[00:00:52] Vaporizing and About This Podcast
[00:03:09] Events and Podcast Sponsors
[00:08:05] Guest Introduction
[00:11:42] The Link Between the Natural Need to Feel Safe and Stress
[00:22:23] How Trauma Affects One's Ability to Feel Safe
[00:34:54] Whether or Not Epigenetic Trauma Is A Legit Concept
[00:38:19] Podcast Sponsors
[00:41:13] cont. Whether or Not Epigenetic Trauma Is A Legit Concept
[00:42:07] How Psychedelics Are Used to Reverse Trauma
[01:01:24] The Technology Behind the Apollo Neuroscience Wearable
[01:11:38] What the Apollo Is Made Of
[01:15:54] Rapid-Fire Questions About the Apollo
[01:23:16] End of Podcast
Ben: On this episode of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast.
David: Kids, pregnant women, elderly are not the best to receive medicine because we don't know all the risks. And many of it, much of the time, the medicines are used off-label and they haven't been tested.
…are able to sing to the body to create resonance patterns with sound waves that actually facilitate the release of these blocks that allow our energy to flow as freely and optimally as possible, which allows us to get closer and closer to our truest best selves.
Ben: Health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and much more. My name is Ben Greenfield. Welcome to the show.
Well, folks, this is a first. I'm vaporizing as I am giving you today's introduction and telling you about today's sponsor, so could be kind of interesting. I'm not just smoking weed in my office. No, I'm much more fancy than that. What did you expect after all?
Basically, there's a trick from my friend, Paul Chek. I've actually talked about this in my previous interviews with Paul Chek, which you can find on my website. I am vaporizing a blend from my Buddha vaporizer of organic tobacco, organic Swedish tobacco. Touch of a sativa, herbicide pesticide-free strain of wonderful Washington State Mary Jane and a touch of nutmeg which is a little bit of a pick-me-up and as they say in prison, a bit of a cheap psychedelic in and of itself. So, I've gotten nicotine from tobacco, a little bit of weed and a little bit of nutmeg, that I'm vaporizing, and it's a nice little blend thanks to my friend Paul Chek for teaching me about how to blend herbs and essential oils and get a much different mix than just like you know taking a hit on a vape pen.
Today's podcast, speaking of nutmeg, is very interesting. When I recorded this interview, I had not used the device that we talked about in the interview for a very long period of time since recording this interview, which was about a month ago, I've had 3 solid days of use of exactly what we talked about in the episode and I'm going to keep you kind of hanging with bated breath as to what we talked about. The best way I can describe it is it's like wearable plant medicine. It's crazy. It's literally the only wearable in a very long time that I've adopted now use daily. I have an Oura ring, I have a cheap ass Timex watch, and I'm wearing this thing every day and you're going to learn more about it in the shownotes. Just launched a brand new to the whole biohacking tech sector. So, I think you will absolutely dig it.
By the way, I have a lot of events coming up that you can catch me at. But a couple you should know about if you go check out BenGreenfieldFitness.com/calendar or A, I'm speaking down in Lexington, Kentucky at this wonderful event that's designed for physicians practicing medicine but it's open to the general public. We're going to geek out on genomic space precision medicine for three days. It's April 4th through the 6th, 2020. Also, April 24th the 26th, I'll be at Paleo f(x) in Austin, Texas. One of my favorite events of the entire year where you get to go to amazing parties, eat delicious food, listen to amazing speakers try new gadgets in their bio hacking lab awesome is a fantastic town in and of itself. Especially if you're barbecue. Paleo f(x), I'll be there and you can get all the details on all this stuff. If you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/calendar.
And finally, for those of you who are far abroad, my listeners in India, if you also go check out that calendar. I'm doing a media tour of India throughout the entire month of February. So, if you're curious if I might be in your city Bangla door, New Delhi, Mumbai, any of these cities go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/calendar and I will put all the details there.
Today's podcast, we have something very, very special to announce. Behind the scenes I've been working on a complete re formulation of our incredibly popular product Kion Lean, which is something I've popped for years before any high carbohydrate meal for blood sugar management and to allow my body to shift more easily into things like fat oxidation and ketosis. But, I have in the past several years since the initial formulation of that product discovered some things that pack an even bigger punch. So, I've taken Kion Lean and what I've done is added something called InnoSlim which is a blend of panax ginseng and astragalus which is a potent nutraceutical that's been shown in many studies to decrease glucose absorption and circulating blood glucose directly by acting on the calorie restriction mimetic AMPK pathway. So, it's been shown to reduce fat accumulation and correct all the metabolic issues that lead to weight gain.
Now, I've also kept in the wild bitter melon extract also known as Glycostat which decreases the transport rate of glucose in the intestine and increases the uptake of plasma glucose into cell. So, this one acts as an insulin-mimetic so this is a brand-new formula.
What we're doing at Kion now is we've decided that going forward, every single supplement that we reformulate or come out with, we want robust human clinical research behind. We don't want any claims that cannot ever be backed up by robust clinical studies. And this Lean, oh, my gosh, you guys are going to love it. So, it's InnoSlim, Glycostat, anytime you got a pizza, bread, sweet potatoes, fruit, you name it, you pop a couple of these things for blood sugar management. Assists tremendously as well with fat loss. I like to use this stuff before cold thermogenesis to amp up my fat burning prior to that as well.
So, this is the brand-new Kion Lean. All of you get a 10% discount on it on this brand-new formulation. Did I say “brand-new” enough for you? You go to getKION.com, getK-I-O-N.com, and the discount code that you can use there is BGF10.
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Alright. So, it was probably, I think, three weeks ago that this dude was coming through Spokane. And he swung by my house and he had this wearable he wanted to show me. And it seems like everybody in their dog these days wants to show me some wearable, yet another self-quant device or yet another thing I got to put on my wrist or my ankle or my finger or my neck. So, I just kind of let him come into my house and show me this thing. And, socks blown off. You, guys, socks blown off. This person who you are about to get filled in on is someone who has designed a way to almost develop and, hopefully, he's not going to be mad at me for saying this, plant medicine on your wrist. That's the best that I can describe this. It's literally taking everything that you would want for enhanced meditation and focus and DMT release and activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. And you put it on your wrist or your ankle. And, I mean, I monitor my HRV in real-time. When he put it on, I paid attention to what my body felt and something's going on here. So, I don't just want to talk about wearables on today's show. I want to talk about the parasympathetic nervous system, about trauma and trauma release, and about stress and even plant medicine in general.
And, fortunately, this guy is not just a dude who makes wearables. His name is Dr. David Rabin. He is an M.D. Ph.D. He's a board-certified psychiatrist. He's a neuroscientist and he specializes in the treatment of PTSD, depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. He actually has been involved with MAPS. I know many of you are familiar with the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies. But, he's worked with MAPS to specifically determine the mechanisms of the therapy that you get from psychedelic-assisted treatments of normally treatment-resistant mental illness. So, he's organized the world's largest controlled studies of psychedelic medicine in collaboration with Yale, the University of Southern California, Mount Sinai. And they are now collecting DNA samples from folks who have treatment-resistant PTSD and who are participating in, specifically, MDMA-assisted psychotherapy. He has a deep history in the treatment of stress and stress disorders. And he'll be able to tell us a little bit about that and what he's learned from it during today's show. And of course, as I've already alluded to, he has now, along with his wife, co-founded and been responsible for developing this brand new wearable called Apollo. It's called Apollo. And I'll let him describe it to you because he will do a far better job at that than I, how this thing works.
But, David and I had a chance to get to know each other the past few weeks. I'm very pleased, very honored, to have him on the show. Everything that you hear about that we talk, you can get the shownotes for if you go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Apollo. That's BenGreenfieldFitness.com/A-P-O-L-L-O.
David, welcome to the show, man.
David: Thank you so much for having me, Ben. It's a real pleasure to be here and it's been a real pleasure to get to know you over the last few weeks.
Ben: Yeah, it has. And I remember one thing that you told me when you came to my house, I think this would be kind of a good jumping-off point, was that what you've studied is really the link between stress and, perhaps, even arguably, trauma and the human need to feel safe. Tell us more about that, because I feel like that's a big part of the equation here.
