362: Nootropics

David Tomen And Ashley James



  • David Tomen on discovering Nootropics and becoming a Nootropics expert.
  • Nootropics and smart drugs. What are those? What is the difference between smart drugs and Nootropics?
  • The importance of knowing which supplements to pick.
  • A walkthrough in taking Nootropics and their different effects.
  • Choosing a high-quality supplement. Things to look for to spot a high-quality supplement.
  • Foods that can promote brain health.


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Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I'm your host, Ashley James.

This is Episode 362.

0:00:51.5 Ashley James: I'm very excited to have on the show today a Nootropics expert. His website is www.nootropicsexpert.com. His name is David Tomen.

David, we're finally getting you on the show.

0:01:06.6 David Tomen: Finally, hi Ashley.

0:01:08.0 Ashley James: Hi. It's been quite a ride. David and I have been going back and forth and every time, either he was in a car accident, and then I had some crazy flu, and then something else happened. I don't know. So we finally have you on the show. I think the universe is conspiring and now is the right time.

So I've been fascinated and intrigued for months to finally get to talk you about what Nootropics are. We're definitely getting into that. My very limited understanding is from hearing about certain herbs that will be really good for the brain, or I hear in Silicon Valley how they'll microdose LSD or mushrooms to try to get the cutting edge on their brain firing and their intelligence and their creativity. So there's this big weird world out there of neuroscience when it comes to supplements that support the brain. I really enjoyed going to your website, which we're going to make sure all the links to everything David Tomen does is in the show notes of today's podcast at www.learntruehealth.com.

And your website list about 90 different neuro tropics and how they work, but we're going to get into the most interesting ones. Before we do and I definitely want to dive into your story. Can you define what Nootropics are? Can you give us an understanding about what they are and then I'd love to go into your story and learn why you became an expert in them.

0:02:56.1 David Tomen: Generally, like the 30,000 Nootropics are a class of substances that improve brain function. That's the big picture of it, but the term nootropic is relatively new. There's a Romanian psychologist and chemist named Dr. Cornelio Gurghiu. He synthesized Piracetam back in 1963, and he coined the term nootropic in 1972 after he invented this new class of substances. And the word nootropic is derived from the Greek “nous” for the mind and “tropein” to bend, so to bend the mind. And then Dr. Ghurghiu went on to define what he thought a true nootropic is, and this is what he said, “A nootropic enhances memory and the ability to learn. It assists brain function under disruptive conditions such as the lack of oxygen, and after convulsive shock, it protects the brain from  chemical and physical toxins like anticholinergic drugs and barbiturates, it increases natural cognitive processes, and it must be non-toxic to humans or stimulate or depress the brain.” That's officially what a nootropic is.

Now since then, every person has been calling everything that affects the brain one way or another nootropic. And we make a very strong distinction between Nootropics and smart drugs. To my mind, Nootropics are natural substances, sometimes synthetic but mostly synthetic made from a natural substance. It does not include things like Adderall or Ritalin or Modafinil or microdosing LSD. Those aren't considered Nootropics in my opinion, but you'll see headlines every week of somebody referring to something like Ritalin is a nootropic, and it's not. I consider it a smart drug. A nootropic that you do not need a prescription from your doctor to buy. You can get it at Whole Foods at the vitamin shop or your local vitamin store, but you don't need a prescription.

0:05:28.6 Ashley James: I really like that the distinction is that it actually protects the brain.

0:05:35.3 David Tomen: Yes.

0:05:36.6 Ashley James: And it doesn't stimulate, so we're not talking about caffeine. It doesn't stimulate or depress the brain. So it's not affecting the serotonin or dopamine. It's not causing that kind of shift in the chemistry of the brain. It protects the brain, it doesn't stimulate or depress, and it helps with memory and learning even in adverse conditions.

0:06:06.1 David Tomen: Well, a lot of these substances though do directly affect things like serotonin and dopamine and norepinephrine and epinephrine, and they help lower things like cortisol and stuff. Because some of these things are actually the precursor to dopamine or the precursor to serotonin or the precursor to melatonin, so I would classify those as Nootropics, so some of them naturally are natural stimulants to the brain. So we take a little bit of license on what Dr. Ghurgiu's original. He was referring specifically to the Racetams that he was inventing. And so we have taken a little bit of license since then. In a general sense, some of these things do stimulate the brain to a certain degree, or they depress the brain to a certain degree. When you look at the neurochemistry of how something like gabba works. Gabba is an inhibitor, right? So theoretically, it kind of like depresses the brain but it doesn't depress the brain like an SSRI would or something like that. Does that make sense?

0:07:22.8 Ashley James: So we want the brain to be in balance.

0:07:25.8 David Tomen: That brain has to be in balance, yes.

0:07:28.3 Ashley James: So you're saying that Nootropics are more like adaptogenic and that they're not going to over stimulate or under stimulate, but they're going to help because they're precursors to these neurochemicals. Are they going to help the brain to be more in balance? Is that correct?

0:07:44.9 David Tomen: That's correct to a certain degree. Anyone of these substances you can use too much of it or for somebody that shouldn't be using a particular substance. It could do something bad to their brain. So you've gotta use intelligence and wisdom when it comes to using some of these things, or you could really, really mess yourself up. But the bottom line is that the fully optimized brain, the brain that's firing on all cylinders has got to be in balance.

0:08:12.6 Ashley James: I like that you brought up this warning. Since we can go to Whole Foods or The Vitamin Shop or wherever to buy these substances, people could be misusing them currently.

0:08:24.7 David Tomen: Yes, and that's the reason why. I think I reviewed 90 individual substances so far somewhere around that, maybe a little bit more, and I've include dosage recommendations which are based on clinical studies and user experience. And often the dosages are different than what's on the bottle from the manufacturer. It also includes side effects, and I tell people what types to buy too because there are oftentimes different forms like when it comes to extracts and stuff. There's a specific warning, for example, something like St. John's Wort, do not use St. John's Wort if you're on any kind of an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication or you will cause serotonin syndrome that could very likely kill you.

0:09:18.7 Ashley James: Oh my gosh.

0:09:21.7 David Tomen: So yeah.

0:09:23.1 Ashley James: Do you ever contact these manufacturers and let them know about the clinical studies that you've found?

0:09:29.9 David Tomen: They know it. The bigger manufacturers, the legitimate ones – the ones that have been around for a long time that really know what they're doing have got the science to back up their products, and oftentimes they'll publish it. A lot of the stuff that I've been doing is cutting edge research though because I just dug in a lot deeper than even the manufacturers have done. But you'll oftentimes see warnings on the labels of certain supplements that you pick up. Talk to your doctor before you use this or if you are on any medication, do not use this before you talk to your doctor.

0:10:12.0 Ashley James: But they weren't really putting it on the doctor to know everything.

0:10:16.4 David Tomen: That's a problem because most doctors don't know anything about this stuff.

0:10:21.7 Ashley James: Right. I want to talk to you about this all day. So let's get into your story. What happened in your life, David Tomen, that made you want to get interested and then eventually become an expert in Nootropics?

0:10:34.8 David Tomen: Like everybody else, I just never ever thought about my brain up until about 12 or 13 years ago and I've lived an interesting life. I lived all over the world, I've helped run companies, but I always had a problem with focus. Every time I had a management review of whatever country I happened to be living in and what company happened to help to run, I was fantastic as an Executive, as a Manager, I was great with people, but you got to learn how to focus. And so I bought the books, and I thought it was a moral feeling that I couldn't focus. And then 13 years ago, I met this beautiful girl in North Miami Beach, and we ended up getting married. Within a year of us being together, she noticed what was going on and she suggested that I see a psychiatrist that she really respected up in Palm Beach. So I went in to see this guy, and he sat me down, and within 10 minutes he says, “You're adult ADD and PTSD.” The PTSD part took me 10 years to figure out where that came from but the adult ADD, he put on Ritalin. As soon as I started taking Ritalin, it was like somebody turned the lights onto my brain.

0:12:03.9 Ashley James: Wow.

0:12:04.9 David Tomen: It was like a miracle, and I went, “Oh wow.” But within a couple of years, I started growing a tolerance to Ritalin, and it wasn't working as well, and I'm going, “No, this ain't happening. This was working too well.” So I started researching to find out how it worked and I found out that it was a dopamine reuptake inhibitor which means that it blocks the dopamine transporters in your brain so that theoretically it provides more dopamine in your brain which in the truly clinically ADD or ADHD brain, it helps your brain work better, and you can focus better. So I figured, “Ok, I'm lacking dopamine.” So I've discovered L-tyrosine. L-tyrosine is a precursor to dopamine, and I started taking that along with acetyl L-carnitine, L-carnitine which helps in the synthesis of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is necessary for brain cell signaling, and all of a sudden, I wasn't tolerant to Ritalin anymore. It started working again, and it was working fine. So every day I would take my Ritalin, and I would take L-Tyrosine and acetyl L-carnitine, and it kept on working.

