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68 minutes | 12 days ago
New Fun Drugs are Coming Soon!
Are you ready for a new drug? In this episode I interview neuroscientist Matthew Baggott about his new company, Tactogen, which is synthesizing and bringing to market new MDMA-like substances. We also discuss the pros and cons of the new psychedelic renaissance, what the mainstreaming of psychedelics might look like in the near future and how it might affect the underground culture, especially with the entrance of big money capitalists like Peter Thiel and the dreaded Compass Pathways. Transcript of the Introduction Hi everyone. In this episode I interview neuroscientist Matthew Baggott. Matthew has been a friend and colleague of mine for over twenty years. He was an early consultant for DanceSafe and he’s recently founded a company, Tactogen, which seeks to synthesize and market new MDMA-like drugs, or entactogens. This is a fascinating interview. In it, we discuss the pros and cons of the new psychedelic renaissance, what the mainstreaming of psychedelics might look like and how it might affect the underground culture, especially with the entrance of big money capitalists like Peter Thiel and the dreaded Compass Pathways. We talk about upcoming models for prescription psychedelics, including the potential for take-home prescriptions… what the lack of trained psychedelic therapists is going to mean for medical legalization, how the decriminalization movement and growing recreational psychedelic use, interfaces with the medical psychedelic movement, and a lot more… I did this interview a few months ago and what’s really interesting to me is that between then and now I actually had the opportunity to try a new entactogen that I had never taken before: 5-MAPB, or 5-methyl-amino-proply-benzo-furan. And I have to say…. It was great! I loved it. It was similar to MDMA, but unlike other entatctogens I’ve taken, I didn’t feel it was missing anything. It was a complete experience. And for me that’s different, because when I take other entactogens, like MDA (also known as Sass), or methylone (a cathinone class drug) … I always feel like I didn’t quite get where I wanted to be, as if the drug is trying to be like MDMA but just doesn’t quite get all the way there. So there’s always a feeling that something’s missing. But with 5-MAPB, I didn’t have that feeling. There was a kind of whole emotional component, a complete stress-free state like there is with MDMA. But the difference was there wasn’t that gushing, sort of overwhelming emotional empathy like there is with MDMA. It wasn’t mushy, in other words. There was a bit more… discernment I guess… like you don’t feel compelled to tell complete strangers that you love them. One way I like to describe it is that I used to think MDMA was just one effect, a continuous single effect. Call it the MDMA-entactogenic effect. And that other MDMA-like entactogens get you part of the way there. So like MDA or methylone always felt to me like “lesser” entactogens in this way. They only got you part of the way up the MDMA-like ladder, if you will. But after taking 5-MAPB, I now realize there are two distinct effects from MDMA. Because 5-MAPB (to me at least) produces one of them in full completeness. And that would be the stress relief, and the sociability. The taking away of social anxiety. In this regard 5-MAPB felt exactly like MDMA. It wasn’t lesser in this regard. And this is something MDA and methylone don’t have. To me. So if you can imagine two effects from MDMA. One the stress relief, and the other the mushy lovey-dovey part, 5-MAPB has all of one and none of the other. And given that I can no longer experience either with MDMA (because I’ve taken it too many times), I must say I am thrilled to have discovered 5-MAPB. Anyway, when I did this interview with Matthew, I hadn’t had the 5-MAPB experience yet, and you’ll hear I open with skepticism of him or anyone actually being able to find other entactogens similar to MDMA. He sort of convinces me in the interview that they’re out there, but how strange that just a few weeks later I actually take one. And now I’m even more excited than ever at the potential to find even more, which is what Matthew’s start-up is attempting to do… with machine-learning algorithms, actually, which you’ll soon hear about in the interview. So I’m gonna keep this intro short. I do want to say that I’m beginning work on my documentary again after taking two years off, so that’s exciting. And the worst of covid MAY be coming to an end, at least in the US, which means we MAY see festivals start up again sooner than expected. So maybe life will get back to normal soon. But of course we have to watch closely what’s happening in India, and Brazil right now. Horrible. It shows that things can change quickly, and for the worse, as the virus mutates. So far the vaccines are amazingly effective, even with all the known variants, but we need to get them distributed fast, and globally, before even newer variants appear that may escape the vaccines. And while you or I can’t do much to speed up vaccine distribution, there is something we can do. And that is, get vaccinated. Mutations occur much more easily in non-vaccinated populations, so please, get your damn vaccine. I got mine. The risks of the vaccines are minuscule, whereas the risks of Covid are not as minuscule. Ok enough of that. Let’s get right to it. Here’s my interview with Matthew Baggott. [Matthew's new company, Tactogen can be found here.]
40 minutes | 3 months ago
DPP #25: When Will Festivals Happen Again?
