David Krantz on the Holism of Genetics and Psychedelics


In this episode..

David Krantz and I talk about his work in epigenetic coaching and how knowing more about one’s own genome can help to optimize the human experience. In true Psychedologist fashion, this episode goes all over the place: from the richness of breaking ourselves down into genes and biochemistry and psychology to piecing it back together and looking holistically at ourselves; to kink, poly, BDSM and sexuality; to permaculture, and how psychedelics, sexuality and permaculture have some exciting parallels; to different psychiatric diagnoses and the interplay of those with genetics and epigenetics (and how treatment can vary); to psychedelics and the idea that knowing more about the human genome can reduce harm and optimize use; and finally, that genetics are less causal and more indicative of correlation and association.

David Krantz is a certified Epigenetic Coach and sought-after expert in the field of individualized genetic-based nutrition and peak performance. As a lifelong musician, David sees the various systems of the body as parts of a complex symphony. And, as a coach, he excels at helping clients fine-tune those parts to create resonant harmonious health and harness their creative and personal power.

An expert in the pharmacogenetics of the endocannabinoid system, David is best known for developing a proprietary genetic test that helps people understand their unique and individual response to cannabinoids. He was nominated in 2019 as a Top 100 Health innovator by the International Forum For Healthcare Advancement. A biohacker by training and artist by nature, David enjoys working with others who have a deep passion for getting the most out of life. To learn more and book a free 30-minute consultation, visit david-krantz.com

Dan Siegel Brain Integration
Telomeres and psilocybin study
Psychedelic Decriminalization and Social Justice


I used Temi to transcribe this. It was my first time. Later I noticed that there’s a “remove filler words” button. I’ll try that next time. I’m also running the website on my own and I am woefully inexperienced.

If you have any comments or requests on how I can make this transcription better, please email me! I’d love to make the Psychedologist as accessible as possible


Leia: (00:01)

David Krantz is a certified epigenetic coach and sought after expert in the field of individualized genetic based nutrition and peak performance. As a lifelong musician, David sees the various systems of the body as parts of a complex symphony. And as a coach, he excels at helping clients fine tune those parts to create resonant, harmonious health and harness their creative and personal power. An expert in the pharmacogenetics of the endocannabinoid system, David is best known for developing a proprietary genetic test that helps people understand their unique and individual response to cannabinoids. He was nominated in 2019 as a Top 100 health innovator by the International Forum for Healthcare Advancement. A biohacker by training and artist by nature, David enjoys working with others who have a deep passion for getting the most out of life. To learn more and book a free 30 minute consultation, visit david-krantz.com and I’ll put that in the show notes.

Leia: (00:57)

So in this episode, David and I talk about his work in epigenetic coaching and how knowing more about one’s own genome can help to optimize the human experience. In true psychologist fashion, this episode goes all over the place: from the richness of breaking ourselves down into genes and biochemistry and psychology, to piecing it back together and looking holistically at ourselves; to kink poly BDSM and sexuality; to permaculture and how psychedelics, sexuality and permaculture have some interesting parallels; to different psychiatric diagnoses and the interplay of those with genetics and epigenetics and how treatment can vary; to psychedelics, and the idea that knowing more about the human genome can reduce harm and optimize use; and finally, that genetics are less causal and more indicative of correlation and association. Happy new year, Everyone. Hope you enjoy this episode. We’ll see you in 2020.

Leia: (01:54)

So I was listening to the Food Psych podcast, it’s about intuitive eating and health at every size type stuff. And she starts every episode by asking the guest, what was your relationship to food as a child? So I was like, Oh, the psychedologist is consciousness, positive radio. So I thought I might ask to start. What was your relationship to consciousness as a child?

David: (02:15)

Oh, that is such a good question. Um, you know, I was the kid that I would spin around in circles and get myself really dizzy just to experience altered states of consciousness. Like I have a really strong memory of like spinning around in my parents’ bedroom and just like kind of falling over and being really fascinated with that experience. And I think that’s something that I’ve heard iterated by other people kind of interested in altered states.

David: (02:43)

You know, I was, I, I, I felt at certain moments like I, uh, had a little bit more permeability in certain ways than other people. Like I remember like, um, feeling energy movement in my hands as a child. Like I was maybe like seven or eight years old and not understanding how to explain it to people and not experiencing that again until years later when I started kind of getting into, um, meditation and energy practices, tantra, that kind of stuff. But I remember like, you know, being like, why is my, why do my hands feel this way? I can feel like things moving in the end. I didn’t have any language for it. Um, and you know, I think I just have always kind of been attracted to altered States. Like I found mushrooms when I was 14 or so, and it felt just really natural.

David: (03:32)

It’s like, God, I’ve engaged with that and then, you know, it rocked my world view, but in a way that I was not surprised by at all, it was just like, Oh yeah, it was, uh, you know, much more of a remembering kind of thing I think. And I guess the other thing would be dreams. You know, I was always kind of interested in lucid dreaming and um, I was that I, and again, I liked, didn’t have anyone to talk to about it until I got to college and like found other people that were interested in that kind of thing. But I remember trying to talk to my friends in high school about doing lucid dreaming practices and um, looking at some stuff around quantum consciousness and just like understanding that like, Oh, there’s this layer of physics that we’re understanding that like, you know, being in, in biology high school biology at the time and like discovering like this quantum physics stuff and kind of intuitively knowing like, Oh, this has to be connected to consciousness in some way. Like, I don’t know mechanistically what, but, um, sort of having this discrepancy between the quote unquote real world and all of these personal experiences that I had had was, um, I don’t know, just weird and definitely shaped me and I, for whatever reason, I, I just loved that stuff that I’ve kind of always have, you know, just like whatever the, the, the unusual experience of consciousness outside normal awareness is, it’s just fascinating. So,

Leia: (05:03)

Hmm. Yeah. Um, for me it was very hard to be experiencing things I couldn’t put words to, that other people couldn’t understand and resonate with me and trouble finding people that I connected with. When I did that was such a, it was like being born into a new family in a way, or like into, I don’t know, new community that felt so different than what I’d ever experienced. Was it hard for you?

