James Schmachtenberger (@theneurohacker) is an entrepreneur and co-founder of the Neurohacker Collective. Today he talks to Commander Divine about different business and medical opportunities, including medical marijuana and nootropics. He also gives us some insight into how Neurohacker products can work for you.
Listen in for more information about chemistry and the interaction between your body and your feelings.
You’ve probably already heard Mark extolling the virtues of the PowerDot to help with recovery. The PowerDot is an electrical stimulation device that allows you to increase performance, speed up recovery and overall achieve a deeper mind/body connection. Many stim devices can be clumsy and hard to use. PowerDot achieves simplicity and is well-designed. They put professional level physical therapy in your hands easily and inexpensively. They now have a version 2.0.
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Hey folks, welcome back. This is Mark Divine with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. So stoked you were able to join me today. It’s going to be well worth your time.
My guest today is James Schmachtenberger – CEO, co-founder of Neurohacker collective. So, James is a jack of all trades master of some. He got his start running a holistic health school. Pretty cool.
Sold that – became a cannabis expert. And did a lot of advocacy work to try to legalize cannabis and deal with that kind of murky world. He actually also produced an award-winning documentary or like super-highly viewed documentary on that whole industry. And the benefits of cannabis. Which people are just starting to learn about. So, he was way before his time there.
And then true to his form he’s way ahead of the curve with Neurohacker, in creating a whole movement around optimizing the human being – not just human performance, but the human being. So mental performance, brain health, longevity, sleep, focusing…
And I got to tell you first, as a little bit of insight, I am an investor in the company because I believe so much in their vision.
And I also use the products. I use their Qualia Mind and also Qualia Life – formerly Eternus – and I think they’re just fantastic.
And also, at the end I’ll tell you about a little offer that they have offered you as a listener if you want to try them. I don’t plug too many products – I only plug products that I use -and qualia is one of them.
At any rate, before I get into these things, I know that we’re still dealing with COVID. And all the racial tension and this crazy election coming up. And just know that this is a perfect time to really remember that it’s most important to control the only thing you can control – which is your interior. Your mindset.
And Unbeatable Mind training is all about that. So, you can take control of your mindset. Take control of the quality of your thinking, your attention… where you put your attention…
Understanding clearly your why, what you’re supposed to do about that why in terms of your mission, and your daily targets. And also, to take control of your emotional states and to transmute negativity into positivity. Feed the courage wolf.
It’s a really comprehensive path to essentially becoming the most whole and integrated version of yourself possible in this lifetime. We’ve got now close to 400 certified coaches, so if you’re interested in getting some coaching for you or your team, then we’d love to help you out.
And if you’re interested in becoming a certified coach please contact us. Check out unbeatablemind.com. If you’re interested just learning the system for Unbeatable Mind, then also unbeatablemind.com. Check that out. So, a lot of cool things happening on our end as well.
All right back to James.
James, thanks so much for joining me today. How are things going?
Ah great. Thanks for having me, and thanks for that intro. It was very nice.
Mark: (laughing) you’re welcome. Yeah, I mean, I’ve got show prep from Allison, but I needed to go look at your bio at Neurohackers… you’ve just done some really interesting things in your life…
And why don’t you tell us in your own words kind of your early influences and how you got interested in body/mind, holistic health. And then cannabis. And what were some of the big movers in your life? That created who you are today?
James: Good question. I mean, I’ve pretty much always had a deep interest in natural medicine and in personal development. Like from as far back as I can remember.
When I was, I think I was about five or so… and my mom had participated in a drug trial and had very adverse effects and almost died. Ended up spending several months in the hospital.
And during that time, she got introduced to a book on ayurvedic medicine. And ended up finding a solution for herself through ayurvedic medicine.
And so, then that basically became a huge influence, starting at an incredibly young age. And I mean, even before that I was, I’m sure you’re familiar with transcendental meditation?
Mark: Of course.
James: So, I was actually born in Fairfield, Iowa. At the sort of hub of the tm movement…
Mark: Right. What’s the university? Maharishi University?
James: Yeah Maharishi University of Management.
And so, my parents were both working with the university and so I was kind of born into it in a lot of ways – came up in meditation, came up in natural medicine… so it was just always…
Mark: Not your average upbringing, for sure… American upbringing, I should say…
James: I’ve been really fortunate to have a pretty unconventional life, and to get to have some fairly unique experiences as a result. And also, from that have fairly unique lenses on how to look at the world.
James: But, you know, both my brother and myself didn’t have a traditional education either…m. Yeah I saw… you were very proud on your website – in your bio – to say that not only did you drop out of school, but you dropped out of homeschool. (laughing)
It’s probably a testament to your mom and dad to be like “okay, this guy is uncontrollable. We can’t teach him. So, you’re on your own.”
James: Yeah, I have to say – my parents actually handled that pretty impeccably well. But it was a beautiful orientation that they had, and one that I’ve obviously learned a lot from, and I think that has a lot of value broadly…
Which was both my parents recognized that most people don’t seem to have a very deep interest in learning. And as a result, just sort of lack a curiosity about life in general.
They’re like “you know, that’s not what we want. We want to foster as much curiosity to learn and develop as possible.”
And so rather than trying to require us to study kind of the standard topics in the standard ways the orientation was really always around finding what it was that we were interested in. And then finding ways to teach within those interests…
Mark: Right and lo and behold, that happens to be the secret sauce for learning…
James: Right. Most people seem to have to find that later on in life when they find a topic they’re really interested in. But I think oftentimes the experience of education can diminish that in the way that it traditionally happens…
Mark: Did you ever end up getting a degree? Or are you CEO of a fast-growing company doesn’t even have a high school diploma. (laughing) that’s awesome.
