Getting a Better Workout with Clean Pre- & Post-Workout Supplements, with Dr. Anthony Gustin

What do you get when a functional medicine doctor creates a clean pre and post workout supplement line? Well, first you get a good story as to how shady supplement companies can be in trying to add in non-healthy fillers. Second, you get the line that Dr. Gustin has created. Add a few drinks and the funny guys from Mind Pump (Sal, Andrew, and Justin) to this interview and you’ve got one heck of a show! Enjoy!

Getting a Better Workout with Clean Pre- & Post-Workout Supplements, with Dr. Anthony Gustin - DrR Podcast Gustin
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Prelude … 00:00:39
Episode Intro … 00:02:49
Dr. Anthony Gustin … 00:03:37
Problems with Workout Supplements … 00:07:56
Pre-Workout Supplement Ingredients … 00:09:45
Supplement Manufacturing … 00:10:37
How Proprietary Blends Mislead Consumers … 00:14:03
Synthetic Caffeine … 00:15:29
Effects of Stimulants … 00:17:14
Using Adaptogenic Herbs … 00:22:18
(click gray Topics bar above to expand and see full outline/time stamp)
Dr. Gustin’s Pre-Workout Supplement … 00:23:17
Post-Workout Supplements … 00:24:45
Chemicals in Health Care Products … 00:29:53
Stevia & Artificial Sweeteners … 00:32:21
The Supplement Industry … 00:39:28
The Taste of Real vs. Artificial … 00:41:02
Supplement Marketing … 00:44:32
Dr. Gustin’s Other Products … 00:50:07
How to Use Supplements … 00:50:53
Keto Diet & Using Ketones … 00:54:17
Dr. Ruscio’s Resources … 01:01:28
Nootropics – Types & Uses … 01:02:28
Microdosing with Psychedelic Substances … 01:07:57
Cannabis, THC, & CBD … 01:09:41
The Medical Marijuana Industry … 01:19:45
Cannabinoid Receptors … 01:23:22
DHC Receptors … 01:24:29
Saw Palmetto & Balding … 01:25:14
Episode Wrap-up … 01:28:52

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Getting a Better Workout with Clean Pre- & Post-Workout Supplements, with Dr. Anthony Gustin

Prelude

Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio. This is Dr. Ruscio. And today, we’re doing another podcast with the guys from Mind Pump.

Backstory is I rented a cottage in Sausalito. Sausalito is essentially right across the San Francisco Bay on the opposite side of San Francisco. And I had a cottage there for a weekend. I invited the guys from Mind Pump out to record a podcast. And also while they were there, we decided to do a group podcast with myself, the Mind Pump guys, Adam, Sal, and Justin, and also Dr. Anthony Gustin.

For this episode, it was essentially interviewing Dr. Gustin on his clean, pre-post-workout supplement line. And you learn some really interesting things, not only about a cleaner version of pre/post supplements, but also what Dr. Gustin had to go through to get a clean line set up.

You’ll be amazed at some of the hurdles that the supplement industry—more so the supplement manufacturers, the operations that operate the equipment—how they do some shady things to try to bring production costs down and what Anthony had to do to get around those.

We also go into some tangents. We were drinking during the recording of this podcast, so it gets a little bit off the rails for a little while. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a long form episode with, in this case, five people on the interview. So it’s a bit hard to keep the conversation super linear. I try to steer us down the linear path. But you’ll see that my attempts dismally failed.

But we do end up in some very interesting tangents. One was very impressive—a pretty deep tangent into the use of medicinal cannabis and some interesting things there.

So the main brunt of the episode was to interview Dr. Gustin on his supplement line and also his line for aiding in ketosis. A very interesting call. A very fun call with the guys from Mind Pump, because they’re just a barrel of laughs. So hopefully, you will enjoy this episode. And we will jump right in. Okay, thanks.

Episode Intro

Mind Pump: Welcome to Dr. Ruscio’s podcast. This is Sal Di Stefano.

Dr. Ruscio: Yes, that’ll work.

Mind Pump: I’m a little loud, though.

Dr. Ruscio: This is Dr. Ruscio. Welcome to Dr. Ruscio Radio. We are doing a podcast experiment here. So backdrop to this podcast, I should first say you’ll probably lose any respect for me, or any of you that I have any credibility after this podcast, because we are pretty much on professional vacation right now. A group of chaps and I are sitting at Sausalito.

Mind Pump: A group of unprofessionals.

Dr. Ruscio: Sitting at a condo in Sausalito, San Francisco Bay. It’s beautiful. We’re having a few drinks. And it’s going to go downhill from here.

But the person I’m most excited to have here…. The Mind Pump guys are here. But I’m kind of bored—

Mind Pump: I thought you just were about to [bleep] on us right now.

Dr. Ruscio: No.

Mind Pump: I’m over these guys.

Dr. Ruscio: I’m kind of bored with you guys.

Mind Pump: The keynote speaker is here now.

Dr. Anthony Gustin

Dr. Ruscio: Kind of bored with you guys. The cherry on top is Dr. Anthony Gustin, who is here to talk about a few different things that you’re doing, one of which that I’m excited to talk about is this pre/post-workout supplement line that you have that’s not your typical GNC filled with garbage. If you were to take a functional medicine doctor and have him make a pre- and post-workout line, you would have Anthony Gustin. So excited to have you here today to talk a little bit about that.

Everyone’s heard the Mind Pump guys’ back story. So for the audience, it’s the Mind Pump crew and Anthony. Tell the audience about your background and how you got into what you’re doing.

Dr. Anthony Gustin: Well, professionally, I’m trained like a chiro, like yourself. So that’s probably why you’re so excited when I came into the room.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, I need a little bit of backing.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, especially after apparently this Joe Rogan podcast went crazy about anti-chiros, we need to stick together now.

Mind Pump: But we’ve got your back. We did that episode on it. We took him out.

Dr. Gustin: We’ll band together.

Mind Pump: Probably no one’s listening to Joe anymore after we did that one.

Mind Pump: Yeah.

Dr. Gustin: Took him out.

Dr. Ruscio: That’s great.

Dr. Gustin: So I wanted to be involved in healthcare for a very long time when I was younger. I also wanted to own my own business and wanted to do things on my own terms and not work for a hospital. So a lot of these things—it wasn’t this big moment that I had like a lot of my other peers in chiro school had. I knew pretty much what I wanted to do when I was about 14, 15. So I took the fast track all the way through.

I went through undergrad and grad school pretty much as quickly as possible. So I took all the summers off to try to get my hands on people and working with people immediately.

Dr. Ruscio: Nice.

Dr. Gustin: I was unhealthy when I was younger. I was overweight, unathletic. Still pretty unathletic, but just not overweight anymore. Sal can identify.

Mind Pump: Wait. So you knew you were going to do this at 14, 15 years old?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, yeah.

Mind Pump: Wow! That’s impressive. And that’s rare. You know you’re rare, right?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: Okay.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, I was on the fast track.

Mind Pump: Just wanted to make sure.

Dr. Ruscio: Adam, are you hitting on him?

Mind Pump: Let him go for 15 minutes before you give him [bleep].

Dr. Gustin: So I got out of school.

Dr. Ruscio: We’ll have to edit that part.

Dr. Gustin: Four and a half years ago now. I moved from Portland to San Francisco. Really what I wanted to get into when I was done with chiro school was working with high end athletes, just like when people know of cars and the technology in cars, a lot of that gets derived from NASCAR or the most cutting edge places.

And so I wanted to apply the same approach to moving screens and movement with people and work with them, the highest level athletes and extrapolate that down to the general population, figure out what they’re doing that makes them tick and what makes them successful and then use that for everybody else.

Once I cracked the code on that and got a really good protocol, I started dabbling into more of a functional medicine route. But one of the things that I was noticing that was a common thread between all these people was that nutrition was the underpinning thing that everybody was avoiding, but was the biggest lead domino to fixing their health.

And so if it was somebody who was in pain in the knee, their low back and was not getting better, the conversation always was, “What’s your nutrition like?” Usually, terrible. We fix it. And I am not a big proponent of adjusting every single person. So I was kind of a hands off, movement-oriented approach myself anyway. So whenever we paired nutrition with that, the majority of people got better.

The same thing when I started dabbling in functional medicine. As you know, 95% of it is nutrition. And if people just didn’t make the mistakes in the first place, they probably wouldn’t be in most of the problems that they get.

And so, at that point, I also saw myself being limited by the amount of people that I could see on a day-to-day basis. So you guys, personal trainers. Doc, as you know in the clinic you only have so much time in a day.

Dr. Ruscio: Limited, yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, you can only train so many people under you. We grew the clinic to six locations. And still it felt very, very limited as far as how many people I could reach.

Dr. Ruscio: Sure.

Dr. Gustin: So I started a website to try to, I guess, try to remove the redundancy and the things that I was telling over and over to all my patients. That led into requests for me to fix nutrition.

So people, especially in San Francisco—really busy place. Everyone’s on the go. And so it wasn’t a problem with information. People had enough information. They would go online and see the things that they could get. They know they should be making the right decisions. But ultimately, they were making excuses around accessibility.

And so it made me think, “Okay. How can I make nutrition accessible to more people?” And a lot of time, especially working with a lot of pro and elite athletes in the beginning, those guys were taking a lot of supplements as a shortcut to improve their nutrition. But the supplements were stacked with a bunch of garbage. You guys, training, right?

Problems with Workout Supplements

Mind Pump: Most supplements are garbage, yeah. We talk about that quite a bit on our show.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, right. If you’re a male and you’re between the ages of 25 and 40 and have worked out in the past, you’ve probably gone through the ringer and seen the evolution of supplements be from just disgusting to even worse.

Dr. Ruscio: The marketing is unbelievable. I forget what product it was. It was some sort of growth hormone enhancer.

Dr. Gustin: Of course.

Dr. Ruscio: And they literally had a small, 50-page book that you would get when you bought the supplement. That’s how far the marketing has come.

Mind Pump: Do you guys know what the number one seller in supplements is? It’s pre-workouts. That genre didn’t even exist ten years ago.

Dr. Ruscio: Right.

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Mind Pump: And all it is, is a caffeine-based, every stimulant from niacin to your—everything that’s going to make you feel amped up, sweat like crazy, heat your body up, and then target it to all these people that are trying to lose fat. Most all the supplements—there are very few that carry any—

Dr. Gustin: The ones that do have been studied for years and years and years.

Mind Pump: Well, the worst part is when they go get analyzed by independent laboratories—and I hate this because it makes the case for FDA regulation, which I do not support. But when they go an analyze most of these products they find the best ones meet 85% of the label which is crazy.

Dr. Gustin: If that, yeah.

Mind Pump: That’s the best ones. Those are the very few. And for the most part, most of them have none of what they say they have. And some of them even have dangerous compounds, heavy metals. And there have been supplements found to have medications in them even. I know there are these pro-erectile supplements that were studied. And they said, “Oh, it’s got Viagra.” It’s got the active ingredient of Viagra in these. And they’re selling them over-the-counter as a supplement.

Dr. Ruscio: You were in that, right, Sal?

Mind Pump: Huh?

Dr. Ruscio: You were in that study?

Mind Pump: Yeah. [laughter] They all work on me.

Dr. Gustin: Did it work?

Mind Pump: They all work on me. I take vitamin C sometimes.

Dr. Gustin: As long as you do them all at once.

Pre-Workout Supplement Ingredients

Funny that you said pre-workout is the number one seller, and it’s the most loaded with garbage. That’s actually the first product that we launched because I saw it as being just disgusting as it was.

Mind Pump: Yeah.

Dr. Gustin: And so the first thing I said is, “Okay, let’s remove all the fillers, all the magnesium stearate, all that type of stuff”—what I thought were—

Dr. Ruscio: So let’s go through that.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: So for the audience, what are the things in there that probably have the most effect? Caffeine, probably the most well-studied ergogenic aid. So what are the things that have effect? And then what is the garbage that needs to come out? Then tell us what’s in yours.

