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Episode 214 – Addictions – When Our Gut Runs Our Brain

In this podcast episode, Matt, Steve, and Elizma chat about the chemical pathways involved in addiction. How the brain and gut communicate to drive certain urges and neurotransmitters like dopamine and our endorphins that release in response to acting upon the urge. It’s a fascinating tangle of communication in the body that the team simplifies into segments to better understand the drivers of addictions.

Transcript: 

Steve:                   Welcome to The ATP Project. Today we’ve got a fascinating talk on addictions. We’re going to be talking about neurotransmitters, neurobiology, neurochemistry and everything that’s associated with addictions. We’re going to be talking about food addictions. We’re going to be talking about drug addictions, things alcohol dependence and all sorts of other wonderful drugs that because us to be addicted. So, sit back, enjoy.

Matt:                     As always, this information is not designed to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any condition and is for information purposes only. Please discuss any information in this podcast with your healthcare professional before making any changes to your current lifestyle. Stay tuned. The ATP Project is about to start.

Speaker 3:           Welcome to The ATP Project. Delivering the irreverent truth about health, aging, performance and looking good. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, ready to perform at your best or somewhere in between, then sit back, relax and open your mind as Jeff and Matt battle the status quo and discuss everything health related that can make you better.

Steve:                   Welcome to the ATP Project. You’re with your hosts, Steve, Elizma, and Matt. And how are we today? Good?

Matt:                     Good. Thanks, mate.

Steve:                   Good. I’m good.

Elizma:                  And I’m very good.

Steve:                   I’ve got my addiction here, and you’ve got your addiction there, because today we’re going to be talking about addictions. Should have caught that better. There we go. Take two.

We’re going to be talking about addictions today and we’re going to be talking about how it affects the brain, and everything about addictions and which addictions are we’re going to be focusing on? We’re going to be focusing on things food addictions, caffeine, drugs of course, and all the weird addictions that we all get, whether it be caffeines and other stimulants, and also why some people get addicted to something and why people don’t, because there are people who aren’t addicted, but there are people who are easily addicted. And we’re going to be talking about the definitions of addiction. What is an actual addiction? Because without water I die, and I’m sure without food you die?

Matt:                     Yeah.

Steve:                   without oxygen, you die. So we are addicted already, but that’s not an addiction, which is what we’re going to be talking about today.

So, we’re going to be talking about how to fix the brain from a neurochemical point of view. We’re going to talk about the eight neurotransmitters and then we’re going to pick on one of them, which is dopamine. We’re going to pick on dopamine today, but that’s not the only one associated with addiction.

Matt, I want to turn to you first, because I want to talk to you about the elephant in the room, which is food addictions, because there’s 2013, there was …

Matt:                     Are you referring to me as the elephant in the room with the food addiction? I’m pretty sure that’s how I just got introduced in this paper.

Steve:                   It didn’t come across like that, did it?

Matt:                     That’s the way I heard it, but that’s probably why I’ll now eat myself into a stupor and cry myself to sleep and then wake up with remorse and guilt [crosstalk 00:02:42].

Steve:                   Oh, it’s terrible. I fel bad now. But I’ve got some good news for you because food addiction is no such thing according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual number five, which is 2013, they just said no, it doesn’t exist any more, which is ridiculous.

Matt:                     So I’m just weak.

Steve:                   Yeah. Yeah.

Matt:                     There’s something you said already, Steve, which I want to talk more about, because you mentioned that we talked about addiction, something about evolving around the brain. And specifically mentioned the brain many times. And then you called me the fat elephant in the room and said I’ve got a food addiction.

So then I got mildly offended because I possibly have dopamine disorders and that sort of stuff, low self esteem, reward and pride issues. And we’re going to talk more about how dopamine affects all those mood and pride and reward centers and everything and your brain a lot more today, and the other chemicals that work in combination with it.

But we’re also going to talk about where these chemicals come from and we’re going to talk about the whole concept of psychology, and how psychology went to somatopsychic or psychosomatic is insinuating that one came first, insinuating that the body affecting the brain or the brain’s affecting the body, where with psychology, it’s all happening at once. And the cool thing about that is it’s not just a genetic defect where you have certain chemicals at work in your brain and certain ones that don’t, that make you predisposed or you’re destined to be an addict, in this instant what we’re looking at is there’s things that can occur within your body that can manipulate your reward centers, your brain, we can have passengers such as the microbiome, we can have enzymatic defects, nutritional deficiencies, we can have genuine needs for things like water and food and that sort of thing.

So we’re going to talk about the holistic nature of addictions because it’s not just a weakness in your brain. There’s no pain receptors in your brain. It’s got no muscular function. So when your brain does things, it manifests as thoughts and actions and cravings, and where if you’re muscles defective, you’ll get a pain or you’ll get a cramp. We got to stop realizing that our brain is in control of anything, really, because it’s all happening at once.

So it’s so important for us to understand with an addiction, it’s a holistic issue. And if we’re addressing just the brain alone and try to modify brain chemistry with brain chemistry modifiers and not actually looking at the individual, their microbiome, their enzymes and nutrients, their past experiences, their histories and all that stuff, you’re never going to break the cycle. You’re just working on one part and if the rest is still out of whack, it just keeps knocking it out away.

Steve:                   It’s so, it’s incredible. Elizma, you’re still in clinic. You still see patients, say someone’s addicted to something, why can’t you just say to them, “Hey, stop taking that drug, or, “Stop eating that food.”

Elizma:                  Well, because, Steve, we’ve often looked at addiction as a psychological issue, which we’ve just talked about, but it’s in fact more of a physiological condition. And that should encourage everyone because it means that you can actually do something about it. If you start to change the biochemistry that’s driving the addiction, that will enable you to do the psychological things a lot more easier because it’s not a mind over matter thing. There are very real biochemical things happening in the body that’s driving addiction and that can create addiction. And so, if you can identify what is the, I guess the blocks in the pathway in that particular person, then it goes a long way into helping them with the addictive behavior.

So in clinic, that’s the way that I would look at it, is from a physiological point of view. And again, so many things can be involved. The gut microbiome, diet, insulin, so many things that can play a role there.

Steve:                   Well that’s fascinating, because humans are generally addictive to certain things, but the big million dollar reason is why have we evolved like that? Why do we have this potential to become addicted to certain drugs? Is there a benefit for humans being addictable or risk takers?

Elizma:                  Well, that goes back to that dopamine neurotransmitter, which is a brain chemical that we make, and it’s the chemical that makes us feel great. It’s a reward chemical. Everything we do in life is all about getting that reward. So whether it’s our job, our exercise, our food, we all want to do things that makes us feel good. So dopamine is the chemical that makes you get out of bed and you’re motivated, you want to jump out of bed, you’re enthusiastic. It’s what drives us.

And specifically from a caveman point of view, dopamine is the chemical that actually drives us to want to look for food and to make the effort to look for food in harsh conditions. So like famine or anything like that. So dopamine makes us not give up. It makes us, we get up, we keep going, and we look for food.

If we didn’t have dopamine, we’d all just like, “Oh, well,” and we’re all just starve to death. So dopamine keeps driving you. The problem comes when there’s certain areas of that dopamine system that can go wrong. And if it does and you’re not getting that reward, you’re not getting that feel-good feeling, you’re going to want more, you’re going to want more, you’re going to want more, you’re going to start looking for activities that’s going to give you that. And that could be anything: gambling, shopping, eating the wrong foods, alcohol, drugs, and sex even. So you get sex addiction as well.

So you just keep on looking for, any activity that will give you that feel-good feeling, because that’s what we all want, is that feel-good feeling.

Steve:                   Is it always a feel-good stimulus? What about fear? What about adrenaline? What about extreme sports or that sort of stuff.

Elizma:                  Yep.

Steve:                   Can you explain a little bit more about dopamine in regards to the different types? We’re talking about addictions and these people who’ve got dopamine deficits or something. How’s that different to something Parkinson’s disease where they’ve got dopamine problems and they can’t function, they’re all stuck in a stiff and rigid. Is there different forms of dopamine doing different things in our body?

Elizma:                  It is, yeah. So dopamine, it’s one chemical, but it works in different areas of the brain. So the motor control area, which is more involved in Parkinson’s, it’s in a different area of the brain. I think I wrote it-

Steve:                   Substantia nigra, if you want to look that up.

Elizma:                  That’s the one. Substantia nigra. Yep. Yep. So when we’re talking about addictions, that area, that reward system occurs more in the [inaudible 00:09:16] limbic area of the brain, which is in the ventral tegmental area of the midbrain. So it’s the same chemical, but it’s just where it works in different areas of the brain.

Steve:                   Different brain function.

Elizma:                  Yeah.

Matt:                     An interesting story, I remember in one of the textbooks, I like some of the stories they put in the textbooks. But in amongst the textbooks on Parkinson’s, they told a story about a case where this person was extremely bad Parkinson’s, but their house caught on fire and in the middle of the fire, they got up and ran out. And they said that the amount of dopamine, and that as part of a survival response, the flood of dopamine was enough to get them to actually move. So for someone with an addiction and that stuff, some of these extreme events, the risk taking, full on fight or flight. So this has to be linked back into in our caveman days and evolution and fighting lions and tigers to steal their food or something.

Elizma:                  That’s right. I think Steve told me about an interesting thing that he read about Africa, where the bushmen, when they had to feed the tribe, they would engage in risk behavior such as taking the prey off the lion in order to feed the tribe. [crosstalk 00:10:28]-

Matt:                     See, that was only joking then.

