267. This Is My Brain On Drugs, Booze, EMF, & Trauma with Dr. Daniel Amen (Luke's SPECT Scan Results)

Dr. Amen

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Dr. Daniel Amen is a child and adult psychiatrist, ten-time NY Times bestselling author, and founder of Amen Clinics, with 8 clinics across the United States.

Dr. Amen is a child and adult psychiatrist, ten-time NY Times bestselling author, and founder of Amen Clinics, with 8 clinics across the United States.

DISCLAIMER: This podcast is presented for educational and exploratory purposes only. Published content is not intended to be used for diagnosing or treating any illness. Those responsible for this show disclaim responsibility for any possible adverse effects from the use of information presented by Luke or his guests. Please consult with your healthcare provider before using any products referenced. This podcast may contain paid endorsements for products or services.

Today we’re looking at how jacked up my brain is — and how I'm going to fix it.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to the Amen Clinic in Orange County to work with Dr. Daniel Amen, one of America’s leading psychiatrists and brain health experts. My visit started with a SPECT scan of my brain, which is an imaging test used to get 3D images of internal organs. Then, we sat down for this interview to talk about my results and what I can do to improve my brain health, as well as what everyone should be doing to maintain cognitive health.

I was actually a little shocked and disappointed to learn that my brain has some fairly serious issues with brain flow. But if I’m going to get that news from anyone, at least it was one of the world’s foremost experts, who was able to provide some clear and concise directions for reversing the damage.

If you normally listen to the podcast, you might want to watch the video for this episode. We recorded the whole thing, and you’ll very literally get to take a peek inside of my head.

11:55 — What is a SPECT scan?

  • The 3 main things that SPECT results can tell you about your brain
  • Putting the scan into the context of your life

14:00 — The results of my SPECT scan

  • Irlen syndrome, a visual processing issue as a result of traumatic brain injury
  • My brain is good at sustained attention and processing speed, not so good with flexibility or executive function
  • How addiction has affected my brain
  • What a healthy brain looks like vs. an unhealthy brain
  • Programs you can do to activate your cerebellum, such as Zing Performance
  • The benefits of coordination exercises (and why people who play racket sports live longer than everyone else, even table tennis)
  • How Kundalini Yoga affects your brain
  • The long-term effects of trauma on your brain
  • “Brain Envy”
  • How maintaining good brain health as you age can extend your cognitive life 20 to 30 years
  • Can you trick a SPECT scan?
  • What happens when you scan a drunk brain
  • Modafinil
  • The cognitive benefits of regular hyperbaric oxygen therapy
  • Would Dr. Amen let their kid play soccer or football?

50:50 — Mental Illness

01:09:05 — Dr. Amen’s strong feelings about psychedelics and microdosing

  • The results of a brain scan after taking ayahuasca
  • Why Dr. Amen things CBD and cannabis are negative contributors to brain health
  • The dramatic negative impacts of smoking as a teenager
  • Ways to heal trauma that have absolutely no negative side effects, like Kundalini Yoga
  • Undiagnosed brain injuries are a huge contributor to psychiatric problems

01:25:50 — The biological effects of psychological and spiritual treatments

  • The results of EMDR therapy on police officers who were involved in shootings
  • A fascinating study on how prayer affects the brain
  • The work of Dr. Joe Dispenza
  • Physiological changes as a result of spiritual practices

01:35:00 — The different kinds of addiction

  • Impulsive addicts
  • Compulsive addicts
  • Impulsive-Compulsive Addicts
  • Sad addicts
  • Anxious addicts
  • Temporal lobe addicts
  • Honoring the organ that makes us who we are
  • The dangers of caffeine, sugar, and nicotine
  • The Daniel Plan
  • Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades
  • How you change the world starts by changing yourself

01:40:58 — Nootropics

01:46:05 — The different types of ADD and how to treat them effectively

  • “The ring of fire” Vs. “sleepy brain”

01:52:48 — Neurofeedback’s role in healing your brain

More about this episode.

Watch it on YouTube.

Luke Storey:  I'm here at Amen Clinics in Costa Mesa, California, where I'm going to be doing something called a SPECT scan, which analyzes the health of your brain looking at blood flow. It was created by Dr. Daniel Amen, one of the foremost experts on the brain and one of the leading psychiatrists in the world. I'll be interviewing Dr. Amen shortly after the SPECT scan, so stay tuned.