It's been almost a year since the pandemic ended mass gatherings. A year without live music and festivals has taken its toll on many of us. When will they start up again? In this episode I discuss the latest COVID science to try to find an answer to that question. Rough Transcript Hi everyone. I’m back, and once again . . . I know it’s been a long time since my last episode. I’m not even gonna apologize this time, because in the end just gets ridiculous. All I’m gonna say is that I do INTEND to produce episodes more regularly. And I will at some point. But … so much has been happening in my life it’s crazy. I’ll tell you about it briefly, and then we’ll get into the episode, which is about covid and festivals. Basically… when festivals are likely to start happening again. Ok, but me first… Here’s what’s happening… A few months ago, in my last episode I told you about my mom and her dementia. And thank you everyone who wrote me with your sympathy and words of encouragement, and those who asked me how she was doing. It’s actually quite interesting. She’s doing maybe 70% better, but she does still have dementia. It wasn’t all about the medication she was on. If you remember I was hopeful her problems were all about this one medication called pramipexole, and that once I got her doctors to discontinue it, she would get better. But it really wasn’t that. It was another whole month before she improved. But here’s the thing… I believe it was the covid that fucked with her brain, and that during those few months she had it, IT was responsible for wiping out her short term memory. I mean she couldn’t remember what we spoke about from moment to moment. She’d literally say the same thing over and over, not realizing she just said it. But when she finally beat the covid, she slowly got better… I mean… 70% better, which is huge… and that just doesn’t happen with typical Alzheimer’s. With typical Alzheimers, it’s a steady downhill. You don’t get better like that. You may have good days and bad days, but her improvement is dramatic. I really have my mom back. And I plan to visit her as soon as I’m allowed to travel internationally, and as soon I get a covid vaccine. She just got her first shot herself a few days ago. But here’s why I think the covid affected her brain so much. You see, this virus can strike anywhere in the body, and there’s a lot of cases of people who get cognitive problems when they get covid, problems that can last a quite while. You’ve probably hear of post-covid brain fog. There’s a lot of people talking about that, but there’s even covid-psychosis. Seriously. Some people who get covid literally become psychotic, as in full-on schizophrenia type psychotic. It doesn’t seem to be permanent, but these are people with no history of mental illness. Totally weird. So we know this virus can affect the brain, and it can also produce lots of different symptoms all over the body. And so… here’s my theory… Again it’s just just a theory. But what I think is that some of these non-standard symptoms that some people get… meaning more than a cough and fever and stuff, depend on the particulars of a person’s immune system, and particularly, where that person might be experiencing inflammation. Preexisting inflammation. Everyone has SOME degree of inflammation. There’s so many toxins in our environment these days. So many foreign things getting into our bodies. And our immune system tries to recognize them and attack them, but sometimes it gets confused and attacks our own tissues instead, even after those toxins are gone. And this can cause chronic pain and disease. Inflammation is so common in fact that we take it for granted. Inflammation is the number 1 cause of pain and illness … by far. When it gets way out of hand people get diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, like ALS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis. You name it. There are so many. But … for the vast majority of us, inflammation remains mild. So we just take ibuprofen on occasion. But the thing is… it tends to strike in the same place when it does. Wherever a person might get inflammation, that’s generally where it stays. And so Alzheimers is correlated with brain inflammation. My mom was already in the early stages of Alzheimers when she got covid, which means she already HAD some inflammation happening in her brain. Then she got COVID and her main symptoms were in her brain. A total loss of short term memory. So I think what’s going on is that her immune system was already primed to attack the neurons in her brain. So when she got covid, the cytokines that attack foreign invaders, as well as that cause inflammation, mainly went there, and they went to town there. So I think that covid is more likely to affect areas in your body if you already have inflammation going on there. And this is why it’s hitting people with preexisting diseases so hard, because so many of them, like Alzheimers, are a result of inflammation, of the immune system being a bit out of whack. Anyway, that’s my theory. And that’s my mom. She’s doing so much better. Again thank you everyone who wrote me, with your love and support. And let me just say one more thing before I move on from this. Remember in my last episode I gave a list of things you can do to prevent dementia. Well, here’s one more thing I learned… Tack this on to the list I gave in my last episode. And that is. Eat more fiber. You see, fiber feeds the good bacteria in your colon that excrete anti-inflammatory molecules that prevent brain inflammation, molecules that sweep up cytokines and keep them in balance. And Alzheimers is highly correlated with low levels of these molecules. This could be why Alzheimers is on the rise… especially in the west, in the US and Northern Europe, because our diets suck and we don’t get enough fiber. So what are these bacteria in our colon that we need to keep happy? The first thing to know is they aren’t acidophilus and bifodus. Those are good bacteria also, and you can buy those in supplement form. Everyone knows about those. But we’re talking about different bacteria, lower down in your colon. And you can’t eat them for whatever reason. They can’t be put into supplements. So how do you increase them if you can’t eat them? And