Oct 18, 2020
When Sasha Shulgin was at the end of his life, experiencing dementia, I had the privilege of interviewing him. Then both my parents got dementia. These experiences taught me lessons in life I won't forget, and I want to share them with you.
Hi everyone. I really hate that I have to begin my show again, for the third time in a row, with an apology for how long it’s taking me to produce new episodes. But I’ve really been 2020’d hard. Since the last episode I’ve had three people in my life die. My best friend from high school, Pat Welch, died in a motorcycle accident, my good friend and colleague, Kevin Zeese, who founded of the Drug Policy Foundation and served on the board of DanceSafe for a while, died of a heart attack, and just week ago my step father died of covid.
And… my mom also has covid, and she’s been in the hospital for the past two weeks. And for some unknown reason… it might be the covid… right around the same time she got it, she lost virtually all of short term memory, and she can’t care for herself.
So for the past two weeks I’ve been on the phone with doctors, nurses, lawyers, and her friends in England… to try to manage her care.
And I’ve been talking to her every day. And it’s tragic, because when you lose your short term memory you can’t grieve. Her husband died a week ago but she keeps asking her nurses, “where’s Jim?” And she has to re-learn over and over again multiple times a day that he died. It’s like she’s being continually re-traumatized. You need to be able to encode new memories or you can’t grieve. I can’t think of anything worse, and it’s really affecting me.
My mom has always been a smart, super competent, and highly motivated woman who took care of everyone around her, and now she’s in this horrible twilight zone hell of non-stop misery and I feel helpless to do anything about it.
The nurses aren’t allowed to tell me what medications she’s taking. She can’t remember obviously. All she does is cry and say, “what am I gonna do. I can’t live without him.” It’s just awful.
And because of the covid, it’s even worse. She’s not allowed visitors. She’s just alone in a hospital bed crying and confused. Even the doctors who might be capable of assessing her short-term memory issues aren’t allowed to see her. I’m not allowed to fly over there. Even if I did I couldn’t see her now. I’d have to quarantine for two weeks first. So I feel helpless.
FUCK YOU 2020! YOU FUCKING SUCK!
Hi again everyone. So I recorded that about a week ago. I don’t know what I was thinking, how I would possible have been able to record an entire show in the state I was in back then.
I t may have been because I started taking Adderall every day. I convinced myself it would help me manage my mother’s situation, and maybe it did, but I think it really just added to my overall stress. And maybe minor mania too. There was no way I record an episode in that state. No way in hell. Why would I even want to? I think I felt guilty that yet again a month was ticking by with no new episodes, and I do feel a commitment to you all. My listeners.
But anyway, I think I can do it now, and I’ll tell you why. First, my mother’s getting better. She finally tested negative for covid, and the past three days her memory is much better. Maybe it WAS the covid affecting her brain, but it also could have been this one medication she was taking.
After fighting with her nurses for a week I finally got a list of her medications, and she’d been on this Parkinson’s drug called Pramipexole. She doesn’t have Parkinson’s, but Pramipexole is sometimes prescribed for restless leg syndrome, this condition where your leg twitches when you try to fall asleep.
Anyway, as I was googling her medications, all these warnings popped up around Pramipexole about, I fucking kid you not, SEVERE SHORT TERM MEMORY IMPAIRMENT!
Are you kidding me? A twelve-year old could have discovered this about this drug, yet the nurses who were witnessing her memory problems on a daily basis were giving it to her every night.
So I fucking called them right away and told them to stop giving her that drug, and they told me they couldn’t without talking to her GP. In England a GP, or general practitioner, is like a primary care physician in the States.
I said, “what about a doctor there” and they said the covid ward doctors couldn’t make a decision about anything other than covid treatment.
Jesus fuck! So then I realized I had to talk to her GP, but for the past month her friends in England had been trying to get a hold of her GP and they would never call back. My sister tried also about a week ago… specifically to try to get a list of her medications, and they wouldn’t even put my sister (HER DAUGHTER) through. Everyone had been telling them that my mom had this sudden dementia and she needed to be assessed. I don’t know if it was the covid or bureaucracy or whatever, but her GP wouldn’t talk to anyone.
So I called and told the receptionist that I was a doctor in America, and my mother was likely suffering memory impairment from a certain medication she was on, and that we had been trying to get a hold of her doctor for a month, and the situation was critical now, and I want to the doctor to immediately call the hospital and have them discontinue this medication.
“Right away Dr. Sferios. Let me put you through to her doctor.”
