike the acute inflammation that follows a sudden infection or injury, the chronic kind produces a steady low-grade overfiring that when left unattended long term can contribute to the development of many diseases.

There is now consistent evidence that low-grade chronic inflammation of the brain is related to the development of cognitive decline and even Alzheimer’s, possibly by acting as a trigger. As luck would have it, this process seems to be worse in women. Research suggests that, in part again because of hormonal differences, microglial cells are built differently in each gender, potentially leading to a less efficient immune response in women. Not surprisingly, a staggering 75 percent of all Americans diagnosed with autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are women.

At the same time, low-grade inflammation is a behind-the-scenes player for many of the medical risk factors for dementia we’ve encountered so far, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and concussions, as well as hormonal imbalances—which are all pretty bad news for women’s brains. What to do?

For many people, keeping inflammation in check comes down to commonsense basics: avoid things that increase inflammation, and practice those things that are known to decrease it instead. These include:

  • Eating well (with a focus on anti-inflammatory foods)
  • Moving your body regularly
  • Getting more rest
  • Losing weight if necessary
  • Quitting smoking

In addition, seek out treatment for any inflammation-inducing culprits such as toxin exposure, high cholesterol, harmful bacteria, and even gum disease.

Depression and women

Last but not least, depression is a serious medical issue—one that impacts women very directly. In most cultures, it is quite common to blame a woman’s poor mood on her hormones. Even when women are having a bad day or responding to extreme or aggressive external stressors, they are often chided or made fun of, with people blaming their mental state on PMS or some other form of hormonal swing. This is a conversation that’s due for an update.

Contrary to popular belief, clinical depression is not a “normal part of being a woman” nor is it a “female weakness.” Depression can occur in any woman, at any time, and for various reasons, such as developmental, reproductive, hormonal, and social factors, including stress from work, family responsibilities, financial issues, and of course the multitude of roles and expectations of women.

The result: Women are more than twice as likely to develop depression as men. Many women, even those who have never suffered from depression in their lives, experience depressive symptoms and emotional fragility during her transition to menopause. This is concerning because depression at midlife also happens to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. While this is true for both genders, the risk seems higher in women.

Importantly, depression is a largely treatable medical illness. From therapy to medication to healthy lifestyle changes, there are many different options available. Just as no two people are affected by depression in exactly the same way, neither is there a “one size fits all” treatment to cure it. By becoming as informed as possible, you can find the treatments that can help you overcome depression and feel happy and hopeful again.

Reprinted from The XX Brain: The Groundbreaking Science Empowering Women to Maximize Cognitive Health and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease by arrangement with Avery, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2020, Lisa Mosconi, PhD.

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What I Do to Protect Myself from Coronavirus, and How I Plan to Kick It If I Get It

This post is about how to hack coronavirus. No, I don’t know how to cure it, but we know some ways that it behaves, and we can use that information in our favor.

One of the things that it does is damage people’s hearts, not just lungs. It seems to do this through increasing inflammation beyond what would be normal, what we call a cytokine storm. A cytokine storm happens when your immune system starts pumping out so many cytokine proteins that they start attacking healthy cells and causing a lot of inflammation.

A new paper that came out a week ago in China, called Clinical Predictors of Mortality Due to COVID-19 Based on An Analysis of Data of 150 Patients From Wuhan, China,[1] and provided some really interesting information.

Researchers found that around 33% of people are coming out of it with respiratory failure and heart damage, which is useful information. They provide the name of the inflammatory cytokine that seems to rise, that’s causing the problem, which is interleukin-6, commonly known as IL-6. This is a major clue.

So, I came up with a list of things that I’m going to do to inhibit IL-6 before or even during an infection. Most of these have been tested in humans or in animals — not against coronavirus specifically, but in the context of IL-6. Since we don’t know what cures coronavirus, that’s all we have to work with right now.

In fact, in many cases, these lower or inhibit IL-6. So if you want to stop a cytokine storm, this is your list of big guns. You could take these before or even during an infection, if your doctor says it’s okay.

I’m sure there are people who will stand up and say, “There is no evidence that this or that works.” News flash: no one knows how to cure coronavirus, so what are we going to do? We’re going to be better than average. That said, here’s your list. Contains affiliate links. 

I also recorded a special Bulletproof Radio episode where I talk about all these things: Coronavirus Bonus: How to Hack Your Inflammation Storm.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)

EGCG is a powerful polyphenol found in green tea that helps protect cells from damage.[2] Research shows it inhibits interleukin-6,[3] which can help protect your lungs. You can get yours here.

Andrographis

This is something that I actually take when I fly, especially during cold and flu season, whether or not I’m staring down the barrel of a coronavirus epidemic. Andrographis is an herb, and out of dozens and dozens of plants that have been tested, this is something that inhibits IL-6 very potently, in fact, more than some prescription drugs.

You can get it in combination with echinacea, and that combination was studied in one or two trials, and it actually reduced respiratory tract, viral and bacterial infections by, I believe, 20%. And it also reduced the severity of them.

Herbs: sage, oregano, bay leaf

Sage, oregano, and bay leaves all decrease IL-6. You can pick up alcohol-based sage, oregano, and bay leaf extracts. You can usually find them at natural grocery stores and health specialty stores.

You can also make them into herbal teas. It’s a common misconception that tea has to be dried plant material, but you can use kitchen herbs for tea if you have them on hand. Better yet, if you have an herb store nearby, you can buy dried herbs and make tea out of it. Sage tea is incredibly soothing if you have a cough or sore throat.

Sometimes you can find the herbal oils or essential oils, which are highly concentrated, so you’ll need to dilute them in a carrier oil like Brain Octane Oil. This isn’t the way I get my herbs, but there may be some efficacy there.

Feed your gut bacteria

Hippocrates said, “all disease begins in the gut.” So far, it’s looking like coronavirus starts by touching funk then touching your face, but his point holds true anyway. When you have a strong gut, your immune system more efficiently fights off disease. Here’s are three ways to feed the good guys.

  1. Grass-fed butter. One of the main reasons I formulated Bulletproof Coffee with grass-fed butter is because it contains butyrate, which decreases inflammation and feeds friendly microbes in your gut,[4] which helps your immune system.
  2. Resistant starch. Resistant starch is “food” for your friendly gut bacteria. If you treat them well, they’ll love you back by fighting off the bad guys and regulating IL-6. The blend I developed for Bulletproof is the one I take every day. It contains acacia gum, larch arabinogalactan, and it also contains hydrolyzed guar gum, because there were studies that showed that those things break down to feed the good guys in your gut.
  3. Probiotics. Probiotics are friendly microbe strains that researchers have identified to help your digest your food and boost your body’s natural defenses. Look for strains like:
    • Bifidobacterium infants
    • Saccharomyces boulardii (a beneficial yeast)
    • Lactobacillus Casei
    • Lactobacillus salivarius

Trehalose

Trehalose is a sugar that increases hydration in your tissues. Avoid it if you have C diff or if you just got out of the hospital, because it can make C diff worse.