David: Sure. And I think that that is, at least, from my studies over the years, I found that that seems to be the core of importance, in terms of what we can take home about how the stress response system works in our bodies. And I really do appreciate your kind introduction earlier and talking about–How you explain the parasympathetic and the sympathetic nervous system balance to your audience, I think, is very important. And you do a great job of that. And one of the major focuses of health that we're starting to realize a lot more about now is autonomic balance. So, balance between your sympathetic fight-or-flight nervous system, fight-or-flight or freeze response nervous system, and your parasympathetic rest-and-digest and create-and-reproduce-and-recover, that those nervous systems are in a counterbalance together.
And what's interesting is when you think about what those nervous systems are responsible for, it also helps us understand how we induce activity in those nervous systems and why they exist. And we can go back millions of years into ancient mammals, Eric Kandel studied snails 300 million years old. And they also have similar responses in their nervous systems to two major stimuli in our environment. And those stimuli are safety and fear, or threat. And the reason for that is because safety increases activity. So, safety increases activity in the parasympathetic nervous system. And threat or fear increases activity in the sympathetic nervous system. And this balance helps to make sure that when a bear comes up to us or a lion comes up to us when we're walking in the jungle that our blood pressure and our heart rate and our energy goes way up immediately and we end up directing energy only to the parts of our body, like our motor cortex and our fear center and our skeletal muscles in our limbs that help us get out of that situation as rapidly as possible to ensure survival.
Ben: Right. You don't want to take a nap when somebody's coming at you with a spear or you need to chase down a gazelle or when a lion's coming at you.
David: Exactly. Or, worry about reproducing or adjusting your food. You want to get out of it.
Ben: Right, exactly. Yeah, that's a good point. You shut down reproductive function. And you even see that in elite athletes who are constantly hard-charging, constantly sourcing that sympathetic nervous system, sending their body an evolutionary or ancestral message that they're not safe because the human body is still hardwired to think it's in battle. You do see a downregulation of fertility and you see a loss of some of the normal circadian rhythmicity and a lot of the things that kind of keep their bodies in that fight-and-flight mode because even from an athletic standpoint, as silly as it sounds, you're making your body know that it might not be safe out there.
David: Exactly. And you wouldn't want to fall asleep when there's a lion lurking around outside your tent. You want to be ready to respond, or your cave. And so, ultimately, the body has these natural ways of diverting energy to the places that need it most. And that's good. That's good for responding to acute threat, and we see that. I think the problem is when that threat or that sense of threat, the perception that we are threatened or need to be afraid, is something that is experienced every single day, sometimes, many, many times a day, and we see it manifest in all these different ways, like in the corporate environment. Burnout was just declared by the World Health Organization as a medical condition that warrants treatment. And the reason for that is because when people are working as hard as they are every day where most people, something like 80% of people in the U.S. alone are spending the majority of their waking day doing something they don't enjoy, that creates an enormous out of emotional existential mental stress. Sitting in a chair creates physical stress and lack of physical activity, etc. You talked a lot about this, eating not good food. And this culmination of stress in this nation decreases creativity.
Ben: Yeah. And if I could throw this in, because it's fresh on my mind. I was reading last night. I'm studying some books on how to teach your children the spiritual disciplines, like meditation and studying and fasting and prayer and things like this. And in that book, it talked about how preschoolers are now the number one growing demographic as far as needing targeted use of antidepressants or, at least, they're being set up for that, based on everything from school start times to homework to social media, to all these things that preschoolers are now being exposed to. So, even young children now, in an environment where you think that safety would be the ultimate priority, no longer feel safe.
David: Exactly. And that's exactly right. I haven't actually seen that specific information, but it sounds consistent with and very interesting in terms of the way that we do see as clinicians. We see that these medicines like antidepressants and amphetamines get prescribed at a younger and younger age every generation. And part of that, I think, is because, similar to what we were just talking about, our bodies were not meant for the way that we work. The demands of modernity and the stresses that we're put on every day because of the responsibilities that we have in this current lifestyle in society that we subscribe to is extremely stressful and it takes a toll on the body.
And so, I think the important part of this, coming back to the original question of safety, is that by practicing techniques or strategies like deep breathing, meditation, yoga, biofeedback, positive thinking skills that we teach in psychotherapy, all of these different techniques, float tanks, there's lots of different ones, which all tend to improve heart rate variability as the best known current biometric that is a measure of our ability to recover or how recovered we are, our resilience and the effects of stress on the body over time, which we never had the opportunity to measure before. By practicing safety techniques like the ones I just mentioned, you can increase that and increase your recovery and your ability to recover from stress and decrease some of these issues that we're seeing that result from chronic stress or chronic perceived threat responses, which ultimately leads to depression, anxiety, PTSD, even some metabolic disorder, diabetes, injuries, if you're somebody who plays sports or in the military. There's sleep insomnia, chronic pain. All of these things are related to imbalances in the autonomic nervous system and low heart rate variability. Safety boosting techniques, like Apollo being one of those tech strategies to make it accessible to the public. They all improve balance in the nervous system, which helps retrain the brain to know that it's not actually running from a lion in that moment. When you feel that calm, that pause, and you're able to regulate and perform at your best and recover at your best.
Ben: Right, yeah. And we'll eventually get to Apollo, but I have a couple of thoughts. The first is the big picture here, really, the takeaway from me the more I think about this, is that I live in a comfortable house. I was even talking to my son. I took him on a dinner date the other night. I was tell him, “Dude, mom and I used to go check the checking account before we would go out to dinner to see if we had enough money and when we might be able to buy off that list and if we could get a cocktail. And we also used to go over all of our bills at the end of the month to see how we were going to be able to scrape together rent and if we could afford to stay in the home that we were currently in, etc., etc.
And now, it's like I don't have to think that much about buying an organic grass-fed ribeye. I don't have to think that much about my bed being comfortable at night, me having a roof over my head, me being able to take my son to dinner at a fancy restaurant and be able to just take out the credit card and know that there's money in the account.” But yet, I can still, at the same time, be doing things to my body to make it feel as though it's not safe. The way that I approach my email inbox, the way that I interact with my employees, the way that I manage stress throughout the day, the way that I respond when I'm in traffic. What my body does that I'm not even in control of from a subconscious or an evolutionary standpoint when I step onto an airplane or walk through the airport, or I'm in a big crowd of people. We live these seemingly comfortable post-industrial westernized lifestyles, but yet, our bodies are constantly under a message, most of us, that they're not safe, even though we might feel as though we have houses and money and cars, etc. So, I think that's a big thing for people is, even though you might feel safe, your body is technically under a lot of nervous system stress.
And then, the other thing I wanted to mention before I ask you a little bit about trauma, because I want to get into trauma and what this has to do with trauma. The other thing is that I said that about elite athletes but I don't want to make people think that exercise is bad because, as a matter of fact, research study after research study shows that regular, consistent, smart exercise actually lowers HRV in the long run and increases parasympathetic nervous system activity. And I suspect that part of that might be that you feel more equipped to take care of yourself. You feel more confident. I mean, I posted on Instagram this morning photo of me flexing with my shirt off. And I commented that muscles aren't just for show but that one of the benefits of having a fit body is that you just approach life with more confidence. And I would suspect that you also, even if it's, again, subconscious, you feel safer when you're fit. You feel like you can take care of yourself. So, I don't want to discourage people from exercising. What I'm saying is don't overtrain and, also, know that if you choose to be an elite, hard-charging athlete, that might fly in the face of taking absolute care of your nervous system. Your performance is not synonymous with health and longevity.
So, now, I've prepared myself to step off my soapbox. I want to ask you about trauma because I know you've studied it a lot. I know it has to do a little bit with what you just described about feeling safe. But, I was guilty until, probably, I mean, dude, I would say even six months ago, I was guilty of kind of snickering when I hear people say they'd been traumatized unless, A, they've been to war and actually been serving in the Armed Forces and been subjected to some kind of an explosion or horrific war accident; or, B, if they'd had a horrific childhood or an event that occurred in childhood or in adulthood that was just brutal, like seeing someone in your family get murdered or being beaten by your parents, or being raped, or undergoing some horrific occurrence. I always thought that that's what it took to truly say that you had trauma or to say that you had PTSD. And I've personally kind of come around it and realized that trauma is a little bit different than my narrow-minded view of what it could be. And I'm curious if you could get into trauma and what you studied on trauma, what you found trauma to truly be, and what trauma has to do with feeling safe.