Steve:                   It’s true.

Matt:                     It is? [crosstalk 00:10:31] Why not just go get their own food?

Steve:                   Because they can’t catch the hyenas or whatever the hell they’re trying to kill. The deer, they’re too fast for humans. So the lions would get them and then now they’re engaging the lions, and they would then steal their food and get a huge dopamine release because they’ve got their food, and it’s like, “Yes, we won, we beat the lions.” That’s a massive reward. Your chemicals going, wow.

Matt:                     We’re still alive is what I’d be like, whoo.

Steve:                   Yeah. Now, you’ve got a work trip to Vegas coming up.

Matt:                     Yeah, yeah. Why’d you do those little bunny effects?

Steve:                   Because work trip to Vegas doesn’t sell. People are going, “Ah, yeah. Work trip.” But it is actually a work trip to Vegas. But if you’re in Vegas and you’ve got $10,000 and you chucked it all on red, there’s just about a 50% chance you would double your money.

Matt:                     No, I actually, Steve, it’s 99% chance I’m losing that [crosstalk 00:11:16] money.

Steve:                   All right. Well, let’s think of this.

Matt:                     [inaudible 00:11:19] do for everyone else. [crosstalk 00:11:21] the population that hasn’t used up their bullshit quite early in life.

Steve:                   Exactly. So, that’s a risk reward. I mean, if you’re engaging lions, you could die. But you could lose all your money, but you could double your money. You could get all the food. That’s why we become addicted to, say, things like gambling, those sorts of things. It’s a risk-reward and it’s the risk. It’s like when I was a kid, my big scar here was trying to jump four rubbish bins on my pushbike, because I did three and of course the next thing is four. And after jumping three, I remember the reward going, “Oh my God, this is awesome. I can do for.” Put another one there and we have to steal one from up the road. And I tried to jump four. It didn’t work. At the end came with guts and stacks and [crosstalk 00:12:02] yeah, so it didn’t work out. But that was pushing myself to the limit, if you want to call it that way.

Matt:                     [crosstalk 00:12:09] why we get a lot of exercise addictions and that sort of stuff, it’s different extreme sport addictions, the big wave surfer guys and even the fighters and that sort of stuff, they just get fully addicted to that. But that’s different to the people, like you guys, I go for a run and feel nice. So endorphins from exercise, is that an addictive substance as well or is it the dopamine from getting scared?

Elizma:                  I guess it could be both. With athletes, you do get that dopamine rush, and I think that’s one of the reasons why you’ll see a lot of athletes who retire, they end up with addictive behaviors. I mean, I think Grant Hackett is an example, but a lot of them fall into alcohol or drugs, and it’s because they’re not getting that dopamine surge any more from their exercise so they’re looking for it somewhere else. But certainly endorphins play a role as well. But your endorphins actually plays more a role in specific food addictions. Yeah. So when you’re craving a specific food like bread or whatever, that’s more your endorphins. When it’s not a specific food craving, you’ll eat anything that’s in the food cupboard, that’s more driven by dopamine. So yeah, you can get both of those systems together.

Matt:                     And do you have physical symptoms with an addiction as well? For example, you get the craving, but do you also get the shakes, do you get frothing at the mouth, or whatever? Is that linked in with the dopamine stuff or are we …

Elizma:                  Yes. Yeah. So you can get the anger, the mood swings, violent behavior, aggressive behavior, but you can also get shaking and the typical withdrawal symptoms.

Matt:                     And some of those extreme acts of violence and sexual disgustingness and that sort of stuff that some of these drug addicts and that stuff will do, it doesn’t even seem to touch [inaudible 00:14:00]. I don’t see no remorse. So what happens when we use these drugs? Do we get a massive release of dopamine and then the dopamine receptors are just smashed? Or is it that the antennas get cooked or is it that the chemicals run out, or is it a bit of each?

Elizma:                  It’s a little bit of both. Initially you get the surges of dopamine, but eventually you can end up with a dopamine resistance, the same as you can get an insulin resistance. So the receptors become numb or desensitized.

Matt:                     Because the receptors can’t stop the release directly, all they can do is desensitized to it. [crosstalk 00:14:35] actually too much.

Elizma:                  That’s right. So then you need more and you need more and you need more. Eventually you can actually run into a dopamine exhaustion. Now, when you run into a dopamine exhaustion because you’re pumping out this dopamine to get a response, that’s when behavior becomes uncontrollable. So that’s when you get the binge eating, at that point, the control has been lost to a large degree. And then you have a whole ‘nother set of problems that follow on from that. So that’s when the depression and stuff that we’ll set in.

Matt:                     So this is where I get, when you look at the biochemical pathways, and I’m going, okay, cool. So for me, if I was to be a specialist or if I was to focus on one particular pathway, I’d think, “Okay, well I can supplement with tyrosine here. If I give someone tyrosine, just make them eat tyrosine, tyrosine is going to convert to dopamine. So that’s solved that problem.

However, in reality, if you really look at a couple of other biochemical pathways, at the same time, you’ll see that tyrosine is directly linked with phenylalanine, or that they interchange, so basically if you’re deficient in tyrosine, your body will break down phenylalanine, and phenylalanine is hard to say, but it’s also linked in with endorphins and enckephalins and it raises your mood, raises your pain threshold, that’s the endorphin-enkephalin link after exercise.

Alternatively, tyrosine can go down a pathway for noradrenaline, norepinephrine, which is adrenaline. So that’s our nervous response to stress that’s associated with anxiety and worry. Or tyrosine can go down dopamine or it can go down a melanin pathway, and so if someone’s got a dopamine receptor deficit, their body’s asking for more and more dopamine just to register, when we consume tyrosine naturally in our diet, what’s happening here? Is it likely to be going down that pathway, or is it all starting with our tyrosine going down an adrenaline pathway and not a dopamine pathway? How do we use tyrosine in this situation is probably a better question.

Elizma:                  Well, no, tyrosine has got a lot of things to do. It’s got to go to the thyroid, it’s got, like you said, to the adrenals to make that norepinephrine, and it also has to go and make dopamine. So, it’s got a few areas to go to, and it’s not always just as simple as eating or taking a tyrosine supplement because tyrosine still has to, be processed into dopamine.

And so there’s a lot of things that can interfere with that, like gut dysbiosis can interfere with that, because it interferes with a lot of amino acid absorption, but also interferes with a lot of the enzymes that is involved in converting that tyrosine down into dopamine.

Matt:                     This is really important. We were expended a little bit more on this because we’re talking about oral supplements, so when we take these things, we’re taking them into our digestive tract. Before we get them, our bugs get them. So what the bugs’ going to do … is dopamine made in the tummy and then sent to the brain? We often talk about 80% of the serotonin in the brain comes from the gut. Is dopamine the same or is it-

Elizma:                  No, from my understanding, it’s not manufactured in the gut. I mean, I’m happy to be [crosstalk 00:17:52]-

Steve:                   No, no, it’s manufactured in the glial cells in the brain. Glial cells are the cells that stick the brain together. Glial is Latin for glue, if you’re-

Matt:                     Oh, really? I didn’t know that. That’s really cool.

Elizma:                  That is cool.

Steve:                   I’m full of useful facts, useless facts, sorry, is what I wanted to say.

It’s funny you mentioned about the biochemical with tyrosine before. There was a movie made about this called Awakening. Does everyone remember that one?

Matt:                     Yeah, I do.

Steve:                   From about 20.

Matt:                     They throw a ball at you.

Steve:                   Yeah, that’s exactly right. Rob Williams and Robert De Niro.

Matt:                     The funniest thing is, sorry to interrupt again.

Steve:                   That’s all right.

Matt:                     I was interrupting saying … But [inaudible 00:18:23] really funny things and doesn’t know. I imagined in that movie that every other morning he just walked in and threw a ball in their face. I just thought it might have been the thing he’s doing, just throwing balls at people and record it, just, I’m on to something.

Steve:                   Yeah, yeah, yeah. He’s onto something, and he was on something because in 1969 that was born. That was one famous discovery. The other one was the discovery of levodopa, which is the direct precursor to dopamine, and Robin Williams, the character, I can’t remember his real name …

Matt:                     Steve. [crosstalk 00:18:49].

Steve:                   … whatever he was in the movie. And he was a doctor who said, “Well, hang on, these guys are low in dopamine. What if I give them levodopa?” And of course it failed, but then he gave more and more and more, and eventually …

Matt:                     It worked.

Steve:                   … it worked perfectly where they actually had a 100% cure rate. So they all got out of their wheelchairs and were dancing around is the movie goes. Unfortunately, of course they reverted right back because the receptors down regulated, levodopa is also a pro-oxidant, so it became oxidized, killed the brain off so they didn’t get better in end. However, to this very day, 50 years later, levodopa is still used as a medicine in hospitals-

Matt:                     And in the natural world, mucuna pruriens and velvet bean are used as levodopa, but what does it do? It’s a precursor and then dopamine gets released?

Steve:                   Yes.

Matt:                     So tyrosine gets absorbed. When we eat tyrosine, we absorb tyrosine out of our digestive tract. It finds its way through the blood-brain barrier, gets into these gluey cells in your brain, and then it converted to L-DOPA. Is that what we’re talking about for dopamine?

Elizma:                  Yes. That’s [crosstalk 00:19:49].