Dr. Gustin: Well, so we’ll start with the garbage. The garbage is a lot of times the artificial sweeteners and flavorings. And so that can have—you’re more of a data guy than I am. So you’ll probably be able to spit out 45 different studies right now.

But artificial sweeteners are not good. They can ruin gut health, ruin mental health. Linked to all different kinds of metabolic diseases. So taking that out is a huge step forward.

Supplement Manufacturing

Number two is fillers and binding agents and processing aids. So it actually was a real struggle getting the first production run done because most manufacturers, almost every single one of them, require that you put in extra stuff so that their machines can run faster.

Dr. Ruscio: Why is that? They need to have a certain amount of volume for the machine to run?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, so what happens is—so when you go to a contract manufacturer, they have tons of different clients. And so if the ingredients in there are sticky or have any type of thing that makes the machine run slower, well, then their volume goes down drastically. So no one likes to do that.

Mind Pump: That’s fascinating. So not only are they adding ingredients for palatability, for color, for smell, all these additives—

Mind Pump: …money that way. It’s a good point.

Mind Pump: Wow!

Mind Pump: You also have to add ingredients for the manufacturer’s machines.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: And it has nothing to do with the consumer, quality of the—

Dr. Ruscio: That’s crazy.

Mind Pump: That sucks.

Dr. Gustin: That’s a very—

Mind Pump: Did not know that.

Dr. Gustin: Underestimated filler that’s in there. So a lot of those things get snuck in. Actually, the first production run, it was supposed to be 470 grams. And we got it. And it was 500 and something. What’s this? They’re like, “Oh, well, we put it in because it’s industry standard. And you don’t have to put it on the label. So don’t worry about it. Everybody does it.”

Mind Pump: You don’t have to put it on the label. Everybody does it. Wow!

Mind Pump: Everyone’s doing it.

Mind Pump: It’s so great. This [bleep] we talk about on the show all the time.

Dr. Gustin: It’s crazy.

Mind Pump: How corrupted it is.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, and so that was the first mistake.

Mind Pump: What is it that they’re adding? What were they adding to do that?

Dr. Gustin: So things like magnesium stearate or Silicon dioxide, things like that and other excipients.

Mind Pump: So glass.

Dr. Ruscio: How do those typically bother people? Or why are those problematic, for people that may not know listening?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, so magnesium stearate, there have been studies about, again, that with gut health. A lot of these gums, too, will go in between the gut villi and destroy the gut. So you’re looking at gut permeability issues. That, and I’m just a big, huge proponent of why have stuff if it’s not necessary?

Dr. Ruscio: Sure. Sure.

Mind Pump: Right.

Dr. Gustin: If it’s not derived from a real thing in real food, why would you want it?

Dr. Ruscio: And you make a great point which is, one of the things that is the main problematic symptom for people that can’t tolerate pre and post-workouts—bloating, gas—

Dr. Gustin: GI distress.

Dr. Ruscio: Exactly what you described.

Mind Pump: I remember the first big, popular one Superpump—was it 250?

Mind Pump: I love the names!

Mind Pump: I think Gaspari. Was it Gaspari that came—Anyway, Superpump 250 was given the nickname “Super dump 250” because of the subsequent diarrhea that a lot of the users would get.

Dr. Gustin: And same with NO-Xplode.

Mind Pump: You reach an explosion alright.

Mind Pump: That was a popular one.

Dr. Ruscio: That was the one, I think, that had the booklet that they used to sell when it first came out.

Dr. Gustin: Oh, really?

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah. Removing all those things, like I said, it was a struggle, after I figured out that they were adding the stuff, to find a manufacturer that would actually comply. We’d end up having contract written.

And I ended up having to pay a lot more money for each run because we’re taking up more time in the line to produce less product. And so ultimately, that leads to higher price points for me as a vendor in making these supplements.

And so after we took all that stuff and I found somebody that was willing to work with me to never put in any type of artificial or weird things or put stuff that is not on the label.

So like you guys said, most of the stuff that’s tested in third party labs shows that there’s only max, in the best ones, 85% of what they claim on here. We publish openly our certificate of analysis, which is from the manufacturer. And so that is a, “This is exactly everything that’s in there.” And so trying to be as transparent as possible was a huge goal of mine from the get-go from starting these companies.

How Proprietary Blends Mislead Consumers

So we’re looking at what’s not in there. Good, take all that stuff out. And then, what’s in there? I’m sure, if you guys, again with the pre-workouts have seen proprietary blends where it has—

Mind Pump: Pixie dusting.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, 15 different ingredients. And basically, you pick all these hot topic ones that are effective and have been shown to be effective. However, they put them in with such small amounts—

Mind Pump: They don’t matter.

Dr. Gustin: That they don’t do anything.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, good point.

Dr. Gustin: They’re not physiologically effective.

Mind Pump: They just put enough to be able to put it underneath the proprietary blend. So you read the proprietary blend, and you’re like, “Oh, that new herb I just read about! They’ve got that. This has everything!”

Dr. Ruscio: Exactly, yeah.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, but it’s 10 mg of the whole proprietary blend. And so listing all that stuff out and then doing the research and figuring out what are the effective doses of the things that should be in a really nice pre-workout and what are the things that are chemical-based that can be changed to something better.

Dr. Ruscio: That’s key. The effective dose is key. That’s something that, when Mike Nelson came on the podcast, he talked about that some of these things do show benefit, but they’re sold in products with a third or a half or an eighth of the amount—

Dr. Gustin: Exactly.

Dr. Ruscio: That was shown to have the benefit in the studies.

Mind Pump: Yeah, read the study, and look at what the amount is that they used. That’s what I always do.

Dr. Gustin: And so I had a folder of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of studies of all these different compounds that I wanted to include. And so after that, I ended up making basically a wish list. And the manufacturer came back at me and pretty much laughed and said, “You’re never going to be able to sell this. Your margin is going to be terrible. No one ever does stuff like this because the cost is so high.” I said, “I don’t care.” And I tried to figure it out.

Synthetic Caffeine

So other things were trying to take things like caffeine anhydrous, the chemical version of caffeine. Instead, we place it with green tea. So like I said, whole food is the most important thing. And so trying to use whole food forms with all this stuff is, I think, the most effective route you can go.

Mind Pump: So you’re getting caffeine in your pre-workout from green tea versus the chemical form of caffeine?

Dr. Gustin: Correct. Yeah, so caffeine anhydrous reacts way more quickly in your bloodstream. So that’s why when people take it they feel super jittery and want to jump through a wall.

Mind Pump: I was just going to ask you, chemically speaking, is it different? Because I know I’ve had keyboard chemists who are like, “It doesn’t matter, organic/not organic. It’s all the same. It’s the same chemical.” You’re saying one is utilized by the body more quickly than the other.

Dr. Gustin: Right. Right, and also it’s not just a free caffeine molecule. So it’s ground down just like—it says green tea powder. So you’re going to have more of the actual plant in there, which I assume as well has some synergistic effects.

Mind Pump: Interesting.

Dr. Gustin: And so also we include a coconut water powder instead of just “electrolytes” that keep you hydrated. And then like I said, effective dosing of the other ingredients. So that’s where our pre-workout was.

But the main goal of starting it in the first place—so that was the easiest place to start because those are the people I was working with. That was the most “dirty” supplement, I think, that people were taking.

Dr. Ruscio: I’m sorry, Anthony. What’s in the pre-workout?

Dr. Gustin: Right. So we have beta-alanine, citrulline—

Dr. Ruscio: There have been some good studies on that, I know.

Dr. Gustin: Right. So that can also make you tingle a little bit. So people feel that after you take a supplement. Don’t freak out. It’s normal.

Citrulline malate. We have creatine, BCAAs, vitamin C, the coconut water powder, and arginine.

Dr. Ruscio: So how much caffeine?

Dr. Gustin: It turns out to be 150 mg.

Effects of Stimulants

Dr. Ruscio: So that’s not like some of the ones that have 400 or 500 mg, which—

Mind Pump: Not only that, but they’ll have other stimulants in there on top of it.

Mind Pump: That’s the race right now in the pre-workout market. Who can make it the strongest and feel a certain way? When you walk into the gyms, that’s the craze. Who can stack this with this and get more over stimulated? And I see it. I’m like, “Oh my god, dude. That’s crazy.”

Mind Pump: Well, people don’t realize. When you take—first off, exercise and particularly resistance training is anabolic. Or at least it’s supposed to be anabolic. You’re trying to build muscle. Too many stimulants are actually catabolic. It’s got a catabolic effect on the body. It creates a stress effect in the body. So taking lots of stimulants before you work out, although you may feel amped and feel fantastic while you’re working out, you’re actually not promoting a muscle building process.

Then on top of it, you get—

Mind Pump: Then you’re dependent on it, to get that same kind of feeling, to replicate it your next workout.

Mind Pump: Exactly. You get adaptation. So your body starts to produce less catecholamines with each dose. The receptors that these catecholamines attach to—your norepinephrine, epinephrine—start to downregulate. And so you find that the same dose doesn’t give you the same effect. And so you have to increase the dose. And you get to this point where you have to take it just to feel normal. And if you don’t, you feel tired. And so there’s this addictive property with too many stimulants.

Caffeine, although there’s quite a bit of an individual variance in terms of tolerance with caffeine, a decent dose of caffeine, which would probably be considered low, like you said, 150-250 mg, is what’s backed in science and in studies.

The super high doses of caffeine actually in studies will show detrimental effects on things like endurance. You give someone 400 mg of caffeine who hasn’t built up a tolerance to caffeine. Go have them ride till exertion. They’ll actually have reduced performance as a result.

Dr. Ruscio: I have a story to tell that actually totally backs that up. So you guys may remember back to when we had Dr. Christopher Keroack on, who is an obesity specialist. And he talked about some of the drug stimulants that are used to help with weight loss.

So as part of my tinkerings, I’ve experimented a little bit with Provigil, which is an anti-narcolepsy drug, which some people report that it helps with focus and cerebral output.

Mind Pump: It’s related to modafinil, right?

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.

Mind Pump: Okay.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah. And then also phentermine, which is a diet pill. It’s just an amphetamine. And so my parents were out visiting. This is probably about a year ago. They typically come out about once a year. They have a cottage nearby that they rent. And it’s a nice chance to catch up because I live in California, my parents live in Massachusetts.

And I play soccer, as the audience knows. We had an outdoor soccer game that Sunday. And I really wanted to have a good showing for my dad. My dad hasn’t [bleep] in years.

Mind Pump: You took Phen Phen before your soccer game.

Dr. Ruscio: So I took a Provigil. I took a phentermine. And I had a bunch of caffeine.

Dr. Gustin: Whoa. You combined them all.

Mind Pump: Wow!

Mind Pump: That’s a trifecta right there.

Dr. Ruscio: It was the worst game of my life.

Mind Pump: Because you were anxious, dude.

Mind Pump: Over stimulated.

Dr. Ruscio: Just standing there, my heart was like “Vrrrr.” Then I went to run. And my heart couldn’t go any faster because it was already going so fast.

Dr. Gustin: Oh, that’s horrible.

Mind Pump: And you were exhausted.

Dr. Ruscio: And I did almost fight a guy also because I just felt like I was so amped up.

Mind Pump: Yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: So it was an absolute 1000% backfire, which just illustrates, because a little of something might be good—caffeine in this case—does not mean more is better. I had no endurance. And that was the worst game of my life.

Mind Pump: Not only that, but as you build—like many substances that have an acute effect on the body, caffeine is one of those things—your body starts to adapt to that acute effect. And so what happens is you need to take more to get some of those benefits again or those perceived benefits. But now the chance of side effects also increases.

There’s a very effective dose. And then more than that becomes less and less effective and becomes more detrimental.

Dr. Ruscio: It’s the law of diminishing returns.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: Absolutely.