David: (05:26)

You know, I think, um, yeah, in certain ways. I, I think I had a lot of resentment towards people and you know, earlier I’m just thinking, I’m thinking really about like high school right now. Like I felt like resentment towards people who didn’t value that, you know, didn’t like, wouldn’t, didn’t, couldn’t break out of their kind of default mode network awareness or didn’t want to. And uh, I mean, I look back on, on that kind of, you know, resentment now and I’m like, Oh, well, you know, different people are gonna choose different things and fine, but at the time it really kind of got me in this like, just why is the world like this kind of way, you know? And I think a lot of people that are interested in psychedelics or altered States and other modes of thought kind of con encounter, you know, that which I think can be very useful in generating chain, uh, that, but when it’s a, for me it was never very well channeled.

David: (06:25)

Um, but yeah, I would say it was hard and in, in that I just, yeah, I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it really. Like I had some friends that I would trip with here and there. Um, but it was kind of, you know, there’s different levels of depth that you can kind of pull back from those experiences. And, um, I didn’t really have anyone, I mean, I didn’t really explore a lot of this stuff in the same way that I do now. And you know, it was very recreational and just like, I’m going to go get high and see what happens mentality, which is still fun here and there. But, um, yeah, you know, I, I didn’t have anyone to kinda connect with on that level.

Leia: (07:07)

well, in your psychedelics today episode, you mentioned the first time that you smelled weed, your brain lit up. You were like, Oh, what is that? I want to know more about that. Well, how did you get to where you’re at now? So you’re in high school trying different things. Had a few people to talk to you about it, but not a lot of training or context for what it was. And then, and now you’re doing really incredible work, helping people to understand different things about their bodies. So how did you get here?

David: (07:34)

Uh, well I, I got give a shout out to Erowid, right. You know, in high school for just like guiding some of the exploration and, and giving me some grounded understanding of like what I should be doing and what I probably shouldn’t be doing. And, um, so I don’t know. I think even though I didn’t have personal connections to people necessarily encountering this stuff on the internet was super important. So shout out to everyone putting out information to help people like that

Leia: (07:59)

I have Erowid’s sticker on my laptop!

David: (08:00)

Yeah! so, Uh, how did I get to where I am now? I mean, it’s, um, it’s been back and forth of phases of being really interested in psychedelics and psychotropics and then kind of backing away from them and learning by wax and wane cycles with them. And I think being, learning how to, um, engage and disengage at appropriate at appropriate times and kind of learning for me when, you know, it’s important to say, Hey, I actually need to take some time.

David: (08:35)

Sometimes up to a couple of years it’s been to integrate stuff. Um, and you know, I think it’s probably been in the last three or four years where I’ve kind of had, um, more of kind of a reawakening to these things and in the most recent, more therapeutic kind of way, uh, where I’ve been engaging with them, just like having had some, um, you know, just more, more therapy experiences, more personal work type stuff. Um, and that’s, this happened in a period where I actually wasn’t using psychedelics at all. I kinda got into that space and started really addressing some of my core underlying emotional stuff that I just had previously actually, you know, used cannabis as a way to avoid, um, and gotten really real with myself about that. Taking a break from that for a couple of years and then realize like, Oh, I can actually use these substances now in a, in a way to kind of further that work and go deeper and some places where I’ve created this framework and you know, and this kind of template for self exploration and discovery without them and then adding them in in a way that, um, allows them to accentuate or, um, amplify certain processes has been really unique.

Leia: (09:49)

Hmm. Can I say something in response to that? Have you continued the answer? Yeah, I’ve been, I was just writing an article for double-blind on what the, what people who use psychedelics can learn from permaculture, the permaculture principles, how to work with the land or how to work with other people in a way that’s not just sustainable but regenerative. And that takes into account what already tends to happen and builds off of that. Instead of trying to, um, channel all of the energy into like a yield that we want, like growing a lot of watermelons or something. It’s like what, what already grows here and is abundant and useful. in it, I made sure to mention several times, like this could mean that psychedelics aren’t for you or that right now they’re not for you. Cause I think like the hype is so, you know, it’s just so real and uh, and it’s important to have a culture that destigmatizes and affirms the usefulness and the just the place of these things in human history, in society. And at the same time, um, that, you know, abstinence from anything can be extremely telling, can be a huge consciousness boost. Um, so I, I, I, that’s like my new year’s resolution of mine, I think is as I do my work in the psychedelic movement to be very encouraging about that It’s great to take a break from psychedelics or two to decide that they aren’t for you. And I have some very trippy friends who don’t trip.

David: (11:08)

Absolutely. I think that’s such a great corollary. And you know, when you look at some of the, I don’t know, foundational permaculture practices, yeah. Leaving a field fallow for, you know, or you know, just crop rotation and moving things around so you’re not necessarily continuing to deplete the same nutrients out of the same plot for an extended amount of time. And like really, you know, moving, these different, um, things that will engage in and benefit from what’s already in the soil, but like really giving things space. That’s perfect analogy there.

Leia: (11:46)

Feel like I should go back in and add in that analogy that you just made. Can I, can I borrow that?

David: (11:52)

Yeah, please. Please.

David: (11:54)

Uh, but yeah, I mean, I, I think what you’re hitting on there in terms of that, um, that relationship of looking at how would things progress on their own and then how can we come in and just, you know, kind of bolster that or, you know, allow things to continue their natural process. But, you know, add one thing here, move this here and just kind of shape it in, in a way that’s congruent with kind of the underlying principles there. And it makes, it makes a lot of sense. And I think that like it when I’m just going to, I’m going to extend the metaphor here. Um, like in terms of, you know, starting a permaculture plot, like you can start with a forest garden, like something that has like a deep, rich, you know, soil that’s been, uh, you know, being built for, for, you know, a long time that hasn’t, ha hasn’t been disturbed and there’s an inherent order there and you can kind of go in and, and just piggyback off that in a way, but you can also do it with like barren, destroyed land that’s been, you know, mistreated and, uh, has been depleted. And then there’s practices that are specific to rebuild the soil there. And you might approach it kinda two different ways. And I feel like there’s something there around how you might intervene or, or you know, add psychedelics into the mix where depending on where you’re starting from, um, you might wanna approach things kind of differently. And I think that, and I don’t know exactly how to define what that would be necessarily, but I think that there’s, um, like, yeah, if you have a framework, you know, you’ve been doing EMDR, you’ve been doing any of the kind of, uh, body-based somatic therapies like you, you’ve kind of already know how to, to some degree work through difficult emotions and things in the body that come up and like, that’s super invaluable for psychedelics. So you already have this like rich ecosystem to kind of, um, engage with these things with, whereas if you don’t have any of those skills, maybe there’s a different way to approach them that might, um, sort of replenish things first and may, and I don’t know if you get more benefit out of using psychedelics therapeutically with or without that. Um, but it’s been my personal experience that, um, I certainly didn’t get the benefit out of the, uh, out of them psychologically until I sort of built some of those underlying frameworks and like, um, was able to really integrate the insights more because of that. Um, you know,

Leia: (14:29)

I love that.