Matt:                     Unless we’re really worried and really stressed and anxious and I might go down to the norepinephrine pathway, or if we got some thyroid inefficiencies where we’re having to make lots of thyroid hormone because we have too much of a thing like reverse T3 or something that and it’s trying to compensate for the hypothyroidism, it might go down that pathway. What are the other things that might determine, let’s talk about these gut bugs, which are the assholes that sabotage our tyrosine?

Elizma:                  Oh, well lots of them. But clostridia is a common one, so clostridia difficile interfering, we briefly mentioned it in one of our previous podcasts, interferes with that dopamine beta-hydroxylase pathway, which can then result in a buidup of dopamine, which can then down regulate those receptors in the long run. The clostridia difficile produces of byproduct called [forcricile 00:20:43] in the gut. And then that forcricile is the metabolite that interferes with that enzyme, that dopamine beta-hydroxylase enzyme.

Matt:                     What does it make? Do you know? You ver asked them?

Elizma:                  I’ve never asked them, but apparently they make it to kill off other species so they can be the king of the mountain, so to speak.

Matt:                     How does it kill them? Does it interfere with the energy production?

Elizma:                  Yep. That forcricile interferes with the metabolism of other gut bacteria. But unfortunately [crosstalk 00:21:12]-

Matt:                     Because of the Krebs cycle. Yeah, because it interferes with their Krebs cycle. Huh?

Elizma:                  That’s right.

Matt:                     So, in an organic acid test, I don’t even call it out any more. In an organic acid test, you can actually measure cricile in the urine.

Elizma:                  Yes.

Matt:                     And you see a lot of it. It’s not just some people have a little bit, there’s significant amounts. So if we can measure cricile in the urine then it means the tyrosine from our food is getting eaten by things like clostridium. It’s making a poison that damages the Krebs cycle, which is our energy production pathway in every cell of our body. And then it ends up in the urine. So it’s going all through our body and contributing to fatigues and that sort of stuff and trying to stop us from being competition to the clostridium food supplier.

Elizma:                  Yep.

Steve:                   And the problem with that, of course, is that the treatment for that, the medical treatment, not our treatment, the medical treatment for that is amphetamines, which is one of the most addictive agents now on demand. They give kids amphetamines to-

Matt:                     And is that because of negative feedback, then? Why do they do that? Because we were talking about the-

Steve:                   Do you want to explain?

Matt:                     Oh, let me not interrupt.

Steve:                   Well, they give them amphetamines because it pushes dopamine past that to adrenaline and norepinephrine, it clears the excess dopamine, because the drug turns into adrenaline and noradrenaline, so you have to give these treatments. Ritalin’s a common amphetamine. You give it to kids in the morning, so as it drives through their adrenaline pathways in the afternoon … or the other option is they go for a bike ride. So, I’d give the amphetamines as well.

Elizma:                  Of course. [crosstalk 00:22:42]-

Steve:                   Yeah. Go for a bike ride, not my bike riding, but normal bike riding or exercise. But a lot of kids these days-

Matt:                     Is there any negative feedback with them? My brain’s down this tyrosine pathways now, and I’m imagining if we’ve got an agent in there affecting the norepinephrine, the noradrenaline actions, will there be negative feedback to say more of that tyrosine that you’ve eaten is available for dopamine or …

Steve:                   No, no. These people have too much dopamine in their brain that blocks it off. So they give them amphetamines to drive dopamine through to adrenaline because dopamine is a precursor to adrenaline. So, that gets the key, actually, doing shit.

The problem with that, of course, amphetamines are highly addictive, highly addictive. So the kids can’t get off them unless they do some intense exercise, which means a channel to get their need for amphetamines. But you gotta remember the kids are different these days, because of lots of good reasons. It’s a bit more dangerous out there. Actually, it’s safer out there for kids, weirdly, the studies show, but a lot of kids are being a little bit more protected, they’re not having as much activity because there’s more games around, these sorts of things. In my day, you’d have to walk to school and now they get driven to school and there’s cars everywhere. It just wasn’t the case.

Elizma:                  There’s something interesting about the Ritalin, Steve, that I thought is worth mentioning, because, you’re right, they have too much dopamine and then they use that to push that through. But what we also have to remember is if we look around neurotransmitters, it’s like we have these little levels in our body. So in other words, an ideal level of dopamine may be here. Now, these kids have always had a lot of dopamine. Their ideal level sits there. That’s the level that they’re always striving towards.

So now we are giving them drugs like Ritalin which then drops the dopamine down to normal levels, but for that kid, it’s not normal, which means even though it’s pushing it through, they want that level. And so that’s why a lot of these kids then can get more into addictive behaviors. So that’s a side effect of using something like [crosstalk 00:24:45]-

Matt:                     Obsessive compulsive little …

Steve:                   They do. They get actually detracked. And these kids nowadays can sit on a screen for six to eight hours now, whereas in the olden days you couldn’t do that. But now with their addictive personalities-

Matt:                     In the old days we didn’t have the screens. We had newspapers. Try and talk to my dad every … “Son, I’m reading the newspaper.”

Steve:                   Yeah, yeah, yeah. [crosstalk 00:25:07]. So they’re giving them these highly addictive drugs, and a lot of the footballers were on the Ritalins and amphetamines too, because they had ADHD. And of course this has also crept into autism spectrum, too. So they’re giving these amphetamines to autistic kids. And of course this is a highly addictive drug. It’s very addictive, amphetamines, and they’re giving them to overweight people who don’t exercise-

Matt:                     I’ve always wondered this, because I’ve seen it a little bit in the clinic, when they finish school and then they become adults and stuff that, all of a sudden I don’t have a learning and behavioral disorder any more. Now all of a sudden we’re diagnosed with something else, anxiety or bipolar or depression, it’s just an ongoing process. So, so far, if we were to have a look at it, we’re looking at the gut and the microbiome, make sure there’s no things clostridium that is hijacking your tyrosine, and clostridium as the most common cause for clostridium is antibiotic use. So a lot of people end up with an overgrowth of that because of recurrent antibiotics.

That’s why you often see links, I believe, this might be a little bit of a stretch or a theory of mine as well, but there’s a lot of statistical links talking about inner ear infections and linking into behavioral disorders and early life events like that. And then maybe the antibiotics and the altering of the microbiome might even have something to do with that.

So we look at things like clostridium, and also look at other bugs like candidas and the firmicute overgrowth and sibo and dysbiosis, when we’re talking about sugar addictions, we’re talking about cravings of certain foods. The microbiome, I have no idea how they do it, but they tell us what to eat, and they want us to eat what they need. And if you consider things like how amazing these microbes are, like toxoplasmosis, it’ll infect a rat and make the rat look for cats so the cat eats the rat so it can spread the infection. Rabies is transmitted through saliva and somehow affects the brain of these things and makes them want to bite things with frothy salivary mouth. How little microbes can take over our brain and make us do stuff. I honestly believe we are just vectors for transport for those buggers.

So, what else can we talk about with the gut, because, I believe we’ve got massive links in there with the neurotransmitters and how we deliver those neurotransmitters to the brain. But when we’re talking about food addictions, since we addressed the elephant in the room quite early, anyhoo, yeah.

Steve:                   God, yeah.

Matt:                     When I’m hungry, my tummy’s growling. [crosstalk 00:27:41].

Steve:                   That’s the ghrelin hormone, just for those people who don’t know. That’s why.

Matt:                     Let’s talk about how your gut makes you crave stuff. I’m just thinking maybe with food addictions, it’s not just your brain.

Steve:                   I’m going to hold this up so people see how the gut affects the brain in one snapshot. I can’t believe I found this paper. It just goes through absolutely everything, but it’s not going to shock you to know that the bad foods, like sugar food, and these antibotics adversely cause neuron inflammation in the brain, and that causes addiction. Hugely, of course, [crosstalk 00:28:14]-

Matt:                     So inflammation, oxidative stress.

Steve:                   Yep. It also releases norepinephrine from the gut, which affects the acetylcholine, which activates the sympathetic nervous system, which drives the brain chemicals and your stress response, which you don’t want, because stress in the brain means low dopamine, high stress, because it comes from dopamine, your adrenalines. So you get this massive response from all these bad foods. Weirdly, probiotics, prebiotics, fermented foods, the healthy gut foods, I guess you want to call it that, these are just a few examples. Obviously we’re more into the polyphenols for the gut, they have a positive effect on the gut and via the hypothalamic pituitary glands, the sex glands and the adrenal glands cause the stress in the gut from those particular bad foods. So it is huge.

Matt:                     There’s a lot of factors. When I’m looking at that one chart, you’ve got imbalanced mucosal immunity, you’re going to be predisposed. If you’ve got an overgrowth of those bugs that might be causing that imbalanced immunity, you have big problems.

Steve:                   As far the astrocytes in the brain and the cells that affect this inflammation. Now, you the glial cell storage. Do you know why they’re called the astrocytes? Because they’re shaped like stars.

Matt:                     Really?

Steve:                   Yeah, they look like a star.

Matt:                     I love the stories, because I remember it then. That’s cool.

Steve:                   So, they do look like stars. They look like stars if you can imagine that we’ll get a picture up on the screen. [crosstalk 00:29:34] So that’s what an astrocyte is. And if you get lots of inflammation in these particular cells, you get a brain cantcer called an astrocytoma, which is pretty much fatal. [inaudible 00:29:45], they can be fatal too. So you don’t want any inflammation in your brain.

Matt:                     No. You mentioned that these hydroxylase enzymes, they’re the ones that do the conversion. They don’t really work real well in exposure to inflammation and oxidative stress at all. Do they?