Dr. Gustin: And what I’ve seen other manufacturers and brands do is they put a ton of the stimulants in there so that you have a perceived effect of effectiveness essentially.

Mind Pump: That’s why they’re so popular. That’s why pre-workout supplements—if you go to a body building convention, 9 out of the 10 supplements that you’re going to get handed to you for free with the sample packs is a pre-workout that’s loaded with stimulants.

Mind Pump: That’s because you can feel it.

Mind Pump: You’re going to take that [bleep]. And you’re going to feel it.

Mind Pump: And I’m not going to lie. It feels fun. Stimulants are great to take if you want to have a great time. But take them for a few weeks, and you’re going to have poor results with your workouts.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, I agree 100%. And so toothpaste manufacturers do the same thing. So they put in there different chemicals that make it bubble up.

Mind Pump: We just talked about this.

Mind Pump: That’s hilarious.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, so that actually makes your mouth feel like it’s cleaner.

Mind Pump: Right. Right.

Dr. Gustin: Same exact thing. When you overload a lot of the stimulants, it’s actually just the manufacturers trying to have a perceived effectiveness.

Mind Pump: Soap lathering up on your body, shampoo tingling and lathering up on your hair, all of that. It’s all feel. It’s all to sell you. It’s all to make you think it’s working.

Mind Pump: It doesn’t actually do anything for you.

Using Adaptogenic Herbs

One of the things I like to do with stimulants, if you’re going to take a stimulant, is to take adaptogenic herbs along with the stimulants, because adaptogens, like ashwagandha for example, which actually has some clinical evidence that demonstrates that it helps the body.

And adaptogenic, by the way, is a category of herbs and supplements that help the body deal with stress. So they bring the body in homeostasis. So whatever is out of whack, it helps bring the body to normal.

Ashwagandha, great herb to take with stimulants because it helps negate some of those negative effects. The amino acid theanine will do the same thing. So if you take caffeine and you get kind of edgy with caffeine, take a little theanine with that. And you’ll get this smooth, calm focus.

So something I like to do every morning is I drink coffee before my workouts. I actually drink something called Kimera, which has nootropics in there as well. And it’s got theanine in there. And I’ll take ashwagandha with it. And I get this really cool, calm focus. If I just go pure caffeine or too much stimulant, I get too intense and a little bit irritable from it. So interesting.

Mind Pump: No one wants that.

Dr. Gustin’s Pre-Workout Supplement

Mind Pump: No. So what’s the goal of your pre-workout supplement? Is it to improve recovery, focus? What’s the goal behind the supplement if someone were to take it? What can they expect from it?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, it’s a well-rounded thing of a little bit of everything. So kind of designed for a little bit more of a high intensity athlete or a CrossFit type of a workout or a more explosive type of workout than anything else. And it’s to increase power up, but to also provide a little bit of energy, reduce the need for excessive hydration. That’s why the coconut water powder is in there and stuff like that.

Probably less for a body building, typical power lifter stuff like that. More so for probably a 30-45 minute, hour long workout. And also I think there’s better stuff out there if you want to do endurance.

And also I don’t like to claim that certain products are best for everyone. And so there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to nutrition or supplements or anything like that. And so it’s geared more toward a CrossFit-ish, high intensity workout, cross training.

Mind Pump: Probably—not probably—definitely the most well studied ergogenic supplement on the market is creatine. Creatine has—

Dr. Ruscio: More explosive-type power.

Mind Pump: Just period. Period. If you look at all ergogenic supplements and you look at the amount of studies that go behind them.

Dr. Ruscio: But what has it been shown to be the most effective for?

Mind Pump: Power and strength. But just a pure amount of literature and data supporting a supplement, nothing holds a candle to just creatine. Creatine actually has just mounds and mounds and mounds.

Dr. Ruscio: Creatine and caffeine. Tons and tons.

Mind Pump: Caffeine one of the—yeah.

Post-Workout Supplements

Dr. Ruscio: Now, what about your post-workout, Anthony? Because that’s a little bit of a different animal, right? There’s a carb powder in there. And the protein—well, I won’t spoil it. But it’s a different type of protein.

Dr. Gustin: Cliff hanger here.

Dr. Ruscio: Tell us a little bit about that then.

Dr. Gustin: So these are the products I was most excited to launch. Pre-workout is just such a small thing that was easy for me to get off the ground and test with some of the athletes I was working with. So a post-workout generally, or for whatever reason, people like to combine and say, “This is the best for you. It has this special matrix of recovery blend. Blah, blah, blah.”

I believe the real food and targeted nutrition for the individual is the best solution. And so when I was looking at, “Okay, people are trying to take supplements as a shortcut for better nutrition. How can I push a wedge in there and open it up so that they’re actually getting real food stuff and educate them on the back end?”

And so a grass-fed beef powder is our protein. And so that’s produced in a way similar to bone broth. And so it’s ground up. And you’re going to get about 30-40% of collagen and gelatin per scoop and not just the lean powder. So for instance, whey is the byproduct of cheese production or dairy production.

Mind Pump: They used to throw it away.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: People don’t know that.

Dr. Ruscio: No way.

Mind Pump: No pun intended.

Dr. Gustin: Not bad. And so that’s just like a leftover of a leftover sort of thing. So it’s good for if you just want to build lean muscle mass. But it turns out that our bodies contain a little bit more than that. So we have connective tissue, skin, joint surfaces, ligaments, tendons, things like that.

Dr. Ruscio: So that’s the main argument for a hydro beef protein as compared to a whey. It’s got a broader nutrient profile?

Mind Pump: Higher amino acids—what? Prolene and glycine are in those.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Those are the main ones and collagen and gelatin, which have really good support for connective tissue.

Dr. Ruscio: And you’ll probably have more luceine in whey, which is a little bit more anabolic, maybe because it can function as an insulin stimulus. But for people that aren’t looking only for mass gains, the more broad spectrum amino acid profile might be beneficial.

Mind Pump: Yeah, luceine also stimulates MTOR, which is for muscle gain but can also drive things like aging and cancer.

Dr. Gustin: Right. So a little bit is good. A lot is really not good. It’s the case with most things. The beef protein is about 4 ounces of grass-fed beef per scoop. And I separated that away from an organic sweet potato powder so that way people could combine it with whatever works for their personal preferences and their goals.

And so some people may want to go a little bit lower carb. Some people want to go a little bit higher carb. Some people want maybe a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein.

Dr. Ruscio: So they’re two different products?

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Dr. Ruscio: There’s a protein, and it’s like a carb powder?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: Gotcha.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, and so the way I wanted to do it is separate it so people can work with a qualified nutritionist or work with somebody who really knows what they’re doing.

Dr. Ruscio: Or someone unqualified like Sal.

Dr. Gustin: Somebody unprofessional.

[laughter]

Dr. Gustin: And titrate based upon their own goals and their own metabolic history. Some people are just more insulin sensitive than others. They need more or less carbs.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah. That’s smart.

Dr. Gustin: And so if I just gave them a thing that said, “I think this is the best for everybody for post-workout or for whatever-”

Dr. Ruscio: Well, you’re right, because if someone’s trying to lose body fat, if someone’s significantly overweight, their post-workout should be fairly lower in carbs.

Mind Pump: Or nothing at all.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, or nothing at all. And someone who is a skinny dweeb like myself who’s trying to put on some muscle mass wants to up the carbs as much as I can post-workout so they stop getting picked on. So I get it.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, and so also then it eliminates the chance to take it outside a post-workout window.

Dr. Ruscio: Sure.

Dr. Gustin: And so I eat meat other than after I workout. So I wanted to have a product where I could have it around times where I’d also eat meat, which is whenever I’m hungry. So same thing with the sweet potato powder.

Dr. Ruscio: And it’s not maltodextrin, which you’re going to see maltodextrin. There are differing opinions on maltodextrin. But a sweet potato powder is definitely a much more whole food than maybe maltodextrin.

Mind Pump: But where do they get the maltodextrin from?

Dr. Ruscio: Most of the maltodextrin is coming from corn.

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Dr. Ruscio: And so some people may also have a sensitivity to the corn.

Mind Pump: Or it’s GMO.

Dr. Ruscio: It could also be GMO. Totally. Yep.

Now in some of the elemental diet powders we use, the maltodextrin is typically from tapioca and non-GMO tapioca, so a little bit cleaner. But of course, that’s a specialty supplement through a doctor’s office for a specific clinical purpose.

That’s not—you’re at GNC, and you’re trying to find a post-workout. You’re going to probably get the bottom of the barrel quality, like you were talking about also with the manufacturers. It’s not only going to be this GMO corn maltodextrin, there are probably going to be all these other fillers in that powder to help increase the processing speed.

Dr. Gustin: Right. And so some of the things that you mentioned earlier, Sal, about people want to make it look good, taste good, mix well, all these things. So ours, like with the sweet potato powder, especially we do a very cold process. And so it takes a very long period of time. I want as much of the plant cell wall intact as possible. So the carbohydrate is actually in the cell wall. So your body has to break down the fiber and having a component of starch and fiber.

We don’t use any kind of weird binding agents or fillers. And so it settles. And when people first have it, they’re like, “Well, what’s this? It didn’t stay mixed up?”

Well, if it’s potato, it shouldn’t be completely soluble in water.

Dr. Ruscio: Good point.

Dr. Gustin: Swirl it up for 3 seconds before you drink it again.

Mind Pump: And then pound it.

Chemicals in Health Care Products

Dr. Ruscio: It’s really good that you say that, because some people may be so accustomed to things mixing smoothly and not realizing that sometimes to get that pleasant effect you have to chemically alter things.

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Dr. Ruscio: Or put other chemicals in there for that. So just because something may not look super pleasing in terms of this super homogenous mixture doesn’t mean it’s actually not a better product.

Mind Pump: Well, and anybody that’s used real, organic soap or toothpaste, like we’ve talked about before, that doesn’t have all these chemicals should know that.

Mind Pump: Exactly what you were saying.

Mind Pump: Because when you brush your teeth with it, it doesn’t foam all up.

Mind Pump: It’s just like powder.

Mind Pump: When you lather yourself up with soap, it doesn’t get all bubbly all over you.

Dr. Ruscio: That’s the biggest thing I notice when I have guests stay over and they use my toothpaste. They’re like, “Ugh. This isn’t really that, like, frothy.”

Dr. Gustin: Was this a huge conversation before I got here?

Mind Pump: No.

Dr. Gustin: Did you do a podcast on Two Face?

Mind Pump: No, no, no.

Mind Pump: Personal problem.

Mind Pump: Covered in great detail.

Mind Pump: You know what’s funny? I used Crest the other day, just your typical Crest toothpaste. And I brushed my teeth. And I’m like, “This is the sweetest toothpaste I’ve ever had.”

Dr. Gustin: All the sugar in there.

Mind Pump: What in the world do they put—

Mind Pump: It’s like bubble bath for your mouth.

Dr. Ruscio: It’s crazy. It’s crazy.

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Stevia & Artificial Sweeteners

Mind Pump: How do you make your pre-workout and post-workout palatable if you’re not using artificial sweeteners and fillers and all those other things? What do you flavor it with?

Dr. Gustin: So cocoa powder and stevia for the protein, for instance.

Mind Pump: Okay.

Dr. Gustin: And then vanilla powder and stevia for the—

Dr. Ruscio: Let me chime in something on stevia. Now, I can’t say…I haven’t all the way gone through a review of the literature on this. But when Ben Greenfield was on the podcast, he asked about artificial sweeteners.

And I told him that when we went through a very comprehensive review of the literature on all artificial sweeteners other than stevia, we found that artificial sweeteners show no consistent benefit and potential detriment.

So because of that, I advised caution with artificial sweeteners. Then I went through a review on stevia. And I think from a year ago when we went through that review of the literature for the book on artificial sweeteners to now, there have been some studies published on stevia, because there might be six, seven, eight studies. And again, this is based on a quick review. But I’m pretty good a finding the studies now.