Then about 6 years ago or so I got really, really, really sick. My wife took me to the ER. She thought I was having a heart attack, and it turns out my heart was fine, but I was for some reasons severely hypothyroid all of a sudden. And you've seen the symptoms of hypothyroidism. It's 2 columns of symptoms on a page. I had about three-quarters of those symptoms, and one of them was severe brain fog and memory loss.

0:14:04.2 Ashley James: Oh my gosh.

0:14:05.6 David Tomen: Ashley, I mean complete memory loss. I lost my memory. It was so bad that I ended up seeing 2 different neurologists and they tested me for Alzheimer's, and it turns out, it wasn't Alzheimer's, it wasn't dementia. They couldn't tell, they couldn't figure out what was wrong. And it was because I was hypothyroid and my thyroid had stopped working and thyroid hormones which I understand now but at that time they couldn't help, and I was desperate. I mean, my marriage was falling apart; we were broke because my business was failing. My life which was completely upside down. And I figured if I'm going to survive this, I got to figure something out. One thing I did remember was my experience with Nootropics and Ritalin and AD. So I just started experimenting with different things, and it took me about 2 and a half years to 3 years, and I finally got my brain working again and that it's working better than it ever has in my adult life. I was desperate. I had to start experimenting with a bunch of different things until I finally found a protocol that worked for me that healed my brain and I got things running again the way they were supposed to be.


0:15:31.9 Ashley James: Did you heal your thyroid? What happened there?

0:15:35.4 David Tomen: Well, I healed my thyroid. You know what, the funny thing about the thyroid is that every endocrinologist look at TSH and started me on Synthroid which is synthetic T4 and it wasn't working for me. So again, I started doing some research, and I discovered natural desiccated thyroid. My brother's a doctor up north, and I had him send me some because I couldn't find anybody around here to prescribe it for me and I started taking it and all of a sudden I started feeling better. And I finally found a naturopath here in North Miami Beach that would prescribe natural desiccated thyroid for me which is what I've been using since. And so, I got the thyroid hormones back to the levels within the range of where they're supposed to be, and I took the right supplements to finally heal my brain. So it was working again.

After I started feeling better, I decided to shift my marketing focus so that I was just working on one thing, and I started copywriting, and I started writing for natural health companies. There was a guy in England, and he had a nootropic stack that he wanted me to write some advertorials for him. And when I was researching, I wrote 5 advertorials for him and his company which he thought he loved; he thought they were great. But what I discovered when I was researching for writing that sales copy was that the information for Nootropics was scattered all over the place. There was no one central place that I can go to for information; there were no books on it. The last book that was published on this subject was 1992, and so I thought, “Hah! The world needs an authority for Nootropics.” It needs one place for somebody that's got any kind of a problem with their brain to be able to, and that was the birth of Nootropics Expert.

0:17:52.3 Ashley James: [Laughter] Awesome. Hearing your story, right when you first told me about being rushed to the hospital, I thought, oh no, all the herbs he was taking caused his hypothyroidism.

0:18:09.0 David Tomen: The only thing I was taking at that time was L-tyrosine and acetyl L-carnitine.

0:18:14.0 Ashley James: Right. I just pulled up my phone then the next thing I thought was, what about Ritalin? And it says that one of the side effects of long-term use of Ritalin can be hypothyroidism. Have you considered that maybe that's what caused your hypothyroidism to become so severe?

0:18:32.7 David Tomen: No. I didn't because I did an extensive amount of research on methylphenidate which is the chemical term for Ritalin and they've been using it since the 1950s, and I looked at tons of clinical studies, and of all the drugs used to treat ADD and ADHD, it's the safest one out there. You know it's neither here nor there. Even if it did cause hypothyroidism, that never occurred to me because it wasn't significant enough to come up in my research.

0:19:10.8 Ashley James: Right.

0:19:11.2 David Tomen: But it doesn't matter because I discovered that the only way that my brain can work is with some that kind of help.

0:19:18.9 Ashley James: Oh, absolutely. Right.

0:19:22.0 David Tomen: And it needs that kind of help. It's my job to be able to support it so that it doesn't get into any other kind of trouble.

0:19:30.3 Ashley James: Right. No, I'm not questioning your past decisions. My belief is if we can find something natural and that looks even better than drugs, then awesome. But if we come up against something, you know drugs are a tool in our tool belt.

0:19:46.5 David Tomen: Yeah.

0:19:47.8 Ashley James: But there are tools because they're synthetic, there's a tool that can have a set of side effects.

0:19:54.5 David Tomen: Absolutely.

0:19:55.0 Ashley James: And so we need to just be really responsible and do our research. Dr. Klinghardt who I interviewed, he's been an MD for 40 years and really interesting guy. I interviewed him, and he became a surgeon and an MD, he received his training in a part of Germany where all doctors also become homeopaths and acupuncturists at the same time as becoming surgeons. So very different kind of training that we get here and his philosophy has been his whole career that he wants to find an herb or a supplement or some kind of a natural remedy that is even better than a drug and he looks to that but if he can't then he goes to the drug.

So, I'm not questioning that you ever took Ritalin, it's just more of the – I get curious, and when this body has a symptom, I want to know what happened? So that you can prevent it, right? It's part of helping your body so I think it's actually a little comforting to know that the Ritalin might have been the cause of your hypothyroid and that your body left to its own devices without the Ritalin wouldn't have gone there or wouldn't have created the hypothyroidism. So I mean just looking at that, but it's wonderful that the Ritalin helped you find Nootropics so that you could support your brain. And what it actually really was missing along which was dopamine, right? We don't have a Ritalin deficiency, but it was the gateway that allowed you to discover Nootropics.

0:21:35.4 David Tomen: That's absolutely true.

0:21:36.5 Ashley James: So we can be grateful for them. But those who have taken ADD medication and have really enjoyed the benefits of it, cannot know that there is a natural way and it's to help the body have enough dopamine and which is what you were saying. So you just dived into Nootropics, and you became the Nootropics expert. Now, tell me about this thing about drawing a clock. What's up with that?

0:22:10.6 David Tomen: There's a couple of different tests they use early on to evaluate to find out if you've got Alzheimers or dementia. And one of them is drawing a clock, and then I'm going to give you a time, and I want you to put the time on it, and somebody who has got Alzheimer's or even early onset Alzheimers has got trouble drawing a clock. They can't draw the clock properly and can't put the time in the proper place, but I drew a perfect clock. And then there's another test that they do; I forgot what the name of the test is called. I think it's on the website. But they ask you a series of questions, and you have to be able to remember. They test your memory basically, and I came up with top scores on that too. So they knew that it wasn't Alzheimer's or dementia.

0:23:14.2 Ashley James: Got it.

0:23:16.7 David Tomen: But it was scary. [Laughter]

0:23:17.9 Ashley James: When you had those symptoms, that was what everyone thought it was going. But because it came so suddenly, dementia doesn't hit so suddenly. Isn't it more gradual?

0:23:29.6 David Tomen: Right.

0:23:29.8 Ashley James: Right.

0:23:31.7 David Tomen: I was desperate. I mean, what are you going to do? [Laughter] Your life is completely [inaudible 0:23:38.2] and you're so, so sick that you can't make any money to support your family. I mean, you're desperate. You run to anybody you think of that can help you, and it turns out that nobody could help me. I had to help myself.

0:23:52.8 Ashley James: How did you discover that it was hypothyroidism? Like was it you or did they do tests?

0:23:58.3 David Tomen: In the hospital, they ran a full thyroid lab.

0:24:05.0 Ashley James: And did they go, “Oh, this is what's causing your memory loss.” Right away or did they just say, “Oh and you have hypothyroidism” then you discovered that hypothyroidism was causing your memory loss?

0:24:19.6 David Tomen: I was the one to discover that.

0:24:22.7 Ashley James: This is what we have to advocate for ourselves, you know? We really need to. Amazing. So what happened then? So there you are, you're doing copywriting for this man in the UK, and you are really excited about Nootropics, what happened then?

0:24:40.1 David Tomen: I just decided to put up a website and started writing about the stuff that I was learning so that everybody else can learn what I was learning along with me. And I started Nootropics Expert – I don't know, it was about 3 years ago now. Maybe a little over 3 years ago, 2016 I think the dates on some of the stuff. I didn't realize that it was that long when I looked and I just started writing and I kept on writing for these companies and doing sales copy for them. I kept on writing this, and one thing just led to another, and I've got a YouTube channel now with over 30,000 subscribers and a big email list. I've get tens and tens and tens of thousands of people all over the world coming to Nootropics Experts for help.