David: (14:34)

So I think you’re, you were asking before how I, how I got here and I’ll, I’ll just kind of say in terms of like the, the genetic related information and stuff that I’ve been talking about. Um, I’ve gotten really into nutrition and, um, nutritional genetics. Um, Nutrogenomix Nutrigenetics are kind of the names for those fields. A couple of years ago and I started doing coaching work with people and working on, you know, lifestyle changes and nutrition and genetics and all that. And then I realized that there was all this research on the endocannabinoid system and research on metabolism and the way that people respond to cannabis on a subjective level. Like things that can influence the feeling of being anxious or paranoid versus enjoying the experience. Like there, there’s some research on that and I didn’t really see anyone talking about it. Um, and so I kind of decided to just dive into it as much as I can and try and recontextualize some of the intention of that research because most of it was done from a problematic drug use perspective.

David: (15:42)

Um, and not really from a how can we actually benefit from this information as people that use these substances, right. Like, it was kind of relegated to this, um, very just hard research realm. And I think that there’s a lot of ways to look at that and say, how can we actually benefit from this from a harm reduction perspective, from a optimizing your use of cannabis perspective or again, maybe helping you decide that actually cannabis isn’t really the right substance for you. And maybe there’s some, uh, kinda reason I might not want to swim upstream against it. Um, so that’s been kind of my, um, mission with that stuff since I realized that there was all this stuff out there and kind of unknown.

Leia: (16:30)

Hmm. Um, it just got garbly for a second. Did you say underlying biological reason for what is happening when they use this substance?

David: (16:38)

yeah, yeah, yeah. I’d say and saying like, there might be some underlying biological reasons that you might not wanna like swim upstream against. If you’re getting some friction or you know, negative type experiences. Like maybe cannabis just isn’t really the right substance for you.

Leia: (16:51)

Yeah. Right. Which is such critical, um, such a, a critical possibility to hold because if, you know, I, I think that, um, in spirituality or in, I don’t know, some, some consciousness people (that’s a very mature word), um, would say like, Oh, you have to, there’s teachings. It’s giving you a teaching and so you have to listen to it. Um, or right. Like, um, ask it like, what can I learn from this? Right. When like really maybe what you can learn is, like you’re saying, it’s just, it doesn’t agree with your, your parts.

David: (17:32)

Yeah, totally. And like, we’re going back before, it’s interesting, this theme kind of is coming up here, um, in terms of recognizing when you might want to take a break from psychedelics and the hype around cannabis. And the hype around psychedelics being really strong and people are naturally interested it. And I’m glad, I’m really, really glad people are. But I think there’s a need for a sort of temperance from voices that have been kind of exploring this stuff for a while to say like, yeah, you know, it is important to know the limits and just because this works really well for some people doesn’t mean it’s gonna work really well every time for everyone in every context. And you know, I think that what you’re saying you’re getting at though is like discerning between a difficult experience that has the um, you know, kind of something you can get, you can juice out of it and have a delicious glass of, um, self-awareness to drink afterwards versus just something that leaves you, it leaves you in a loop and doesn’t really have much of a, of, of a substance to it, except that you don’t know how to relate to reality all of a sudden, you know, and I think that there’s the capacity and possibility for both.

David: (18:50)

And just because one presents itself sometimes and the other one shows up sometimes doesn’t mean that, um, you know, either is a, is a impossibility and I feel like there’s a strong tendency to side towards one or the other, right? Like the most of the academic kind of stuff looks at this stuff as psychosis and doesn’t ever attend to the spiritual emergence and awakening side and the potential there. But then I think you also get people that lean too heavily towards the, everything is a spiritual awakening. Everything, is spiritual emergence, if there’s difficult psychotic like symptoms that come up from some of this stuff. Like you know, that the all it, you know, the psyche wanting to break through something and maybe that is true, but I also think there’s a need to like kind of take both perspectives and weave them together in a, in a healthier way.

Leia: (19:48)

Yeah. did I interrupt you again as you were telling us to how you got here? Oh, no, I don’t think so. You finished? Yeah. Okay, cool. Hmm. Yeah. I, I really, I felt a lot of trust in you after we started talking. And to the extent that I let you look at my genome and tell me things that I need, um, because you do have, I feel like you have this tempered, you know, uh, knowledge of the biology and the genetics and, and yet, like it seems that you have a lot of respect also for psychological factors and environmental and then also spiritual. It’s nice that you have all that together. And I imagine some of your other genetic contemporaries might not have that piece as well, cause it’s hard to fit them all together.

David: (20:36)

You kind of get a, it’s interesting sometimes like I’ll find kindred spirits who also can speak those languages and it’s so much fun to, to really engage with that, um, balance, you know? But yeah, I think a lot of people are, um, will have one sided notice at the expense of other sidedness around being oriented more towards the psychological and the spiritual versus the materialistic and the hard, hard quote unquote science kind of stuff. Um, and I think like at my core, uh, I’m a little more oriented towards the psychological and the spiritual, but I’m kind of obsessed with the, uh, the, the biological and genetic stuff because it’s such a rich context for understanding the, um, the nonlinear and, you know, the, the mystery part of it. It’s like a paradox in that I feel like you can get more reductionistic, but at the same time utilize that to expand the viewpoint out further. You know, speaking from like an integration perspective, um, and Dan Siegel speaks to this really, really well. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him, but he’s, he’s amazing. You are, you love his work. He’s, um, um, he’s a neuroscientist and in the 90s, spent, um, number of years getting together all of these different spiritual leaders, psychologists, neuroscientists, basically they, everyone’s studying the brain and tried to develop a definition of consciousness, like from an academic perspective, but really honoring all of the wisdom traditions and all that. And, um, and one of the things that came out of that is that he founded like every single model of human growth. The idea that into like integration was the, the common factor in this idea that into what it really is is like you’re separating these pieces that initially were part of this kind of whole thing. You’re separating them out, looking at them separately and then asking them to interact together again as a whole but as more discrete individual parts. And,

Leia: (22:54)

and when you say you’re looking at it, you mean like in looking at the neuroimaging and the chemistry and stuff?