James: Well, I sort of have a high school diploma… my mom made it on the computer.
Mark: (laughing) you can’t even make that up. That’s awesome, I love it.
James: Yeah, my parents actually registered as a private school with just two students – my brother and myself – and that way we didn’t have to fit into the standard curriculum that would otherwise be there.
But when I was 15, I had started getting an interest in a number of different topics and wanted to go to the local college.
And they wouldn’t let me without a high school diploma. So as the head of the private school, she went ahead and gave me my high school diploma, so that I could start taking college classes.
It was a little awkward being that much younger than everybody else, but aside from that, getting in and being able to study things that I was actually really passionate about was super exciting for me.
But even there I didn’t continue – I did about two years of college. But I personally don’t learn in a very structured format. I tend to learn better in in-person trainings, I learn well when I’m moving.
Mark: Yeah. I’m similar.
James: So as much as I enjoyed certain aspects of it, I decided it wasn’t really my forté and started studying in other ways.
And I had a pretty deep entrepreneurial bend from very young. So, I was also eager to get out and start creating things in the world.
Mark: What were some of those things from some of your early forays into entrepreneurship?
James: Well, part of my time growing up I worked for my parent’s book company. And kind of started in very basic positions just sort of in around books. But moved into management over time.
And so, before I started my own ventures, I already had a little bit of experience with business and with managing people.
But when I was 17, I started a small company – a small car dealership just while I was trying to figure out what I was doing. Wasn’t the passion project.
But my first real thing was that at 18, I ended up taking over a vocational college that was teaching programs in both alternative medicine and alternative approaches to psychology.
Mark: 18. That’s interesting. Wow.
James: Yeah, it was quite an experience. I had been a student there and just completely fell in love with the work like I always had a deep personal development bend.
And then being in that environment where there was the opportunity to do incredibly deep work both personally as well as facilitated for others, I just totally lit up.
And right around the time I was graduating, the founder of the school had announced that he wanted to kind of semi-retire. And so, I just got all excited and asked him if I could buy the school. And then had to figure out how to raise money…
Mark: An education in itself, right? Especially for an 18-year-old.
James: Yeah I mean in retrospect, I’ve thought back about it and I’m like “what was he thinking? Why would you sell a college to an 18-year-old?
Mark: Right. I was going to ask that. He must have developed a little trust in you through your personality, your character…
James: Yeah, I’m really grateful for the experience because I mean it pretty deeply shaped who I am as a person today. I ended up spending almost 10 years with that school.
Mark: Now from a business perspective did you grow it? Did it earn money? Did you sell it? Like how was that from an actual business, structural perspective?
James: Basically, the first year I took it over I think I nose-dived revenue by about 30%. Because I just had no clue of what I was doing.
But during that year I was studying business really extensively. And brought on a couple mentors and so I kind of got my sea legs under me by around that time.
And then we started growing it pretty nicely and ended up growing about 25% a year for the remaining eight years. But it took me a little bit of time to figure out what I was doing and how to do that first.
Mark: So, then you transitioned, I think, into cannabis. So how did that happen and where did your passion for that come from?
James: So that was an accident…
Mark: (laughing) recreational use?
James: Actually no. I mean, I had used cannabis a handful of times. But it wasn’t really something that I had a lot of personal interest in.
And at the time it was actually something I had a decent amount of judgement around. I assumed that people who used it were just stoners. I didn’t really understand anything about the medical effects.
But when I was running the college a handful of my teachers – particularly ones that were teaching courses in like nutrition and herbology – had started talking to me about cannabis. And I started hearing more and more about the medical effects.
Which really intrigued me. And so, I started to kind of deep dive into that and it opened up a whole new world. And I realized that was an area that was being dramatically underserved. Especially at that time – because this was back 11 years ago now. And had the capacity really help people.
So, as I was exiting the college, I ended up opening my first dispensary here in san Diego. And I hadn’t intended to be involved in that industry for a long period of time. Something that I was kind of envisioning doing as a transition, before I figured out what my next major venture was.
But I always grew up with a very activist orientation. You know, as a kid I used to do door-to-door fundraising for Greenpeace and HRC and all that kind of stuff.
And so, when I got involved in cannabis, I very quickly started to see first how much it had the capacity to help people, but also how much stigma still existed… how much misinformation still existed…
And that just sort of triggered the activist part in me to be like “hey, this isn’t okay. We can’t have people that are in life and death situations or more commonly quality of life situations that can’t have access to the thing that will make their life better.”
And so, I ended up doing that documentary about the medical effects of cannabis…
Mark: What was the title of that again?
James: It’s a bit of a dull title. It’s “medicinal cannabis and its impact on human health.” But the domain for it is marijuanamovie.org. And the whole thing is available for free.
At this point there’s newer concepts come out, but there’s still some good data in there
Mark: Yeah, that kind of leads me to kind of my own curiosity. Like I know cannabis and CBD can affect a lot of different areas. And I know they’re using it for vets and for healing and even pets.
But in your opinion/research what are the most beneficial aspects of either cannabis or CBD or both? In terms of human use? Medicinal use or healing, right? Not recreational drug use.
James: Right, I mean I actually think there can be value in the recreational side of it oftentimes. Because there is…
Mark: For stress management and stuff like that…
James: Yeah, people have a need for stress management in general. And people are always looking for solutions around that. And the health effects with cannabis are far better than they would be with alcohol or other alternatives.