the answer is… you feed them. Well, you could also get a fecal transplant where you stick some healthier person’s poop up your butt… and yes, this is really a thing. But let’s not go there right now. And easier way to increase the number of these good bacteria in your butt is simply to eat fiber. That’s what they live on. So eat more vegetables people. I know I sound like your mom, but in this case your mom was right. Feed those good bugs in your poop and they will reward you by pooping out anti-inflammatory molecules in their poop, which will prevent dementia later in life. No joke. And remember to exercise and take your psychedelics regularly also. So another reason I haven’t put out any new episodes in a few months is that … a few weeks after my last episode, I had to go to Florida, because the pandemic basically killed my family business and I had to go down there to shut it down. It’s a dry cleaners… which has been in my family since 1937. My sister and I inherited it when our father passed away in 2012. But when covid hit people stopped going into the office for work, and so they stopped wearing dry cleanable clothes. So we lost 60% of our business almost instantly last March, and it hasn’t improved at all. So we basically had to close it, and I’ve been dealing with that, which is a lot of work. But at the same time I wanna tell you something really good that’s happened in my life, and that has ALSO taken up a lot of my time. And that is I’ve met someone super awesome. Her name is Becky and she lives in Michigan. She’s a friend of friend and we started chatting back in September and we really hit it off and so we’ve been spending time together. She flew down to Florida when I was there and stayed with me in my RV and we took a trip around Florida and I just recently drove her back to Michigan, where I am right now. So… in the middle of all this trauma and death and financial collapse and NO FESTIVALS… something actually really good happened to me in 2020. Anyway, that’s what’s been happening with me. Living in my RV. Mailing out fentanyl testing strips. Get them at DanceSafe.org everyone. Test it before you ingest it. Okay… let’s get on to the episode! Festivals. When are they gonna happen again? And let me say first I’m talking here about commercial festivals. I’m not talking about small private events. I’m talking about the big festivals we all love. With music and drugs and port-potties and thousands or tens of thousands of people. I miss them so much! The last one I attended was Hulaween in Florida, back in October of 2019. And the last indoor concert I saw was Mark Farina in El Paso in early March. I took 2C-B and holy shit! We danced for hours in a packed nightclub wall to wall with tons of sweaty strangers. I mean, if anyone had covid in there we all would have gotten it. But it was so much fun. Dancing to music on psychedelics with others… is my medicine. Like it is for so many people. And we haven’t been able to do that, really, in a year. And people are suffering because of it. Depression and mental illness are skyrocketing. Not just because of the lack of festivals, but the entire social distancing phenomena. A friend of mine just posted on Facebook today a photo of herself crying because of what she says has been the lack of human touch since the pandemic started. I think I’ve faired better … emotionally … than a lot of people. I get so much of my social interaction online anyway, and verbal communication is really my mainstay. Speaking and writing. So I’ve been able to maintain that. I also don’t get depressed much anyway. I’m lucky in that regard. But I miss live music and dancing in groups. Dancing alone just isn’t the same. And recorded music isn’t the same as live music. Seriously there’s evolutionary, biological reasons for that. I’m actually gonna do a podcast episode about it one day. Humans ability to appreciate music… evolved in us for social bonding purposes. It’s really important for our mental health. And one of the problems in general with modern society in general is that those experiences are often limited. To begin with. Even before covid. But now it’s terrible. I miss festivals for another reason too. And that is… usually, I attend festivals with DanceSafe, the nonprofit I founded … 22 years ago. I spend a lot of time at festivals at the DanceSafe booth testing drugs for people. We’d actually just finished fundraising for two spectroscopy machines that we were going to start bringing to festivals before covid hit. These machines shoot a laser into the powder … and because every molecule reflects a different spectrum of light, it can tell every drug in the sample with precision. Super cool drug checking technology. And right when we got the money to buy them… Boom. Covid ends festivals. The last event DanceSafe did was Gem and Jam in Arizona last February. That actually may have been the last big festival that’s happened in the United States. Almost year ago. I’m also worried about the chapters. The DanceSafe national office is doing ok. People are still buying test kits. But because there’s no festivals, our local chapters around the country have nothing to do, and I’m really worried if this situation lasts another year, we may have to almost start all over again, organizing local chapters. The festival culture … OUR festival culture … is beautiful. And I miss it so much. Burning Man, Lightning in a Bottle, Shambala, Symbiosis … My favorites. Electric Forest… there’s too many to name. When are they going to start up again? That’s what I’m gonna talk about now. And of course, it’s all about the pandemic. So I’m gonna get into the science of covid…. Covid science… virology, immunology, epidemiology … it’s kind of taken over my intellectual life this past year. I been a non-stop researcher. It’s actually one of the reasons I decided to do this episode. To get some of it out of my system. Maybe then I can get back to making regular podcast episodes about drugs. But anyway, here’s the main thing about when festivals will happen again. They won’t happen again until they’re safe… until they won’t become super-spreader events that lead to deadly covid outbreaks. And this applies to all mass gatherings. The most dangerous events of all… the one’s that lead to the