Episode Transcript hideshow
**Voice-over:** *I try to imagine a fellow smarter than myself, then I try to think - What would he do?*
**Announcer:** *Charge up your axons, ready your receptors and shift your lobes in to upper beta phase. You're listening to Smart Drug Smarts - the podcast dedicated to helping you optimize your brain with the latest breakthroughs in neuroscience, nootropics and psychopharmocology.*
**Jesse:** Hello and welcome to Smart Drug Smarts, I'm your host Jesse Lawler here to welcome you to the 47th episode of this podcast dedicated to the improvement of your own brain by any and all means at your disposal. I'm sorry to say that my microphone, my trusty Smart Drug Smarts microphone took a horrible humpty-dumpty like fall a day or two ago and it does not seem to actually be recovering or recoverable and by next week I should have a new mic but for this week, we're just going to have a little bit more background hiss and nastiness than we're used to. I don't think you're necessarily in it for the audio fidelity anyway, I think you're probably listening because you want to hear about brain stuff and we've got brain stuff aplenty. We're going to be interviewing Dr. Eric Braverman. He's a well-known doctor and the founder of the PATH Institute in New York. PATH stands for 'Place for Achieving Total Health' and he is a major advocate of, basically, testing everything you possibly can about your brain and body before making adjustments to them. I think I am probably not putting words in his mouth in saying that the state of our ability to measure people's minds and bodies has gotten far ahead of what our culture normally does as far as measuring people's minds and bodies before making changes and adjustments and prescriptions and things like that. He has a crusader's spirit in changing that. He is also the author of about 15 different books on physical health, brain health, sexual health, dietary health, and all kinds of stuff. So, that will be the main interview. But, if you hang around until the end of the episode, I'm going to tell you something about our astronauts and what astronauts are doing, while in space, and also on the ground, to maintain their sleep and wake cycles in ways that our conducive to being astronauts. When you don't have things gravity and days that are 24 hours working in your favor, you've got to take matters in to your hands and, sometimes, those matters in your own hands become pills in your own hands and we will learn what the astronauts are doing. But, before we get into any of that, let's do This Week in Neuroscience.
**Voice-over:** *Smart Drug Smarts - This week in Neuroscience!*
**Jesse:** So, here's some really interesting and resoundingly good news, or at least, it's hard to read a negative into this one. This is actually from May of this year but it just crossed my digital desk last week. Researchers at the University of California in San Francisco have found that a variation of a gene which includes a protein called "Klotho". It is called the KLVS variant. Apparently, as far as we know, in the general population, maybe, 1 out of 6 people has the KLVS variant and this variant is positively tied towards longevity because this variant tends to reduce age-related heart disease. Now, the doctors who were studying this, thought that there is so much correlation between heart health, circulatory health and brain health, as we have talked about on past Smart Drug Smarts episodes that maybe this variant might also have positive benefits for age-related cognitive decline. So, they started looking into this and the general I.Q. of people and how it trends with the KLVS variant. Turns out that this was not true. They did not see what they expected which was less susceptibility to age-related cognitive decline. But, what they did find is probably even more interesting. KLVS seems to be more closely tied to changes in human intelligence than any other gene we've got our hands wrapped around right now. The KLVS variant tends to account for 6 I.Q. points in those who have it versus those who don't and if that finding holds up, it may account for as much as 3% of the overall I.Q. disparity among the general population, which is, 6 times more than the next closest genetic competitor that has a significant power to cause variance in human intelligence. Now, we should characterize that as saying that there are actually lots of genes that have horribly disastrous consequences to intelligence if a bad version of the gene shows up but ,as far as things that are non-deleterious go, the KLVS gene is now the raining champion. Apparently, one of the differences in what KLVS is doing versus the normal versions of the KL gene is an increase in the amount of Klotho levels in those who carry it. So, they did some testing on genetically engineered mice - they gave them more Klotho than they would have already had - and lo, and behold, we saw increases in the mice's intelligence. So, this is looking like a substantiable finding. Now, what is interesting for us nootropics fans is there is some smart drug potential here. If, either, a slightly different Klotho gene or larger amounts of the Klotho gene are beneficial for intelligence and 5/6th of the population is missing this nice genetic ingredient, it still might be possible to supplement our way there. Maybe, get that extra 6 I.Q. point boost that people who have KLVS genes naturally were born with. So, pretty cool stuff. Needless to say, I am sure that researchers are very happy with themselves and I am going to see if I can get the doctors involved with these studies on the show.