[00:00:38] So, I'm going to be doing an attention test. Here, we just did my brain scan and now, this is going to look at the activity of my brain while I'm doing things. So, this is about speed, performance, focus and all that. And this is going to play a really important role in the interview that I'm going to be doing with Dr. Amen shortly. Daniel Amen, welcome to the show, man. 

[00:01:03]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Thank you so much. 

[00:01:04]Luke Storey:  I've been wanting to get down here to this clinic for I don't know how many years. When I first saw you speak, one of the couple of times you spoke at David Wolfe's Longevity Conference and it was right down the street from here. It's funny, as I was driving, I was like, Oh, I used to take this exit to go to the David Wolfe thing and then, it kind of came full circle that that's where I first heard you speak about the brain. And ever since that day, I've always thought, “God, I really like to know what's going on with mine.” And here we are. I just got scanned. I don't think I moved. We should have a clean picture. So, I'm really excited to meet you and to kind of dive into your work and share with the world all the things that you do.

[00:01:40]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, thank you so much. I'm honored to share my work with you and the people you serve. 

[00:01:47]Luke Storey:  Cool. So, let's go ahead and dive into what you found in the scan. But perhaps, before we do that, if you could just kind of explain to the listeners what a SPECT scan is to begin with.

[00:01:58]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, I'm a psychiatrist. But unlike most psychiatrists, I actually think you should look at the organ that you're going to go treat. And so, for the last almost 30 years, we've been looking at the brain with a study called SPECT. And SPECT basically tells us three things. Good activity, too little or too much. SPECT is a nuclear medicine study that looks at blood flow and activity. It's different than a CAT scan or an MRI. Those are anatomy studies that show what the brain actually physically looks like. SPECT looks at how it works. 

[00:02:38] And so, it's very important to know, we don't just take a picture of your brain and then, go, “Oh, this is the problem. Do that.” You actually filled out a lot of paperwork for us and talked to our historian. So, she gave me an eight-page report on your life because we always have to put this scan into the context of your life to help us understand why it may look this way or that. And don't let me forget to tell you about the Irlen Syndrome. It's one thing you have to talk about. 

[00:03:21]Luke Storey:  You know, I had an appointment with her. I went to the first one and then, they sent me home with the gels. And then, actually, it's so funny. It's been on my to-do list for like a-year-and-a-half since I went for the first one.

[00:03:32]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Oh, how interesting.

[00:03:32]Luke Storey:  Because I found the gel and it was blue. And if I put that blue gel over a book while I read, I can read—I don't want to exaggerate, but probably 40% better. I mean, it's like much less laborious. 

[00:03:45]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right. And you probably should wear the glasses.

[00:03:47]Luke Storey:  Okay. That's a good reminder. She's actually close to here in Long Beach, too. 

[00:03:51]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right. And one of the things I picked up in your history is that there was some physical brain trauma, which I'll show you on your scan, but that often will trigger this thing called the Irlen Syndrome, which is a visual-processing issue. And they just go hand in hand all the time. And very few people actually know what the Irlen Syndrome is. I think I've diagnosed it maybe a thousand times over my career. 

[00:04:23]Luke Storey:  Wow. 

[00:04:24]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And some of the stories are spectacular on how those simple glasses or overlays change people's lives. 

[00:04:34]Luke Storey:  Yeah. You know where I think I got stuck with Helen’s process was because at the same time, I was discovering the whole blue light phenomenon, right? So, I started wearing blue-blocking glasses and really, you know, changing all the bulbs in my house. And that's something I've talked a lot about with different guests on the show, for sleep and just all kinds of things. And so, when I went to her and the gel that ended up working was blue, I was kind of like, “How does this work?” Because I have like prescription glasses for driving at night and they're blue-blocking, and computer glasses and stuff. And so, I was kind of like, “I don't know, can you have blue blocking glasses that are also blue tint?” And I kind of just got stuck at that point. 

[00:05:12]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And the answer's yes. 

[00:05:14]Luke Storey:  Oh, cool. 

[00:05:14]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And blue is actually very important just not after dark. 

[00:05:21]Luke Storey:  Right. 

[00:05:21]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Because it helps to block the production of melatonin. 