most fatalities in the long run, are large, mass gatherings … because you have thousands of strangers coming together, and then they go back to their respective communities, spreading the virus far and wide. So when will mass gatherings no longer lead to deadly covid outbreaks? Or specifically, when will enough scientists, public health professionals, lawmakers, promoters and attendees, BELIEVE this to be the case. Because that’s really when they’ll happen again. And so I think the general answer to this… or where the discussion begins is … when enough people are vaccinated. It’s more complicate than that, but let’s start with that. Let me tell you about the vaccines first. The main thing to know about the two current vaccines out there, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, is that they likely won’t prevent you from getting infected with covid and spreading it to others. They will only prevent you from getting a severe, systemic infection. Fauci and the media aren’t really talking about this too much. I think they don’t want to turn people off from getting the vaccine, so they aren’t saying things that could be construed as negative. But many virologists doubt that the vaccines will prevent infections and transmissions. Why? … It has to do with the route of administration. The vaccines are injected into your arm. They contain messenger RNA that cause the muscle cells in your arm to temporarily produce molecules that resemble parts of the coronavirus spike protein. These molecules then stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies, which circulate in your blood. But these antibodies don’t easily get into the epithelial cells in your upper respiratory tract. So what they think is that the coronavirus will likely still be able to take hold there, infect the cells in your nose and throat, and start to multiply. And then you can breathe those virus particles out and infect others around you. Immunologists have actually known about the importance of vaccine route of administration for a long time. It’s the reason why the later polio vaccine was oral rather than injected. You see… the first polio vaccine prevented severe illness, paralysis and death, but it didn’t prevent people from actually getting polio and passing it on to others. And this is because the antibodies had a hard time reaching the epithelial cells in the gut, where polio first takes hold. Polio is spread from feces. Virus particles in feces can get onto food or in water in a number of ways and then when someone else ingests them, they bind to epithelial cells in the intestines, where the antibodies in the blood can’t easily reach. Epithelial cells, by the way, are the cells that divide the inside of us from the outside of us. Like skin cells. So they’re at the periphery. The farthest place from blood flow. So when scientists realized this was happening, they developed a second polio vaccine that you swallow. The weakened virus particles in the oral vaccine then hit the epithelial cells in the gut first, stimulating a direct, localized immune memory right where it needs to be. An immune response that involves T cells and B cells, which I’ll talk about soon, but the oral vaccine is the only reason we’ve pretty much eliminated polio from the world today. Not entirely but almost. So … why not make a covid vaccine that you inhale, or squirt up your nose? Well the answer to that they’re too dangerous. Inhaled or insufflated vaccines, in animal studies, cause way too much inflammation in the upper respiratory tract. Many of the animals die or have severe complications. So we’re nowhere close to getting an upper respiratory tract administered vaccine. It’s gonna be an injection in the arm, and so it’s likely only going to prevent severe covid infections. I just read an article yesterday, btw, about the NovaVax vaccine, which isn’t available yet, but which seems more likely to prevent all forms of infection. Even mild infection. Even though it’s also an injection in the arm. I need to research it more. But basically it’s a different type of vaccine from the mRNA vaccine that causes triggers T-cell and B-cell adaptive memory more than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. So keep that in the back of your mind. I’m only talking here about the two vaccines currently available. And what they indicate… is that we’re not going to see vaccine festival passports. In other words, we’re not going to see festivals where you can go if you prove you’ve had a vaccine. Because even though you and the other attendees aren’t likely to get severely sick, you will likely still be able to spread the virus around to each other, and then take it back home and spread it to people in your community. So that means we really need to see enough people vaccinated… as in at least a few hundred millions people in the US, before ay mass gatherings will happen. You know, everyone’s talking about this 80% figure to reach herd immunity, but herd immunity is a dubious concept with coronaviruses. There is no herd immunity with any of the other coronaviruses that produce colds, despite them being around for thousands of years and the entire population getting infected. And that’s because antibodies for coronaviruses typically fade away rapidly. And we’re finding the same this is true with this coronavirus. It looks like antibodies last about six months. Maybe more and maybe less for some people. But there’s already been hundreds of documented cases of people who have gotten covid twice. There’s no herd immunity with the flu either. Right? So … covid, like the flu, and like other coronaviruses, may never go away. We may never eradicate it. And if not, there’s never gonna be herd immunity, despite what the media is saying. We’ll just have to learn to live with it. This is seriously something to consider. One piece of good news here is that there is some t-cell and b-cell adaptive immune system memory that happens with natural infections. Not just antibodies. And that may mean, over time, subsequent infections get less and less severe. Some virologists think that the other coronaviruses, the other common colds, may have begun with more deadly viruses, and then became milder over time, after initially killing a lot of people. So that