The Healthy “Ginseng” Jiaogulan Tea


What is Jiaogulan tea?

Jiaogulan tea, is also known as Gynostemmapentaphyllum.

It can be bought from most good health food shops and has a taste similar to green tea. It is native to China where it is often referred to as “Southern Ginseng” due to the comparable medicinal properties.

It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, with beneficial effects reported to include the treatment of inflammation and atherosclerosis.

Jiaogulan Tea.

It is said that people from the Mountainous regions of Southern China would drink the tea before work to increase energy and stamina, and that many people from the Guizhou province who drank the tea lived to be over 100 years old.

This has given the tea a grand-mystique in towns and villages of China for centuries, with some locals even referring to it as “the tea of immortality”.
The tea’s legendary reputation for delaying the effects of aging was reinforced by a census of China taken during the 1970s.  Upon investigation, it was confirmed that people living in regions where Jiaogulan tea was a popular drink, had a much greater likelihood of living into their 100s.


Jiaogulan tea- Rich Anti Oxidant source

This impact upon longevity may be due to the fact that the tea is a proven adaptogen and antioxidant- it can enhance one’s ability to cope and respond to the physiological effects of stress. Recent studies have also suggested that the tea may have anti-cancer properties; due to it’s capacity to act as an antioxidant and to directly influence the death (apoptosis) of cancer cells.

The antioxidant effect was demonstrated by a study conducted by Wang &Luo in 2007 and Razmovski-Naumovski et al, 2005, who attributed the antioxidant value of the tea, to a substance called “gypenoside”, a type of saponin.

Saponins are phytochemicals which have beneficial effects on cholesterol, the immune system and prevention of cancer.  They have the distinctive ability to produce foam when soaked in water, and are found in several plants such as legumes and yucca. There are several studies to suggest that saponins can help to prevent cancer, particularly colon cancer.


Health Benefits of Jiaogulan tea

 

1. Adaptogen – the tea helps to neutralise the physical effects of stress and fatigue, and enhances stamina. It helps to keep the body ‘in balance’ i.e. if the body shows signs of stress and/or fatigue, adaptogens will help to bring it back to the natural state in terms of stress hormones etc.

2. Cholesterol Reduction – saponins contained in the leaves help reduce blood-cholesterol levels, by combining with secondary bile acid and cholesterol and preventing the body from absorbing them.

3. Immunity booster – the antioxidant properties of the tea, and the saponins within the leaves help to boost the immune system.

4. May help prevent cancer – gypenoside has been linked to the death of cancer cells, and may particularly help to prevent bowel cancer.

5. Anti aging – by virtue of its ability to scavenge free radicals and act as an antioxidant; the tea can potentially prevent some of the effects of aging.  It has also been suggested that the tea may increase longevity and susceptibility to certain conditions by reducing nitric-oxide production in the body.

 

Conclusion:

Whilst jiaogulan tea may not have gained the popularity of the likes of green tea; it certainly has many noteworthy health benefits that justify giving it a try.  What makes jiaogulan unique from other teas is the huge array of health benefits it offers. From cholesterol reduction, to treating diabetes, insomnia and bronchitis, consider picking some up next time you are in a health food store or Chinese herbalist’s.

 

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Cross Training for MMA – Infographic


Cross-training is integral to building overall muscle strength and helping bring your conditioning to the next level. It doesn’t matter how much time you spend in the ring, performing the same moves over and over again will only get you so far. Switching it up to include strength training and conditioning, in addition to your technical exercises, is key to continued improvement.

Developing a cross-training routine which includes both anaerobic and aerobic exercises helps increase endurance and prevent injury.


Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise is generally longer in duration than anaerobic exercise. A 3000m run and a marathon would be classed as aerobic exercises or events.

Aerobic Exercises Aerobic or “with oxygen”, training triggers an increase in heart rate and breathing, but are not so strenuous that they cannot be continued for a good length of time. This type of exercise is used to improve cardio. Examples of Aerobic Exercises:

● Yoga

● Brisk Walking

● Hiking

● Dancing

● Cross-Country Skiing

● Rowing

 


Anaerobic Exercise

Anaerobic exercises include a 100m sprint and a shot put. They are short, explosive exercises or events and require ‘fast twitch’ muscles which generate power quickly, but also fatigue relatively quickly.

Anaerobic Exercises Anaerobic or “without oxygen”, on the other hand, are closer to a HIIT tempo, where the intensity is much higher and the activity can only be performed for a short period of time. Anaerobic exercises are typically accompanied by shortness of breath and higher heart rates.

Examples of Anaerobic Exercises:

● Heavy weight training

● Sprinting

● Running

● Cycling

● Jumping

 


So How Do MMA Fighters Benefit from Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercises?

Keep fitness training specific to MMA. MMA requires explosive, anaerobic movements as well as a great base of aerobic fitness.

MMA sports are highly complex physiologically and use a wide range of abilities and metabolic mechanisms during training and competition. High physical and technical demands such as grappling, kicking, and punching require extreme anaerobic power and aerobic fitness levels in order to endure multiple rounds of high intensity and intermittent efforts.