[00:05:26]Luke Storey:  Right. 

[00:05:27]Dr. Daniel Amen:  But if you need it, see, everybody's different. You know, when we make generalizations, we're not personalizing the treatment for you. I have a sister-in-law that has Irlen, who was in 19 car accidents. And she is actually embarrassed because she'd see these halos and she thought, “Well, if I tell the doctor, they're going to say I'm schizophrenic.” And on Irlen, she can drive. She doesn't have the headaches anymore. She's more effective at work. I mean, it's just really stunning. Anyways, back to SPECT. 

[00:06:06]Luke Storey:  Yeah. That's inspiring though. Thanks for reminding me of that and providing some relevance because now, I'll be inspired to go finish the second half and like get the glasses and whatnot. 

[00:06:16]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. Now, it's actually one of my primary recommendations. I mean, I have lots of them, but that will be one. So, we did this detailed history and then, we did some computerized neuropsychic test to look at, well, how does your brain work? You know, we actually test it. And the one you just finished is called WebNeuro that actually measures 17 areas of cognitive function. And it grades you on a scale of one to 10. And it breaks it into thinking scores, self-regulation, feeling and emotion. The ones that are really important to me is to actually look at the individual scores. And you scored really well on sustained attention and processing speed. So, I like that. Not very well on flexibility, which I don’t know if that's consistent with your experience.

[00:07:26]Luke Storey:  Hmm. Interesting.

[00:07:26]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And executive function, which was the maze. And this is going to become super important because if I fix that, everything in your life gets better. 

[00:07:39]Luke Storey:  The maze was really hard. And I also didn't realize you have to keep doing it until you get it right. So, I think once, I gamed it by going, “Oh, Luke, you actually have to like really pay attention.” So, it took me a few times just to understand that part of it because I thought, “Well, they’re going to do it five times and you'll get the best of”, which is like, “No, you're not getting out of this maze until you remember how you got through it.” So, yeah. 

[00:08:03]Dr. Daniel Amen:  You're really good at reading faces of other people. You tend to read more negative faces faster than positive faces. So, I think of this almost as my FBI or CIA pattern.

[00:08:22]Luke Storey:  Right.

[00:08:23]Dr. Daniel Amen:  A little bit of suspiciousness, but not in a bad way. I mean, both scores are normal. Some stress, not really very anxious. But if I can help with the flexibility and the executive function, that's going to help you a lot. And the cool thing is four months from now, you can take that test again. You can actually take it at home. Then, we'll see if we're making the right progress that we want to make. Does that make sense? 

[00:08:56]Luke Storey:  Yeah. And with that flexibility, how does that play out in the way that you think and operate in life? Like if your flexibility, lowest score, what's that indicative of? 

[00:09:08]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, actually, I used to put this on my daughter's chore chart, we're going to work on flexibility because if things didn't go a certain way, it'd be upsetting to her. And so, it's where you can get locked in and have trouble shifting attention, which can then sometimes go with worrying. And if things don't go a certain way, you can get upset. And for some people, not everybody, they might have a tendency, no matter what someone says, for them to say no. So, I grew up with a father like that. His favorite word was bullshit. His second favorite word was no. And so, that's what I grew up with. 

[00:09:48]Luke Storey:  Right. So, would someone with low flexibility be more prone to obsessive thinking?

[00:09:53]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yes.

[00:09:54]Luke Storey:  Where you get kind of stuck in—okay. Got it. 

[00:09:56]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. 

[00:09:56]Luke Storey:  I'm trying to—I relate-

[00:09:58]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And it might go to addictions. 

[00:10:01]Luke Storey:  Yeah. 

[00:10:02]Dr. Daniel Amen:  That. You know, in your history, that was an issue for you in the past. 

[00:10:07]Luke Storey:  Yeah, big time.

[00:10:07]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And you might almost worry that you have a health addiction now that-

[00:10:13]Luke Storey:  You already got that. 

[00:10:15]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, no, I read it. It’s in your report.

[00:10:16]Luke Storey:  Okay. It was in my report. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:10:19]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I totally have one. I mean, because it's my job.

[00:10:24]Luke Storey:  Yeah, like addicted to being healthy, in the lifestyle and everything. 