0:25:32.0 Ashley James: That's very cool. What do you offer, like you sell them? How do you make money with Nootropics Expert?

0:25:42.8 David Tomen: Good question. I'm an affiliate for some companies. For the guy that I was originally working for, I'm an affiliate for 2 of his lines of supplements, and then I'm an affiliate for other companies for stuff that he doesn't carry like CBD oil and a couple of other things. I can't remember right off the top of my head. So I have links on the website, and I get a commission when people buy through the website. I do coaching now, people that can't figure this stuff out on their own or people that can figure out on their own but they just want help tweaking whatever they're doing. I offer personal consulting for half an hour or an hour via Skype or phone, depending on where they are in the world. And I have a book, “Head First” that's been selling really well. I mentioned earlier that the last book on the subject was published in 1992, and it's called “Smart Drugs II.” That was the last book that was published on Nootropics.

0:26:57.8 Ashley James: Wow.

0:26:58.1 David Tomen: Yeah. So I wrote a book, and it's almost 600 pages, and I've got doctors and naturopaths and nurses and holistic practitioners and all kinds of people including just the [inaudible 0:27:16.8] on the street buying Head First and using it as a guide to help fix whatever their problem is.

0:27:25.4 Ashley James: Now, you had mentioned that your marriage was really upside down during that time when you had dementia and the thyroid.

0:27:32.1 David Tomen: Yeah.

0:27:34.0 Ashley James: Hos is it now? I'm left hanging. How are you guys now?

0:27:39.0 David Tomen: It's better now. We're more in love today than we were the day we got married.

0:27:45.8 Ashley James: Did you sneak some kind of Nootropics in her orange juice every morning? [Laughter]

0:27:50.3 David Tomen: No. She's allergic to this stuff.

0:27:53.3 Ashley James: Oh, that's funny.

0:27:54.9 David Tomen: I give her a choline supplement and she just goes crazy. So nope. [Laughter]

0:28:02.2 Ashley James: That's interesting. I have actually had allergic reactions to some adaptogenic herbs. They make my heart race. We have to try it with caution. They can be absolutely amazing. They can be wonderful and life-changing, and we can sometimes have allergic reactions to them, so it's good to test them a little bit at a time. Maybe you could walk us through some precautions and teach us some of the more common ones and how to take them and what to look for, the ones that people might be accidentally taking because they bought it from Whole Foods, that kind of thing.

0:28:42.6 David Tomen: I get this question often like, what do I do? How do I use Nootropics? And my first question is, what do you wanna fix? Like what's your problem? Because you've got so many options available to you, but unless you can tell me exactly what you're trying to fix, I can't really help you. So for example, if you have got a problem with learning and memory, you want to take a look at like Aniracetam and Bacopa Monnieri and CDP choline and L-theanine and DHA. On the other hand if you have a problem with anxiety and depression, you can use some of those same things for anxiety and depression, but you also probably wanna look at things like lithium orotate and sibutramine and Rhodiola Rosea, or if you got a problem with energy and motivation, you wanna look at things like acetyl L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid and CoQ10 and PQQ. So it depends on what you're trying to fix. That's the starting point.

Another thing that I find out from people is like if you're dealing with depression, are you on medication? If you are on medication, what are you using, and is it working for you? And if the answer is I'm on SSRI, then we find out exactly what's the mechanism of action of that SSRI, how exactly does it work in your brain and let's find a natural substance that does exactly the same thing on your brain. So that people can start lessening their dependence on that prescription drug. The same thing with ADHD and ADD, you don't have to use stimulants. A lot of people can get away with not using them. I came up with an ADHD protocol, and I actually tested it for a year on myself, not using Ritalin, just using the stack I put together, and it worked. Under normal circumstances, I could've just used the things that I've got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 things in my stack. I used those for a year, and I was fine, but I found that my workload and at my age, I just found that I couldn't handle my everyday workload without the help of the stimulants, so I started using Ritalin again, but I still use the stack. I know that there are tens of thousands of people managing their ADHD and ADD just with this protocol I put together.

0:31:36.9 Ashley James: Love it, very cool. I recently saw an article  that said that if someone has been on an antidepressant, that their brain chemistry will never be the same again and that they'll need to be on it for the rest of their life because it forever alters their brain chemistry. has that happened in your experience or if someone has been on an antidepressant in their past, is there a way through Nootropics to support the brain and having healthy levels of serotonin and dopamine and all those chemicals?

0:32:12.0 David Tomen: Well the thing about antidepressants is most of the time it's difficult to stop them because these things, a lot of antidepressant drugs and anti-anxiety drugs are more addictive than heroin and cocaine and oxycodone. I mean they're that addictive, and it's extremely, extremely difficult to wean yourself off of them, and I'm not an expert on that. One person that is is Dr. Kelly Brogan who helps people wean off of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs and give them the natural route, but it is a rough, rough road. But there are certain Nootropics that you can use to support some antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, and they help them work better, but they're very few, and far between because of the time they will cause more problems than they will help.

If somebody has got depression for example and their doctor wants to put them on an antidepressant of some kind, but they're reluctant to do that, and they come to me and say, “I'm dealing with depression, please help me.” We have to start digging in to what's causing the depression in the first place because what the big pharmaceutical companies tell you is not a lack of serotonin in your brain, it could be a problem with dopamine, it could be a problem with neurogenesis, it could be a problem with stress, it could be a problem with inflammation. For example, the primary neurotransmitters play a role in depression, get this, acetylcholine, dopamine, glutamate, gabba, norepinephrine, and serotonin – where do you start?

0:34:18.4 Ashley James: Right.

0:34:19.3 David Tomen: Right? And so if a person hasn't got a clue, if they've never used any prescription medication before, so they haven't got anything to kind of like look at saying, “Yeah this kind of worked.” If they're starting from scratch, I have them go through this list one at a time and try different nootropic supplements until they find something that works. And this can be a long process, but it's worth it because you'll finally get or leave. For example, acetylcholine, the precursors to acetylcholine are alpha GPC or CDP choline, so you can try something like CDP choline or acetylcholine for a little while and see if that helps. If that doesn't help, then let's move on dopamine. So you try something else – tyrosine, or N-acetyl L-tyrosine and try that for a few days and see if that helps. Well if that didn't work, then let's move onto gabba and let's try supplementing with GABA for a few days and see if that helps.

Sooner or later you're gonna get  through this list. If nothing helps in supporting these neurotransmitters, then we know that it's not a neurotransmitter problem. Then it could be an inflammation problem, so then we start looking at different things that take care of the inflammation. Things like turmeric or curcumin and there are a few other ones that help tame inflammation – pine bark extract or an antioxidant. So, these are the kinds of approaches that we take. It depends on our starting point and what our knowledge level is and what we know about our own body. And one of the reasons why I've consulting business too because you can get stressed out just trying to figure this thing out.

0:36:16.7 Ashley James: Yeah, right. What about this idea like a person has enough GABA but there's something going on with their receptors. How do we resensitize the receptors to uptake the GABA or the serotonin or dopamine?

0:36:34.5 David Tomen: There are some Nootropics that help repair receptors and help in neurogenesis, aniracetam for example, which is one or the racetams that I use every day and it's one of my favorites. It helps heal dopamine 2 and dopamine 3 receptors. Pine bark extract helps heal receptors, and it helps with neurogenesis, and it helps with cerebral blood flow. So those are just 2 examples. If somebody is looking for this kind of information, they just go to Nootropics Expert and type into the search bar “synapses” and see what turns up or “receptors” and see what turns up.

0:37:23.1 Ashley James: You mentioned blood flow, and that's really interesting because they're finding that dementia is basically caused by the vascular flow being cut off and they're saying that there's plaque, but a lot of doctors in the holistic space are saying that it's basically dysregulated blood sugar over many years. Not enough to be diabetes, but you know the state of American diet is way high in sugar and when we can consume, let's say we go and have ice cream with our family, we have way more blood sugar than our body knows what to do with and if someone regardless whether they're diabetic or not diabetic, they have higher blood sugar that's not healthy and this causes systemic inflammation to the whole circulatory system including the brain and we do that enough and the brain ends up being like Swiss cheese in these brain scans where they're seeing areas of the brain that have such disruption from the vascular flow being harmed from our diet that eventually the brain becomes like Swiss cheese. And so they're saying that dementia is like a form of diabetes. And you're saying that you have Nootropics or these supplements that support the brain that increases vascular flow and the health of our vascular system, the circulatory system to the brain – not that we should take that and go eat ice cream, we have to make sure our diet is healthy for our brain as well.

But tell me a bit about these supplements that support the vasculature in the brain.

