A New Approach to Nootropics (Brain Enhancing Supplements) with Mark Effinger

head_shot_ari
Content By: Ari Whitten & Mark Effinger

In this episode, I am speaking with Mark Effinger, otherwise known as Mr. Noots. He is the chief product officer and formulator of a line of nootropic supplements from a company called Nootopia. We will discuss why the use of nootropics can take your performance, brain health, and energy to a whole new level.

Mark has offered 10% off on your next purchase of his Nootropics. Click the link below and write ENERGYBLUEPRINT in the coupon box upon checkout.

 

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Mark and I discuss:

  • Why nootropics are beneficial for brain health
  • What is Nootopia (and how it differs from other supplement companies)
  • The unique way in which Nootopia produces their products
  • How the brain likes to balance neurotransmitters

Listen or download on iTunes

Listen outside iTunes

Transcript

Ari: Hey there, this is Ari, and welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. Today I have a very interesting guest for you. His name is Mark Effinger, otherwise known as Mr. Noots as in Nootropics. He is the chief product officer and formulator of a line of nootropic supplements from a company called Nootopia. This is a line of products I’ve known about now for about a year.

I have not tried any of these products yet. As I’m publishing this podcast, they are sending me some to try out, and I will certainly update with my thoughts on them. As far as the formulations themselves, they look very interesting. However, many of the compounds in them are trademarked, and it’s hard to know what’s actually in the formulas. Therefore, it’s very hard to evaluate them from the perspective of the body of established scientific literature, peer-reviewed journal-published data on different compounds and their effects, which is generally speaking, where we draw conclusions from or where we can infer opinions about certain formulations.

I can look at any formulation on Amazon and say, oh, it’s only got 1/10th proper dosage of this compound or it doesn’t have this key compound. It doesn’t have that key compound, or it’s underdosed by a factor of 1/20th of the proper amounts of all these different compounds or it’s just a silly little formula that very commonly you see things that are like– they throw some B vitamins in there, some vitamin C, and then a couple of herbs of various kinds that are not anywhere close to the effective dosage. What Nootopia is doing is very different, which is potentially very good but the other side of it is that it makes it pretty much impossible for me to actually objectively evaluate what they’re doing from the perspective of the established science.

Now, their body of knowledge of data in formulating these supplements has come out of many years of Mr. Noot’s personal experimentation initially, and then using these experimentations of concoctions of mixtures of these different compounds, and having many, many thousands of people try them out. Then they can, as you’ll hear in this podcast, we discuss how they inferred patterns in the data to identify what’s working or what’s not working.

Really, they have their own internal body of data that they’re pulling from and their own internal experimentations and the reports from people when they try this or that version of the formulation. That’s really their own separate internal body of knowledge from the broader scientific literature. Again, potentially very good, potentially very exciting. The only downside is it’s very difficult for me to evaluate them.

I also wish that I could share my own personal thoughts with you on them, and I will do that eventually after I try them. In the meantime, there certainly are many people reporting very positive effects using these formulas. Mr. Noots is, Mark is a wonderful, highly intelligent guy who seems to be doing brilliant work.

With all of that said, I hope you enjoy this fascinating podcast. I you do decide to try out new Nootopia supplements, we will provide a discount code for you to do that that will give you 10% off. You can get that at theenergyblueprint.com/nootopia and certainly also give me feedback. Let me know how you liked their products.

If you’ve already tried their products, I’d be curious to hear your reports on the efficacy and what effects you notice or which products worked for you in a noticeable way. With no further ado, I hope you enjoy this discussion with Mr. Noots. Welcome, Mr. Noots. Such a pleasure to have you, Mark.

Mark: Ari, thank you so much, man. Really, really glad to be on the podcast.

Mark’s story

Ari: Yes, I’ve been looking forward to this conversation for a while. I’ve been aware of your company for, I think, at least maybe six months or maybe closer to a year at this point. I will say I have not yet tried your supplements in part because I do some of my own. I’m also very intrigued by what you’re doing.

Mark: That’s a fail on our part then because I should have had some in your hands before, where we had, so you could either light up or tell me what the heck’s going on.

Ari: You guys failed me. We should just cancel the whole podcast right away.

Mark: Let’s do it. That’s it. That’s been great, man.

Ari: All right. I’ll see you in a few months after I try your supplements. I am certainly interested in trying them. First of all, let’s talk about what was the catalyst for you because you have an interesting background. It sounds like you’ve been geeking out on technology since you were a little kid. What led you to become Mr. Noots?

Mark: It’s funny. a couple of things. One is I had a company serving– Thank you so much. My sweetheart just brought me grapes because I’m in a– I’m not keto today, and I was getting into glucose– so she and my dog brought me grapes. How cool is that?

Ari: Nice.

Mark: Yes. There’s a number of different trajectories that this has taken and data points that led to this, outside of being a total geek when I was young and getting my–

Speaker 4: Back here, check this out.

Mark: My first chemistry set.

Ari: That’s your actual first chemistry set.

Mark: Actual first chemistry set, 1967.

Ari: Nice, that’s the whole 1950-style packaging on there.

Mark: Oh, yes. Isn’t that great? The next one was four times that size, so it’s great. Then I worked at a clinical lab when I was younger as well. My stepdad owned a clinical laboratory after when I was in my teens. Chemistry was always a bit– Chemistry and extraction technologies, I started working with vacuum pumps when I was 6, 7, 8.