What stevia shows is either no effect or a slight benefit. So stevia might actually—

Mind Pump: Benefit how?

Dr. Ruscio: Meaning improve glucose, improve body composition.

Mind Pump: All right.

Dr. Ruscio: Whereas the other chemical artificial sweeteners show potential detriment, slight glucose raise, slight waist circumference gain.

So that was a question I didn’t have a great answer to about a year, maybe year and a half ago. But I think some studies have been published since on stevia specifically that show it may be an exception from the general class of artificial sweeteners probably because it’s minimally chemically altered.

Dr. Gustin: Well, that makes me feel good about my green cokes if that’s true.

Mind Pump: Well, those are also half sugar. So shut up.

Dr. Gustin: A lot of people forget that stevia is an actual plant.

Dr. Ruscio: Right.

Dr. Gustin: And so that probably has a lot to do with that.

Dr. Ruscio: Sure.

Dr. Gustin: I think it was last year in October I was in Columbia. And everywhere had stevia. Have I been saying that wrong the whole time?

Dr. Ruscio: I think—

Mind Pump: Tom-a-to/tom-ah-to.

Dr. Gustin: Good.

Mind Pump: No, who cares?

Dr. Gustin: So at every store, they didn’t have the powdered version of it. They had the actual leaf version of it. So it looked like if you get oregano. But I’ve gotten a lot of complaints from people who don’t understand that. And they go, “You said no artificial sweeteners. Yet there’s stevia in here.” Well, actually this is a plant that grows.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, it is plant derived.

Mind Pump: So we did an interview with—was it Dr. Nicola Avena, the sugar doctor? We asked her about artificial sweeteners. So she did some studies on how sugar affects the brain and its addictive properties and how highly palatable foods have addictive properties in the brain, but in particular with sugar. And so I brought up artificial sweeteners. And I talked about stevia. And definitely the better option.

But what’s interesting with anything that’s got a sweet flavor to it, that perception by the brain, that perception of sweetness has some of those properties, those addictive properties. And the good thing about stevia is, on the sweet index, it’s nowhere near something like aspartame or sucralose.

So if you use a product with stevia and you’re used to using aspartame, you may notice it’s not nearly as tasty or sweet.

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Mind Pump: However, that’s probably also a good thing.

Dr. Ruscio: You know something interesting there? Somewhat unrelated but hopefully somewhat related also. When you look at the studies on artificial sweeteners, there is that slight trend towards showing negative metabolic consequences that I mentioned earlier.

However, they don’t seem to be present with children. And part of that may be because children have a more intact satiation apparatus. But as you become older, due to chemicals or just accrued bad eating or stress or who knows what, you become more disconnected from your satiation apparatus, meaning the signal that tells you, “Hey, you’re full. Stop eating.” It seems that children have that more intact. So the aspartame-type artificial sweeteners have less of a negative benefit on them.

But in adults, they’re more prone to cause overeating, which may be why some studies like the San Antonio Longitudinal Study on Aging showed a dose-dependent increase in waist circumference the more artificial sweeteners that someone used. But we don’t necessarily see that reflected in children.

Mind Pump: There’s also a dopamine release that happens with that sweet signal that we get. And the interesting thing about the sweet signal is one of the hallmarks of an addictive compound—so whenever you have something novel, you get a dopamine release.

But if you have that thing again over and over, that dopamine release—

Mind Pump: Diminishes.

Mind Pump: Diminishes. Sugar, or that sweet signal, that doesn’t necessarily happen. So when you eat things that are sweet, you still get that dopamine release like if you’re doing drugs like cocaine or something like that, which is why they’re considered—sugar, some scientists will say has addictive properties.

Stevia, probably less than that. Not quite sure yet, but probably less that. As far as the effect on gut health, I think the literature showing that—

Mind Pump: I think that’s where we always have to caution people. And I remember when we had this episode with Lane. And when I said “addicted to carbs or sugar” he was, “Oh, be careful, because the science doesn’t prove that yet.” And he tried to check me.

And I said, “Well, there’s behavioral addiction, too.” And I think that’s a piece that not a lot of people speak to. And you create these habits as a kid where you’re starting to take all this sugar in. Then your brain getting that release all the time, you get addicted to that and that behavior. And you start to attach it to those memories.

Then you get these adults that get told, “Okay, stevia is okay for us to consume.” And then they think they can just consume—they get it in their coffee in the morning. Then they have it in their pre-workout. They have it in their post-workout. Then they have it later on with some dessert. They don’t want to take in some fat. Or they’re trying to avoid it somewhere else. They get this overload of stevia.

So I think that’s important to address that, too, because that’s one of the things that we talk on Mind Pump all the time about.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, and I do think there is definitely, like you said, some behavioral addiction to it. And if somebody is at that point, the products that I make or products with stevia in them are probably not for them. They probably just need to be eating real foods for a long time so they can reset and have better satiation mechanisms and have better control about what they’re intaking and let their body do the work as far as telling them what they need instead of supplementing. It’s in the name. You’re supposed to supplement, not replace it.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, if you’re still struggling with your diet or you haven’t gotten the basics of your diet dialed in, I don’t think you need a pre/post-workout.

Dr. Gustin: Oh, absolutely not!

Dr. Ruscio: You need to just focus. As we’re going further down the road of self-improvement and trying to gain more, then these things become more salient. Like our conversation earlier where we talked about you don’t have to worry about undulating your calories or cycling your macros if you still haven’t taken the first step of just going to an elimination diet.

Mind Pump: Right.

Dr. Ruscio: But I think a lot of people listening, they already get the first step of getting onto a whole-foods-based diet. And they’re probably there. So they’re looking for the next step of how do I dial this in a little bit further.

The Supplement Industry

Mind Pump: How hard was it for you to be able to get all those types of ingredients and actually keep your price down to where you can even be competitive with another pre-workout?

Dr. Gustin: Well, our margins are industry lagging. They’re the worst probably in the entire industry because we actually use real stuff. And like I said, I have to pay this premium for the manufacturing. And so it’s not as easy as some of these other companies I know that have 95% margins, just ridiculous. It’s been a trick.

And we launched a greens powder. Another thing where, just like we were talking about earlier, effective dose. I see the other companies doing it and putting these proprietary blends together. But the amount of actual plant matter in there is so low, it doesn’t even do anything.

Dr. Ruscio: So Anthony, let me ask you a question with greens powders, because I’ve never looked. Have there been any studies done showing, “We took a group of people with depression, obesity, diabetes, joint pain, IBS, whatever. And we put them on a green powder supplement. And we showed a beneficial effect on X condition?”

Dr. Gustin: Not that I’m aware of. However, we are actually working on some of that right now. I’ve tested with myself and a few other people. And it was one type of thing about hyperdosing the greens powder that I’ve made and we’ve seen actually some significant reduction in ESR and CRP over the course of two or three months. Obviously, there are tons of variables. And this isn’t a very structured experiment. So take that as you will.

Dr. Ruscio: Right. Right.

Dr. Gustin: But yeah, it’s tough to get these ingredients where you want them to be when I’m trying to make them as close to whole food as possible. It’s not possible a lot of times to get those things where we need it.

The Taste of Real vs. Artificial

Mind Pump: Total honest, right? How do your products taste compared to the artificial? Because I don’t think people realize just how much money and effort to into palatability. Actually, most of the money that goes into your supplements is in marketing and palatability. Very, very little goes into how effective it is.

Dr. Ruscio: Unfortunately, yeah.

Mind Pump: It’s true. The most popular powder supplements out are the ones that taste the best.

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Mind Pump: That’s the bottom line. And supplement companies know this. If we make a protein powder that tastes better than all the others, people are going to buy it.

Dr. Ruscio: I can say in the clinic, most patients are pretty good about this. But every once in a while, you get someone who says, “Oh, that powder didn’t taste good.” It was a vitamin C powder or a probiotic powder.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: And you’re like, “I’m not giving it to you for you to taste good, man!”

Dr. Ruscio: It’s not meant to be candy. If it doesn’t taste like ground up dog turd, then let’s try to make this work because it’s not meant to be a Snickers bar.

Mind Pump: Because your body needs it, that’s why. Geez!

Dr. Gustin: Actually, coincidentally, I’ve seen a lot of people—a lot of times, people who have done paleo-ish in the past, they’ll gravitate towards the brand. And they actually prefer it over any others because we use just cocoa powder, for instance. And it’s super rich. And it tastes kind of like real chocolate whereas other stuff, when it’s chocolate flavor, you don’t get that same effect. And your brain senses, “Ugh, something’s not right here.”

And so I think there’s a huge group of people that are fed up with the whole artificial tastes and want some real stuff. And so we use coconut milk powder, vanilla powder, cocoa powder.

Dr. Ruscio: I feel like once you take some time off artificially sweetened products—

Mind Pump: It’s 100% true. I know where you’re going with that.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.

Mind Pump: You take time off.

Dr. Ruscio: Once you take time off and then you try something that has artificial sweeteners or colorings or whatever in it, you can taste it. And it tastes like chemicals.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, what is this?

Dr. Ruscio: Right.

Dr. Gustin: And so when you finally start getting your palate attuned to real food again, you eat a carrot and, “Wow. This is actually pretty sweet.”

Mind Pump: Right.

Dr. Gustin: Same type of thing. So when people try these products with a cocoa powder in it, they’re like, “This tastes really good actually.” And so I was afraid of that in the beginning, too, as people would compare in apples-to-apples approach. But it’s turning more—it’s apples and oranges where it’s just a completely different thing where we’re using real food products.

Especially with the beef protein, there’s that collagen and gelatin that give it a little more rich taste, too. So it balances out the bitterness and the chocolate. I’m biased obviously.

Mind Pump: It’s smart because there is. We know this. We’ve talked about it. It’s growing. The industry is going that direction. It’s just funny because Ben Greenfield just launched his bars. And we all like them.

Dr. Gustin: What are they made of?

Mind Pump: They’re all—do you remember what their ingredients are?

Mind Pump: No, I don’t remember the ingredients. It was whole-food based. There were very few ingredients. What was the name of his bars? I can’t remember.

Mind Pump: Tasty Bites, I think.

Mind Pump: We all really liked the taste of them.

Mind Pump: Nature Bites.

Mind Pump: Nature Bites.

Mind Pump: But I gave them out to one of my clients and friends and stuff like that to try them out and stuff like that. And just the reviews back were just like, “Ugh.” And all the people that were like, “Ugh” are people that—

Mind Pump: It’s hard for them to eat like that.

Mind Pump: Yeah, if you do eat with a lot of artificial sweeteners and sugar in your diet all the time, then something like that that’s all natural doesn’t taste that good. But when you clean your system all out, it’s definitely—

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, and so when people come in and complain about the taste of the products that we have, I found that as a learning opportunity for them where I get to educate them. Look, like Doc was saying earlier, this isn’t a candy bar. Food shouldn’t taste like that. Food should taste a little bit different. And so this is why it’s important to feed your body with things that are real and not super chemical based. And so it’s a good teaching lesson for people who do complain about the taste. And they end up coming around to it after a while.

Supplement Marketing

Mind Pump: Now, you talked about transparency with your audience, how that was important. Do you talk about the business process with your people? You just mentioned your margins are bad compared to others. How long have you been on the market? And how do you move your product? Is it all internet based? Or how does it work?

Dr. Gustin: So it’s been a little bit over two years. So there are now two brands. It started out as PureWOD, now named Equip. So that is just a bunch of whole food products I wanted to exist. And so I started with the pre-workout and then had the beef, the sweet potato, the greens powder, collagen (just a straight grass-fed collagen), and then a turmeric/ginger/berberine blend and black pepper for anti-inflammation. And we’re about to launch a plant protein as well for people who asked for that type of thing and want an alternative away from animal protein.