0:39:11.2 David Tomen: Ok. Let's just talk about the aging brain in general, and we'll touch on each of these. We're talking about prolongs with free radicals in the oxidative stress, and you're talking about synapses that you already mentioned, and then Alzheimer's and dementia, and vascular dementia and cerebral circulation and neurotransmitter decline. I actually wrote a post on this that takes a deep dive into how each of these works in the aging brain. What I mean by the aging brain is anybody after 20 has got an aging brain because there are certain neurotransmitters that begin to decline after the age of 20. So everybody can use this help.

For example, free radicals in brain aging, free radicals are when your brain is firing, and it's doing these tens of thousands of times. You got 10,000 oxidative interactions between DNA and free radicals in each one of your brain cells that occur every day and every minute of every day. But if you have an unhealthy diet particularly, these free radicals can get out of hand, and it causes oxidative stress, and your body tries to cope with it because it's got a built-in anti-oxidant system. So you've got things like vitamin C and vitamin E and CoQ10 already naturally in your body, but it hasn't got enough to be able to cope with the workload. So we can use things like alpha lipoic acid which is a naturally occurring fatty acid that is both fat and water soluble, and it has a unique ability to neutralize free radicals in all cellular environments, and it helps boost the synthesis of acetylcholine, and it increases glucose uptake in brain cells. It also helps regenerate other depleted antioxidants like vitamin C, E, and glutathione and it recycles CoQ10 that's already in your body, and it gets rid of heavy metals. So you can start supplementing with alpha lipoic acid, CoQ10 is a natural antioxidant that's synthesized in every single cell on your body and your brain, and it helps adenosine triphosphate which is the fuel that the mitochondria use in your brain cells. So we just supplement with extra CoQ10 to help support what's already gone in our mitochondria.

Creatine. People in athletic circles use creatine to help them, but it's an essential amino acid that's synthesized in your liver that your body uses to recharge adenosine triphosphate to fuel mitochondria. So we can add creatine to our diet. Creatine that we're not already getting from food that boosts cellular metabolism and helps protect neurons from damage caused by toxins. And I can go on about just free radicals.

And then we get into synapses like we talked about earlier. Ashwagandha is an old ayurvedic remedy that recent researches found regenerates axons and dendrites and it helps reconstruct synapses. Artichoke extract is a natural PDE4 inhibitor which supports the cAMP, which is a secondary messenger, and it stimulates the production of CREB. The CREB is cAMP's response element-binding protein. It's a protein needed for new neuron synthesis in synapse growth, and it increases long term potentiation which is needed for encoding long term memories.

Berberine is an amazing supplement. It enhances synaptic plasticity, it reduces the aggregation of amyloid B protein that leads to Alzheimer's, and it helps reduce the protein Tau, which is associated with Alzheimer's, and it works as in antioxidant. And I use it because my naturopath says I'm insulin resistant. It works as well as metformin, but it doesn't have the side effects. So I use berberine. So that's synapses.

For cerebral circulation, if you wanna get more blood flow moving in your brain. I find the 2 most effective supplements are one, pine bark extract – it's used primarily on nootropic circles to increase cerebral blood flow, but we've also found that it's a very, very potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. And the other one that I love is vinpocetine, which is a semi-synthetic derivative of the Lesser Periwinkle plant, and I use that every day.

0:45:00.1 Ashley James: Can you say it again?

0:45:04.3 David Tomen: Vinpocetine.

0:45:04.8 Ashely James: And it's a semi-synthetic, can you explain what that means?

0:45:09.0 David Tomen: It's derived from the Lesser Periwinkle plant in the lab. It's an alkaloid that's derived from the Lesser Periwinkle plant. It's used as a prescription drug in a lot of countries, but here you can still get it as a supplement, and I use it just increase blood flow. It's amazing.

0:45:34.0 Ashley James: In the countries that it is a drug, what is it prescribed for?

0:45:38.3 David Tomen: Blood flow. It's prescribed for things like Alzheimer's.

0:45:43.0 Ashley James: Interesting.

0:45:44.4 David Tomen: And stroke patients.

0:45:49.6 Ashley James: Really cool. So you must have a protocol for those who are recovering from stroke?

0:46:01.5 David Tomen: Kind of like what we just talked about because a stroke wreaks havoc on your brain and one of the problems with stroke is that your antioxidant system cannot keep up with the oxidative damage that's been going on. So some of the stuff that we just talked about and a dozen other supplements that I've got in the same list. Somebody that's dealing with stroke, I had encouraged them to put together at least half a dozen of these and start taking them right away.

I also have written about PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI (traumatic brain injury). Treating TBI is like treating stroke because TBI causes the same kind of problems in the brain, and you're dealing with axon injury, and you're dealing with problems of the cerebral circulation, glutamate overload, and you're dealing with glucose and mitochondria getting out of whack and you're dealing with an NMDA receptors that are not working properly. Then I've got a list of about 12 supplements for dealing with concussion or TBI. And I actually wrote this particular post after one of the hurricanes because a lot of people that survive a hurricane or any kind of a natural disaster like that are dealing with PTSD and they don't even realize it or TBI when they get knocked in the head by something.

0:48:06.9 Ashley James: Absolutely and concussions are so common, and there's no treatment for them. They just say stay awake and go home and rest. Rest but don't fall asleep and that's it.

0:48:18.1 David Tomen: That's just not true. You can do real things to help your brain, but there are no prescription drugs that I know of that can help heal your brain, but you can use things like creatine and DHA which is an omega 3 and green tea and N-acetyl L-cysteine, or NAC, resveratrol, turmeric, the B vitamins. All of these things can help you recover from that kind of brain injury.

0:48:51.3 Ashley James: What about helping the body heal like a motor neuron lesion or a spinal cord injury? I have a friend in the hospital right now who had an operation from stenosis and now they're paralyzed, and the doctor believes that they will regain. It will probably take 4 years, but they'll regain the ability to walk again. How can we support the nervous system in healing from that kind of trauma?

0:49:20.3 David Tomen: Some of the things that I just talked about for concussion and TBI, but I would also use lion's mane mushroom. Lion's mane mushroom is an amazing supplement if you've ever seen a picture of it, it looks like a lion's mane. It's the strangest looking mushroom. But the lion's mane helps better than anything in neurogenesis, and there was one study done, and I think this study was done in Malaysia where they used lab rats, and they were mean to these rats. They crushed their gluteal nerves so they couldn't walk which kind of breaks my heart but then the next thing that happened was they gave them lion's mane laced water to drink. Within 2 weeks, their gluteal nerves have healed, and the rats were walking again.

0:50:19.5 Ashley James: Did they have a group of rats they did not give the lion's mane too?

0:50:25.5 David Tomen: Yup.

0:50:26.4 Ashley James: Were they able to walk again?

0:50:28.7 David Tomen: No, they weren't. They are permanently crippled.

0:50:31.9 Ashley James: Amazing. I mean sad for the rats, I don't like hearing that kind of experiment to any animal but also very amazing that lion's manes can help people that well.

0:50:44.9 David Tomen: It's incredible.

0:50:47.3 Ashley James: How much would one need to take? What are the doses of these kinds of things?

0:50:51.1 David Tomen: A lion's mane is anywhere from 400mg to up to some people take 1200mg a day. Something like that is perfectly safe to take in really, really big doses. You don't have to worry about overdosing on it. Some of these things, they won't hurt you other than give you like an upset stomach, if you take too much of it or take too much of it at once. Oftentimes when you're taking bigger doses of some of these things, it's better to split your dose into 2 or 3 doses per day. So you take 1 in the morning, 1 at noon, 1 in the afternoon. But yeah lion's mane, absolutely.

0:51:34.1 Ashley James: Very interesting. I have a friend who was on the street at some point and was addicted to meth, and she has since recovered, but she says that it's as if there's no happiness in her life. That's just in her brain, right? And the only way to get back to normal, or to get back to just like how you and I would feel on an average day – that level of happiness would take meth. Not even to get her to feel high or overly happy, but just to feel normal.

0:52:17.5 David Tomen: I understand. You're dealing with a TBI, you really are. Now I am no doctor, I don't even play one on TV, but it's common sense to me that the same things that work for somebody with a concussion or TBI, somebody in that kind of a situation, I would encourage them to use the same types of supplements, but the thing is there's no one pill solution. There just isn't. We've been conditioned to think that there's a one pill solution, but there's not. It's gonna take at least a half a dozen supplements and taking it for a long time until you start feeling some relief. Because the brain, how long it'd take to damage the brain – you know it took you years. So, fortunately, it doesn't take years to help the brain recover. You can do it in a few months, but you've got to be diligent and stick to it and religiously take this stuff every single day until you start feeling some relief.