Whether you’re into kickboxing, muay thai, or wrestling, both anaerobic and aerobic exercises teach your body how to use oxygen more efficiently. Being able to maintain good oxygen levels is a major determinant for endurance and speed during a fight. Muscles need oxygen to function and to make energy to push your body through that match or workout.

These types of exercises can help improve your overall physical condition giving you more power, explosiveness, strength, speed, agility and muscular endurance.

 


Which Exercises are Best for Me?

The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine conducted a study on the effect of short-term sport specific strength and condition training on the physical fitness of MMA athletes. They selected 17 experienced fighters and split them into two groups.

One was focused on a short-term complementary sport-specific strength and conditioning programme and the other was focused on a “regular” strength conditioning programme commonly used by MMA fighters.

The results show that a high-intensity, low-volume strength and conditioning training programme specific to MMA –  resulted in significant performance improvements for well-trained fighters in comparison to the regular training routine commonly used by MMA fighters.

While there are many great aerobic and anaerobic exercises such as cycling, swimming, and running to choose from, it’s best to define the physical demands of your particular sport in order to develop a proper training programme.

To help, here’s an infographic detailing cross-training workouts for these activities that are specifically curated for those involved in combat sports. The levels “beginner” through “advanced” are based on your perceived level of fitness.

crossfit-workouts-graphic

Infographic from Made4Fighters.com

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How to Treat Golfer’s Elbow (Pain inside the elbow)


Golfer’s elbow – also known as medial epicondylitis is very common for tradesmen, grapplers and MMA fighters.

It is often caused by overuse of the flexing muscles of the hand – which contract whenever you grip anything. The overuse can often lead to inflammation and tendinitis.

You should look to rest and stretch your wrist flexors, strengthen your wrist extensor muscles and  reduce inflammation both locally around the area and systemically – in your body generally.

 

Summary:

  • Drink Tart Cherry Juice & Supplement with Curcumin to reduce inflammation
  • Don’t consume vegetable oils or sugar as this causes inflammation
  • Strengthen Wrist extensor muscles
  • Stretch Wrist Flexor muscles
  • Promote relaxation in the muscles surrounding the injury with magnesium and kava kava
  • Avoid heavy bicep curls and barbell bench press
  • Use lifting-straps for chin ups & other exercises to put less stress on your flexor-muscles/grip.
  • Don’t hold the pads or hit a heavy bag – get a ‘top-and-bottom-ball
  • Ice your elbow after training
  • Use a sauna if you have access – this helps reduce inflammation
  • Invest in a massage machine to remove scar tissue and promote relaxation in the wrist

 

Screenshot_2018-08-25 Cooking with vegetable oils releases toxic cancer-causing chemicals, say experts

Another Sensational Headline About Nutrition but it’s generally good to avoid vegetable oils

Golfer’s elbow is a very common injury in both BJJ players and MMA fighters. It is a form of tendinitis brought on by over-use, usually of the wrist-flexors.

From my experience there are 3 things that cause problems with the inner-elbow:

  • Gripping all the time – developing wrist flexor strength & not extensors
  • Holding pads
  • General inflammation & over-training

You can address the problem in several ways, we’ll separate them into 3 categories:

  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing muscle tension
  • Rebuilding tendon strength (if possible without HGH)
  • Strengthening Flexor muscles

Reducing Inflammation in the Elbow

For a ‘quick-win’ try reducing inflammation.

There are a number of ways to do this including:

  • Restricted-time eating / intermittent fasting
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Supplementing with Tart Cherry Juice
  • Supplementing with curcumin and/or turmeric
  • Supplementing with omega 3
  • Reducing consumption of sugar & vegetable oils
  • Cold showers/cryotherapy
  • Saunas / infra-red lamps

I’ve found good results from drinking tart cherry juice with my main meal in the evening, using cold showers and the Wim Hof method, and using an infrared lamp.

cherry juice review

Selfie Wanker – with Cherry Juice Concentrate


Reducing muscle tension

obviously stretching is the ideal way to reduce muscle tension, but a lot of people are also deficient in magnesium, which causes a range of health problems.

Some quick wins for reducing muscular tension include:

  • Supplementing kava kava (at your own risk, is illegal in the UK now)
  • Supplementing with magnesium glycinate and/or a magnesium spray
  • Epsom salt baths – be careful not to use too much & get dehydrated
  • Stretching

Rehabbing the Actual Golfer’s Elbow Injury

I’ve had golfer’s elbow since I was 17 in my right arm. It started when I was holding pads in JKD class and doing weights all the time with bad technique.

It’s got a lot better since I stopped doing:

  • Barbell bench press (do dumbbell instead)
  • Free weight bicep curls (use bands instead)
  • Do chin ups using Wrist-straps

It’s also got a lot better when I’ve started strengthened the extensor muscles in my wrist with:

  • Bottom up – kettlebell shoulder press
  • Reverse bicep curls (with bands)

 

  1. Bottom up – Kettlebell presses

kettlebellgolferselbow

2. Reverse Curls

wristextensors

 

 

Here are some more decent exercises:

 

 


 

Massage for Golfer’s Elbow

 

I don’t know how to specifically massage your forearms and wrist to breakdown scar tissue and relax the wrist flexor muscles – however, I have found my DIY massage gun very helpful.