Same conversation with her doctor, with an added, “didn’t you know Pramipexole has a common side effect of severe short term memory loss? And… why is it in England it takes a month to get through to a GP?”
Well, he called and had this Parkinson’s drug discontinued right away.
And the next day, my mom seemed a little bit better. Yesterday too, and today… I just got off the phone with her, and she’s back. I fucking have my mother back.
Now, it’s too early to know whether it will last. Maybe it was the covid. Maybe it was the medication, or maybe even she’s just having a good spell, which can happen with dementia. But either way, Pramipexole is contraindicated with dementia. You just don’t prescribe someone that drug if they are experiencing dementia, especially for an off-label use like restless leg syndrome.
I stopped taking the adderall, by the way. Can’t fucking do stimulants eery day. My blood pressure was high. It wasn’t good for me.
Drugs. This is a podcast about drugs. But look, if you’ve been following me, you know I don’t compartmentalize my life. I talk about everything. So this is my personal life. But I’m telling you, as I always do, because it’s who I am. Full honesty. Full authenticity. And I wanted you to know why, once again, I wasn’t putting out regular episodes.
But there are some drug lessons here, aren’t there. Other than watch out for adderall and high blood pressure, particular when you hit middle age… there’s also something obvious here, but I guess not obvious enough for my mom… who’s a hello a smart woman. And that is… don’t ever let a doctor prescribe a drug for you without researching it first yourself.
You can’t trust doctors to know everything about every drug they prescribe. New drugs are released constantly and they get pens and paperweights sent to them by the pharmaceuticals with the new drug’s name on them in order to convince the doctor to prescribe it… FOR MONEY!
If you wouldn’t take a new research chemical without researching it, why would you take a pharmaceutical EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE, without researching it?
And I get it. Some people want to trust their doctors. They don’t trust themselves to know what the truth is. But even if you are’t the brightest egg, at least google and read the top five links, and if you see side effects that bother you, like “SEVERE SHORT TERM MEMORY IMPAIRMENT,” at least ask your doctor about it?
Say, “hey doc I noticed this side effect of this drug you want me to take.”
And if you doctor says, “I’m not too worried about that” then ask, “why not?” And if you don’t get an answer that makes sense, you need to do a risk-benefit analysis for yourself.
Is a twitching leg at night worth losing all your short term
Is a night of cocaine fun worth dying because you didn’t test it for fentanyl first?
We’re a drug happy culture, and I’m not against any drug, as I’m sure all of you know. But remember pushers have an interest in getting you on their drugs. This is capitalism.
And to be honest, illicit drug makers are FAR MORE ETHICAL than the pharmaceuticals. The NBOMe’s have kind of disappeared. So have some of the dangerous cathinones. When a recreational drug comes out and people start dying, we’ve seen a tendency for manufactures to stop selling them. The dark net these days is mostly filled with the good drugs. You used to be able to get anything. Now most of them have banned fentanyl, and the nBOMe’s etc.
Pharmaceuticals won’t do that. They will lie about their studies. They will coverup the dangers, so with pharmaceuticals you need to be even more vigilant.
The cartels of course are an exception when it comes to illegal drugs. They’re more like the pharmaceuticals than they are small underground chemists. That’s why fentanyl is more prevalent than ever. Despite the dark net markets refusing to allow them, and small-time chemists no longer making it, giant Chinese labs in cahoots with Mexican cartels are still flooding our drug supply with fentanyl. So test your fucking drugs for fentanyl. Get your testing strips at dancesafe.org.
Memory… it’s so fucking important. I remember when I saw Sasha Shulgin for the last time. I was interviewing him and and Ann for my documentary. This was a bout six weeks before Sasha died, and was struggling with dementia himself at the time.
I asked him what it feels like from the inside to have memory issues like he was having.
In true Sasha fashion, he rubbed his chin and thought for a moment, then looked up and said, “I can’t remember” with a big smile.
Sasha, the great lover of puns, couldn’t resist the opportunity for a good joke.
But here’s the real thing, and trust me on this. I’ve been talking to my mom now, who’s back remember, and I told her about everything that had happened over the past month, and she was kind of in disbelief.
Yes mom Jim died almost two weeks ago. Yes mom you’ve been in the hospital over three weeks.
This may sound trite but I’ll tell you why it’s not in a minute… WHEN YOU LOSE YOUR MEMORY, YOU CAN’T REMEMBER. You don’t know it. When you lose your short term memory, you don’t realize it.
This is profound shit. You feel the same on the inside. You will be confused, but you have no clue it’s because of memory. In the throngs of my mom’s short term memory loss, she kept saying, “what am I going to do?” Over and over, and “I can’t live without him.”