0:53:26.5 Ashley James: What about addiction? What about like someone who is addicted – alcohol, or maybe even food addiction, or porn addiction. Is there a protocol that helps people to balance their brains, so they don't have the compulsion or that addiction? 

0:53:42.8 David Tomen: You know there's not really a protocol, and I haven't looked into in that deeply but there are a couple of supplements that I had reviewed that I remember seeing either anecdotal evidence or clinical studies showing that people were not as prone to addiction when they were using it, and I cannot remember off the top of my head what they were. You know what Ashley, I just don't remember what they are but I know that they exist. It's not a miracle cure by any stretch, and it's not gonna make you stop drinking by taking it, but it reduces the tendency to want to do that. I think that possibly Mucuna Pruriens L-dopa may be one of them.

0:54:49.0 Ashley James: And someone could book a consultation with you, and you can go dive into the research?

0:54:55.1 David Tomen: That's exactly what I do.

0:54:57.9 Ashley James: Right. What about 5 HTP, is that a nootropic?

0:55:04.2 David Tomen: I can say that it's a nootropic, but you got to be super careful with it.

0:55:07.8 Ashley James: Why is that?

0:55:08.7 David Tomen: Because people take too high overdosing themselves from their trouble. You got to understand the serotonin pathway. It goes L-tryptophan to 5 HTP to serotonin to melatonin. So somebody is depressed, and they feel like they need to boost serotonin, the first thing they do is they grab 5 HTP and 500mg of HTP, and they overdose which is an overdose, and they feel like crap the next day, and they don't know what went wrong. It's a lot safer to do something like L-tryptophan and take 500mg or 750mg before you go to sleep and you'll feel better the next day. 5 HTP you dose like 25mg at a time, but you can't find a 25mg of 5 HTP supplement. The lowest dose I've been able to find is 100mg.

0:56:14.4 Ashley James: Right. Yeah.

0:56:16.4 David Tomen: So what I do is because I use so much to boost dopamine, I have to keep serotonin in balance. I use L-tryptophan before I go to sleep, but during the day I also use 5 HTP, but I get a 100mg lozenge, and I use a pill splitter, and I cut it in quarters. And when I feel like my serotonin is a little bit out of whack compared to dopamine, I just put 25mg under my tongue

0:56:50.0 Ashley James: How does one know?

0:56:52.2 David Tomen: You just feel it

0:56:53.5 Ashley James: How do you feel? Like for someone who has never distinguished what serotonin versus dopamine feels, what are the symptoms of too much serotonin versus too little?

0:57:06.5 David Tomen: I can tell you more with too much dopamine than serotonin. Too much dopamine – because dopamine turns into norepinephrine and turns to epinephrine which is you fight or flight hormone, you get really irritable and sharp with people and antsy, your dopamine system is out of whack. Too much serotonin is you just feel like you're sick. But it's unlike sick that I can describe because it's unlike anything else I've ever felt, it just feels really weird. I can't even describe the feeling, Ashley. I just know that feeling. [Laughter]

0:57:57.2 Ashley James: So how do you bring dopamine down then, if you have too much of it?

0:58:03.9 David Tomen: Boost serotonin. Dopamine and serotonin play off of each other.

0:58:09.9 Ashley James: Got it.

0:58:10.6 David Tomen: They have to be in balance. If dopamine is too high, you suppress serotonin or serotonin is too high. You depress dopamine.

0:58:18.0 Ashley James: So if you're antsy, irritable, and kind of short-tempered with people then take some l-tryptophan at night and see if that does the job. Taking at night, that does that then help boost serotonin all day long the next day?

0:58:33.5 David Tomen: It does, and it helps you sleep because it eventually turns into melatonin.

0:58:38.4  Ashley James: And is that a supplement that someone can take over the counter?

0:58:41.8 David Tomen: Yes.

0:58:43.2 Ashley James: It's still available?

0:58:45.5 David Tomen: The L-tryptophan is readily available.

0:58:48.1 Ashley James: Okay, great. I don't know. I heard something about it being taken off the counter.

0:58:54.1 David Tomen: I heard that too, and I have no idea where people got that information from.

0:59:00.1 Ashley James: But it's a naturally occurring amino acid in Turkey.

0:59:03.8 David Tomen: Yeah. I know, I looked into this one time when somebody else mentioned that. There was a problem with one particular manufacturer of L-tryptophan.

0:59:15.0 Ashley James: Oh, right.

0:59:17.5 David: They were putting out an adulterated supplement or something. I don't remember exactly what the story was, but it was a bad batch, and it made headlines, and it was taken off the market, and everybody said L-tryptophan has been taken off the market. That's not true. It was taken off the market from this one particular manufacturer because they had a bad batch that went out.

0:59:42.0 Ashley James: Ok.

0:59:43.1 David Tomen: And that happened years ago.

0:59:44.6 Ashley James: Yeah a long time ago.

0:59:46.1 David Tomen: And people are still talking about it. It's amazing.

0:59:48.4 Ashley James: Right. Let's bust that myth. It's available. We can get it. You don't need to get to Turkey to get your L-tryptophan. [Laughter]

0:59:55.6 David Tomen: The last one I got was from Amazon.

0:59:59.3 Ashley James: Interesting. I mean really buy or beware in the supplement space. I know that you are an affiliate of some brands that you like. Do you have any advice for watching out, like what kind of companies shouldn't one buy from?

1:00:19.0 David Tomen: That's a really good question. I wrote a post called “7 Tips for Choosing the Highest Quality of Nootropics Supplements,” and I went through how I think about this. The first thing to look for is brand names. And by brand names I don't mean like Walgreens or CVS or GNC or Target, that's not what I mean by brand names. By brand names, I mean like Gaia Herbs, Doctor's Best, Nature's Way, Irwin Naturals – those kinds of brand names. That's the first thing that I look at. The next thing I look at is if they've got any kind of quality assurance, and the way to find out about this is to go to their website. The first thing you can  find out is if it makes sense. If it's natural, is it USDA organic, right? Has it got the seal on it? The other thing to look for is the certificate of analysis, and some of these manufacturers will actually put a certificate of analysis for each batch that they put on their website.

1:01:44.7 Ashley James: Nice.

1:01:46.4 David Tomen: So you can use the batch code on the supplement and go to their website and download the certificate of analysis. The certificate of analysis tells you exactly what a third party testing lab found in that capsule or tablet, including how much of the supplement that the manufacturer claimed was there. Is it really in there and is there anything else in there? Are there heavy metals in there? Is there something that's should not be in there completely?

A couple of years ago the New York Attorney General sent letters to places like Target and Walgreens and GNC and some other big retailers that had private label supplements on the shelf that they had tested the supplements for things like ginkgo biloba and Rhodiola and found there was nothing in the capsule but wheatgrass. Right? So that's why I say, do not buy a private label from any of these retailers, unless they can prove what's in their capsule or tablet.

1:03:01.3 Ashley James: Right.

1:03:01.7 David Tomen: The other thing to look for is the US Pharmacopeia. If it's USP verified, that can be good and bad. That can be good because somebody went into that facility and tested their products and verified that what's in the capsule or tablet is really in there and they have the USP stamp of approval on it. Where this does not help is when it comes to things like vitamins and minerals because you don't really want a USP Pharmacopoeia stamp of approval on vitamins and minerals because the minerals are ground up rock and something that your body can't use.

NSF International is an independent non-profit organization that provides certification for dietary supplements. You can look for their seal. Lab Door is an international and independent company who buys products off of retail shelves and online, and then they test them for active ingredients and potential contaminants and publish it on their website.

Consumer Lab has got a similar kind of deal. It's an independent subscription-based service that tests dietary supplements to see what's in the capsule or tablet. But  a word of caution about Consumer Lab, because the company doesn't disclose the brand names of supplements that fail their testing.

1:04:45.7 Ashley James: Ew.

1:04:46.7 David Tomen: If the manufacturer has paid them their $4,000 yearly fee.

1:04:52.6 Ashley James: Ew. So basically what they publish is safe, but they don't publish anything that it might not be safe?

1:05:03.8 David Tomen: Right, yeah. I don't completely trust Consumer Lab.

1:05:11.0 Ashley James: Well, if you can pay them off to have them not be a whistleblower then, yeah.

1:05:17.9 David Tomen: The other thing to look for is therapeutic dosages. The thing is that there is no therapeutic dosage. So if somebody says in their advertising or on the label that this has got a therapeutic dosage in it, for individual dietary supplements, there is no established therapeutic dosage. There is the dosage that we found through clinical studies and actual user experience to find out what works.

1:05:47.2 Ashley James: Right.

1:05:49.4 David Tomen: So it's [inaudible 1:05:49.2] It is not true.

