Chocolate, Psilocybin, and Ketosis

The Cultured Warrior Newsletter #014 | Neurological and psychological implications from ketosis and psychedlics.

Chocolate, Psilocybin, and Ketosis
Photo by Pretty Drugthings / Unsplash

What's New!

I'm stoked about the new hosting platform (Ghost), technical details aside, this allows me to keep more content censorship free and in one place (rather go here for this, there for that).  I'm working on ideas for "member-only" content; though that just means you've subscribed – you don't have to pay anything.  

I'll be distributing things a bit differently in order to keep content accessible and digestible.  I'm planning the following segments for regular weekly publication:

It's been a long time since I did a giveaway as well.  A lot has changed over the past 20 months or so, for everyone, but in this season of gratitude and giving, I want to honor the reason I have a platform to speak on to begin with – my friends, family, followers, and general "audience."

So, to commemorate my personal branding I'll be doing a giveaway of Heart & Soil Supplements Beef Organs.  This will be a newsletter member-only only opportunity.  I'm thinking of a tentative end date of December 21, solstice!

Things I'm Reading:

Consumption of 85% cocoa dark chocolate improves mood in association with gut microbial changes in healthy adults: a randomized controlled trial
Dark chocolate has long been recognized for its mood-altering properties; however, the evidence regarding the emotional effects of daily dark chocolat…

This is an interesting study that suggests dark chocolate can improve mood by pathway of gut bacteria.  One thing to point out is that these effects weren't observed in dark chocolate with cocoa content of 70% or less.  In case you didn't know, 85% cocoa (where the effect was observed) is pretty darn bitter.  So, before the holiday bender you should know that Hershey's "dark" chocolate is about 60% cocoa – the rest is milk and sugar.  At any rate, there does seem to be a medicinal case here where I could imagine a paleolithic ancestor chomping on a cocoa leaf (or tobacco, etc.) or developing shamanic practices around the "medicine."  Of course, I have to throw in the root cause caveat here as well and ask why is our gut / mood disrupted in the first place?

The effect of coffee consumption on glucose homeostasis and redox-inflammatory responses in high-fat diet-induced obese rats
Coffee effects on glucose homeostasis in obesity remain controversial. We investigated whether coffee mitigates the negative effects on glucose metabo…

Similarly to the chocolate above, we have a study here indicating that coffee consumption (in rats) does solicit an insulin response and promote glycogen synthesis (as a result of insulin response).  Now, this is neat, not so that we can say coffee is good or bad, but that it turns a certain lever.  Virtually every "pre-workout" supplement on the market has some combination of B-vitamins, amino acids, caffeine, and a vaso-dialator.  What we see here is that coffee may actually kickstart the post-workout insulin spike for recovery (though there is some evidence that insulin is mostly anti-catabolic rather than explicitly anabolic).  That is, there's a stress hormone release followed by insulin production, followed then by glycogen production – presumably to continue having energy for the stress(ful activity).  So, while caffeine is a stimulant often used as a pre-workout, it's biochemical function may be (at least in part) more of a pre-recovery (regarding blood sugar, insulin, and shuttling nutrients around).

Adults who microdose psychedelics report health related motivations and lower levels of anxiety and depression compared to non-microdosers - Scientific Reports
Scientific Reports - <ArticleTitle Language="En" OutputMedium="All" xml:lang="en">Adults who microdose psychedelics report health...

Alas, the war on drugs, an artifact of the Nixon administration circa 1971.  There's plenty to say on how and why this policy was formed and failedas did programs such as D.A.R.E.  But, I digress...  Studies like this give me at least a little hope the the FDA hasn't completely monopolized the drug market (never mind their monetization of opiates and prohibition of ephedra – both things I've talked about before).  Motivations for microdosing were generally consistent between users with and without "mental health concerns" with the following exceptions:  decrease anxiety (78% vs 47%), decreasing substance use (41% vs 18%), improve mood (87% vs 70%).  Now, what would be really useful here is to get some clinical trials (there are some under way!) comparing reasons for use and clinical outcomes – i.e. is this intervention working, and is it working how people are expecting / wanting it to.

Neuroprotection by the Ketogenic Diet: Evidence and Controversies
The ketogenic diet (KD) is a high-fat low-carbohydrate diet that has been used for decades as a non-pharmacologic approach to treat metabolic disorders and refractory pediatric epilepsy. In recent years, enthusiasm for the KD has increased in the scientific community due to evidence that the diet re…

Occasionally I'll provide an example of bad science.  This is more errant than bad, but all the same, it illustrates the stark limitations of our mainstream medical / nutritional paradigm.  I've posted many, many studies about the neuro / psychological benefits of both ketogenic and animal-based diets in the past.  Here we have an example of someone trying to do good work, but in spite of themselves can't see outside the mainstream narrative, issuing statements like; "Adopting the (ketogenic diet) would appear to contradict current dietary guidelines that recommend reduced intake of total fat..." and "However, long-term strict adherence to the diet is associated with adverse effects, and gastrointestinal issues (such as diarrhea, abdominal distention, reflux), cardiac problems (arrhythmia) and poor growth have been noted in pediatric epilepsy patients on the (ketogenic diet), although a confounding variable is that these patients often have underlying metabolic and other health issues."

Maybe they missed the memo, but the folks at Johns Hopkins (maybe you've heard of them) have been specifically treating pediatric epilepsy with ketogenic diets for 100 years.  Further, many of these studies don't specify how ketosis is induced.  We can get there by fasting (not sustainable indefinitely, duh! – though see my previous newsletter on fasting mimicking diets), we can get there with low-carb and high-fat, even while guzzling PUFAs.  The later will yield much different results than an animal-based animal-fat induced state of ketosis.  You can screw up any good thing.  Leave it to PUFAs and plant-based narratives to do it for ketosis.  Point in case right here.

Resources to Thrive:

  • Ryan Parker (@ryanparkeur):  I want to give a shout out to my friend Ryan who I've had many complex discussions with ranging from nutrition and fitness to cosmology and game theory.  Check out his work at:
  • Suicide Prevention:  Recently someone sent me a review from The Canadian Center for Suicide Prevention.  We do have some American organizations as well, but what was nice here is that there's a weekly review for clinicians like myself, and a monthly literature summary that you can subscribe to as well – either for personal or professional interests.
  • Book:  Do we really need a study to tell us that mobile phone addiction impacts academic procrastination?  Since the beginning of the pandemic I have cautioned folks, if not out right harped about, the downstream psycho-social effects.  In short, there have been many books written about our current state of being civilized to death and self-imposed comfort crisis.  Admittedly, I haven't read the later book, but it's definitely in my queue!  Civilized to Death was every bit informative as it was entertaining.

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