David: (23:00)

Yeah, like the way the brain functions, the way the, you know, the psyche kind of functions like all of these different models of like, um, self-awareness and increase of consciousness. It’s like being able to become aware of a part that you previously weren’t aware of and then understanding how that part relates to the whole, and I kind of see that in a similar way with understanding genetics are these tiny little variations that influence, um, you know, metabolism or things like that. It’s like, yeah, you can get really hyper focused on this one tiny thing. And um, you could, you know, focus on that at the expense of the whole, but once you kind of understand what that thing is doing, when you, when you zoom back out at the whole, it adds a layer of richness and a layer of deeper understanding. And so I like, that’s one of the reasons why I’m so interested in engaging with the biological and the, um, you know, the, the genetics, not because it’s for the sake of that on its own, but it’s because it creates a more holistic understanding when you combine it with an under understanding of metaphysics or the self or the soul or whatever it is.

Leia: (24:04)

Yeah. Well, and then just to expand out one more degree, um, I know that you’re also like, um, you have mindfulness about, I dunno if you had named them like social justice topics or, and like, um, sex positive and LGBTQ and poly scene. Can you speak about that a little bit?

David: (24:26)

Yeah, sure. I mean that comes in much more from my own personal experiences and just being interested in, um, yeah, alternative sexuality and, and having a lot of positive experiences, um, with therapists and other providers that actually affirm that kind of stuff for me. And like realizing the, the social stigma around non monogamy and around kink and things like that. And, um, how similar it can be in some ways to interest in psychedelics or other things that, you know, you’re like when you find people that are into the same thing, it’s like, yeah, like you’re, you know, you get a, uh, but it can be kind of hard to navigate around. Um, this general society that, uh, looks at people that want to, uh, or just doesn’t necessarily always understand why people are drawn towards different practices, whether it’s, um, altering your state of mind or being interested in BDSM or whatever it is.

David: (25:29)

Like those things are indicative in some ways of just, um, neuro-biological orientations to reality, you know, like, um, person. Yeah. That manifests in all kinds of ways. But, um, I actually read a really, I think you might appreciate this. I read a really interesting rationale for psychedelic decriminalization based on, um, just like the concept of neurodiversity in that people that are drawn to psychedelics, how tend to have an inherently different kinda, um, neurological structure around being more open, having, you know, certain personality traits that actually define them in similar ways to, uh, group groups that, um, can be more the way that they’re psychologically oriented or you know, biologically oriented to the world. And so I, I see that as having a relationship to kink and to other, um, you know, kind of alternative practices I guess. Um, where, you know, some people just are drawn to that and I think there’s a real need to give people space and affirm and create community around it first. I mean, that’s like kind of at the core of all of it. Um, yeah. Does that kind of answer your question there?

Leia: (26:51)

Yeah, yeah it does. And I’ll link to the Dan Siegel sort of concept and that, that article you just mentioned too, I’ll put those in the show notes for everyone. Um, yeah, no, I mean I think that there’s so much overlap. And actually my first, the first time I applied the permaculture principles to psychedelics was this talk I gave at envision a few years ago that was called permaculture sex and psychedelics OMI. And I was like, Oh, let’s look at how the permaculture principles can inform our use of psychedelics and the psychedelic movement and sexualities. I was like, I was a little too ambitious and like going for so much, but it was, it was cool to, um, how I was reading bell hooks all about love at that time. It’s just like a critical, um, um, black feminist look at love and relationships and sex in this society.

Leia: (27:40)

But anyway, um, just like for instance, um, the first permaculture principle, observe and interact, it’s like you’re not running your farm from a distance. You’re very engaged in it. You have your hands in the dirt, you know the land. And it’s, I think the same with psychedelic journeying and with the body, like engaging in intimacy with someone else. It’s going to be different. It’s going to be hard if there are parts of your body that you’re not intimate with yourself or that you don’t know. Um, and, and for myself, like with, um, an intimate partner of any sort, I want them to, to feel like some embodiment so that we can be like on safer ground and we can go to, you know, trickier places with more. Um, I dunno, with, uh, more protections in place against like potential harm and then more capacity to explore, of course, like more room for growth and stuff.

Leia: (28:34)

And, and in, in psychedelics too, like, you know, starting at the right dose and being very, a very active, um, participant in your experience rather than, um, letting you know who you’re with or the experience that you’re at, guide what’s going on. Like, not that you want your ego to guide it or anything. It’s good to, to be, to cultivate the observer. Right. And it is observe and interact. Um, but yeah, I think, uh, in the psychedelic movement, I know I’m bringing up a lot of different things, but this guru kind of concept or like, you know, the, the sh the shaman or the medicine person is like doing all of these things for you. Absolutely. That’s a dynamic. And then there’s also what, what you’re doing and what’s happening.

David: (29:16)

Yeah, absolutely. And you can really tie that into like the tantra guru kind of thing that happens, which I mean, in most cases, I mean there’s so many cases of abuse and a cult like structures and stuff like that that can emerge out of that stuff. And I think that in terms of the psychedelic space, like actually looking to tantra as a model to be aware of how to navigate some of those things and prevent them from happening hopefully. Um,

Leia: (29:45)

did you say navigate what’s happening? I just lost you again.

David: (29:47)

Yeah, yeah. Just, um, navigate, um, the, the power dynamics that I think might emerge in, in psychedelic spaces where it can be very easy to ascribe power to someone and give them, you know, control, um, you know, because they say they have certain powers and are more advanced and that kind of thing. And I think that’s a trap that, you know, can, you can fall into, and so many little subcultures and things, but it’s, it’s interesting to make that connection. Um, I also really like what you were saying about that sense of, of control versus letting go and how that really shows up both in sex and psychedelics. And that there is like, you can intentionally, you know, kind of, uh, manipulate your experience to be oriented towards one of, over the, you know, towards the other. Uh, and I mean, I think that really shows up in BDSM dynamics where you’re specifically taking a role and saying like, I am here to completely, you know, submit and just, you know, you are in control and vice versa.