The other thing to look for and this is extremely important, are the other ingredients. If you take a look at the back of a supplement bottle on the bottom of the list of ingredients, there is a thing called “other ingredients.” And under other ingredients are things to help increase shelf life, to bind tablets together, to improve consistency, to improve moisture resistance, to help stabilize ingredients, to add bulk like to fill a capsule, and to add color and flavor – all the stuff that you don't really need. Right?

Some of this stuff could be really bad for you.

Cellulose is a binding or a thickening agent that you'll see on a lot of supplements. It's cellulose. It doesn't do anything. It's not good for you. It's not bad for you. It just shouldn't be in there.

Magnesium stearate or vegetable stearate or stearic acid is a flow agent or a lubricant that speeds up their manufacturing process. So it stops the ingredients from sticking to the mechanical equipment, and it's also added to tablets to make it easier to swallow. The problem with magnesium stearate is it suppresses your natural killer T-cells.

1:07:20.7 Ashley James: Oh no.

1:07:24.3 David Tomen: And you can see magnesium stearate in a lot of supplements, even big brand names that you would otherwise trust.

Titanium dioxide is a pigment used to provide color. The problem with titanium dioxide is that it leads to mitochondrial dysfunction. It damages astrocyte cells, which leaves them unable to absorb glutamate and it induces potent oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage in luteal cells.

Silica is an anti-clumping agent that stops ingredients to mechanical equipment that you see in a lot of supplements.

Probably the safest one that you'll see there is rice flour. It's used as a filler.

I look for supplements that have as few as or no extra ingredients. The companies that I mentioned that I'm an affiliate for on Nootropics Expert – Performance Lab and Mind Lab Pro, there is zero other ingredients in their products.

1:08:31.8 Ashley James: Very cool.

1:08:33.3 David Tomen: Zero. Nothing. Zip.

The other thing that you want to look for is bio availability, which is really important when it comes to things like turmeric because turmeric is really poorly absorbed. So you want to find a turmeric supplement that the manufacturer has – you'll see patented turmeric or curcumin ingredients that manufacturers have found some way to make them more bioavailable. One way to make turmeric more bioavailable is to take with Bioperine or piperine. Clinical studies show that it increases absorption by 2,000%.

1:09:17.1 Ashley James: Wow.

1:09:18.8 David Tomen: Another example is L-tyrosine, which is the amino acid that is directly involved in the synthesis of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. The problem is that it's not very bioavailable and it's not officially absorbed when it's taken as a nootropic supplement for some people. So to boost the bioavailability of L-tyrosine, they add an acetyl group to it, so it's called N-acetyl L-tyrosine or NALT. And that seems to boost availability. I find that my body can use either one or the other, but some people can only use L-tyrosine. Some people can only use NALT.

You want to make sure they're in the right form and that when they're stacked with other ingredients that they're working synergistically together and not working against each other. And that is a completely other subject, that's for a whole other podcast because there's too much to talk about there. But you've got have the right ingredients put together and the right dosages for the thing to work.

And the last thing is extracts versus the whole herb. Sometimes an extract will work better than a whole herb. Lion's mane mushroom, for example, some people will argue that the whole fruit works better than an extract, but there are other products were the extract, like an extract of turmeric or curcumin for example that works better for some things. So, just be aware of that. One particular supplement could be more effective if it's in an extract and another supplement could be more effective if you're using the whole herb.

So, that's it. I got a little checklist and I kind of like do this automatically while I'm looking. Brand name; quality which includes country of origin and certificate of analysis or certified organic; certification which includes certificate of analysis, bioavailability, other ingredients, and extracts. I go through that in my head before I choose something.

1:11:58.0 Ashley James: Very good. I like that it was thorough. I really like that.

1:12:05.4 David Tomen: Because there's so much garbage out there.

1:12:07.9 Ashley James: Oh yeah, totally. I had a guy on the show all about mushrooms, and he has been in the mushroom industry for over 30 years. He was a farmer of mushrooms and then got into medicinal mushrooms, and now he has a company that grows them organically in China, and he talked about how most mushrooms, and he talked about the difference between myceliated mushroom and the actual whole mushroom. Micilianated means that the farmer here, let's say in the U.S., you get this lion's mane supplement and you're all excited because it says, “grown organically in the U.S.” And you think, “Excellent, what's grown in the U.S. must be better than what's grown in China.” And you take it, and nothing happens because it's myceliated which means that took a bunch of rice and then they put lion's mane to grow in it as like a mushroom and the lion's mane made little sort of mushroom roots, the mycelia. And then they took the entire batch including all mostly rice and grounded up and popped it into a capsule, and then they say, “You know there's some rice in there for whatever filler.” I don't even know if they have to declare that the rice is there because it's part of the farming practice, but that it's 90% rice and only 10% lion's mane and you take 2 a day thinking you're getting 2 full capsules of lion's mane when you're not. And he has little experiment; he said go get some iodine which you can get at a drugstore and take it 2 capsules of your mushroom supplement and dump it into a little glass of water and mix it up and then put a few drops of iodine. If it turns black, then it is myceliated. It's 90% rice or some kind of cornstarch or something – you know if it's not rice, then it's corn. But they grow it in basically a grain, and so your mushroom supplement is not pure if the water turns black because iodine reacts to the starch.

1:14:20.9 David Tomen: What color does it turn up, if it's real mushroom?

1:14:25.4 Ashley James: I think it doesn't react. It's just iodine color.

1:14:32.6 David Tomen: What a great idea.

1:14:33.6 Ashley James: Because iodine turns black when exposed to starch. I mean you could take cornstarch and put iodine in it, it's gonna turn into a really dark color. It's gonna change color.

1:14:42.5 David Tomen: They used to call it black porridge in Russia. The iodine in potato starch, anyway that's a whole other story. There's a supplement company that I just started working with that came over from Kazakhstan that based all of their research off of this guy in Russia who ended up in the goo log and saved the entire goo log from dying of dysentery with black porridge, and it was iodine and potato starch.

1:15:14.2 Ashley James: Very interesting. Yeah, it turned black exactly. So that what happens. You can use iodine to basically test the purity of your mushroom supplement. But just to complement your elaborate checklist of what to go through when looking for quality, it's not necessarily where a supplement is created. I guess I just had a bit of ignorance around that. I thought if it's from the U.S. or if it's from Canada, then it must be the best or much better than if it's from Asia – it's just not true. That yes, Asia can have contaminated water, contaminated air just like we can, but that this one man that I had on the show, he said that his mushroom farms are in this part of China that's on the mountains where the cleaner air and the mountain water and he has all of his stuff tested in China, and then he comes back and has it tested again for heavy metals and all that kind of stuff.

We want to go through your checklist to make sure that the lab tests are available or the company is willing to share it  and that it's off that batch, not just from any batch and that they're comfortable with things being certified organic and having third-party lab tests to prove that they're safe. And so, we just want to be diligent when going through these supplements.

I really like your tip on taking 750mg of L-tryptophan at night. if someone feels that their serotonin might be low, my naturopath put me on serotonin because I eat a really clean diet and I was noticing that – and what I mean by really clean is no processed sugar, no junk food, plant-based, and I was having these cravings at night and I was feeling sort of a little bit down. I would not say depressed by any means, but just a little bit low, and she thought this might be serotonin. I also told her that I take melatonin at night to fall asleep. So she gave me 100mg of 5 HTP to take in the morning, and I started digging into all the studies and I saw that there were studies were they did 500mg in short term, 2 and 4 week increments and the people that they did it are people who were obese and had cravings and that those people after taking 500mg a day of 5 HTP would naturally just didn't want to consume as much carbohydrates and so they lost weight.

1:18:17.9 David Tomen: Interesting.

1:18:18.8 Ashley James: Yeah. I thought that was interesting. So I decided to do a plain experiment on myself, and I doubled the those that my naturopath gave me. I did 100 in the morning and 100 at night, and I promptly began to feel horrible and had to run to the bathroom. It actually gave 3 days of diarrhea, that's the only change I did. And so, of course, I love experimenting on myself. So I did this experiment a few times just to prove that yes, increasing it was not great, but I also noticed that I felt kind of airy like in a really happy way. I mean I don't drink, but it was almost like my brain just felt a little fuzzy, but in a spacey – I just want to space out and watch cartoons kind of way. So it was definitely doing something, altering my chemistry but in going too far in one direction, I'd say.

Actually what's really interesting I think is that for the first few days of taking 5 HTP, I noticed a huge increase in cravings and I thought, what is going on? [Laughter]

I since stopped taking it, but I did take it for a few months, and I feel as though my body then just adapted to it, and I started to feel normal again. And now that I'm off it, I don't really feel any different. I do have a listener who told me that she found herself one morning inconsolably crying in her kitchen, I think she said. And she couldn't figure out why she was so depressed until she realized she had ran out of 5 HTP 3 or 4 days prior. So she got back on it and promptly began to feel like her wonderful self again. And so she says anytime she runs out of it she just feels horrible, and when she gets on it, she feels amazing.