But medicinally it’s sort of an extraordinary plant the just sheer number of things that it’s able to help. That have significant research behind them.
But I think the areas that I’ve tended to focus most and have the most intrigue around are the things that cannabis is able to help that allopathic medicine can’t. Or where it can help substantially more than allopathic medicine can.
So, like the primary area for that would be seizures. There are obviously seizure medications that exist and they’re effective.
But pretty much all of them have fairly significant downsides. And they only control seizures to a relatively minimal extent. And so like over the years now I’ve had the opportunity to work with – I don’t even know – many hundreds of people where you know they had different types of epilepsy and we were able to get them on either THC or CBD depending on their situation.
And have that serve much more effectively for suppressing seizures than the medications they were on. And in a lot of cases you know effectively enough that they stopped using the other medications.
So that’s an area that I found really intriguing, because it is just a genuinely better solution than anything else that exists out there. And doesn’t have any of the associated downsides.
Mark: Right. What about brain health? Isn’t there research now that CBD can help with brain either healing or just… I’m not even sure what words to use here… but overall brain health?
Mark: And is this something that Neurohacker is looking at for productizing?
James: We probably will be at some point. Given the fact that CBD still has sort of weird regulatory frameworks around it, we’re not incorporating it at this time.
James: But it is on the roadmap of things that I would like to incorporate as the capacity to do so is there.
Yeah, I mean both THC and CBD have a number of benefits in terms of brain health. There have been a few studies that have come out showing indicators that the use of them can reduce amyloid plaque, which is a major cause of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
But I think the main place where benefit happens in terms of brain health that is very well studied and well documented is based on the anti-inflammatory properties. Right? CBD is one of the very most anti-inflammatory natural substances that exists, and one of the major causes of any kind of brain fog or challenges is unnecessary inflammation in the brain.
So, it serves an important role there. And then it also serves as a neuroprotectant. So, it’s got a lot of use in being able to support reduced damage if someone is to get a head trauma or has any kind of neurological issues from toxic exposure, or anything like that. Then CBD can serve a really meaningful role in being able to minimize that.
Mark: As preventative? Or once the injury has occurred? I’m a vet like 20 years a Navy SEAL and the research is pretty firm now that pretty much everyone who’s firing a gun that much and blowing shit up that much is getting micro trauma and TBI at some level. And it may not show up immediately, but it might show up later on – like you said – as an increased risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia or something like that.
So, you’re saying that CBD could help prevent that or heal it once it’s already occurred? The injury?
James: Actually, would help both. Like, if somebody’s in a field of work or sports or something where they know that any kind of head trauma is likely, then being on CBD is great. Because if something does occur, the amount of impact from that will be significantly reduced.
But even if the trauma’s already happened, going on CBD can help to reduce the amount of damage. Usually even years after the fact.
Mark: Interesting. Now I know you’re not a scientist, but can you explain how it does that?
James: Not adequately well.
Mark: Fair enough. We’d need your brother for that one, right?
Mark: (laughing) Daniel. Pipe in here.
Yeah, that is fascinating. And I know we’re just getting warmed up trying to understand the benefits of CBD and THC. And I think there’s even other substances in the plant, right?
And then the hemp itself. Like crazy what you can create with hemp, and it’s just almost a crime that they outlawed hemp back in the ‘30s or something.
James: Right. I mean, that was actually for me the biggest driver in terms of going so deep into that industry. Like as much as I have a passion for and love the medical aspects of it and the ability to help people – it’s really the environmental aspect of it that got me the most excited.
James: When you look at all of the things that can be effectively produced with hemp that are otherwise being produced with petroleum products or things that have much more negative impacts, the environmental benefit of decriminalizing and having hemp become a major crop is actually fairly significant.
You can produce bioplastics with it, you can produce fuel with it, you can produce textiles with it… and all with a tiny fraction of the resources that are necessary for doing that through any other mechanism.
Mark: Where do we stand on that? Is it still illegal to produce hemp? Because I keep seeing hemp products, so they must have been loosening up the restrictions a bit here.
James: Yeah, it has loosened up quite a bit. There was a farm bill passed a couple years ago at the federal level that started to open up the ability for hemp production in the US.
Previous to that you could like sell or use hemp products, but everything had to be imported. And it’s still not something that can be grown everywhere, but more and more states have opened up the opportunity for people to start doing large commercial cultivation.
And so, it’s very rapidly on the rise and a lot of that was initially focused on producing CBD, since that’s such a hot thing in the Market right now. But now that the supply chain for that’s gotten enough, I’m starting to see more and more companies that are also using it to start moving into things like bioplastics and textiles.
Mark: And is the plant versatile enough that you know you could produce basically all… like one grower could produce THC, CBD and hemp? Or do you have to get really specific with how you grow the plant? And channel it toward a particular use?
James: No, I mean in theory you could grow just one large crop and be able to extract multiple different cannabinoids out of there.
But most people don’t. It’s often more efficient to hybridize particular strains that are really high in CBD, or really high in THC… and then grow them accordingly.
There’s also legal standards around it. So, like for a CBD product – it can’t have more than .03% THC. So, the plants that are used for production for CBD have been hybridized quite a bit to minimize the amount of THC that’s present. And that way once they finish the extraction process, it’s still under the legal standard.
That’s not because of health, that’s just legal standards. Ideally for maximum benefit, you actually want to have trace amounts of all the different cannabinoids in there. There’s what’s known as the “entourage effect” where they essentially synergistically work together to make the effect of each cannabinoid stronger.