This is so unlike my mom. Her husband almost died of cancer ten years ago and when he was in the hospital having surgery with some chance oof death, my mom was calm and coherent. We talked about what she wanted to do when he died. Did she want to move back to the States and live with me? Would she want to live alone? She said she didn’t want to move back. She had a young grandson she loved, Liam, her husband’s grandson. Liam is now 13. She wanted to be near him.
But when her short term memory was gone, she was just in a panic. And she didn’t know why. She just knew on some intuitive level that she was confused… “I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO,” she kept saying. That was true. But she didn’t know why. When I would tell her it was her memory, she denied it. “Oh everyone is telling me the but my memory is fine.”
When you’re in it you don’t realize it. You won’t be able to remember that you can’t remember when you lose your memory. Short term or long term.
And what does that mean for us? What’s the lesson here? What’s the difference between Sasha, who was his jolly old self even though his dementia at the time I last saw him was worse than my mom’s, and my mom’s who was emotionally hysterical … for weeks.
Ok the obvious is that my mom had just lost her husband and was re-learning that over and over, whereas Sasha had his beloved Ann right nest to him the whole time. So you never know what situation you might find yourself in later in life. But still, I think there’s a lesson here. That means something we can learn about this situation that gives us practical information.
And so here’s what I think it is… Both is if someone we love gets dementia. And if we get it.
If someone you love gets dementia… what I learned, from my mother’s hopefully brief situation, to my father who died in 2012 after a year-long fight with dementia… is that you need to meet them where they are at. You need to do your own grieving as quickly as possible, over the loss of whatever you were attached to in regards to your loved one, and you need to realize they are still there. On the inside, no matter what is going on on the outside, THEY—THEIR CONSCIOUSNESS—is still their. They still feel themselves exactly as they were. And you need to treat them with respect.
For me, with my mom, that meant trying to make her happy and calm her. I didn’t want to lie to her that Jim was still alive (although I have heard in some long-term cases when the short term memory doesn’t come back, some families choose to lie, and that’s ok. I just couldn’t write off that she wouldn’t get better, it was too early, and I’m glad I didn’t.)
So I kept telling her, “Don’t worry mom. I’m here and you have tons of people who love you and we’re going to help you through this. You don’t need to do anything. We’re taking care of the funereal, and you’re going to see him and get to say goodbye very soon.”
A minute later… “what am I going to do?”
“You don’t need to do anything, mom. We’re taking care of everything. You’re going to see him soon at the funereal and say goodbye.”
For ten minutes it would go on like this. But it would calm her down.
I hope you never have to deal with this. But a lot of us will, as dementia affects more and more people. Like I said, I went through it with my father, and now my mother, and while I hope it was just the covid, or the medication that caused it, I don’t know.
And the fact that BOTH my parents might have some predisposition towards dementia, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I can do NOW, so that if I get it, I’ll be more like Sasha.
And I do think there’s a lesson here. Maybe just a small one, because there’s a lot of unknowns, and of course factors we have no control over. But in general I think the lesson is to deal with your demons now, before they come back to haunt you.
And those demons are attachments. Literally, the things you think you need live or to be happy. For my mom it was her ability to take care of people. Her hysteria around her husband’s death wasn’t because of his death per se, but because she realized she was confused and on a basic level realized couldn’t plan the funereal or deal with the myriad other things she was used to doing. Again, she was the smart and competent one, and always took charge. And when she couldn’t (because of the memory impairment she was unaware of), it sent her into a panic.
This is attachment. Attachment to competency. To being able to take care of people.
“Don’t worry mom we are taking care of it for you now.”
And I’m telling my mom all these things now that she’s able to encode new memories. And now she wants to be a part of the planning for the funereal, and her friends and the nurses and social workers helping manage it *are* involving her… little be little.
But if she had remained unable to encode new memories, or if she reverts back, I worry she would be in distress constantly.
Was Sasha somehow able to let go of his attachments? He was a brilliant scientist. He lost his cognitive faculties. He could barely speak. Yet he mustered up a joke.
Yet take my father. He spent months terrorized with the delusion that his ex wife was having sex with the neighbors. He would stare out the window and think he saw her through the neighbor’s window. Then demand his home care giver drive him over there so he could confront the neighbor. We told his caregivers to drive him wherever he wanted… except to the neighbor’s houses, obviously. He would become rageful, and scream and threaten his caregivers.
And supposedly delusions like this are common among men who get dementia. Faithful, loyal couples who love each other experience it often. If the man gets dementia, there’s a high chance he will start believing his wife is having affairs. Doctors don’t know why, but I think I do… It’s attachment.