Elizma:                  Exactly. So you have all your hydroxylase enzymes, which is where our neurotransmitters, our serotonin and our dopamine are made, and those hydroxylase enzymes are very sensitive to oxidative stress. So oxidative stress has got dysbiosis, even stress will create oxidative stress, toxicity, anything that will downregulate a lot of those enzymes and make it not work so great.

Steve:                   And another mechanism why diet causes addictive behavior is summarized in this beautiful sentence from Clinical Chemistry 2018 for those who are taking notes at home, it says high glycemic index carbohydrates elicit a rapid shift in blood glucose and insulin levels, akin to the pharmacokinetics of addictive behaviors.

And also akin to drug abuse, glucose and insulin signals in the mesolimbic system in the brain to modify dopamine concentration. So the sugar changes changes the dopamine in the brain.

Elizma:                  Absolutely.

Matt:                     Sweetness.

Steve:                   Yep. Sweetness [crosstalk 00:30:56]-

Matt:                     Because there’s no calories. There’s no feeding of bacterias as such.

Steve:                   Well, they gave sweetness to rats in this study and it did cause addictive behavior dramatically in rats. The rats went nuts. The reason why they know that their dopamine receptors down regulated is because they cut the brains open afterwards to see. You can’t do that in a human, no, it’s not allowed. So they did that in rats. So they actually showed that the dopamine receptors were changed when they gave them artificial sweetness. So it’s very interesting.

Matt:                     So it’s not just the calorie association, it’s actually that …

Steve:                   It’s absolutely addictive.

Matt:                     I suppose we start tasting the sugar well before we’re getting the sugar and preparing for the sugar, so the biochemistry associated with a sweet taste is all anticipation to the glucose coming in, and it changing those things. So, if I’ve got a food addiction and that sort of stuff, where does ghrelin and leptin, because we talk about ghrelin and leptin with compulsive eating when we’re talking about weight gain and that sort of stuff. So ghrelin makes me hungry, doesn’t it? It makes my stomach growl. That’s the way I always remember it. So ghrelin makes you crazy hungry, and leptin is supposed to increase your satiety, reduce your hunger and burn.

Elizma:                  That’s right. So leptin regulates the energy in the body. So when it registers that there’s enough energy in the body and we don’t need to eat more, then leptin will send the signal to the brain to say you’ve had enough. And that’s a satiety signal that we get if it all works well. But if you have leptin resistance, which is a consequence of insulin resistance, so when we talk about eating sweet stuff and all the carbs stuff, the high GI foods eventually leading to insulin resistance, which then leads to leptin resistance and that and leptin resistance interferes with dopamine transporters. It downregulates dopamine transporters, and so that in itself can also feed back into addictive behaviors as well through that mechanism.

But the ghrelin is an interesting one because usually what will happen is when we eat food, ghrelin and [critinil 00:32:59] the gut hormone that triggers dopamine release in the brain. And that’s where we get the joy from food. So that’s just like, oh yeah, that was a great meal. And you get the joy, not just the satisfaction, but the joy from eating. And so if that ghrelin mechanism is not working very well-

Matt:                     So it’s like you get really hungry, get really hungry and then it’s just so good. So the ghrelin’s there priming the dopamine sections to just be like, “This is fantastic food.”

Steve:                   And as you’re off to America, if you happen to go down south, they call that food comfort food. Have you ever heard that term?

Matt:                     I have. I’ve even heard soul food.

Steve:                   Soul food. Exactly.

Matt:                     Have you heard that term?

Elizma:                  Yeah.

Steve:                   You’ve heard of comfort. I don’t know if it was a well known thing yet. I watch a lot of travel cooking shows.

Matt:                     He’s just [inaudible 00:33:44].

Steve:                   Don’t know. So these comfort soul foods that you see cooked in the south of America, they are supposed to elicit this dopamine response, which is good and bad, because if you feel good after eating a food and it’s too good, you can get an addictive behavior. A lot of people who eat a lot of sugar feel good after eating a lot of sugar, and they’re like, they go, “Oh wow, I feel great,” after a load of caffeine. That’s a psychological addiction and a physiological addiction at the same time, because you search for that good feeling again. And the last time you ate, I don’t know, sugary fudge and you feel really good, and you go, “Well, that’s good. I’m going to eat that again.” Because you will feel good. If you drank a, this is not caffeine, this is [inaudible 00:34:27] branch [inaudible 00:34:28] aminos, but if you felt good eating those things, you will seek them out again to feel good again. And that’s part of the addictive process.

So you don’t want it to make you feel that good.

Matt:                     What if it hurts?

Steve:                   What if it hurts?

Matt:                     There’s a lot of things that people are addicted to that actually hurt them. And then after, because of the pine or whatever, they get this extra weirdness out of it. It’s common with things sex addiction and bizarre sexual addictions and that sort of stuff. But even it’s linked in with things chili addiction, things like that that actually hurt things. But you get this exaggerated endorphin because of the pain, and you found a paper talking about the addicted brain and how they have this negative feedback mechanism that can actually block the memory of the painful bit. [crosstalk 00:35:18] I don’t think anyone’s addicted to labor, but you know like how you hear people after they’ve been through really painful experiences, they remember the joy of the moment and they’ve forgotten that how much it hurt.

Steve:                   Exactly. And this is what happens in the brain, in the hippocampus, in the amygdala, there is a negative feedback system to your memory, which means you actually forget about the pain a bit. It’s like-

Matt:                     That’s what’s wrong with people. Crossfit brain, isn’t it?

Steve:                   Or gym goers, yeah. I was going to say, we all go to the gym here. And it’s a painful experience, going to gym. It is literally physical pain-

Matt:                     But you remember how good you feel after it and you become …

Steve:                   Exactly.

Matt:                     … immune or resistant to the memories of the pain associated with it.

Steve:                   People call it exercise addiction, and in a kind of way it is, it may be a positive one if you’re doing the right exercises like you’re doing. I don’t know exactly what exercises you do at the gym, but I’m sure it’s positive. The most dangerous exercise is none at all. So, this is actually a positive effect of that memory that’s been thinking up. However, there are negative [inaudible 00:36:20] of pain. For example, gambling again, I’ll go back to that addiction. Let’s say you go to the thing and you go to the casino and you win $10,000 over six months, you’ve forgotten about the 20,000 that you lost, because that seems to fade. And you talk to people who gamble, even just normal gamblers and they say, “I’m generally up, over my time, I generally win more.” It’s like, oh shit. Because how the hell are casinos making money if everybody wins? It’s a magic [crosstalk 00:36:48]-

Matt:                     Oh no. They make it off me, people like me, Steve. I just give it to dealer and go to the bar now.

Steve:                   That’s a healthy response because you realize that you’ve made losses and you go, “Well, I’m going to calculate this loss.” But some people forget.

Matt:                     It’s that pain thing. I was at the gym this morning, actually, I was chatting to some guy, and he was saying that he’d already done a whole wad of Crossfit this morning, and I just said, “Mate, it’s pronounced croissant, but how many is in a wad? Six? I’ve done that.” Yeah, yeah.

Steve:                   It actually caused some negative feedback in the addicted brain, it causes a negative feedback … I’m going to test the camera man, here, Vanessa. You can see that little broken line, that means negative effect on your memory via the amygdala and hippocampus. So it actually clouds your memory of the negative experiences. So you end up doing it again.

Matt:                     And the guilt and the remorse. The guilt and the resentment that you’ve had against it-

Steve:                   It’s like the good old Saturday night, you go out, got blind, [inaudible 00:37:45] of course, and then you go on, never drinking again, never drinking again, next weekend, “What are we doing? Let’s go out and get pissed.” That’s a classic addictive behavior where you’ve forgotten how bad that hangover was on Sunday when you feel dying. We’ve all been there. I haven’t been there for 30-odd years, but you do remember it. I remember the vomiting and all that sort of thing and you still go and do it again.

Matt:                     I reckon that is involved with … some people get addicted to people, they get addicted to exes and they stalk people and stuff like that. I think they forget the bitch that she was.  No, they forget the pain that they went through. They forget the bad stuff and they only remember the good stuff. So this seems to be a pattern with cravings and wantings and desires and stuff like that where the pain and everything associated with it, it’s an acceptable consequence of getting that reward, and the more extreme they get with receptor defects and dopamine deficiencies, the harder it is for them to get that feeling that they would have had just by seeing a sunrise or something.

Elizma:                  That’s right, because they keep resetting the bar. It’s like what Steve said, if they do something, it makes them feel great, they eat sugar, it makes them feel great, and then they’re constantly going to look for that same behavior again to get that reward. But over time they’ll need more and they’ll need more because those sudden dopamine surges that they get from the pleasurable behavior resets their bar for dopamine. And this is also why we have so much relapse with alcohol or drug addictions. A lot of the therapies are helpful in getting them more fit, but there’s a very, very high relapse rate. And it’s because their reward system or their dopamine system is sitting there instead of there.

Matt:                     Yeah. And you even talk to people. I’ve even got mates that have got some drug problems. And funny thing is, is they talk about weekends that I was at with them, the things that we’ve done when we’re young, that they’ve never been the same from since. They’ve been chasing that same high ever since. And it’s just like, wow, that was a great weekend, but on Monday I went back to work. It’s funny how different people, they get a blast of something, and then they can never hit it again. And they remember that blast. They remember that moment. It might be triggered by a song, it might be triggered by a stress, it might be triggered by something or an event. And they’re like, “No, I need that thing.”