Vitamin D3, zinc, and magnesium

Vitamins A-D-K supplementVitamin D3, zinc, and magnesium are all on the list of top five supplements you should be taking every day anyway. They all have research behind them showing they reduce IL-6.

Get D3, zinc, and magnesium here. 

CoQ10 and PQQ

Almost anything that increases mitochondrial function is going to help you with IL-6. One of my favorite mitochondrial boosters is one that I helped to put on the market, called PQQ, is in my Unfair Advantage formula that’s been around for around seven years now. PQQ is shown, in a study, to reduce IL-6. It also contains coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) which strengthens and protects your heart.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Even the medical community is on board with the idea that omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, and doctors almost universally recommend supplementing omega 3’s to their patients, especially to their heart patients. I developed a high-potency formula for Bulletproof that I take every day.

Curcumin

Array of herbs in Curcumin Max supplementCurcumin, the compound in turmeric, contains curcumin in its most bioavailable form, along with rare Chinese herbs that act on inflammation in the body. It’s got some other goodies in there that aren’t actually on my big list here.

Black cumin seed oil

Black cumin seed oil is picking up steam in popularity for its effect. It has research behind it for its ability to reduce IL-6 and other inflammatory proteins. It’s also good for people who have excess histamine.

Fisetin

Fisetin is well known in the anti-aging mitochondrial enhancement circles, and cognitive enhancement circles. I included it in a formula I put together called Smart Mode. Fisetin is shown in a study to reduce inflammation on top of its cognitive superpowers.

Hydroxytyrosol

Hydroxytyrosol is one of my favorite but little-known antibacterial and antiviral compounds that comes from olive oil. You can take olive oil to get it, but you’ll get more of the good stuff if you take capsules of hydroxytyrosol. I’m talking hundreds of times more of this precious antioxidant than olive oil does. I’d do both.

Luteolin

You’ll find this one in formulas to support eye health.

Quercetin

Quercetin reduces inflammation, reduces histamine, and modulates an immune system that has gone into overdrive.[5]

Sulphoraphane

Broccoli sprouts, or sulforaphane, is shown to inhibit IL-6, which is something I wrote about in Head Strong. You can also get sulforaphane in capsules.

Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH)

Another thing that I do, that a lot of people don’t know about, even though I wrote about it in Super Human, is somebody called melanocyte-stimulating hormone, or MSH, or “Melanotan.” This is really interesting stuff, because it actually does reduce inflammation, especially autoimmune-type of inflammation. It also gives you a tan without very much sun.

I take it for its autoimmune purposes, and because, based on Head Strong research, I believe that having extra melanin inside your eyes and inside your brain can have cognitive and biochemical effects.

I should mention that this one is an injectible.

Testosterone

testosterone-replacement-therapy_header newAnother one of my favorite supplements of all time, that could be beneficial here, would be … drum roll … testosterone. (That’s me getting a testosterone pellet inserted into my hip.) Testosterone can inhibit inflammation as well. Some of these studies are talking about IL-6 in animals, but remember we’re approaching this as what you would do if you had to hack a problem. What’s likely to work, versus what is proven 100% to work.

Glycine

There is a study is on mice about glycine, which is the primary amino acid in collage, being beneficial. I definitely think that’s worth doing. Glycine is one of the amino acids in collagen.

Enzymes

Bromelain and serrapeptase are digestive enzymes that help digest protein, and is also something that is probably worth your time. It may help you break up mucus.

Low-dose naltrexone

Another thing that could be beneficial, that is actually in Super Human, is called low-dose naltrexone (LDN), which is a general anti-inflammatory. LDN could have IL-6 specific inhibitory effects. This one is available by prescription.

Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is what makes salmon and flamingoes pink. It is in my Eye Armor formula and improves neutrophils, which makes it good at inhibiting inflammation.

Rosemary

One of my favorite herbs of all time is rosemary. We grow so much of it in my garden here, and in rosemary, you’ll find something called rosmarinic acid, which actually regulates inflammatory cytokine production.

You can actually take rosemary extract capsules, or eat a lot of Rosemary, I actually do both. I think it’s really worth your time to do that, assuming you aren’t allergic to it.

L-glutamine

If I was very, very ill and working on fighting things, I would be on a serious L-glutamine regimen. L-glutamine can reduce IL-6 directly, at least in mice, and probably does it in humans. It makes you feel better really fast. There is nothing that will throw you out of ketosis faster than L-glutamine though, except for a Twinkie.

The Dont’s

What are the things you could do that might increase your levels of IL-6?

Don’t eat crap

I’ve been saying this in every one of my posts about coronavirus: if you’re eating fried stuff, and you have lots of sugar, it is going to increase inflammation and IL-6. Eating foods that are high in the glycemic index are not going to be good for you either.

Don’t accept bad sleep

Here’s how to improve your sleep, and you can use melatonin if you need it.

Don’t overtrain

We also know that over-training or long endurance training is not good for IL-6. It stresses your body, and too much stress is a bad thing.

Don’t fast

Short fasts are fine, like 12-18 hour intermittent fasts, especially if your body is fully acclimated to that eating pattern. You don’t need extra stress right now, though.

It’s good to be in ketosis, because of its anti-inflammatory effect. However, there are studies that show that having some carbohydrates, some glucose present, is good to fight off a virus infection.

If your condition develops into a bacterial pneumonia, fasting will be beneficial.

Don’t breathe mold

If you’re exposed to toxic mold, your risk of getting any disease goes through the roof, including this one, and your odds of fighting it off go down.

If you’re dealing with toxic mold, you’ve got to do something about that. The best thing you can do is get out. If you can’t afford to get out, get air filters and fix the water leaks. Look at my company called Homebiotic, which has been around for five years, that has a $34.99 probiotic you spray around your house.

Don’t smoke

If you smoke, consider this your wakeup call. Smokers have a much higher chance of dying from coronavirus, because it alters your lung’s built-in defense mechanisms.[6] A high proportion of people are dying in China because there is such a high proportion of smokers there. You’ve got to stop.

It’s not just cigarettes that present a problem. Smoking pot knocks out the defenses in your lungs in the same way, so you’ve got to stop that too. That doesn’t mean you have to stop using cannabis products — you can replace smoking marijuana with edibles. Vaping probably isn’t a good idea. And if you’re drinking alcohol, just stop for a few months. It’s worth it.