[00:10:24]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right. I wrote a book called The Brain Warrior's Way because I think we're in a war for the health of our brain. Everywhere we go, we're coming up to the holidays now. People are going to try to murder you left and right. You know, have this, have that, have a second helping of something that's harmful for you. 

[00:10:42]Luke Storey:  Right.

[00:10:43]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right. So, I'm with you there in health addiction. But the cool thing, I mean, the reason people come see us is because of the imaging work we do. And again, SPECT basically tells us three things, good activity, too little or too much. And then, our job is to balance it. Here's an example of a healthy scan. So, here, we're looking underneath the brain. This is the top. That's the back. So, I know they can't see it, but I want you to see it. 

[00:11:22]Luke Storey:  And for those of you listening, there's going to be a number of things that are going to be described that will be audio. However, there is a very high-quality YouTube video, which will be released at the same time as this podcast. So, we're going to do our best to help you follow along, for those of you listening. But this would be one, definitely be served to go watch. 

[00:11:40]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And so, this view, we're looking underneath the brain. So, just like this, where this is the back, that's the front. Here, we just flip it around, looking down from the top. Color doesn't matter. It's the shape we're looking at. Then, we look at it from one side, then the other side. And all we want it to be is full, even and symmetrical. And this is going to be the most important image I show you. This view, blue is average activity. Red and white are the most active parts of the brain. 

[00:12:17] And what we usually see is the back part of the brain, in an area called the cerebellum. It's the most active. Why? Cerebellum’s 10% of the brain's volume. It contains 50% of the brain's neurons. I think of it as the CPU or the central processing unit in the brain. And it's critical to work right. And yours, we're going to find out is sleepy. And so, one of the recommendations is we need to figure out how to activate that. Because if we activate that, it'll actually help activate the rest of your brain. 

[00:12:52]Luke Storey:  So interesting. You never hear about the cerebellum either. 

[00:12:55]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Nobody cares about it.

[00:12:57]Luke Storey:  Like when people talk-

[00:12:57]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I call it the Rodney Dangerfield part of the brain. Rodney Dangerfield, it's like, “I get no respect.

[00:13:02]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[00:13:02]Dr. Daniel Amen:  The problem is I have young people work for me, who have no idea who Rodney Dangerfield is.

[00:13:08]Luke Storey:  Right. 

[00:13:08]Dr. Daniel Amen:  It horrifies me. 

[00:13:09]Luke Storey:  I'm 49. That's starting to happen to me, too, where I give a cultural reference and I just get blank stares. I'm like, “Oh yeah. Wow. I'm the old guy now.” With the cerebellum, one of the things I was going to ask you about, we were introduced by, Wynford Dore. And his episode, I think, will have come out before this one. And so, he's got this program called ZING performance that works on improving the function of your cerebellum. So, it's interesting that I just logged into that and kind of just got started on it. And with the assessment, but I've not done it yet, so I wonder, you know, what that will do for- 

[00:13:42]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, that would actually be a recommendation, is to start engaging in a coordination program. And ZING can be one of them. There's another one called the Interactive Metronome. If we can activate your cerebellum, it's going to help activate the rest of your brain. So, I'm excited about that. 

[00:14:07]Luke Storey:  Cool.

[00:14:07]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, if we look at your scan, here, we're looking underneath the brain. Your thalamus, that's part of your limbic brain or your emotional system, is really busy, but your cerebellum is sleeping. I don't like that. That's not good for you. And so, if we can find a way to activate it, that will be helpful. And I see this pattern often in people who've had substance use issues in the past. 

[00:14:44]Luke Storey:  Well, it's interesting. It's funny because that was—you know, we're going on almost 23 years since I was fortunate enough to escape from that. And yet, it's still—we're still seeing signs of that in the past, even not long ago. And it's not like I've been eating McDonald's and drinking Diet Cokes, though. I mean, I've been like fully on board with a really healthy lifestyle for that whole time, too. 

[00:15:07]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And so, we're going to have to figure out ways to ramp that up even more.

[00:15:11]Luke Storey:  Right. 

[00:15:11]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, I don't want you to become less obsessed with your health. 

[00:15:15]Luke Storey:  Got it. No problem. 

[00:15:17]Dr. Daniel Amen:  But if we go back—so, those are the two important findings with the—this is called our active view. So, low cerebellum. Do you do any coordination exercises now? 