Built my first laser when I was nine and a half. I had this interest in technology. Chemistry was a huge part of that because one is that it’s got an infinite horizon, and it’s got so many variables you can play with and things like frequency, timing. I think you’re familiar with kinesiology and some of the other aspects.

There are so many different ways for you to affect a molecule and get it to do special things or get it to it. It jumps through hoops for you, it can bond to certain things that you would never expect. It can release at certain pH in your gut, so there’s all kinds of fun.

You can play with those but as we fast forward, back in 1998, my wife at the time was having our last child on the couch in front of the fireplace. It was a pretty cool event. She tore a little bit and while she was tearing, she grabbed my hand and just about crushed it and said, “You’re getting caught.” [laughs]

Ari: There was a– You just reminded me of a birthing– I don’t know if it was a quilt, some embroidery from some native tribe somewhere. I think it’s South America, and it depicted a scene where the woman was giving birth, and then she was tugging on some strings that were connected up to her husband’s testicles. Then it was like surrounded by the whole, all the other parts of the tribe but this was part of the ritualistic tradition. Iif I’m suffering, you are going to suffer.

Mark: Exactly, yes. It was very similar to that. It was a great birth and it we had all of our– I have three children and all three children were born at home. On this one, the midwife bought into Sacklers story and decided that my wife needed four oxycodone. Those four oxycodone–

Ari: What Sackler story?

Mark: Oh, so Sackler is the family that were the founders of oxycodone, oxycontin.

Ari: Oh, okay. Got it.

Mark: The doctor and the rest that– or that not doctor– so anyhow. My wife was immediately addicted. She found her muse, and so over the next 10 years, she just went deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of that until she committed suicide in 2008 as a result of that. I had built a cognitive performance technology company, a nutrition company back in the 90s and handed it off to my partner. Then I bought the ruins of it back in 2008 and said, “Somebody’s got to solve this problem,” and that led to — I knew that a couple of things, I had a family member who had been a drug addict. I had had a couple of close friends from school who had been drug addicts.

I was super fortunate that as much as I experimented and did all the kinds of things that you might do in high school and before, is I found that cognitive performance was much more meaningful and valuable than my highest high. I leaned into cognitive performance, and so as a result of that, I didn’t get into the drugs as much. I did plenty of– I smoked weed from 5th grade to 7th grade and then from 10th grade until I hit 20, but I found that getting out of it took a long time.

I was an athlete. I was a hardcore athlete. Even sweating every day, working my ass off whether it was weights or running or bicycling or mountain climbing or hang gliding or motorcycle road racing, no matter how much I stressed my body, hormetic stress, of course, I wasn’t able to immediately shed myself of the cognitive decline that weed brought to me. I didn’t like the feeling of a lot of the other drugs. [unintelligible 00:11:31] how that led into that. Now [unintelligible 00:11:34] has passed away, I’ve got these three kids, and we figure out that if I start combining molecules, starting with amino acid and amino acid chelates, and then other components, that I can start to achieve levels of cognitive performance. In 2008, I started that.

How Nootopia was started

By 2012, I had done 3,000 different experiments with that and had arrived at a formula that actually worked. I was a co-founder of a company called Ideafisher with a guy named Marsh Fisher, hence Idea Fisher, who was the co-founder of Century 21 Real Estate. I had almost 400,000 customers who were smart people that like to use software to expand their minds.

I reached out to them and started sending them samples of these neurochemical precursors in, what they call stacks, where you’ve got various nutrients stacked up. Begging for their input, I built an online form and said, “Tell me how it’s working for you.” Over time, I was able to realize that one of the big components, you’ll be familiar with this, one of the big challenges that people have cognitively is that they’re dealing with non-cognitive issues. Meaning they’ve got inflammatory issues. Maybe they’ve got severe oxidation. They’ve got a pain point maybe they’re dealing with.

Any of those factors will have a tendency to get in the way of what we would consider prime cognitive performance. As I was building these stacks using, again, Pyroglutamic acid was the first amino acid that I started compounding with. Then I started doing extractions of that, and I started doing combinations with that. Then I did piracetam and aniracetam and oxyracetam and all the racetams and then the peptides. What I found was that there are, once you get rid of oxidative stress, you reduce oxidative stress, you reduce inflammation, you make sure you have enough B vitamins that you can get enzymatic activity happening in the body. Then you have some form of a stimulant layer that helps when you’ve got neurochemical precursors going through the blood-brain barrier into the brain.

They present a load on the brain while they’re breaking apart and turning into the prime, whether turning into dopamine or serotonin or GABA, or adrenaline. As they’re converting into those, they put a load on your system. If you do the right kinds of stem layer, you can overcome that load while this chemical decomposition is happening. Then once those neurochemicals are primed and ready to go, then that stem fades away, and you actually get this lift, this clarity and cognitive performance as a result of those things. That’s kind of what I did, and I built stacks around that.

Then lastly, I added a critical component, it was called a choline donor is when you start really clocking your brain and start getting this really high performance of activity, you’re starting to use choline or acetylcholine at a very high rate. As you’re using acetylcholine at a high rate, if you don’t have enough available within the brain, it’ll start taking it from the neck muscles and the traps, and you’ll start getting what feels like a headache. It’s actually just a neckache. It’s the choline being drawn out of those muscles. Anyway, I built those stacks and that’s how we started. It became very quickly– the movie Limitless came out, and that happened to be a catalyst for everybody that wanted to be in the new tropics world or explore cognitive performance enhancement. That’s what brought us to this point.