Now, no one has clinically trialed any of the things I’m talking about in the context of coronavirus. What we do know is that these actually affect inflammation via changing IL-6.

So what would you want to do, if you might be exposed to something like this, or someone you care about would be? You could wait until a drug or some other thing was clinically trialed, double-blind studied, maybe six months from now before you decide.

Or you could do what I do as a biohacker and say, “Well, given what we know, what is the most logical way that I can be not average?” So if you can get a little bit better than average results, great. You might actually, though, get worse than average results. It’s just, you’ve got to play the odds, and in my opinion, my exclusive non-medical opinion, that you are paying nothing for, and therefore should not trust until you talk to your doctor, or anything else.

If you have suggestions for this, please put it into the comment thread. Please share them on Instagram. I really want to know more, but this is the kind of biohacking perspective that’s oftentimes missing.

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Ozone Therapy at Home: Getting Started

  • Ozone therapy is extremely safe when applied correctly. In short, don’t breathe ozone and start with lower dosages. You can wear a mask if you’re worried about breathing ozone.
  • The best treatments at home are rectal insufflation, ear insufflation, and ozone water.
  • Getting started with ozone therapy at home is easy once you have the equipment. It generally takes three sessions per week at three minutes per session.

If you’ve been following my posts over the last few years, you know that mold ruined my life for a while there. It made me fat, and my brain stopped working. In my book Head Strong, I explained how critical ozone therapy was in my recovery from mold toxicity.

Athletes use ozone therapy to enhance performance. Chronically ill patients use it for fighting diseases like cancer, Lyme, and celiac. High performers are using it to power up cognitive function, to slow aging, and to supercharge their energy.

At first, I got my ozone treatments done at a clinic. Now I want to show you how you can bring this powerful, dynamic therapy right into your own home. It’s easier than you think.

Doing ozone therapy at home requires simple safety precautions, knowledge about the different treatment options, and getting equipment.

While ozone therapy can be a powerful tool, it’s a good idea to consult a qualified medical professional for guidance.

Different ozone treatments you can do at home

Systemic vs. Local Home Ozone Therapy

Some ozone therapies would be considered local, meaning you’re treating only a confined area of the body. Others would be considered systemic, treating the whole body.

Systemic treatments

Systemic treatments benefit the entire body on a cellular level.

Systemic treatments are commonly used for:

  • Biohacking
  • AthleticsMold Toxicity
  • Lyme
  • Cancer
  • Autoimmune Diseases
  • Gut Diseases like IBS
  • Anti-Aging and Longevity

Put briefly, ozone therapy works by stimulating the body toward self-regulation and homeostasis. Most drugs will force a certain reaction in the body while ozone therapy helps your body do the repair and healing functions it wants to do anyway. It stimulates the same pathways as exercise and intermittent fasting do![1]
Image: Bocci and Valacchi / Frontiers in Chemistry[2]

Local treatments

Local treatments benefit specific regions, like the mouth, foot, or vagina. They are commonly used on specific areas for eradicating infections and speeding healing time. For example, washing an infected wound with ozone water daily would be a great way to eliminate the infection and stimulate healing.

Local ozone therapy treatments are commonly used for:

  • Infections[3]
  • Non-healing or slow-healing wounds[4]
  • Ulcers[5]
  • Cavitations/Oral Infections[6]

Image source: Recover U Technologies and Services / Unknown

Which ozone treatments should you do at home?

There are lots of home ozone therapies you can do, but these are the best ones:

  • Rectal Insufflation
  • Ear Insufflation
  • Ozone Water

When I had mold toxicity, I used rectal insufflation on a regular basis to help eliminate it. Rectal insufflation is the best therapy you can do at home because of its ability to benefit the whole body. One of the things rectal insufflation does is oxygenate the blood immediately.[7]

However, I didn’t stop there. Ear insufflation and ozone water also have immense benefits to your body. Everybody gets colds from time to time. Ear insufflation is good for head issues, so you can use it whenever you have a cold, brain fog, hearing damage, or whatever!

Ozone water has a particularly potent ability to sterilize and eradicate infections on the skin or in the mouth. It’s the best antiseptic you could have in your household because it will not only eradicate the infection, it will stimulate the healing process.

Vaginal insufflation is only useful if you have vaginal infections and inflammation.

Then, there are techniques called limb bagging and cupping, for severe skin infections, wounds, or ulcers.


Equipment for ozone therapy at home

There are two things you need to do ozone therapy at home:

  • Oxygen Tank
  • Medical Ozone Generator with Accessories

How to Get Oxygen

It’s important to note that oxygen tanks are better than oxygen concentrators. Oxygen concentrators do not provide the same level of purity (95% at best) as an oxygen tank (99.9%).

540 Commercial vs. 870 Medical

Most people get a 540 commercial oxygen tank because it’s very easy to acquire. For $100 you can go pick up an oxygen tank from your local Airgas or Praxair. Each tank lasts 6 months on average and only costs $15 per refill.

To find 540 industrial oxygen (no prescription required) search for Airgas, Praxair, or a welding supply near you. Go in and ask for a 20cu/ft oxygen tank (size “R”). They will not sell it to you if they believe you are using it for medical purposes.

540 commercial oxygen tanks are rated for the same purity as medical oxygen (99.9%), so there is no difference in purity between an industrial and medical tank.

Type 870 medical oxygen tanks require a prescription from a doctor. There are more issues acquiring medical oxygen tanks which makes the process difficult. You can go to a local medical oxygen supply shop once you’ve acquired a prescription.

Medical Ozone Generators

Most people don’t realize that there is a big difference between medical ozone generators for ozone therapy and commercial ozone generators for purification, water, and aquariums.

In a recent interview on Bulletproof Radio (airing in April), I asked Micah Lowe, an ozone therapy expert, “As a kid I used an ozone generator in my aquarium. Why couldn’t I just use that for ozone therapy?”

He replied, “CONTAMINANTS!”

Ozone generators used for purification and commercial use produce lots of contaminants that you don’t want in your body. They use room air to create small amounts of ozone that is useful for disinfecting but not ozone therapy.

Medical ozone generators use 100% ozone resistant materials that won’t break down and will require an oxygen tank.

It’s important that you don’t try to “cheap out” on this. You could introduce elements that are harmful to your body.

Even some cheap “Medical Ozone Generators” are dangerous. They provide contaminated ozone and wildly inaccurate dosages.

As I stated in my recent interview with Micah Lowe, I like this ozone generator because it’s safe, easy to use, and the price is very reasonable.