[00:15:33]Luke Storey:  I do Kundalini yoga, which requires you doing a lot of-

[00:15:40]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Sa Ta Na Ma.

[00:15:40]Luke Storey:  Yes. Sa Ta Na Ma, requires you doing-

[00:15:42]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I studied that.

[00:15:43]Luke Storey:  Oh, yeah?

[00:15:43]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I published two studies. 

[00:15:45]Luke Storey:  What? No way. I was going to ask you about that later in the interview. 

[00:15:48]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. Dharma Singh Khalsa helped fund the Alzheimer's prevention research foundation, helped fund two studies we did. And we saw significant improvement in the prefrontal cortex with it. And it sort of calmed down the back half of the brain, but typically activates the cerebellum. 

[00:16:11]Luke Storey:  Oh, interesting. 

[00:16:12]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, I would keep doing it.

[00:16:13]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I just—I've been studying for a number of years and I'm now trained to teach it. And one of the things I've intuitively always thought that it does to contribute to you just feeling really good afterward is that you're having to do all of these different things with your hands and breathe and sing a mantra at the same time. It's one of the few things that I do that requires a bunch of different functions to coexist at the same time. But other than that, I didn't do anything, you know, other than just automated walking, running, you know, hiking. I don't do anything that requires coordination, like table tennis or something where you really have to focus and use your brain and arms at the same time. 

[00:16:49]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, that's another one of the recommendations, is ping pong. 

[00:16:53]Luke Storey:  Oh, really? 

[00:16:53]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. And I'm not kidding. It’s the best brain game, where you have to get your eyes, your hands and feet all to work together while you think about this spin on the ball. 

[00:17:03]Luke Storey:  Right.

[00:17:03]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, it's aerobic chess. And when you play at a reasonably high level, very aerobic, but it's good to activate your cerebellum.

[00:17:13]Luke Storey:  Hmm. Cool. 

[00:17:13]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And people who play racket sports live longer than everybody else. 

[00:17:18]Luke Storey:  Wow.

[00:17:18]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, football players don't live longer than anybody else. Soccer don't live longer than anybody else. Swimmers second best, but the best was tennis, table tennis, squash, racket ball. And I think it's because they're activating the cerebellum.

[00:17:34]Luke Storey:  Wow. Interesting. With the thymus being overactive, would that be indicative of early emotional trauma? Kind of like a limbic system feedback loop thing that was activated at some point. 

[00:17:49]Dr. Daniel Amen:  You bet. And if you're not careful, sometimes, they can go with depression. And it can sort of color the world more negative than is helpful. There's actually a pattern of PTSD that is this, but it's other things that are really active as well. I'm doing a program for the Newport Beach Police Department. And what we find in first responders is their brain becomes—their limbic brain becomes hyperactive because they're always having to watch for danger. And when you grow up with an unpredictable environment, your brain learns it better watch or bad things could happen.

[00:18:40]Luke Storey:  Right. Have you heard of Annie Hopper and the DNRS? 

[00:18:45]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I have. 

[00:18:45]Luke Storey:  Are you familiar with that? 

[00:18:46]Dr. Daniel Amen:  You know, I just sort of peripherally. 

[00:18:48]Luke Storey:  Yeah, I've been dipping into that a bit. She has these courses that you can go to and there's an online course and whatnot. And a lot of people with EMF sensitivities and chemical sensitivities, I mean, people that, you know, find it, they're unable to live their life because of those things and other issues like that. She's been very successful at completely healing people of those and just random body pain and all sorts of weird sort of phantom thing, the kind of issues where you go to a psychiatrist and they tell you it's all in your head kind of things, you know. 

[00:19:21]Dr. Daniel Amen:  That is all in your head. It's in the six inches between your errors.

[00:19:25]Luke Storey:  So, her program, my dad has had a lot of success with it. And it has to do with this limbic system trauma loop where early in life or even throughout your adult life, even a car accident, you know, to child abuse and things like that, but everything in between, where you get stuck in that limbic system trauma loop and then, in your everyday waking life. Now, you get triggered by something that's totally safe and unrelated. But because you're in that hypervigilant state, you become even more susceptible to real and imagined threats in the environment. 