And what I used with a lot of my patients was a ketogenic diet, which is great for certain people. It’s not good for everybody, in my opinion. So it’s one of these hot topics right now where people think it’s an all or nothing affair.

Mind Pump: Yeah, we talk about that.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, I don’t think so. I think it’s great for some people for some times. And so at the time when I started developing this product was the middle last year, there was nothing on the market that really gravitated towards for a ketogenic supplement for myself, for an exogenous ketone.

So that split off into another company just because it didn’t really mesh with the whole food focus of the other company. So we made this sister company as focused on ketogenic supplements.

Mind Pump: And how did you first start moving your product? How did that all start off?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, so a lot of it has been just direct to consumer. So the food system is pretty broken as far as how you get things to a consumer. And so we were forced this way because, for instance, I have some friends who have products in Whole Foods. With the amount of people that you need to sell through to get into Whole Foods, you have to sell to your broker, which sells to your distributor, which sells to a region, which sells to a store. And the store sells to the customer.

So at each of those levels, you have to stack on a margin. So for most of the products in a place like Whole Foods, you actually have to have, by definition of being able to be in the store and pay everybody out—

Mind Pump: You’ll have a middleman.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, like a 90% margin. And so we would have to charge hundreds of dollars for our supplements and products in a Whole Foods setting. And so we’re like, “Oh, gosh. That’s not going to work.”

Also, we were just so disconnected through retail. So we tried it with some gyms and some clinics. But being that far away from the customer creates this separation where I can’t make the best product.

And what I mean by that is that if somebody buys from Whole Foods or a gym or clinic, I can’t ask them, “Okay, thanks for getting the product. What did you like about it? What did you not like about it?” And survey them and get their feedback and try to improve as much as possible that we do a lot. And a lot of our product lines have actually launched because they have been things that people have asked for.

And so doing that constant finger to the pulse is super important to me as a founder and as the one who develops all the products.

Mind Pump: Well, that’s the future of the market anyway. Everything’s being direct that way. So you’re actually ahead of the curve, I would say.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, and that’s big of people to understand that when you bring in that middleman—

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, middleMEN, yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: Or middlemen. It either drives up the cost of the product or drives down the quality of the product to maintain the competitive cost.

Dr. Gustin: Exactly.

Dr. Ruscio: So definitely direct-to-consumer is intelligent.

Mind Pump: The whole market is moving in that direction. All markets—the car market. Look at Tesla. Tesla does that. They go direct to consumer. And dealerships really don’t like—

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, but electric cars are a myth. That’s clearly been proven.

Mind Pump: Let’s not go there.

Mind Pump: Electric cars are a myth!

Dr. Ruscio: Tangent. But if you want to feel bad about yourself, read the biography on Elon Musk.

Dr. Gustin: Oh, yeah. I have. It’s amazing.

Dr. Ruscio: I work hard. I read that. And I felt like I had done nothing with my life.

Mind Pump: Yeah, he does.

Dr. Ruscio: Do you know that he used to work all night until he fell asleep at his desk? And he would tell the first employee in in the morning, “Kick my desk to wake me up.”

Mind Pump: Yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: The guy’s a machine.

Mind Pump: That’s why the call him the Iron Man.

Mind Pump: I know people who have worked there that actually know where he sleeps in his back office. And they’re like, “Oh, yeah. He’s sleeping there tonight.”

Mind Pump: Wow.

Dr. Ruscio: He’s amazing.

Dr. Gustin: Which one are you reading? Is that the Ashlee Vance one?

Dr. Ruscio: I know of there being one. Isn’t there only one biography of him?

Dr. Gustin: There’s that. And then there’s the Tim Urban series that he turned into a—

Dr. Ruscio: I didn’t realize that.

Mind Pump: Great business man. Terrible family man.

Mind Pump: Yeah, well, he sees his kids, but maybe—I don’t know his personal life.

Mind Pump: Yeah.

Mind Pump: So balance.

Mind Pump: So how did you first start selling your product then? Was it to your patients, because you said you had six offices?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: Was it through there first? Or did you do internet marketing? How does that all work?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, more so internet marketing. I also had a little bit of a following from a lot of the posts I was putting up when I was mentioning before I wanted to stop with all the redundancy. So I started putting all these posts and recipes online to try to teach people about how to eat and cook cleaner.

Mind Pump: Oh, did you build up a social media following?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, yeah.

Mind Pump: How did you do that? Through what, Facebook?

Dr. Gustin: Primarily Instagram and then just web traffic.

Dr. Ruscio: It’s great having Sal here. He takes a lot of the pressure of asking questions off me.

Mind Pump: Hey, man. I’m having a good conversation with your guest.

Dr. Ruscio: How about I bring you in as a consultant? I get to sit back.

Mind Pump: Let you just enjoy your show, brother. Have a beer. Enjoy your show.

Dr. Ruscio: This is great.

Dr. Gustin: So launch into that was obviously a huge thing. And then we did some local events. We did more affiliate marketing, which was huge for us. And then all through online and then through our web store.

Mind Pump: You know what’s funny? I think I’ve actually seen you on Instagram. When we were sitting there and I was like, “Where do I know him from?” So I’m sure I’ve probably come across one of your posts or whatever on Instagram. What’s your page called, you Instagram?

Dr. Gustin: My personal one is just DrAnthonyGustin.

Mind Pump: Yeah, I think I have.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, maybe.

Mind Pump: Yeah, I bet I’m connected to you. I remember when you first came up. I was like, “God, he looks familiar.”

Mind Pump: You post shirtless pictures of stuff?

Mind Pump: Yeah, every other Monday.

Dr. Ruscio: That’s why I don’t follow him.

Mind Pump: 100%. 100%

Mind Pump: Adam definitely will follow you.

Dr. Gustin: Shirtless on Monday. Pantsless on Tuesday.

Dr. Ruscio: Oh, man! Speak my language.

Mind Pump: Yeah.

Dr. Gustin’s Other Products

Dr. Ruscio: All right. So you have essentially—is it three? Or are there others? I know you have the pre-, the post-. Well, the post- is really a protein. And then separate to that is a carb powder.

Dr. Gustin: Right so there are eight main products for Equip now, soon to be ten.

Dr. Ruscio: So, see. Last time I looked into your line, I didn’t realize there were that many.

Dr. Gustin: Got to keep up, man.

Dr. Ruscio: I know. So all right. What else?

Dr. Gustin: Two different pre-workout flavors, the grass-fed protein, the sweet potato powder, collagen, turmeric, two plant proteins coming out soon.

Dr. Ruscio: So collagen powder all in and of itself?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: Turmeric powder all in and of itself?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, just grass fed. And then the turmeric has black pepper, berberine, and ginger in it. Got a little blend there.

Mind Pump: That’s good for inflammation. Do you recommend taking that with a fat source?

Dr. Gustin: From what I’ve seen, it hasn’t made that much of a difference from the data. I usually recommend the turmeric stuff just any time through the day.

How to Use Supplements

Dr. Ruscio: Talk more about that, because that’s something I think is really important to just keep a level head regarding. Sometimes in functional medicine, we try to make things so much more complex.

And one of the areas, for the audience (more to come on this definitely), I’ve actually come across a few studies that have shown that even if you have a gastrointestinal issue where you don’t secrete intrinsic factor and you can’t absorb vitamin B12, if you just take a little bit more oral B12, it’s as effective as taking injectable B12. So we get this whole thing, “Oh my god, you have to take B12 as a lozenge or as an injection.” It may not be that big of a deal.

Also, anti-microbials, they oftentimes say take them on an empty stomach. And we have a number of patients where anti-microbials on an empty stomach irritate someone’s stomach. So we have them take them with food instead. And I can’t say I’ve ever noticed an appreciable difference in success of clearing an infection or dysbiosis or SIBO when taking something with or without food.

The reason I think this is relevant is because we don’t want to make these more involved and difficult dosing recommendations.

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Dr. Ruscio: Take it with fat. Take it with this. Take it with that. If it’s not going to have an effect that’s appreciable. So what have you seen with the turmeric? It was with or without fat, correct?

Mind Pump: Yeah, yeah. Well, he’s got the black pepper in there.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: So that helps increase—what does that do? Prevents it from getting broken down by the liver? Or increases its half-life?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, correct. Yeah, so it absorbs a little bit longer the course of the metabolism. And so one of the things, though, that I think it is true that some of the things should be paired with that. For instance, I think a lot of nutrients. Like in our greens powder, we include MCT oil powder to help as a fat so that some of the fat soluble nutrients can then be absorbed a little bit better.

Dr. Ruscio: A, E, K, yeah. Sure. But what about the fat with turmeric? What have you seen there? Have there been any comparative trials done—turmeric with or without fat showing absorption?

Dr. Gustin: I haven’t seen anything convincing, yeah. So when I recommend, I just say, “Just get it in.”

Mind Pump: Yeah, because I read that curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, was fat soluble. So they said, “Take it with a fat.”

Dr. Gustin: So one of the things with that, too, that I think about sometimes is that curcumin is more like a hormetic response. And so your body ramps up production based upon it being a little bit harmful to your body. So a lot of micronutrients do that. And a lot of times, an on an empty stomach, you’d actually have a better response to that, I’d assume, because your body is not processing other things. And so, again, I haven’t seen any convincing research one way or the other to point directly down one rabbit hole.

Mind Pump: I’ve got a question. I don’t know. Maybe you know the answer to this. You said there’s MCT powder in there. It’s a fat. How do they turn a fat into a powder?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, so the one we use is sprayed with tapioca starch.

Mind Pump: Okay. Okay.

Dr. Gustin: So it’s 70% MCT oil that is on tapioca starch.

Mind Pump: Cool.

Dr. Gustin: It’s a tapioca fiber.

Dr. Ruscio: Nice. Nice. So Tony, where can people track you down, find your products?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, so the shirtless Monday and Pantsless Tuesday, that’s on my Instagram. That’s the hottest ticket right there. That’s just DrAnthonyGustin on Instagram.

Mind Pump: Just followed.

Dr. Gustin: So one of the companies is EquipFoods.com. The other is PerfectKeto.com. And so then we have those running side by side. And then DrAnthonyGustin.com where I post random articles. Whenever I try to have to explain something more than one or two times, I figure I might as well write an article about this so I don’t have to do it again.

Dr. Ruscio: And so the pre-/post-workout, is that at Equip Foods?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: And the other, what do people find at the other company?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, so that’s all products meant to help accessibility around ketosis.

Keto Diet & Using Ketones

Dr. Ruscio: Gotcha. Gotcha. So people ask me a lot. And I haven’t looked into this. Someone comes into the office, and they’re finding success with weight loss with ketosis. And they say, “Should I take raspberry ketones to enhance the effect?” What’s the answer? But what’s the why behind the answer just so I can start reiterating this?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, it’s just not anything close to what ketone is. A ketone is essentially a breakdown of fat into what your body can use for energy.

Dr. Ruscio: Right.

Dr. Gustin: So they’re called ketone bodies. And raspberry ketone is just some other random molecule that is named that for some reason that I don’t know of.

Dr. Ruscio: I always thought that was ketones, and they put raspberry flavoring. That’s just the little that I know about it.

Dr. Gustin: Completely different compound.

Mind Pump: I like Creamsicle ketones. Those are the ones I like. Delicious!

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, completely different compound. It has no effect on ketosis. It doesn’t put you into ketosis. It doesn’t help at all with ketosis. It has nothing to do with ketosis.

Mind Pump: Do you like exogenous ketones?

Dr. Gustin: Yes, that’s one of our products.

Mind Pump: Oh, do you?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: I took them before some of my workouts. And I really like the way they felt for stamina. But I tend to eat more of a ketogenic-style diet most of the time.

Dr. Ruscio: With the exogenous ketones, is there some evidence for those helping?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, you guys probably know of Dom D’Agostino.