Mark: Right. Yeah, I’ve seen that in the CBD that we got for our dog. It’s like I wanted to have a certain amount of THC in it just to activate or to optimize the experience somehow.
This is kind of a curiosity for me as well, but I see all over the place advertisements to invest in and to get in on the wave of investing in cannabinoids.
What do you think? Is the wave passed, or is it still a big opportunity for investors to get in on the game, so to speak?
James: No, I think there’s still an extraordinary amount of opportunity. I mean the industry’s grown tremendously in the last number of years. But realistically it’s still very much in its infancy.
James: And I anticipate it growing much, much more over the next few years.
But it is important to do a lot of diligence when investing in the space. Because as is true everywhere, but I would say more so in the cannabis industry than in a lot of other industries, there’s a lot of hype and misinformation.
Mark: Kind of like the blockchain space, right?
Mark: A lot of people got their ass handed to them in the blockchain and crypto space, because of the hype and scams. But there’s some really solid projects.
Mark: Okay. Well enough on cannabis. You know, I think I might go home and try a little gummy bear tonight just see how it goes. My wife has some.
I don’t know. Probably not. I’m not big on that. I smoked a little bit of pot in high school for a few months until I saw a peer start to wear an army jacket and then drop out of school and join the army.
And so, I said “there’s something evil about this.” So, I quit. Fortunately. Full disclosure. I don’t think I’ve ever said that on air. But there you have it, Mark Divine, live.
So, let’s talk about Neurohacker. Now where did this idea come from? Like were you guys sitting around after trying some cannabis and THC and saying “let’s change the world now in this area. With optimizing the total human, not just the brain, but the total human.”
James: Right. No, actually, cannabis had no part in it. So, the actual inception for it was – god, almost 15 years ago now. It was in the early days of when I was running the college. And about two and a half, three years into running the college I had hit just like an extreme degree of burnout.
Because realistically it was way too big of a project for someone with my age and my skill at the time to be able to take on. And so, I just made up for that with putting in more hours…
Mark: Which is pretty much what everyone does, right? That’s the American way. Work harder – longer…
James: It does seem to be…
Mark: Don’t take care of yourself…
James: It’s an important thing to unlearn.
Mark: Yeah. No doubt.
James: Yeah, I had hit just like a pretty extreme degree of burnout where I was feeling depressed and unmotivated, which was then causing some existential crisis. Because I was doing work that I absolutely loved and felt passionate about, yet I still felt crappy.
My brain function wasn’t what I had ever experienced it to be. I couldn’t focus… there was a lot of struggle that was happening.
And so, I started kind of doing my own self-exploration on how to heal that. And I tried and explored a number of things that were all helpful. But what ended up being the thing that really worked for me, was I got introduced to a research physician down in Mexico that had developed a new type of iv therapy for rapidly healing neurotransmitter damage.
And the therapy was actually designed for healing from drug abuse. But when I had sat down and gone over it with him, he’s like “based on the amount of stress you’ve been carrying and the lack of sleep, your brain is basically that of a heroin addict. So, this will still work for you.”
And so, I ended up doing this three-day iv therapy for like eight, nine hours a day…
Mark: Wow. Was it vitamins or what were you pumping into your system?
James: So, I don’t know definitively…
Mark: (laughing) a lot of trust there…
James: (laughing) yeah. Well and at the time, I didn’t know to vet things as well as I do now. And I was fairly desperate, so it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
But no, I have come to learn what was in it for the most part over the years. The basis of it was NAD.
Mark: I recognize that from Qualia Mind. Right?
James: Yeah, so you know NAD is the primary molecule you’ll use for energy production in all of our cells.
So it was that. It was a combination of a bunch of different amino acids. And then from what I gather – but I don’t know this definitively there was a small amount of GHB in it.
Mark: What’s that?
James: The common name for it is the date rape drug.
Mark: Oh wow. Interesting.
James: Which is obviously the evil use of it. But it actually has some pretty extraordinary properties and is also used as a sleeping medication.
But yeah, in this particular circumstance, it was a combination of those things. And it just completely changed my whole experience of life. And not in a subtle way.
Like often-times when you take something, there’s like a gradual progression. This wasn’t that. It was like by the end of the third day it was as though the lights had just completely turned back on. And not only did my cognitive function come back to where I had previously experienced it, but I noticed it was significantly more than I had ever experienced it.
And my sense of depression went away, my motivation came back but the thing that really stuck out to me was my sense of empathy just skyrocketed after doing that therapy. And became a situation where after that, any time that I thought about doing anything in the world, I was just no longer capable of thinking about it without thinking about what the implications of those actions were going to be on the people around me and the world at large.
Mark: That’s fascinating. How do you account for that? Like how do you account for this therapeutic liquid bath you took for three days to open up your heart? When it was geared toward your brain?
I guess the heart’s is a brain in and of itself, so maybe that makes sense. Because it’s got neurotransmitters and neuronal activity down there.
James: Yeah, I mean, in my view there’s sort of two primary things that I think happened there. One is that – and I have no scientific basis for this – but my belief is that being deeply empathetic and compassionate is our natural, intrinsic state.
Mark: Right. I agree with that.
James: And it’s something that we unlearn as a result of the society that we live in. And so, going through this therapy that just put me into a much healthier, more functional state – where everything was working – I think allowed me to move back towards what was more intrinsic already.
Part of it was just improving health automatically moves in that direction.