So a lot of the things with addictions in order to break the cycle, some people need to totally break the cycle of their whole environment, but other people need to just find other things to focus on to get that change in the brain chemistry. And it takes a little bit of work, because you go from an extreme drug effect or an extreme event or something that with an extreme release of chemistry to then trying to convince yourself that you think the sunrise is so beautiful that it’s making me feel a similar way. You’ve got to do that yourself. People have got to work this up. You’ve got to use your facial expressions, use your posture, you’ve got to act it out.

And the reality is, is if you do that consistently enough, it becomes your reality. That’s why I talk about your imagination becomes your reality. You could sit there and convince yourself that this is so beautiful. The project I’m working on is so amazing and so powerful and that sort of stuff that all of a sudden you can fill up and alter your brain chemistry by changing your focus and using your imagination that way. It doesn’t have to be, and this is why I hate talking about genetic causes for these things or whatever, because even if there is a gene, it’s no excuse to continue on. You have to make that change and you can still change even if you do happen to have a gene. I mean, they’ve always been there.

So, when we’re talking about it so far, what we’ve talked about is dopamine defects. We said that we could use things tyrosine, but we need to control the pathways that the tyrosine goes down to. Now, that’s a holistic approach because they’re controlling the adrenaline pathway is by being anti anxious. Is that even a thing? It’s actually reducing sympathetic nerve activation, which Steve was talking about there, which could be related to the gut inflammation.

Basically, your body doesn’t know what the bloody hell or can’t afford to wait to see what a stress is before it reacts. So, if it gets a trigger from the immune, the inflammation, temperature, whatever, it’s going to manifest a stress response. So you need to take some burden off that by not freaking out over everything else.

We then look at dopamine that way. So we’ve got to control our gut microbiome. So clostridiums and that sort of stuff in particular, we own a product called GutRight, but a lot of those are the polyphenols, a lot of antimicrobial polyphenols kill off clostridiums. Other things include grapefruit seed extract as well, berberines and those sort of things you can use to kill off the clostridiums and allow that tyrosine to go down dopamine pathway.

Then what we want to look at is these dopamine receptors. They’ve been getting smashed this whole time. So when we bring back these levels back to a normal level, all of a sudden they’re not going to register. There will be a period of time which it takes for those receptors to upregulate again to say, hey, where the bloody hell have all my brain chemicals gone? I’m going to upregulate. Now those receptors are typically made of oily, proteiny stuff. So we need lots of oil. Our brain is 80% oil or something like that, something stupid like that, and all those little antennas are all oily.

So we need lots of essential fatty acids and not just one or two types. We don’t need just EPA DHA, even though EPA is the predominant one in the brain, we need all the others to be able to make the structure and actually hold it because EPA is sloppy. It doesn’t even make a receptor. You need to have some structure with the stearic acids and lots of stuff as well. So a big variety of oils, and also working on the ways those receptors work. So then we’ve got all the little B vitamins, all the little enzyme cofactors, the zincs, the magnesiums, the folates, the B12s along with the other B vitamins, they’re all involved in the way those receptors work.

So, before you start any campaign to try to fix your addictions, make sure you are capable of it. Make sure you’ve got a good nutritional status with essential micro nutrients and essential fatty acids to make sure you’re capable of doing it. And they’ve even done one study with, EPA DHA where I’ve one group EPA DHA supplements and they have another group turmeric. And the turmeric group got more EPA DHA in their brain than the people taking EPA DHA. So a lot of it’s aiding the conversion. In fact, zinc deficiency is a bigger link between your inability to make EPA DHA from your Omega 3 precursors. So making sure we don’t have deficiencies in zinc, magnesium, B vitamins, using things tumeric along with all your big mixed variety of oils and lots of different plant oils and that stuff. And that’s probably one of the best ways to make sure your body’s capable of rebuilding the receptors. What else can we do in that receptor end of the game? Is there anything else we can do to help and support the receptors from coming back?

Steve:                   Well, magnesium helps NMDA receptors. Magnesium reduces the NMDA receptor activity and the glutamatergic activity, so it helps with our stress response. Also, what they did one study where they got rats morphine addicted. Okay. And they then withdrew them and they went obviously nuts.

Now, the other group, they got a morphine addicted, same morphine. They administered magnesium at the same time and they were much, much better. So, now, obviously people said, “What about humans?” You can’t give morphine willy nilly to humans. You have to go to rats, and this is very interesting. And magnesium deficiency has also been associated with contributing relapses. People go, oh yeah, I’m off the drugs and they go back on. That’s heavily associated with magnesium deficiency. So that’s what this great new paper came out, 2018, Magnesium in Addiction: A General View, which just goes through all the studies on this. It’s great. And magnesium is deficit involved in addictive substance: heroin, morphine, cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, caffeine and others. [crosstalk 00:45:33] all of them.

Matt:                     Yeah, yeah, yeah. Pretty much. So when you look at magnesium, a lot of market it as a relaxer. It’s not so much a relaxant, but just make sure you’re capable of switching off. So when you get these triggers to say, go, go, go, magnesium then comes out to switch off those triggers and make sure you’re capable of switching and go, “Okay, I heard you. Thank you.” And that’s how magnesium probably works a lot.

Elizma:                  There’s another mechanism as well as magnesium works in our glutamate receptors, the NMDA receptors, and glutamate itself, if you’re pumping a lot of glutamate, you think about MSG in lots of Chinese food and stuff like that, glutamate itself will decrease the production of dopamine, but it increases dopamine firing. So it drops your dopamine levels, but it makes it go crazy.

Matt:                     The way I describe it is it irritates nerves. It makes them more sensitive. That’s why it makes that tongue more sensitive so we can taste more, the slow cooked meals that taste so damn good, it’s because of the liberation of the glutamate and you throw a bit of the odd monosodium glutamate on top of them and it’s even better again. And the intensity of these flavors, it just heightens everything up.

How does glycine link in? Do you remember off the top of your head? I know glycine has an effect on the glutamate affecting with the glutamate sensitivity.

Elizma:                  Yeah. It can dampen that glutamate response. But I think there is also a occasions where it can go the opposite. It’s very rare. I can’t remember the exact mechanism why that happens because in some it can, again, create over excitation. But in general, the rule of thumb with glycine is that it’s more like an inhibitor.

Matt:                     Yeah. And ammonia toxicity too and another one that makes people extremely aggressive and angry and it does that by irritating, or it’s making them more sensitive to glutamine or glutamate and that sort of stuff as well, huh.

Steve:                   Very interesting.

Matt:                     Thank you, Steve.

Steve:                   There’s a great diagram here on how magnesium works, and I want to show it to the camera because it works in pretty much every negative angle that cocaine does, it works on the opposite effect of. I love this particular paper and you see the nice diagram there, and that’s the 2018 paper on magnesium [inaudible 00:47:36]. So yeah, if you see that, beautiful, it counters it in all areas, counters the brain. It just balances it beautifully, which is what I love about magnesium. So it inhibits, the cocaine drives it, this inhibits it. So it has that beautiful balancing effect from about, four or five different mechanisms, which I love. And that shows you how magnesium works, also goes back into the brain. So it’s a really good mineral to take specifically for any addiction. And magnesium citrate is quite a good one too, they found too in that paper.

Matt:                     Yeah. That’s good to know, because I was actually curious when you’re talking about that glycine now, I was thinking in the brain situation, would I be using a magnesium citrate or would I use a magnesium digycinate, but if glycine’s a little bit hit and miss, it might be better off with citrates?

Elizma:                  Well, I think if it’s bound to magnesium, I don’t think that will ever be a problem. It’s more if you take out large doses of glycine singularly. So the magnesium, I think I would agree. Probably magnesium glycinate would be a really …

Steve:                   Yeah. Glycine can go either ways.

Matt:                     With the magnesium diglycinate for example, it’s a 20% magnesium, the rest is the glycine. So by the time they’re taking a couple hundred milligrams, you’re only getting a few hundred milligrams or might be a gram of glycine.

Elizma:                  Exactly. It’s not much.

Matt:                     There was a trend at that at one stage within the industry, and of course we don’t throwing stones and that sort of stuff, but there were some people that ware substituting 30% of their protein with pure glycine because they could still measure it as protein, and it’s nice and sweet and really cheap. So, imagine that sort of situation. You wouldn’t even know what’s causing the problem for you.

Steve:                   And just for a little bit of a throw one out there, we found recently in a paper, basically that women are more susceptible to some addictive behaviors, and this was published in Medicine Clinical in North America 2019, and it’s titled Women and Addiction: An Update. So women are much more prone to substance abuse, they think that a woman is an alcoholic if she has seven drinks a week, for men it’s 14. Sounds a bit sexist.

Elizma:                  But it is interesting because that could be to do with the COMT enzyme, which is the Catechol-O-mine …

Matt:                     Methyltransferase. Catechol-O-methyltransferase. That’s [crosstalk 00:49:39] I know that one. I know that one.

Elizma:                  Because when women have high estrogen, as in when girls hit puberty or women take the oral contraceptive pill or they’re just estrogen dominant, that’s going to downregulate that COMT enzyme, which is going to prevent dopamine from being metabolized appropriately. And I think this is probably one of the reasons why women get cravings during certain times of the month or they can get a bit moody and aggressive, is because they can get those fluctuations.