**Voice-over.** *Just say no to dru... Scratch that. Say yes to the Smart Drug Smarts podcast. Join our mailing list at [www.smartdrugsmarts.com](http:/smartdrugsmarts.com//).*
**Jesse:** So, as mentioned, our guest today is Dr. Eric Braverman, M.D., who first came to my attention because of something called the Braverman Assessment, which is actually an online self-evaluative quiz that gives you a rough idea of what the relative levels of your 4 primary neurotransmitters might be. It's a whole slew of yes-no questions, took me about 20 minutes to fill out. This is is lifted, I believe, from his book "The Edge Effect". While, obviously, not as rigorous as something that you could do in a medical clinic, for 20 minutes on the web, clicking some 'yes' and 'no' tick-boxes, it's interesting to see just what your brain chemistry might be doing. Let's jump right into the interview.
**Voice-over.** *Smart Drugs Smarts.*
**Jesse:** You're famous for saying that "You're only as young as your oldest body part." I think you've coined that phrase more or less and brought that to the public. What body parts do you find most prematurely aging in people?
**Eric Braverman:** Well it's actually fairly variable. Typically you know people think of women aging, getting short, getting osteoporotic and getting a fair amount of dementia.And it's the same in the matter of heart disease. But it's really much more variable than that. Let's work our way down the organs. By 40 years old everybody's brain pretty much on it's 3T or 15 times more powerful M.R.I, combined with Beam demonstrates significant either atrophy or loss of myelin sheath, missing pieces of pituitary or ischemia blood flow changes and processing speed alterations. so there's pretty much a significant cognitive alteration and those alterations are occurring all the time. You can't learn a language after 12 without an accent. By 20 your brain's peaked speed - if you haven't created some kind of genius work by 30, you generally won't do it. By 40 everybody is turning the corner towards dementia - partially. Now partial for me - a lot of partial or a microscopic, but it's there. And then you work your way down the organ systems, you see aging everywhere. 90% of the people on autopsy, certainly women have nodules. We're up around 70% nodules in our patients. And so thyroid ages, parathyroid shuts down causing osteoporosis. Most people don't even know what the parathyroid is. 4 purple glands which look like little peas in the neck. Pineal glands not making the melatonin, pituitary not making the hormones anymore up in the brain. Heart's starting to show valve leakages and damages. Bones are almost universally losing calcium, strength and collagen - down by 40. Muscles certainly very deteriorated in women much faster than men. So women have a lot more sarcoporosis and coronary artery starts clogging up with calcium. You just work your way through the system and you got lot of malabsorption.
**Jesse:** That's a pretty grim picture so far.
**Eric Braverman:** Well grim in that we do expect death to free from us and the redemption of corruptible flesh will become incorruptible. So you're only as young as your oldest part. We have to be cognizant that we scan the whole body and make an age print. We'll make this available to your audience free, which they can just call in anytime and get a copy of it at 888-231-PATH. That will give you a rough idea of this.
**Jesse:** I was wondering about setting some of those baselines of saying - you've the heart of a 70 year old. One of the questions that crawls into mind is how do you set that yardstick? How do we say that we know what the average 70 year old should look like?
**Eric Braverman:** Well now you're asking certain ipsative data so what we've done is actually established optimum bone density, optimum heart health, optimum brain health. Now we know what a brain is with atrophy because it fills your skull. I just put on my instruments, which are when you go to Dr. Eric B, you'll see I just put in a typical atrophied brain that's advanced with a lake of water in the middle of the brain. If you look at enough brains that are 20 and 30 and then you look at 60 year olds, they're a catastrophe. If you look at bad 60 year olds, they got a Lake Michigan sitting in the middle of where there's supposed to be brain tissue.
**Jesse:** One of the things that you're famous for is your book "The Edge Effect" and I believe that's the book where you have the self-assessment on your various primary neurotransmitters. Could you talk a little about that and also when you see imbalances - what those imbalances that you're typically seeing look like?
**Eric Braverman:** Basically what I just told you - you're only as young as your oldest part - is a catastrophe of health allocation services. So in America a guy goes and he gets a colonoscopy and then he doesn't bother to check out his bone density and dies. Or doesn't have his attention checked and he skies into a tree but his rectum has been certified as healthy.
**Eric Braverman:** Alright, so we have a situation where virtually everyone can only do partial healthcare.
**Eric Braverman:** That partial healthcare as in you might get an eye exam, you might check your glaucoma, you might get to your colonoscopy, you might get to your G.I. That partial health review is a decision that you make in total ignorance of what the oldest part is; and that total ignorance results in unfortunately catastrophe where it doesn't get good return for most people. And medicine the way it is currently practiced - you're only as young as your oldest part - results in specialty catastrophe and that catastrophe is best illustrated by the group of doctors flying home in an airplane. The pilots get sick and there's all these doctors that came back from a conference. So the republican surgeon says, "Don't worry I know what to do." He says, "I'm gonna cut off the left wing." The democratic surgeon says, "I'll cut off the right wing." The G.I. guy scopes the rectum in the plane looking for controls. Urologist scopes the bladder - the toilet bowls, looking for controls. So you have a situation where no one goes to the head of the plane. When we go to the head of the plane we turn the brain into an electro-biochemical machine and the electro-biochemical machine is neurotransmitters being transmitted back in to electricity.