If funds allow, I would also invest in a TimTam massage gun.

Joe Rogan massage

Click here to visit the official website & buy the machine

click here to see how to build your own from a powertool and a tennis ball.

 

 

And finally…

if you have joint and tendon pain in general, then supplementing with collagen and/or gelatine may help alleviate some of the pain according to recent research.

 

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The Joe Rogan Neck Hammock


 

As you may have noticed, everyone who has competed in MMA and/or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who goes on the Joe Rogan Podcast, and is over the age of 40 – has extensive spine-problems.

Big John McCarthy for example, has had multiple operations on his neck and still has problems with it. Same goes for the likes of the great Bas Rutten and Michael Bisping.

If you can’t afford some stem cell therapy – not many of us can – there are some half decent treatment options available.

For example, the neck hammock offers some relief via the process of spinal decompression.

There are a few hammocks on the market, but I think this is the one Joe has:

Joe Rogan Neck Hammock

Link to buy the item (NOT an affiliate link)

 


I would personally, first consider an inversion table before purchasing one of the door frame neck hammocks, although they are a lot more expensive – for now I just hang off the back of the sofa.

Joe Rogan inversion table

Link to buy the item

You literally strap yourself in and hang upside down. Your whole spine gets decompressed, not just your neck.


 

Prevention, is of course, better than cure. I would always recommend drilling lots of technique and keeping sparring and rolling to a minimum. At least full-on sparring and rolling.

If your neck is just stiff and painful, you may have issues with the muscles being tight, rather then the discs in your neck.

Magnesium glycinate and magnesium spray is fantastic for stiff muscles – I use these supplements along with an infrared lamp on my neck most nights. Foam rolling, stretching and trigger point therapy should be part of your daily routine.

 

 

Tips for protecting & rehabbing a neck:

  • Supplement with magnesium and/or epsom salts
  • Infrared Lamps or Sauna
  • Trigger point therapy
  • Spinal Decompression

 

For more info on treating a stiff neck, please see my specific blog post

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Can’t Hurt Me – David Goggins – Book Review


cant hurt me review

 

David Goggins Book Review

I liked this book, but not in the conventional way. I wouldn’t say I enjoyed reading it, but it did have a massive impact upon me.

I found myself rolling my eyes quite a lot whilst reading the book, when he spoke of  “running on broken legs” and having “double pneumonia”. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, but at the time, I thought these were exaggerations; the type of thing my mum would say if she stubbed her toe and had a chesty cough.

To be fair to the author however, he is recognised as one of the greatest endurance athletes in the world, with a world record in pull ups to his name. So maybe he did actually run on completely broken legs.

As he would (probably) put it – ‘he’s one bad mother f*cker’ – and the only man to have ever to have completed the training in Army Ranger School, Navy SEALs ‘buds’ and the Air Force Tactical Air Controller program.

I would add however, that he really should learn go into situations better prepared!

I don’t want to add any spoilers, but if you read the book – you’ll see what I mean!


 

The book introduces us to David’s early life, working at his dad’s bowling alley. He talks about how abusive his dad was and how he was racially abused during his school days in Brazil, Indiana.

There’s some fairly traumatizing and horrific things that happened to him, but the takeaway message is that he managed to get ‘better, not bitter’.

He’s also had some major health scares, including having a heart-problem that he describes as a “hole in the heart” and sickle-cell-trait.

A big chunk of the book talks about “buds” the Navy Seal selection & training, and then training for different elite forces in the Navy and the Army.

There’s a few tasks at the end of most chapters, with bits to share on social media – I didn’t bother doing this, but perhaps I should have to get more out of the book (I was afraid of the pretty harsh banter I would get from my friends on Facebook if I was sharing posts with the hashtag #canthurtme!)

There’s some interesting stories about ultra-marathon running – not something I’ve been motivated to do! and of course his pull-up world record – here’s the state of his hand after his second attempt:

David Goggins Pull Up Hand

David Goggins hand

 

David Goggins Before & After:

 

 

david goggins 300lb


 

 

I think great men/women think alike. I read this quote from Napolean Hill and thought about Goggins’ 2 failed pull up world record attempts (he succeeded on his 3rd attempt)

fear

 

Despite my cynical attitude towards some aspects of the book initially, mr G. has definitely had a positive impact upon my attitude since reading it.

In Stoic philosophy they speak of how suffering is the only way to build character.

I love Stoic philosophy, so when David speaks of callusing the mind with suffering and feats of endurance, I found myself nodding my head along with him.

Some of my favourite concepts taken from the book include:

“1 second decisions”

– deciding to carry on, each time your mind wonders and you consider giving up or getting distracted

 

“The path of most resistance”

– we automatically take the path of least effort and of least resistance.  Seeking the path of most resistance and getting out of the routine(s) we’ve been stuck in for years, is a sure way of changing your life.

 

“Most people give up at 40%”

– when I’m exercising, or even having an ice bath, I try to remember this. When I start feeling like I want to give up, I remind myself that I’m only 40% near my maximum.

