NOTE: This is the first edition of a daily email outlining tangible health ideas from my work launching True Medicine and writing a book on metabolic health. If this resonates, sign up here:
In a recent podcast interview, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson gave his reason for not trying psychedelics: “I have always valued objective reality. I don’t want anything interfering with my understanding of what is actually happening in front of me.“
This statement shows a blind spot that is relevant for everyone: We are all on drugs that are highly interfering with our brain’s ability to process objective reality. We should not be outsourcing our analysis of what is a “good” or “bad” drug – or our definition of what constitutes a drug in the first place.
Is a drug an addictive substance that causes damage to society?
- Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, porn, social media: these produce dopamine triggers in the brain and dependency that are almost indistinguishable from drugs like cocaine and heroin – and can lead to bad societal outcomes. These substances are neurodegenerative and unquestionably “interfering with our brains” – unlike psychedelics which nearly all available science points to being brain regenerative.
Is a drug something that reverses or prevents disease?
- By this measure, statins and antidepressants (the two most prescribed drugs in America) should not count. We spend $1 trillion worldwide on statins a year, and they have been shown to increase life expectancy 5 days. 25% of adult Americans take an antidepressant medication, but the FDA’s own studies show that SSRI’s are no more effective than a placebo and the underlying science backing the medication has been called into question.
Is a drug a substance that has a physiological impact on our body?
- If this is true, then the environmental toxins (in our home, air and water), pesticides in our food, and lack of sleep should be considered some of the most destructive drugs in society. These factors are wrecking our microbiome – the trillions of bacteria cells in our gut that regulate 95% of our serotonin (and thus mood).
The institutions that are defining what is a “good” or “bad” drug – or what a drug even is – are not worthy of our trust. And these institutions have continually, repeatedly been wrong:
- Adderall, a drug 10% of high school seniors take, was created by Germans during World War II to make Nazi soldiers more effective (it was discontinued for spurring mass psychosis among the troops).
- We were told that prescription opioids were not addictive, but 80% of fentanyl/heroin addicts today became addicted from a legal prescription.
- Heroin was created by Bayer (the aspirin people) and was a top-selling drug for American babies (to cure fussiness) in the late 1800s.
- Also in the late 1800s, the U.S. Surgeon General recommended cocaine to cure depression.
- Psychedelics – long stigmatized – have been shown to produce longer remissions of depression (with lower side effects) than any other treatment studied.
The more I have dug into this, the more I am convinced we think about drugs completely backwards:
- We have convinced younger Americans that rampant fatigue, obesity, anxiety, depression and infertility is a normal part of daily life that can be cured with drugs – instead of warning signs of larger cellular dysfunction that can only be cured by root cause solutions.
- 95% of medical spending goes to drugs and interventions after people get sick but nutritional/lifestyle interventions (which can actually prevent and reverse disease) are put into a niche lifestyle buckets.
- Psychiatry has been completely taken over by pharmaceutical treatments that numb patients, instead of tools to help get to the root cause of trauma and increase our sense of awe for the world.
- We spent 40 times more on pharmaceutical cures to cancer versus ways to prevent cancer – even though cancer is a preventable disease.
- Alcohol was considered so destructive to American society that we passed a Constitutional amendment banning it. But now leading scientific figures like deGrasse Tyson don’t even consider it a brain-altering drug.
Our brains and bodies are what perceives reality, and they are under threat like never before. Understanding and optimizing the “drugs” (substances or ideas that produce a physiological change) that enter our bodies is the highest-leverage thing we can do.
I am writing a book and starting a company to put food and lifestyle habits (not band-aids like pills and surgical interventions) at the center of how we think about healthcare.
During this journey, I have been exposed to research, people, companies, and ideas that have changed my life and how I think about the health and development of my new son. This email shares one of these insights each morning: