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[Transcript] – The Little-Known Sleep-Enhancing Molecule Most People Don’t Understand: Truth About GABA & Sleep Hacking With Dr. Scott Sherr.


From podcast:

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:01:15] Who is Dr. Scott Sherr?

[00:04:42] What is GABA?

[00:10:47] Two GABA receptors in the brain

[00:15:05] The effects of alcohol, CBD, and THC on sleep

[00:20:14] Can you have too much GABA?

[00:23:13] Amanita muscaria mushroom

[00:26:55] GABA A receptors responsible for sleep and anxiety

[00:29:03] The difference between Tro Zzz and Tro Calm products

[00:41:41] Is there any interplay between ketamine and GABA?

[00:45:59] Habits and technologies that can support healthy GABA production

[00:48:41] The influence of genetics on GABA

[00:50:50] Scott’s personal sleep hacks

[01:04:50] End of Podcast

[01:05:12] Legal Disclaimer

Ben:  My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.

Scott:  Tro Zzz was created to be a comprehensive sleep solution, really leveraging the GABA system that we’ve been talking about. So, it has the honokiol that we were talking about before. It has the agarin that we were talking about before as well. Agarin from the psychedelic mushroom, the amanita. Very, very low doses. No psychedelic experience just long-acting GABA support throughout your whole evening. It has CBD. It has CBN in it as well. It also has adenosine. So, adenosine’s not acting on the GABA system, it’s working on the adenosine receptors in the brain.

And, you were mentioning caffeine earlier. So, this is for your people that like to drink coffee all day long but it can screw up their sleep. Having some adenosine before you go to bed can really help with that unbinding of the caffeine to the receptor and getting adenosine to allow it to bind.

Ben:  Fitness, nutrition, biohacking, longevity, life optimization, spirituality, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the Ben Greenfield Life Show. Are you ready to hack your life? Let’s do this.

Alright, folks. So, several years ago, I had this super smart guy write an article for about how to biohack your hyperbaric experience. I mean, if you do a hyperbaric chamber, how to use things like methylene blue and nitric oxide precursors and all sorts of crazy stuff to accelerate the healing or the recovery that might happen inside one of those chambers. The guy who wrote that article was actually my guest or is my guest on today’s show, Dr. Scott Sherr. And, Scott’s interesting because he is a specialist in hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but he also is the founder of Health Optimization Medicine and Practice, which is a nonprofit education company that trains doctors about how to treat the root cause of health. He also has this kind of cool sidearm of that called Troscriptions. Troscriptions basically makes these teeny tiny things that you dissolve under your mouth. You may have seen the biohackers who have been accused of having Smurf mouth that’s all blue. Well, that’s because one of the things that Scott makes has these little methylene blue troches. But, I actually don’t want to talk with you that much about methylene blue today, Scott, because–

Scott:  Yeah, you’ve done that before.

Ben:  Yeah. We’ve done that before. We’ve kicked that horse to death.

Scott:  Exhausted. Come on, nothing else to talk about.

Ben:  Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Actually, it’s a pretty fascinating molecule, but I digress.

Scott:  No, it is. It’s awesome. Yeah.

Ben:  So, GABA though is what I’m interested, GABA. I’ll say it so you don’t have to. Gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA. The reason is not only because you were showing me some of the things you could put in these under-the-tongue troches to increase the levels of this inhibitory neurotransmitter, but you also, I think it was via an email, were filling me in on a bunch of stuff. I didn’t even know about GABA, so I kind of stopped you and I was like, “Dude, let’s just do a podcast about this.” So, all things GABA, which I think everybody should know about this neurotransmitter because it’s super important is the topic of today’s show. So, Scott, welcome, man.

Scott:  Thanks for having me, Ben. It’s good to be on with you as you walk and I sit and you’re making me feel jealous that you’re walking while I sit. But, I think you do that lot of time too.

Ben:  Anybody who watches the video version of this podcast knows that I move. As a matter of fact, I recorded a podcast last night about inactivity and about the very small contractions that need to take place, particularly in the calf and soleus to regulate lipoprotein lipase, which basically burns down triglycerides. So, even just a very slow conversational pace walk, I find for me when I’m podcasting is not only a great way to spark metabolism, but I feel like I think better and I focus better when I’m moving just a little bit while I’m talking to someone. Well, I mean, they’ve actually looked into this. You see increased levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, so there’s a little bit of neurogenesis going on and kind of a mental effect of the so-called walking university, walking talking chats. I think everybody should do this.

Scott:  Yeah, I agree. I need to go in for my house when I’m not podcasting in my bedroom maybe.

Ben:  Just imagine all the people in Joe Rogan’s podcasting studio walking while smoking marijuana and watching UFC. It’d be a party.

So, GABA, man, what is Gaba? Describe that to people.

Scott:  Yeah. So, you gave us the chemical name just now, the gamma-aminobutyric acid. And, GABA is the neurotransmitter that nobody knows about but it’s probably one of the most important. I mean, we all know about serotonin, we all know about dopamine and norepinephrine. These are all the cool neurotransmitters that everybody cares about because that’s what you hear about on the news. Everybody’s got dopamine problems because they’re scrolling on their phones and everybody’s got concentration issues, they can’t concentrate on something more than two and a half seconds. 

But, GABA is what puts the brakes on neurotransmission and it actually entails about 20% of the brain’s entire neurotransmission. So, it’s a significant amount of neurotransmission. And, what the brakes means is it puts the brakes or it calms down the firing of your neurons. And, it is throughout your whole brain. If you don’t fire you’re going to calm down, you’re going to feel a significant difference if you are in excitatory state. And so, you have GABA around, and GABA is always being balanced by an excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate.

Glutamate and GABA make up in total about 80% of your brain’s neurotransmission. So, this is a huge amount. And so, GABA is made from glutamate. So, glutamate actually gets converted in the brain and into GABA. But, so many of us these days, Ben, are GABA-deficient and there are tons of symptoms which I can just kind of rattle off for people just so they can get kind of an understanding. So, top symptoms of GABA deficiency from a mental health perspective are anxiety, fear, depression, migraine, short temper, phobias, impulsiveness, disorganization, addictions, even schizophrenia and OCD have been associated with GABA deficiency. And, systemic symptoms like IBS, diarrhea, hypertension, tinnitus, chronic pain, allergies, frequent urination, flushing, bloating, sweating, salt cravings, and muscle tension are the ones that we typically think about when you’re thinking about GABA deficiency. Obviously, everybody that has these symptoms doesn’t necessarily have GABA deficiency, but it’s not on the radar for any clinicians that I really know. And, it’s not on the radar really for people when they’re having these kinds of symptoms like they’re depressed because they’re GABA deficient. “Oh, that’s not what my doctor told me. They told me to take an SSRI,” right? So, we have all these potential symptoms and conditions that may be related to GABA being deficient in the brain because those breaks aren’t working well.

Ben:  Now, is there a way to test for this? Because for a while, there were some urinary neurotransmitter tests that I was aware of like the DUTCH Complete, for example, which is a great test for hormones, will test for neurotransmitters. But, I’ve heard many times, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, that the urinary neurotransmitter levels don’t really tell you what’s going on in the brain. Is that true?

Scott:  Absolutely true. Yeah. So, they can only be corollary. And, that’s a significant problem because you really can’t get a good sense of what’s happening in the brain looking at an organic acid level of your neurotransmitters. Now, this is why it’s really important to have a clinical history when you’re talking to somebody and understanding in the context of that, what neurotransmitter levels may be correlated to from a brain perspective, but it’s still just a correlation.

Ben:  So, besides symptoms, are there any other things you could test to see if you could be GABA deficient like any minerals or vitamins or hormones or anything like that?

Scott:  Yeah, exactly. So, what you can do is look at what actually turns into glutamate in the brain. So, what you do is you start off with the amino acid that typically is the one that’s going to get converted into glutamate and then glutamate getting converted to GABA, which is glutamine. So, glutamine is amino acid that you can measure. You can measure it in urine. You can also measure it in your plasma. And so, you can measure your plasma glutamine levels to get a sense if you have enough precursor to make enough GABA in the brain. GABA precursors include the most important amino acid in this sort of whole process is glutamine. So, glutamine is an amino acid we can get from food sources. As many of us know, glutamine gets converted into GABA via glutamate. So, glutamate then gets converted to GABA, but it requires vitamin B6 and it requires magnesium to do that. So, you can measure glutamine levels. You can measure glutamate levels. You can measure vitamin B6 levels. You can measure magnesium levels. So, all these are extremely important in the whole process of making your GABA.

Ben:  Okay. So, if I’m deficient in vitamin B6 and magnesium and glutamine, it could be a clue that I’m GABA deficient, especially if you pair that with some of the symptoms that you talked about earlier. This kind of reminds me of glutathione, right? You could supplement with glutathione, but also including sulfur-rich foods like say eggs or whey protein or having the amino acid cysteine or taking selenium can all help with your body’s own glutathione production. It sounds like it’s kind of similar with GABA.

Scott:  Yeah, absolutely. And, the thing to think about too is that glutamine is one of our most important amino acids too. It’s not just used to make GABA, it’s also the main fuel of your enterocytes in your small bowel. So, if you have a leaky gut, if you have small bowel overgrowth, if you have small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, then you’re going to also have a hard time utilizing that glutamine in another way to make it into glutamate and then to make it into GABA. So, you really do want to be thinking about the precursors here. 

And, when we do testing at Health Optimization Medicine–and I’m one of the co-founders of that company. Dr. Ted Achacoso is actually the pioneer over there. But, when we think about doing health optimization testing, we are looking at plasma amino acid levels and glutamine levels as a marker along with obviously B6 and magnesium. But, what I think is important for people to remember is that this should be on your radar, but it’s not because we’re more focused on dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. We’re forgetting that the brakes are as or more important than the actual drive of the brain itself and how that’s causing the brain to fire as opposed to calm down.

Ben:  Okay. And hopefully, I’m not getting too into the weeds here, but the idea of GABA, like a lot of neurotransmitters, is I’m assuming it’s interacting with the cell receptor in some fashion. And, based on that, let’s say I had enough GABA, are there things that could block that receptor, block GABA from working properly? With caffeine, for example, one of the ways it works is it blocks adenosine, which is a molecule that increases sleep drive from making you feel sleepy because caffeine is almost like a receptor blocker taking up the space in that sense. Are there things like that with GABA too?

Scott:  Yeah. So, GABA has different receptors in the brain. There’s called the GABA A receptor and the GABA B receptor. And, caffeine is actually a well-known desensitizer of the GABA receptor. So, it desensitizes the ability of GABA to bind to its receptor and to cause its function. So, what GABA will typically do when it binds to the GABA A receptor, these GABA A receptors are all over the brain. The GABA A receptor will open when GABA actually binds to the receptor. And, when it opens, it’s actually a chloride channel. The chloride channel opens, chloride goes into the post-synaptic neuron. And, as a result of that, it blocks the transmission of the signal going forward. So, if you have things that are going to desensitize the GABA receptor hypothetically or antagonize that receptor itself, there’s other things that we can talk about that do this that’ll also decrease the ability for GABA to bind to its receptor on the actual, the site and then decrease the ability for it to actually get that chloride channel to open and to stop firing.

Ben:  Yeah, with the biggest issue with that being that if you’re keeping an inhibitory neurotransmitter from being active, you’re going to reduce your ability to be able to sleep and relax, which is obviously a problem for a lot of people.

What else besides caffeine could do that?

Scott:  Yes. So, all the stimulants can do it really. So, things like yerba mate, guarana, kola nut, they all have the same effect by reducing the sensitivity of the GABA receptor itself. Many people think about L-theanine as something that can enhance GABA and it actually can do this. But, if you take too high of a dose, it actually has a paradoxical effect and it’ll actually block the GABA receptor.

Opioids do this too. So, pain medications like your morphines and heroin of the worlds. I don’t recommend the heroin, heroin as they used to say in Baltimore where I trained. So, what opioids do is they actually inhibit the release of GABA by binding to the–the opioid actually will bind to the GABA receptor itself and prevent the release of this chloride channel or the opening of the chloride channel.

THC does it too. So, people who like to smoke marijuana, THC will actually inhibit GABA release. And, this is what sometimes can cause anxiety. So, that’s important, right? If you’re in inhibiting GABA, you’re inhibiting an inhibitor. So, what do you do there? You’re actually causing excitatory kinds of symptoms. So, that’s why people who take or have THC might get anxious as a result of that because you’re inhibiting the GABA receptor.

And then, of course, you have other things that are also going to downregulate the GABA receptor over long periods of time. This is kind of more nuanced but this makes sense. So, if you’re drinking alcohol all the time. So, alcohol is something that binds very tightly to the GABA receptor. It’s going to decrease the number of receptors that you have. Okay. So, it’s going to downregulate the number of GABA receptors that you have available. And, anxiety drugs will do this the same way. Sleep drugs will do the same thing. If you’re having a lot of these things that bind tightly to these receptors and actually enhance it, you’re going to have a downregulatory effect to the GABA receptor itself and that’s going to cause major issues, especially if you stop these things. As you know, if you stop benzos or alcohol cold turkey, you can die from inhibiting the inhibitor. You don’t have enough of these GABA receptors and all of a sudden you get all this excitatory glutamate. Because remember, glutamate and GABA are always in balance with each other. So, if you have this imbalance of glutamate, you’re going to get this excitatory type of scenario. You get high blood pressure. You get low blood pressure. You get hallucinations. These are the things that are happening when you have too much glutamate around when alcohol withdrawal is happening.

Ben:  One of the arguments that people make for mitigating nighttime alcohol consumption is that it causes you to–I don’t know if it contains GABA or if it causes your body to make more GABA but that wears off later on in the wee hours of the morning like 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. and results in impaired sleep the rest of the night. Is there something to that theory?

Scott:  Yes. So, what you’re really talking about is there’s different ways to bind to the GABA receptor. And, this is the weeds for the people who like this kind of thing. You have something called orthosteric ligands of the GABA receptor or you have allosteric modulators of the GABA receptor. So, orthosteric ligands are things that bind directly to the GABA receptor or the GABA binding site on the receptor. And, you have allosteric modulators, which are things that bind outside of that site to the GABA receptor that modulate GABA release. Either they inhibit it or they are what are called positive allosteric modulators that actually bind to the receptor and enhance GABA function. 

So, alcohol is a positive allosteric modulator of the GABA receptor. It’s a very, very tightly bound GABA allosteric modulator. So, when it binds, it binds tightly. But, as you said, it does bind for a very short period of time. But, that tightly bound aspect of it is what makes it so addicting for people over time. Because when it’s so tightly bound, what happens is that receptor starts downregulating itself or there becomes less of them. So, you need to drink more alcohol to get the same benefits or the same sort of effect. So, this is a tolerance effect.

So, if you have a longer-acting positive allosteric modulator that doesn’t have as much of an affinity, this could very much help with sleep actually and not have the same potential downsides. But, those are more natural things. These are not things that you’re going to get into prescription, but these are things that I’ve been very interested in is how you can modulate the GABA system because GABA is really, really important for sleep too. You need GABA around to help maintain your sleep. When you’re in your REM sleep, when you’re getting your dreams of being chased by a lion, you don’t wake up because there’s GABA around and serotonin too but they’re both really important to maintain sleep as well.

Ben:  Yeah. You’ve just said kind of makes sense as to why a lot of people who will use marijuana or THC prior to sleep have impaired dreaming cycles because they’re not getting into those REM phases and probably also inhibiting GABA production resulting in less memory consolidation on emotional processing during sleep. That’s why I’m not a huge fan of–well, I’m okay with CBD. I think that’s actually pretty good for sleep.

Scott:  It is, yeah.

Ben:  And nice for the anti-inflammatory effects, but not so much THC.

Scott: Right. CBD and CBG, which are both fantastic cannabinoids that are non-psychoactive, they both modulate the endocannabinoid system in the brain, but they also modulate the gabis system. They’re positive allosteric modulators of the GABA receptor.

THC, as I mentioned earlier, has a negative effect. It has a negative allosteric modulating effect. So, it’s actually inhibiting the inhibitor, which is GABA, of course. So, causing more anxiety. Now, some people will get a beneficial effect initially if they’re having a hard time sleeping. THC can help a little bit, but it does break the architecture of your sleep. Just like your Z drugs, your Ambiens, Lunestas of the world, your Benzos of the world too, they all break your sleep cycles. And, they can help you in a pinch if you’re really having a hard time, but in the end they do have significant detriments on your REM sleep, as you mentioned for THC, your deep sleep for your Benzo. And, we know that those are kind of a big deal when it comes to longevity and health span. 

So, at all times, I’m really trying to get my patients off of those drugs and wean them onto natural equivalence. But, of course, looking at their underlying foundational biology, are they B6 or magnesium deficient? Should we use those at night to help them sleep? Should we think about their glutamine sources? Do they have a leaky gut? If they have a leaky gut, do we need to seal that up and truly optimize their gut function so that they can actually utilize the sources of glutamine and glutamate in their diet and utilize them and transition them or convert them over to GABA as we were talking about before?

Ben:  Now, painkillers like opioids could also inhibit your GABA production or affect those receptors deleteriously. What about something like kratom? A lot of people use kratom. You ever looked into how that could impact GABA?

Scott:  Yeah. So, it’s not clear because it hasn’t been studied at this point, but if there’s any mu opioid receptor antagonism or agonism in this case. So, the mu opioid receptor, the number of different types of opioid receptors. And, I believe some of the kratoms do affect the mu opioid receptor. If that’s the case, it’s going to have the same effect as something like morphine and heroin. So, it is something to be aware of. It probably is strain-specific. And, I don’t have enough data as far as which ones specifically that the kratoms are focused on.