Ari: Got you. What’s the focus of your product line? Is it more to deal with cognitively challenged elderly people with dementia or is it more high-power CEOs in their 20s and 30s and 40s, who are looking to ramp up their performance?

Mark: It does scan– it spans the gamut, but originally, being relatively young at the time, I wanted to directly address high-performance clients who happened to be the ones that use my software. What we found was they were giving it to their mothers and fathers and their uncles and grandfathers who were having cognitive delays. I don’t know if you know, but it started adding milliseconds to the synaptic response. It doesn’t take long until you’re edging into dementia. That was a key thing, but it started out as performance, but what we really leaned into, Ari, was state change. The idea was, yes, we could make a formula that gives you cognitive performance, and we could customize it for you based on your weight and your height and your sex, and your age. What nutrients you take and what kind of workouts you do, how often you work out, and all of those things. What meds you might be on, and then your performance goals, which we do. Everybody gets a custom product. These are not made in mass, they’re made for you. That’s how we dealt with that. Our big thing– and this was something that came with the Mr. Noot’s naming schema, which Matt Gallant had developed when we merged companies a couple of years ago, is that state change is really what people are looking for, ultimately. Yes, we all want the cognitive performance enhancement because that affects almost everything else in our lives, but we also want to be either happier or more loving or more focused, or more intuitive.

We want to have those characteristics, so we built a range of solutions that address those very products. It looks almost like you’ve got my glass, [laughs] cheers.

Ari: This is a little fancier. What are you drinking? Are you drinking one of your new Atropic formulas?

Mark: Oh, yes. Nectar X.

Ari: Out of a chemistry beaker, or are you just drinking lab chemicals?

Mark: Yes. [laughs] It could be either, could be both. This is called Nectar X. This is our primary– this is the first product that I developed. This one came out in 2012. It was the basis for what I built. Then what happened was I would get customers that say, “Great, now my cognitive performance is on, now I’m rocking it, but I have agro moods because I’m on roids or I need more focus and this is helping me get off Adderall, but I’m not focused enough. Is there anything you can do for more focus, or can you get me happy? Can you help me become happier?”

I started developing around those neurochemical profiles, and it made a profound difference because no longer were we just dealing with people’s cognitive performance piece, which was significant, we were also enhancing cognitive performance while also getting them into the mental state that helps them achieve the kind of performance that they need. Like loving somebody, like being kind, like being tough when you need to be, like being unstressed. We built this called Zamner Juice. It’s a name that Matt Gallant used when he and his buddy Wade, the founders of BioOptimizers, when they would go to Raves, and they would get in the perfect zone at a rave, they called it being Zamner. I think its the Zamner zone.

I had a client who owned medical labs or medical clinics, I should say, in the Portland metro area. That’s where I started this thing, Portland, Oregon. She came to me and said, “I’m about to blow up with road rage traveling between these things, going from Portland to Vancouver, Washington,” which is Interstate 5 and Interstate 205, which just become traffic jams for most of the day. I built her a GABA-centric instantaneous sublingual spray that puts her into the GABA zone, or the Zamner zone in this case, with four to six sprays. Hits immediately, makes you feel chill but not feel sleepy. That was one of those state change effects that we try to accomplish now.

How Nootopia produce their products

Ari: I’m curious, actually being a supplement manufacturer myself and knowing how it typically works, and the brief rundown for listeners is what a lot of companies, I would say most companies are doing is they are simply white-labeling other existing formulas from bigger manufacturers. They’re just slapping their own label on somebody else’s formula and then they can say, “Hey, here’s my formula. Come get my formula.” That’s its own thing. It’s very common. It’s rampant in the industry.

What I do and what Nootopia does is make custom formulas. However, with my formulas, they require ordering minimum order quantities, batches have to be made, where they order all the raw ingredients. They put it in a giant mixing tub, they mix them all together, and then they bottle them in batches of 3,000, 5,000, 8,000 at a time. Given that, I am wondering how you guys do individualized formulas. Do you guys have your own manufacturing house in-house?

Mark: Yes.

Ari: How does that work? How can you take input from someone based on their weight or their activity level, or other factors and say, “We’re going to make you a custom mixture”?

Mark: First, that’s a great question. Second, I respect another dude in the industry who actually understands how to do it right because a lot of people don’t understand what it takes. You’re absolutely right about the proliferation of white-label “solutions” out there that are just repackaged, some good marketing, some marketing sucks. Regardless, the products are pretty much standardized across the board.

One is, I’ve always loved to do hard things, part of the science and manufacturing. I’ve been in laser technology. This is my 18th company, so I’ve been through the gamut of starting, building, if necessary, funding, hiring a CEO that’s better. I’m a geek. I like to geek, and I like a CEO to CEO, and I don’t do that as well. The thing with this was I could only get between 30% and 42% effectiveness if I didn’t customize nootropics.

Now, there are other nutrient supplements that you can have a much higher affinity for because they’re base and they’re necessary. When you’re getting to performance levels, customization and personalization become critical aspects of how the components work within your neurology and physiology. I started literally on my brother’s kitchen table. There’s a big backstory on that and I’ll [unintelligible 00:23:39].