The kit will come with everything you need to get started with rectal insufflation, ear insufflation, and ozone water. You can always add more therapies with more accessories.

Getting started with ozone therapy at home

Ozone therapy at home is easy once you have the equipment and the oxygen tank.

Rectal insufflation only takes three minutes per day, three to five days a week. Ear insufflation only takes six minutes as you have colds, infections, or congestion.

All the necessary protocols and information comes with the equipment, but if you’re like me, you might want to know the protocols right away. You can click here to get a free guide on ozone therapy at home.

Rectal Insufflation

Time Required: 3 minutes

Frequency: 3x per week for Biohacking, 5x per week for chronic disease and intense athletes

Purpose: Total body benefit and oxygenation. Use for chronic diseases, athletic enhancement, anti-aging, and general wellness.

Ear Insufflation

Time Required: 4 – 6 minutes

Frequency: As needed for colds, infections, brain fog, and head related issues

Purpose: Ear infections, hearing damage, brain fog, mold toxicity, lyme disease, sore throat, common cold, congestion, and more

Ozone Water

Time Required: Ozonate the water 12 minutes per 8 ounces, then less than one minute to apply

Frequency: As needed for wounds, burns, oral infections, and health. Many people drink the ozone water for issues related to the digestive tract, but the research is still unclear on the subject.

Purpose: Washing wounds, infections, ulcers, sores, drinking, oral health, oral infections, cavitations, receding gums, and more

Whether you’re a health nut, sick patient, or professional athlete, you can use ozone therapy to improve your body, restore homeostasis, and slow the process of aging.

This ozone generator gives you the ability to bring this dynamic, powerful therapy into your own home. I believe people should know about this therapy.

Dr. Velio Bocci, the father of ozone therapy, put it well when he said,

“It depresses me to think that ozone, the cheapest drug on earth, is today either badly or minimally used because orthodox medicine refuses to evaluate it and Health Authorities are antagonistic or negligent. Both are responsible for leaving millions of people suffering and dying. I must not get discouraged and continue to work and hope that ozone therapy will eventually benefit many people.”

So take this amazing therapy, use it to improve your health, and share it with others.

Ozone therapy safety precautions

Don’t Breathe Ozone

It is not safe to breathe ozone because it will irritate the lung tissues. The lungs do not have an antioxidant system to prevent the ozone from causing damage.[8] Other parts of the body have an antioxidant system and will not be negatively affected by the ozone, so it’s completely safe to use in the applications outlined here.[9][10]

While you can’t breathe large amounts of ozone, smelling small amounts of ozone is ok.[11] The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) outlines safe levels of ozone in the air but when you do ozone therapy, you may smell small amounts of ozone.

Ozone is one of the most detectable and distinct odors on the planet. It kind of smells like you’re standing at the base of a waterfall or in a field after a rain storm. At 0.005 parts per million (it’s hard to express how small this is) you are able to smell ozone, which is far below the OSHA standard of safety. However, to be safe, some people like to wear a mask like this or only operate in a well ventilated room.

If you inhale too much ozone you will experience coughing and discomfort. The symptoms will subside but you can take Vitamin C capsules to help the process.

Start with lower doses

Another area of safety is dosing. With ozone, more is not necessarily better. You want to start with a lower dose and work your way up over time, allowing your body to adjust to the therapeutic levels.

Doing too much ozone can cause a Herxheimer reaction or irritation. When bacteria, fungi, and viruses die off, they release toxic compounds that your body has to eliminate. When they die off and pump out toxins faster than you eliminate them, you can experience a Herxheimer reaction — headaches, nausea, fatigue, and even flu-like symptoms. While eliminating pathogens is a good thing, loading your body up with toxins is not. Start slowly and work your way up. Play it safe and follow recommended dosing that comes with the equipment.

As always consult your practitioner before doing ozone or any other therapy.

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Don’t Give Up Meat for the Planet. Grass-Fed Beef Is the Better Answer to Climate Change

  • Factory-farmed beef is wrecking your health and the planet. Feedlots contribute to soil erosion, water pollution, fossil fuel consumption, and poor air quality, among other issues.
  • Grass-fed beef is different. When animals have room to graze, they improve land use, nutrient and manure management, and soil health. All those benefits translate into a reduced carbon footprint.
  • Plus, grass-fed meat is more ethical, sustainable, and nutrient-dense than industrial meat. It has more antioxidants, omega-3s, trace minerals, and vitamins.
  • The answer to climate change isn’t to stop eating meat. Eat organic, grass-fed beef, sourced as locally as possible. If it’s too expensive, eat less of it.

On my family’s small, organic farm at home in Vancouver Island, we have a peaceful ecosystem: Our sheep graze peacefully in the yard. Sheep happen to be great at making poop. Animal poop produces healthy soil, which gives us thriving organic vegetables and supports the soil’s natural microbes.

Now, take that bucolic scene and make it global. Grass-fed meat is better for you and the planet, period. You may have seen headlines saying otherwise. In October, the UN published a climate change report that painted the environmental impact of meat in a pretty poor light. Environmentalists campaign against meat because we eat too much of it, which is bad for our health and the environment. However, these reports tend to focus on industrial meat, and they don’t account for the full carbon footprint of meat raised on responsibly managed land.

In an episode of Bulletproof Radio (iTunes), bestselling author and family physician Dr. Mark Hyman explains why blaming meat for climate change is misplaced.

“The kind of prevailing view is that cows are the cause of all of our problems in terms of climate change, or at least a big contributor. That is true if you’re talking about factory-farmed animals. But, the best way to build soil is to integrate animals into a regenerative farm,” says Hyman.

Here’s the truth: In comparison to industrial meat, grass-fed is more ethical, more sustainable, and better for your health. Keep reading to find out how grass-fed animals (and their poop) can save the planet.

The environmental impact of meat, according to reports

The UN report said that livestock greenhouse gas emissions are the highest compared to all other food sources. These emissions are caused by feed production, animal waste and digestion, land-use change, and livestock transport and processing. The report called out cattle (beef and milk) in particular because of its high methane emissions from rumen fermentation, or the process through which livestock digest plant polymers in grass and hay. The waste products from this process? Cow burps, which consist of gases like carbon dioxide and methane.[1] Yummy.

According to the authors, eating less meat could cut back on the efforts to keep global temperatures from rising 2°C above pre-industrial levels. This is a big deal because global consumption of beef and veal is set to rise in the next decade.[2] It’s a major public health problem if more people are eating higher quantities of industrial meat. Factory-farmed beef is garbage. It’s loaded with mold toxins and pesticides from cheap grain feed, and it’s pumped up with antibiotics to prevent the animals from getting sick in cruel, cramped conditions. That’s bad for your body. It’s also bad for the environment.