Ben:  Probably because I forget if it’s red or green or white, but some are better for sleep and some aren’t. But, I know a lot of people use that and that’s interesting to know, that affects GABA.

So, in terms of the deficiency of GABA, that makes sense and I want to ask you about ways we could increase GABA, but before I do, I think this might be important so that people don’t take too much. Could you have such a thing as a GABA excess? Let’s say if people are hearing you and me talk and they’re rushing out to get a GABA supplement or more glutamine and some of these precursors, could you have too much GABA?

Scott:  Yeah, it’s a good question. I mean, what we’re really seeing in clinical practice is a GABA deficiency. And, we talked about a lot of the reasons. I forgot to mention some mineral deficiencies can do it too. If you’re low in copper, for example, you’re also going to be potentially not able to bind GABA to that receptor. Also, if you’re stressed all the time, if you have a sympathetic overload and cortisol all the time flying around, you’re also going to be GABA deficient as well. Infections will prevent the conversion from glutamate to GABA. So, most of the time, Ben, what we’re seeing is people that are GABA deficient. 

Now, GABA excess is usually pretty obvious. It’s in people that are really tired and it’s usually people that are taking GABA exogenously because the system is so well-regulated between glutamate and GABA. Because what happens if you have too much GABA around is that you get tired, you get fatigued, you feel like you have brain fog, you feel like you have imbalance, your blood pressure will go down.

So, it’s very uncommon to see that happen without exogenous sources is what it comes down to. You don’t see it in clinical practice. But, what I can say in people that take GABA and then they say they can’t wake up for two days, that often means that they don’t need any extra that if they took it and they didn’t feel like they could wake up the next day because they were so fatigued. That often is because they have already a pretty well-balanced system or it can mean they have a leaky brain and they’re taking supplements that are getting across the blood-brain barrier like taking GABA supplements, for example. If you take GABA by itself, GABA itself is such a big molecule that it doesn’t get across the blood-brain barrier unless you have a leaky brain or you take a lot of GABA. And, people get scared about the leaky brain, but all that really means is that the blood-brain barrier is not doing its job keeping things out. And, that usually means you have a leaky gut as well.

Ben:  I know a doctor in Seattle who makes a transdermal GABA cream. I think it’s called Somnium. What about transdermally? Do you think that if you’re applying it to the temples or to the neck that you could mitigate the blood-brain barrier issues?

Scott:  I mean, I think possibly. I think there’s also some liposomal derivatives. I know Quicksilver makes one, for example, that’s pretty good. And, I talked to Chris about this in detail, Chris Shade. And so, I do think that with liposomal delivery maybe transdermal. These are other options, but what we did as a company was thinking about actually working on those allosteric sites for the most part because those allosteric sites are really easy to reach overall and there’s good plants and good supplements that we can use to do that.

And, there’s actually a fantastic mushroom derivative called agarin. And, agarin is from the amanita muscarium mushroom. You probably know that mushroom.

Ben:  Isn’t that the Mario mushroom?

Scott:  Yes, the Mario mushroom. 

Ben:  The red and white one.

Scott:  It’s the mushroom from Santa Claus mythology, the one that causes psychedelic journeys. And, this is the thing. So, there’s two major components of the amanita muscaria mushroom. There’s one called ibotenic acid. Ibotenic acid is neurotoxic. That’s what causes the tripping experience. You drink your shaman’s urine from the reindeer who ate the mushroom.

Ben:  Yeah. I read that book. My friend, Tero, of Four Sigmatic mushrooms wrote the book, “Santa Sold Shrooms.” And look, since my father is Christian Orthodox and St. Nicholas is actually one of the revered saints in that religion, I’ve taken a deep dive into what I would argue to be the truer history of St. Nicholas. I don’t think he was necessarily a mushroom enthusiast. But regardless, it’s an interesting story.  But, back to the amanita, so there’s different forms of the amanita.

Scott:  Well, there’s two different major compounds. The one is the ibotenic acid and the other one is called agarin. And, agarin is a positive, it’s an orthosteric ligand of the GABA receptor. Meaning, it actually binds to the GABA receptor. Just like GABA, it gets across the blood-brain barrier and it is long-acting. The half-life of agarin is about six hours. So, it’s a fantastic compound for sleep. And, we are the only company using it in a product for sleep out there right now because it’s very difficult to find and very difficult to make.

Ben:  I’m assuming it’s legal.

Scott:  Yes, it’s legal. Yeah. So, amanita actually is a legal mushroom in every state in the United States except for Louisiana. So, you can purchase it but the problem is if you buy amanita online or at a store, you’re going to have the ibotenic acid in there too, and that is going to cause some neurotoxicity. So, we took the agarin out of there. And, it’s a fantastic orthosteric ligand of the GABA receptor. It’s long-acting. You can use very, very low doses of it like a half a milligram, a milligram. And, you don’t get a psychedelic experience from it, you just get long-acting GABA support that whole evening.

And, there are other compounds like this. So, kava you know, kava is a positive allosteric modulator of the GABA receptor.

Ben:  Kind of like legal Hawaiian weed.

Scott:  Yes. So, that’s why there’s kava bars. Kava bars are like you feel like you’ve had a couple drinks of alcohol. But, kava doesn’t have the same addictive potential or the same tolerance or withdrawal potential. Kava is a natural plant. It’s a positive allosteric modulator of the GABA receptor. It works on an entourage effect with multiple forms of something called kavalactones, which are the active ingredient of the kava plant. So, you have kava, which is great. You probably heard of magnolia bark or honokiol before.

Ben:  Yeah. Isn’t that Chinese traditional medicine treatment for insomnia, honokiol?

Scott:  Yep, it is. It’s been around for a long time. And, honokiol is one of the active ingredients of magnolia bark. And, this works at the benzodiazepine site of the GABA receptor, but it doesn’t bind as tightly, again. So, it doesn’t have the same tolerance, withdrawal, or dependence issues as something like a benzodiazepine was or would. And so, you have honokiol, which is another one of these.

So, I’ve also discussed some of the cannabinoids, so CBD, CBG, CBN. They’re also working as positive allosteric modulators of the GABA receptor. And, they’re also working on the endocannabinoid system along with other areas too. I mean, CBG is a fantastic cannabinoid working on the PPAR gamma side and metabolically it’s got some really cool things happening there too.

With CBG, a lot of people will say, well, that’s the good endocannabinoid for focus, and they’ll say CBN or CBD would be better for sleep. But, what you’re saying is you could take CBG and it would have a good impact on GABA in terms of supporting sleep?

Scott:  Yeah. So, I think more of CBG as an anxiolytic overall. That’s where the data is. And so, I think more of CBN is something that helps with sleep support. And, there’s a little bit of a difference, right? So, we talked about there’s GABA A receptors but there’s different types of GABA A receptors. Each GABA A receptor has five subunits, and each of these subunits has a different composition depending on where they are in the brain. So, you have alpha 1 subunits, which are more responsible for sleep and you have alpha 2, which are more responsible for anxiety. And so, you can actually modulate the type of receptor you want to address depending on the issue that somebody has. And, these GABA receptors, as I mentioned, are everywhere but they’re also in a really cool location, Ben. They’re called interneurons. Interneurons are these neurons that kind of the way stations between other neurons. So, you have a huge serotonergic neuron and a huge dopamine neuron. And, in between, you’ll have a GABA neuron.

And, what GABA is really doing is it’s helping with the processing of information. So, learning, memory, skill acquisition, it’s not all just about dopamine and serotonin, we actually have to be able to put on the brakes. I mean, you know this as well as I do, Ben. It’s how much information could we potentially be processing in any one moment in any given time. We have so much coming at us. So, what is preventing us from doing all that processing? It’s actually the GABA interneurons that are actually modulating all this. So, it’s really cool that we have amazing abilities to do actually some modulation with some of these compounds but also looking at our foundational biology and making sure that we’re foundationally optimized so that we can do this when we need to.

Ben:  Usually what holds me back most from the amount of information processing I can achieve is whether or not we run out of coffee that day. I actually didn’t know that about GABA and its interplay between serotonin and dopamine. 

So, you talked about the magnolia bark extract, CBN, CBG, some of these cannabinoids. In addition to that, you brought up the mushroom extract and the kava. Now, are these all things, because you gave me two different products when we were at the recent A4M, the American Academy for Anti-aging Medicine, we were talking there and you gave me some stuff to help me sleep in Vegas. But, before that, I think you’d sent those same products to my home. One was called Tro Zzz, one was called Tro Calm. I don’t really understand the difference between the two, but does one of those have all the ingredients you just listed?