David: (30:52)

You know, someone who’s can be, uh, you know, before that power and, and, and have a safe container for exploration of that, um, can actually kind of, I can kind of make a metaphor around just like ways to approach the psychedelic experience sometimes. Right? Like, like sometimes I’ll go into it and say like, I have no agenda. Like I’m here just to passively experience the way that this is showing up. Um, and kind of be led and guided by it. Um, or they’re, you know, you can take it from the other perspective of saying like, I, I have this really specific goal. I want to think about this thing. I want to explore this place. I want to get to this thing and exercise your will, you know, within that. And it’s such an interesting, like I’m just saying this off the top of my head right now, like, but it’s something I’m going to kind of continue to think about cause I, I wonder how far we could, we could go in terms of like actually taking some of the wisdom that comes from the BDSM space in terms of how to relate. And how to negotiate consent and, and, and that and actually apply it into, I mean it’s almost, it’s not really even with like another person, it’s more just like internal dynamics in relationship to the psychedelic compound in your psyche in a way. Um, at school.

Leia: (32:10)

So rich. Yeah, I totally agree. I think the next big topic and consent in, I’m sorry, spoiler in psychedelics that I’d like to see is consent and it’s not just consent for like interpersonal dynamics but also with the self and from my own personal experience, just like, um, exercising consent and practicing consent, being aware of it with other people. Um, it’s evoked this or um, I dunno, divulged this whole internal conflict that I have with consent with myself. Um, like I experienced eating disorders most of my life and it was with psychedelics and then partnering with an amazing, um, person who just was like so affirming of my body and has like not one fat phobic Adam in his body. Um, and just, yeah. Who like, I don’t know, just really helped me to, um, I don’t feel safe to drop into some, some embodied sensations for myself, um, between that and, and moving, et cetera.

Leia: (33:15)

I’m out of that phase of having eating disorders now. But, um, yeah. Like I would feel like I would file my own consent and it was so messed up cause I’d be like, okay, I’m not gonna eat, I’m not gonna eat. And then like I would eat and it would feel like this big betrayal of myself. And, um, and also like it was a betrayal of like my commitment to losing weight, but then like I was hungry and to just like hard to, to feel what a yes was in me, which is a big part of consent. Like if it’s not a fuck yes, it’s not a yes. And then like, maybe it’s not a yes. Um, but sometimes like if it’s a, maybe that means that some variables could be negotiated at for it to be a fuck. Yes. Um, and, and like, so that, that on its own is, is complex.

Leia: (34:00)

But to throw another piece into it that maybe you’ll have some response to is, I know there’s also genetic components to it, and like the insatiable hunger that I felt I had and you know, maybe my, I would eat sugar so much sugar, ice cream and like candy cookies and stuff. And I think my gut was like, with all the serotonin receptors and my gut was craving sugar so hard and in a way that it overpowered my. own mind. So it’s like, there were two parts that were, so there was a consent thing. Yeah. I know that’s a lot, but.

—– I did the transcription in two pieces, so here is the second half. Unfortunately, the timer restarts. Add 34:30 on to know where it actually is in the episode———-

David: (00:00)

Yeah, that’s really interesting around just like, um, things that some people might consider just like a willpower thing, like, you know, are you going to eat the cookie? You are or you’re not gonna eat the cookie. And, uh, it’s so much more complex than that. And I like, I really like applying consent to that internally and having that sense of yes, no kind of push pull around. Like, do I really want to be doing this right now? Well, my body’s telling me one thing, my mind’s telling me another how to, you know, um, how can you align those things? And that’s really fascinating to think about it from a model of consent because it actually simplifies it in a way, I think in some ways. Like, can the different competing parts of the psyche that are wanting this and not wanting this, can they come together and agree that like, yeah, this would be awesome. That sounds maybe more simple than it actually is. It’s a cool thought. Yeah.

Leia: (01:01)

Hmm. How is it to do the genetic counseling, the genetic coaching with people? People are bringing in all of their own baggage from their life and you’re giving them advice. How has it been to learn to support them?

David: (01:17)

Yeah, I mean, I get a range of people in terms of everything from [someone with] rock solid willpower, like, “whatever I want to do, I’m going to do,” you know, just that kind of thing all the way to, you know, that very conflicted, sensitive [person]. Like, I can’t stop eating the cookies, you know, even if I have the information, that’s not so easy. So, you know, sometimes understanding from a genetic perspective, like you were mentioning some of the hormones and neurotransmitters and things that go into the feeling of being hungry or the feeling of being full. Um, sometimes understanding where in the system, biologically, some of those urges or sensations might be coming from that you might relate to on a thought level or an emotion level. Sometimes it can be helpful to disengage from those thoughts a little bit, to be able to say, ‘I’m having a thought right now that I really wanna get this bag of cookies, but I know that I actually have a tendency towards lower adiponectin. I wonder if maybe that’s what’s actually going on: that my body just isn’t giving myself the hunger or the satiety signal in a way. And there’s all kinds of parts of that pathway. there’s hormones like adapenectin: some people produce more or less, some people that produce less are prone to overeating and, and wanting to seek out more snack food and that kind of thing. Their body doesn’t produce that hormone in a sufficient amount to kind of dampen down the hunger response. There’s pathways in the brain that actually in the, in the hypothalamus that collect those hormone and neurotransmitter signals and combine them into what you perceive as being hungry or being full, kind of that like interface between, um, the biology. And the thoughts, to some degree. And there’s some, there, there’s two pathways in particular, I’m thinking of, one called FTO and it was called MC 4R. Um, that, uh, people with certain variants have, uh, kind of diminished what they call homeostatic surveillance or being able to really know where the body’s energy expenditure, um, kind of meter is at the right time. Like are you really in need of more calories or not? And some people are less sensitive to the signals and you see that in people that, you know, overeat kind of habitually, um, things that can drive emotional eating. I’m sure you know a lot more about eating disorders than, than I do. So I don’t wanna like, you know, say the wrong thing here. Cause I don’t really know a lot about eating disorders, but I would imagine that understanding some of that stuff and maybe understanding where some of those differences in desire for hunger, how that could influence an eating disorder. It might be helpful to say like, Hey, this actually isn’t my fault. I have some kind of underlying factors that might be influencing the way that I relate to, um, you know, what shows up as an eating disorder. In the same way that is distancing yourself from some thoughts to say like, yeah, you know, I’m, um, instead of saying I’m angry right now, I recognize that I’m having angry thoughts right now. And I know that it’s partially because my cortisol is spike right now. Like maybe if I can bring some of my cortisol back down, I can have a different way of thinking and then you can go into, you know, breathing practices. That kind of understanding the relationship between the mind and the body and kind of getting specific with it is one of the reasons why I love the genetics so mut gives those clients that have more difficult time with willpower or self control, a little bit more, a understanding of why that might be happening and then be some more specific guidelines for like how you can actually influence something like adapenectin or influence those pathways, that sense of those things. Or, uh, like I think we talked about the dopamine system a little bit and, and some ways to influence that and how that can show up and like addictive eating habits, that kind of stuff too. Yeah.