When you start to lose your memories and your cognitive functions, whatever you are attached to will haunt you. It will become your demon. And that includes attachment to the one you love.
In the end we have to let go of everything, including and especially what we love the most. To the degree we are unwilling or unable to do that, determines how much we will suffer if we get dementia.
So think about what you most fear losing. What is your most beloved. Your spouse or partner? Your competency? Your intellect? Your friends? You. Will. Lose. All. Those. Things. And when you do, you will still be there. The same you you have always been, on the inside. And if you haven’t let go of them, let go of your attachment to them… you will suffer.
So if you want to prevent a constant state of suffering if you happen to be one of the unlucky ones to get dementia later in life, get in touch with who you really are, and dwell there. The more practice you do now in that regard, the easier it’s going to be when you can no longer think or remember.
Those are the lessons I got from my mom, and my dad, and Sasha Shulgin.
Of course we can also talk about ways to prevent dementia. And I think there’s four crucial things. I’ll tell you about them in a minute, but first I want to talk about my last episode on QAnon, because I have three people tell me they couldn’t follow it. They didn’t understand it. And one of those people is a good friend of mine who I never expected would fly over his head. He is Canadian though so he might not be familiar enough with American politics… and I realize there were a lot of names in there and some young people today listening to this episode might simply be too young to remember who all these people are.
So I just want to give a quick summary of the last episode. If you recall, my last episode wasn’t about drugs at all… unless you think Adrenochrome is a real drug, and that Democrats and celebrities are harvesting it from the brain’s of children to get high. But I don’t want to get into that. The QAnon conspiracy theory is filled with nonsense, and that’s the tuff people remember most, because it’s the stuff that’s most easily debunked.
It’s fun to laugh at people who believe in crazy nonsense, but what I was trying to do in my last episode, is take your understanding of the QAnon phenomenon to the next level. Because there is overwhelming evidence that QAnon is not a joke, but it rather a deep state propaganda campaign. A psyop of psychological operation with an intended, manipulative purpose.
And the first thing you gotta realize if we’re going to get anywhere here is that there is a deep state, and there are conspiracies. If you’re someone who thinks all conspiracy claims nonsense and the government of the world’s largest empire runs openly (like open source software), you’re foolish, and well, I don’t know what to tell you. Read the Art of War by Tsun Su.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who does recognize that some conspiracies are real, then the most important thing you need to know is that despite that being true, the majority of conspiracy claims, are NOT true, and many of them are intentionally designed to manipulate you.
So this is the summary of my last episode:
Disinformation is a staple part of geopolitical warfare. All major governments of the world today have covert agencies who engage information warfare, releasing false narratives to manipulate and control both their enemies as well as their own populations.
In the United States, the OSS (office of strategic services) was the covert agency during World War II. They began mastering the art of disinformation, against the Nazi’s but also against the Soviet Union who they knew would become an enemy once the war was over. And when the war did end, the OSS wasn’t disbanded. They became the CIA and they greatly expanded their covert (and that means secret, and that means conspiracy) work. The Cold War was a hot war where the CIA paid and managed private mercenary armies around the world to fight so-called communism (but really any country that wanted to develop independently and didn’t want to sell itself out to Western corporations and banks, regardless of whether they were allied with the Soviet Union) was deemed communist and subjected to destabilization, disruptions and a great many times invasion. So although to many of the players in the CIA, it was about fighting communism, but to the smarter ones, they knew what it was really about was directing the flow of wealth around the world into the coffers os Western corporations.) Anyway, the Cold War was a hot war, but it was also a cultural and information war, including and especially here at home, where a growing socialist movement, workers movement, and a movement for a fair and equitable distribution of wealth and power, had to be crushed.
And there were all sorts of ways in which these cultural wars were fought. Defunding left economics in universities and replacing it with identity politics. That’s really what has destroyed the left in the United States. Today what is considered the left is nearly empty of any economic analysis, and instead it’s only about race, gender, abortion rights… important issues of course but issues the corporations don’t care about. They would rather keep us fighting over these cultural issues than organizing across race for a fairer share of the wealth and power.
That’s important to understand, but that’s another story…
I’m just bringing up examples of the ubiquity of covert operations within the cultural sphere. Hegemony requires controlling narratives. It’s information warfare. And the CIA was, and remains, the masters of this. There are many intelligence agencies these days, and they are the Central Intelligence Agency. Manipulation. Psychological warfare, is their speciality.