may happen with this one too. We don’t know. But either way, if that IS true, it would definitely take a long time. The better news is that the vaccines seem to work well in preventing severe infections. So if enough people get the vaccine, and if they confer this immunity to severe infection for long enough… then festivals SHOULD be able start up again. Which leads to how long will it take to assess whether this is the case. But before I get to that, let’s talk about the potential problem of all those people who aren’t going to get vaccine I the first place. People have various different reasons for being skeptical of the vaccine. But in general there’s two large groups. This is from national surveys. The first large group are Republicans, Trump supporters most likely And the second large group are African Americans. The reasons these two groups are skeptical of the vaccines are probably different, but they’re both because of political beliefs, not science. Republicans are generally more opposed to public health because they see individual liberty as paramount, which is why there is a large percentage of Republicans who oppose the vaccines. And African Americans have a long history of being experimented on medically. Including vaccines. It’s a horrible history and I won’t get into it here, but that has caused some skepticism in a large percentage of the Black community. Of course you’ve also got some people who are skeptical of the covid vaccines for scientific reasons. But that’s a much smaller number of people. Those first two groups are by far the largest. And so… how many people are we talking about who might refuse to get a covid vaccine? And how is that going to impact the reopening of festivals? Surveys show it’s about a quarter of the population. Maybe up to a third. So we’re talking 25% to 33%… that puts us somewhere close to the 80% mark Fauci is talking about that we need for pretend herd immunity. I call it pretend because again, if they don’t prevent infections and transmissions, but just severe infections, then there is no herd immunity. But anyway, nobody knows whether we’ll get to that 80% of the population vaccination figure. Also, I don’t think the vaccine will be mandatory, at least not for many years. There are mandatory vaccines, of course. Measles, etc. But I can’t see the government making covid vaccines mandatory until they have a long enough tract record of safety and efficacy. Plus, covid doesn’t kill very many children, so unvaccinated people aren’t jeopardizing children. That’s an important piece of this. Also, the vaccine may not prevent transmissions anyway, so unvaccinated people may not be different in that regard to vaccinated people. Anyway, the point is just that there isn’t going to mandatory vaccines. So how many people need to voluntarily get a covid vaccine to prevent festivals from causing deadly outbreaks? That’s a hard one to answer. But it might be the wrong question, anyway. Because I think that once the vaccine has been around long enough for anyone who WANTS to get vaccinated CAN get vaccinated, then at some point we just gotta say that anyone who refuses to get vaccinated is pretty much only putting themself at risk. I mean they’re making that choice… and it doesn’t really impact others that much… right? Because children aren’t at high risk to begin with, and the vaccines themselves are likely NOT going to stop transmissions. So one would think at some point down the line, when the vaccines have been available long enough to everyone who wants one… and if they remain as safe as they appear to be now, and if they protect from severe infection for a significant amount of time, say at least a year… then even if a quarter or a third of the population refuses to get one… at that point … we should be able to have festivals again. Right? Maybe. I think the real determining factor is going to be the numbers, but before I get into that, I want to talk a bit about how covid is transmitted, and how infections happen, and how someone can protect themselves, and others, from severe infection. Because one big part of this is staying outdoors, and so you would think that because festivals are outdoors, they might be able to happen sooner than indoor mass gatherings. And they might. But it’s more complicated than that. I personally think being outdoors, with six feet of spacing between people, with masks, is 100% safe. This theoretically means outdoor music gatherings can happen right now safely if they mandate proper social distancing. And some events are doing that. But obviously these aren’t mass gatherings. They’re small outdoor events. I don’t think large festivals could do this. There’s just too many people. The dance floors are too crowded. Keep in mind it only takes 15 minutes to become infected if you’re standing outdoors within six feet of someone who is shedding, without a mask. That’s what the CDC defines as exposure. There’s no way most people are going to be able to avoid this kind of exposure at a festival. Masks might prolong the exposure time period, but then again we’re talking about people dancing, which means they’re breathing way more heavily. And people never keep their masks on all the time. And you can’t enforce this. And then you got the whole porta-potty thing. So while I think it’s possible to have socially distanced outdoor music events, I don’t think it applies to the kind of large festivals we’re talking about. So let’s talk more specifically about how covid is transmitted. The first thing to know is that the virus is airborne, and the vast majority if transmissions happen from breathing it in. In fact, there isn’t a single known case of surface to mouth transmissions. I’m not gonna say it can’t happen, but it’s just never been documented. So it’s not nearly as important to wash your hands as it is to avoid contaminated air. Restaurants that disinfect surfaces but don’t have ventilation and air filters aren’t doing anything to help. That’s just theater. And make no mistake. This virus is airborne in EVERY meaning of the term. It can become fully aerosolized and float around all by itself in the air, AND it can float around in micro droplets that come out of people’s nose and mouth when they breath and talk. In the air in both