And then the other part is that you know we’re creatures of chemistry much more than people often I think like to admit. We’ve all had the experience of being really tired or really stressed out and seen all of the effects that that has on us. As a result of what’s happening chemically, or when a woman’s on her cycle, there’s obviously effects from that.
And so, compassion, empathy – all these things are experiences that are mediated through the brain and nervous system and through our chemistry. And those are things that have the ability to be directly affected.
And so, I think it was a combination of just getting into a generally better state, as well as some of those compounds having a specific impact on the parts of the brain responsible for things like empathy.
But it was really that experience that spurred the idea for me. Because when I was sitting there reflecting on what had just changed it was like this light bulb went off and I realized that if what just happened to me, had the ability to be replicated and scaled, that it could have massive implications on the world.
Because the idea was could we meaningfully increase people’s intelligence? And not just in a specific area, but across all the major areas of intelligence? Could we increase their capacity? And could we simultaneously increase their motivation? So that they had an intrinsic driver to want to use that increased intelligence and that increased capacity? Not only for their own personal gain, but to support their family, their communities, and the world at large?
And so there was just this deep inspiration that went off that said “wow, if we could figure out how to do this in a way that was scalable, not only can we profoundly improve quality of life at the individual level, but we can move vastly more resources into solving the hard problems of the world.” Because now you could have hundreds of thousands or prospectively millions of people with increased intelligence, capacity and empathy.
And so that was really where the concept initiated. But then it took a number of years to get to a place where we could actually start working on it. The man who had developed that therapy unfortunately passed away very shortly after I had done my work with him. And so, a lot of his research became inaccessible.
I spent the next several years while I was running other companies interviewing chemists, formulators, neuroscientists trying to find someone who could deliver on the science of that concept. And everyone loved the concept, but said it was fundamentally impossible to actually have that much change through some kind of simple intervention.
And so, it wasn’t until about five or so years ago now – I was at burning man and doing some deep reflection on what I wanted next in life – and I got re-inspired around this concept. And decided that it was just too important of a thing not to exist in the world.
And on the drive home I started sharing the vision with my brother and as he really got the scope of what it was that I was talking about, he was like, “okay, I’m in.” And him joining was what made the science possible.
Mark: Right, and he had learned a lot of that through his own self-healing, I remember him telling me. Like, he had gone deep on how the body operates at a cellular level and what interacts with what in terms of the neural chemicals…
And so yeah, that marriage there of the two of you – so to speak, anyways – in terms of business. See that being the catalyst.
James: Yeah, I mean it ended up being extraordinary. I mean, his background for many years was in complex system science. And he had used complex systems modeling in the think tank space for working on things like new systems of governance, new systems of economics…
But then I guess around a decade or so ago, he had gotten diagnosed with a fatal autoimmune disorder that had no known cures in either allopathic or natural medicine. And it was one that starts by attacking cognitive function.
And so, he realized right away that he was the kind of person who could figure out a solution if anyone could. But he also had a very narrow window in which to do that, before cognitive function started to decline.
So, he basically put everything else on pause, dove into research for eight-ten hours a day. And ended up developing a treatment plan for himself that allowed him to fully reverse the autoimmune Markers.
And in the process came to have a very deep understanding of neurochemistry. And it was really that that allowed for the development of the scientific model that we now use. Which is all based on complex systems modeling.
Mark: Right. Before – I want to get into kind of… your kind of, product roadmap. And like how they work and what the effects are. Or what you’re hoping to achieve.
But it’s very fascinating to me, because as a navy seal and as a yoga practitioner for many years… and a martial artist since 1985 – so that accounts for many years…
The subjective side of if you change your mind, you change your state, you change the quality of your thinking, your energetic state in your body – then that’ll have a dramatic effect on the biology. Which will then lead to neuroplastic effect changing the brain leads to greater health. And essentially as an energetic system you’re imprinting the ideal optimal human through your mind power.
And our mission at Unbeatable Mind is to train and inspire 100 million to this path of basically becoming self-evolutionary human beings.
It’s super cool for me to hear that simultaneously you can approach this from the biological perspective, right? And upgrade the biology. And if you can upgrade the biology and the psychology simultaneously and they walk in lock-step – wow. Now you have a completely new model that even blows away what the yogis had, because they basically just said “eat vegetarian and drink some water.”
And then you combine that maybe with some you know virtual reality, ai type training models that can accelerate what’s going on with the actual subjective experiences – we really are entering a new age, where the human being has the potential to really rapidly grow.
And out of the old age, where less than 5% of humanity ever grew at all in their lifetime. And any growth that did occur was by accident or by crisis. And there were only a few people who really understood kind of the yogi path.
So, I went off on a little tangent there, but that’s really exciting to me. This confluence of subjective and objective growth models coming together.
James: I think when you start to marry the different kinds of practices and technologies, the effects can be extraordinary. So, you have mental training that you’re doing. You’ve got physical training and you’re doing biochemical work. You’re basically hitting all the different facets of self in a way that can produce just Remarkable upgrades in fairly short order.
You know, I started more on the psychology and mind training side of it – which is still a deep passion of mine – but the chemistry side ended up becoming a big thing for me. Because when I was running the college, and I spent a couple years doing one-on-one counseling work with people.
And one of the things that I would see over and over again, was that some people would seem to be able to make changes relatively easily. And some people would work incredibly hard and very little change would happen.
And so, I started to try to make sense of what was underneath that. And obviously some of it had to do with what was the degree of challenge or trauma they were starting with? How supportive was their environment?