When people eat more industrial meat, also called CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) meat, its negative effects are compounded. CAFO cattle are clumped together in cramped feedlots. These feedlots use less land per animal in order to maximize farming efficiency, but instead of making things more efficient, the model makes things worse. Industrial agriculture contributes to soil erosion and water pollution, ruins soil biodiversity, consumes water at unsustainable rates, and uses tons of nonrenewable fossil fuels to keep operations running.[3] [4] Feedlots also contribute to antibiotic resistance and poor air quality.[5]

Conversely, grass-fed animals play a key role in sustainable agriculture that benefits the entire planet.

The carbon footprint of grass-fed meat

Cattle grazing in field

Reports that talk about the high levels of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock fail to take into account the full impact that grass-fed animals have on their environment. Studies have found that well-managed grazing systems can manage soil carbon levels and reduce the production of greenhouse gasses like methane.[6] Plus, you can graze cattle on land that is not well-suited for farming, which improves local land use. Sustainable grazing systems can even improve water filtration, which has the very great side effect of improving soil carbon.[7]

Did you know that there’s more carbon in the soil than there is in the atmosphere and plant life combined? That’s what I learned in my conversation with therapist-turned-environmental economist Judith D. Schwartz on this episode of the Bulletproof Radio podcast. A study conducted by The National Trust, a conservation non-profit based in the United Kingdom, found that grass-fed beef production reduced greenhouse gas emissions when the carbon sequestration and storage of grassland pasture was considered.[8] What does that mean? Basically, when you give animals room to roam (and poop), you lower their overall carbon footprint. Here’s how.

Have carbon, will travel

Plants growing in rich soil

One way to reduce rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere is to increase the global storage of carbon in soil, which has a pleasant list of side effects: Enhanced carbon improves soil and water quality, decreases nutrient loss, reduces soil erosion, increases water conservation, and increase crop production.[9] Grass-fed animals play an important role in maintaining key soil nutrients through — you guessed it — their poop.

According to Schwartz, when soil lacks important microbes and nutrients like carbon, it can actually contribute to “desertification.” That’s part of the reason grass-fed animals are so vital to the planet: Grazing cattle keep soil healthy because “microbes are basically kind of hitching a ride in the ruminant’s gut and through the animal then returning the nutrients to the soil through waste it keeps moisture,” Schwartz says.

When you don’t have animal poop fertilizer, you have to mine sources of nitrogen to take its place. The problem is that we’re rapidly running out of this resource, and artificial fertilizers aren’t the answer. They throw off the soil’s ecosystem and contribute to unbalanced microbes, flooding, and erosion problems. Plus, the CO2 released from fossil fuel combustion during the production, transport, and application of nitrogen fertilizer also reduces the net amount of carbon sequestered into the soil. You know what doesn’t require any fossil fuels to produce nitrogen? Free-roaming animals.

So, yes, industrial meat is bad, and people are projected to eat more of it over the coming decades. The solution isn’t to abandon meat entirely or keep eating factory-farmed beef and hope for the best. Instead, Eat grass-fed, organic meat, sourced as locally as possible.

It’ll be a little more expensive than those cheap tubes of questionable beef you can buy at the grocery store for pennies on the ounce. If you have to shift your beef budget so you eat less meat, but higher-quality, then everyone wins.

Grass-fed is better for your health, too

Man cutting into red meat

Still not convinced? Grass-fed beef is a completely different food than grain-fed industrial beef. As I say in “The Bulletproof Diet,” “Organic, grass-fed meat provides more nutrients and fewer toxins than grain-fed or conventional meat, with more antioxidants, omega-3s, trace minerals, and vitamins than any other food.”[10] [11]  

Consuming grass-fed meat is one of the best ways to prevent disease, improve brain function, lose weight, and become Bulletproof because it limits your exposure to the pesticides and mold toxins you’ll find in bargain beef. That’s why grass-fed is such a key part of the Bulletproof Diet. Read more about grass-fed meat vs. grain-fed meat.

In a more recent episode of Bulletproof Radio, Dr. Hyman explains how everyone can eat sustainably.

“There’s plenty of data that’s showing that you can eat well for less — that you can eat a whole food, healthy diet. Maybe you’re not having a $70 grass-fed ribeye steak, but you can eat real food that’s unprocessed. There’s a great guide by the Environmental Working Group called Good Food on a Tight Budget, which teach you how to do that, and I’ve seen it. I’ve worked with families on disability and food stamps and helped them lose hundreds of pounds in the worst food desert in America simply by giving them the education on how to do it,” says Hyman.

Listen: You don’t have to grow your own food, and you don’t have to raise your own sheep like I do. However, you should know that grass-fed beef is more nutrient-dense, higher in anti-inflammatory compounds, and more delicious than anything that comes from a factory farm. Listen to the facts straight from a rancher in this episode of the Bulletproof Radio podcast, where I speak with Glenn Elzinga, expert organic rancher and owner of Alderspring Ranch.

Oh, and if you haven’t had a grass-fed steak yet, you owe it to yourself to try one. You’ll feel the difference after you eat it — and you’ll help the planet, too.

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Your Complete Guide to CBD Oil

  • THC and CBD oil have the same basic molecular structure, with subtle differences in the arrangement of atoms that makes the difference between getting high and not.
  • Research is emerging and more comprehensive studies are needed, but science is getting there. The science behind CBD shows effectiveness for pain, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions and more.
  • CBD generally shouldn’t show up on drug tests, but sometimes it does if you’re taking high doses every day.
  • There are several extraction methods that affect quality, and you can take CBD by ingestion, inhalation, sublingually, or transdermally.
  • Some say it’s legal in all 50 states, but since it’s a new kid on the supplements block, it’s a big gray area that’s not well understood

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the two most abundant cannabinoid chemicals found in the cannabis (marijuana) plant.[1] Whether in oil, vapor, candy, or coffee, CBD is growing in popularity for its effects on pain, chronic illness, inflammation, cancer, brain disorders, and so much more.

The other well-known chemical in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. The main differences between the two, coming up. Read on to find out all about CBD, how it’s made, how to take it, the legal stuff, and more.

What is CBD? Cannabis vs. THC vs. CBD

THC and CBD have the same basic molecular structure, with subtle differences in the arrangement of atoms that makes the difference between getting high and not. If you’re after the whole mind-altering route, this is the article you’re looking for.

Your body has an endocannabinoid system, which in short means that it has receptors for cannabinoid compounds like CBD and THC. CBD and THC both interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system, a biological communication system that regulates a wide array of functions, like:

  • Pain
  • Appetite
  • Mood
  • Memory
  • Immune response
  • Sleep

CBD and THC have chemical structures similar to the body’s own endocannabinoids, which allows them to interact with the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid receptors. You can read more about how the endocannabinoid system works here.