So for some people, these Nootropics are quite life changing.

1:20:20.5 David Tomen: For a lot of people they're really life-changing, but every single body is unique and different. And how you react is oftentimes completely different to how I'm gonna react to something.

1:20:37.0 Ashley James: Right.

1:20:38.6 David Tomen: You mentioned too about food and your diet. One of the things that I did when I got really sick about 6 years ago, hypothyroid and stuff, I really cleaned up my diet. But one of the things that I discovered since is that you can clean up your diet so that you've got the cleanest diet on earth and you're eating the best food that man produces on earth, and you're still lacking in certain vitamins and minerals. You just are, because our food supply cannot provide the nutrients that our body and brain needs to function properly anymore.

1:21:19.9 Ashley James: Yeah, it's amazing.

1:21:23.6 David Tomen: There was a randomized placebo-controlled trial at North 1:21:28.0?? University with 215 health men aged 30 to 55. These guys were given a multivitamin or a placebo for 33 days. These guys were tested at the beginning of the study and then again at the end of the study for mood, stress, memory, and general health. After 33 days of using a daily multivitamin, the researchers reported a significant improvement in general mental health, reduced stress, increased vigor, and overall improvement in mood. And the men who used multivitamins during the trial also showed improved memory and reduced mental fatigue. The placebo group experienced no significant changes.

1:22:11.7 Ashley James: Amazing.

1:22:13.2 David Tomen: Now, why is this? It's a problem with our food supply. A lot of the reasons why we're sick with one thing or another is because we're not getting the nutrients that we need. There was a study in 2004 on fruits and vegetables, and they found that everything from protein, iron, vitamin C significantly declined since 1950 and they looked at the data for 13 nutrients across 43 vegetable crops. And research of fruits and vegetables show that minerals, vitamins, and protein content has dropped significantly over the last 15 to 70 years. But the problem is not just big agra, right? And problem with the depleting soil, there's also a problem with our air.

There's a guy named Irakli Loladze who's a mathematician by training, and he studied nutrient and vitamin levels in plants for 15 years. And Loladze found that the earth's atmosphere had 200 parts per million of carbon dioxide before the industrial revolution and last year they're playing across over 400 parts per million for carbon dioxide. Now, that might seem like a good thing because plants thrive on carbon dioxide. Higher  carbon dioxide levels aid in photosynthesis which means that increased plant growth and more food, but the problem is that this increase in rapid growth also leads to plants that are creating more carbohydrates like glucose instead of other nutrients that our bodies and brains need like protein, iron, and zinc.

1:23:58.6 Ashley James: Oh my gosh.

1:24:01.5 David Tomen: Yeah, it's just the air. And so everybody that I talked to, I say, “Are you using a multivitamin?” Because you have to, it is the simplest, simplest thing that you can do for your health. But the problem also is choosing the wrong multivitamin, because you can go to the drugstore or into your supermarket and you can see Centrum and One a Day, and you look at the label, and you have no idea what you're looking at. What you're looking at is you're looking at vitamin B1 that exist in food in the form of thiamine pyrophosphate, the vitamin B1 in that Centrum multivitamin is thiamine mononitrate which is a coal tar derivative.

1:24:55.9 Ashley James: A coal tar  derivative.

1:24:59.5 David Tomen: Yeah.

1:25:00.2 Ashley James: You've got to be kidding me.

1:25:01.6 David Tomen: No. you can go through the whole list of vitamins, and then you go through the list of minerals. And the minerals are basically and literally ground up rock.

1:25:14.7 Ashley James: Well iron, is it like iron oxide or something which is basically rust?

1:25:19.4 David Tomen: No.

1:25:21.0 Ashley James: It's not bioavailable.

1:25:23.1 David Tomen: Iron is very bioavailable if it comes from a plant.

1:25:26.6 Ashley James: Right.

1:25:28.9 David Tomen: So what you want to do is you want to find a whole food or a raw food multivitamin that has been grown from something like yeast. They grow it from other things like brewer's yeast that has the same cofactors. It's exactly the same thing that you get from food. But you gotta be careful because when you're looking at these labels, if it says, “No USP nutrients” or “100% food” or “No synthetic nutrients,” you know that it's artificial.

1:26:07.1 Ashley James: Why?

1:26:11.2 David Tomen: 100% food-based vitamins are grown in yeast culture. So you'll something that has 16 natural capsules, and it says, “Yeast free” that's a big dangerous signal right there. Because if it says yeast free on the label, you know that it's synthetic. A really good multivitamin, if you open it up and it smells like yeast – like what you find in the kitchen, it's good.

So Performance Lab, the company that I am an affiliate for came up with a multivitamin that's got just nutrients, just the vitamins and minerals and nothing else. There's no other added ingredients or anything, and everything is grown from yeast, and it's the first time that I've actually taken a multivitamin that I actually felt the difference.

1:27:06.6 Ashley James: Very cool.

1:27:09.6 David Tomen: I felt better using this thing. I wrote an article about this, and I've got pictures of the labels in this post, about what you typically find on these multivitamins and it's just scary. It's scary, and when you see headlines like “Experts say that taking multivitamins a waste of time because all you're doing is you're peeing the stuff out.” Well yeah, it's true you're peeing it out because it's inorganic and your body isn't using it.

1:27:53.3 Ashley James: But also in order for you to even to get to your kidneys, you absorbed it and went into your bloodstream and bathe every cell in your body.

1:28:04.7 David Tomen: Yeah. You did some kind of damage. [Laughter]

1:28:08.9 Ashley James: So are you saying that niacin or the B vitamins that are grown in yeast don't change the color or urine at all?

1:28:20.1 David Tomen: Yeah, they will.

1:28:21.4 Ashley James: They do change the color of urine?

1:28:24.8 David Tomen: Sure, they can.

1:28:25.6 Ashley James: Right. But when someone starts peeing more fluorescent yellow and then someone says, “Well, you're just peeing out your vitamins.” So let's assume that what they took was a healthy multivitamin that was plant-derived, their body absorbed it into their bloodstream and bathe every cell in their body, their cells were able to utilize it and because they're water soluble the kidneys immediately start to remove any excess but at least it got to every cell in the body and usually what happens between 2 and 4 weeks of taking a really good quality of multivitamin that the color of their urine will go back to normal, also presuming that they're drinking enough water. The body then becomes better at utilizing all the nutrients that it's being  given. You brought up Centrum. People don't even absorb it. There's a man I met who owns a company in Florida, a porta potty business and there's a catch that catches things and then when they go to clean them, it catches like it's associated through a stone in there. The catch would catch these hard objects, so when they're cleaning them, they can tell you which Centrum the person took because it still says Centrum Silver on it after it's been sitting in a porta potty.

1:30:01.7 David Tomen: That's amazing.

1:30:04.1 Ashley James: And gone through someone's digestive tract. We don't even digest or absorb these over the counter.

1:30:12.4 David Tomen: And people don't know.

1:30:13.4 Ashley James: Right.

1:30:15.3 David Tomen: They don't know that when they take a multivitamin, it should make them feel better. [Laughter] It really should. They should actually feel the difference.

1:30:25.3 Ashley James: Right. Yeah.

1:30:27.1 David Tomen: I do, and I eat well too.

1:30:31.6 Ashley James: Right. And I wanted to ask you what your thoughts were on a healthy diet for the brain. Are there foods that are known to support brain health? Or just a general diet overall, what foods are best for brain health?

1:30:46.9 David Tomen: The nutrients that you get from fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. Healthy fats are really important because you gotta think that your brain is  60% fat, right? Most of that fat in your brain is DHA. So eating good grass-fed meats, for example, or wild seafood like wild salmon – is the best brain health and for overall health, but you still need a multivitamin on top of that.