Mind Pump: Yeah, we’ve had him on the show.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, yeah. So he’s at the forefront of all that stuff, pushing it forward. And he’s published himself tons of stuff. Ryan Lowery, too. I don’t know if you know that guy. He’s down in Dom’s area in Florida. They’re both pushing out so much evidence around all this different stuff, whether it be endurance or whether it be post brain trauma, stuff like this, neurodegenerative disease, metabolic issues.

But I want to caution people that it’s not a magic pill. We get a lot of customer service feedback that, “I took this for three days. And I haven’t lost 15 pounds. What’s going on?”

Dr. Ruscio: Right. Well, I think that’s a reasonable expectation, isn’t it?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, we promised 20, so I can see…

Dr. Ruscio: So do you have to be on a ketogenic diet to derive benefit from exogenous ketones?

Dr. Gustin: No. No, and so this is the reason why I wanted it in the first place, because I was going in and out of ketosis a lot myself. And even when I am in a full ketogenic diet, I would hover around, when you measure ketones in your blood, around 1.5 or so. I feel the best either working out or mentally when I’m at about 3.0. And I can’t get there without supplementation.

Or if I’m not eating a ketogenic diet and in the morning usually do intermittent fasting, if I pop in some exogenous ketones at that point.

Mind Pump: That’s cool that you’ve actually paid attention to the difference when you’re at 1.5 to 3. And you actually see that.

Dr. Gustin: It’s huge. It’s huge.

Mind Pump: That’d be cool to do that. We haven’t done that. We’ve played with it. But we haven’t done that.

Mind Pump: I did that with a pee test, although that’s not necessarily the most accurate.

Mind Pump: Yeah, well, that’s not the most accurate.

Dr. Gustin: And if your body is using the ketones, you actually don’t excrete them, so you can’t use that as an actionable measurement.

Mind Pump: Yeah, that’s a terrible test.

Dr. Gustin: It’s good screening, just quick.

Mind Pump: Yeah, give you an idea if you’re headed in the right direction.

Mind Pump: So I have a question for you. When I get deep into ketosis and then I used exogenous ketones, and I was taking them three times a day because I was like, “Let’s what I can—,” I was experimenting. Had a good time with that.

The pee stick would get purple. So I would not only have tons of ketones I was utilizing, but I had so many I was peeing quite a bit out.

I noticed that I was more prone to fungal infections, like athlete’s foot, while I was on them. And I did that on and off. And I did read some studies showing that it can throw things off if you go too high for too long and how funguses can feed off of ketones. Do you guys know anything about that?

Dr. Ruscio: I did not, no.

Dr. Gustin: No. Yeah, and I would wonder if some of this has to do actually with lack of fiber on a ketogenic diet. So Doc would probably be able to explain this a little bit more. And this is one of the reasons why I cycle on and off to ramp back up my fiber intake. I just think it’s really hard to get enough.

Mind Pump: That’s the number one thing I have to help people out with that love ketogenic. When I look at their fiber, it’s so tough to get fiber without, yeah.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: That’s number one for sure.

Dr. Gustin: And so maybe that’s throwing off the gut flora a little bit. And maybe that’s leading to some of the fungal overgrowth rather than just the ketones levels being high.

Mind Pump: Sure. Sure.

Dr. Gustin: Maybe it’s the fiber being low, which leads to a gut imbalance, which leads to the fungal overgrowth.

Dr. Ruscio: I want to circle back to that in one second. But for people listening, I’m sure they’re wondering, what symptoms or conditions might most benefit from exogenous ketones?

Dr. Gustin: So I don’t want to make any kind of health claims here. So I like it for myself for mental focus and hunger suppression.

Dr. Ruscio: Makes sense.

Dr. Gustin: So when I don’t want to eat all day long or when I want to have a lot of energy. There have been data pointing to—so cancer, as most people know now a book by Travis Christofferson about the metabolic theory of cancer, basically reducing glucose and giving it ketones basically prevents the cancer cell from having any type of fuel. And so that can be a good use for that.

Dr. Ruscio: Now, there are nuances there, though.

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Dr. Ruscio: Neurological cancers seem—and I believe it’s neoblastomas—seem to have the most benefit.

Dr. Gustin: Correct.

Dr. Ruscio: So this doesn’t apply to every cancer, does it? More so neurological cancers benefit? Or do you have any more specifics?

Dr. Gustin: So it looks like the majority. There are some that are very specific and do uptake ketones and use them rather quickly. And so obviously again talk to your doctor about that.

Dr. Ruscio: Right.

Dr. Gustin: But the majority of them throughout the body use glucose as a primary fuel source.

Mind Pump: So I read—I can’t remember who wrote it—but it talked about how—what’s the effect that cancer cells can’t use glucose? There’s a doctor, the first scientist that discovered—

Mind Pump: Warburg.

Mind Pump: Thank you, Warburg Effect. And what this one doctor was saying was that in some cases it does shrink tumors dramatically. And it’s been shown to cure cancers. But really a good way to use ketosis is to weaken cancer to use it as an adjuvant therapy with chemotherapy.

Dr. Gustin: Correct, yeah.

Mind Pump: So you do with chemo weaken the cancer, do your chemotherapy. And you’ve just got so much more effectiveness.

Dr. Ruscio: And I think that’s good, just to help people understand that it’s not natural versus conventional. I think the best application is borrowing the best from each side of medicine, either conventional or alternative so as to have the best outcome.

Dr. Gustin: I would 100% agree, yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, yeah. Cool.

Dr. Gustin: Obviously, not just cancer. Weight loss, when people have any type of metabolic dysfunction.

Dr. Ruscio: So do exogenous ketones, even if you’re on a non-ketogenic diet, help with weight loss?

Dr. Gustin: So I would say they could if they help you regulate your appetite a little bit more and get to more of a whole food—

Dr. Ruscio: Makes sense.

Dr. Gustin: Or help you transition into a ketogenic diet. It’s not a weight loss pill or a weight loss powder.

Dr. Ruscio: Gotcha.

Dr. Gustin: And I would never market it as such even though some companies do unfortunately.

Mind Pump: Are they already doing that?

Dr. Gustin: Oh, yeah. Every single one of them.

Mind Pump: Of course!

Mind Pump: Already?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: Of course!

Mind Pump: It hasn’t even been that long.

Dr. Gustin: That’s why I think people ask me, “Why am I not losing so much weight on this?”

Well, what are you eating otherwise?

“Well, I had brownies and cake last night and then had exogenous ketones afterwards. Shouldn’t I be in ketosis now?” It doesn’t work that way.

Mind Pump: It’s like when I was a kid, my aunt had Slim Fast diet ice cream bars in the freezer.

Mind Pump: Did you eat the whole box?

Mind Pump: No, I remember because I was a kid. And my aunt would be like, “Hey, you guys want a popsicle?” I’m like, “Hey, man. I’m trying to gain muscle. I don’t want to lose weight. Keep those popsicles away from me” because I thought they were a weight loss popsicle or whatever.

You know what I use ketones for now—I don’t use them so much pre-workout or anything like that, but what I use them now for is as a nootropic.

Dr. Ruscio: Yep.

Mind Pump: So I’ll take exogenous ketones with—sometimes, I’ll take a racetam like piracetam or maybe even Noopept, maybe a choline. And phew, man! I am fired.

Dr. Ruscio: Let’s do a little tangent because, to be honest with you, I just don’t want to stop the podcast because I have a couple beers here in front of me. And if we stop the podcast, then who knows what’s going to happen. So we’re going to keep the podcast going for a little while.

Dr. Ruscio Resources

Hey, everyone, in case you’re someone who is in need of help or would like to learn more, I just wanted to take a moment to let you know what resources are available. For those who would like to become a patient, you can find all that information at drruscio.com/gethelp.

For those who are looking for more of a self-help approach and/or to learn more about the gut and the microbiota, you can request to be notified when my print book becomes available at drruscio.com/gutbook. You can also get a copy of my free 25-page gut health eBook there.

And finally, if you’re a healthcare practitioner looking to learn more about my functional medicine approach, you can visit drruscio.com/review. All of these pages are at the drruscio.com URL, which is D-R-R-U-S-C-I-O dot com, then slash either ‘gethelp,’ ‘gutbook,’ or ‘review.’ Okay, back to the show.

Nootropics – Types & Uses

Dr. Ruscio: You talk about nootropics. But let’s give people a little intro to that topic. Nootropics essentially help with focus, neurological function.

Mind Pump: The next hottest supplement on the market.

Mind Pump: Yeah, it’s all nootropics now.

Mind Pump: Silicon Valley everywhere.

Mind Pump: There’s actually a definition of what nootropic is. And nootropics are supposed to improve cognitive function. Stimulants get thrown in that mix. But purists will tell you that those aren’t nootropics.

Dr. Ruscio: A lot of nootropics, you feel stimulated when you’re on them.

Mind Pump: Yes.

Dr. Ruscio: And this might be one of the things. And I am definitely not an expert in this area.

Mind Pump: Have you ever messed with them? Have you taken nootropics?

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, I’ve done some experiments—well, not that phentermine is, Provigil maybe.

Mind Pump: That’s when you took it rectally?

[laughter]

Dr. Ruscio: That was the most fun.

Mind Pump: Why is this not working? Whoa! It’s hitting me hard.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, well, I was constipated for weeks.

I do notice when I use phentermine I get a lot of work done. But I can’t do deep thinking work. I can smash out emails. If it’s like a Saturday afternoon and I’ve got 125 emails and I don’t feel like working, that is something I will sometimes use as an ergogenic aid.

If I have to think about what does all this evidence sum down to and how can I break this down to make this easy to understand, this deep conceptual thinking, I can’t be on something like phentermine, because it’s too much of a sped up sort of thing.

But one of the things that I think is a double-edged sword with nootropics is you can use them in the short term or episodically. But if you use them chronically, you have a tendency to burn out. That’s been my experience. But I’m curious to hear what you guys—

Mind Pump: Or your tolerance getting built up to where you’ve got to take a ton of it just to feel it.

Mind Pump: You’re taking stimulants.

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Mind Pump: So stimulants are not piracetam, aniracetam.

Dr. Ruscio: But I’ve taken aniracetam and piracetam. And that was the same thing.

Mind Pump: So those are the synthetic-based nootropics. And there really isn’t much evidence—there’s some evidence showing it increases verbal fluency. There’s some evidence showing it helps people with cognitive decline. So I know in Russia, Noopept for example, which is not a racetam, but it’s similar to a racetam, is prescribed to people showing cognitive decline. And it’s got some benefit.

And then you’ve got to look at other substances that may improve the creative process. Now, that’s a very difficult thing to classify. But there’s a classic test where they’ll take people through what’s called, I think, priming or word priming where they’ll give you a word, and then you have to think of all the things that can be related to that word. “Give me words connected to the color blue.” And then you come up with all these different words.

And certain substances will increase your ability to do that. And these are the classic. Some of them are drugs like cannabis, for example. Marijuana is known to be something that increases or improves upon that. But would you consider marijuana—

Dr. Ruscio: Is that why you’re so creative?

Mind Pump: Maybe. But all joking aside, if I’m going to do linear, logical thinking, cannabis is not a good idea. If I’m going to do creative, inventive brainstorming, cannabis is excellent. It’s an excellent substance to use for those types of things.

Dr. Ruscio: And taking a step back, caffeine, specifically when we reviewed the studies on coffee, shows to have some benefit for—probably the most benefit—for certain neurological conditions like Parkinson’s.

Mind Pump: Dopamine-related ones.

Dr. Ruscio: Cognitive decline. So caffeine is one. And also creatine is another. And actually, you reminded me of something that I forgot about when I was interviewed on your podcast. Creatine can be a nootropic.

Mind Pump: Absolutely. Especially if you’re a vegan, 100%. In fact, vegans who supplement with creatine show a consistent improvement in IQ with IQ tests. Probably not because creatine is this nootropic that works for everybody. It’s probably because vegans are deficient.

