Brain Health,

#114: Modern AlkaMe + Personalized Neuroscience

February 05, 2016

In episode #114, Jesse speaks with Garrett Ruhland, CEO and co-founder of Modern AlkaMe, an online service aiming to help people navigate the nootropics landscape with personalized neuroscience info gleaned from machine learning and “Big Data.”

Ruhland’s first foray into the world of retail nootropics was on the manufacturing and sales side — but he spotted a problem it seemed the industry hadn’t solved yet: Beginners wanting to try nootropics were often overwhelmed by the fragmented info available on the web.  Every supplement sounded like it might be a good idea on its own, but how do all these things interact with one another?

Many people hesitated to take the first step because they were concerned about contraindications with other supplements, or with prescription medications in their health regimen.

Many also wondered how to tell for sure if a supplement was really having an effect.

The wheels in Ruhland’s head started turning…

Modern AlkaMe’s “Low-Effort Biohacking”

We probably all know some people who are willing to keep detailed, meticulous records of their day-in, day-out performance — and all their daily inputs and results — to see what’s working for them.

But let’s face it, these some people are not most people.  They’re the oddballs.

(Maybe you’re even one of them.  If so, kudos.)

But even for the hardest of the biohacking hardcore, the “n=1” experiments and continual tracking and stacking can become wearisome.  And perhaps cognitive biases are still preventing these folks from finding the optimal stack for their needs?

Ruhland wondered: Is there a scalable way for people to benefit from others’ experience without having to comb through Reddit threads and best-guess which writers’ stories applied to them?  His search for a solution led to Modern AlkaMe.

Placebo-controlled studies at home?

Probably the coolest offering from Modern AlkaMe is their soon-to-launch ability for customers to give stacks the “Pepsi Challenge” and see what they prefer — without actually knowing what they’re taking.  Placebo effects (as we’ve discussed before) are a powerful and potentially confounding factor in determining what a supplement is or isn’t doing.  But, Modern AlkaMe claims to have an effective strategy for how to do a controlled study on yourself, over the course of a month, and without much effort.

Listen in to hear all the details of the Modern AlkaMe story, and their plans to crowdsource ever more data to further refine best practices in stack design.

PS:  Make tracking the latest neuroscience news easier by signing up for our newsletter, the Brain Breakfast – delivered weekly from Jesse’s brain to your inbox.

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