A bunch of things, but one of the things I noticed was that generally speaking those that were physically healthier, had an easier time being able to make upgrades in their psychology than those that weren’t. And so that kind of started me looking into this more.
And realizing that if we start by supporting the chemistry – it makes a lot of the other things much more doable. And if chemically you’re feeling good – you’ve got energy, you’ve got a sense of presence to you – it’s a lot easier to get yourself up and do that breath work practice. Or to go exercise. Or to meditate. Or whatever the other things are.
Mark: The chemistry affects mood so much, right? And mood or attitude.
Mark: There’s no amount of positive thinking that can get you out of a real funk if you haven’t slept for days and if you’re eating junk food. So, I see what you’re saying. Fascinating.
James: Yeah, I mean ideally those all come together and that’s where you know things like what we’re both doing in conjunction end up having the best effects.
James: Where people can do some of the chemistry support. They can also do brain training. They can get their bodies healthy. That’s sort of the synergy where it all comes together.
So, let’s talk about Qualia Mind and Qualia Life – the two products that I really love. And they’re very different, but I’d love to hear from you – your words, not as a scientist but generally as the CEO of Neurohacker like what’s the impact of these products? And how do they work generally speaking?
James: Yeah, so it’s useful to get a little bit of a basis of kind of how we think about and approach science and product development. So, I mentioned that we developed a new sort of scientific model, based on complex system science, that is how we do our research.
And really what that translates to is that our research is largely all based on studying healthy systems and coming to understand what it is that allows them to be and stay healthy.
And particularly studying their adaptive capacity. And then designing products that are oriented around being able to increase that adaptive capacity in whatever system we’re focused on.
So, Qualia Mind for instance – which is our sort of flagship product, focused on improving brain function – there’s a lot of products on the Market oriented around increasing brain function. But most of them take a fairly narrow view and narrow scope of what’s trying to be accomplished. So, most of the time when people think about brain function, they really just think about focus and attention span.
And those are things that are fairly easy to increase by increasing the amount of dopamine that you have. So almost every product that’s out there essentially takes that approach of saying “let’s either provide more dopamine, or dopamine precursor. You’ll have more of that. You’ll have better focus – everything will be good.”
But that ends up running into a number of problems. One is that if you’re taking something externally for an extended period of time, your body stops producing as much of it. You start to develop some sense of dependency.
But then you know the other side that people don’t necessarily pay as much attention to – is that all the neurotransmitters are supposed to operate in a type of balance. And if you override the natural system, and increase something disproportionately to the other things, you will have a benefit in a certain area, but you inevitably create detriment in other areas.
So, if you just ramp up dopamine, you will be really focused, but it’ll reduce your capacity for discernment and critical thinking. And it’ll also reduce the conductivity in the parts of the brain responsible for things like empathy and compassion.
And so, we never wanted to take that approach, right? Our approach was to look at cognitive function broadly and say “okay, what are all the facets of cognitive function?” Attention and focus is obviously part of it, but so is memory and all the different types of memory – short-term, long-term, working memory, critical thinking, visual reasoning… there’s a bunch of different types.
And so, we wanted to look at what could we do that would enhance all of the different aspects of cognitive function. But more importantly enhance the underlying sort of physiological system, so that your body’s able to produce more of whatever it needs to, in the moment, as it needs to.
So, we don’t just want you to have more dopamine – we want your body to be able to produce more of that in the moments that you need to focus. But we want it to be able to produce more of whatever it needs to based on what’s occurring.
So that’s essentially the core approach that we take with almost everything. And so, with mind, the really extraordinary thing there is that when you start taking it you start to notice meaningful increases across all different types of cognitive function.
And not just function, but also your sort of experience of life. Part of what tends to occur there is elevation in mood and elevation in sense of overall capacity – which then makes you more present to and more engaged in life.
And so that’s really where this product becomes quite unique. It works to support the underlying physiology and systems that are already there. Such that everything works meaningfully better. And does so in a sustainable fashion.
You don’t end up having any kind of up and then crash, because it’s not stimulant-based. It’s really just based on supporting the underlying chemistry that’s already present.
Mark: Do you think the Qualia Mind can or does have the same or similar impact or effect as what you experienced down in Mexico? With the infusion?
James: It has a similar effect. Doing something intravenously has the ability to accomplish more than what can be done through taking a pill. And what I was doing also had… like there was sort of a standard formula, but it was always customized based on individual chemistry.
So anytime you can do full-scale customization, there’s the ability to go a little deeper.
But the overall kinds of experiences that I had there are all things that not only I’ve had with our products, but that basically everyone that takes them ends up reporting on. People are always writing in about not only how they feel you know smarter, more capable, more on top of things…
But people are regularly writing about how they feel more present. And how they are able to have deeper connections with the people in their lives. And how they aren’t thrown off by stress as much as they used to be. And when they are thrown off by stress how they notice that they’re capable of bouncing back more.
And so, these are all similar kinds of experiences to what I had when I did that iv therapy years ago.
Mark: It’s fascinating. I remember an experience I had… I had taken the early version of qualia with the step one and step two little cumbersome and you guys consolidated it all into Qualia Mind – but I hadn’t been taking it for a while and then I got my first Qualia Mind and I remember taking that and driving to work.
And I stopped at Starbucks, and I was having like almost like a parallel life experience going on. Like, there I was in the parking lot, but I had a very, very vivid experience of doing something else or being somewhere else.