I started customizing them based on the forms that my beta testers had filled out. They gave us enough data on the forms that I could say, “Oh, if you are 46 years old, you work out three times a week, you go cyclical keto, you’ve got a big sleeping problem, you drink a ton of caffeine during the day, you have a 2:30 crash in the afternoon and you’re doing a lot of things right, but you’re doing a ton of things wrong. You’re on Simvastatin and you still believe that 85 milligrams of Aspirin a day is going to save you from a heart attack. Well, it creates intestinal bleeding.” [chuckles]

All of these factors, I was taking into account as I started working with these prototype clients. I had a little over a thousand prototype clients. That gave me a base to work from. I was able to move the needle from that 30% to 42% up to as much as a 97.X%, 97.2%, 97.5% efficacy. That took a lot of customization, a lot of profile, and at the time, it was only one product. It was what is now Nectar X.

Nectar X, it’s a powder in a test tube because there was no freaking way I could fit all of the components into– Here it is– I couldn’t fit all of everything necessary into a capsule. I tried, and tried, and tried. The two factors that were involved in that were, I couldn’t fit it all into capsule. If I did a ton of capsules, I couldn’t predict the dissolve rate would be correct to be able to get everything at the right pH in your body to resolve through the gut and into the bloodstream and then through the blood-brain barrier, so I made a drink out of it, and that worked really well.

At the time, we now have nearly 20 million data points that we’ve collected from our clients collectively. Over the time, over 160,000 people have sampled our works. As a result of that, we have a pretty good data mining capacity. Again, we don’t just sell a product in a pill and then good luck. It is a capsule that based on your data points, you’ve given us, especially if you’re accurate if you don’t lie.

We originally would have people that were [unintelligible 00:26:12] or were stealing Adderall from their sister. They might deviate on those numbers, and then on the second round, they would go, “Here’s the truth,.” On the third round they would say, “Here’s even more of the truth.” That allowed us to get closer, and closer, and closer to the absolute ideal formulation that’s going to move the needle for them and help keep them at a higher performance.

Ari: I have two reactions to everything you just said. One is, it sounds like an immensely impressive data set. The second reaction is, it sounds like an incredibly messy data set that would be almost impossible to draw any kind of conclusions from or pull patterns from in a reliable way. Then it would require also to know the way that you’re changing the formulas for the individual would require then doing more experimentation to give them certain formulas with altered ratios of these different compounds. Then identifying that this mix of a thousand people who have a million different confounding variables, but maybe have something overlapping where they are all low-carb dieters, or exercisers, or something like that, responded better to the mix that had 175 milligrams of so-and-so instead of only 100 milligrams of so-and-so. To do that in a way where you can actually be confident in your data sounds extraordinarily difficult.

Mark: It is not easy. I’ve hired a roboticist who is now helping us to automate some of these approaches because it is hard. We’re scaling up with people and we’ve been doing that now since 2012. It’s such a weird process when you come into the lab and you see how our employees are working and what they’re working on. Since you’ve probably built capsules by hand at one time, you probably done anywhere from the original capsule racks of 20 capsules or 100 capsules and then maybe too forward–

Ari: Don’t remind me, Mark. It was traumatizing.

It was painful. It was hours of work to put these damn powders into capsules.

Mark: Yes, I’m with you. It’s funny because I still have some acrylic racks down in the– I’ve got a three-story, 24,000-square foot lab here in Burlington, Iowa, right out of the Mississippi. Then we’ve got our manufacturing in Vancouver, Washington. It’s still a daunting vision when you have a rack of 400 capsules and you’re segmenting those per client and then you’re taking that even further and looking at a feedback form. They’ve done an intake form that’s given us the data that we need to formulate their first round.

Then they use an app on their– whether it’s their phone, or their watch or whatever, to give us minute-by-minute data, whatever they want to do, and say, “Oh, this makes me feel good right now,” or, “It doesn’t make me feel good four hours later,” or, “This lasted all day. I love it,” or, “This, I want to have a little bit more of this feeling, this state operation versus this one.” Then we take that data and we compile it into that individual’s customization again.

We have a pretty good understanding of what the components do, how they affect people, we’ve had enough data feedback. We’ve been doing this again since 2008, and 2012, actually shipping out to customers. This is not something we just threw together and said, “Ah, we’ll figure it out on the way.” We are getting better. Every week we get better because we have, again, more data to work with. We also have one of the top five AI technologists on our team who’s very good at being able to extract data and turn it into something meaningful. We try to keep the feedback loop short and tight so that you give us the input, we build and then you tell us how that’s working for you, and we turn that into meaningful concentrations of the various nutrients and supplements and extracts.

Omnipepts

Ari: Got it. I’ve spent some time on your site looking at ingredients in these different formulas that you’re selling. I noticed that Omnipepts is featured heavily, and that was something that I’d never seen before. I remember when I first came across this many months ago, I started to google Omnipept, and it was a trademarked term that you guys own, and it’s not clear what’s in it. You have many different variations, Omnipept O, and maybe 1S. If I remember correctly, probably a few more different Omnipepts. What is Omnipept? Why is it so featured in so many of your different formulas?

Mark: When we’re doing the amino acid chelate extraction process as well as bonding process, we found that we could get a leveraged result by adding certain components to an amino acid and making that amino acid perform better or to amplify its output. You know phenolphthalein, you know the L-tyrosine, dopamine pathway. Phenolphthalein, L-tyrosine, L-DOPA. In that same way, we were able to take amino acid chelates, propagate them and amplify their effects so that you could take 250 milligrams and make it act like grams of X. In my case, starting with these heavy amino acids like pyroglutamic acid, it takes four to six grams of pyroglutamic acid to have a meaningful outcome. It does work, and it is effective. The challenge is that the load on your system is so high. The only time I could take it effectively was take it at night, wait for the morning for its full process to have happened.