[00:19:56] So, it reminds me of the first responder kind of thing there where you just sort of get stuck in that. And I felt that during my life, at different times, where spiritually, intellectually, I know the thing that I'm afraid of or upset about is not real. You know, I've worked—I've done the Byron Katie work a lot. I've done all of it, you know. So, I know, but I still can't make it stop. I have an intellectual understanding that this is a limbic system thing. That's adrenaline. It's cortisol. It's not real, but still the effect of it is paralyzing sometimes.

[00:20:26]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And so, finding a way to calm this down would be helpful as long as we activate your cerebellum at the same time. 

[00:20:33]Luke Storey:  Oh, interesting. 

[00:20:33]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Because sometimes, if we calm things down too much, you might feel better, but it will cause other problems. 

[00:20:42]Luke Storey:  Got it. Interesting. 

[00:20:44]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Okay. So, the really important picture is this one because when I saw your scan, I'm like, “This is a trauma scan.” If it was a substance abuse that was still there, I would see lots of holes or decreases in the back. It's a little bumpy, but that's not the issue. The issue is right here. It's both of your temporal lobes got hurt and the left side of your frontal lobes got hurt. And it's asymmetrical. So, it's worse on the left than on the right, although we need to repair these guys because if we don't repair them, you're going to notice your memories going to get worse and worse over time. And the cool thing is I actually can show it to you on my computer. So, here's what we're looking at. 

[00:21:46]Luke Storey:  So, that big hole on the upper right is not supposed to be there?

[00:21:50]Dr. Daniel Amen:  It's not supposed to be there. 

[00:21:51]Luke Storey:  Whoa. You guys, I'm looking at this angle of the brain. And as I said, you know, you can go see the video of this, but for explanation purposes, yeah, there's a couple big gouges in there that-

[00:22:06]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, now, the holes aren’t physical holes. They're functional.

[00:22:10]Luke Storey:  Lack of blood flow. 

[00:22:13]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, it's decreased blood flow.

[00:22:14]Luke Storey:  Got it. 

[00:22:14]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, how I make these pictures is I set a threshold and I said, “I want to see this level of brain activity.” Anything below that shows up as a hole or a dent. 

[00:22:23]Luke Storey:  Got it.

[00:22:24]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Now, if you do everything I ask you to do, in three months, six months, your brain can look like that.

[00:22:41]Luke Storey:  Really?

[00:22:41]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Which it can be really healthy. So, you have no dead areas in your brain, but this is not healthy for you to have sleepy temporal lobes and mostly on the left frontal. And that's probably why you didn't do well on the maze because that's a frontal lobe function. And if we can repair it, do you know Joe Polish? 

[00:23:10]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[00:23:11]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, Joe and I had been friends for a long time. I have seven of his scans. 

[00:23:14]Luke Storey:  Oh, really?

[00:23:15]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, the first one sort of looks like yours, actually very much like yours. 

[00:23:18]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[00:23:19]Dr. Daniel Amen:  He got beaned in the head with a baseball when he was 10. And then, he had an addiction and his second scan five months later was better. Five years later, this is just stunningly normal. 

[00:23:34]Luke Storey:  Wow. 

[00:23:36]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, this is like the brain envy moment. 

[00:23:41]Luke Storey:  Yeah. 

[00:23:43]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right. When I—1991 when I started scanning people, I scanned my mom who is 60 at the time and she had a stunningly beautiful brain. And then, I scanned myself and it looked like crap. I'm like, “Why does my brain look like crap?” I played football in high school. I had meningitis as a young soldier. I was overweight. I was eating lots of fast food. I wasn't sleeping. I was chronically stressed. And I developed this concept I call brain envy. Freud was wrong. It was about three feet too low in the body.

[00:24:14]Luke Storey:  Right.

[00:24:14]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I've not seen one case of penis envy 40 years being a psychiatrist. It's brain envy, you have to start caring about it. And when I didn't start taking care of it, my brain got much better. And so, this is what I expect from you. But say you don't get serious, ultimately, over time, your brain goes the wrong way. And so, most people, when they're 48, never look at their brain. And we know that Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia start decades before you have any symptoms. So, if your first symptom is, say, my age, 65, you likely had trouble in your brain in your 40s. The fact that you know and then, we can begin to reverse it, we may extend your cognitive life 20 or 30 years. And that's pretty exciting, I think.