David: Well, I think what you said earlier was a great segue into trauma, because what you're talking about before you ask me this question is you're talking about building up physical endurance and physical stamina, constitution for a sense of improved and heightened physical safety. And safety, what we like to think of it is mostly physical. And I think, ultimately, to really understand what we mean when we say safety is to take a step back and look at a holistic picture of safety, which includes physical, of course. But, it equally includes emotional, mental, and spiritual safety. And part of physical safety and mental safety is, of course, financial safety in our society. And so, focusing on all those things, physical safety being a very important one that you can contribute positively to. Good, smart exercise is a really great idea. You can also overtrain, which lowers heart rate variability in the long run. And so, they're, obviously, everything with moderation.
But, I think, the way that leads into trauma is that trauma is effectively one or many meaningful and intense negative or unsafe experiences over time. And that is a subjective experience for the person experiencing the trauma. So, trauma can be something as little as you're crying when you're little, when you're young and you need something and your parents ignore you. And they do it multiple times over and over and over again. That could be a trauma, an emotional trauma. It's a trauma that we see a lot as therapists when we talk to people who have perceptions that they are unlovable or that they can't love others. And that's a very, very common thing we see with lots of people, not just people who have been diagnosed with mental health diagnosis. So, trauma can be anything from that to not having enough food growing up or to having to, as you said earlier, have to worry about finances all the time, to the point where you're making all these decisions in your life directly related to the understanding of exactly how many resources you have. Whereas, now, you don't have to think about that. But, for a lot of people, that can be somewhat traumatizing because it's a very negative or many negative meaningful experiences over time. And those create little stresses, sometimes big stresses, that ultimately result in a reflective response in your autonomic nervous system. So, at every time you experience one of those events, every time your mom ignores you when you're crying and you're in pain or you're not feeling good and you feel helpless, or your parent ignores you, what happens is that your sympathetic nervous system goes up, inflammation goes up in your body, and your parasympathetic nervous system, the system responsible for all the good stuff, like digestion and rest and energy recovery, and creativity, all these things starts to decrease in activity and energy because you're perceiving threat. Again, like we said earlier, continuous perceived threat over time, particularly when there's a strong emotional part of the experience, ends up resulting in what we now call trauma, which is something that's not just the Western world. It's being used by tribal plant medicine cultures for thousands of years to describe very similar experiences.
Ben: Now, my mind is going to this place. Have you ever come across the book by Bronnie Ware called, “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying?” Have you ever heard of that book?
David: I've heard of it but I haven't read it.
Ben: Okay. So, she goes over the top five regrets of the dying based on, I believe, a whole bunch of folks that she spent caring for in hospice during the last several weeks of their life. She was an Australian nurse. And over and over and over again, people said the same things. And there were five things. They were “I wish I had stayed more connected to my old friends. I wish I hadn't worked so hard. I'd wish I had chosen to be happier.” I had these memorized now. I don't have to pull them back out of my memory. And then, “I wish that I had the courage to express my true self.” And then, also, and this one is kind of relevant to the trauma piece, I think. It is that “I wish I'd have had the courage to be who I really am, rather than who people expected me to be.”
And the reason I'm bringing this up is because I've looked a little bit into the work of Gabor Mate. And he has this definition of trauma where he just says it's basically disconnection from self. Or, even a lack of the ability to be able to live or, maybe not a lack of the ability, but just a lack of living according to who you are, who your true authentic self is. Meaning, working in a career or a job that you know doesn't fulfill your true purpose or why you were placed on this planet or getting so caught up in being somebody who you're not. Like, for me, I went for the longest time thinking that I had to show the world that I was this masochistic hardcore hard-charging athlete because I thought that's what people expected me to be, when in reality, I'm like this super-soft, fantasy-fiction loving, romantic guy who loves spirituality and painting and playing the violin and chess, all these things I grew up with. And I eventually became this hardcore athlete because I thought that's what it would take to be cool.
And even for me, I think that was a mildly traumatic experience, me being disconnected from my true self for almost 20 years, just basically living this life based on what I perceive that the world wanted me to be, rather than who I truly am at my core. And I finally, over the past year or so, come full circle and realized that I can embrace the spirituality and the soft side, the romantic side, and still play in the fitness world, in the biohacking world, but, perhaps, be a different person in that world and bring a different message to that world.
I'm droning on a bit here, but I'm curious what you think about that idea that Gabor Mate has presented of trauma simply being a disconnection from self.
David: I think you and Gabor are right on. I think that that disconnection, taking it back several many generations who can go set the Sanskrit word for health. And I'm probably going to butcher this, but it's something like Svasthya. And this word means “realizing the self.” And that is synonymous with health. And ultimately, the practice of realizing the self back when Sanskrit was the language of choice was to use breathwork in meditation and healthy physical practice with food and practice engaging with the rhythms of nature and the environment around us and having a balance between physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And what's really fascinating about this is, and I think what Gabor hints at a lot in what he's talking about and what you mentioned earlier, is this idea that for us to be truly as maximally or optimally connected to ourselves as possible to our sense of self and to have this united sense of self, we're not a self that's fractured but a self that is whole, meaning that the version of yourself that you present to the world is exactly the truest version of yourself that you are or that you believe you can be.
The way to achieve that is, as the Buddhists and the Hindus have said for, again, many thousands of years, that you have to let go of attachment to things in the past that you believe have meaning enough to draw your attention away from your experience of the present. Because what happens is when you have experiences in the past, like trauma being powerful, meaningful, or intense, negative, meaningful experience you've experienced over time. And then, what happens is we attach more and more meaning to those experiences. And the more meaning we attach to those experiences and the more we identify with those experiences–So, an example of that would be saying not “I feel sad” or “I feel depressed,” but “I am depressed.” And when you say, “I am depressed,” you are attaching the depression to your identity with “am,” which attaches it to the past and the present and the future. If you say, “I feel depressed” or “I feel sad,” what it means is you're describing the moment. You're describing how you feel right now. And so, by using the language and using some of these fundamental ancient strategies for reconnecting with ourselves, like breath, breath immediately is something we could do at any moment at any time, and it immediately tells our brain that we are safe, because we have the time to intentionally take a breath and pay attention to.
Ben: So, it's a good way to think about it. When you breathe, you're telling your body you actually have the time to breathe. That's a good point.
David: Right. And then, you have the time to be grateful for breathing. And then, every time you sort of build on that or you riff on that with gratitude or with self-compassion, you're reinforcing this safety pathway more and more and more. And then, it becomes easier and easier and easier to engage in those deep breathing exercises in the moment, which normally can take tens of thousands of hours of practice. But, the nice thing is you can practice it anywhere you go. So, over time, as you practice these techniques, then, it helps you to become more autonomically tone, more parasympathetically and sympathetically in balance and closer to flow.
And what flow really is, the science of flow, is autonomic balanced, sympathetic and parasympathetic balance, where you are maximally or optimally present in the moment with yourself and with your environment around you, and you're as in touch with it as you can be. And you can't be 100% in touch, but you can get as close to it as you can. And all of these techniques kind of help us get there.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Now, there's one other piece of trauma that I want to unpack with you that I think is important and that I think, again, applies to the people who say I've never been traumatized. And that's something that's kind of mind-blowing but that there's some evidence actually exists. And that's this idea of epigenetic trauma, meaning stressful events that your parents or your grandparents or, I believe, it can go back as far as six or seven generations experience can be, from an RNA standpoint, actually packaged and passed on to you. And you can actually have a stress response that is accelerated or carry biological traces of stress based on something that your ancestors experienced or at least your close-lived ancestors experienced. What do you think about that?
David: So, I would say that it is, at one point, a theory. It is now well-founded in the scientific literature that this is the case. I think, for a long time, probably about 100 years, therapists and psychiatrists and physicians, in general, have documented their observations that they have seen the children or the offspring, then multiple generations down, when they see entire families that appear to have increased likelihood of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and even metabolic disorders when their ancestors have had these issues or had severe traumas happen. Not even usually the same thing. Their ancestors usually have had survived genocide or survived flood or a natural disaster, famine, these kinds of things, drought, austerity. And it gets passed on.