I get about two and a half hours of good performance, and then it’d fall off a cliff on the performance. If I took a microdose of pyroglutamic acid, I potentiated it with Acetyl L-tyrosine, then I could get a significantly better result from that. Then if I took that and I bound it to say, an oil or a long chain component, I could get it to last for a very long time. If I buffered it and then, I added something like a B vitamin, then I could suddenly get it to perform at another level because the enzymatic activity of the B vitamins would elevate it. That’s how those came about. It was a brutal process of trying over and over and over and over to combine elements and then extract components of the molecules that would make meaning and work for us. In fact, our laboratory here is called Masters of Molecules. That’s what we like to promote.

Ari: Given the novelty of some of what you’re doing, a lot of what you’re doing with these ingredients and mixtures of different ingredients and the interactions between these ingredients to optimize effects, how confident are you? Let me phrase it this way, if I was doing that, I would be concerned there might be some unintended side effects. When you play with compounds in new ways and you get them to act in different ways and interact with each other, I start wondering, “Is there more of a potential for a side of unintended side effects here?”

Mark: That’s absolutely great question. We have 7 PhDs and 13 PhD candidates in Bosnia at a lab, at the Burch University there. Their full-time job is to take anything that we are working with, whether it’s an existing compound or a compound that we’re creating. They do heavy hardcore analysis on it, in vitro and vivo and in silico to see–

Ari: What’s in Silico?

Mark: In computer, they’ve got a massive computer bank that all it does is to– [crosstalk]

Ari: I’ve never heard that term. That’s interesting.

Mark: Janan is our master of molecules in that area, which is molecular docking technology. He’s the kind of person that looks at mRNA type of response and says, “Oh, there’s an opening right here in the cell wall. We can play with that opening and we can actually exploit that in positive ways and create something that’s meaningful and/or this amino acid reacts like this as it goes through the membrane. If we use a fossil lipid with this, the adoption of it’ll be much higher and it’ll have this half-life versus another half-life. We do those experiments on a daily basis. In fact, this morning at 9:00 AM to 10:15, every Tuesday I have a meeting with Matt Gallant and all of our Bosnian team, and they show us reams and reams of data that they’ve collected from that week’s worth of work. They’re an incredible team. We’re continuing to expand that, by the way.

Ari: Very, very cool.

Mark: We’re committed, man.

Ari: Yes. That’s awesome. It’s very interesting. There’s stuff here that I wonder, when you start to push these buttons in the brain and you start to push on certain neurotransmitter switches and get a certain effect, I wonder about the downside. Thank you, I want to be clear. Thank you for allowing me to play devil’s advocate a bit and engage with me in this way.

Mark: All right. One of the reasons that I was excited about this conversation was that I realized I would get to deal with a lot of– I’ve had a lot of podcasts and the number of people that have your depth of knowledge as well as your breadth is rare. To me, it’s awesome because we get to play in a sandbox that normally I don’t get a play in. Thank you.

How the brain likes to balance neurotransmitters

Ari: Thank you for saying that. I appreciate the kind words and the feeling is very mutual. You certainly know a lot about this. You’ve been experimenting for a lot longer with nootropics and brain optimization than I have and in very unique ways, running your own novel experiment.

You’ve created this very big body of knowledge in a very unique thing that no one else shares with you. One of the things that’s I think little known but is actually a really big and important thing is the feedback loops in the brain, for example, how stimulant, how caffeine works. Caffeine works through a few different mechanisms, but predominantly through adenosine. It plugs up these adenosine receptors, which is plugging up the receptors for a neurotransmitter that would otherwise be lowering your energy levels, making you sleepy and that is how caffeine creates– I know I’m not educating you here, Mark. I know you understand this.

Mark: No, no, this is great. This is great. Keep going.

Ari: For listeners, I want them to understand as context for what I’m going to ask you. By plugging up the receptors, by blocking a neurotransmitter that would otherwise be making you sleepy, lowering your energy, you create a stimulating energizing effect. That’s the stimulant basis for caffeine. All of that sounds great. It sounds wonderful and it actually works really well in the short term. It does create a genuine boost in alertness, wakefulness, reaction time, athletic performance, cognitive performance, all kinds of different metrics that we can measure and show there is a genuine improvement from this stimulant activity in the brain.

The problem is, the brain likes to maintain a certain balance of neurochemicals, a balance of stimulating neurotransmitters and inhibitor neurotransmitters. When you introduce caffeine in large enough amounts, which is usually just a couple cups of coffee a day or more or some energy drinks or stimulant pills, and you start to push that button frequently enough on a daily basis, the brain basically says, “We’re being overstimulated, let’s bring the system back into balance.” It does that by making adaptations, like increasing the amount of adenosine receptors on the brain, increasing the amount of adenosine in the brain, which in the absence of caffeine, when the caffeine leaves your system, now you’re left with increased adenosine signaling on a baseline level, which actually lowers your baseline levels of energy and mood and wakefulness and cognitive function. What was initially a boon that granted you increased alertness and reaction time and performance, now actually insidiously, what most people don’t realize this is happening, actually lowered your energy levels and brain function.

Similarly, I’ll introduce one more layer here. Anna Lembke’s work. She wrote the book, Dopamine Nation. She talks a lot about how the brain likes balance. You give too much of a pleasure stimulus, you push that button too hard, and then the brain counterbalances by pushing you into pain. One of the things that I’ve become more attuned to is getting something for nothing usually has a consequence.