The main difference between CBD and THC? THC causes euphoria and other mind-altering effects, CBD doesn’t. Not even a little bit. Also, THC is in high quantities in marijuana, and CBD is abundant in hemp.

So, CBD and pot aren’t the same thing, unless you’re a politician. More on that in a minute.

What does CBD do? CBD oil benefits

Since all cannabinoids are Schedule I drugs in the US and Schedule II in Canada, you have to jump through a bunch of hoops and red tape to get your hands on it for research.

Research is emerging and more comprehensive studies are needed, but science is getting there. Here’s just a smattering of the things scientists were able to demonstrate that CBD does:

  • Measurably relieved chronic pain in combination with THC[2][3][4]
  • Triggered breast cancer cell death[5] and down-regulated the gene that makes certain aggressive strains of breast cancer proliferate[6]
  • Inhibited lung cancer invasion and metastasis (spread)[7]
  • Significantly reduced multiple sclerosis symptoms in patients in a randomized, placebo-controlled study[8] and a larger series of multi-center randomized placebo-controlled trials[9]
  • In larger doses (160mg), it helped participants you sleep — even in people who typically suffer from insomnia.[10]
  • Higher doses decreased anxiety during public speaking.[11]
  • Increased alertness in small doses (15 mg) in humans and rats.[12][13]
  • Prevents seizures.[14][15][16]
  • Decreased social anxiety by regulating the amygdala, a part of your brain that controls fear.[17]
  • Substantially improved symptoms of schizophrenia.[18]
  • Showed antioxidant activity. A test tube study showed that CBD protected neurons from inflammation and oxidative stress better than both vitamin C and vitamin E,[19] and it prevented oxidative damage to DNA associated with colon cancer.[20]
  • Showed potential as a neuroprotective. CBD decreased brain damage after stroke in rats.[21]

There’s more — anxiety, neurodegenerative diseases, autoimmune conditions — CBD is worth a look in any disease process that’s rooted in inflammation (which is most of them).

CBD oil side effects

CBD is generally well tolerated.[22] Some people report that it makes them sleepy or drops blood pressure. Since there are cannabinoid receptors in the skin, you might notice dry skin after using CBD. But a thorough review showed that CBD does not effect:

  • Sensory perception
  • Alertness, awareness
  • Consciousness
  • Behavior
  • Inhibitions
  • Food intake
  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure

The review found that extremely high chronic daily doses affected the liver metabolism and some fertility measures, but you need a lot of CBD to get there.[23]

Just like grain and vegetable farmers, cannabis producers spray their plants with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. So, you can end up with adverse effects from the chemicals that have nothing to do with the active ingredient, CBD. Research the brand and choose pure products without chemicals.

Does CBD show up in drug tests?

Cbd oil benefits_Does CBD show up in drug tests

Hemp-derived CBD isn’t pot, but depending on the strain it could contain trace amounts of THC — not even close to amounts that will get you high. If you’re using extremely high doses of CBD (looking at 1000 mg a day or higher every day), your exposure may be high enough to give you a positive result. This should be considered a false positive result, since CBD use is not drug use. But, interpretation is up to the party who orders the test.

If your employer does random drug screens, dig into your HR materials to see if using CBD might lead to any hassle.

Is CBD legal?

This is not legal advice and wasn’t reviewed by any lawyers, so consult a licensed attorney in your own jurisdiction to find out whether CBD is legal or not.

Hemp-derived CBD isn’t pot. It’s not the same thing as THC and it’s not psychoactive. Still, all cannabinoids are classified as Schedule I drugs in the US and Schedule II in Canada, due to a combination of politics, miscategorization, and a lack of understanding of the differences in chemical profiles and neuroscience.

Understandable — it’s hard to get a tenacious politician with zero biology background to have a meaningful conversation about how the brain works.

You’ll come across the claim that CBD is legal in all 50 states. Some retailers hold that CBD isn’t the drug version of cannabis, and isn’t subject to the same drug laws as medical marijuana is. You’ll read that retailers are free to ship it anywhere they want to in the United States and in 40 additional countries. Since it’s a dietary supplement, you can find it online, in health food stores, and at marijuana dispensaries.

CBD is a new supplement, and when something new comes onto the scene with some some amount of perceived crossover with something that’s well-known and demonized, like marijuana, you end up with a big ol’ gray area to contend with.

So, will you get busted? Depends on the state, depends on the employer, depends on the cop, depends, depends, depends. Most of the time, law enforcement has bigger fish to fry than the dude who’s rubbing oil on his shoulder for bursitis, and still perfectly able to walk, talk, drive, and solve differential equations. But, there’s always that one who wants to make a point.

Forms of CBD and extraction methods

CBD isolates – CO2 extraction

The CO2 method involves pressurizing the plant material using carbon dioxide, which results in a relatively stable, pure, potent oil. This isn’t a DIY job unless you’re going into business, because you need pricey equipment and expert training. If this is the kind you want, you can look for “CO2 extracted” CBD oil on the label.

CBD tinctures, extracts, absolutes (solvent extraction method)

Manufacturers use solvents such as hexane, ethanol, ether, or methanol to get the medicinal oils out of the plant material. This is the most common method manufacturers use for vape pen cartridges. Solvents are highly effective at drawing out the oils, but there are a few problems with this method.

  • Purity. The process can leave up to 20% of the solvent behind. That’s not an issue if the manufacturer used a high-quality ethanol like high-proof grain alcohol, but if they used cheaper solvents like hexane or petroleum derivatives, you don’t want those residues anywhere near your body.
  • Integrity. Solvent extraction destroys the plant waxes, which have their own set of benefits.

CBD infused oil

Most commonly, you’ll see CBD oil infused in extra virgin olive oil. This involves steeping the plant in olive oil for several weeks. If you need it now, you can buy CBD infused oil, or if you can get your hands on some high-CBD plant material, you can extract your own. CBD infused oils are perishable, so keep it in a dark glass container in the fridge.