[00:25:21]Luke Storey:  Wow. Yeah.

[00:25:22]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, the brain is one of the only organs we do not routinely screen. We screen breasts. We screen prostate glands. We screen hearts. We screen bones. But not the thing that makes you, you, which is your brain. 

[00:25:42]Luke Storey:  Would—this scan and what you're seeing here that is obviously not desirable, would that have been any different if, you know, like yesterday or this morning, I had exercise really hard and increased blood flow or if I had caffeine or nootropics or smart drugs or is there anything I could have done to trick the scan, so to speak, where it would've looked better today than it does?

[00:26:07]Dr. Daniel Amen:  You know, they did a set-

[00:26:08]Luke Storey:  How much variation do you get out from a day-to-day or month-to-month depending on how someone's doing? 

[00:26:12]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, they said at UCLA, that said over three weeks, there was less than 3% variability. Now, I've done 160,000 of these and I know if you're a woman and you have significant PMS, your brain really does change over your cycle, that during the worst time of the cycle, your brain's going to look very different than the best time of your cycle. I know if you got drunk and we scanned you're drunk because I've done that for court cases. 

[00:26:43]Luke Storey:  Oh, really? 

[00:26:44]Dr. Daniel Amen:  There's one guy who committed his crime when he was drunk. So, I replicated, I scanned him sober and then, I scanned him drunk and his brain was very different. And, you know, people are different when they're drunk. Sleep deprivation can make it look worse. We ask people to hold caffeine the day of their scan because caffeine constricts blood flow to the brain. So, generally, your scan is going to be your scan. And for you, we want to make it better. 

[00:27:19]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Cool. 

[00:27:22]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And so, if we look at your temporal lobes, things like memory and mood stability, learning and frontal lobes, focus, forethought, judgment, impulse control, planning, things like that. So, if I just sort of listen to your symptoms, I might think, “Oh, he's a little OCD and put you on a serotonin drug.” What do serotonin drugs do? They relax the brain, they calm the brain. And do you really want to calm a brain that's already sleepy? That's a bad idea. And so, I know you take Modafinil. 

[00:28:07] And that's helpful to you and that makes sense because it stimulates the brain. And so, I would be a fan of that. What I'd really be a fan of is, is there anything that's suppressing brain activity? Because we want to stop that. And then, how can we boost it? So, I think if you've not been tested for Lyme, for heavy metals, for mold exposure, you know, because whenever I see a scan that's sleepy, I'm thinking to myself, “So, what could cause this?” The head traumas you had when you were young. Some of the substance issues, that could certainly do it. 

[00:28:52] But the head trauma was a very long time ago. The substance issues were very long time ago. Is there anything currently that could be contributing to the problem? Low testosterone, for example, can do it as well. So, one of the things I would want to do is, well, let's get a whole lab panel on you and see if there's anything contributing to this. Where you live, has there ever been a flood? Has there ever been any mold and like I'm a psychiatrist, why do I care about that? Because I started seeing scans that weren't healthy and then, like I come to realize, “Oh, they lived in a home filled with mold or they worked in a building that was old that had water damage. 

[00:29:40]Luke Storey:  Yeah, totally makes sense. 

[00:29:42]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. Do you know Dave Asprey? 

[00:29:43]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Yeah, of course. Yeah. He's been on the show a couple of times. 

[00:29:45]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, I love Dave and 13, 14 years ago, he got a scan. And it looked like crap. Yours looks great compared to his original.

[00:29:55]Luke Storey:  Oh, that's good. 

[00:29:56]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And we found out he was living in a home filled with mold. 

[00:30:00]Luke Storey:  I remember that, yeah.

[00:30:00]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And then, I have his scan 12 years later, it's so much better, which is what makes me super happy. 

[00:30:08]Luke Storey:  Oh, that's what's interesting about this because I'm, you know, looking back at the past 23 years, and I mean, I've never met anyone except maybe Dave that is committed to health and wellbeing and all of the different areas as myself. I mean, there's just no one that keeps up with the regimen, you know what I mean? From the hyperbaric oxygen to the saunas to getting labs like detoxing heavy metals, checking the house for mold. I'm just like, I can't believe like-

[00:30:34]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, how many hyperbaric sessions have you had? 