I wonder when we start to play the marketing on your side and the effects of these different compounds, this one boosts your energy, gives you all the energy. This one gives you limitless focus. This one does this, this one does that, and you got like nine different formulas that have language like that, that talks about these amazing benefits. I wonder to what extent on the other side of that you are going to create negative adaptations, neurotransmitter adaptations at the level of brain that are going to create worse brain function in the absence of these chemicals.

Mark: This is such an important conversation. Andrew Huberman is one of my heroes in the industry as well, so talking about dopamine, his favorite as well. He talks about in adenosine receptor agonism and morning wakefulness outside of getting sunlight in the eyes, but also holding off in your first cup of Java till 90 minutes to 2 hours from wake up time to let the adenosine activity start to come down so that now you can actually take advantage of this and you’re not going to be pushing it off until the adenosine is built up to such a level that immediately after the caffeine unplugs those receptors, it gets flooded with adenosine and suddenly you feel like crap and you have a 2:00 PM crash and all of those factors.

Up-regulation and down-regulation are key factors that we take into consideration in everything we do. There’s a number of components of that, but one of the things that we highly recommend, and we actually build a profile for it, is we actually have a booklet that comes with this and there’s a PDF online you can get, and a neurotransmitter test that we give you as well. Our whole thing is rather than work directly with the neurotransmitter, let’s work with the precursors and let’s work with signaling molecules to be able to get the conversion process or the demand for specific neurotransmitters or neurochemicals to be in alignment with your own neurology and physiology and goals.

Rather than forcing a specific neurotransmitter through the blood-brain barrier into the brain and then signaling to go down-regulate, which we saw– Here’s where I first both experienced it and realized that I needed to make something that– Everything that we made, we had to be able to beat this issue that you just shared. That was– I started studying Adderall pretty heavily because Adderall was the gold standard in people getting wakefulness and focus and high dopaminergic DopaFlo.

The challenge is whether it’s that or whether it’s Molly for people going to raise and they wanted this big serotonin thing is when you start flooding the brain with those neurotransmitters and neurochemicals, you start down-regulating. When you down-regulate you’re signaling your body to quit making it. “Ah, I got enough. I don’t need any more.” Clearly, I’ve got enough because I’m over stemmed, I’ve got too much serotonin, I’m starting to get sweats, my stomach is upset. Whatever the co-factors are. You hear, “We want to do the opposite,” which was there are processes, enzymatic processes. BiOptimizers is an enzyme company. It’s very well known for its gut health.

There are enzymatic processes in the body and the brain that are responsible for converting certain raw amino acids and components in pre-proteins into the various neurochemicals that you want. Providing those precursors and then signaling saying, “Hey, we’ve got enough of this. If you want to go create some dopamine, you can create dopamine now.” Then signaling that saying, “Hey, let’s go create some dopamine.” Rather than going, “Here. We’re going to give you dopamine, we’re going to give you pure L-DOPA, and we’re going to give you 500 milligrams or 1,000 milligrams of pure L-DOPA and we’re going to decarboxylate it, so that’s actually dopamine in your system.”

Well, that’s going to immediately tell your system, “Quit creating it. I don’t need anymore. I got all I can use right now. Let’s party for a while.” When you come off of that cliff, you’re going to fall hard. That is the price. You can writing those checks is very expensive. That’s why you find people that– I’ve worked at a rehab center in Astoria, Oregon, and every time I saw whether it was a CEO of a company or a homeless person coming in, and they were trying to get off this thing that they were jonesing for, it was the same problem, is their receptors had either burned out, saturated, or their down-regulation was so hot that they couldn’t achieve a feeling of joy.

My own wife couldn’t achieve a feeling of pleasure anymore because she had been on these painkillers and her receptors are fried, man. Her system wasn’t making enough and she had told it by giving that the direct opiate over and over and over to, “We don’t need to make any of our own opiates. We’ve got enough coming from outside sources, exogenous sources.” We work really, really diligently to make it so that we use precursors and signaling. Some of that signaling you do personally.

If I want to go and I want to up my dopamine levels when I’m on focus savagery or ultimate focus capsule, I’ll drop down and I’ll do 50 pushups and those 50 pushups will get one of the blood circulating. The other is it’s going to start getting the adrenals primed, and that’s going to flow into these precursors for dopamine that we’ve got in our system and help to up that level again. Because we’ve always got acetylcholine precursors in that as well, we’re going to get the acetylcholine flowing across a gap. I’m going to get my focus, I’m going to get awareness, and I’m going to get cognitive performance are all going to be enhanced from that. I did the work, I just happen to have the precursors to be able to do the work and get the result.

Cycling nootropics

Ari: Got it. Do you guys have any recommendations for cycling these different compounds? Are some of them meant to not be used on a daily basis but only sort of more once in a while, while others maybe are meant to be used every day? How do you break that down?

Mark: This sounds cheesy, but we have guides for everything we do, we’ve got insights, and then we have an app that helps to walk you through. The first thing is we try to walk you through– Once you’ve filled out your intake form, so we’ve got a neurochemical profile of you that you’ve given us, it’s like a Braverman Test, and then we have your insights, who are you, what age are you? Those kinds of things. Then we take that, and at the end of the process you have sliders that say, “I want more focus, but I don’t want to feel brittle,” or, “I want more kindness, but I don’t want to be a pushover.” Those kinds of things.