 

The guy is tenacious too. He failed his pull up world record attempt not once, but twice. The guy is 6ft 1 and 200lbs, completely the wrong body type for bodyweight exercises – but that didn’t stop him. Amazing guy. Nuts, but amazing.

I always look at any kind of suffering as training now too. Man flu, being cold – it’s all part of developing character.

 

 

 

 


 

This is definitely a life changing book, even if I didn’t fall in love with all the macho-ness of it.

I’d recommend it though, although you may have to take it with a pinch of salt.

I like to mix up my reading material. Some hippy stuff from Ram Dass, some Stoicism and now and again, a modern book like this. I hope it will eventually make me quite well-rounded!


Review Score – 5/5

Based on the fact that I’ve started training hard in the gym again and I’ve taken several of his concepts and integrated them into everyday life.

I would not try and copy David Goggins’ path however, I still feel he has a way to go on his ‘journey’. Training and exercising to the point of nearly killing yourself (in some instances) it’s just stupid. In my opinion. But you can still learn so much from the author, even if 5% of his toughness rubs off on the reader.

You can buy the book from Amazon.co.uk here

 


 

Incidentally – if you like David Goggins, I’m pretty sure you will like Jocko Willink too.

He’s a bit more easy for me to relate to anyway.

Here are 3 of my favourite Jocko videos, they literally changed my life (especially the Extreme Ownership one)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Get Rid of a Stiff Neck


Summary of How to Get rid of a Stiff Neck

  • Magnesium Oil
  • Infrared Lamp or Sauna
  • Light Stretching
  • Trigger point & Foam Rolling Therapy
  • Kava Kava

 

A very small amount of Kava Kava in the evenings, then 20 minutes of infrared light on the back of my neck, is now part of my daily routine.

This appears to have prevented my neck becoming stiff & sore.

I also stretch my neck every time I go to the toilet in work.

Sorting out my neck, also seems to have reduced my anxiety quite significantly.

 


Article for Entertainment purposes only


 

Ah, the office worker’s & the wrestler’s chronic ailment – a stiff neck.

The stiff neck is underrated in its ability to ruin your day. It often leads of headaches and can definitely put you in a really terrible mood.

Jokes aside, physical issues such as an injured neck, can cause mental health problems. I kid you not. This study on whiplash for example, suggests some people may have depression for several associated reasons – including neck injuries. Not conclusive evidence but from experience, I think there may be some truth to the theory that neck injuries make you miserable.

I mention this, because the one time that I had whiplash, I also had bad anxiety afterwards, along with headaches and bloodshot eyes – for several months.

As I worked out how to treat my neck, my mood improved and the headaches went away.

Anyway, enough of the preamble, here’s some ways to treat a stiff neck.

 


Use Heat to Treat a Stiff Neck


 

Any application of heat, should help with a muscle spasm. In fact, after my car crash, I found that applying a hot water bottle to my neck whenever possible, was very helpful.

There are better ways though…



Infrared Lamp or Infrared Sauna for Muscle Spasms

 

 

I completely forgot about this when I made the video above.

From what I understand, infrared light penetrates relatively far/deep into a muscle, causing it to relax more than is normally possible with a normal sauna, bath or other application of ‘conventional’ heat.

The last time I injured/hurt my neck was about 2 months ago. I couldn’t sleep and even got a prescription for codeine, even though I’m normally against any pharma-pain-killers.

I had tried hot baths, but the relief was only temporary.

Then I tried an infrared lamp on my neck (with magnesium oil rubbed it before use), and my mood instantly lifted, as the stiffness in my neck subsided.  My neck/lower trapezius was still painful, but I’d regained full range of motion.

 

This study shows that infrared light can be used to effectively treat lower back pain:

Infrared therapy for chronic low back pain: A randomized, controlled trial

George D Gale, MBBS FRCA FRCPC DAAPM,1 Peter J Rothbart, MD FRCPC,1 and Ye Li2

CONCLUSION

The IR therapy unit used was demonstrated to be effective in reducing chronic low back pain, and no adverse effects were observed.

 

As I write this, I’m currently using an infrared lamp on my neck. I bought it from Amazon.co.uk and would recommend it for muscle-spasm-related neck pain.

 

Infrared lamps & saunas have been shown to have a wide range of health benefits. They are great for stress & anxiety, as they are able to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (study-reference).



TENS Machine

 

A TENS machine is an interesting device.

They’re similar to those old electrocuting and are used as an alternative form of pain relief during child birth.

They can also help to remove muscle spasms.

Pretty good for the pain, but this alone, didn’t get rid of the stiffness & spasm in my neck.



Magnesium

 

One of the most underrated supplements, it’s estimated that around 50% of Americans are deficient in magnesium.

 

Important for muscle relaxation in general, supplementation has been shown to treat insomnia, depression & anxiety.

Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial Emily K. Tarleton1☯*, Benjamin Littenberg1,2☯, Charles D. MacLean1,2‡, Amanda G. Kennedy1,2‡, Christopher Daley3‡

Consumption of magnesium chloride for 6 weeks resulted in a clinically significant net improvement in PHQ-9 scores of -6.0 points (CI -7.9, -4.2; P<0.001) and net improvement in Generalized Anxiety Disorders

 

 

So back to the neck issues – magnesium is one of the best (& safest) muscle relaxants. The potency appears to differ massively between forms of magnesium & manufacturers. Glycinated forms of magnesium are generally recommended for muscle stiffness/spasm, taken at night.