And so, Rachel Yehuda, who is an incredible scientist from Mount Sinai and [00:36:42] _____ who I'm now working with, who's one of the pioneers of this epigenetic field where she actually decided 20 or 30 years ago to go back and say, “Maybe, it's not just the DNA. Maybe, it's not just the ACs, Ts, and Gs that are predispositioning us to be well or sick or look this way or look that way or work this way or work that way. Maybe, there's something else going on on the DNA, called epigenetics, which we knew about but we didn't exactly know the role of because it's very, very complicated. We know that it tell cells how to function.”
And so, she went back and she actually did a study with Holocaust survivors and their descendants and showed that they passed on epigenetic changes in stress response genes that correspond to PTSD over multiple generations. And then, this, I think, most interestingly was causally replicated in mice, showing that if you traumatize a baby mouse that it takes at least four generations of safe living, safe laboratory living, where they're not exposed to threat to breed out the epigenetic changes that occur on stress response genes as a result of that initial trauma. One experience can take four generations to breed out. And that's in a lab in safety, “safety.”
So, who knows how many? We can't have safety in our lives. So, it may be even more than four generations for humans.
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Yeah. And I know some people might be familiar because I think this was an article in The New York Times last year about the Dutch genes. I think it is popularly known as the potato famine. But, it was a Dutch hunger winter and how generations afterwards, particularly related to the folks who went through that Dutch hunger winter, as you would experience, they do have what appear to be calorie storage genes, where they have higher levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and obesity and diabetes, but also, issues with things like schizophrenia and bipolar and some things that are more an emotional response to stress. So, it's not just biological or food-based. Some of these genes that get passed on, they're literally your actual response to stress.
And I've actually talked to some people, and this might be a good segue into the next question that I wanted to ask you, who have undergone plant medicine experiences with things like MDMA and psilocybin and actually released trauma that they never experienced, but that their parents experienced which, I realized, is kind of woo woo and may seem super out there for some of you listening in. But, I believe and I've personally journeyed several times with plant medicine and never experienced any of the trauma or the stress that I know my parents experienced. However, I always have in the back of my mind that I would not be surprised if I had an unpleasant journey just based on some of the things that I know my parents have experienced, and that I might need to release someday. So, it's really, really weird to think about.
David: Yeah, absolutely. And I think what is even more interesting is that when we go back, again, to our ancient roots in Eastern medicine, we see people in tribes and in Chinese and Hindu and Buddhist culture, Tibetan culture, they're talking about past lives and trauma inherited over time. They've been talking about this for a long time. I think what's truly unique about the time that we're in right now is technology has gotten to a point where we're now able to demonstrate with science that a lot of these really complex and sort of abstract Eastern ideas are, in fact, real and they were discovered for a reason. And so, plant medicine, I think plant medicine is one of the most fascinating subjects, because when you go back and look at the ancient tribal use of psilocybin and the ancient tribal use of ayahuasca in the Amazonian jungle and psilocybin in Mexico and with the Mayas. And then peyote and mescaline containing cactus and iboga, and all of these different tribal plants have been used traditionally to relieve or release trauma. And it could be trauma. When you talk to the people who have administered these medicines, who have been conducting a similar practice in the traditional setting for, sometimes, thousands of years, like in the case of the Shipibo culture in Peru with ayahuasca, we see that these people, they describe what they're doing as relieving energetic blocks in our bodies that they describe as trauma. And by working with the medicine, this spiritual context of medicine, and they are able to sing to the body to create resonance patterns with sound waves that actually facilitate the release of these blocks that allow our energy to flow as freely and optimally as possible, which allows us to get closer and closer to our truest best selves, best version of ourselves.
And when they describe it, they describe double helixes. They describe what they call dragons or snakes that look like double helixes or look like helixes in general that Western doctors and many anthropologists and even Francis Crick himself who discovered DNA believed to be the fundamental connecting point between sort of how plant medicine is working and how the effects last over time. And so, there's a lot of evidence to suggest and this is what are the primary focus of our clinical study with MAPS and with a number of other centers, like Sinai and Imperial College and others and USC is to look at how these epigenetic changes may be able to be reversed the trauma. The changes from trauma may be able to be reversed by intense plant medicine experiences or intense MDMA experiences because they are, indeed, clinically reversing these trauma.
PTSD is 67% of people who go through the MAPS phase three trial. Phase two trial are symptom not meeting diagnostic criteria for PTSD at five years out, with just three doses of medicine in 12 weeks of psychotherapy. And that's it. That is a miraculous result.
Ben: Can you say that again? How many doses and how many treatments?
David: The MAPS phase two trial, that's for MDMA, for treatment-resistant PTSD is in phase three right now. But, in the phase two trial and 100 subjects who had PTSD that was treatment-resistant on average for 17 years, or more than 17 years, 67% were symptom-free at five years out. They no longer met diagnostic criteria for PTSD, with just three doses of medicine spread out around 12 weeks of psychotherapy.
Ben: I sometimes take it for granted that a lot of my listeners are already familiar with things like MDMA therapy or psilocybin. And then, I'll do a podcast like this and some of my clients will contact me, your folks will comment in the shownotes and I realize a lot of people still associate some of this stuff with just partying or with some kind of a journey escape where there's no integration and no long-term lasting change. But, I realized we could do an entire podcast on MDMA psychotherapy alone.
Ben: But, just so folks know at this point, and correct me if I'm wrong, David, the only way to do this type of thing legally would be to actually be a part of one of these clinical trials, correct?
David: That's right. So, psychedelic medicines, and psychedelic, interestingly, for your audience that we know, psychedelic does not mean partying at a rave. It means mind manifesting. So, it literally is a word used to describe medicine, like MDMA and psilocybin and ayahuasca that helps take things from our subconscious and manifest them in our conscious. But, the only way, currently, in the U.S. to legally experience these medicines is with ketamine. Ketamine is the only legal psychedelic medicine that's used for treatment-resistant depression.
Ben: By the way, not to derail you but just so folks know, I will put a link in the shownotes at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Apollo. But, I actually did a whole podcast on ketamine, both before and after a ketamine journey that I did via intravenous ketamine at the office of Dr. Matthew Cook. And I'll link to that podcast. You know Matt?
David: I've had one interaction with him, but a lot of my colleagues and friends go to him for care, and they really like him. I've never had heard anything not good.
Ben: He's amazing. He's been on this podcast four times now and we also have a country music band now which folks may or may not have already heard of by the time this podcast is released.
Ben: We're called Rocky Roots. Total rabbit hole. Anyways, though, another friend of mine, I would say for those of you who just want a glimpse into what, for even someone who may not feel that they have PTSD or trauma, but perhaps this disconnection from authentic self, what they experienced when they went through MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, one of my other friends, Tucker Max, has a wonderful article on Medium where he writes about his own MDMA experience and how it transformed him, basically from being an asshole. He's the famed author of “I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell.” Quintessential frat boy asshole turned him into like this soft fatherly figure. And I'll link to the article that he wrote on Medium about that, as well as my podcast with Matt Cook about ketamine.
And when it comes to these type of treatments, David, do you think that when it comes to trauma, that something as brief as a single high dose MDMA session or, I believe that an MDMA protocol full-on is several sessions of 90 minutes, then a longer session of four to eight hours, do you think that that's enough for many people to resolve a lot of this trauma?
David: So, I think there's multiple things there. Number one, the way that you do have to access MDMA and psilocybin right now is through clinical trials only, just to make sure that everybody understands that. But, you can't [00:50:36] _____.
Ben: You can say that. But, I can say, as many folks are well aware, these days psilocybin and MDMA are becoming increasingly available if you ask the right people, just like being in your high school parking lot back in the day. There's a lot of this stuff happening behind the scenes and you just want to connect with someone trustworthy. And you can often. I mean, my wife and I, for example, we now do couples therapy with MDMA and psilocybin and some other similar analogs. And it's been absolutely transformative for our relationship. So, I will tell people, although I know you as a responsible M.D. Ph.D., David, cannot that even if you aren't in a clinical trial, per se, that if these are the type of issues that concern you, you may want to look into hunting down a responsible facilitator for something like MDMA or psilocybin, because I do think that it can be transformative. And this is, by the way, coming from a conservative-libertarian, Christian homeschooled kid from North Idaho.
I'm about the least burning man type of person you'd ever run into, but I have, indeed, found this stuff to be highly transformative. So, that being said–
David: Yeah. Sorry.