Scott:  Yeah, man. So, the Tro Calm was created for anxiousness and for stress reduction. And, it’s a combination of kava, CBD, CBG, and something called nicotinell GABA. We didn’t talk about that one, but nicotinell GABA is a vitamin B3 attached to a GABA molecule. As I mentioned earlier, GABA itself doesn’t get across the blood-brain barrier very easily, but a vitamin B3 attached to a GABA does. And, when it gets into the brain, this is super cool, it hydrolyzes so it breaks up into vitamin B3, into GABA. So, GABA becomes the neurotransmitter GABA and vitamin B3 becomes vitamin B3. So, it causes mild vasodilation and mild activation. So, that’s nice because during the day if you’re taking something for anxiety or stress, you don’t want to feel tired, you just don’t want to feel anxiety and stress. 

Ben:  That’s kind of like how some people microdose with CBD like 10 milligrams of CBD larger amounts would just knock you out, but they’ll use that for a little bit of relaxed focus. You have theanine which you mentioned earlier. People will use for that as well. So, what you’re saying is this Tro Calm, it’s helping out with GABA and relaxation but in a more focused way that could be taken during the daytime.

Scott:  Exactly, yeah. And, as you know from our troches, these are titratable. So, they’re dissolvable lozenges that go between your upper cheek and gum. Take about 15 to 30 minutes to dissolve bypassing digestion in your liver and small intestines. So, you get it a faster effect. And, as a result of the troche itself and how it’s created, its precision dose, so each quarter of it is the same amount equal four quarters equal the amount that’s in the troche. And so, you can take just a quarter to take the edge off and you do that during the day if you’re having an anxious moment. So, it’s the example I always give is you’re about to give a speech but you can’t remember any lines because your brain is so sympathetically dominant that everything has gone blank. If you just take a little bit of a Tro Calm, just a quarter of that can take the edge off, and all of a sudden you’re just firing at all cylinders. So, it’s that calm focus kind of feeling.

But, if you have more issues with stress and anxiety, taking more of it can significantly help. With that vitamin B3 attached to that GABA though, it’s super interesting because you just won’t feel that tired. It’s something that can help you wind down in the evenings but it’s not going to make you feel sleepy per se. But, for me and for a lot of my patients, it actually helps quiet the mind. I mean, on average, I think you probably know this, Ben, but I think on average, a human has about 70,000 thoughts per day. And, if you are anxious or stressed, you have about 120,000 thoughts per day. If you have depression, it’s the same thing. So, you’re ruminating on this stuff.

And so, what Tro Calm can do in any sort of GABAergic kind of ecosystem that we’re creating with this product, which is very cool is that you can just tamper down or just as Dr. Ted would say cause constipation of your thoughts, thoughts to patient.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. I feel like I usually have thought diarrhea more often than thought constipation.

The troche, you said the upper cheek and the gum. I’ve actually been putting these kind of right in my lower lip where you’d usually put on a nicotine pouch or something like that. Is that the wrong location?

Scott:  So, the lower lip has about two layers of mucosa. The upper lip between your upper cheek and gum. They have about eight layers. And, the reason why we like it up here in the upper cheek and gum is that it’s going to actually get most of the ingredient to dissolve directly into your cheek mucosa, directly into your vascular system there.

Ben:  That’s interesting. Alright. Well, I might have been wasting some of this stuff then because I’ve never put it up there.

Scott:  Yeah. You’re not wasting it because if you’re swallowing it, you’re still going to get the effect, it’s just going to take a little bit longer. And, what we find is that for the Tro Calm, specifically, and the Tro Zzz that it’s obviously going to work faster this way if it’s dissolved up here. And also, you don’t have to worry about degradation of any of your ingredients because you don’t have any issue with digestion. Typically, with things going through your liver, you’re going to get some bioavailability that gets downregulated or gets decreased as a result. But, you don’t get that with dissolving in your mouth.

Ben:  Alright. Well, I know there’s at least one and a half listeners thinking this so I’m going to ask it. What if you just shove one up your butt for a rectal delivery?

Scott:  So, suppositories are great for mucosal absorption. There’s no doubt about it. Our troches are not formulated in that way. They have some flavoring. They have a little bit of peppermint, for example, in our other products, and a little bit of cinnamon. So, you don’t want to be doing that in your rectal mucosa. Now, I have no problem with suppositories. I think they’re fantastic but not for our troches. But, as I said, if people don’t want to dissolve them in their mouth, they can swallow them. And, they do work that way, they’re just going to be working a little bit slower and they’re also probably need a little bit of a higher dose, for example. So, if you needed a quarter, you may need a half. But, I mean, honestly, 15 to 30 minutes and you start feeling the effect. It’s pretty profound for most people.

Ben:  Yeah. They kick in pretty quickly. For me, I’ve been using it just because I kind of stick to my tried-and-true habit. I use the Kion Sleep, some CBD, and from traveling, melatonin, before bed. And, that works pretty well for me. But, when I’ve been waking in the wee hours, I’ve been popping–actually, I cut the little squares in half. I do half of the Tro Zzz and half of the Tro Calm. And, that seems to just kind of like get me back to sleep pretty quickly, just kind of dissolves in the mouth. And, the only issue with it is, of course, I have to take my mouth tape off, Scott, and apply a new piece of mouth tape. Gosh, darn it. Maybe that’s why I asked this suppository question because believe it or not, I don’t tape my rectum for sleep.

But, the Tro Zzz, the other one, what’s in the Tro Zzz? Because you were just talking about the Tro Calm.

Scott:  Yeah. So, the Tro Calm has those four ingredients that are really working synergistically together in low doses to optimize for stress and anxiety and help you get rid of those was fast. And, Tro Zzz was created to be a comprehensive sleep solution really leveraging the GABA system that we’ve been talking about. So, it has the honokiol that we were talking about before. It has the agarin that we were talking about before as well. Agarin from the psychedelic mushroom, the amanita, very, very low doses, no psychedelic experience just long-acting GABA support throughout your whole evening. It has CBD. It has CBN in it as well. It also has adenosine. So, adenosine’s not acting on the GABA system, it’s working on the adenosine receptors in the brain.

And, you were mentioning caffeine earlier. So, this is for your people that like to drink coffee all day long, but it can screw up their sleep. Having some adenosine before you go to bed can really help with that unbinding of the caffeine to the receptor and getting adenosine to allow it to bind.

Ben:  You could use an adenosine and actually kind of knock caffeine off that receptor?

Scott:  Yeah, you can.

Ben:  You just gave a whole bunch of people a lot of excuses to have an affogato after dinner.

Scott:  Yeah. I mean, obviously, buyer beware, it may not work for everybody depending on how much caffeine you have and how sensitive you are. But, that’s why we added it to the actual formula.

We also have another really cool ingredient in there called cordycepin. So, it comes from the cordyceps mushroom. And, people have some fun interplay with the cordyceps mushroom now because of the show on HBO called “The Last of Us.”

Ben:  Yeah.

Scott:  And the cordyceps mushroom. But, it’s a medicinal mushroom that’s been around in Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It does eat the brains of insects and take them over. So, that does exist. It doesn’t take over and make us zombies yet. But, cordycepin increases low-wave sleep.

Ben:  No way. I always thought it was a stimulant.

Scott:  No, no. Cordycepin it increases low-wave sleep. It also has these profound effects on metabolism. It’s been studied in cancer. It’s been studied in insulin resistance. It is a very cool compound. And again, we’re the first company to ever put it in a sleep formula. And, this is of course out of Dr. Ted’s brain. But, the key with all this, Ben, is we are enhancing and optimizing sleep architecture. So, we are only doing that in a very holistic way. And, that’s the key with taking anything for sleep. You really want to try to take things. Your stuff I’m sure too, it’s trying to enhance your sleep architecture and not mess with it.

And, we also have some 5-HTP and some melatonin in the formula as well to help round it out as a comprehensive sleep solution.

Ben:  How much 5-HTP, do you remember?

Scott:  Yeah, 50 milligrams of 5-HTP.

Ben:  Okay. So, that’s not too much because you get a lot from the, I guess it’s probably more the Ray Peat, Georgie Dinkov small niche community online. Dr. Jo Mercola is kind of on this as well like too much 5-HTP could actually be deleterious due to serotonin excesses.

Scott:  Yes, yeah. I’m definitely familiar with Jo’s interest in that and Ray’s interest in that as well, but I don’t see it as being a big issue. I mean, oftentimes, it’s a very low dose here at 50 milligrams. And, the other people sometimes will also get a little upset about melatonin in there too. I don’t know what your thoughts are on, but I mean, from my perspective, even if people are well dialed in with circadian rhythms, our melatonin production does go down as we get older. And, it’s especially important when we’re traveling as well. So, Tro Zzz is a great sleep solution I feel like with the melatonin in there.