Dopamine is one symbol of adrenaline, catecholamines and we drill that up with everything from testosterone, estrogen, growth hormones, DHEA, brain energy formulas, we have a whole nutrient regimen to boost dopamine and boost brain cell growth and voltage. So with age we're all losing voltage and to keep that voltage is tough.
**Jesse:** What are some of the ways to attack that problem?
**Eric Braverman:** They attack it everyday with sugar and coffee. That's how they attack it right now. But I want to give the overview and pseudocholine is the next one. Dopamine's basically extroversion. So if you want to understand the brain from a love perspective. Extroverts are more loving because they share, feelers are more loving because they care. Organizers are more loving because they get more done and intuiters are more loving because they see what people need. Alright, and to really make love work with most people you've got to share some.
Then the next story is intuitiveness and pseudocholine. Big picture, cognitive function, memory storage all depends on pseudocholine. Whether it's eggs or fish or fish oil or growth hormones or parathyroid hormones. In other words the pseudocholine links very much to your bone frame. So the studies show - as we learned from the last point - that the athletes do the best. Men that are athletic and women that are athletic will in long run do the best. Their brains become stronger and this is called the Spark principle - triggering all neurotransmitters to take-off.
Then you go to GABA. So the brain's energy is E=mc2 is the mass of voltage of neurons firing times the processing speed squared. So being fast is more important than being strong in many ways for energy for brain output. So quick minds do well. And we go to GABA we got ways to build GABA with acetone, progesterone, primolone and other hormones and nutrients. Bottom line is that you can't get the full effect of successful health if you don't also simultaneously have stability. So you have to be changing and creative and energetic but you also have to be stable. And finally you've to be sleeping. Seratonin - you've stay in a good mood and Seratonin gives you feeling. GABA keeps you organized and ultimately human beings are in relationships. So more they are extroverted, intuitive feeling and organized the more loving they are. But not all of us are made just to be loving. A guy like me is made to be strategic and to create strategies for people to enhance their brain and break the aging barrier and explore the stars; live to 800 and fulfill the dreams of humanity. Now that won't happen if we're all getting stupid. So we've to come up with a smart program in every situation from computers to fixing cars - everybody does a diagnostic. So the biggest un-smart mistake of the smart drug movement was to take things without evidence. In other words you have ischemia in the brain you take Niacin. If you've got frontal lobe disorder you've got to get some executive functioning - you've got to take an Adderall or a stimulant. So we have an entire strategy to continue to fix the brain, triggered to a brain print. The brain print has layer after layer after layer of processing speed issues, sleep issues, personality issues, type temperament issues; and we can basically do a living autopsy of the human brain. So we do a living autopsy on the human brain and body and then a person can make their decisions on what changes they want. So I don't want all the changes. In other words I learn that I'm not that great a listener and I decided that I don't want to change too much, except that I do want to change it in some situations. So anything that raises GABA will make me a better listener and slow me down a little bit to pay attention to people.
**Jesse:** Why do you think that the American medical system is so far behind on giving a holistic overview on brain focused diagnostic?
**Eric Braverman:** Well it's very much back to an ancient paradigm error where the church got this brain and soul and the enlightenment of the body. And the world's more interested in sex anyway. So basically the current physical exams are boobs and vagina for women and for men it's erectile and the prostrate and the cardiac. So pretty much the head's been left out of medicine other than to look inside the ears and see if you can see through to the other side.
**Jesse:** *(laughs)* What do you think are the primary things that everybody should know about to make simple improvements in their own neurological health?
**Eric Braverman:** Exercise number one. Physical fitness, nutrition, brain food diet, vegetables, fruits. You know everything I think everyone knows.
I want people to know I wrote the book "Younger Sex For You". I coined the phrase, "every erection has a resurection". Which pretty much dials up any sex life - let me tell you some good news about sex. The hypometabolic brain and the atrophy that we find in those men and women, there's no question that sex reduces that atrophy. So the joke when we used to say that, "if you don't have sex you'll die" is a little bit true.
**Jesse:** *(laughs)* You've written a lot of books over the years. What do you think is the best way to start?
**Eric Braverman:** I've created a whole Braverman library. You can start with The Edge Effect, Younger You. Start with the books that sell 250,000 copies or so because those books are usually meant to be readable. I've 3 wellness encyclopedias now.