How to make a CBD infused oil in 5 steps

  1. Check your state laws. Making CBD oil requires possession of cannabis plant material, which is a controlled substance. So, do a little CYA and find out what’s allowed and what could get you into trouble. Don’t skip this part!
  2. Source your plant material. You need a good amount of dried buds of a high-CBD strain of cannabis that has only trace amounts of THC if any.
  3. Decarboxylate. Sounds like something out of a science lab, but this just means you spread them out on a baking sheet and bake them for 45 minutes at 225. This step makes the medicinal oils in the plant more bioavailable.
  4. Steep. Transfer your buds to a glass jar, leaving a little room at the top. Completely cover the buds with lightweight oils like extra virgin olive oil or sweet almond oil. Put a lid on and let them sit for 2-3 weeks. A couple times per week throughout the steeping process, you should flip the jar over and back upright to distribute the oil.
  5. Strain. Use a cheesecloth-lined strainer to separate all the plant material from the oil. Now you have CBD infused oil to use as-is or to make into salves and balms. There are lots of recipes online for that. Store it in a dark glass container in the fridge.

If your oil takes on a funky smell or grows scum or fuzz at any point during or after the process, dump it into the trash and start over.

How to take CBD

Cbd oil benefits_How to take CBD

There are several delivery methods, and some applications are better than others for certain things. Dosing depends on age, weight, and what you’re trying to achieve with it, so it’s best to consult a functional medicine doctor to determine your dose.

Inhalation

You can inhale the vapors using a specialized vape pen. This is the fastest acting delivery of CBD, and probably the easiest once you have your pen and cartridge. However, it’s not recommended because vaping comes with a lot of risk.

Don’t smoke it — that wrecks your throat and lungs like cigarettes do. If you’re a newbie, start slow. Some people can have an unpleasant reaction to the vapor.

Ingestion

To ingest CBD, take it right out of the dropper, in capsule form, or made into gums, candies, or baked goods. Compared to inhalation, it takes a bit longer to take effect.

Sublingual

You can drop the oil right under the tongue, or place a lozenge under the tongue. Sublingual delivery takes about as long as ingestion to take effect.

Transdermal

CBD can cross the skin and go into the bloodstream. A benefit to this method is that you can rub CBD infused oil or salves right onto the affected area.

So, is CBD for you? Only you can decide, and with so many variables, it’s best to bring your functional medicine doctor in on this one. So far, the science says it’s not harmful, it’s not addictive, and it has the potential to have positive effects on a laundry list of ails. But, it’s illegal in a lot of places, for reasons that have little to nothing to do with protecting the public. Biohacking is all about taking the information that’s available to you and making your choices from there.

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Is Nicotine The Next Big Smart Drug?

People often confuse the effects of caffeine with the effects of coffee, even though caffeine and coffee are different substances (coffee has hundreds of chemicals; caffeine is just one of them). Likewise, nicotine gets the headlines when it comes to tobacco, even though it’s just one of the 5,000+ chemicals in cigarette smoke.

There’s a lot more to nicotine than smoking and addiction.  Like caffeine, it’s a powerful smart drug, and when you get it at low doses in its pure form – without toxins and carcinogens wrapped around it and rolled into a cigarette – nicotine can be a formidable (if occasional) biohack. Based on my experience with it, and on history, I predict that nicotine (not smoking) will become much more popular for performance and cognitive enhancement. After all, about 99% of great works of literature in the last 200 years (p > .05) were written under the influence of coffee and nicotine! But just how safe is it?

Here’s an overview of the ups and downs of nicotine, along with a few practical and safety tips if you decide to add it to your biohacking arsenal.

This post is likely to piss off at least a few people. Sorry about that; I don’t like smoking and I’ve never been a smoker. This science is solid – nicotine is an extensively studied psychoactive chemical. I invite you to separate nicotine from the stigma of tobacco and read this post with an open mind.

What is nicotine?

Like caffeine, nicotine is a defense mechanism made by plants to keep from being eaten by animals, bugs, or fungus – in fact, caffeine and nicotine are in the same chemical family. Many plants produce nicotine and store it in their leaves; it’s bitter and toxic in large doses, keeping hungry animals at bay. Nicotine is most famously in tobacco, but you’ll also find small amounts of it in members of the nightshade family – tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants, for example. There’s even a tiny bit of nicotine in cauliflower.

Nicotine is toxic to smaller animals, but humans can withstand a good deal of it – and derive benefits from it. When nicotine reaches your brain, it binds to nicotinic receptors (guess where they got their name?), activating pathways that control attention, memory, motor function, and pleasure. Nicotine attaches to several types of nicotinic receptors; each receptor affects your brain in a specific way.

Nicotine enhances coordination, vigilance, memory, and reaction time

Excess nicotine is toxic, but when you get the right amount, nicotine does a lot for you. For starters, it gives you faster, more precise motor function. People show more controlled and fluent handwriting after taking nicotine,[1] and they’re also able to tap their fingers faster without sacrificing accuracy.[2] The finger tap test is one I used in the original tests of human performance on Bulletproof mold-tested Upgraded Coffee vs. generic coffee – it appears that mold slows down your finger tap speed. (That test is published in The Bulletproof Diet book.)

Nicotine makes you more vigilant, too. Participants who used nicotine patches were able to pay attention to a mentally tiring task longer than controls could.[3][4] Nicotine gum did the same thing.[5][6]

Nicotine also sharpens your short-term memory. People who took nicotine better recalled a list of words they’d just read, and also repeated a story word-for-word, making fewer mistakes than people given placebo made.[7][8][9] Again, the boost in memory came from both patches and gum.

You can even speed up your reaction time with nicotine. Both smokers and nonsmokers reacted more quickly to visual cues after a nicotine injection.[10] As for me, I’ll save my injections for vitamins, thanks.

Finally, nicotine suppresses appetite. If you’re looking to lose weight and you’re getting food cravings, a small dose of nicotine could help eliminate them.[11] One randomized, double-blind study showed that combining low-dose nicotine gum with caffeine enhanced appetite suppression,[12] so adding nicotine to Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting once in awhile may boost your fast. It’s the Bulletproof version of coffee and cigarettes.

To recap, nicotine:

  • refines your motor skills
  • heightens your ability to pay attention
  • improves your short-term memory
  • speeds up your reaction time
  • Suppresses appetite, especially when combined with caffeine

Slow-release patches, low-dose gum, mouth sprays, and injections all work, but some have more risks than others. More on how to take nicotine in a minute.

The downsides of nicotine

There are some real downsides to nicotine, the most infamous of which is its addictive potential. Nicotine activates your mesolimbic dopamine system, which scientists have aptly nicknamed the brain’s “pleasure pathway.”

The pleasure pathway is a double-edged sword. Food, sex, love, and rewarding drugs all cause this part of your brain to light up, sending a euphoric rush of dopamine through your system and leaving you in bliss. If you indulge on a regular basis, though, the constant stimulation dulls the pathway. Your receptors start to pull back into your neurons, where they are very hard to activate, and you start to feel physically ill unless you get more of whatever you were enjoying or something else equally stimulating. That’s how dependence starts.