Dr. Ruscio: Sure. Sure.

Mind Pump: Because they don’t get creatine. Their body is trying to make it from the amino acids. And I can’t remember the two amino acids that turn into creatine.

Dr. Ruscio: Alright. But let’s go back to—you’ve got a long day as a janitor coming up. You’ve got a lot of stuff that you’ve got to do. You really need to be high level functioning. What’s your nootropic stack that you’ll do?

Mind Pump: Okay. If I’m looking to do linear, straight—

Dr. Ruscio: Like lots of mopping and waxing of the floor.

Mind Pump: If I’m answering emails or if I’m doing something like that, like you said.

Dr. Ruscio: Right.

Mind Pump: Then a stimulant is going to be excellent. Ritalin, Adderall, or Provigil, or modafinil. Those are going to be the ones that are probably going to help you.

If I’m looking to do creative-type work, cannabis may be a good thing. Alcohol, believe it or not, for some people is good. You eliminate alcohol and cannabis, and you can pretty much erase 80% of the music that’s written out in the world today.

Dr. Ruscio: Finish, then I want to ask you a question about cannabis.

Mind Pump: One of my favorite nootropic stacks, if I’m going to be quite honest, if I want to be on fire and I want to get on a podcast and be on fire and if I eat right and everything like that, ketogenic diet, exogenous ketones, piracetam—

Mind Pump: And cocaine.

Mind Pump: And yeah, sprinkle some crystal meth on that.

[laughter]

Dr. Ruscio: It’s a great mix.

Mind Pump: And I’m going to do great.

Mind Pump: What about choline? Do you put choline with that, acetylcholine?

Mind Pump: Depends. If I eat eggs that day or something like that. Too much choline can make me feel lethargic. But if I don’t have it in my diet, then I’ll supplement with alpha GPC or acetylcholine.

Mind Pump: Which is in our coffee.

Mind Pump: Yeah, the Kimera coffee has that in there. Yeah, that’s pretty much it. That’s my go-to.

Microdosing with Psychedelic Substances

Here’s one that’s getting really popular right now that people are swearing by, especially where we’re from, Silicon Valley, which is the micro dosing of psychedelic substances like lysergic acid diethylamide or psilocybin, which you find in magic mushrooms.

Dr. Ruscio: So is there research behind that? That’s one of the things I’d like to see.

[laughter]

I don’t mean N of 1.

Mind Pump: There’s a ton of research.

Mind Pump: Lots of anecdotes.

Mind Pump: You know why you’re so energetic right now? Because I sprinkled some in your coffee.

I can’t remember the name of the scientist. And this is horrible because I have a photographic memory for certain things. And other things I don’t. Names are one of the things I don’t. But there is a scientist right now that is compiling tons and tons of testimonial data on people who use micro doses on a regular basis. And so far, he’s got tens of thousands of people on there.

And if you take just that data—and of course it’s not gold standard—a lot of these people are eliminating their anti-depressant drugs. They’re eliminating their anxiolytic drugs, their Xanax or whatever. And people are saying it’s making them feel amazing.

And he’s finding that the way to use it is not to use it every single day. But the best way so far that he’s found is people are using an every three day or every four day basis. But this is a big thing right now in Silicon Valley. There have been several articles written on it. I’ve trained some top—

Mind Pump: There’s books—have you read Stealing Fire or Rise of Superman yet?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: No.

Mind Pump: Great. Have you read both those books?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah.

Mind Pump: Great books, yeah. And he talks about the hedonic calendar at the end of Stealing Fire. He gets into that stuff. So there’s a lot of cool stuff going on.

Dr. Ruscio: Hedonic calendar, what’s that?

Mind Pump: Just how he cycles through things.

Dr. Ruscio: Oh, I see. I see.

Mind Pump: Yeah.

Cannabis, THC, & CBD

Dr. Ruscio: Coming back to our point about calories and macros, this cycling.

Mind Pump: Yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: With cannabis, do you notice THC versus CBD for different things that you’re doing?

Mind Pump: Of course. Absolutely.

Mind Pump: Oh, hell, yeah. Big time.

Dr. Ruscio: Okay.

Mind Pump: So CBD—

Dr. Ruscio: And I’m sorry. Just for the audience. There are a few different fractions in cannabis. In my opinion, the two most relevant are THC and CBD. I think they both have a therapeutic effect. But if you want to have potentially some of the anti-inflammatory benefit from cannabis without having these psychoactive feeling high, feeling laughy, whatever, then CBD may be a little bit better.

We are going to have an expert on cannabis—

Mind Pump: Excellent.

Dr. Ruscio: Come on the podcast in the near future.

Mind Pump: Not us?

Mind Pump: Excellent.

Mind Pump: If you don’t want to have fun, go CBD.

Dr. Ruscio: Adam is an experiential expert.

Mind Pump: Yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: But he can’t remember anything that he’s learned, which is the problem.

[laughter]

Mind Pump: The one side effect from—

Dr. Ruscio: So he’s a brilliant researcher. But he can’t remember any of his research.

Mind Pump: So cannabis is a—

Mind Pump: He’s very creative.

Mind Pump: So personal experience. I had a family member, someone very close to me, who was stricken with terminal cancer years ago. And so I dove very, very deep into the science of cannabis. So this is something I’ve been passionate about probably for the last five years.

And what you find with cannabinoids—CBD and THC are the most well-known. THC because it’s what gives you psychoactive effects. CBD because CBD has some therapeutic effects as well, and it’s not psychoactive. And pharmaceutical companies have jumped on CBD because they’re trying to find a way to make money off it.

Dr. Ruscio: Sure.

Mind Pump: But there are lots of cannabinoids. There are also terpenes that are found in cannabis, all of which have some effects. For example, cannabichromene, which is CBC, has effects on the brain where it actually shows it promotes the building of new brain cells. So that’s a very interesting topic.

Dr. Ruscio: I think the conditions where we show the most benefit, at least from the couple review papers that I’ve read, which are challenging to parse through because in some of the conditions you have only animal data. There are only a few condition classes—

Mind Pump: And who’s to blame for that? They make it almost impossible to study cannabis.

Dr. Ruscio: Right. So there are only a few condition classes where we really have decent, human-level evidence. But in bowel conditions, like inflammatory bowel disease and colitis, there’s definitely some impressive research there. And also in certain inflammatory neurological conditions, there’s some impressive evidence.

Mind Pump: If you want to—

Dr. Ruscio: But the one downside—sorry to cut you off.

Mind Pump: Oh, go ahead.

Dr. Ruscio: The one downside seems to be immunosuppression, which is too much or—immunosuppression/anti-inflammatory are kind of the same thing. Too much of that can increase the risk for viral infections, viral reactivation, or other types of infections. So it’s like anything else in biology. There’s not a free lunch. But it’s trying to find that right balance for you.

Mind Pump: So the best studies for cannabis right now that you’re going to find are coming out of Israel. Israel actually has funded studies on cannabis. They have trials going on right now with cancer patients, with people who have ailments. Cannabinoids seem to be very effective for autoimmune issues, for the very reasons that you said. However—

Dr. Ruscio: I’m sorry. Most of the cancer studies, aren’t they just showing that they help mitigate side effects and help increase appetite?

Mind Pump: Yes, but there are also some very—Dr. Guzman in Spain was one of the first well-controlled studies to show the anti-cancer effects of cannabinoids. He gave patients with multi-form glioma, which is a very terminal and non-curable form of brain cancer, high doses of THC. And he had remarkable effects of it.

Cannabinoids have anti-cancer effects. In fact, if you go to the cancer.gov website of our own government’s website, they actually talk about the anti-cancer effects of cannabinoids.

The interesting thing about cannabinoids is—first and foremost, we know there are two receptors to cannabinoids. But there seems to be a third one that we haven’t identified. CBD does not attach to the two that we know of. But we do know that it’s mediated through another receptor.

We also know that the body creates its own endocannabinoids. In fact, we identified the endocannabinoids after we discovered the phytocannabinoids in cannabis. There is a scientist right now throwing around a term called endocannabinoid deficiency syndrome, where maybe a lot of these problems that people are encountering that are benefiting from the use of cannabis are because their bodies are not producing enough of their own endocannabinoids, like anandamide, for example.

Dr. Ruscio: Interesting. Interesting.

Mind Pump: Very, very interesting. Here’s the thing about cannabinoids. When you look at the way chemicals affect the synapse, for example, in the brain, they communicate from pre- to post-synapse. That’s why one is called pre, and one is called post. Cannabinoids work backwards. They actually work inversely. They cause the post-synapse to communicate to the pre-synapse. It’s literally a feedback mechanism.

Cannabinoids, the endocannabinoids of the body, are literally homeostasis regulators. So to what you were saying about the immune effects on the body, if you give cannabis to a cancer patient or a patient with HIV or AIDS, you actually see a boost in immune system. When you give it to people with autoimmune issues, you see an immunosuppressive effect.

Dr. Ruscio: So it’s somewhat immuno-adaptogenic you could say.

Mind Pump: Immunomodulating is the term that they use to describe cannabinoids. Also with cannabis, the studies are showing—there are a lot of studies going on.

GW Pharmaceutical is actually a company that is investing quite a bit of money and research into studying cannabinoids, because they’re one of the only pharmaceutical companies that can legally sell a naturally cannabinoid-based drug. Epidiolex is one of them. And there is one right now that has orphan drug status that’s for intractable epilepsy.

But what they’re finding in a lot of these studies is singular cannabinoids aren’t nearly as effective as what they call the entourage effect, kind of like this all of the cannabinoids seem to work better—

Dr. Ruscio: And that seems to be the theme in herbal medicine where the entire plant may have more medicinal benefit than an extract.

Mind Pump: And here’s the thing. We know about CBD and THC. And so we say, “Okay. If you have more CBD, you’re less likely to get anxiety. And if you have a lot of THC, euphoric. But you may get more paranoia.” This, that, and the other.

But personal experiences will tell you that’s not always the case. Certain strains will affect people differently. There are other cannabinoids in there.

Dr. Ruscio: So let me offer my own experience, because for me this was a game changer. Now, this is my experience and one or two of my friends. So it may not apply to everybody. But there is definitely a subset of people that do not do well with cannabis. And these are people who will say, “When I smoke, I feel like I get introverted, shy, self-critical, insecure—”

Mind Pump: Paranoid.

Dr. Ruscio: “Paranoid.” And I was one of those people until I decided to experiment a little bit with medical cannabis to see what sort of benefit I may have. I had a lot of patients ask me about it. And I said this is something I want to experiment a little bit with just so I can speak to it and because it might be fun also.

[laughter]

Mind Pump: Let’s be honest.

Dr. Ruscio: So I tried the standard whatever recommendation. And I noticed it brought me right back to when I was a punk kid in high school behind the dumpster, smoking pot with my friends. I felt insecure, all those things that I didn’t like.

And then I finally tried something that pretty much had no THC and had only CBD. And I noticed none of that effect. And I’ve noticed that I can do about a milligram of THC. If I go much about a milligram, I start getting introverted, over analytical. And I’ve had two friends who are the same way. And I convinced them to try a CBD-only preparation.

Mind Pump: A 1:1 ratio.

Dr. Ruscio: Not even 1:1. And most of the preparation I use, you’re talking 15 mg CBD to 1 mg or less than a milligram of THC. And they’ve had the same experience, where they’ve said, “Usually, whenever I use cannabis, I feel weird, introverted, self-conscious. But totally different experience.”

I just offer that for people who might be a candidate for some of the anti-inflammatory benefits of cannabis but have been shy about using it because of the known paranoia-type side effects. You may want to try something with CBD and a THC content of a milligram or less.

But have you had any experience with that or anybody?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, make that three friends of yours. Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah, so there’s a strong subset of people who I feel like fall into that category.

Dr. Gustin: But as well, there’s a 20:1 or 18:1 CBD to THC that is completely different, and none of those symptoms as you were talking about, which can be almost paralyzing if you do have them in a social setting.