Leia: (05:41)

What is something very interesting to you right now in that whole world?

David: (05:47)

Let’s see, man, I just read, this is really fresh in my mind. I just read a really amazing paper on, um, telomeres, psilocybin. So Telomeres are one of the main components of aging. Like there’s a number of different vectors that contribute to aging and we now know that it’s not just one thing, it’s this crescents of all these different things, lowered mitochondrial function, decreased cellular integrity. Um, and then telomeres have to do with genetic aging where like over time there’s more and more errors in the DNA as a one gets older and the telomeres kind of are the protective part of the chromosomes that ideally prevent those copy errors from happening. I just read this paper on a proposed mechanism for how psilocybin can maintain telomere integrity, uh, over time because telomeres are what they refer to it in some places as a psycho bio-marker in that there’s, um, both known, you know, biological factors that influence telomere length. And there’s also psychological factors like most of the mental health measures, like depression, is known to decrease telomere length. Like anxiety, longterm anxiety is known to decrease it. Uh, but at the same time, not exercising is known to decrease it. Eating a bunch of junky processed foods is known to decrease it so it has these multiple inputs. Right. Um, and he was proposing that, um, because, uh, so psilocybins known to decrease measures of depression, he was kind of comparing like, here’s all the biomarkers that we know about involved with depression. It just so happens that they also influenced telomere length. So by proxy of saying if psilocybin influences all these biomarkers that decrease depression, decreased depression, is associated with increased telomere length and has the same connecting biomarkers, let’s do some studies on looking at psilocybin and telomere length. Um, which is an area that I’m really excited to see grow in terms of not just psychedelic use for treating specific conditions and pathology, but for enhanced wellness for generally healthy people that are kind of looking to optimize or take their own sense of wellbeing to a more stable place. Cause it’s, you know, it’s all on a spectrum. Like what we consider mental health pathology is just kind of like, you’re just over the line. Right. Uh, and I think there’s so much room for, for growth and self-awareness in people that don’t necessarily meet the criteria for major depressive disorder, but – everyone has their own stuff. So I’m really interested in psychedelics for purpose as well as from a kind of whole systems approach. Like how does that psychological wellness translate into physical wellness? And I love exploring the things that kind of act as an interface between those systems. Like, like where the mind and the body break down into the sort of unity thing where like, we don’t know why it’s doing that, but it definitely does that. You know, it definitely has this, this effect.

Leia: (09:24)

– and then how the mind and the body interface with the other bodies around us and how that impacts how we act as humanity and how we treat the planet!

David: (09:30)

Yes. Yes, exactly. Exactly. And, and what’s interesting is that, is that those same biomarkers stuff, you know, the epigenetics and telomeres and things like that are, that are responsive to our internal state of mind also seem to be just as responsive to social connection, social engagement and bonding and that type of stuff. Um, maybe even more primarily. So yeah, I was just like super blown away to read that article and like, I was like, yes, you’re, you’re just connecting all the dots right now. And that’s what’s been on my mind the last couple of days. Uh, just like someone taking the leap from psilocybin to mental health to, you know, general wellness to longevity and kind of looking at how all these things kind of fit together and yeah.

Leia: (10:18)

That’s fantastic. So if I take shrooms, I’ll live forever. That’s what you’re saying? Yeah.

David: (10:21)

Maybe. I hope so. Depending on, depending on what plane of consciousness you’re looking at, I suppose. Right,

Leia: (10:29)

right. Oh, and then that makes me feel like we should also say, “rest in peace. Ram Das!”

David: (10:35)

Yeah. Yeah. Rest in peace Ram Das. That just happened yesterday, right?

Leia: (10:38)


David: (10:42)

when did you first encounter Be Here Now as a book?

Leia: (10:46)

Mmm, pretty late. Yeah. I think I was 24. Yeah, 23 or 24 when I started learning about psychedelics at all. I wouldn’t have known there any difference between acid and cocaine. Really. Um, I like, I didn’t even have the cultural references. Probably it was some at some point within that time. You know, I just heard him speak, I heard a recording of him speak just a month ago and I was like, wow, he has a wicked Boston accent. I didn’t even, I knew he was, you know, I knew he was Richard Alpert from the U S but for some reason just hearing Ram Das over and over, I was like, Oh, this is like an Indian guy. Just totally – when he was saying, um, you know, I, I’m not even gonna be able to remember what he said, but he had no “r”s, there were no “r”s to speak of and they were all “ahhs”

David: (11:41)

Oh, that’s funny. Yeah. You don’t usually associate the Boston accent with like, um, I don’t know, deep spiritual, uh, wisdom, but that’s what I love, I love it when expectations get broken like that. That’s the best.

Leia: (11:55)

It was the best. And what about you? When did you hear him?

David: (12:00)

I definitely found the Be Here Now book before I like ever knew him, you know, and I, I have a vague memory of a dorm room. I was like 18 and tripping and having, seeing that book and flipping through it and being like, Oh, okay, yeah, this is very helpful in this particular state right now.