 

Other effective, natural, muscle relaxants include:

  • Kava Kava
  • Chamomile
  • Lemon Balm
  • Beer

 

Kava Kava has been really effective for me.

I’d recommend it as one of the go-to treatments for any muscle spasms or pain.

It’s not legal in Europe however, although I have seen it on ebay a few times.

DO NOT MIX KAVA KAVA with Alcohol – you’re asking for liver failure.

I have found kava kava is excellent for a stiff neck. I have a small amount most evenings and then use my infrared lamp on my back & neck.

 



Kundalini Yoga

 

This particular practice was designed to release tension in the muscles surrounding the spine.

It’s pretty low-intensity, but be warned that lots of people report hallucinating after doing Kundalini Yoga (including my wife & I).

 

 

 



 

PNF & PMR

PNF stretching involves tensing the muscles for 30 seconds (or resisting/pushing with a specific set of muscles), and then relaxing & stretching immediately afterwards.

This can be modified for the neck muscles, and can be quite effective for relaxation and general awareness

 

 

 



 

Trigger Point Therapy

This requires a foam roller or preferably a ball, like a cricket or lacrosse ball.

Lie on the floor and place the ball underneath the tight muscle. Then just lay back and put pressure on the ball for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

This (sometimes) takes the spasm out of the muscle.

 

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Supplements to Counteract Sleep Deprivation


If you have young children, during the cold & flu season, then life can be a tad tougher than normal.

Sleep deprivation can do terrible things to your body & mind.

There are a few supplements that can help, however – use them at your own risk though.

SleepInfographic3


Uridine

I first heard about Uridine on the nootropics subreddit. It is said to increase alertness, focus and energy levels.  It plays a big role in the function of the central nervous system.

It has also been shown to reduce some of the negative effects of sleep deprivation.

 

You can buy uridine from amazon.co.uk


Glycine

There are several studies showing that glycine supplementation can increase the quality of sleep. So the little sleep you do have, will have a more beneficial effect if you supplement with 3g or so of glycine.

Glycine is an amino acid that is found in connective tissue and skin. It has a range of benefits, it can help with ‘leaky gut’ by repairing the stomach lining and may also help conditions such as arthritis.

It is a potent anti-inflammatory and can help detox the body from heavy metals.

 

Below are some screenshots from the studies regarding glycine and quality of sleep:

glycine study

 

 

glycine sleep study

Link to Study

 

glycine sleep

Link to Study

 


 

Phenibut

*please note that phenibut may be illegal in the UK now. Nobody really knows if it falls under the psychoactive substances ban.

Phenibut is a supplement that was first used by Russian astronauts to improve focus and reduce anxiety.  It is highly effective & potent, but can also be addictive. So use once or twice a week maximum.

It can help you fall asleep quicker and improves sleep quality. The improvement of sleep quality is thought to occur due to an increased secretion of the hormone GABA.

Try 250mg to begin with. I would not advise taking more than 1g of phenibut in a given week due to its addictive properties

phenibut

 

There are a few other supplements that may help with increasing the quality of your sleep, including theacrine.


 

Go To Sleep Earlier!

Sounds obvious, but another way of tackling sleep deprivation – is to go to bed earlier!

If you’re child goes to sleep at 8pm and tends to get up at 4am, it might be a good shout to get to sleep early-doors yourself.

It’s not easy to fall asleep at 8pm for most people though.  Here’s some methods & supplements that may help though:

 

Tart Cherry Juice

A natural source of melatonin, tart cherry juice or tart cherry supplements – can help you nod off earlier in the evenings.

 

Dark Therapy

Avoid blue light like the plague during the evenings.  Blue light comes from computers and mobile phones.

If possible, make the lounge and/or bedroom darker too. Your body won’t produce melatonin if you have a bright lamp or light on in every room.

Red lights can help you fall off to sleep. I have a small one which I plug in during the evenings. Red light can also reduce anxiety and even help fight migraines in some people.

Another trick, is to use a SAD Lamp as soon as you get up in the morning for 15 mins or so first thing in the morning. The lamp will help adjust your circadian rhythm so that you become tired earlier in the evenings.

 

Natural Relaxants

Natural muscle relaxants are also effective for those looking for an early night. Chamomile, valerian, magnesium and lemon balm are all natural and effective.  Kava kava is also great if you live in a US state where it is legal.

There is tonnes of research behind the effectiveness of magnesium – opt for a ‘glycinated’ form at night time. Magnesium is good for everything from stress to high blood pressure. A large percentage of the US population (50-80%) is said to be deficient in this chemical-element too.

Kava Kava tops Examine.com’s list of effective supplements for anxiety.

kava anxiety
Traditional Kava – http://blog.bulakavahouse.com/bula-house-kava-testing-purekava14-promotion/

There’s a few other supplements that help you nod off, such as 5 HTP, but I don’t want to promote taking too many things in one go…

 

 

 

 



 

The Ketogenic Diet & Sleep

The Ketogenic Diet may also have some benefits in regards to coping with less sleep. I personally found this to be the greatest benefit during my 18 months adhering to the diet.