**Jesse:** What are your feelings on the various supplements that promote neuroprotective benefits?
**Eric Braverman:** Exercise, eggs, fish oil, yogurt, acidophilus, the right cultures. Blueberries is big. Bioflavinoids, citrus is big and hippocampal shrinkage, Indian kartalin, Russian rhodiola, Chinese huperzine. There are a zillion things you can do. I told you again - brain print me anybody and I'll tailor the right regimen. Other wise you'll end up with a dealing with the hardest of the 10 commandments - thou shalt not covet. You know like taking a 100 pills without matching anything.
**Voice-over:** *Smart Drug Smarts.*
**Jesse:** So, thank you so very much to Dr. Braverman, for joining us on this episode. I didn't actually think to ask him about this during the interview, but I might see if I can lift the Braverman Assessment and work that into one of the next versions of my new baby, the Axon app, which I'll stop talking about. No, I won't. If, you are an iOS user and you haven't yet considered downloading Axon, wait until you see version 1.2 in the store because 1.2 is going to have some cool stuff that the current version doesn't. But, get pre-excited about it and head yourself on over to Apple. But, now, as mentioned, let's talk about astronauts in the Ruthless Listener Retention Gimmick.
**Voice-over:** *Smart Drug Smarts - Ruthless Listener Retention Gimmick!!!*
**Jesse:** Okay, so, a study published in *Lancet Neurology* talked about the sleep data from 64 different astronauts on 80 space shuttle missions and 21 astronauts on 13 international space station missions, and looked at what these guys and gals are taking to help both their sleep and their wakefulness while in space. Possibly, not surprisingly, in-flight astronauts don't get a huge amount of shut-eye but what sleep they do get, they use quite a few drugs to manipulate. Probably, the best known and most-used of the sleep medications they take is zolpidem, brand name- Ambien. It seems like the astronauts are given leave to be *ad hoc* in the way that they self-administer these drugs. Lancet notes that crew members reported taking a second dose of hypnotic drugs only a few hours before awakening. Although, crew members are encouraged to try such drugs on the ground, at home, at least once before they are used in flights, such preparations, probably do not involve multiple dosing or dosing with 2 or 3 different drugs on the same night. Continues the Lancet, "A variety of abnormal thinking and behavior changes have been reported to occur in association with the use of sedative/hypnotics…. Complex behaviors such as ‘sleep-driving’…have been reported. Amnesia, anxiety, and other neuropsychiatric symptoms may occur unpredictably.” In other words, the authors of this do not seem to think that letting the astronauts self-administer to the extent that they apparently are, is quite such a good idea. As far as wakefulness promoting drugs, caffeine was widely used throughout all data collection intervals by both shuttle and ISS crew members. Though supply shortages sometimes led to coffee rationing and reduced consumption aboard ISS, people reported having less caffeine in flight than they did while on the ground. There was some reported use of modafinil - 10 reported uses on shuttle missions and 2 on ISS mission. Lastly, and somewhat weirdly, the most common reason for sleep disturbances in space is, apparently, nocturnal micturition, which for those of you not in-the-know, and I admit to not being one, that means when you pee yourself while you're asleep. This is not uncommon to do if you are an astronaut because the bodily clues that your bladder is full work less effectively in zero gravity, and another major factor is that simply wetting yourself while in your space suit seems like a better alternative than waking sleeping colleagues by going to the toilet. Taking one for the team by wetting yourself is, I guess, one of the things that your learn in astronaut training.
**Voice-over:** *Smart Drug Smarts - The podcast so smart, we have smart in our title, twice!!*
**Jesse:** And, that is the entire episode. Thank you very much for hanging out till the end. If you like what you heard, you are cordially invited to share this podcast with your friends, enemies and anyone with a brain and/or leave us a review on iTunes. The show notes for this show will be online at www.smartdrugsmarts.com, and conveniently available in the mobile app, Axon, which, earlier today, I published version 1.2 of to Apple. One of the cool things about Axon is, we got the little audio bookmarks, so if you want to jump ahead to a particular part in the conversation, you just click that and it jumps right there. You can skip over any of the boring bits if you don't want to listen to every mouth-watering Smart Drug Smarts minute. I'll be back at you next week. Same time, same podcast and with the same unflagging commitment to helping you fine-tune the performance of your own brain. Have a great week and stay smart.
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**Disclaimer:** *Smart Drug Smarts should be listened to for entertainment purposes only. Although some guests on the show are medical doctors, most are not and the host is just some random guy. Nothing you hear on the podcast or read on [ should be considered medical advice. Consult your doctor, and use some damn common sense before doing anything that you think might have a lasting impact on your brain.*