Matt:                     Interestingly, I’m really interrupting you now Steve, but it’s for your own good. In that, we’ve got a product, Alpha Venus has got a herb called Vitex. The main feedback we get from that is so we use that to enhance ovulation, you get a good healthy corpus luteum that makes progesterone, but its main effect, dopaminergic. It has an immediate dopaminergic effect. And when people use that Vitex for the pre-menstrual period, the cravings disappear, a lot of that weird headachy stuff disappears, a lot of the mood changes and that sort of stuff can be regulated. And that’s all mainly via the dopaminergic and the offsetting of the estrogen with the progesterone, which indirectly has a similar effect.

Steve:                   And they talk about in this paper, weirdly women and shopping and makeup and all that sort of stuff, and I just skimmed over that bit, but that’s actually associated with dopaminergic release where women seek more dopamineric release. So you can comment on about that. I’ve got no idea.

Matt:                     Oh no, there’d be blokes with the same thing, [crosstalk 00:51:04]-

Steve:                   I hate shopping.

Matt:                     … dopamine thing-

Elizma:                  Yeah, I hate shopping too. I get my addictions in other ways.

Steve:                   Oh, okay, well, there you go. It’s probably heroin or something [inaudible 00:51:12] just other ways. Okay. We might go down that pathway. What’s that white powder? I thought that was protein powder. Oh, yeah, there we go now. So I look at it … But it’s very interesting, and they talk about here with a lot of women and doctor shopping where they feel that women do more, and I’ll call [inaudible 00:51:31] doctor shopping because they don’t feel satisfied with the doctor giving them the respect. And maybe there’s a lot of truth in that. So it is very interesting. And they talk about the cocaine use in women’s on the increase-

Matt:                     We used to have it in the natural clinic. We used to have a category of clients called the visitors that would visit every practitioner in town trying to get someone to say what they want to do. I didn’t think that was an addiction to practitioners. But I was going to say something amazing and totally forgot it with my shitty story. Go back to you, Steve.

Steve:                   All right. This is the addiction and you’re talking about alcohol, substance abuse in pregnancy where a lot of women, for example, fall pregnant and they say, “No, you’ve got to give up smoking and they can’t. They can’t or won’t … not won’t, they really [crosstalk 00:52:15]-

Matt:                     … told their other doctor that the process of quitting smoking is way too stressful. You’re better off just smoking.

Steve:                   Wow. There you go.

Matt:                     Was that something that you heard or is that a North Queensland strategy?

Elizma:                  I’ve never heard it, but there’s probably some validation in there. The stress can often be more detrimental than the addiction. I guess it’s a bit of a weird mark. [crosstalk 00:52:40].

Matt:                     I’ve been reading a fair bit lately about ketones, and I’m really curious because we’re talking about changing in fuel and food addictions. Could we use exogenous ketones to have an effect on food addictions by creating a stable fuel state within the brain away from sugar pathways?

Elizma:                  Absolutely because that white matter in the midbrain where the whole dopaminergic system takes place-

Matt:                     You got white matter [inaudible 00:53:07] by heroin or line of coke.

Steve:                   Oh, geez. [crosstalk 00:53:11]. There I go under the bus.

Elizma:                  I did not say that was my addiction.

Matt:                     Let’s just talk about this white substance in the middle of your brain.

Elizma:                  No, no. The white substance in the brain, which is where the dopaminergic system takes place, needs a lot of ATP, a lot of energy, which would tie in with mitochondrial defects, mitochondrial dysregulation, but also that area of the brain loves ketones. They do very well on fatty acids and ketones. So you could theoretically use exogenous ketones, not for weight loss but for feeding that part of the brain which can then improve that dopaminergic system, which is maybe one of the reasons why ketones often can improve focus and concentration, which is a dopamine function. But it could very well start to regulate that area of the brain which can then dampen addictive behavior and then help the person to get back on track with whatever they need to.

Matt:                     Because I’m thinking if I’m consuming all these tyrosines and phenylalanines and everything in my meals, my microbiome might be messing up some of it with cricile, I might have firmicutes or whatever other things that want me to eat sugars. And I might have all those sort of pathways going at once, all in my gut where my tyrosine is already hijacked before I even get to that part. Then I’m looking at this brain chemistry changing and I’m looking at the fact that we’re getting cravings for fuel or cravings for requirement, because I mean we talked about the lions, we talked about the addictive behaviors through evolution. It was all about survival.

So for us to be getting signals that we’re not quite right, we’re under attack and it could be just as simple as an overgrowth of bugs, if we’re seeing signals of inflammation, stress, worry, hurry, worry, money, panic, we’ve got an overgrowth of bugs were eating our tyrosine, we’re making cricile, we’re screwing around with our ability to burn sugar as a source of fuel and burn fat and we’ve got these bugs just telling us to change, we’ve got our brain chemistry that’s lacking these chemicals, we’ve got the receptors that have been smashed because of our fun years and that sort of stuff … we’re pretty much going to be up and down a lot. We’re going to be gone through phases and waves of cravings, and you’re going to be going through phases of, oh man, my fuel’s here now and I feel amazing and now it’s gone and I feel angry or down or … what I’m thinking of with the ketones is if there’s periods of the day when we’re working, so if we were to use exogenous ketones to keep a steady alternative fuel source, so when we have these reactive hypoglycemias or we have these effects with the glycemic index or an effect from a microbiome, we could have a steady source of fuel for our brain that might provide the ATP we need to rebuild the receptors, to do all of these things that we need.

We’ve mentioned before that magnesium, make sure you don’t have a magnesium deficiency. Take an extra magnesium, good way to give you the green apple splatters. You don’t need to do that. Just make sure we’re not magnesium deficient, same with a lot of the B vitamins. You don’t want to overload B vitamins because the COMPT pathway falls in methylation pathway, so I don’t want to be overloading with things that are going to deplete the methylation pathway. We just want to make sure we’re not deficient.

So with the micro nutrients megadoses I don’t believe are necessary often. Most of the time we just want to make sure we’re not deficient in these micronutrients. We want to make sure we’re not deficient in essential fatty acids. We want to make sure we’re not deficient in magnesium. We’ve got to cover those things first. We also want to make sure we don’t have an overgrowth of gut bugs. From everything we’ve said today, it’s more likely to be an overgrowth making too many chemicals, or an overgrowth making too much lipopolysaccharides, and an overgrowth of gut bugs is more likely to become a problem with addictions. I mean they’re creating their own chemicals telling you to eat things that they love, such as sugar and that sort of stuff. So more likely than not, we want to kill off some of these bugs, or look at your gut microbiome through a stool analysis or do an organic acid test and see if things like cricile or whatever’s into the urine and that see if we can target the gut.

So, so far, in my brain from what we’ve talked about today, our protocol for addictions would include micronutrients, electrolytes, oils, and GutRight, gur health sort of stuff, things like turmerics and other herbs that will regulate your gut microbiome. I haven’t done anything yet with brain chemistry. Nothing in there that I’ve said is actually altering directly what we talk about being a neurotransmitter modifier [crosstalk 00:57:50]-

Steve:                   Can I throw one at you?

Matt:                     Yeah. Throw. No, but you can tell me about it, Steve.

Steve:                   All right, sure. Well, you mentioned tyrosine a lot, we know as a precursor to dopamine, that is a got a structure of a benzene ring with two hydroxy groups and an amine group out of one group. Why am I saying it’s got one benzene ring? Because it’s a mono amine oxidase. So we can inhibit the breakdown of that by using a mono amine oxidize inhibitor.

Matt:                     Oh. [Amaui 00:58:14].

Steve:                   Amaui. Amaui. Exactly. So there’s monolamine oxidase they use medicine to stop the breakdown of these neurotransmitters, and in natural medicine, there are certain herbs that do that. rhodiola is one of them. So it’d be very good for the stress response to the brain. [crosstalk 00:58:31].

Matt:                     And then the drugs, you got [inaudible 00:58:32] and that sort of stuff that protect those. The main differences is the classical antidepressant was a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, that’s where it’ll started, I think, Prozac and all that sort of stuff. But serotonine is not the dopamine. Dopamine goes down the monoamine oxidase pathway or the COMT pathways, so we want to inhibit those. And you were saying before, rhodiola’s a … And that’s cool about rhodiola. rhodiola is a weird herb to discuss with herbalists because they all have a very strong opinion about rhodiola. Some of them believe it’s a full stimulant, for Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s a stimulant, you go. And then in the European medicine it’s more of an adaptogen. If anything, it’s mildly calming.

But it makes sense. If you’ve got someone that’s down and flat, because it can preserve the dopamines and everything like that, those people that were down and flattened had a depression born from apathy. All of a sudden they start to feel a bit of something. So for those people it’s an energy tonic. But for other people that have got the excess, it can actually have negative feedback and calm them down. So that’s why it’s a cool adaptogen. If you’re up and anxious or whatever, it will calm you down. But if you’re down and deficient, it’ll pick you up.

Elizma:                  Yeah. It’s a modulator.

Steve:                   It’s a modulator. I mean, in medicine, the rare, this one, Ritalin, is a modulator. Even though it’s an amphetamine, you give it to a child that’s hyperactive and it settles them down. You give amphetamines to probably us that have normal brain chemistry, and you will be hyped up because it’s an amphetamine.

Matt:                     I don’t think any of us have normal brain chemistty [crosstalk 01:00:05].