Ben: I interrupt the thought pattern that you were on. So, did I totally derail you again?
David: No, we're good. We can just jump right back in.
David: I think that, again, legally speaking, it is important for everybody to be as safe when they have these experiences. And so, ketamine is a great first step for people and I'm really glad that you talked about that experience that you had. And because of ketamine, interestingly going to the timing of the experience, it only lasts a half-hour to an hour of your time. And so, it's not a huge investment and you can do it and know you're getting medical-grade ketamine and know that it's pure and know that you're getting a safe experience. And then, follow up with your therapist afterwards who understands what you're doing and why you're doing it, what you want to work on, intentionally, what intention you're putting in to heal, what you'd like to get out of the experience. And then, you can have a very powerful, again, transformative experience with that. And I think that psilocybin and MDMA are right around the corner. They both have breakthrough status with the FDA. And so, they will be available, probably by 2021 into 2022.
I think, going back to your question about whether or not short experiences like this are able to cure or treat trauma that is deep-seated, and I think it's first off that everyone has trauma. Every single person on the face of the earth has traumatic experiences. They're just manifesting in different ways. They look different on the surface. Sometimes, trauma looks like depression because of extremely low self-esteem or fractured sense of self. And sometimes, your sense of self is so fractured that you become psychotic or dissociated in schizophrenia. Other times, it becomes anxious or looks like anxiety or it looks like OCD or it looks like PTSD or physical illness. And there's all these different manifestations of trauma that we don't necessarily know about yet because we haven't had the opportunity to study them in this way through looking at epigenetics.
And now that we're able to look at epigenetics, what I think we're going to find is that there are very specific characterizations of trauma. For example, people with PTSD-induced trauma may be somewhat different epigenetically than people with depression-related trauma, or diabetes-related trauma, like in the case of that great study you brought up, the Dutch crisis, which is fascinating.
And so, what we're aiming to do with our study with these different groups is to look at the epigenetic markings before their psychedelic experiences, whether that's MDMA or traditional ayahuasca ceremony or psilocybin at Hopkins or Yale, or what-have-you, or ketamine; and then, compare that to their epigenetic profile afterwards. And then, over time, six months, 12 months, 18 months, two years. And Apollo, now, we're working on a protocol. MAPS actually introduced it into the MDMA protocol after MDMA has been administered. Because what's really interesting is that when you, and I think this will really answer your question, is ultimately, people are getting better from these treatments, not because they're reliant on the medicine to heal them. What the medicine is doing is it's empowering us to remember our own internal innate ability that we're born with to heal ourselves.
And the reason we know that is because after the phase two trial with MDMA, I mean, the reason we know that, to start, is because people who use these medicines, they use them just one to three times oftentimes. And they have persistent and consistent improvements in symptoms over time. And this was tracked in the MAPS MDMA phase two trial with 100 subjects where two months after the last therapy session, and these therapy sessions, the MDMA, are eight hours long. So, it's an eight-hour-long therapy session with two therapists. There's three of them spread out over 12 weeks. And two months after, 52% of them are symptom-free, are no longer meeting symptom criteria for PTSD. However, five years out,67% are now not meeting symptom criteria for PTSD. And there's been no subsequent treatment.
So, that is probably one of the most paradigm-shifting things for us, because when you're that much better at two months out, but then, you see continuous improvements where more people are more better at five years out, that means that the subjects, the patients, are learning from their experience so much from just this 12-week experience, which includes a lot of integration of what they've learned during the medicine experiences that they take with them. And they use that to continually make themselves better when they leave. So, yes. What we are seeing is that just three doses of medicine can be completely life-changing for people. But again, it's not always accessible to everyone. These can take 100 hours or 80 hours of time and they can take something like $12,000 to $15,000 and they won't be reimbursed by insurance right away.
And so, we created Apollo as a way to help tap into the nervous system's fundamental safety pathway through the skin, through the sense of touch, that could make these benefits of MDMA therapy. This radical safety experience and these flow state experience is something you could take with you on the go and make it accessible and scalable to a much larger population.
Ben: The issue of some of these things being inaccessible to the general population is certainly relevant to Apollo. But, what about, let's say someone doesn't want to or isn't going to put on a wearable or someone doesn't want to or isn't going to engage in plant medicine. You already brought up one thing that's very powerful, and that's breathwork. And there is, of course, also the work of Stanislav Grof who was involved–I don't believe he invented LSD. Correct me if I'm wrong. But, he was heavily involved with the use of LSD as a therapeutic method.
David: He was one of the first people who tried it from Albert Hofmann after Hoffman synthesized it. And then Grof invented holotropic breathwork.
Ben: Yes, holotropic breathwork as a way, and that's what I was getting at, to get some of the benefits of LSD in terms of merging of left and right brain hemispheric activity and some of what Michael Pollan, for example, talks about in his great book, “Change Your Mind,” but without the use of anything at all.
Ben: And I actually do this. I used my friend, Niraj in Iraq. He goes by the title, The Renegade Pharmacist. I use his Soma breathwork routine. I'm also taking my kids through his 21-day breathwork program right now. But, he has a one-hour routine in Week 3 of that protocol where you lay flat on your back, it's music and hymn walking you through a whole routine. I do that one or two times a month. Laid out on my back in my sauna and go just as deep as I go with any type of psychedelic or plant medicine.
I actually want to do it. I know you're sending me up an Apollo soon and I want to do that holotropic breathwork session while wearing the Apollo to see what the differences are like. But, I've found that that breathwork protocol, in and of itself, to be very beneficial. In any of your studies with MAPS or elsewhere, did you come across any type of HRV response, trauma release response, or anything like that in response to holotropic breathwork?
David: Absolutely. I think there's been a number of these that have looked at these responses in people who have done holotropic breathwork. I think, a recent one came out in something like thousands of individuals. It's definitely consistent with what you're saying. People are getting these very powerful healing experiences from holotropic breathwork.
And ultimately, when you look back historically, breathwork is the key. It's the key that passes on with many, many, many generations and in pretty much every culture. Going back, spiritually, breath is the key to spirit or to accessing our sense of self, our sense of oneness with the environment. It's the most fundamental way to interact with the world around us.
The problem is that breathwork, while breath is accessible to everyone, it can take 10,000 hours or more to master breathwork in real-time to be able to access those states whenever you want. It's one thing to be able to take the time out to go sit in your sauna, to go sit in your living room, on a yoga mat, and lie down or sit cross-legged and do powerful meditative deep breathing practices. And it's really great for people to do, for all of us to do, because it helps condition our nervous system. It helps our nervous system function better. And that improves our resilience. That said, it also takes a lot of practice and we have to cultivate the sense of patience with ourselves to get there.
Ben: Yeah, it's hard. There's no way my mom is going to do holotropic breathwork. So, even if she did have stress or trauma, she's not going to lay in her back and get herself to the point of almost being passed out with these deep breath holds and this very intensive breathwork. I mean, it would be nice if everybody could do that. But, I do understand. It, in and of itself, it's like me telling somebody, “You want to get fit? Go do squats and deadlifts.” But, maybe, they're just on the couch with low back pain. They need to start with something more accessible to them.
Ben: And that's probably a good place for us to jump into something other than breathwork, other than plant medicine, and what we've already alluded to, this idea of using something like a wearable. This, though, probably, is just a completely foreign concept to everybody listening, as it was to me. When you showed up in my house, I was like, “What are you talking about? How could you get yourself into a meditative state?” Sure, I've used the Muse headband where you combine quantification a little bit of neurofeedback with meditation, but never actually put somebody on that just jacks you straight into that state, that parasympathetic state.
So, let's start here. What does the Apollo do? What's the actual technology behind this thing?
David: So, Apollo is a wearable. It's about the size of an Apple watch you can wear on your wrist or your ankle or your arm that provides gentle vibrations to the body that are rhythmic. It kind of feels like an ocean wave washing over you or a cat purring on you. And these frequencies we found in the laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh actually activate the safety pathway in the skin through the sense of touch. And the reason why we did this is because I'm also an MDMA-trained psychotherapist with the MAPS protocol. And I realized that in the MDMA protocol, with these people with severe treatment-resistant PTSD, as well as with my PTSD patients in the office, the single most powerful thing that help them get better and help them make change in their lives that were positive and long-lasting were feeling safe. And that was feeling safe in the office and it was feeling safe outside of the office. And I could control the office, but I couldn't control outside of the office for these people. They had to do it on their own.