And I literally had to sit in my car and kind of let that pass by a little bit. Because like “I’m not sure I’d be safe on the road right now.” A little bit of warning. (laughing) this stuff is potent, if it’s your first time, right? Do not use while operating dangerous equipment.
James: It is definitely potent. The experience you just said is not a particularly typical one, but it is typical that people do feel a notable difference…
Mark: I think because I’ve meditated for so long and then you know I’ve had such a deep practice there, that it just like kind of cracked it wide open really quickly. (laughing) it’s like, “whoa, is that me in the astral realm? You know having tea with Jesus or something like that? Like what the hell’s going on right now?”
James: I mean, that’s kind of awesome.
Mark: It was pretty awesome actually. It was a pleasant experience… I’m not saying it was a negative at all. It was really fascinating actually.
James: And maybe that’ll be a new tagline for us. We’ll be like “try Qualia Mind. You can have tea with Jesus.” I like it.
Mark: Fascinating. Okay, so what about formerly Eternus – the new Qualia Life – the longevity… and I’m such a caveman when it comes to ingredients, I actually had them up the other day because I got Qualia Life in the mail, I’m like “what is this?” Because I used to get Eternus – with a green label – and then I was like oh they must have rebranded it – which is a good move by the way – and I’m like comparing the ingredients.
And very little of the ingredients and Qualia Life kind of are the same as in Qualia Mind. They’re really different formulations. Dramatically, aren’t they?
James: Yeah, I mean there’s a couple of vitamins and minerals that have crossover because they have applicability in the different areas. But yeah, they’re predominantly totally different formulas.
So yeah, Qualia Life is the product that we launched focused on sort of the anti-aging and longevity side of things. And it’s kind of two things, right?
One is looking at how do we increase longevity? So, increase the total number of years someone’s on the planet.
But that in and of itself is not all that exciting of a goal if the quality of health is not particularly good. So, we talk more about increasing health span, right? So, of the years that you’re alive, what portion of those are you in good health and thriving?
And that’s really kind of the core focus of that product. And the way that we approach it is at a pretty foundational level. The whole premise of this product is to improve the functionality of cells across the entire body. Particularly focused on increasing the amount of energy production that cells are able to have.
And so, within that there’s a number of key things that are well known and studied in terms of what have positive effect there. And so, we designed comprehensive formula that addressed multiple different pathways that all have direct effect on how much energy production cells are able to produce. As well as how well are they able to reproduce in and of themselves.
With probably the biggest one and the area that I think is most known and talked about in the general health space right now – is in and around NAD. So same thing we were talking about with the iv therapy I did, but NAD is the primary fuel source that all cells utilize. And it’s something that most people have in fairly high degrees younger in life, but as we age the production starts to go down somewhat significantly.
And you can’t take NAD orally. It entirely breaks down in the GI tract from stomach acids. So, there is the ability to do that intravenously, which I think is awesome and recommend regularly. But what can be done orally is that there are a number of precursors that you can take that will cause the body to increase the amount of NAD that it’s already able to produce.
And that’s kind of the general approach that’s often already happening. There’s a few other companies that are making products with precursors to NAD, but just increasing the amount doesn’t necessarily increase the body’s ability to utilize it and so often what happens is you increase the amount, but the body can’t utilize it and you just have expensive urine.
So, what we did was we studied the entire set of pathways associated with NAD and not only formulated to increase the amount, but also to essentially close the salvage pathway. So that rather than dumping the NAD, your body recirculates it and is able to make use of all of it. And so even with a relatively small amount, it has a more net positive effect than if you were to just take a bunch of precursors directly.
And the results with that product have been pretty awesome. With Qualia Mind, that was designed as a product that you’re going to feel right away. Almost everyone – would say a good 85% of people feel it the first time they take it. Some people take a few days if they’ve got a lot of sleep deprivation.
With Qualia Life – where it’s designed to improve cell functionality and overall health – it wasn’t something we were designing to have subjective experience with. At least in the short term. We knew that over the course of months, people would feel it, because they would be feeling healthier. But we’ve actually seen really Remarkable feedback, where I would say at least half of the people who have taken the product, end up writing in saying that within the first couple of weeks they’re noticing improvements in sleep quality… there are improvements in recovery time – from any kind of exercise or injury – as well as just an overall sense of energy increase.
And some cognitive benefit as well. That’s not the prime focus here – the prime focus here is essentially addressing foundational health.
Mark: Yeah. How do you end up studying that biologically? What are you going to do or what can you do to kind of validate results?
James: So, we’re actually in the process of doing some studies around that right now. There’s two that we have going – one that’s using a device called the “age meter,” which has people do a series of tests, but also does some biomarkers. And is designed to determine biological age. It’s obviously different than chronological age.
And so, we’ve taken… I don’t remember the number of people offhand but we’ve taken a number of people through that, where they were doing testing before they ever started the product, and then part of the way through, and then again at the end of a couple months.
And the data there is still early and we’re still making sense of it.
And then we’re also doing a study right now to actually check NAD levels in the blood. In again before and after kind of a dynamic. We’ve actually done all of the blood draws around that and unfortunately everything’s just sitting on ice, because the same labs that process that are processing COVID tests, so we’re kind of at a standstill. I don’t actually know when the results of that are going to be coming out yet.
But we did do a number of blood tests to be able to see how much NAD levels were actually increasing. And then those are both sort of smaller pilot studies with 20 or so people each. Which is usually what we do and then once we’ve got the data from that it helps inform doing a larger study.
And so like right now we’re doing our first double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial with Qualia Mind. And we had done a few pilot studies previously that informed the design of that study.