Steve:                   But for example, rhodiola, that’s in our Cort RX. And my wife Beck is a nurse. She finishes work at nine o’clock. It’s a very stressful job. Of course, dealing with dead people or dying people or very sick people at least. And of course she takes that and it calms her down dramatically.

Matt:                     Dopamine’s also linked in with sleep maintenance, so the conversion of serotonin to melatonin with a period of darkness I think is stimulated by dopamine. So another side effect or symptom that someone might notice of dopamine deficits is poor sleep maintenance, waking up in the middle of the night with cravings and hallucinations and stupid dreams, because if you have too much serotonin, that’s like when you sleep and when you’re drunk. And so you get those stupid hallucinations where you still think you’re at the party and doing all that weird stuff. And then, oh man, let me tell you some stories.

So serotonin, you’re stuck there. But if you can’t convert the serotonin to melatonin, then you have those stupid busy nights that you’d never get that full restful sleep. And that can be contributing to addictions too, because it’s one of the main symptoms people talk about, is they just can’t sleep. It’s just this constant thing. It’s killing them.

Steve:                   Yeah. Goodness me. Right?

Matt:                     That’s interesting. Huh?

Steve:                   That’s where another neurotransmitter that calms you down called Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is a good calming one to take and that sort of thing too. There’s lots of herbs that increase that-

Matt:                     GABA [inaudible 01:01:23] one of my favorite ones. GABA. I love GABA. It’s a really nice, but it’s probably addictive itself, isn’t it? Is GABA addictive? Because I mean it’s banned in a lot of places because too many people like it [crosstalk 01:01:37]-

Elizma:                  It just makes me very drowsy. It gives me that funny head feeling in the morning.

Matt:                     Yeah. Numbs me at times.

Steve:                   Well, we know that the Benzodiazepines at work on the GABAergic receptors are highly addictive. So they can be very addictive, Temazepam, you mentioned, Craig before, I know personally years ago, he was addicted to sleeping tablets. It’s fine. I’m not giving anything away here, but you can become very addicted to a drug called Stilnox, which is a fast acting sleeping tablets, compared to Mogadon, which is a slow acting sleeping tablet and doesn’t give you that immediate hit, but it holds you asleep a lot longer. And a lot of the bodybuilders use Mogadon because it drives up growth hormone release so they get more built.

So, it’s a tricky one, those sleeping tablets. There’s an addiction because Grant probably flying around swimming till God knows what time [crosstalk 01:02:26] to go to sleep to get up next day, a sleeping tablet’s excellent for that, but if you’re doing that every night, you can become very addicted to them. They say you shouldn’t take them more than two weeks, otherwise you get rebounds, insomnia. But it’s a lot better than what it was in the olden days where Dr. Doug was giving sleeping tablets many, many years ago because they were highly addictive. The barbiturates, which if you overdose on AGB, it can be fatal. If you have a whole packet of Valium you’re less likely to die these days.

Matt:                     It’s the truth.

Steve:                   Yeah. There’s a famous scene in the paper about a guy gave powerful sleeping tablets, I don’t know which ones, to a nine-year-old and in jail for it for seven, eight years. He’s getting released soon, and a young girl died.

Matt:                     Oh, that’s truth.

Steve:                   Yeah. So he’s obviously, it was a terrible, terrible situation. So nowadays those sleeping tablets, while they are less dangerous, can be addictive. The barbiturates were very addictive too.

Matt:                     Yeah, I can imagine.

Steve:                   So we’ve got huge amounts of addictions out there and these sleeping tablets, pretty much everywhere. It’s a first line treatment for someone with insomnia if you went to a doctor [crosstalk 01:03:28] sleeping tablets.

Elizma:                  And that GABAergic system is very important because that’s what regulates dopamine. It’s what calms that whole dopamine firing down. Otherwise you’ll just be on a high the whole time. So, if you have these addictive behaviors, it eventually will deplete the GABAergic system or GABA out of the body, and then you start getting the fears and the phobias and the anxiety and the panic. So that’s why you get this residual symptoms and insomnia, sleeping disorders and all of that.

Steve:                   And I can’t think of a better way to increase dopamine in your brain than winning an Olympic gold medal. That would be the dopamine thing. You’ve trained it all your life and you win it, and it’s like you’ve won.

Matt:                     But that’s the problem. Now what?

Elizma:                  Now no-one’s chasing it.

Steve:                   Yeah, now what? Exactly. Next game’s in four years’ time, what do you do? You wake up next morning and you go, oh, I’ll just get back to the pool and do some laps. It’s really quite a difficult situation to be. It’s the guys winning the footy games and they seek the dopamine [inaudible 01:04:23] a lot of the athletes in Australia have had terrible problems with-

Elizma:                  Drugs and alcohol.

Steve:                   Horrendous. One of the guys always drinking and the guy got kicked out. [inaudible 01:04:33] in the news for assaulting his wife at a casino. This is a typical drinking and casinos are just seeing that dopamine response. It was quite sad. That was in the news. So there’s lots of these going around. He got 150 hours community service or something. So, this is a really terrible situation for these people. And Yeah, I’m sympathetic to them to a degree, but you can still control it.

Matt:                     Yeah. So  the key is, I think, the first price to start, I would, would be a holistic approach. I think we need to do the exercise, we said how important exercise is, work out what exercise you love that makes you feel good, that screws with your brain chemistry the right way. Find out what it is, whether punching stuff or punching yourself. I don’t know. You might find there’s destructive ways of doing these things that resemble that hunting, gathering adrenaline, but it could be the opposite. It could be the total “I just need that peace. I need that meditation.” So someone might thrive with a [Ken Wear 01:05:32] style treatment, someone else might need to get into UFC and get hit.

So find out what it is, but start doing some exercise, you know? Then make sure you’re not deficient in things. Just cover the basics. Make sure we’ve got all the nutrients capable of healing, because you’re on a healing journey. So make sure that you’ve got all the bricks and mortar and building blocks you need for that. Then let’s start getting some control. And the first place to get some control would be making sure you’re not deficient magnesium and taking regular magnesium, maybe even using some of these exogenous ketones and that sort of stuff in those flat bits to keep a bit of steady state. That’s an interesting theory.

Make sure as well, then, that we’ve got some herbs that will create a little bit of balance around your brain chemistry, so we can use things like rhodiolas turmerics and schizandras and and Withanias, those sort of herbs that have an adaptogenic effect, and we could use them throughout the day if you find you’re one of those people that get a lot of triggers during the day that you’re under stress, that you’re anxious or you feel brain chemistry, you need to get your control. You can take that one three times a day. Just keep it steady. We can then use other herbs. If you find a definite pattern, if you’re a female and finding a definite pattern with your menstrual cycle, I would incorporate something Vitex to definitely control that dopaminergic systems in that 10 days to two weeks before your period. And that sort of stuff in particular, this is all going to start getting us some balance.

I would say small regular meals as opposed to … What do you reckon, guys? Right. If you’re an addictive personality, you really gone through this, what will intermittent fasting and that sort of stuff do to you? A fouled hunting trip really ruin your day? Because if we’re going back to evolutionary aspects and saying that, we have these dopamines, so we can do extreme things to hunt and gather and that sort of stuff, does a fouled hunting trip really upset you?

Elizma:                  Well, I don’t think it’s necessarily that, but if you’re already very dysregulated in this area, intermittent fasting, as much as I love it, it may cause in the initial stage, blood sugar dysregulation and that blood sugar regulation can then make you, “I need binge on bread,” or something like that. So initially my experience of being that, initially you try and get them to go for as long as they can before it becomes an issue. And as they become more regulated, they can push more and more and more.

Matt:                     It’s a nurturing protocol. It’s not like put yourself into rehab and cold sweats and that sort of shit. I mean, that’s based on the assumption that your brain chemistry is messed up. And we’re going to torture your body until your brain gets that shit together. It’s not that. You can’t separate things. We can separate mune and nerve and gut and skin and all that stuff from the brain chemistry. It’s all happening at the same bloody time. So when you see someone going through such physical withdrawals, there’s some physical things we can do. So we can be working on the gut.

And it’s so important when you’re trying to break the vicious cycle of addictions, is to have a holistic approach. A lot of it is about filling up time and creating a proactive plan. The big point is we need to make sure these people have got something positive to focus and something that they actually focusing on. I don’t know where this stat come from. I possibly made it up. No, some dude told it to me and I just accepted it as fact, now I remember, but of two million points of data we could get at any one moment, we take in seven so we can choose what we want. We can choose. Forget about those numbers, that’s probably not accurate. But we can focus on a couple of things at a time. And we will focus on a few things. So it’s up to us to force in important stuff to focus on. So it’s up to us to force in things to make sure one of those things is exercise. One of those is gut health. One of those is looking at the nutrients of the foods, the micro nutrients, not the macros.

We want to shift our focus and not have those triggers that make us want the drugs or have that brain chemistry that makes us need that reward or stuff that beats us up. We want to have things that make us feel good, strong, confident, and we want to fill up our days and our mind and our routine with positive, constructive things, because they will actually take the place of your existing addiction. If we can switch in a sugar addiction to an exercise addiction, if we can switch these things, because if you’re one of those people, and I hear it all the time, “I just have an addictive personality,” I hear it all the time, people say, no, seriously man, I can’t do that. I’ve got such an addictive personality. If I try that, I’m going to be on it forever. You know? If you’re one of those people, then shift your focus. And just work with it. Just make sure you’re addicted to something awesome.