In 2007, a hallmark addiction study ranked 20 common recreational drugs on a scale of 0 to 3, with higher scores indicating greater risk of dependence. Tobacco clocked in as the third most addictive drug overall. It had a score of 2.21, beaten only by cocaine (2.39) and heroin (3.00).[13]

However, it’s important to note that the people in the study were smoking cigarettes, which deliver a substantial 15-20 mg dose of nicotine within seconds. The large, sudden rush of nicotine lights up your pleasure pathway like a Christmas tree. Other forms of nicotine are very different. Nicotine gum, for example, releases only 2-4 mg over the course of 20-30 minutes, so you don’t get a euphoric rush from it, but you still get nicotine’s benefits.

Nicotine has a few other pitfalls:

  • Nicotine by itself (separate from tobacco) promotes cancer in rodents.[14][15] It also makes tumors grow faster and spread more quickly in mice.[16] The cancer link has never shown up in human studies, so it’s hard to say whether nicotine is a cancer risk for people. Dose matters; I’m talking about very low dose, occasional targeted use in this post.
  • A 21 mg nicotine patch increased participants’ heart rate and blood pressure in one study.[17]
  • Nicotine inhibits interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory protein, increasing inflammation.[18]
  • Most importantly, nicotine is a poison at high doses. You can get really sick if you overuse it. Nicotine gum, lozenges, or leftover patches could hurt or even kill a pet or a child. Store and treat this stuff with care.

These downsides are the reason I recommend that, if you decide to use nicotine, you do it at very low dose (1-2mg), and only occasionally as needed. I’ve used nicotine a handful of times over the past four years and I’ve tried out many different forms, but it’s certainly not something I do regularly. It’s useful for an occasional boost. 

What form of nicotine is best?

You have several options if you want to occasionally use nicotine as a nootropic. You can smoke tobacco, chew it, use gum, spray, patches, lozenges, or vape. Here’s the list. 

Smoking. Where to begin? Cancer, smelling bad … smoking is a bad choice for so many reasons.

Chewing tobacco. Chewing tobacco causes face cancer. Whether it’s the tobacco or the mold from curing tobacco is unclear. Tobacco mold is a major source aflatoxin B-1, an exceptionally carcinogenic mold toxin.[19] In any case, walking around without lips isn’t worth it. There are other nootropics. Chewing tobacco also releases 3-4 times as much nicotine as smoking a cigarette does.[20]

E-cigarettes and vaping. These are controversial. For a while, people were saying they’re safe, although I’ve always had real concerns about nanoparticles of heavy metals from vape pen combustion chambers. You don’t want to breathe that stuff! I got a high-end e-cig and tried it; it caused throat irritation and made me cough even after I tried getting used to it, so I don’t use them or recommend them. Lately, research has been coming out that people are having serious breathing trouble from vaping. Skip this one. 

Nicotine gum. Nicotine gum releases only 2-4 mg over the course of 20-30 minutes, so you don’t get a euphoric rush from it, but you still get nicotine’s energy benefits. Addiction to nicotine gum is possible but rare.[21] The problem with nicotine gum is that chewing gum fires your trigeminal nerve more than it should be firing. Save your chewing for eating, and your jaw (and nervous system) will be healthier. Also, every brand of gum I’ve found has aspartame in it, often along with other questionable artificial sweeteners.

Nicotine patches. Patches are somewhere in between gum and cigarettes: they contain more nicotine than the gum does, but you absorb it through your skin slowly throughout the day so you get the focus and energy. It isn’t particularly rewarding, but your energy is higher and more stable. When I used to use patches, I’d take the smallest dose patch I could find, and cut it in half even though it says not to on the label. I’d leave it on for 1-2 hours, so I would get 1-4 mg of nicotine. A long time ago, one of my team members heard that I was experimenting with nicotine patches. She went out and bought the largest 25mg patches, and slapped one on. An hour later, she felt amazing and focused. Three hours later, she was nauseous and felt like puking, and the feeling lasted for a long time. I emphasize again that nicotine is a poison – even “used up” patches can kill small animals that eat them. You want LOW DOSE.

Nicotine inhalers. Inhalers are relatively hard to find. Nicorette makes these too, and they’re good because they have no chemicals at all; it’s just a sponge with nicotine, and a little plastic straw you suck through to get nicotine-scented air. I like these because they’re free of nasty chemicals, but the downside is that the act of sucking on something appears to be addictive; I found myself wanting to take a puff from one sitting on my desk when I didn’t need it. In one year, I went through maybe half a pack of inhaler refills, and many of those went stale. You use them at way lower doses than you would for quitting smoking, and it’s too easy to keep taking extra puffs.

Nicotine lozenges. Lozenges mostly suffer from the same problem as nicotine gum; they’re full of crappy chemicals and sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame-potassium (Ace-K), and sucralose. The safest one I’ve found is the Nicorette mini-lozenge, which is very small, and contains no aspartame. You do get a small dose of unsafe sweetener, but it’s so tiny that it probably doesn’t matter. I take ½ of the smallest 2mg lozenge, and feel a cognitive shift in about 15 minutes. These are easy to find in the US. Go for the mini lozenges; large Nicorette lozenges are full of chemicals you don’t want.

Nicotine spray. This is a recent invention; you get about 100 sprays of 1mg each. Each spray contains vanishingly small amounts of sucralose, probably not enough to disrupt the gut biome. You spray it under your tongue and feel it quickly, making it an excellent option when you want a burst of sustained energy. I’ve done more than one interview on this – I find it’s great for jet lag or when you have a heavy day ahead of you and want to maintain focus.

In summary, here’s your list of options, from worst to best:

  • Smoking
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Vaping, e-cigarettes
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine patches
  • Nicotine inhaler
  • Nicotine lozenges
  • Nicotine mouth spray

Is nicotine a nootropic?

It all depends on how you take it. Using a lozenge or a low-dose mouth spray gives you benefits and minimizes risk. Using a patch is a little bit iffier. Smoking is a disaster.

If you do decide to try nicotine, treat it carefully. A safe bet would be to take it on an ad-hoc basis. Use it if you want to be extra-sharp for a big presentation or a 3-hour meeting, but avoid taking it daily.

Happy biohacking! And seriously, don’t start smoking. It’s stupid. Don’t get sick on nicotine either; it’s dangerous. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility (at least that’s what Spiderman’s Uncle Ben said, and we *know* he was using nicotine…)

P.S. Big tobacco has done some awful stuff. Nicotine replacements are a huge improvement, but even they aren’t black and white. I have no financial relationship with tobacco or nicotine companies, although I do have a personal gardening relationship with tobacco…I grow some in my backyard to keep aphids away. 

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