And so, we, looking back evolutionarily, touch stood out to us, because touch is the single most powerful way that we, as humans and even further down ancient mammals and eighth-grade apes, have all used to for bonding and for building relationships with one another that are safe. And that touch pathway is hardwired into our skin. It's evolutionarily conserved for millions and millions of years.
And so, we thought, “Well, what could we do? What would happen if we created a technology that was easy to wear, that would provide gentle vibrations that were perceived by the body as safety signals all the time, or you could wear it as often as you needed help with stress or help wake up or fall asleep or perform better under stress, physically or mentally, or whatever it is?” And we started testing this in the lab at the University. And we ultimately showed that in a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover study that these frequencies reliably increased parasympathetic tone as measured by heart rate variability.
Ben: And these are sound frequencies?
David: They're sound frequencies, right. They are just below your range of what you can hear.
Ben: I was going to say you can't actually hear them. What about a dog? Do you think a dog could hear them, or a cat or some other animal?
David: Dogs, these animals typically hear higher frequencies, not lower. I think that many of them can hear these frequencies, but ultimately, the intensity level, what keeps them. We can actually hear a lot of them too, but the intensity level of the frequencies is very, very low. So, the reason why your skin is sensitive to it is because it's close to your skin and your skin is very sensitive to these low-frequency vibrations more so than our ears. And so, our skin picks it up before the ears pick it up and the intensity level makes it very, they're basically not audible, unless you hold it right up to your ear.
Ben: Okay. Alright. Got it. So, it's a sound frequency that's being emitted. And what exactly is the frequency doing? Or, is it interacting with a cell membrane? What's going on?
David: And again, I think the best way to think about the frequencies is the same range of frequencies that would be coming out of your subwoofer that you'd experience with music. And so, I think what these frequencies are doing is very similar to music. You listen to different music when you work out and when you're doing focus intense work and when you're going to bed or meditating. And it's important to think about that because the reason why we do that is because music changes resonance patterns in our nervous system between our heart and our lungs and our thoughts and our blood pressure, our vasculature, that facilitates are functioning in different settings. So, when you're exercising, you're breathing differently. And your breathing is different and your heart rate is different, usually faster and deeper, to get more blood to your skeletal muscles to meet the demands of the exercise. And that's going to look very different than when you're sitting at a desk and reading, or dancing.
And so, the body creates these rhythms naturally we went to these states. And so, what we did is we went back through the literature and did our own experimentation and said, “What does the body look like when it's meditating? What does the body look like when it's exercising? What about post-exercise? What about sleep?” And we started to see a very distinct patterns and then also mental and physical illnesses. We start to see these very specific patterns in the way that people's bodies look when they're in these different states. And we developed the frequencies to basically resonate at those patterns that the heart the lungs get into when you enter those states. And then the body feels those frequencies. It naturally mimics them just like biofeedback, but without having to look at a screen and sit, connected to all this stuff. It can just do it without the whole visual part.
Ben: Okay. So, what are the actual states? Because you showed me the app when you brought it to my house that ties into this Apollo, that's emitting these sound frequencies. But, there were multiple different states. I think the one that I tried that you put me on was “meditation.” And then we briefly tried “focus,” if I recall. But, there were more states than that. So, what are the states one could actually put themselves into, using this thing?
David: So, the states that Apollo can put you into are it brings from everything from being wide awake to falling asleep. And so, it would be “wakefulness” and “energy,” which is the most sympathetic most activating.
Ben: Which you might, say, put on when you wake up in the morning, for example?
David: Right, exactly. So, that would be something that people use first thing in the morning. And many people use it instead of caffeine or stimulants, which is interesting. I started mostly drinking decaf coffee and decaf tea as a result of using this, which is nice. And then, when I need caffeine, it works a lot better for me.
The next frequency would be “clear and focused,” which is for long deep work, when you have to focus on anything for a long period of time. I also use that for public speaking and settling my nerves. And no matter how many times [01:08:13] _____ I always get little butterflies in the stomach before I go on stage, and that just helps incredibly by throwing events, giving presentations, all that kind of stuff, and also, working at a desk for a long period of time.
And then, there's “rebuild and recover,” which is post physical exercise. It helps bring the heart rate down, bring the blood pressure down, bring the breath rate down, and just rapidly bring the heart rate variability up in the body into balance post-exercise, particularly post intense exercise. It can help us wind down and increase that energy recovery response, so that we can be ready for the next thing that comes and not kind of in this hyper adrenaline kind of overactive state, restless state. So, this happens post-exercise where you can't sleep.
And then, the next one is “social and open,” which is one of my favorites. And this is social safety, social flow. It's the best when you're tired and need to talk to a lot of people or need to go out or just need to be on and you're tired or you've traveled a lot, that kind of thing.
And then, there's “meditation,” which is self-explanatory. It helps increase access to meditative states. We've now shown that in a study at the University of Pittsburgh that it deepens meditative states with expert meditators and also helps non-meditators access meditative states more quickly.
And then, we have also “relax and recharge,” which is winding down at the end of the day. And then, “sleep.” And so, all of these seven choices are able to sort of help us regulate our circadian rhythms more effectively which, as you said, helps us reconnect us with our best version of ourselves, which is our sense of self that's the most present and most connected and in balance with nature.
Ben: And what's the runtime on it? If I need to go to a party and I want to enhance my social ability, how am I doing it, during the party putting on for 20 minutes before? How do you actually use it?
David: I think it's very contextual. It depends on the situation. So, most people will start using it, in the case of a party, either I'll start using it on the way or I'll use it right, so you turn it on right when I get there. From our clinical trials at the University, the effects come on within about two to three minutes. Many people who use it a lot actually get sensitized to it. And so, the effects come on more quickly and last longer afterwards. Typically, we see people who use it for 15 minutes have continued effects of calm and feeling in flow for 30 minutes to two hours after, which is actually the known duration of how long someone touching you nicely lasts in our bodies, which is very interesting. And so, you can use it as little for five minutes before and five minutes during, or five minutes before and 10 minutes during, and then have it turn off. And there's time settings. There's a 15-minute timer. For most of them, a 30-minute timer, or an hour timer, and a two-hour timer.
Other people just find the waves very pleasant and very soothing. And so, they'll wear it for two hours and they'll have it on to the entire event, for the entire talk. And then, they'll go home and switch to a different frequency when lying down for bed. Ultimately, I think, the main point is that the body responds very quickly, but it feels soothing. And so, people like to wear it and they continue to wear it over time. But, over time as you wear it, you actually don't rely on it and you don't become dependent on it or feel like you need it. Your body actually becomes more sensitive to it. So, over time, it actually gets better and more effective.
Ben: And for the people concerned about health, some people are concerned about what the thing is actually made of. If it has latex, for example, on the interior, that some people might be sensitive to. Many of my listeners would be very concerned if this is constantly emitting a Bluetooth signal or a Wi-Fi signal, or how it would actually interact with the device, meaning how constantly is it trying to ping a new device. So, talk to me about that for folks who are EMF sensitive or folks who are chemical sensitive, how you've actually constructed this thing.
David: So, we've taken all those concerns very carefully and sincerely. And we want to make sure we addressed many of those things because this is a technology that's supposed to make people healthier. And so, we built the technology for two FDA specifications. And we did that because we are taking it through FDA trials to help people with treatment-resistant illnesses. And so, the device is built to be hypoallergenic. There isn't any latex and we've done the testing that shows that it doesn't have any reactivity or negative reactivity on people's skin with the hypoallergenic materials that we've used. Additionally, in terms of EMF, I think it's important to note that we designed this device to be specifically an extremely low EMF device. So, the device, the wearable, is only active with Bluetooth when it's talking to the phone. So, that only means when you have your app open and you're either changing a setting or tracking your data. If you're not changing a setting on your app or you're not tracking your data, the Bluetooth on the wearable is off. And so, you aren't exposed to constant low-energy Bluetooth waves. And the frequencies we used are sound. And as sound waves, they have been found to be universally safe. And at the intensities that we're delivering them, they've never been shown to have side effects of any kind. And so, we are able to deliver these frequencies to the body directly produced by the device itself.