And one of the ways they manipulate with disinformation is in generating cover-ups for their covert operations. From assassinations to engineering coups in third world countries, from secret torture centers to experimental aircraft development in Roswell, New Mexico, the CIA has always invented false narratives to cover up what they are doing, to lead independent researchers astray, so nobody can figure out the truth, and organize against it. This is part and parcel of what they do. It’s what they have always done.
And starting in the 1950s, these false narratives began to take on the shape of what we might call today, “conspiracy theories”… kind of crazy narratives on the surface seem silly, but that if you mixed a bit of truth in them you could get at least some people to believe. The idea is simply to disrupt and confuse anyone who is trying to prove that these clandestine operations were done by the CIA, whether it’s overthrowing a government or assassinating a world leader. It wasn’t as important that everyone believe the official lie (like, the government was overthrown by its own people because it was a tyrannic government), as much as nobody could prove the CIA orchestrated it. So the false narratives they began throwing out there didn’t have to all be logical or consistent. They just needed to deflect. To make it impossible for anyone to prove the truth.
Send people down a rabbit hole, in other words, was effective enough. Some information warfare terms include honey traps, where you bait people with tempting answers in order to get them stuck in a dead end. False flags, where you blame an action on an outside entity, and limited hangouts, where you admit to a partial truth in order to make another lie associated with that truth, seem real.
So these false narratives began to get crazier. You didn’t need everyone to believe them. You just needed to bait, temp and confuse enough people who doubted the official story, so they could never know the real truth, and be able to organize an effective resistance to it.
This was the beginning of conspiracy theory culture. Understanding the historical connection between covert warfare, disinformation and modern conspiracy theory is crucial if you want to understand QAnon, and this is why I spent so much time on this history. Because despite conspiracy theory culture having taking on a life of its own, it began, and is still managed by the covert agencies. In the US, that principally means the CIA.
So my last podcast with investigative journalist Robbie Martin, basically traces the recent history of the origins of QAnon, proving I think without a doubt that QAnon is a CIA or deep state, operation.
The greatest irony is that the QAnon narrative pretends that Donald Trump is fighting the deep state. He’s not. He’s working right along with them. Mueller never intended find Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There was no Russian collusion. Just like when Mueller did the anthrax investigation and blamed the attack it on a lone individual when in fact it was the CIA, the Mueller investigation, in the same way, was designed to deflect attention away fro the fact that it was the CIA who gave the DNC emails to Wikileaks. It was the CIA who wanted Trump elected. For whatever reason. But they are blaming it on Russia.
And Trump is pretending to be pro-Russia when everything he has done since entering office has been anti-Russia.
QAnon, is a deep state psyop, and the other thing about it, the thing that’s new in regards to QAnon, is that seemingly for the first time, conspiracy theory culture is being weaponized. QAnon is the first conspiracy theory ever that is attacking the left, fully partisan, and that’s creating an army of nazi-style brown shirts… who have already begun killing leftist protestors.
Rather than just deflecting people away from their covert operations, they are using conspiracy theory now as a weapon. They are manipulating masses of right-leaning people to hate anyone on the left, as if we are pedophiles.
All this is in my last episode with Robbie Martin. Listen to it if you haven’t already. What’s happening today is different than anything I’ve seen in my lifetime, and it is dangerous.
And if you’ve already listened to it and didn’t quite understand it, I hope now with this little history lesson and summary, if you listen to it again you will understand it.
And I fully realize that what I’m telling you is that QAnon is actually a deeper conspiracy than even those who expose it believe. And I realize if you are one of those people who think all conspiracy theories are nonsense, then you’re likely going to think that I’m even more crazy than the QAnoners. But you know what? I don’t care. If you dismiss all deep politics, don’t believe there’s a covert arm of the government with more power than congress or the executive branch, and you can’t see the difference between milking children’s brains for adrenochrome, and real conspiracies, and you lump them all together as nonsense… just stop listening now and never listen to my podcast again. Because you’re as much of the problem as the QAnoners.
And if you’re a QAnoner, I hope I’ve at least got you top realize that not all conspiracy claims are real, and you need to WAKE UP, because you are being manipulated, and used as a weapon, and we could very easily see martial law, authoritarianism, and everything you hate come to pass because you think Trump is against the deep state, rather than a part of it.
And just in case you really need to hear this from me… Yes, Biden is part of the deep state too. The answer to what’s happening is not the Democrats.
Jesus Fuck I didn’t mean to spend that much time on this. I really want to talk about how to prevent dementia, and yes, psychedelics have a role on it. And I will talk about it. Right now.