Steve:                   Well, it could be anything, could be good healthy exercise, but you talk about balance and I’ll talk a bit holistic here too, because I think if you’re a full on [inaudible 01:10:29] or whatever, maybe another thing could be you take up swimming a little bit. It’s a little bit more gentle or walking or spending time with a partner or doing something like that just to wind yourself down from it. For me it’s camping. I love camping, those sorts of things where you’re not forced to, if you’re walking you, you’re not forced to go slow, but you typically go slow or camping is a process, those sorts of things.

So it could be whatever you want to do. And I agree with you. I think it’s great to have that balance in life. I think that’s a great way to almost wrap these up because that that’s really what it’s all about. It’s about balance.

Matt:                     Yeah. Yeah. That’s really interesting. Create a holistic approach and strategizing and everyone’s different. But yeah, create a plan and make sure you cover off all these bases. That’s great. Let’s do some FAQs. We’ve got to do that. I’ve been waffling too much again.

Steve:                   All right, here’s some FAQs. Well, firstly, before we get any FAQs, here’s a great no weight bar if you can guess what’s for sale as we speak right this very instant.

Matt:                     All of that stuff, I hope.

Steve:                   The bars were released this week. How cool is that?

Elizma:                  Awesome.

Steve:                   That was a bad throw. So, yeah. I believe we’ve got our first bar review, which is really cool. It’s on the banana caramel pie. We’ve got three flavors, of course. We got lemon curd and chocolate to go with it. Yeah. Whoosh. Three bars.

Matt:                     I love that.

Steve:                   Yeah, I know. We got three flavors at the moment. There’s more coming. I don’t think that’s a big secret. Okay. This is for marketers, upon opening a bar, very surprised about their texture because normally when you open a protein bar, it’s covered in chocolate or something else like that. These, these are a gummy bear, you could almost say. Yeah, like a lolly. Went down very easy and none of the grit of the other protein bars. It has an incredible mouth feel, but the best part is the taste. Absolutely loved it. Great ice and easy to smash down. They just need to release a mixed box of different flavors and it is perfect. There you go.

Matt:                     Thanks, Mark. Buy one of each. Now, he did say he loves the banana caramel pie, which is also my favorite. It’s awesome, that one. The chocolate one is cool, but if you’re imagining it chocolate, it’s not chocolate. It’s confectionary. We’re looking at lollies.

Steve:                   This is a question from Nicole. She says, “Hi, Matt, Jeff and Steve,” and Elizma of course, today, “firstly, I just wanted to say, I can’t thank you guys enough for your podcasts. They have changed my whole outlook on my health and have helped me learn so many interesting things about the human body.” Wow. We’ve learned some human body stuff today too. “I have a few issues that I hope you can provide some advice on. “Back in 2011, I got glandular fever after a very stressful time of my life.” That’s caused by the [inaudible 01:13:15] for those who want to know. “A few months later, with the glandular fever, I started getting tonsillitis.”

Matt:                     I’m trying to breathe.

Steve:                   It’s the tonsillitis …

Matt:                     No, no, no. You’re good.

Steve:                   Okay. “This was recurrent for a total of a year until I was finally “allowed” to get my tonsils taken out. During the 12 months, I was on antibiotics back to back.” Wow. “I would take a course then would be okay for a few days, then we’d get tonsillitis again. I soon began to notice my gut health deteriorating. In mid 2012, I finally got my tonsils out and thought my health would be great, but it’s really been anything but. Although I got my tonsils out, I still keep getting symptoms and I feel tonsillitis. My glands would flare up …”

Matt:                     Don’t worry about us. [inaudible 01:14:07].

Steve:                   I don’t know what’s funny about tonsillitis.

Matt:                     Go on, Steve. You can get through it.

Steve:                   “My glands would flare up, [inaudible 01:14:19] got quite run down, which was very often. I get other throat infections and just overall felt lousy and lacked energy. One point there, a doctor thought I might have a strep throat so he gave me an injection of penicillin. I was immune to the 500 milligram and 875 milligram at this point.” Wow. That’s huge doses of injectable penicillin. “My gut health progressively got worse and worse [inaudible 01:14:46] to the end of 2008 and I finally found a doctor who was also an [inaudible 01:14:50] helped me and actually listen and not tell me I was making it up. I got tests done and severely he got extremely low B12 and folate. It was 150, and I think 200 to 900,” normal to 220 to 900 it is. “This explain why I was always so tired and had no energy. My doctor told me I had an inability to absorb B12, so I’ve been getting injections since,” B12 injections that is. “I’m feeling a little bit of, it’s still not great.”

“I recently lost a close friend and I’m struggling with low energy and anxiety. I also am struggling to get rid of excess fat on my stomach. Would love recommendations on your products. I currently use the [inaudible 01:15:29] and the Vegan Amino. But I don’t know the timing of how I should be taking them, or is there something else I should take? I’m also on Temazepam,” that’s a sleeping tablet, “to help me sleep due to recent grief I’ve been going through following the loss. Any advice on foods to eat, your supplements, would be a greatly appreciated.” There you go. That is amazing. Thanks to Nicole. Matt, that’s a tricky one.

Matt:                     Yeah, it’s a weird one. So basically in a lot of these sorts of situations, especially when we’re looking at nutrient deficiencies and poor absorption of such things as B12, we don’t need a huge amount of B12. A lot of it’s made in our gut by our microbiome from plant matter. So, I would actually start in the gut. You’ve gotta get your gut right first, especially if we’re looking at this excess fat on the stomach, sometimes just that inflammation in the local area and that fluid. So I would definitely go into the GutRight and see if we can get these guts working a little bit better to make more B12, to absorb more B12.

The scary thing too, when you see folate levels low that is you don’t know how much of it’s unmetabolized folic acids as well, if they’ve been trying to supplement with that, it can actually be quite low. So I would also then try to make sure that you’re always sit down to eat. So take one Cort RX three times a day instead of the two at night. See if we can keep that sympathetic nervous system under control. Sit down to eat, have some acid or something, something be taught to stimulate that vegus nerve to get your stomach acid and everything cranking so you capable of breaking down and absorbing these things.

That’s my mainly where I would start. I would just go in with the multi food and Gur Right and try to get the holistic lifestyle sort of stuff right first. What do you reckon, Elizma?

Elizma:                  Yeah. Well, pretty common scenario. I would probably say, it sounds to me like, especially since the tonsils have been removed and it didn’t really improve her condition, she probably ended up with some kind of a sibo due to strep bacteria that she’s been swallowing. If she’s been under stress, her stomach acid wouldn’t have been very high, so it wouldn’t have killed off any of those micro organisms she was swelling while she had the tonsillitis, so even though the tonsils have been removed, she may still have that strep overgrowth in her gut, which then produces the lipopolysaccharides, lipopolysaccharides creates the metabolic syndrome and the inability to, or makes it harder to lose fat or a lot around the abdomen. So in my opinion, that all comes from the gut. It can also explain the low B12 and the folate levels there as well.

I wouldn’t be surprised if she could maybe even have strep antibodies as well. So that would be something that she could get her doctor to test for to see if she’s got those strep antibodies.

Steve:                   Yes. Strep is a throat infection that’s caused by bacteria. Most of them are rhinovirus caused, [inaudible 01:18:19] spots on the sides of your throat. So look for that. That’s what strep. It’s caused by the bacteria, streptococcus [crosstalk 01:18:24]-

Matt:                     And you forgot Resilience is really good. [crosstalk 01:18:26] When you have a look at the myrrh and the frankincense combination, it actually damage the the membranes and allow the poisons to get in and work better. The strep, especially in the bloody tonsils and that it’s pain in the ass because they encapsulate themselves and isolate themselves so they hide themselves inside these little glands covered in a biofilm. So Resilience, MultiFood, GutRight, anything else? Can you think of anything else?

Elizma:                  The Resilience and the GutRight was on top of my list. And there’s also biofilm disruptors in the Resilience as well, which is usually what these strep bacteria are hiding because it sounds to me she may have some issues there. So that was the two things that I thought would be really good for her.

Steve:                   And just a quick question on the Cort RX, Matt. She’s going through a stressful point because she’s lost a friend obviously, which is very stressful. You can’t do anything about that particular problem. However, how would the Cort RX help in that circumstance?

Matt:                     When people are going through a highly anxious period when you’re right up there buzzing, and I used to tell people to use Cort through the day. Often we go through that phase and then go into a phase where we’re flat all day but then can’t get a good sleep at night. And that’s when I tell people to do the Cort at night. So if you’re still in that acute, anxious stress phase where you’re feeling quite panicked and flighty, use Cort RX through the day, but if that has been exhausted and now you can’t get a good night’s sleep because you’re too tired and you are tired all day, then do use the Cort RX at night.

And so it’s hard to say from this symptom picture, but whichever one you feel like you’re in at the moment, and you can do both. You can take one three times a day and then a couple before bed if you’re buzzed up.

Steve:                   Of course. That’s true. Well, I think that’s great and great advice. Well, thanks everybody for your time. Oh, we’ve gone over time there. We’d better wrap this up. But thanks everyone for joining us today. It’s been a wonderful event, very colorful at points towards the middle of the podcast. Hopefully [crosstalk 01:20:15]-

Matt:                     Steve, we need to acknowledge that.

Steve:                   Yeah. So …

Matt:                     We’ll see you again next week. Last word, Steve?

Steve:                   Absolutely. Oh, look I think I’ve said enough for today. [crosstalk 01:20:29].

Speaker 3:           Thanks for listening. And remember, question everything. Well, except what we say.