Ben: Okay. So, basically, what you could do is you can activate it, put it into the mode that you want it to be at, and then once you've done that, once you've used your phone to kind of activate it, just like I could do with my Oura Ring, I can, then, basically just walk away or turn off Bluetooth on my phone and it's going to stay in whatever mode that I put it in until I turn Bluetooth back on my phone, which would then log back into the Apollo, which would then allow me to either turn it off or shift it to a new mode.
David: So, the idea is that the Apollo can be set by the phone and you set it to to the settings, the waves that you would like to use for a certain amount of time that can also be scheduled. So, you'll be able to schedule and set a schedule on the device, on the wearable itself, for when you want to use certain waveforms throughout your day. And then, it will run by itself without talking to the phone. And it will even run in airplane mode completely disconnected from the phone.
And so, we did this specifically to address concerns of, not only people who care about not being exposed to EMF, like we do, but also the concerns of the military and healthcare practitioners. And we also built it to HIPAA compliance. So, the data security level that we're working with is very, very high, which I think is also really important to address in these current days where our health is a little bit scary where it's going, sometimes.
Ben: Yeah. Well, I appreciate the fact that I can turn that off because if I'm going to use this thing for sleep or meditation, that's the thing that drives me nuts, any of these wearables that emit a signal while you're wearing them, or emit a light while you're wearing them. It's just a complete evolutionary mismatch and blows my mind when folks develop a device. I mean, I'm asked a lot of times, honestly, like invest in the health and fitness industry and in the realm of wearables or biohacking technologies, or whatever. And I turned down 95% of what I see just because it's a cool concept but it has a bunch of evolutionary mismatches built into it, meaning non-native EMF signals or large amounts of blue or white lights or other things that would actually disrupt biology rather than enhancing biology.
So, in terms of a couple other just basic usage questions on this. Kids. Have kids used it? Can kids use it? Do you have any concerns about that?
David: Yeah. And part of the way we designed this was for kids and for vulnerable populations of people who just aren't great candidates for medicine. So, right now, I think you mentioned earlier that kids are being prescribed an enormous amount of medicine. And that seems to be only increasing. And we are seeing that with amphetamines and antidepressants. But, these populations with kids, pregnant women, elderly, vulnerable populations are not the best to receive medicine because we don't know all the risks. We don't know all the side effects. And many of it, much of the time, the medicines are used off-label and they haven't been tested in those populations. And so, we made Apollo to be safe for use with children and we have tested it on people from age three to 93. And they've had fantastic results. And kids, very interestingly, will actually respond more quickly to Apollo than adults in a lot of cases because, for them, it's a more familiar feeling. They're much closer to that feeling of being hugged, that feeling of being touched gently by a loved one than many of adults are. Many times, adults haven't had that experience in a very long time. And so, we forget how important and meaningful that is to us. But, when you put Apollo on kids, they feel it and instantly recognize it for what it is, which is tapping into that touch receptor system, just like somebody holding your hand on that day. And they say, “This feels like hugs.” And it's really just the most adorable thing we've ever seen.
Now, we're actually starting, so something that is very difficult with a medicine trial with drugs, what we are able to do is, because Apollo is so safe and so non-invasive, we're able to start a trial right now that's IRB approved, that is a clinical trial for children aged, I think we're looking at eight to 18, that have treatment-resistant developmental disorders like ADHD and depression and anxiety and aggression disorders, and things that just don't respond to medicine. And we have seen early results, preliminary results, from these kids. They are responding just incredibly well. And they're having behavior change and improved sleep and improved mood and focus. And some of them are able to decrease the amount of medicine they take, which is really promising.
Ben: Wow. Okay. So, another question about the use of the Apollo. You showed it to me and I believe we had it on, because I were a watch on my left wrist and I don't like to have things on both wrists, my ankle. Is that still the case? Can you use it on the ankle and still have it be effective? Does it need to be on the wrist? Can it go elsewhere? Could it go in your pocket? Walk me through that.
David: So, from our case studies and our clinical trials, it appears that, based on the way Apollo works, which is by activating the touch receptors system in our skin and in our bones, the vibration response system in our nervous system, Apollo seems to work pretty much anywhere on the body. As long as you adjust the intensity level to match the sensitivity of the location, it works relatively anywhere. I think, we really focus on the ankle and the wrist because those are the easiest places to wear and where people tend to get the most reliable effects and places they can wear it throughout the day.
The ankle has particularly been interesting because it's not the wrist. So, as you said, you have two wearables that you wear already. Lots people wear things on their wrist all the time. Personally, I don't like to wear things on my wrist. So, when I was doing therapy with patients in the hospital, I would oftentimes rest my wrist wearing the Apollo prototype on my ankle and I would feel the vibration through my ankle and I realize immediately how much more calming it was when I felt it that way than when I felt it through my arm. And we had a patient with Parkinson's disease who had a severe tremor who had a wonderful response from Apollo on his ankle. And so, we actually made a custom strap that would wrap around the ankle and start testing it in over, I think, 1,000 subjects now. And we've seen even better results on the ankle for the most part, in terms of response times. People's just feeling subjectively more calm or feeling better than they do when it's on the wrist.
But, it's split camps. There are people who enjoy wearing things on their wrist and they're great with the Apollo on the wrist. There are other people who like wearing it on the ankle. Really, most of it is personal preference.
Ben: Okay. Cool. So, as far as the actual device itself, is it something people can get right now? Is it still a deal where you got to be a super special podcaster like me to actually get your hands on one? Or, where are you guys at, as far as being able to ship these things?
David: So, Apollo is available now for $350 from our website, apolloneuro.com or apolloneuroscience.com. And you can also get a special discount that is available to all the loving fans of Ben Greenfield at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Apollo.
Ben: /Apollo, okay.
David: And please check the shownotes.
Ben: Cool. So, I'll work out with David for those of you listening in. Because we actually didn't talk too much beforehand about what we want to do for you, guys, for a code and everything like that. But, we're going to figure this out. And so, I'm not going to announce it right now on the show for all you listening in. But, just go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Apollo and I'll get all the details over there after I talk with David after this show.
And, of course, over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Apollo, I'll put links to some of the New York Times articles that we talked about on epigenetic trauma, Tucker Max's article on Medium, about MDMA therapy, that Soma breathwork routine from The Renegade Pharmacist that I talked about that holotropic routine, the podcast I did with Matt Cook about ketamine. So, if you guys want to get deeper dive into all this stuff, I will put it over there and I'll also link to David and his website and his fascinating body of research. And, of course, the Apollo wearable itself which, if you guys see me with some funky black thing on my ankle or my wrist, then you now know that that's what I'm sporting.
So, right now, all I wear as a wearable is an Oura Ring and I wear a cheap-ass like $15 Timex, because I always lose my watches. But, I am willing to add. And I don't say this a lot. People know that even though there's a lot of wearables out there, Ben Greenfield is not a guy who walks around a lot of stuff on my body. I just like to be kind of unplugged a lot of the time. But, I'm going to be adding a third and it's the Apollo. So, there you have it, folks. You got to grab one. So, go to BenGreenfieldFitness.com/Apollo for that.
David, dude, this was awesome. Thanks for getting into all this with me.
David: Yeah, this was so much fun. Thank you so much for having me and thank you for all your support. We really appreciate it.
Ben: Yes, sir.
Alright, folks. Well, I'm Ben Greenfield, along with Dr. David Rabin from Apollo Neuroscience, signing out. Again, check out BenGreenfieldFitness.com/A-P-O-L-L-O for the shownotes and have an amazing week.
Well, thanks for listening to today's show. You can grab all the shownotes, the resources, pretty much everything that I mentioned, over at BenGreenfieldFitness.com, along with plenty of other goodies from me, including the highly helpful “Ben Recommends” page, which is a list of pretty much everything that I've ever recommended for hormone, sleep, digestion, fat loss, performance, and plenty more. Please, also know that all the links, all the promo codes that I mentioned during this and every episode, helped to make this podcast happen and to generate income that enables me to keep bringing you this content every single week. So, when you listen in, be sure to use the links in the shownotes, use the promo codes that they generate because that helps to float this thing and keep it coming to you each and every week.
Dr. David Rabin, MD, PhD is a guy who designed a fascinating wearable that he showed me a few weeks ago when he came to my house in Spokane, WA.