Leia: (12:21)

yeah, I’m having a, a party in a few days and I want to put it out. It’s good to have those kinds of books out. Um, something I remembered I wanted to ask you about is about the different visions and physical experiences, et cetera, that people can have on ayahuasca and what you would say to those.

David: (12:42)

So we were talking about this a little bit before the show. In terms of different visions and bodily experiences, um, yeah, some people just experience way more one or the other or both or not, neither at all. And I think that shows up in a lot of different psychedelics. And, um, part of what I’ve been interested in is trying to understand if there are biological or genetic reasons for that. And what I’ve come to now is like, there probably are, and then there’s also probably some significant psychological factors that might influence that. But what we’re also saying before the show was like, okay, so, um, like Stan Grof, who’s done thousands of LSD sessions before it became illegal in the 50s, said that, um, you know, there, there’s certain types of people that he sees just required hiring higher, higher doses to break through and have, um, get the necessary effects.

David: (13:43)

And he was saying that people with schizophrenia and people with obsessive compulsive disorder really needed the higher doses to break through. And he attributes it to, uh, psychological defenses, um, that are built up, uh, that are common in, you know, those, those mental States. Um, and my question is, what about the correlated biology, correlated neurochemistry associated with obsessive compulsive or, or things like that. We know there’s certain genetic patterns that can influence likelihood for obsessive compulsive and that kind of thing. And, um, whether or not those also influence the way that psychedelics are actually interacted with by the brain and the nervous system – as kind of a chicken and egg thing – like, yes, there’s clearly personality, but there’s also clearly, uh, biological factors that influence personality or mental pathology, that kind of stuff. And from the perspective of like, ayahuasca, there’s we know that certain people produce or lower amounts of monoamine oxidase or MAO, and that’s one of the main things that will break down DMT. For certain people; I actually had a client, um, who did two ayahuasca sessions or two ceremonies and didn’t experience anything. She took the same amount as everyone else and just like really didn’t have an experience. And her immediate interpretation was that the plant spirit didn’t want to work with her. Uh, which maybe is true, but also I took a look at her genetics and sure enough she was one of the people that was prone to producing higher amounts of MAO. So in terms of her neurochemistry responding in a different way, she either probably needed a higher dose of the DMT containing part or a higher dose of the MAO inhibiting part of ayauasca to experience something that someone else who had kind of average or lower levels of MAO might experience. She ended up doing a couple of peyote sessions and really had some, some amazing breakthroughs with peyote. That’s one thing I’m fascinated with is what’s more effective for certain people? Are there certain genetic variants we can look at? And I’ll say like right now, there’s not a lot that’s really known, but when you look at other classes of substances like food and, and medications and that kind of thing, like traditional psychiatric meds and the ability now to get more precise about like, knowing there’s certain genetic variants that are associated with better response to this psychiatric medication or better response to this type of fat or creates higher different nutritional needs and that type of thing.. it’s kind of just a logical step and kind of obvious place to go to a psychedelics to say like, yeah, we know that there’s going to be some personal differences and variation. The genetics and biology is a component. It’s not the whole component. Right. But it’s definitely going to be worth, I think, continuing to explore that. My vision for it is really in a harm reduction setting, you know, sense of like, can we, um, kind of skip some of the things for people that might not be as effective or actually create harm in some cases. Who knows? Um, and that, that’s one of the things that’s popped up with the cannabis research I’ve been looking at is there are certain variants associated with higher likelihood for first onset psychosis with cannabis use. And there’s a distinct pattern that certain people that have psychotic episodes with cannabis seem to have in certain genes. And so can, you know, can we just screen for that ahead of time and give people the opportunity to say like, yeah, maybe I shouldn’t really use cannabis. Maybe there’s some other things that might be, you know, more beneficial. And so I kind of see that in a similar lens with psychedelics. Like, maybe it’s not psychosis related, but, um, maybe it’s, you know, a whole other bunch of things you could look at around dosage or what particular substance like peyote vs ayhuasca or mdma vs psilocybin could be beneficial for specific things. Um, and so that’s kind of just what I’ve been also thinking about a lot lately. And, really have high hopes for the future around some of this research because I think it’s, it’s an area that, um, it’s just kind of a no brainer. Like if we’re going to spend the time and effort and energy to, you know, uh, get these substances back into the public domain where they belong. Like we should also be looking at kind of this next layer of depth of like, and just taking a cue from, from other areas, you know, of Nutrigenomix nutrition, genetics and, um, you know, saying how can we maximize efficacy and decrease harm overall. It’s kind of what, I know that, that, that really shifted from your initial question, about ayahuasca..

Leia: (19:15)

no, I, I love where it arrived and I think it gives a new meaning to the phrase, just say know. Like K, N, O, W what Leary said: there’s a lot to know. which we should, we should have access to all the things that we can know. And then something too about like people who are, might be more at risk of developing HPPD. Was it you who told me about that? Or Brett greene? I can’t remember.

David: (19:39)

Uh, yeah, it’s actually both. Both of us are kinda throwing around some ideas with that. Um, but yeah, there, there’s, you know, HPPD or hallucinogen persistent perception disorder is kind of a rare complication. Um, it’s, you know, people sometimes use to refer to it as like flashbacks. Um, but it’s that persistent perceptual, like visual distortions that can happen for some people after they trip. Sometimes that happens and theres not really at an understanding right now of like why that shows up for some people and not for others. So, you know, that’s an interesting area of inquiry that hopefully there’ll be some answers for soon. And that’s exactly the type of stuff that I think genetics is really useful for is just screening for that type of stuff ahead of time and being able to say, Hey, here’s, um, here’s some things that you might want to know before you engage with this. Or Hey, here’s some things that, um, you know, might actually be really, really beneficial based on comparisons between, you know, your genetics here and other people that have had really good success with this substance. Genetics – most of the things we know about it, they’re, they’re not really causative. It’s more just correlations and associations, but yet you can still get a lot of value out of, um, knowing that when A shows up, B also shows up. We don’t necessarily know why these two things show up together, but we can at least say, Hey, they do show up together so you can make informed decisions based on that. Um, does that make sense?