When you’re done with that, that allows us to go, “Okay. We have an idea based on all these factors that we’ve got of where this person wants to go as a performance lift versus just maintaining whatever they are right now.” We then formulate to that, make sure that you’ve got that, and then we walk you through as you get your box, so you get this box of solutions which I will be sending you. I’m disappointed that you didn’t have it already.

Ari: Me too. [laughs]

Mark: [laughs] You’re going to go through that and then for 30 days we’re going to walk you through the process of how to optimize these for you, and then giving us feedback every day going, “Oh, I tried this based on the guy that you gave me. I did this and then I did this and here’s my result. Here’s how I felt. Here’s how I want to feel in comparison.” Then we take that data and we’re able to compile it and go, “Okay, next round we’re going to change these components within your capsule, these components within your drink, these components within your spray, and we’re going to get them to you.” It’s an iterate process with an infinite horizon.

Ari: Mark, I wonder if you’ve ever received my next question. If these supplements can do what you’re talking about here and have this level of sophistication and precision around how they can manipulate, alter– I should meet people who have a negative association with the word manipulate, so I’ll say alter, human thoughts, emotions, moods, behaviors. How concerned are you with evil governments getting a hold of this and instituting some brave new world scenario where they’re manipulating the brain chemistry of [laughs] their populations so that they can have their way with them? I think Aldous Huxley wrote a book about this.

Mark: Yes, I’m absolutely sure, Huxley did. [laughs] I think that’s a really interesting thought. I know that the performance levels that we’re able to accomplish with these are meaningful for a huge portion of our clientele. That makes me feel good because we’re accomplishing some of the things we want. Hopefully, we’re helping people to see that levels of performance are better than levels of drug doubt, ecstasy, or apparent ecstasy, and that building a new or higher baseline performance level, so that with or without these, your baseline is higher, and you know what that experience is to have that focus and your neural pathway that you’ve been building over the last year, 18 months or two years, is tappable, you can get into that now, you can go into that state and get there. That would be better than overtaking the government and becoming, that’s one.

The other is I think that the ultimate performance hack in 20 years or 30 years, hopefully, we’ll still be around to experience that is going to be beyond just neurochemical transmitter activity. I think that we’re at the cusp of new approaches, I’m not afraid of some of the stuff I’m a huge advocate of, I think you are as well, red light therapy. I’ve got a background in laser technology, and light. A lot of the stuff that you’re familiar with were actually starting to work in the augmented systems, as well as frequency both light pulse frequency and electro frequency, and both direct stimulation and magnetic stimulation.

There are these multiple modalities that we’re going to be able to apply over the next few years that will make what we’re doing right now look like child’s play. My fear of a foreign government getting– A foreign government, right? Our own government as well. It is [laughs] of having a challenge there. I think that the next 5 to 10 levels are going to be quantum leaps above what we’re doing right now.

That said, I think that we’re going to get there better and healthier by doing what we’re doing. I think that improving our cognitive performance I don’t think there’s ever a downside to that. I may be on the spectrum to a certain extent, but I feel that some of the formulas that we’ve created get me to be more normal in the ways that are worthwhile, without losing the things that make me special and help me perform what I want to do and the ways I want to do it.

Ari: I think in 10 years, we’re all going to be walking around with EEG straps on our head, and PMF devices and red light therapy devices strapped to our body with microchips implanted in our brain that can change our moods at the push of a button, and we can all look [chuckles] forward to a time when we– Maybe we can have just like a bag strapped to our butts, so we don’t even have to go to a toilet and we can look right there, and wherever we are.

[laughter]

We don’t even have to strain, Mark. We could just push a button and it would contract our muscles in our intestines for us and just get the poop out of there without us doing any work.

Mark: [laughs] I’m going to have a cartoonist draw this up, Ari and get it signed for you, because I think that we need to have an illustration of his final.

Ari: I mean, if you think about it, our life as it stands right now is quite primitive. [laughs]

Mark: It’s true. I’m eating grapes to try to keep my cognitive levels rocking. It’s funny I think that–

Ari: You know what? I have a funny story in that regard to extend-

Mark: Please.

Ari: -at least further.

Mark: Please.

Ari: My wife, who’s a chef took me many years ago, when I was much less mature and sophisticated, and not that I’m mature and sophisticated now, but I’m more than I used to be. She took me to a molecular gastronomy restaurant. I don’t know if you know what that is?

Mark: Yes, where are you located?

Ari: Right now I’m in Costa Rica. At the time we were living in Winter Park, Florida.

Mark: Awesome.

Ari: Actually, this was a trip we did to Georgia, we were in Atlanta, we went to this restaurant. For dessert, they served deconstructed grapes, so they served grapes that they had peeled, and to peel a grape is not easy. Eloquently take remove the peeled, puree the insides, I think they mixed it with some herbs, maybe some lavender and rosemary or something like that, and then they reshaped it back into the shape of a grape. [laughs] I think that’s the kind of food we’re going to be eating Mark when we are walking around with EEG devices and PMF and red light devices attached to our head and poop bags on our butt.

Mark: And the pooperator. [crosstalk]

Ari: It’s the diet we’re going to be all looking forward to. [laughs]

Mark: Atomic pooperator. It’s funny, because my sweetheart is also a chef, and I’m going to send you some stuff, we call it Pogo pearls. There’s a an extract of Horny Goat we called it Icariin that is not very bioavailable at all, but it’s really great as a PDE5 mitigator if you can get it into the bloodstream, but it’s only about 12% tops bioavailable. We did a extraction technology to make it 80% plus bioavailable. At that level, it starts acting like your favorite boner pills or whatever, and so she turned it into caviar. She made it into caviar.