senses of the term. We knew this back in April. Scientists knew it. And it was a scandal that it took the World Health Organization until the Summer to finally admitted it. But that’s another story I won’t get into here. The good news is that one particle isn’t going to infect you. You need to breathe in a large enough dose of the virus to actually get infected. Exactly how much, as in how many particles, nobody knows. Doing studies on this, called “challenge studies,” would be unethical. But the concept here is very important. And to understand why it’s case, I’ll walk you through how an infection happens… So… say your standing close to someone without a mask and they are infected and breathing out virus particles, or say you’re indoors where there are virus particles floating around in the air everywhere. You breathe these particles in and out your lungs, and depending on how many you breathe in, some of them get trapped in the mucus membranes of your nose, in your sinus cavities, and in your throat. Possibly some even get trapped in your upper bronchi, but that’s less likely because there isn’t much mucus in your lungs. Some of those virus particles die in the mucus, but some make their way through the mucus to the epithelial cells below them, and attach to ace-2 receptors where they can enter the cell. If they do get in, the virus hijacks its DNA and gets the cell to start making more of itself. At least that’s what it WANTS to do. And if it gets that far, it’s called an infection. But there’s a chance, if you get a light enough exposure, that your killer T-cells will kill them all off before they start replicating. Killer T-cells can recognize when a cell in your body has a virus attached to its surface, and they kill the cell. Killer T-cells are an important part of our immune system. They don’t kill the virus itself. They kill cells infected with a virus. And they can kill them quickly, potentially even before the cell starts replacing the virus. This means you can be exposed to the virus without getting infected, if it’s a light enough dose. And this can stimulate an adaptive immune response among your T-cells, which may be a bit helpful later on if you get exposed again. And … you can also get MILDLY infected, where the virus DOES start replicating, but it doesn’t spread very far. In fact, most infections appear to be mild like this. The killer T-cells kill the infected cells quickly, and antibodies kill the rest of the virus directly, before many other cells become infected. To be specific… You have killer T-cells that recognize when when of your own cells has a virus attached to it, and it kills the cell. Then you have helper T-cells which recognize the virus and tell the B-cells to create antibodies for it. The B-cells create the antibodies, which bind to the virus and mark it for destruction. Then other immune cells come along and destroy it. So it’s pretty complicated. You’ve got killer T-cells and helper T-cells. B-cells that make the antibodies. And then a bunch of other cells, called cytokines, that come along and kill any virus that has an antibody attached to it. You really don’t need to remember all this. The important take-away is just that most infections are resolved naturally by T-cells, B-cells and antibodies in the upper respiratory tract. And some exposures are resolved by T-cells even BEFORE any antibodies are produced. That’s good news obviously… so long as you get a light enough exposure. But you’re not out of the woods just because you got exposed once and had a mild case, or were asymptomatic. Having a mild or asymptomatic infection is a factor of BOTH your general state of health and your immune system AS WELL AS the amount of virus you were exposed to initially. The second time around you might get a gigantic exposure, which could overwhelm your immune system. We really don’t know how this will play out yet. It’s still too early. But the point is that, just like with drugs, dose matters. So even if you are older, or have preexisting health conditions that make you more susceptible to a severe reaction, if you get a small enough initial dose you may be okay. And the reverse is also true… even if you are young and healthy with no preexisting conditions, if you get a massive initial dose. Like say your on a cruise ship… Say your on Jam Cruise, and twenty people on the ship are shedding the virus, and all the air is being recirculated and you’re breathing in virus particles with every breath… that many virus particles could overwhelm your T-cells and B-cells and antibodies and might make you sick, or kill you, even if you’re healthy. Scientists call the initial dose the “viral inoculum.” How much of the virus you get inoculated with. This is different from viral LOAD, which is the maximum amount of virus IN your body at a given time during the course of your infection, AFTER it has started replicating. Virus inoculum is the reason indoor locations are the most dangerous places you can be, and it’s why fatalities are skyrocketing now too, during the winter. Because people are spending more time indoors. Also the cold and dry air tends to evaporate respiratory droplets faster, releasing the virus and making it airborne more quickly, before the droplet can fall down to the ground, bringing the virus with it. Winter increases not only transmissions, but the average dose people get, leading to more fatalities and raising the case fatality ratio. This is why I try not to share indoor space with people outside my quaran-TEAM. Right now that means me and Becky. And this is also why masks remain so important. Masks reduce the amount of virus that gets into you. Remember those cruise ships early on where tons of people were dying? The case-fatality ratio on those ships was enormous. Like 15%. Then we had the initial lockdowns, and then later some cruises started up again, but this time with mandatory mask mandates. On these masked cruises that had outbreaks, the results are telling. They had pretty much the same percentage of infections. But the case-fatality rate was far lower. This is because masks reduced the amount of virus people were getting exposed to… so even though they got infected, they were less likely to die. This is just one of many pieces of evidence that