But one more thing about why it takes me so long to create these episodes, and how I’m going to try to change that. I really do appreciate all of you out there supporting me on my Patreon, and I really do want to honor you by releasing weekly episodes. You deserve it. So let me tell you what’s going on with me, and let’s see if you can help me get over this hump…
Aside from real, personal issues that keep getting in the way, like my divorce a year and a half ago, and my mom getting covid and losing her short term memory, I also have always wanted my podcasts to be evergreen. That means in the end, when I die, my episodes are still going to be important and relevant. If you go back and look through them all, nothing has ever been dated, at least until the last episode about QAnon.
This desire of mine, to create episodes that will be educational and enjoyable for generations to come, make producing an episode REALLY FUCKING HARD. I’m not like a lot of podcasters who can just talk and talk about whatever. There’s not a lot of chit-chat in my episodes. I recently learned I’m on the autism spectrum and that might be why I hate chit chat myself and I hate listenting to podcasts. (You like that, a podcaster who hates podcasts). I read non-stop and I want substance not frill. Information and emotional meaningfulness. Sure I like humor too. That has its place, but just pointless verbalizing, which so many podcasts do… I can’t listen.
So anyway it typically takes me three 10-hour days to make one of these episodes. I first conceive of a topic, then find an expert to interview, then do the interview, then spend an entire day editing it to remove the superfluous stuff, a well as breaths and “ums” and “likes” and “you knows”… all those speech patterns that slow down the pace… that takes more than a full day. Then I write my opening monologue and wait a day, re-read it and edit it because I always find things I want to change on the second day. Then I record it. Then drop it in front of the interview. I use Adobe Premiere to edit these things, btw.
Anyway, you get the idea… But here’s the thing.. this is the first podcast I’ve ever done where I just sat down and wrote a long monologue stream of consciousness. And I’m on track now to get this whole thing done in less than maybe eight hours. I wrote the first initial part about my mom and recorded it a week ago. But the remainder I’ve sitting here writing for maybe three hours. And I don’t intend to sit on it for a day and re-write things. I’m just going to record it as-is.
It’s kind of an experiment. I’m trying to see if this format is something that will work. And that mean something you like. So… I want to ask you top please… if you’ve gotten this far, and if in the end you like this episode and you want me to do more of these free-form style rants, let me know. I just might be able to do this weekly, and provide you with steady content. You can write me at DrugPositive@gmail.com, or Facebook message me. I’m not hard to find. Or post a comment on the YouTube channel. I don’t care how you contact me, but let me know if you actually like listening to my stream of consciousness thoughts.
And again, thank you to all my Pastreon subscribers, and especially my newest subscriber, Dan, is giving $200 per month. I want to cry. Thank you Dan. Let’s talk again soon. And Lys, who’s giving me 50 a month. Lys. I owe you a few video chats now. You have my number. Call me anytime. Let’s do it.
Okay, let’s get to the final section of the episode… The four most important things you can do to prevent dementia. And listen… I know a lot of young people listen to my podcast, and you may never think about dementia, but trust me. It will impact your life some day. Whether it’s a parent or grandparent or friend, or yourself. So don’t think this shit doesn’t apply to you. If you do these four things you will significantly reduce your chances of experiencing dementia later in life. I know this to be true, because I’ve studied it. And I’m on the autism spectrum. And people on the spectrum don’t stop researching a topic until they’ve exhausted every angle, and categorized all the data into properly labeled, little boxes with arrows that point to all the related boxes, cross-referencing all the claims and doing scientific experiments to test their validity until there is no doubt whatsoever.
Okay I don’t really know if all people on the spectrum do that, but that’s what I do. I did this research for a year back in 2012 when I was taking care of my father during his decline. And then I’ve been perseverating on it again, reading tons of new stuff over the past three weeks since my mother lost her short term memory. I’ve even been neglecting my DanceSafe work because of it.
But don’t trust me. Do you own research. Corroborate everything you hear. Trust has a place, but it only goes so far. You can figure out who’s more trustworthy with information, and you can lean on those people a bit. And if you lean on me for that thank you. That’s a sign of appreciation and everyone likes being appreciated, but don’t trust me or anyone completely. People make mistakes. Doctors prescribe you the wrong medications. Q tells you bits of the secret truth with wallops of disinformation. You have to think for yourself…
Okay, the four most important things you can do to prevent dementia are, not in any particular order…
1.) Exercise every day, especially cardio.
2.) Eat fewer carbohydrates and more good fats.
3) Challenge yourself cognitively by learning and doing new things.
And 4) Take psychedelics regularly.