Ben:  I travel so much, Scott, that let’s say there is, even though I don’t think there is, let’s say there is a negative feedback loop with melatonin, and by supplementing you’re shutting down your own endogenous production or whatever. For me, it’s one of the best travel hacks ever. And, it’s kind of like guys who just want to maintain libido and strength and muscle mass as they age who take testosterone. It’s like, well, yeah, you’re going to shut down your own endogenous production. You could take in clomid or enclomiphene or HCG and mitigate some of that. But, at the end of the day, it’s a decision about better living through science and shutting down something, at least the possibility of shutting down something your body makes. And, for me, I’m okay with melatonin. And, if somebody says, “Well, that means you’re going to be dependent on it.” Look, it’s so clutch for me for travel that I’m okay with that.

Scott:  Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a great perspective and I also think that people don’t realize that melatonin is so important for not only for sleep but it’s one of our most powerful antioxidants.

Ben:  Yeah, amazing anti-inflammatory antioxidant. I have a friend who just got a urinary tract infection and I recommended him high-dose melatonin protocol by night and methylene blue protocol by day for that very reason.

Scott:  Yeah, for sure. And, people taking very, very high doses of melatonin as an anti-cancer. And, I know you’ve talked about before that on the podcast, I’m sure. So, my sense of it is that very low doses like 2.5 or 5 milligrams, they’re not going to have any downregulatory effect on melatonin production.

The other thing that people worry about is testosterone production going down with melatonin, and there’s no indication that that’s the case. There’s no great studies at all and there’s been a lot of lay press biohacker type of people saying that not taking melatonin because it’s decreasing my testosterone. That’s also bullshit too. So, I think that there are certain people that will be more sensitive to lower doses. I’m more sensitive in general, so I only can have about 2.5 milligrams. Otherwise, I actually get a paradoxical effect interestingly enough.

Ben:  Yeah, a lot of people report that. That happens to my wife. She takes so much. How much is in the Tro Zzz? How much melatonin is in the Tro Zzz?

Scott:  5 milligrams.

Ben:  Okay. Yeah. So, if you’re cutting that, that’s an entire square [00:40:58] _____ you’re getting 2.5.

Scott:  Yeah, yeah. The average dose seems to be about a half troche for the Tro Zzz. So, almost all of our troches, a quarter, a half, a full is kind of deal. But, with the Tro Zzz, it doesn’t really work for most people if they don’t have another sleep stack with just taking a quarter. You need to take at least a half to get a good experience. But, if you’re already taking a sleep stack and you’re adding it to the sleep stack, then it may be something you can start off with a quarter and kind of go from there. But, people got to be mindful, of course, when they’re stacking things together. I mean, obviously, if you’re taking any other GABAergic drugs that are prescription, those are going to be much stronger. And so, you have to be careful if you’re taking anything that’s going to enhance the GABA system too.

Ben:  Okay, got it. That makes sense.

So, you hear about glutamate, and I know a lot of people who use ketamine. It’s actually being like used recreationally as an internasal spray by a lot of people; parties, raves, social functions, et cetera. I’ve used it before, but from what I understand, it actually interacts with glutamate. So, I wanted to ask you this. Is there any interplay between ketamine and GABA? Like, if you were to take GABA and ketamine at the same time, would they counteract the effects of each other or would long-term ketamine use have a deleterious impact on GABA or anything like that? Do you know anything about that?

Scott:  Yeah. So, it’s interesting. I was just talking to somebody about this yesterday. And, the interplay is it’s on the glutamate receptors, but I have a friend in the ER, he told me yesterday that the pharmacist hate ketamine because it’s a dirty drug. And, what by dirty means it affects tons of receptors. It’s not just affecting the glutamate receptors, it’s actually affecting multiple different ones, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and also GABA as well. So, as a result of that–ketamine is a great drug. It’s got some great therapeutic potential and it’s saved a lot of lives. And, we should be using it in ERs instead of giving people Haldol and Ativan and giving them ketamine and getting them psychiatry. There’s a big push for that, actually. But certainly, we know that when there’s more glutamate around, you’re going to make more GABA, and all because of that conversion factor, right, the B6 and magnesium converting glutamate to GABAs. We know that’s happening. Okay. But, if you’re using something like ketamine all the time, you are going to start depleting everything, you’re going to start depleting GABA as well and you just start depleting glutamate, and then you’re going to be downregulating your receptors.

So, there seems to be a bit of a balance as far as I can tell. When you actually are affecting these NMDA receptors, you’re actually also affecting the GABA receptors as well. It hasn’t been well described because you don’t see people getting totally excitable. I mean, most people that take ketamine will actually have more of a calming dissociative effect. They don’t have this sort of what you would imagine would be a glutamate overactivity which would potentially present as excitability. It could present maybe as significantly as seizures, but that doesn’t happen. So, it’s obviously affecting the GABA receptors and other locations too. So, I think we don’t know but certainly, I mean, ketamine as a recreational drug is a little bit scary.

Ben:  Yeah. I think a lot of people don’t realize how depleting it can be. It’s kind of like that, what do they call it, the Black Tuesday or whatever it is after the weekend when you’ve had MDMA where everything’s depleted and you got to take glutathione and SAMe. What’d you call it?

Scott:  Suicide Tuesday.

Ben:  Yeah, suicide Tuesday. And, I would imagine a lot of people are using ketamine recreationally maybe having those issues not even know that they’ve got depleted amino acids and depleted neurotransmitters and probably need to replace some building blocks and modulate dosage. I mean, I can’t swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting at least three or four well-known biohackers, health influencers, people in the industry who are dependent on ketamine because they’ve talked to me about it.

Scott:  Yeah. No, I’m not surprised. And, I think the best description or the best experience for people to think about glutamate overdose is when you go to a Chinese restaurant and happen to have monosodium glutamate in your food. It’s sweet, right? And then, all of a sudden, you start getting headaches and you feel irritable and you can’t sleep. That is glutamate overload. That is your brain not being able to convert that glutamate over to GABA fast enough. This could be hereditary to some degree or it could be just something that you don’t have the cofactors to be able to do it that’s more common, your vitamin B6 and magnesium. And so, you’re going to get headaches.

So, if I go to a Chinese restaurant with my father, he’s going to have headaches if we have MSG. I don’t typically get them but it can cause that excitability kind of thing. So, if something’s pure glutamate, it should cause something like that as opposed to something with ketamine, which is more of, like I said, a dirty drug. And, I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean it’s dirty in the sense it’s affecting lots of receptors or promiscuous. That’s the other word we like to use for these kinds of drugs. Maybe that’s nicer.

Ben:  You hear about sauna use, for example, or even exercise as ways to increase feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine and the like. Are there lifestyle factors or even so-called biohacks, I mean you talk a lot about the hyperbaric chamber, for example, but certain technologies or activities people can engage in that would support healthy GABA production?

Scott:  Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think the biggest one is that we know that stress significantly depletes GABA. So, doing things that are not stressful are going to have a relationship with increasing GABA production over time. So, meditation, there’s been studies on meditation, yoga, and breathwork increasing GABA of production. It makes sense. The more parasympathetic you are, the more relaxed you are. The more you’re going to replete your GABA levels overall. And also, actually interestingly although this may be paradoxical to think about, but exercise does the same thing. So, exercise increases your balance between your glutamate and your GABA production. So, you’re actually going to have more GABA production in various areas in the brain as a result of doing exercise overall. So, exercise is going to do it, meditation is going to do it. And then, of course, we talked about optimizing your diet, so optimizing your diet for glutamine-rich foods. Glutamate foods are okay too. These are fermented foods, typically. And, I can run a list if you guys want, but we can talk about those types of foods and also your minerals, your magnesium, your copper, your zinc, all these are really important to build up the ability for you to be able to make glutamine or to get glutamine in the body, convert it to glutamate, convert glutamate to GABA.

Ben:  What are the three foods that are the highest in glutamine if we just want to pick three?

Scott:  So, a couple ones that are good, so steak. Everybody likes steak. Yes, steak is really high in glutamine. Sauerkraut and fermented foods. And, I mean, I’m not a big fan of cheeses but cheeses also have a lot of glutamine in them too.

Ben:  Does the cheese matter? Because usually it’s the hard artisanal cheeses that seem to be the highest in some of these beneficial compounds.

Scott:  I think it’s those cheeses. I don’t think it’s the soft cheeses as much, but [00:48:07] _____.

Ben:  Yeah, like a parmesan reggiano or something like that.

Scott:  Yeah. And then, you have your glutamate-containing foods. Seafood is high in glutamate. Caviar, seaweed, mushrooms, spinach, dried cod. Those are the main ones that have a lot of glutamate in them.

I think where I tend to focus with most of my patients that I work with is on the glutamine-containing foods because I find that if you’re giving a lot of glutamate-containing foods to people, sometimes they can get those headaches too for the same reasons that you get it from monosodium glutamate.

Ben:  Steak and caviar sounds like a real drug, man.