Leia: (21:17)

Yeah. No, I love that so much. Yeah, it’s just, it’s another great way that we can move away from this linear A plus B equals C, like even that pharmacology psychopharmacology has now depressed, add SSRI and then not depressed. And they’re like, it doesn’t look at social factors or, right. Genetic everything. So yeah, I’m all for it.

David: (21:40)

yeah. Yeah. And it’s like, even within the, the, you know, the more materialistic biological world around that, like everyone kind of knows that they’re not, they’re not, that’s not the whole picture. Like depression plus SSRI does not equal good efficacy, really. And you know, there, there’s just so much more, whether you’re talking about social factors or you’re talking about biological factors that can, you know, really radically change someone’s response to an SSRI. And there being so many different depression types, you know, like there’s so many different, both from a psychological perspective and like, and like biomarker perspective. And so how can we look more deeply at what are the corresponding factors that you know, you want to work with, whether it’s someone’s social support system or someone’s, um, you know, specific, like specific brain chemical. That’s deplete like that. I’m thinking of something called BDNF that showed that tends to be depleted in, in depression, but is also associated with all these other things.

David: (22:47)

And there’s, so, there’s a lot of different ways to, um, modify it. And it’s one of the reasons why they think ketamine works well for depression.

Leia: (22:55)


David: (22:55)

Well, they know that BDNF is depressed in depressed patients. They have lower levels of it and the ketamine raises it. And there’s a number of other things that like, seem to show that when people, uh, uh, resolve depression, the levels go back up. Uh, and so it seems to provide some type of temporary, you know, boost in that direction. And actually there’s a, uh, genetic, uh, one of the, the more, the stronger genetic variations they’ve found as far as ketamine efficacy has to do with the BDNF gene. Um, in that they found that, uh, people who had a certain variant that predisposes people to lower levels of BDNF, uh, just as a baseline, actually have higher efficacy with ketamine therapy, like starting from a lower place. Um, they actually have higher levels of success treating major depressive disorder. Um, and this study that I saw there was a small study was maybe like 25 people, 30 people, something like that. But it was a pretty strong, um, correlation even for that small of a sample size to be able to say like, yeah, this actually does predict, um, some ketamine efficacy just based on normalizing those levels for people. So it’s like, yeah, that’s just one tiny little thing. It’s like, I, you know, you know that there’s more out there. And so, I don’t know, I’m just, I’m, I’m just a nerd for like the precision individualized approach to wellness. And I think it’s kind of everyone’s, uh, I don’t know, birth rite to have access to that stuff. Um, and you know, right now it’s kind of relegated to the realm of, um, just, you know, being able to afford it, being able to, uh, access it. But I really do hope that we’re continuing to move as a society towards just more availability and accessibility of that type of stuff. And like, I think we were talking about it last time we spoke, just like the idea that when someone’s born, like it would be great just to have like a set of genetic predispositions around like what food you should be eating for wellness and longevity and just like how to fuel your individual system in a way that’s gonna be, um, you know, more specific to you. Just in terms of the ethics around wanting everyone to just be able to function at their highest level. It’s like these are really basic things. Like, we all, you know, we’re all gonna eat, we’re all, you know, not all of us are going to take psychedelics, but those of us that do should have, have access to some information if we can get it around fueling your own, uh, or just using the right thing at the right time. And, It’s also, you know, a good augmentation to intuition. Like, you know, most of what we do as far as what food we’re gonna eat is kind of based on intuition. Um, same with psychedelics. But if you have a little bit of knowledge that you can kind of bounce your intuition off and say like, yeah, you know, I always kinda knew I feel crappy when I eat too many nuts or too many, you know, whatever it is. And then you have some information that tells you a little bit like, okay, this might be a reason why. It actually strengthens your intuition and like gives you more of an ability to focus it in areas where, you’re not right and you need more of that sense of like paying attention, engaging things. And kind of feeling things out, whereas kind of once you know something kind of factually like you don’t have to check up on it as much, you’re just kind of like, yeah, yeah, I know this is good for my body. Um, I know that no, I don’t respond well to cannabis. I’m not going to keep trying with this. I’ll just try something else. Right? It’s like giving yourself just less, um, uh, creating less thought process energy that’s needed to kind of just fuel how youre living your life. Right? Like just, you know, does that make sense?

Leia: (27:07)

Totally. Yeah. And a new level of being able to love and take care of yourself because you know more about yourself and um, what, what can nourish you the best to make you feel the best.

David: (27:18)

I think that’s the crux of it. All right there.

Leia: (27:22)

So I’m wrapping up here. Something I ask every guest is, what is your consciousness hack? Do you have one? And I know on your website you have like 10 amazing suggestions or eight, I don’t know how many is it?

David: (27:35)

Oh, there, there’s 10 on there for, there’s a guide called, uh, top 10 tips for late night creatives. Um, I was actually thinking about this morning and um, singing songs to my cats is my consciousness hack. And it’s because like I was mentioning that partner, I was like, think of all the amazing, how like more amazing creative things I could like do if I wasn’t spending so much mental energy making up songs for my cat. That’s the highest expression of, of it. Like that’s the highest expression of creativity. Like why would you want to do anything different? And actually like, I think for me like I’m like my brain just makes connections between random shit so much all the time. Like I have to spit it out or it’s like, it just .. cats are just a great, you know, like uh, uh, a catalyst for that. I feel like my consciousness hack in terms of being able to just, um, I don’t know, operate in daily three dimensional life with a brain that just is, you know, wants to operate in this like non linear kind of way all the time is to give myself permission. I mean the cat’s really giving me permission, but giving myself permission just to be as silly and goofy as possible and make up names for them and say all the weird things. It’s, you know, I got to have that outlet.

Leia: (29:02)

Wow. That’s so cool. I was at my friend’s house the other day and she said that a song, she always things to her cat and now of course I can’t remember the second part, but the cat’s name is Juju and so she goes, it’s a very Juju kitty. Like she eats her Juju, all the ti-ime or something. She eats her kibbles all the t-i-me. Yeah.

David: (29:25)

Yeah. I think that’s the, that that’ll be my consciousness hacking. If you haven’t tried it before, go ahead and give it a shot. You’ll, your cats will appreciate it if nothing else,

Leia: (29:36)

try it today.

David: (29:37)

Yeah. Singing to your cats. Try it today.

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