Mark: That makes sense. We hear a lot of talk about telomere length in terms of aging. Longer telomeres reduce aging.
Do you think Qualia Life will affect telomere health or length? Whatever that means?
James: Right. Yeah, it’s an interesting question and one that I’m only mildly qualified to answer. I’ve talked with my science team here about it quite a bit, and the general take on our research is that telomere length is more the symptom than the cause.
James: So where there has been quite a lot of research and work being put into increasing telomere length thinking that that would increase longevity, at least in the research we’ve done to date around it what we’re finding is that telomere length is more a representation of longevity based on other factors that are already happening.
Mark: Makes sense.
James: Looking more at things like NAD and AMPK and ATP. And so at least as far as we go right now, we’re not actively doing research to try to focus on increasing telomere length. We are studying that space, but what we’re seeing is sort of a different understanding and different approach to it. But that’s still an area that’s relatively early on in research for us.
Mark: Right. That makes sense. Interesting.
Mark: Well, we’re kind of getting long in the tooth here, so I need to wrap up soon and let you get back to running a global collective of neuro-hackers. What’s next? Like, what’s the roadmap look like? What’s next for you guys?
James: Well, we’re continuing to develop products in other categories of health. So, we actually just launched our first sleep product a couple of days ago – called qualia night. I’m a few days on to it and loving it so far.
And then we finished development on a comprehensive immune formula. That’s scheduled to come out this fall.
Mark: Oh nice. You’re going to have to come up with something that integrates all this stuff so that we don’t have to take like 37 caplets every day.
Mark: Like one big honking caplet, “like this is it. Qualia mind, Qualia Life, quality immunity, qualia sleep…
James: I would love to do that. Ultimately where I’d like to see this go…
Mark: Probably not a good business decision…
James: Well, we’re sort of a weird company, because we don’t make business decisions because they’re good business decisions. We make them because they’re good ethical decisions. And there’s a lot of decisions that we make that appear to be very bad business decisions that actually work out quite well for us.
I mean, look at our products for instance. We’re like “okay we’re gonna launch products into categories that people have a lot of doubt about. We’re gonna launch them at a price point substantially above everybody else. And we’re gonna make them have too many capsules so they’re hard to take.”
Terrible right and yet it somehow has worked really well. Because the cost is representative of the quality and the ingredients that we’re using. The capsule count is representative of the amount of total active ingredients that we’re delivering. The benefit from taking it is enough that it’s worth overcoming those obstacles.
But if we were doing this from a pure business perspective, we would have just built a much more simple product like everyone else generally focuses on. And had a much easier time selling it.
But that wasn’t the goal, right? The goal was how do we actually profoundly improve quality of life and advance the whole domain of that science at the same time.
Mark: Yeah. Well thank you for having that stand. Because it’s really what drew me to the company and the products and I’m sure everyone who’s a fan of the Neurohacker collective.
It’s nice to have a change the world vision to guide you, because then your decision making is very different. Like you said. That’s pretty cool.
So, if someone wanted to go check out Neurohacker, and your mission, and the podcast I mean just go to the website right Neurohacker.com.
James: Yeah. Pretty much everything’s there.
Mark: All the detail on the products and the formulation… like, it’s unbelievable the detail you go into on the formulation. That’s another thing a lot of companies wouldn’t be so public about, because they’d be worried about intellectual property.
But you just open the kimono and lay it all out there, don’t you?
James: It was another one of our bad business decisions, that I’m very happy about. Everyone at the beginning thought we were insane. They’re like “why would you actually put all the details of your product on the label? As opposed to doing a proprietary formula?”
But as an organization that’s advocating not just health, but people taking their own empowerment around their health – you can’t simultaneously tell someone that they should become more empowered in their own decision making and then not provide them with the information that would allow for effective decision making.
So, for us it was critical that we wanted people to know exactly what ingredients were there what the form of them was and what the dosage was. And not just have a proprietary blend of a bunch of things.
Mark: Right. That’s cool. So Neurohacker.com if you want to go check it out. And by the way because I’m a user and an investor, James has graciously given you if you’re listening 50% off on your first month. You can cancel the subscription – it’s good to do as a subscription. You want to really take this – in my opinion – for a few months. You really feel the benefit.
And also, if you use the code unbeatable at checkout you get 15% off.
And honestly like I never intended to make the last you know one-third of this podcast sound like a promotion for Qualia Mind and Qualia Life, but I really do believe in them. And I love that – what we were talking about – that kind of synchronicity of you take care of the brain and body health obviously through exercise, nutrition and good sleep.
But if also this new wave of really well-researched supplementation can have a dramatic effect and it does – then that’s a no-brainer so to speak.
And then you combine that with all the subjective training. You know the breath work the visualization, concentration, mindfulness all that stuff. And you’ve got a one-two punch that’ll make you unbeatable. Optimized human. Hooyah.
Well James thanks so much for your time. I appreciate it.
James: Yeah thank you, Mark.
Mark: And give my best to your brother Daniel and Jordan if you talk to him. Got a great team over there. And keep doing what you’re doing.
James: Sounds good. Thanks. Have a great rest of the day, this was a blast.
Mark: Yeah, thank you very much. Appreciate it.
All right folks that’s Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks so much for joining me. And I do recommend you try the Qualia Mind and the Qualia Life. They’re really extraordinary products.
And I apologize if you think this was just a big pitch. It wasn’t. It’s fascinating stuff for me, and I wanted the answers on all that stuff. So hopefully you found it interesting. And until next time stay focused.