Scott:  I don’t think that sounds bad. That sounds perfect to me.

Ben:  There’s a lot of websites and quizzes I’ve seen. Dr. Eric Braverman, he probably has the most popular one. I think that supplements company Nootopia. They have a quiz that I think is supposed to be kind of a neurotransmitter quiz. But, is there anything to this idea of genetic predispositions or personality types that would dictate whether you’re GABA dominant or GABA deficient?

Scott:  Do you have alcoholics in your family? That’s the one thing. So, because if you have alcoholics in your family, this could be a genetic predisposition to having less GABA available so that you have to actually increase GABA other ways to maintain some sort of mood regulation.

Ben:  Because our ancestors didn’t have Tro Zzz, they had wine and mead and beer. 

Scott:  Well, the thing is, Ben, actually this is a perfect segue, it’s not so much that it’s hereditary that they have a GABA deficiency, it’s more that they’re hereditary in the sense of their ability to methylate their B vitamins or their ability to sustain nutrition to optimize their glutamate in GABA level. 

So, my strong sense of this, and I’ve worked with several patients like this and I have colleagues that have done the same, if you optimize somebody that has a history of alcoholism in their family, for example, if you optimize their vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, they don’t feel like they need to drink and they won’t drink as much. Overall, because they’re not trying to maintain a GABA level that they couldn’t maintain before because they had a genetic predisposition from a vitamin, mineral, and nutrient perspective. Because actual inherited disorders of the GABA receptor are ridiculously rare. They’re just not seen in clinical practice at all.

So, I think most of the issues that we’re seeing from a “genetic predisposition,” for example, alcoholism are related to vitamin, mineral, and nutrient deficiencies, and maybe some genetic abnormalities or heterogeneities there that are causing it but not the GABA receptor itself. But, most of those quizzes are not going to ask about GABA, they’re going to ask about serotonin and norepinephrine, and dopamine because those are all the sexy ones that people are talking about taking fasts from, or at least dopamine at least.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah.

So, when it comes to sleep, is there anything that you personally do besides Tro Calm or Tro Zzz for sleep that for you is just a game changer? And, this is kind of relevant to me right now because I’m working on a new book and there’s a big chapter on it with a whole bunch of updated sleep hacks. So, kind of like behind the scenes asking some of my guess what their personal sleep hacks are.

Scott:  Sure. So, from a product perspective, I’m actually more of a Tro Calm guy because for me as soon as I fall asleep, I’m good. It’s a matter of falling asleep for me. And so, that’s the type A personality, the perseverating thoughts, the thought diarrhea as it were as you were describing before. So, my thoughts to patient would be Tro Calm in this case. So, I’ll take Tro Calm a couple hours before bed.

Ben:  Oh, a couple hours before.

Scott:  Yeah, yeah. Actually, I could take it right before bed too, but I really like having it on board for a couple hours. It lasts for about three to five hours for me. So, like having it right before that sort of wind down period when I’m with my kids and I’m relaxing and I want my mind to be sort of off work, phone away kind of deal and just having it as sort of an evening. So, what people will do oftentimes is take Tro Calm instead of drinking a glass of wine with dinner or having their beer or whatever it might be is their wind down. So, I like to use it that way. Overall, it’s sort of like my wind down for the evening. But, for me, actually, Dr. Ted Achacoso who’s been on your podcast before, he probably gave me the single most important piece of advice that I’ve ever received from sleep. He calls it his sleep anchoring technique. And, what this means is it basically changes the perspective on the importance of sleep. Instead of saying that your day starts when you wake up, say to yourself your day starts when you go to bed.

Ben:  Your days to see. I’ve always heard it like your night starts when you wake up with ample light exposure. But, this is interesting. Keep going.

Scott:  Yeah. So, the idea here is that if you consider going to sleep as the start of your day, not the end of your day, then you’re going to treat it with more respect and with more care and take care and protect it on a day-to-day basis whenever you can. Because your day starts when you go to bed not when you wake up. Now, of course, when you wake up, you have your morning routine, you have your sunlight exposure, you have your grounding, anything else that you do. But, if you just focus on that but you forgot about the other eight hours you just went to bed, it’s not going to help as much as so you know. 

So, if you think about your day starts when you go to bed as opposed to when you wake up, that’s the frameshift that helped me. I mean, I’m a doctor, right? In medical school, my friends and I wore shirts that said sleep is for quitters. Okay. So, I didn’t think sleep mattered for a long time. And, even through my 30s, I didn’t think it mattered. I thought I could be up in the middle of the night, do what I need to do and just work the next day. But, no, I mean, like many people, I crashed and burned. And, when I turn 40, it’s not going to happen anymore. So, most of us can get away with it for a period of time.

Ben:  Yeah.

Scott:  So, that’s the first thing and that’s the major thing for what I tell my patients. That’s what we tell people at Troscriptions because again, we have great formulas here that can help you with anxiety. They can help you with stress. They can help you with sleep. But, what you should be doing is thinking about what is this whole sleep architecture that we were talking about. So, you asked about my personal thing. So, I can give you my personal if you’d like.

Ben:  Yeah.

Scott:  So, for me, what I’ll typically do is an infrared sauna. I have an infrared sauna in my house. It’s when I found out that I was going to have four kids, we thought we were going to have three and somehow we ended up having four.

Ben:  Wait, quadruplets?

Scott:  No, no. I have three kids. I had three daughters and then my fourth was a surprise.

Ben:  Okay, I understand.

Scott:  Yes, yes. And so, my oldest is 13, my youngest is 6 now. And, three girls and my youngest is a boy. But, when I found out that we were going to have a fourth kid, I was like a very small house living in Northern California at the time. So, I bought myself an infrared sauna. And, it’s been, I think, one of the best purchases that I’ve ever made by far. So, I’m in there most nights. I spend about 30 minutes in there. Typically, we do some reading, some meditation, some relaxation, exercises of some sort during that time. And then, after the sauna, I’ll typically take a temperate shower, so not too hot, not too cold. We’ll do my sleep stack of supplements. Typically some magnesium, some glycine, sometimes Tro Zzz when I’m traveling, but I don’t take Tro Zzz unless I’m traveling typically.

Ben:  Okay.

Scott:  Because I don’t need it. And then, I have what I call my Pavlov’s dog routine. And, Pavlov’s dog is for those who don’t know, this is an experiment done where they would ring a bell and give food to a dog, and the dog would salivate and the dog would eat and then eventually take away the food. Just ring the bell, the dog would salivate. So, the idea for me for my sleep routine is do the exact same thing for the last 10 to 15 minutes every night. And, that’s sleep. It’s basically going to the bathroom, brushing my teeth, stretching and getting into bed with my eye mask on, having a sound machine on, doing gratitude, and then just done, bed.

Ben:  That’s awesome. I love the Pavlov’s. I’m on the same way to the extent to where I try to choose things for the Pavlov’s dog routine that I can replicate when traveling. So, if it’s lavender essential oil, I don’t use an oil diffuser anymore. I just sprinkle it on the pillow because I can do that same thing when I travel. The sleep mask, easy. The redlight headlamp that I used to get around the room at night or the red lights. That’s easy to bring to the hotel room. Putting the pillow underneath the back of my knees and breathing for about five minutes with four-in, eight-out before rolling over into a side sleeping position. I can replicate that in the hotel.

So, I try to not be dependent on any large bulky sleep technologies that if I’m on the road traveling again because I travel so much, I’m going to feel like I’m not getting my adequate sleep routine that I can replicate because I can’t exactly call down to the front desk and ask them to bring me, I don’t know, a BedJet air conditioning unit or a Chilipad for sleep. So, I try not to be dependent on that stuff.

Scott:  I’m totally with you. So, I have my long routine, which is when I’m home and then I have my short routine when I’m traveling. I mean, this is something you’ve dialed in so much because of how much you travel, but it’s a certain techniques or certain things that I will do that just trigger my brain to know that this is time to get to sleep. And, I think the biggest part for me actually is taking those 30 seconds or a minute when I’m in bed and just doing a full body scan doing a small gratitude practice and just being comfortable and grateful for the day and setting intentions for the next day too. So, it’s really important for me. So, nothing fancy there really, but I like the fancy tools as well when I have them, of course. 