Dr. Ruscio: Yeah.

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, you don’t want to—

Mind Pump: CBD is anxiolytic. It’s a clear anxiolytic. That’s how it’s being prescribed. That’s what it’s being studied for. THC has euphoric effects. However, the cannabinoid receptors in the brain that THC activates, you can have a high concentration of them in parts of the brain that process fear. And so when people get really high on THC, a lot of times they get really scared. They have a bad experience with it.

Now, the funny thing is it’s not always that. For example, I can have THC. And I can have a good time. But there are some strains that I cannot touch, like White Widow. Okay. I’ve tried it several times. I get borderline—I’ll lose my mind on it. I am getting really paranoid. I’m thinking crazy [bleep] happening.

Dr. Ruscio: I haven’t so much noticed that. I tried when I was going through some of my experimentation. I tried—and I forget. They say, I believe it’s the Indica that’s more mellowing and less prone to cause…. I tried the Indica. I tried the this. I tried the gold-award-winning strain. And they all caused the same reaction. And the only time I noticed I didn’t have that was when I had THC at 1 mg or below. That’s just me.

The Medical Marijuana Industry

Mind Pump: And I hate to get into anecdotal stuff with marijuana because, let me tell you, being somebody who was a part of two of the first clubs that ever started in the Bay Area, it’s not regulated. It’s a disaster still. And somebody who thinks they’re getting 25% THC plant that was grown a certain way is rarely ever getting what they think.

Dr. Ruscio: Oh, so label is not representative.

Mind Pump: Very much so. Oh, no. It’s not regulated tightly at all. And if you knew how that all worked—for example, so if you go to a place, your best places, your most reputable places that post the THC, the CBD level. And it has no pesticides or whatever like that. Well, all I have to do is I take in an eighth, which is a tiny little portion of marijuana.

Dr. Ruscio: Sure.

Mind Pump: And I bring it to a lab like Steep Hill, which is probably one of the most reputable labs in the area, one of the first original ones, and have them test that. I take that out of an entire pound or 10 pounds.

Mind Pump: And that’s what they say all of it is.

Mind Pump: And that’s what they say all of it is. So I could literally give you whatever I want. And then I can attach that sticker to it. So there’s no real regulation. And when you were somebody who was a part of these clubs and you cared about the revenue streams that were coming through, you were doing whatever it took to make sure that’s happening. So that’s happening right now. That’s every bit happening.

Dr. Ruscio: Gotcha.

Mind Pump: So when Sal and when I hear people talk about that stuff, how they feel—well, and I also was on the growing side. So I’ve done everything from doing storefronts to growing it and from organic to outdoor to indoor and testing all that stuff and paying attention. Very few people are doing that and doing what they say.

Dr. Ruscio: Right.

Mind Pump: There’s nobody who’s regulating the farmer who is pumping all kinds of chemicals to get the largest buds to get the most weight where he makes the most amount of money and stopping him from bringing it over to a place and saying, “I do it this way.” So there’s a lot of that going on in the industry. So when we talk about things like, “Oh, this is the way this makes—this strain makes me feel this way. Or oh, this percentage of this, I get a little—” Well, a lot of that right now is still very, very gray.

Mind Pump: No, you’ve got to look at the study. You’ve got to look at the science right now. And it’s super undeveloped right now. But like I said, Israel is putting out some interesting stuff. GW Pharmaceutical is funding quite a bit of science.

Dr. Ruscio: You know what I’m thinking? Sal, sorry. Not to cut you off. But when we have—because there have been a few medical-level training seminars for doctors on medicinal use of cannabis. And I’ve found a few of the presenters, the teachers at these seminars. We’re going to have a couple of them on the podcast, not at the same time. But let’s try to set up somehow a podcast with you guys on there.

Mind Pump: I’d love it.

Dr. Ruscio: Because clearly you know more about marijuana than I do.

Mind Pump: Than the average trader.

[laughter]

Mind Pump: We’re a little unique with that.

Dr. Ruscio: So I’ll have certain things that I want to ask.

Dr. Gustin: You guys are really into this.

Dr. Ruscio: But it would be good to have you on there to get into some of these granular details.

Mind Pump: Yeah, I’ll tell you what—

Dr. Ruscio: In fact, Sal is probably just going to be running my show in about three months.

Mind Pump: Exactly. No, I’ll tell you what.

Mind Pump: Watch out, man. He did it to us.

Mind Pump: For people who are in the industry or even if you’re in the market, look at cannabinoid-based therapeutic medicines for the future. You’re going to see adjuvant therapies with chemotherapy with cannabinoids for the purpose of treating cancer, not just the side effects. You’re going to see immunomodulating drugs for people with autoimmune diseases. You’re going to see diabetes. They’re looking at diabetes.

Here’s the thing about cannabinoids, because back when I first started studying it, I remember thinking, “These stoners are full of it. How can this do all these things? That’s ridiculous.”

Dr. Ruscio: Right.

Cannabinoid Receptors

Mind Pump: But the cannabinoid receptors, the two that we know of, they’re the most abundant G-protein coupled receptor in the entire body.

Dr. Ruscio: Really?

Mind Pump: They are literally everywhere. The CB1 receptors are in the central nervous system. The CB2 receptor is in the immune system. It’s throughout your entire body. If you look at a map of the CB receptors, from your toes to your head, your brain, your spine, your stomach is full of them. So is your liver. They’re everywhere. So then it explains why it has so many effects to so many different people, because it’s attached to a receptor that’s all over the place.

Dr. Gustin: Question that I have for you on that is, where are the THC ones in highest concentration?

Mind Pump: The THC attaches most strongly actually to both the CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 is in the central nervous system, so the brain.

Dr. Gustin: Because I have the same experimentation results, that any form, any type of amount of THC over a certain amount and I just go straight into that zone. And so maybe there’s a subset of people with almost a polymorphism in that receptor that predisposes them to that type of—

Dr. Ruscio: Or maybe they have more of a distribution of THC receptors in certain neurological tissues compared to others.

Dr. Gustin: Right, exactly.

DHC Receptors

Dr. Ruscio: Kind of like men who go bald have more DHT receptors in the scalp.

[laughter]

Mind Pump: Point to Adam.

Dr. Ruscio: But do you know what I’m saying?

Dr. Gustin: Right.

Dr. Ruscio: We all gain more DHT as we age. Some men become bald. Some men don’t. My theory is because there are more DHT receptors in some men in the scalp than others.

Mind Pump: Actually, that’s been proven.

Mind Pump: Right. Right.

Mind Pump: Same reason why some men get—

Dr. Ruscio: I haven’t looked into it. But that’s what I was thinking.

Mind Pump: No, that’s true. Same reason why some men get benign prostate hyperplasia and other don’t.

Dr. Ruscio: And as a quick side note, there’s a cool laser that may be very effective—and very is all relative—for preventing male pattern baldness. And we’ve been doing some research on it. And we’re going to be talking about that more in the future.

Mind Pump: See if we could sponsor.

Mind Pump: Here’s a natural remedy for that.

Mind Pump: He loves lasers.

Saw Palmetto & Balding

Mind Pump: I’ll tell you a natural remedy for that. Saw palmetto. 35% of men who’ve used saw palmetto have halting and reversal of hair loss because saw palmetto seems to—if a 5-alpha reductase. So it reduces the conversion of testosterone to dehydrate testosterone, so you get less DHT.

Dr. Ruscio: And saw palmetto has been used in comparative trials next to finasteride. And they’ve shown comparable, to be fair, comparable effectiveness. However, finasteride can cause, in some people, what’s called post-finasteride syndrome, which I just think—so I’m sorry. Post-finasteride syndrome is just men who notice they have negative libido side effects.

Mind Pump: Because DHT is an androgen.

Dr. Ruscio: Exactly. So I think what ends up happening is you have men who may have a predilection toward not having great libido as they get older anyway. And they go on a compound that may have that side effect. And there is this psychological overemphasis on a potential side effect anyway.

Mind Pump: Some men get a higher sex drive.

Dr. Ruscio: What I’ve noticed with a handful of people, not that I’m an expert in treating this and noticing side effects, but when men take saw palmetto, they notice a similar sort of libido lull, probably because anything that blocks DHT could potentially cause a lull in libido, because DHT is an androgen.

This is why I find laser therapeutics attractive, because you won’t have that systemic hormonal altering profile that you’ll see with either saw palmetto or finasteride. You’ll have a localized effect on the receptors and the receptors only and not affect global receptors or hormones globally.

Dr. Gustin: Interesting.

Mind Pump: That’s great information.

Dr. Ruscio: And I should mention that the laser has been used in a side-by-side trial to finasteride and shown comparable effectiveness. Now, more to come on that, because I have all the literature, and I’m in the process of reviewing it.

Mind Pump: I feel like you should be sponsored by them.

Mind Pump: Look at that beautiful head of hair on this guy.

Mind Pump: Yeah, I know.

Mind Pump: You have a lot of hair.

Mind Pump: That’s a great pitch right there. I’m sold. Give me a laser, dude.

Dr. Ruscio: I have my own personal interest in this because I want to make sure I always have a good head of hair. And I also don’t want to do anything to tank my libido. And so I’ve been thinking about—

Mind Pump: Yeah, what’s the use of being good looking if you can’t have sex?

Mind Pump: That’s right.

Dr. Ruscio: Exactly.

Mind Pump: What a waste!

Dr. Ruscio: It’s a tough toss up. What’s more important, being good looking or being able to have sex? Because you want to be good looking in order to have sex.

Mind Pump: That’s right.

Dr. Ruscio: So yeah. So it’s been something that I’ve been thinking about. And I’ve had some men in the clinic that we’ve worked with who’ve used saw palmetto. And then their libido goes down. And so that’s why a non-systemic-acting, oral therapy makes sense. So I think there’s some promise with the lasers.

And the nice thing is some of these lasers have become not that expensive where you could buy one. And it wouldn’t be something that’s ridiculously expensive.

And also, you can use these at home on your own. You don’t have to go to a doctor’s office for a treatment.

Mind Pump: Very interesting.

Dr. Ruscio: You could buy a laser device and use it at home.

Mind Pump: Very cool.

Dr. Ruscio: So more to come there, I guess.

Mind Pump: One thing on the cannabis that I did want to mention. You were talking about THC and how it affects you negatively. Here’s an interesting area of research—cannabinoids that are still bound. Instead of THC, THC-A, which is what you find in cannabis before you heat it up. When you heat up cannabis, you decarboxylate it. And then THC becomes psychoactive.

When you get it in its raw form, you get THC-A. In high doses, THC-A, CBD-A, all of them in their acid form have been showing to have lots of the therapeutic effects with none of the psychoactive effects.

So this is all anecdote right now. But there is a little bit of science supporting this. You’re seeing now people taking the plant, not smoking it or whatever, juicing it, and drinking the cannabinoids—not getting the psychoactive effects but getting the benefits from it.

Dr. Ruscio: What about rectally? How does that work for you?

[laughter]

Mind Pump: Good.

[laughter]

Mind Pump: Good one.

Dr. Ruscio: Alright. I think we’ve embarrassed ourselves enough.

Mind Pump: Use that one.

Episode Wrap-Up

Dr. Ruscio: So Mind Pump crew, thank you, guys, for hanging out. Anthony, thanks for coming on the show.

Dr. Gustin: Of course.

Dr. Ruscio: And tell people again what your website is.

Dr. Gustin: It’s DrAnthonyGustin.com.

Dr. Ruscio: And the other, the pre/post?

Dr. Gustin: Yeah, EquipFoods.com.

Dr. Ruscio: EquipFoods.

Dr. Gustin: And then PerfectKeto.com.

Dr. Ruscio: Cool. Awesome. Well, thanks, guys, for hanging out. Let’s have another beer.

Mind Pump: Yeah, cheers!

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.

Discussion

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