Initially, the diet can cause issues in terms of getting to sleep in the first place. Until you fully adapt to the diet, you will produce less serotonin, a hormone related to sleep. I managed to overcome this will a small amount of 5 HTP supplementation.

 

Keto sleep

More info here

I’ll be going on the targeted ketogenic diet before my next child is born in July.

 

 

 

Still tired?  See our Alternatives to Caffeine blog post.

Chronically stressed & tired? Take a look at our adaptogens blog post

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Alternatives to Caffeine – Energy & Alertness



Summary

  • For more short term stimulant-like effect – supplement with ALCAR, Olive Leaf Extract or PQQ
  • For alleviating some of the effects of stress & sleep deprivation – supplement an adaptogen like rhodiola rosea & take 3g of glycine before bed
  • Treat the source of the fatigue if possible
  • Coffee is full of antioxidants but too much caffeine can cause hypertension & other health issues

Coffee & caffeine are the go-to-fuel for millions of people every day.

When I work in an office, it’s typical for people have 2 or 3 coffees everyday and when I worked on a building site, everyone under the age of 25 had at least 2 energy drinks per day.

Caffeine is my morning staple too, but it’s something I’m looking to cut down on.

Caffeine tolerance builds quickly when you reach for the coffee jar on a daily basis. Even worse, after months of coffee or caffeine consumption, people need a few hundred m.g. just to get going – it’s (mildly) physically addictive.

Mix things up a little with some of these alternatives:

Always consult a doctor or healthcare professional before adding supplements or new foods to your diet


Adaptogens for Energy & Alertness

Adaptogens are herbs that help to alleviate elevated symptoms related to physical & mental stress. Not only can they provide more energy, they’re also ‘good’ for you – something that most high caffeine drinks, are not.

Rhodiola Rosea

A herb that has been used for centuries to treat fatigue, rhodiola has many studies behind that confirm its effectiveness. Great for sleep deprived parents too!

In one study, rhodiola was shown to improve the mental performance of physicians on night duty. The physicians also reported feeling generally less fatigued.

Around 200mg per day is normally the standard dosage.

Gingko Biloba

Noted primarily for its ability to improve quality of life for those suffering from degenerative brain disorders, anecdotal evidence suggests that ginkgo may improve cognitive functioning and energy levels in normal healthy individuals too.

A typical dosage is around 150mg per day.

Ashwagandha

This Indian herb is held in high regard for its ability to help the body cope with & adapt to stress. There are literally hundreds of studies backing the health benefits behind Ashwagandha, it’s even been shown to reduce anxiety and depression.

There are also numerous studies showing that ashwagandha can enhance physical performance, normally by reducing markers of fatigue.


Nootropics

Nootropics are also known as smart drugs. There are natural nootropics such as Lion’s Mane Mushroom, and synthetics ones such as Noopept.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Touted as an anti-aging, cognitive enhancing and fat burning supplement, Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) also tends to make your fart, a lot.

Be sure to be ALCAR and not standard L-Carnitine, as only the Acetyl version crosses the blood brain barrier. One thing to be aware of, ALCAR dramatically increases sperm motility, enhancing male fertility.

A typical dosage of ALCAR is 500-2000mg per day.

It has a potent affect on alertness & cognitive functioning. Many people also use it to alleviate the symptoms of chronic fatigue & depression.

PQQ

Found naturally in breastmilk and soya beans, pyrroloquinoline quinone has been shown to reduce pain, and fatigue. A growth-factor & antioxidant, it is anxiety promoting for some, it is best to start off with very small dosages and build up slowly to assess tolerance.

It’s ability to increase alertness relate to its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

This is a personal favourite of mine, I usually take around 10mg per day. You can buy from Amazon.co.uk

Alpha GPC

Composed of glycerophosphate and choline, Alpha GPC is used to offset some of the symptoms of age-related cognitive decline.

Many report that it increases energy levels and alertness:

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Used for centuries in Chinese medicine, this edible mushroom boasts of range of medicinal properties, with a proven ability to enhance immunity and cognitive functioning.

By decreasing inflammation and increasing the production of BDNF (Brain Derived Nerve Factor), this amazing fungi may actually build new neurones in the brain; whilst improving sleep quality and increasing bone density.

It enhances energy levels but in a more subtle way than a typical stimulant – by promoting wellbeing and sleep quality, it tends to enhance alertness.

lions mane mushroom infographic


Other Caffeine Alternatives

Olive Leaf Extract

A potent anti-oxidant derived from the leaves of olive plants, it may even reduce DNA damage. Another natural energy-boosting supplement, it’s generally regarded as ‘good for you’ and can even been used to treat candida.

A typical dosage is 500mg-1000mg per day.

Kratom

Kratom is an extremely controversial substance that is typically grown in Thailand and Bali. It is legal in several US states and is often used to help suffferes of PTSD, chronic pain and has been used by thousands to come off opioids.