A board-certified psychiatrist, translational neuroscientist, and inventor specializing in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders, Dr. Rabin has spent the last 14 years researching treatments to combat the negative effects of chronic stress on physical and mental health.
He received his MD in medicine and his PhD in neuroscience from Albany Medical College and trained in psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute & Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Dr. Rabin helped to organize the world’s largest controlled study of psychedelic medicines in collaboration with colleagues at Yale, the University of Southern California, Mt. Sinai, Modern Spirit, and MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies) to determine the mechanisms of the dramatic therapeutic benefits observed following psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy in treatment-resistant mental illness. The study has begun and is collecting DNA samples from patients with treatment-resistant PTSD who are participating in the MAPS-sponsored Phase 3 FDA trial of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to evaluate the gene expression changes that result from the therapy.
He is also the founder and executive director of the Board of Medicine, a nonprofit organization of physicians and scientists spearheading the development of the world’s first evidence-based peer-reviewed clinical guidelines for the safe use of complementary and alternative medicines including medical cannabis. Dr. Rabin works with patients with treatment-resistant conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and substance use disorders. In his work, he found that when patients were in a calm, safe environment their physiological markers of stress improved, their mood got better, and they were better able to focus and manage their symptoms. He also found that mindfulness techniques and deep breathing worked quite well to reduce stress in patients, but that his patients had a difficult time practicing these techniques on their own in their day-to-day lives.
In 2014, Dr. Rabin began his research on what would become the device I'm referring to, “Apollo” in a neuroscience lab at the University of Pittsburgh.
After exploring academic research on mindfulness, biofeedback, deep breathing, and a host of sensory techniques including music therapy, Dr. Rabin found that touch is an often overlooked, but an incredibly vital pathway for quickly establishing relaxation in the mind and in the body.
He quickly got to work developing Apollo, a breakthrough wearable technology that uses the neuroscience of touch and vibration to combat the negative effects of stress during his research at the University of Pittsburgh.
Apollo sends gentle waves of vibration to your body that are clinically shown to bring your heart, lungs, and mind into balance, resulting in improved heart rate variability (HRV). By signaling safety to the body through your sense of touch, Apollo offers you control over your stress, so you can tackle whatever comes next. After clinical trials of the Apollo technology demonstrating its reliable effects on mood, sleep, and focus, Dr. Rabin co-founded Apollo Neuroscience to make the discovery available to the public.
Chronic stress tells your body that you’re under threat. These consistent disturbances put your body into fight-or-flight, making it difficult to stay calm, focus your attention, and get good sleep. Apollo’s vibrations work by signaling safety to the brain, thereby soothing the stress response and rapidly restoring balance to the body.
Apollo Neuroscience has created the first wearable system that upgrades your body instead of just tracking it. Clinical studies show that Apollo increases physical endurance, mental performance under stress, access to meditative states, and helps users reach relaxation before bed rapidly by improving heart rate variability (HRV). Apollo’s effects occur within 5 minutes of use and have no known side effects. Apollo’s AI mobile app delivers gentle layered vibration frequencies to the body via a small modular wearable worn on the ankle or wrist. Users will be able to connect Apollo’s mobile app to Apple Health Kit to see how their biometrics improve with Apollo use over time.
The Apollo system has been tested and independently validated by individual members of a number of different institutions in the military and many Veterans, several academics at Universities, >10 elite athletics clubs, as well as in two University clinical trials with 6 more trials currently underway. The Company has over 1500 beta testers and has conducted over 500 long-term case studies with consistent results. Positive symptom improvements and voluntary reductions in habit-forming substances such as opioid narcotics, benzodiazepines, amphetamines, and caffeine have been reported in those with chronic conditions worsened by stress including insomnia, chronic pain, and PTSD.
The most recently completed trial of Apollo at the University of Pittsburgh comparing EEG patterns of 25 naive meditators to 25 experienced meditators demonstrated that Apollo frequencies made naive meditators’ brainwaves look nearly identical to those of experienced meditators within 12 minutes. Apollo is currently being studied in a 100-subject PTSD trial between the University of Pittsburgh and the New School (NYC) with an FDA trial for PTSD at the Pittsburgh VA Hospital in planning for Winter 2020. All studies and trials of the Apollo technology have been supported entirely with non-dilutive funding and grants. The Apollo system has been developed to FDA ISO 13485 regulatory requirements and HIPAA Compliance.
During this discussion, you'll discover:
-The link between the natural need to feel safe and stress…11:45
- Autonomic balance: Understanding the link between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems is key
- Safety and threat are two major stimulants to the nervous system
- Safety to the parasympathetic
- Threat to the sympathetic
- Both natural instincts for self-preservation (diverting energy for the situation)
- Downsides of constantly being in sympathetic state
- Affects fertility and drive
- Athletes experience loss of drive during training
- Corporate burnout is considered a physical condition due to constantly being in a state of stress (sympathetic system)
- Preschoolers are often prescribed antidepressants due to stressors in their environment
- The human body is not meant to tolerate the stressors of modernity
- The body may be under a lot of stress even if we feelsafe (roof over our head, food in the fridge, etc.)
-How trauma affects one's ability to feel safe…23:30
- “Trauma” by definition may be more far-reaching than one may think
- Safety includes, but is not limited to the physical element
- Trauma is one or many meaningful or intense unsafe experiences over time
- Parents ignore multiple times
- Perceptions of being unlovable or cannot love others
- Constantly worried about finances
- Affects the parasympathetic nervous system
- Book: Top 5 Regrets of the Dying
- More connected w/ friends
- Worked less
- Choose to be happier
- Courage to express true self
- Courage to be who I am rather than who people expected me to be
- Gabor Maté
- Trauma is a disconnection from self
- Sanskrit word for “self” is synonymous with “health”
- Breathwork and meditation (Telling your body you have time to breathe and relax)
- You must let go of attachment to things in the past in order to present to the world your true self
-Whether or not epigenetic trauma is a legit concept…34:55
- At one time a theory, now well-established in the scientific field
- Rachel Yehuda: “How Trauma and Resilience Cross Generations”
- Dutch potato famine: descendants experienced similar symptoms (depression, obesity, schizophrenia, etc.)
- NYT Article: Can We Really Inherit Trauma?
- The Famine Ended 70 Years Ago, but Dutch Genes Still Bear Scars
-How psychedelics are used to reverse trauma…45:00
- Psilocybin and ayahuasca:
- Used traditionally to release trauma
- Are being used to reversetrauma
- Highly efficacious while used w/ MAPS therapyon PTSD patients
- Psychedelics are for “mind-manifesting”; not a party drug
- Ketamine is the only legal psychedelic in the U.S. (MDMA, psilocybin expected to clear hurdles soon)
- BGF podcast with Dr. Matthew Cook about ketamine
- MDMA Journey by Tucker Max
- Everyone has trauma; they're all manifesting in different ways
- Apollo to be used (eventually) after MDMA is administered
- We don't heal because of the medicine; the medicine empowers the body's innate ability to heal itself
- Breath is the gateway to the spirit
- Apollo was created to replicate the effects of expensive MDMA treatments with much more accessibility
-The technology behind the Apollo Neuroscience wearable…1:01:25
- Gentle vibrations to the body (like an ocean wave, or cat purring on you)
- Touch is the most effective means of creating the feeling of safety
- Made up of sound frequencies
- Skin perceives it much more than the ear
- Music changes resonance patterns in our bodies in different settings (working out, meditating, etc.)
- The 7 states in the device:
- Wakefulness (first thing in the morning)
- Clear and focused (for long deep work, public speaking, etc.)
- Rebuild and recover
- Social and open (social safety and flow, need to be “on”)
- Relax and recharge
- Amount of time you'll use the device are case-dependent
- It becomes more effective over time; the body becomes sensitized to it
-What the Apollo is made of…1:11:40
- Built to FDA specs
- Only active w/ Bluetooth when using the app (very low EMF exposure)
- HIPAA compliant
-Rapid-fire questions about the Apollo…1:15:55
- Is it safe for children and the elderly?
- Yes, it's been tested successfully on ages 3-93
- Can it work on any part of the body?
- Yes, provided you adjust the settings appropriately
- Is it currently available to the general public?
- Click here to get the Apollo
-And much more…
Resources from this episode:
– The Apollo wearable
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