Ben:  Yeah, the body scans are pretty incredible, the so-called Yoga Nidra or non-sleep deep rest protocols. There’s not many voices that I don’t find kind of grinding for those, but there’s one lady on YouTube. And, I’ve got YouTube Premium, which I think is the ultimate life hack just because you can download tons of stuff, view it online ad-free. They still don’t have the ability to take your downloaded videos and make playlists out of them, which I think they need to add. At least that can be used in offline mode. So, tip to anyone who works at YouTube, make playlists downloadable and available offline. But anyways, this lady Ali Boothroyd, I think is her channel, she has non-sleep deep rest protocols that range from 20 minutes up to a full eight hours. And, when I flew back from Qatar the other day because I just got back from India, I did her eight-hour on the plane with noise-blocking headphones, incredible. And, I usually, what’ll happen is if I wake up at 4:00 a.m. or whatever, I want to kind of lull myself back to sleep. Of course, pop a Tro Calm, Scott, but I’ll lay back and do her, it’s like the two-hour one, if I want to lay in bed until six or so. And, it’s incredible. You aren’t actually sleeping but you’re in this, drool coming out the side of your mouth, non-sleep deep rest state. And, because you’re scanning your body, I think this is why it works is my working hypothesis at least. You can’t think about work when you’re thinking big toe, breathe, next toe, breathe, next toe, breathe, small toe, ankle, heel, back of knee. So, it just kind of keeps your thoughts from racing. But, her voice in particular is incredible.

And, what I do, I’ll get a little techie on you here, Scott, this will be the pro tip. There’s another app called SleepStream and it plays white noise that blocks out a lot of ambient noise. And, a lot of times these Yoga Nidra sessions, there’s long periods of just silence in between what the person says is the next cue. So, if the kids are up and awake getting ready for the day and I’m not ready to get up yet or the dogs are barking or the roosters crowing which usually starts about 4:30, this SleepStream app, I can play it simultaneous to the Yoga Nidra and just my cheapo headphones and it’ll block out ambient noise while I’m still able to hear the Yoga Nidra voice. So, that’s what I’ll do if I just need to use some kind of a sound to lull me to sleep. I still like that.

There’s an app called the NuCalm that’s also really good, but for Yoga Nidra combining something like Ali’s Yoga Nidra tracks with the SleepStream app, it’s incredible.

Scott:  Do you have one headphone going in one ear? How does that work? Is it also both being piped in your ears at the same time?

Ben:  I have the Sleep phones. They’re only 20 bucks I think on Amazon.

Scott:  Yeah.

Ben:  But, they’re good for side sleepers, if I to tend to roll on my side. And, if I happen to have forgotten to get those out before bed, I’ll literally just use my old-school Apple white wired headphones and put those in. But, yeah, no, it layers over. So, the SleepSpace, white noise layers over the Yoga Nidra. So, it’s not coming through two separate speakers. Both those tracks are coming through both headphones into both ears.

Scott:  Cool. You’re doing a real-time mix, man. That’s cool. I dig it.

Ben:  Yeah.

Scott:  Yeah. I’ll use the old Apple old-school headphones when I travel too for the white noise. I find that helps a lot.

Ben:  Yeah.

Scott:  And, I have a free app that I use for the white noise piece of things too.

Ben:   You know the other hack for this, and this is something that I learned from Luke Story. You know those underwater swim headphones that they use bone vibration to transmit sound?

Scott:  Yeah.

Ben:  You can have in your regular headphones and then in your underwater MP3 player that you’re using on dry land. What Luke told me is he’ll play Joe Dispenza meditation tracks while playing NuCalm, and he’ll play the NuCalm through his regular headphones and play the Joe Dispenza meditation tracks through his bone vibrating headphones if you want to call them that. And, that’s another way to layer. So, all sorts of different ways to sleep if you like many other people can’t turn the brain off at night or at least stop up the brain diarrhea.

Scott:  I love that. Yeah. I’ve used NuCalm before. I like it and I’m a big fan of Sam Harris’s Waking Up app as well. And so, some of his longer meditations and I’ve had a couple friends learn how to splice those things together with various other tracks like NuCalm and other things. This is getting fancy, but it’s interesting to play around with. I think the body scans are great for the reasons you mentioned, Ben. It’s a way to get out of your head a little bit and it’s a way to just kind of let everything relax. And, that’s typically what you need is you just need your brain to shut off enough so you can start jumping into deep sleep, which is what all of us need to do in that early time when we get into bed.

Ben:  Yeah, yeah. Well, Scott, this has been a wide-ranging valuable resource of information for all things GABA and sleep and beyond. So, the Troscription stuff, I know you gave me a link and a discount code and all that kind of good stuff for people who want to try Tro Zzz or Tro Calm or you also have the methylene blue ones, and the, what’s it called, the Cannatine?

Scott:  Yep, Blue Cannatine.

Ben:  Yeah, Blue Cannatine. So, I’m going to put all the shownotes for everybody listening at, G-A-B-A-podcast. I’ll include some links and discount codes to Dr. Scott’s stuff. I’ll link to the very interesting article he also wrote on hyperbaric therapy because if you have a hyperbaric chamber, I think it’d be incredible for you to learn some of the ways that Scott upgrades those.

So, Scott, thank you so much, man, for coming on and sharing all this stuff with us and for sending me this Tro Calm and Tro Zzz. I really like it.

Scott:  My pleasure, man. It’s my pleasure to be with you today. And yeah, your code’s easy for people. It’s just code BEN, B-E-N, at checkout for 10% off your order. So, it’s easy and I really appreciate the opportunity to speak about the forgotten neurotransmitter. And, I hope that people listening here learned a little bit about GABA. And, as I wrote an article, there’s a bunch of articles on our website on Troscriptions on GABA as well, as well as our other products.

Ben:  Cool. Alright. I’ll link to all that.

Scott:  Check it out.

Ben:  Awesome. So, Till next time. I’m Ben along with Dr. Scott Sherr signing out from Have an amazing week. 

Do you want free access to comprehensive shownotes, my weekly roundup newsletter, cutting edge research and articles, top recommendations from me for everything that you need to hack your life and a whole lot more? Check out It’s all there. See you over there. 

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Do you find yourself battling with anxiety that grips your chest or insomnia that keeps you tossing and turning through the night? If so, this episode equips you with actionable strategies that lead toward a calmer, more revitalized you.

Dive into the depths of neurotransmitter science with Dr. Scott Sherr as he unravels the mysteries of GABA modulation and helps you discover how rebalancing GABA levels can calm the storms of anxiety, pave the way for restful sleep, and unlock a path to overall well-being. 

Dr. Scott Sherr is a Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician certified to practice Health Optimization Medicine (HOMe) and a specialist in hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). He is the founder of HOMe-SF, the first HOMe clinic in the United States, and the Chief Operating Officer of Health Optimization Medicine and Practice (HOMe/HOPe)–USA, a nonprofit education company training doctors and healthcare practitioners in detecting and correcting the root causes of health, not just disease.

Additionally, Dr. Scott is also the COO of Smarter Not Harder (SNH), the for-profit arm of HOMe/HOPe. SNH is the company behind Troscriptions, a line of precision-dosed buccal troches that address the bottlenecks along the path to optimal health. They have five products on the market, now including Blue Cannatine, Just Blue, Tro+ Blue, Tro Calm, and Tro Zzz.

As discussed on this show, Tro Zzz and Tro Calm are excellent solutions for improving sleep. Tro Zzz contains honokiol from magnolia bark, offering anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, neuroprotective, and anticancer benefits. It also includes agarin from the amanita mushroom for sustained GABA support (without psychedelic effects), along with CBD, CBN, and adenosine to enhance sleep quality. Tro Calm, on the other hand, is designed for daytime anxiety and stress relief, containing kava, CBD, CBG, and nicotinell GABA. If you struggle with sleepless nights or waking up too early in the morning, I’ve found that combining half a square of Tro Zzz and half a square of Tro Calm can effectively guide you back to restful sleep.

Prepare to embark on a fascinating journey into the intricate world of GABA. Join me and Dr. Scott as we unravel the profound impact of this neurotransmitter on anxiety, sleep, and your overall well-being. This enlightening discussion is brimming with practical insights to help you optimize your GABA levels and elevate your quality of life.

Oh, and if you haven’t already delved into Dr. Scott’s captivating article on my website, you’re in for a treat. You can check that out here:

How To Biohack A Hyperbaric Experience – A Physician Spills His Insider Secrets On How To Use HBOT Properly To Accelerate & Optimize Healing, Performance, and Recovery.