1:31:32.6 Ashley James: You know I was really sick about 8 years ago. I had type 2 diabetes, chronic fatigue, and chronic infections. I was told I'd never have kids since I was 19 seeing an endocrinologist. They told me I'd never have kids and I had polycystic ovarian syndrome and infertility. My husband turned on some random podcast interview. This was 9 years ago with a naturopath who was talking about just like what you're talking about how as a society we are completely deficient, especially in 60 minerals. But we're completely deficient because we can. no longer get all the nutrients, all the 16 vitamins, the 12 amino acids, the 2 fatty acids, the 60 minerals – we can't them in the quantities we need anymore for multiple reasons like you've mentioned – the higher levels of carbon dioxide. If that's higher, then the plant is just gonna grab it more which is we want plants to do that to filter the air, but it's gonna end up creating more sugar, more carbohydrates, and less of everything else in each plant. So even if we're just eating a vegan diet, we're still not getting what we got 100 years ago. But the farming practices in the last 150 years, the farmers have not re-mineralized their soil, they only put an NPK back in, and if you go to an organic farm, they put compost in, but we're not re-mineralizing soil. And so if spinach isn't grown in iron-rich soil, it's not going to be a good source of spinach. I love it when people say, “I eat 3 Brazil nuts a day for my selenium.” And my question to them is how do you know they were grown in selenium-rich soil because plants do not make minerals. And so this naturopath was going on about this, and by the end of the interview I called him up because I was so intrigued. My husband actually urged me, too; please call this guy. We were suffering. We got to do something about this. I switched my diet around; within days, I started to feel better. I could not believe. Actually, within 24 hours, my constant hunger went away because I had these horrible blood sugar swings. Within 5 days, my energy came back, it's like I got my brain back, and within 3 months, I was no longer diabetic. My chronic adrenal fatigue subsided. it took us just a few years, but we conceived naturally without doing anything else other than cleaning our diet and taking supplements.

1:34:25.6 David Tomen: Isn't it amazing?

1:34:26.1 Ashley James: Yeah and we have a healthy, wonderful 4-year-old boy and none of these would have been possible had it not been for hearing a naturopath. See, the things you're saying today which is we need these nutrients. Now, maybe someone's motivation is they want Nootropics because they need to be sharper at work or they're sick of being tired and unmotivated or depressed or whatever's going on or they want to prevent dementia because it's in their family history.

So these are all great motivations to explore Nootropics and what I'm hearing you say is that you can't just take a Nootropic and go to McDonalds and not take a multivitamin. We need to do everything. We need to have a healthy lifestyle. And in the Nootropics with our healthy lifestyle is going to support us overall.

1:35:22.9 David Tomen: Another example is L-tyrosine will not turn into dopamine without the B vitamins. It just won't.

1:35:38.2 Ashley James: Right. So it's cofactors. The body needs everything so we gotta do it. You mentioned some foods that are really good. What foods are really bad for brain health?

1:35:50.7 David Tomen: Processed food because the junk in processed food and the way it's processed just causes so much inflammation that things are breaking down in your brain and in your body.

1:36:02.9 Ashley James: Right. There's one naturopath that says that oil in a bottle, any kind of oil – cooking oil, don't do it. It damages the circulatory system. He says don't eat nitrates or nitrites which are in a lot of deli meats. Now you can get at Applegate organic, no nitrates or nitrites.

This naturopath was a pathologist before he became a naturopath, so he had an intimate understanding of how this stuff works. Nitrates and nitrites will cross the blood-brain barrier and damage it and get clogged there, and they also will clog the kidneys and further exacerbate kidney damage. He takes people who are on dialysis and gets them off of these processed food and off of deli meats and of course get some multivitamin and minerals, but their kidney function improved greatly and even to the point of getting off of dialysis, but that they can seriously damage their kidneys by eating bacon for example, or deli meats with nitrates and nitrites. I thought that was fascinating.

Then he also talked about foods that are burnt and fried cause [inaudible 1:37:23.0] which again cause oxidative damage to the circulation, the circulatory system of the brain. So inflammation in the brain like you talked about. Yeah, pretty much if we avoid processed foods or avoiding all the foods that he warns people against. If we lived a lifestyle to make our brain healthy, then everything else seems to fall in place, doesn't it?

1:37:53.6 David Tomen: That's the reason why I called my book “Head First,” because if you take care of your head first, then other things seem to fall into place.

1:38:03.6 Ashley James: I love it. Do you have any stories of success after publish your book and people reading it and applying everything you teach to their life, do you have any stories success or memorable that you'd like to share?

1:38:18.1 David Tomen: Nothing that I really can share because if somebody can take a look at the comments section on Nootropics Expert and look at the testimonials, and if somebody published their name, then I generally don't talk about stuff like that because you're talking about stuff that I treat as confidential. I know that sounds like I'm skirting around it, but that's just kind of like the way I look at this. This is other people's business if they want to tell their story. They do tell their stories in the comments section because I see over and over again, “Thank you, David, so much for providing this information. You changed my life.” But there's nothing that I would want to broadcast in a podcast necessarily.

1:39:14.3 Ashley James: Ok. Awesome. This has been really informative, and I definitely want to have you on the show to dive deeper because there's so much more that we can explore.

1:39:30.1 David Tomen: We can dive into depression, anxiety, ADHD, anti-aging, TBI, PTSD.

1:39:44.0 Ashley James: I'll leave it up to the listeners. So after I post this episode, I'll ask our Facebook group. Those who are listening can go to www.learntruehalth.com/Group or search Learn True Health on Facebook and join the group and comment. I'll make a post that's an announcement and comment on it what you would like David to elaborate on or explore, what additional questions you have for him and we'll make sure we cover those in our next interview with him.

Well, thank you so much, David for coming on the show.

Is there anything left unsaid? Is there anything that you'd like to say to wrap up today's interview

1:40:19.3 David Tomen: If you have an issue with your brain, please go to www.nootropicsexpert.com

And to get you started, there's a free book that you can download called “Secrets of the Optimized Brain.” It's about 75 pages and all it is, is page after page of nootropic supplements, it gives you a brief explanation of that, and how much to take. Then there's my book “Head First” which is nearly 600 pages, and that's like a manual on your brain. The first chapter is kind of like my story. The second chapter is how your brain works, which kind of like supports everything that I talk about and then the bulk of the book is individual supplements that I reviewed – what they are, where they come from, why we use them, how much to take effect, and the types to buy. And then the last 2 chapters are suggested stacks, best Nootropics for ADHD, depression, anxiety, learning, and memory that kind of thing. So you can get that at Nootropics Expert. I've also got close to a hundred videos now on the YouTube channel that's turned out to be very, very popular. So please visit me on YouTube and just please visit Nootropics Expert, I'd love to help you out if I can.

1:41:44.3 Ashley James: Absolutely. I'm curious. So far it sounds like everything's for adults, do you have any information for children or teenagers, is the dosing different or have you looked into sort of the pediatric application?

1:41:58.6 David Tomen: I'm starting to take a deep dive into the pediatric thing for a client in India, but there are some things that I just warn people don't use if you're a teenager or younger than 21 and other things, just be careful of the dosage. But I'm doing a deep-dive now into pediatric, and I should have more in the next month or two.

1:42:25.9 Ashley James: Very cool. Excellent.

Thank you so much, David Tomen. It's been wonderful having you on the show. Can't wait to have you back.

1:42:31.7 David Tomen: Absolutely, my pleasure. Ashley, thank you for having me.

Outro: Hello, true health seeker. Have you ever thought about becoming a health coach? Do you love learning about nutrition and how we can shift our lifestyle and our diet so that we can gain optimal health and happiness and longevity? Do you love helping your friends and family to solve their health problems and to figure out what they can do to eat healthier? Are you interested in becoming someone who can grow their own business, support people in their success? Do you love helping people?

You might be the perfect candidate to become a health coach. I highly recommend checking out The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

I just spent the last year in their health coaching certification program, and it really blew me away. It was so amazing. I learned over a hundred dietary theories. I learned all about nutrition, but from a standpoint of how we can help people to shift their lives and shift their lifestyle to gain true holistic health, I definitely recommend you check them out.

You can Google, Institute for Integrative Nutrition or IIN and give them a call or you can go to www.learntruehealth.com/coach, and you can receive a free module of their training to check it out and see if it's something that you'd be interested in.

Be sure to mention my name Ashley James and the Learn True Health Podcast because I made a deal with them that they will give you the best price possible.

I highly recommend checking it out. It really changed my life to be in their program, and I'm such a big advocate that I wanted to spread this information. We need more health coaches. In fact, health coaching is the largest growing career right now in the health field. So many health coaches are. getting in and helping people because you can work in chiropractic office, doctors offices.you can work in hospitals. You can work online through Skype and help people around the world. you can become an author. You can go into the school system and help your local schools shift their programs to help children be healthier. you can go into senior centers and help them to shift their diet and lifestyle to best support them in their success and their health goals.

There's so many different available options for you when you become a certified health coach.

So check out IIN. Check out the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Mention my name, get the best deal.  Give them a call, and they'll give you lots of free information and help you to see if this is the right move for you.

Classes are starting soon. The next round of classes are starting at the end of the month. So you're gonna wanna call them and check it out.

And if you know anyone in your life who would be an amazing coach, please tell them about it. Being a health coach is so rewarding, and you get to help so many people.

Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price?

For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to www.takeyoursupplements.com, and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price.

That's www.takeyoursupplements.com

Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome referral program.

Get Connected With David Tomen! 



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Ashley James

Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing

Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.

Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.

In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!

The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine


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