masks really do work. Anyway, back to festivals and when are they gonna happen again? I think with all the science I just explained, as well as a sizable percentage of the population skeptical of the vaccines, it’s gonna be a while. They’re definitely not gonna happen this year. Fauci says we may have enough vaccines rolled out for everyone by the end of the Summer. And technically that’s before Burning Man, and before Hulaween. But I don’t think they’re gonna happen, because even if we get 75 or 80% of the US population vaccinated by then, we still don’t know how long the vaccines work. What if they only last six months? Like natural antibodies? I think we need to know this first. And other things. So the real measure is in the numbers. What’s really going to decide when mass gatherings can happen again are when we see the rate and number of covid deaths drop significantly, and stay down for a long time. Only this is going to demonstrate that the vaccines are working. Steady declining numbers. How many daily deaths do we need to get down to, and for how long? I don’t know. But consider this… In a BAD flu year we have maybe 50,000 deaths. We’re going on 500,000 deaths in the first year with covid, and that’s even WITH all the social distancing we’re doing. Without social distancing it would have been many millions. So I’d say we’re gonna need to see fatalities get down to more than 100,000 a year, or about 275 deaths a day, before anyone thinks we have the pandemic under control. That’s a death rate about twice that of the worst flu year. So if the national fatality rate can get down to under 275 deaths per day and stay there for say, six months at least, I’d venture to say festivals will start again. And for sure that’s not going to be until Summer of 2022 at the earliest. Keep in mind also that other things will reopen first, like restaurants and movie theaters, long before mass gatherings. But if the fatality rate stays low during the reopening process, festivals and mass gatherings will follow. In fact they will symbolize the end of the pandemic. Can we keep our culture together until then? I don’t know. I don’t even know if it’s TOGETHER right now. We may need to start over to some degree. DanceSafe will likely need to create many new chapters from scratch. And what about all the other folks in the industry? Vendors, medical teams… A lot of them went out of business. Some may have new jobs. And with no profits for two years, will promoters even have the capital to hire enough staff right away? Seriously, it might take a while to build the culture back up. But we’ll do it, right? I mean it’s our culture. We love the music. We love the dancing. We love the drugs. We love the music and dancing and drugs TOGETHER with other people. It’s medicine. It’s in our genes. Nobody has ever been able to stop music and dancing and drugs. So be patient. We’ll get there eventually. Right now we just need to stay safe.
70 minutes | 7 months ago
DPP #24: Drugs, Dementia and a Little Bit of Dharma
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. ROUGH TRANSCRIPT 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! [MUSIC] 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 memory? 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. sigh… 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. Exercise. 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.
79 minutes | 8 months ago
DPP #23: QAnon is a US Intel Psyop
In this episode I break from the topic of drugs to discuss the most important issue of our times: QAnon and the rising tide of authoritarian fascism. I interview investigative journalist, filmmaker and podcaster, Robbie Martin. Robbie is an expert on QAnon, and he takes us through its history and origins inside US intelligence agencies as well as the Trump administration, warning us of the dire consequences that could result from the weaponization of conspiracy theory culture. Click here and here to listen to Robbie's own two-part podcast episodes on QAnon.
91 minutes | a year ago
DPP #22: Are You Addicted? Maia Szalavitz and the Unbroken Brain
In this episode I interview Maia Szalavitz, author of Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction. In these pandemic times, problematic drug use is on the rise. Alcohol sales are skyrocketing, and more than ever we need to understand the root causes of addiction and how to help those who are suffering.
68 minutes | a year ago
DPP #21: Straight Inc - A Survivor's Story
In this episode I interview Frank Haines, who describes his experiences being held captive for more than a year in Florida's notorious anti-drug cult, Straight. Started by millionaire shopping mall developer and founder of the Partnership for a Drug Free America, Mel Sembler, in the 1980s, Straight was eventually shut down after numerous successful lawsuits exposed systemic violence, including physical abuse and torture.
76 minutes | a year ago
DPP #20: Lucy in the Sky with Nazis
In this episode I interview Brian Pace, board member of Psymposia and co-host of the Plus Three Podcast, where we discuss the political right’s embracing and promotion of psychedelics. With fringe Nazi groups and corporate capitalists like Peter Thiel all getting involved in the new psychedelic renaissance, the mainstreaming of psychedelic drugs has opened up deeper questions into what we should value as a society and culture.
47 minutes | a year ago
Ack! There's Coronavirus in My Meth!
In this episode of Drug Nonsense, Mason and I discuss lying cops, massive LSD overdoses, new psilocybin trademarks and other incidents of interest to druggies, reformers and those who love them. All new and now forever free, our Patreon podcast is open to the public.
94 minutes | a year ago
DPP #19: Heroin, Stigma and Psychedelic Chauvinism
A live recording of Emanuel's talk at the Utah Psychedelic Society in Salt Lake City on February 22, 2020. Emanuel addresses the state of the drug policy reform movement, why the psychedelic community needs to embrace the decriminalization of all drugs, and why harm reduction is the argument that will build bridges with non-drug users and take us to the next level in the fight to end the drug war.
55 minutes | a year ago
DPP #18: Stop Vaping Until You Listen to This!