Now, I’m going to elaborate on all these things to try and convince you why they are important, and why this isn’t bullshit. And I’m not going to charge you any money for this advice. I’m telling you this because for my entire life, I’ve been the kind of person who learns and teaches. You can ask my high school friends. It’s just in my nature. I love communicating knowledge. Absorbing it and giving it away. In fact, that’s my attachment, so I’ve been practicing again letting go of that. There will come a time when I can’t communicate anymore. When I won’t be able to learn more, nor share what I’ve learned. I might be dead what that time comes, but I might be alive with dementia, and I want to end up like Sasha, not my father.
Okay, first… exercise. Some might say it goes without saying, but nothing goes without saying. Why would you know exercise prevents dementia if nobody explained why. So here’s why… When you move your body, you get the blood flowing. It flows faster. Your heart beats a little fast to get the blood flowing into the muscles you are moving in order to carry the energy and nutrients and oxygen in the blood to feed the cells so you can keep doing the movement.
When you really move your body such that your heart rate goes up, the blood flows a lot faster, and it flows a lot faster in your brain as well. This carries more oxygen to parts of your brain that do not get that much normally. This causes new electrical signaling in your brain, because neurons fire that don’t normally, and the pattern of firing is stronger. This is why you experience new thoughts when you do cardio exercise. The new thoughts just come to you. You don’t even have to try to think them. Everyone who does intense cardio-vascular exercise realizes this. I’ve been a long distance runner my whole life because it gets me high. I feel amazing when I run, and for hours adfterwards, and if I don’t run for a while, I start feeling depressed. My brain doesn’t work as well. Even if you don’t experience depression, you still strengthen your brain when you exercise.
One thing about cardio-vascular exercise people forget is the vascular part. They think it’s just about strengthening your heart. It’s not. The vascular part is equally as important. Your blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to every cell in your body. And as you age, the capillaries get old. Those are the smallest blood vessels that carry your blood to the farthest, hardest-to-reach parts of your body. Your toes and the deepest regions of your internal organs, including your brain. You want to get blood in there, to carry the oxygen and nutrients to the cells in there they connect to. This will help prevent not just dementia but cancer and other SUCKY diseases that result from cells dying.
Okay number two. Eat fewer carbohydrates and more healthy fats. Our species has been around for maybe 250,000 to 300,000 years, and that wasn’t even the beginning of us. Our pre-homo-sapien ancestors evolved for millions of years before that, and during that entire time, WE HARDLY ATE ANY CARBOHYDRATES! It was only about 5,000 year sago when agriculture formed that we started eating grains in large quantities, and over the last 100 years, especially in the West, sugar and fruit and other carbohydrates have come to dominate our diet. This has resulted in a diabetes epidemic, and yes, a dementia epidemic too.
Why? I’ll tell you why. There are only two types of energy our cells can use. I’m talking any and ever cell in our body. Carbohydrates and fats. And to be more precise, glucose and keytones. Whatever carbohydrates you eat, in whatever form, before they can enter any cell in your body, they have to first get metabolized down into the simplest carbohydrate of all… glucose. Then, with the help of insulin, it can enter the cell.
But take note… why did we evolve to need a helper chemical to get this energy? Our pancreas produces insulin in order to allow the glucose to pass through the cell wall into the cell. Why did we need to evolve a whole new organ to get this energy? Why don’t our cells just allow the glucose in on their own?
Well, there are a number of reasons for that, but one of them is that … WE DIDN’T GET OUR ENERGY FROM CARBOHYDRATES FOR MILLIONS OF YEARS! We got them from fats. Fats get broken down into keytones, which enter the cell, giving it energy without needing insulin. This is where 99.9% of our cellular energy came from for 99.9% of our evolution, up until the modern industrial world.
Carbohydrates were consumed in such rare amounts that really the pancreas evolved to produce insulin NOT to help that glucose get into our muscles or neurons so we could function and do our daily activities. We had enough keytones, produced from enough fat, for that. Rather, the insulin helped get that glucose into our fat cells for storage.
Carbohydrates, when we did consume them during our evolution, became fat in our bodies, and then at times when we couldn’t get enough fat from, say, eating meat, that stored fat was released and turned into keytones, which entered our muscle and brain cells giving them energy.
The keto diet is a diet high in fat and low in carbohydrates, but you don’t need to go to any extreme to lower the amount of carbohydrates you eat. You just really went to get most of your energy from keytones, from fat, rather than from carbohydrates. You don’t need any carbohydrates if you enough enough protein and fat. But you will die if all you eat are carbohydrates. That should tell you something.