Ari: Wow. That’s [crosstalk].

Mark: Got to the caviar spoon. Yes, it’s great. I’m going to send you some Pogo pearls, enjoy. [laughs]

Ari: Nice, great name, are you going to bring that to the market?

Mark: We will eventually bring that to market, it will probably be about a year from now. We’re working pretty diligently on. We realize that as you’re familiar with your own nutritional supplement development, getting into that market is creating a brand new company, carving it out, reducing the guilt by association with our enzyme company and our nootropics company, because when you start dealing with those levels of performance

The future of mental wellness according to Mark

Ari: A couple of more things I’d like to ask you. What do you think the future of mental wellness looks like, and how do you think what your company’s doing fits into that?

Mark: Let me give you two answers. One, we already know about my wife. When I found her, I ran up to the master bedroom, and there were two emergency personnel one with a six-inch needle about to go through her sternum to try to wake her heart up. I had that experience with somebody going down the rabbit hole or going, “This is the most pleasurable thing in the world, I’m giving birth, and I’ve got this oxycodone” to no longer having pleasure to be able to feel it. She would come home on a nightly basis and cry, just crying. No reason, just crying.

Well fast forward a bit. My eldest daughter, her name was Kaylee, little over a year ago committed suicide after hearing voices in her head for about a little over three years. She had become schizophrenic and schizophrenia had taken her from absolutely joyous super smart girl, she actually interfaced with our customers to optimize their customization profiles off the charts IQ 160 plus, just genius, and schizophrenia just took her life. I’ve had an opportunity to see experience the gamut of that emotional thing.

My perspective on this is that one, using DNA analysis and some other components, we’re going to be able to have a better view inside our whole neurology much earlier so that we can anticipate some of these things. We can anticipate depression, and autism, and some of these conditions that right now are guesswork, and we find out about them far after the developmental process. That’s one.

Number two is I think that we have the technologies like transcranial magnetic stimulation, red light therapy, psilocybin, where we’re going to be able to work with people at the moment of event to pull them back into something that’s not just an operational, not just a survival level of whether it’s cognitive performance or happiness, or joy, or focus or whatever, but bring him into an elevated level of those things and make it so that as a mentor of mine once said, he said, “Mark, here’s the deal,” he goes, “life is like, there’s this straight line going through and you’re running on a sine wave.” You got your best day ever, multiple orgasms with your lover, and your worst day if a gun is nearby it’d be a dangerous thing.

We’re going to take and we’re going to build just inherent tolerance, so that, that line that used to be in the middle of the sine wave is now way past the bottom. Our worst day is pretty doing good, and our best days incredible. What happens is you start to build the differential between those two, is the sine wave isn’t so big anymore. It’s not like great day, suck day, great day, suck day, it’s great day, good day, great day, good day, because those deltas change, and you can do that through any kind of cognitive training, meditation is fantastic for that, breath work is fantastic for that.

I think that hallucinogenic therapies, we’re on the cusp of being able to apply those. I’ve had my own experiences from when I was young, that were just transformational for me, and so I think that’s the future, I think that’s the component of future. You know what I’m super glad about? I’m super glad there are guys like this who were on the cusp of these technologies and approaches that are going to give us a new gateway into how to create the perfect state. I want to be a contributor as much as I can and I think my partners would agree, I don’t care if I live to be 180 years old, I’d love to be able to live to 80 or 90 and be a rock star the whole time, from switch off when I’m done, right?

Ari: Yes. Beautiful, Mark. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom. This is super interesting stuff. I find the work that you’re doing fascinating, very, very novel, and this conversation lived up to all my expectations for it. You’re absolutely a fascinating guy and I’m excited to try your formulas. I think if they’re even half as good as the claims on the site, then they should be pretty darn amazing. Is there anything you want to offer as far as discounts or anything like that for people to try out these formulas?

Mark: I think you’ve got some stuff for the show notes, but yes, there’s definitely a discount available at nootopia.com, whatever the link is. Please have that available. I know we are [crosstalk].

Ari: We’ll put it on the show notes for this episode, and we’ll put it out the energy blueprint.com/ what should we put it at? Nootopia, N-O-O-T-O-P-I-A. Nootopia.

Mark: I love it.

Ari: Do you know how much discount they’re going to get if they go there?

Mark: Yes, 10% discount to get started. Ari, just out of curiosity, what is something that we can do for you? What’s something that we could do that would be meaningful for you?

Ari: Oh, I don’t know. We could talk about it another time. I’m happy to just have this conversation with you and you’re out there doing very interesting novel work. For me it’s a great pleasure to just have these conversations and be in a position to have these conversations and share it with the world, and hopefully to the benefit of many, many tens or hundreds of thousands of people.

Mark: Awesome man, millions.

Ari: Millions. [laughs]

Mark: [inaudible 01:04:19].

Ari: Soon to be millions. All right my friend, really a great pleasure. I look forward to the next conversation.

Mark: Thank you brother, be well. Talk to you soon.

Ari: You too.

Show Notes

Mark’s story (04:43)
How Nootopia was started (11:55)
How Nootopia produce their products (20:40)
Omnipepts (30:55)
How the brain likes to balance neurotransmitters (37:20)
Cycling nootropics (47:28)
The future of mental wellness according to Mark (57:30)

Links

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