In this episode I interview David Downs, Cannabis Editor at Leafly.com. We discuss the frightening truth about unregulated cannabis vape cartridges. VAPI, or Vaping Associated Pulmonary Injury, killed 52 people last year. It's real, and although the main cause, a thickening agents known as vitamin E acetate, appears to be on the decline, millions of contaminated vape carts are still out there. We also discuss other serious risks with the unregulated vape market, and why we need government regulation over the industry.
61 minutes | a year ago
DPP #17: The Psychopharmacology of MDMA
In this episode I interview Ilsa Jerome, clinical research and information specialist for MAPS, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. We spend an hour discussing tons of interesting questions pertaining to the neuroscience of MDMA, including how it induces prosocial behaviors and generates feeling of love and empathy, and what the science really says about the issue of neurotoxicity.
33 minutes | a year ago
Stigmatizing with Jazza - A Ripple Effect Gone Wrong
In this episode we critique an Australian anti-MDMA video created by YouTube star, Josiah Brooks, popularly known as "Jazza." Perpetuating dangerous stereotypes around drugs and drug culture, Jazza is jeopardizing the lives of young people while believing he is doing the opposite. This kind of anti-drug propaganda is worse than nonsense. It actually increases fatalities, and we need to start criticizing it. We call out Mr. Brooks for the harm he is causing young people in Australia and around the world.
67 minutes | a year ago
DPP #16: The CIA and Drugs with Douglas Valentine
In this episode I interview Douglas Valentine, author of four books in the CIA, DEA and the DEA's predecessor, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics or FBN. As part of my "deep politics" series, Valentine exposes the long and sordid history of CIA involvement in the drug trade and why there's such a cozy relationship between US intelligence and brutal drug cartels. Buckle your seats because this one is a real doozy.
40 minutes | a year ago
Adderall - We're on It
In our comeback episode of Drug Nonsense, you'll hear about South Dakota's new anti-meth campaign, Joe Biden's gateway drug delusions, cocaine-snorting pigs, and much more! Recorded in New Mexico with my new co-host, Mason Burks, don't miss out on the fun and shenanigans as we critique drugs in the media.
73 minutes | 2 years ago
DPP #15: Mitchell Gomez and the DMT Elves
In this episode I interview DanceSafe's current Executive Director, Mitchell Gomez, about everything from the DMT elves to the state of harm reduction and drug policy reform. It's a fun, fast-paced and enlightening conversation that is sure to transform your life. So don't miss out!
52 minutes | 2 years ago
DPP #14: Is China Intentionally Flooding the US with Fentanyl?
In this episode I interview author and investigative journalist, Ben Westhoff, about his new book, Fentanyl, Inc. The result of four years of investigation, the book traces the origins and history of fentanyl and other new psychoactive substances, the impact they are having, and how governments, law enforcement and harm reductionists are attempting to respond to them.
90 minutes | 2 years ago
DPP #13: Kill the Drug Warrior Inside Yourself
Last week Melania Trump spoke on the opioid crisis at Liberty University, the right wing Christian college founded by Jerry Falwell, the late fundamentalist evangelist. While claiming to be removing the stigma surrounding addiction, she and the other panelists couldn't conceal their moral judgment against drug users. In this episode we dissect the event, revealing the unconscious processes of scapegoating. And we interview the father of Integrative Harm Reduction Psychotherapy, Dr. Andrew Tatarsky, who teaches us what it really means to end stigma.
55 minutes | 2 years ago
DPP #12: Drug War Capitalism
35,000 people a year are murdered in Mexico in what the government refers to as drug war violence, but the militarization of the country also serves the interests of transnational corporations—in particular the resource extraction industries—who have developed a symbiotic relationship with the country's paramilitary organizations. In this Thanksgiving Day episode, we interview Dawn Paley, author of Drug War Capitalism, who reminds us of the elephant in the living room when it comes to drug prohibition.
60 minutes | 3 years ago
DPP #11: DanceSafe, Ketamine and Counterfeit Cocaine
This episode follows our journey to Florida to volunteer with DanceSafe at the annual Hulaween festival. You'll hear interviews with volunteers from DanceSafe Florida and Georgia, listen to audio of live pill testing, discussions at the booth, and Kyle on ketamine. It's psychedelic fun in the sun on a different sort of episode of Drug Positive.
91 minutes | 3 years ago
DPP #10: How to 3D-Print Your Drugs at Home
Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed the world's first 3D molecular printer. Able to build complex molecules by attaching together atoms, it is only a matter of time before we all have the ability to print our own drugs from home. Yet technology in widespread use today may already provide the same benefits. We speak with investigative journalist, Mike Power, about drugs and the dark web, and how cryptocurrencies and anonymous online marketplaces have revolutionized drug markets. For better or worse, anything you want to consume is at your fingertips, almost like you own your own molecular printer. Mike Power is the author of Drugs Unlimited. He is a freelance journalist living with his wife and son in London.
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