In small doses, ‘white blends’ of kratom can also be used to enhance energy levels. You want to do some research before touching kratom, so have a read below if you are interested:

Matcha Green Tea

Okay, so matcha green tea does contain some caffeine, but it also contains an amino acid called L-Theanine. L-Theanine helps will focus and concentration, without providing a jittery, stimulant-type effect; in fact, it is quite calming.

The tea is also packed full of antioxidants, including the potent – EGCg

 

Cordyceps Mushrooms

Another amazing medicinal mushroom. This one is really weird in that it attacks insects and their larvae.

Despite turning some animals into zombies , for normal sized humans, the mushrooms have a range of health benefits.

Some studies have shown that they can increase endurance whilst a range of animal studies show that the mushrooms have health benefits that can extend lifespan significantly.

cordyceps mushroom study

From personal experience – the one time that I was actually able to kick my afternoon-coffee habit was by replacing it with cordyceps mushrooms.

 

 

Glycine

On a final note, if you are using caffeine to offset the effects of sleep deprivation; glycine might be worth considering.

Glycine has been shown to reduce the effects of sleep deprivation:

The effects of glycine on subjective daytime performance in partially sleep-restricted healthy volunteers

We evaluated the effects of glycine on daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and performances in sleep-restricted healthy subjects. Sleep was restricted to 25% less than the usual sleep time for three consecutive nights. Before bedtime, 3 g of glycine or placebo were ingested, sleepiness, and fatigue were evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS) and a questionnaire, and performance were estimated by personal computer (PC) performance test program on the following day. In subjects given glycine, the VAS data showed a significant reduction in fatigue and a tendency toward reduced sleepiness. These observations were also found via the questionnaire, indicating that glycine improves daytime sleepiness and fatigue induced by acute sleep restriction.

Source


Treat the Source of the Problem

If you feel tired all the time, it’s likely some kind of physical issue such as:

  • Gut inflammation
  • General inflammation
  • Stress/muscle tension/vigilance
  • Lack of movement/exercise
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Shallow breathing or living/working in an environment with high levels of Co2
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Gut inflammation is a major source of fatigue, stress and depression. Avoiding inflammatory foods such as sugar, omega 6 fats and anything processed is the best way of tackling this.

Fasting, examining food sensitivities & adding anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric and tart cherry juice may also help.

A permeability issue with the gut lining can also cause problems. Glycine and glutamine can potentially help with this, as can avoidance of pain killers such as ibuprofen which can damage the gut lining.

  • Lack of sunlight can have a huge impact on energy levels. Consider supplementing with vitamin D (ideally with k2) if you work indoors, and/or get a SAD lamp.

CBD Oil Infographic

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How to Do More Pull Ups (Instant Increase!)


My new pre-workout:

 

  1. Have a boiling hot bath – not literally boiling but very hot
  2. Do some press ups in the bath if possible (at your own risk)
  3. Get out of the bath
  4. Dry yourself & chuck some clothes on
  5. Do 2 rounds of wim hof breathing
  6. Do your chin ups!

I’ve found that I can do lots more reps using the combination of Wim Hof Breathing and a Hot Bath.

DO NOT DO THE BREATHING TECHNIQUES in the bath. People have died from passing out in water whilst doing this.  Very bad idea!

Make sure that you don’t feel dizzy or lightheaded before getting in the bath or doing the chins.

 

 

The Wim Hof Breathing technique involves the following:

Wim Hof Breathing Technique

1 Round of Breathing =
30 Deep breaths in, with 30 ‘small’ breaths out.

Breathe in using the stomach muscles and then the chest muscles, taking in as much air as possible, then breath out ‘normally’ to reset your stomach to breathe in again.

After the 30 breaths, hold the final breath in for as long as possible. Holding the breath for as long as possible will cause a release of adrenaline which will literally make you stronger.

Finally, when you can’t hold your breath any longer, breathe out, then one last time, take a big deep breath in and hold for 15 seconds.

Do this then afterwards, get in the bath and make sure your muscles are hot and you start to sweat somewhat.

 

This works for me, but I can’t find much evidence to say that hot water immersion actually improves strength or power.

There are some studies showing that muscle temperature may improve power output, but the majority of modern studies seem to show no effect.

 

Influence of muscle temperature on maximal muscle strength and power output in human skeletal muscles

Source:

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1748-1716.1979.tb06439.x

 

wim hof

Wim Hof Breathing – Breathe in as powerfully as you can 30 times & then hold your breath. Repeat 3 times. Then jump in a cold shower

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Supplements for Depression (That Work)


A few thoughts on depression before I start on the supplements…

Depression is often a symptom of a physical illness or issue.

Gut problems, chronic inflammation (often starting in the gut), allergies, brain injuries, thyroid issues – these are all problems that can cause depression.

Whenever possible, address the physical cause, rather than the symptoms of depression.

Many of these supplements are also effective for MMA recovery and for enhancing physical performance. For more specific information on supplements for combat sports such as MMA, see my boxer’s diet article here.



Acetyl L Carnitine

One of my favourites, Acetyl L Carnitine, often referred to as ALCAR, is a potent supplement that enhances cognitive function, increases male fertility and in many can reduce or eliminate symptoms of depression.