During this discussion, you’ll discover:  

-Who is Dr. Scott Sherr?…05:19

A specialist in hyperbaric oxygen therapy
BGL article by Dr. Scott Sherr:

The founder of Health Optimization Medicine HOMe) Practice

-What is GABA?…08:47

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) neurotransmitter
Calms down the firing of your neurons
GABA is always being balanced by an excitatory neurotransmitter called glutamate
Glutamate and GABA make up about 80% of your brain’s neurotransmission
GABA is made from glutamate

GABA deficiency can cause:
Anxiety, fear, depression, migraines, short temper, phobias, impulsiveness, disorganization, addictions, and even schizophrenia and OCD
IBS, diarrhea, hypertension, tinnitus, chronic pain, allergies, frequent urination, flushing, bloating, sweating, salt cravings, and muscle tension

Is there an efficient test for GABA?
Glutamine can be measured in urine and plasma

Dutch Complete
Glutamine is an amino acid that can be converted to glutamate
Requires vitamin B6 and magnesium to do that

Glutamine is also the main fuel of enterocytes — specialized cells lining the inner surface of the small intestine that are responsible for absorbing nutrients, electrolytes, and water from the digested food passing through the intestines into the bloodstream 

-What are the two GABA receptors in the brain?…14:50

GABA receptors 
GABAA — a ligand-gated ion channel/inotropic receptor
GABAB — a G-couple protein receptor

Caffeine is a well-known desensitizer of the GABA receptor
Besides caffeine, all stimulants reduce the sensitivity of the GABA receptor
L-theanine enhances GABA, but in excessively high doses, it may block the GABA receptor
Opioids and pain medications bind to GABA receptors themselves
THC will inhibit GABA release
Alcohol binds very tightly to the GABA receptors and decreases the number of receptors you have available
Anxiety and sleeping drugs do the same

-What are the effects of alcohol, CBD, and THC on sleep?…19:09

How alcohol affects GABA
Different ways alcohol binds to GABA receptors

GABA is essential to maintaining sleep and getting into the REM phase
CBD and CBG modulate the GABA system
THC, benzos, and sleeping pills have a negative effect and can cause anxiety
Trying to get patients off of those drugs and wean them on to natural equivalents

Kratom affects GABA

-Can you have too much GABA?…24:25

Low copper affects the binding of GABA
Stress and cortisol cause GABA deficiency
Infections can prevent the conversion of glutamate to GABA
Too much GABA causes fatigue, brain fog, low blood pressure
Leaky brain and GABA

Somnium GABA cream — transdermal application
Quicksilver Liposomal GABA (use code GREENFIELD15 to save 15%)

-What is the Amanita muscaria mushroom?…26:47

Amanita muscaria mushroom
Ibotenic acid — a neurotoxin that causes a psychedelic effect
Agarin is the other compound of this mushroom
It binds to the GABA receptor, just like GABA, and its half-life is 6 hours
A fantastic compound for sleep

The Santa Claus mythology
Santa Sold Shrooms by Tero Isokauppila
Scott’s company is the only one using it in a product for sleep
Tro Zzz — created to be a comprehensive sleep solution (use code BEN to save 10%)
Has agarin and honokiol

It is a legal mushroom in every state in the United States except for Louisiana
Four Sigmatic
Kava is a natural plant and a positive allosteric modulator of the GABA receptor
Trukava (use code BEN10 to save 10%)
Magnolia bark or honokiol
Works at the benzodiazepine site of the GABA receptor
Doesn’t have the same tolerance, withdrawal, or dependence issues

-Are GABAA receptors responsible for sleep and anxiety?…30:59

CBG as an anxiolytic — a substance or medication that reduces anxiety
CBN helps with sleep support
Different types of GABAA receptors
5 sub-units with different composition
Alpha 1 units are more responsible for sleep
Alpha 2 units are more responsible for anxiety

GABAA receptors are everywhere, also in interneurons

Interneurons are neurons that are waystations between other neurons
GABA interneurons link serotonin and dopamine neurons
GABA helps with the processing of information

-What is the difference between Tro Zzz and Tro Calm products?…35:54

Tro Calm (use code BEN to save 10%)
Tro Calm is created for anxiousness and stress reduction
Has kava, CBD, CBG, and Nicotinell GABA (a vitamin B3 attached to a GABA molecule)
Calms your thoughts in anxiety and depression
Does not make you feel sleepy or tired

Troches are dissolvable lozenges that go between your upper cheek and gum
The reason for taking it between the upper cheek and gum — start feeling the effect after 15 to 30 minutes 
Tro Zzz is created to be a comprehensive sleep solution (use code BEN to save 10%)
It has honokiol, agarin, CBD, CBN, adenosine
Adenosine unbinds from the caffeine
Cordyceps mushroom and cordycepin

Tro Zzz optimizes sleep architecture in a very holistic way — increases slow-wave sleep 
Also 5mg of melatonin and 50mg of 5-HTP

The benefits of taking melatonin
Kion Sleep

-Is there any interplay between ketamine and GABA?…48:41

Pharmacists hate ketamine because it’s a “dirty drug”
Affects a lot of receptors, including dopamine, norepinephrine, and GABA

When there’s more glutamate around, you’re going to make more GABA
Vitamin B6 and magnesium convert glutamate to GABA
The use of ketamine depletes GABA and other transmitters

-What are the habits and technologies that support healthy GABA production?…54:12

Stress significantly depletes GABA
Meditation, yoga, and breathwork increase GABA production
Exercise increases the balance between your glutamate and your GABA production
Glutamine-rich foods
Fermented foods, steak, cheese

Glutamate-containing foods
Seafood, caviar, seaweed, dried cod
Mushrooms, spinach

Glutamate-containing foods tend to give headaches when taken in large amounts

-What is the influence of genetics on GABA?…56:54

Dr. Eric Braverman’s genetic predisposition test
Nootopia Brain Performance Optimization
Alcoholics in the family may be a sign of a genetic predisposition to having GABA deficiency
Probably due to a lack of the ability to methylate B vitamins
Ability to sustain nutrition to optimize their glutamate and GABA levels

Optimizing vitamins, minerals, and nutrients may reduce drinking
Actual inherited disorders of the GABA receptor are very rare

-What are Scott’s personal sleep hacks?…59:02

For Scott, the problem is not sleep itself but falling asleep
Takes Tro Calm a couple of hours before sleep (use code BEN to save 10%)
If you consider going to sleep as the start of your day, then you’re going to treat it with more respect
For a long time, Scott didn’t think sleep mattered 
Scott’s routine
Infrared sauna – 30 minutes almost every day
Supplements – magnesium, glycine
Pavlov’s Dog Evening Routine

Ben uses lavender essential oils, red light, sleep mask, BedJet (use code BEN50 to save $50 off the BEDJET 3)
Pillow underneath the knees, breathing
BedJet and Chilipad

Ally Boothroyd’s YouTube channel
Non-sleep deep rest protocols that range from 20 minutes up to a full 8 hours
SleepStream app plays white noise
Yoga Nidra
Bone conduction headphones
Podcast with Luke Storey:

Troscriptions (use code BEN to save 10%)
Blue Cannatine (use code BEN to save 10%)

-And much more…

Upcoming Events:

Uncovering the Secrets of Longevity: Live Beyond the Norms: February 26–March 3, 2024 (Pre-Recorded)

Join me in this pre-recorded event to learn from the experts in longevity, including those who understand the aging process and the mechanisms that can slow or halt it. Discover what you can do now to look and feel younger and extend your life span while maintaining your quality of life. After all, why live longer if you can’t hold onto your health, purpose, mental acuity, fulfillment, and relationships? Learn how to age better than you ever thought possible; sign up for the pre-recorded event and use the code UNCOVER20 to save 20% here.

Unlock Longevity: February 24, 2024

On February 24th, I’ll be live in Austin, Texas, for Unlock Longevity, a unique gathering with leading regenerative medicine experts from North America. This exclusive event is your chance to gain insider knowledge in the realm of anti-aging and vitality. Our distinguished speakers will unveil groundbreaking treatments and secrets in rejuvenation and longevity, previously unshared with the public. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage in deep, personal discussions on health and anti-aging, and interact directly with our experts. Learn more about Unlock Longevity here.

Keep up on Ben’s LIVE appearances by following!

Resources from this episode:

Dr. Scott Sherr:

– Podcasts:

– Books:

Santa Sold Shrooms by Tero Isokauppila

– Other Resources:

Somnium GABA Cream 
Quicksilver Liposomal GABA (use code GREENFIELD15 to save 15%)
Four Sigmatic
Kion Sleep
Vitamin B6
Infrared Sauna
BedJet (use code BEN50 to save $50 off the BEDJET 3)
Yoga Nidra
Bone Conduction Headphones

Episode Sponsors:

JoyMode: Want to spice things up in the bedroom, boost your sexual performance, and do it naturally without nasty prescription drugs? Go to or enter GREENFIELD at checkout for 20% off your first order.

BiOptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough: The seven essential forms of magnesium included in this full spectrum serving help you relax, unwind, and turn off your active brain after a long and stressful day so you can rest peacefully and wake up feeling refreshed, vibrant, and alert. Go to now and use code BEN10 to get 10% off any order.

Manukora: You haven’t tasted or seen honey like this before – so indulge and try some honey with superpowers from Manukora. If you head to or use code BEN, you’ll automatically get a free pack of honey sticks with your order – a $15 value.

Timeline Nutrition: Timeline is offering 10% off your first order of Mitopure. Go to and use code BEN to get 10% off your order.

Clearlight Sauna: If you want to sweat buckets in the privacy of your own home, go to and use code BEN for a discount and free shipping — the free shipping alone is a huge savings because these saunas are big, heavy, and well-made!

Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Scott Sherr or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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