Also, and here’s where dementia comes in hard… the brain prefers getting its energy from keytones. The keto diet, in fact, was developed for epilepsy. It prevents seizures as good or better than any anti-seizure medication on the market. When you eat carbohydrates and it turns into glucose and floods your blood, your body releases insulin to send that glucose into your cells for energy. That includes the neurons own your brain. Sometimes, though, too much insulin remains, and when your muscles and neurons and other cell of your functioning organs don’t need glucose anymore, the insulin sends all the remaining glucose into fat storage. At that point you can become sluggish, physically and mentally, because you don’t have anymore glucose around to feed your cells. And there aren’t enough keytones around because your body has not been in the habit of breaking down fats for energy.
This mental sluggishness is literally the result of your brain’s neurons not able to function because it has no energy. If you were getting your primary energy from keytones, however, if you were eating enough fat and not eating too many carbs, then there would ALWAYS be enough energy ALL THE TIME, to feed your neurons.
I’m on the keto diet, and since I started a little over a year ago, I never get sluggish like I used to.
And the lack of energy for your neurons is just one way in which a high carb diet can contribute to dementia. The other is diabetes itself. And that is even worse, and is highly correlated with certain types of dementia. Type two or adult onset diabetes results when your cells, having been bombarded with insulin so much because you’re eating carbs and getting almost all your energy from glucose, become tolerant to the insulin, including your fat cells. And now you have excess sugar in your blood stream. This sugar can directly damage the blood vessels in your brain resulting in a type of dementia called vascular dementia.
Ok number three… Challenge yourself cognitively by learning and doing new things.
Your brain is a muscle. Use it or lose it. Specifically, what this means is that the electrical activity in your brain strengthens the neurons those electrical impulses pass through, and actually grows new ones. When a neuron receives chemical signals from nearby firing cells, they also grow new dendrites in order to receive more. Dendritic sprouting increases neural connections, allowing that cell to receive chemicals from nearby neurons that could reach it before. The number of interconnections grows whenever these electrical impulses take place.
If you only do the same thing over and over, you are only strengthening the neurons in your brain required to do those activities, and others can atrophy. You need to do NEW things, to challenge yourself to learn NEW and DIFFICULT tasks, in order to strengthen the parts of your brain that involve themself in learning. Learning is memory. So crossword puzzles, learning to play a new instrument is really good. Even learning new physical activities like snowboarding or if you’re old and too frail for that, learn to juggle. Even just memorizing lists of words or numbers can strengthen your memory and cognitive functioning, but that’s pretty boring.
But you get the idea. Use it or lose it. If you’re doing the same thing every day, if the tasks required of you are easy, happening from muscle memory only, and your mind just wanders… if you just watch TV all the time, passively… you’re neurons, especially as you age, are being culled. I don’t know how to say this any stronger. They will die. They actually shrivel up and go away.
And lastly, take psychedelics. Take them often. Take them in different contexts. Take smaller doses more frequently, but take large doses every once in a while too. Studies have shown that serotonin agonists, basically the psychedlics, stimulate dendritic sprouting the same way learning new tasks does. Why does this happen? Probably because the serotonin 2A receptor is mostly excitatory, which increases the action potential of the cell, causing the cell body, when it has it’s 2A receptors activated to fire electrical signals more often.
Psychedelics cause neurons to fire that don’t normally fire without them. Neurons are involved in sensing but also interpreting. Feeling but also thinking and integrating. Like exercise and blood flow, like forcing yourself to learn new things, psychedelics force you to feel, interpret and think new things. They strengthen and increase neural connections.
And they also help you learn non-attachment. There’s nothing like having your mind and identity blown open from a challenging LSD or psilocybin trip to get you to see things differently and stop clinging to who you think you are what you think you need. These challenges can be frightening, but if you move through them and don’t resist them, you just might learn that you are not your thoughts or emotions, or your memories. And you don’t need anything. You are the pure consciousness that exists behind all of that.
Could that be why Sasha Shulgin was not afraid, despite his mind’s early departure?
Rest In Peace Sasha. And hang in there mom. I want to come visit you when this pandemic is over.
Thanks for listening everyone. And don’t forget to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me if you liked this new format. Should I do more episodes like this? They sure are a lot easier. I just write and then go back and read it while recording. Six hours rather than 30 hours to produce an episode. Seriously, I want to hear from you.
And finally, this episode is dedicated to my mom, obviously, but also Cody Jones, Victoria Clemente, Cheryl Ananda, Becky Krug, Casey Hardison, Eric Martin, and Greg, Lorie and Marigold… You should all know why. Much love.