Start with a low dosage (500mg) and assess your tolerance, it can cause gut problems.

Works within 15 minutes. Also great for energy and awareness.

Make sure to get the Acetyl version, as this can pass the Blood Brain Barrier whereas normal L-Carnitine can not.

Side Effects: Bad farts



Fish Oil

Omega 3 is crucial for cognitive health and wellbeing in the short, medium and long-term. There is a modest amount of research suggesting that fish oil might help people who are suffering from depression.

Phospholipid forms of Omega 3 have been recently touted as a potential treatment/way to ward off degenerative brain diseases.

look for a high-quality omega 3 supplement, with a relatively high EPA content.

Fish oil is also a strong anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is often a pre-cursor of mental health issues.



Magnesium

Magnesium is fantastic for muscular-relaxation, it has also been shown as a potent supplement to treat both anxiety and depression.

Chelated forms of magnesium, for example, magnesium glycinate are generally thought to be superior and more bioavailable than other forms of magnesium.



St. John’s Wort

This stuff made me feel terrible.

I felt like a had a million thoughts at once and couldn’t focus on anything.

It works with serotonin in some respect. Perhaps it works better if your depression is caused by low levels of serotonin in the first place.

For more information visit examine.com



5 HTP

A precursor to Tryptophan, 5 HTP is great for sleep, depression and anxiety.

Don’t take with SSRIs.

There is some evidence that 5 HTP taken long term can cause issues with your heart.

I’ll occasionally take a tiny bit of 5 HTP (I’ll break off a bit of a tablet) when I can’t sleep. It KOs me and gives me mental dreams. Upsets my stomach though if I have more than half a tablet.

 

Side Effects: GI problems.



Vitamin D

Lack of sunlight can cause depression. In countries such as Norway, it’s a big (and well recognised) issue.

Supplementing with Vitamin D3 (ideally with vitamin k2) is a good idea for most people who work indoors.

SAD Lamps can also be an effective way to increase energy levels and ward off depression during the winter and all year round if you work indoors.



Heat Stress, Exercise and Diet

Obviously these aren’t supplements so I won’t go into too much detail…however, saunas (and ice baths) have gained a lot of attention in recent years thanks to the mental and physical health benefits that they can provide.

Exercise is crucial for the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system, for self esteem and the overall functioning of your body and mind.

Diet is a crucial factor in terms of mental health. Inflammation and gut issues are often linked to and can even cause depression.

Eating a diet that is free from inflammatory foods such as sugar, and high in anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric can make a huge difference.

 



Any exercise, food or supplement that reduces inflammation and/or improves gut health will improve or help with depression – in the majority of cases.

Supplements that are effective for reducing inflammation include:

Meriva curcumin

Tart Cherry Juice

Rosehip.

The ketogenic diet is also very effective but may not suit everyone and makes you feel terrible for the first 2 weeks or so (unless you use exogenous ketones). The targeted ketogenic diet may also be worth looking into.

Food intolerances and ‘leaky gut’ can also lead to inflammation.

If you have IBS or any other gut issues, it might be worth looking into, reducing or cutting out dairy and possibly wheat. Giving up dairy was life-changing for me.




Screenshot_20190105-173119.jpg

 

Please Speak to a Doctor or Healthcare Professional before taking any supplements

 

Psychedelics?

There’s a growing body of research, that suggests that psychedelics such as psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushrooms), in the right setting, can be highly effective as a treatment for depression.

 

High-dose psilocybin produced large decreases in clinician- and self-rated measures of depressed mood and anxiety, along with increases in quality of life, life meaning, and optimism, and decreases in death anxiety. At 6-month follow-up, these changes were sustained, with about 80% of participants continuing to show clinically significant decreases in depressed mood and anxiety. Participants attributed improvements in attitudes about life/self, mood, relationships, and spirituality to the high-dose experience, with >80% endorsing moderately or greater increased well-being/life satisfaction.

study here 

 

Magic Mushroom Infographic

 


NS1 189 for Depression

I recently took an experimental anti-depressant called NSI 189. A bit silly really but probably worth the risk if your depression is bad enough.

It also works partly by creating new brain cells in the hypothalamus – something I probably needed after having concussion 5 times in my life so far.

Near the end of my ‘course’ I also microdosed san-pedro powder – I felt absolutely amazing. I’ve run out of powder now but I do feel like I’ve had a moderate increase in my overall mood. I’m normally operating at around 6 or 7 out of 10 in terms of my mood, rather than a 4 or 5 prior to NSI 189.

I’ve written more about NSI 189 here.

 


CBD Oil

I took this with gota kola and had great results for about a month. It was hemp derived CBD with no THC. I found that the effect wore off unfortunately though.

I still use it for improving quality of sleep and reducing inflammation.

Incidentally, if you don’t sleep well – phenibut, 5 HTP, glycine and CBD can all help. 5 HTP makes me fall asleep, phenibut, glycine and CBD all improve quality of sleep.

Note that THC decreases sleep quality and that phenibut should only be taken once or twice a week as it’s addictive.

CBD Oil Infographic

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