[00:30:37]Luke Storey:  Oh, probably, I've not done a series of them, a bunch in a row. They've all been kind of sporadic and random. When I fly, I'll go get one—you know, do one or something like that. I've probably done, I want to say, maybe between 15 and 20 over the course of, you know, 20 years. 

[00:30:55]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. So, I'd get serious about it.

[00:30:57]Luke Storey:  Yeah?

[00:30:57]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And I’d do a hundred.

[00:30:59]Luke Storey:  Really? 

[00:31:00]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. 

[00:31:00]Luke Storey:  That's great. Because I just met a guy that just opened up a really fancy wellness center in West Hollywood and he's got a great chamber in there. 

[00:31:08]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And I think if you did—you know, a lot of my patients get soft chambers because they can have them at home.

[00:31:14]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[00:31:15]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And I think they help. But if you could do a heart chamber, 1.5 atmospheres, 100% oxygen, you know, at least 60 and then, we could do another scan and go, “How are we doing?” 

[00:31:30]Luke Storey:  Cool. I like that because that's very tangible. 

[00:31:33]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And I did a study on soldiers who had blast injuries and also had PTSD. They did an average of 40 sessions at that pressure. Significant improvements in blood flow to their brain along with mood, memory and so on. 

[00:31:51]Luke Storey:  Wow. Cool. 

[00:31:52]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And it may be because of the sleepiness in your brain, but the goodness of your character that you've worked so hard and you're going, you know, “I could still feel better.”

[00:32:06]Luke Storey:  For sure. I mean, my memory is shit. I'm just kind of—I haven't accepted it in a, you know, like self-pity kind of sense, it's just, I go, “Hey, you know, I do the best I can. I work with what I've got and I've just kind of like surrendered to, it is what it is. And I'm going to stay as healthy as I can”, but I mean, I know-

[00:32:24]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I don't want you to surrender it, I want you to be a warrior.

[00:32:28]Luke Storey:  I know. When I walked downstairs to go, “What was I doing?” I go, “Dude, I'm only 49”, like you're not supposed to be doing that yet. If ever, maybe, you know? 

[00:32:37]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right. That's the big lie, that, “Oh, I'm 49 I'm not supposed to remember anything.”

[00:32:42]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[00:32:42]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I'm 69 and I'm not supposed to. It's like, no, it's never. I mean, it's often normal, right? A whole bunch of other people your age feel it, but it's not optimal. It's not healthy. You know, 50% of people, 85 will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. That's normal. And I want no part of it. 

[00:33:02]Luke Storey:  Yeah. We don't want that normal. I don't want that life. 

[00:33:05]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. So, hyperbaric oxygen can really help.

[00:33:08]Luke Storey:  So, if I'm setting a goal of a hundred sessions, this, they go all in, how many a week would one want to do? 

[00:33:14]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Five.

[00:33:15]Luke Storey:  Oh, just do it like-

[00:33:16]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Just do it as often as you can do it.

[00:33:18]Luke Storey:  Okay.

[00:33:18]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I have NHL players who have concussions and they want to go back and play. They'll do two a day. 

[00:33:27]Luke Storey:  Wow. Cool. 

[00:33:29]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, it's not going to hurt you. 

[00:33:30]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[00:33:34]Dr. Daniel Amen:  It can be helpful. And the reason I found it, a friend of mine at UCLA who was doing SPECT before I was, we were at a conference together and he showed me two scans. He said, before hyperbarics, after hyperbarics, it increases blood flow on SPECT and, you know, I've been ordering it for three years.

[00:33:56]Luke Storey:  That would explain why it's so useful for erectile dysfunction then, too. 

[00:34:00]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Blood flow. 

[00:34:02]Luke Storey:  That makes sense. 

[00:34:03]Dr. Daniel Amen:  All about blood flow.

[00:34:04]Luke Storey:  I just interviewed a guy named Dr. Scott Sherr, who's up in the Bay area. He's got a practice and he's now my doctor. I just did a bunch of labs with him actually. But I'm going to like—I'm going to go back with this lens and be like, “Hey, did you see anything that would be contributing to this?” But he's one of the big kind of experts on hyperbaric, so we just did an-hour-and-a-half show on it. So, that's how I learned that little piece of information. 

[00:34:26]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, now, I'll give you the motivation to get in a chamber.

[00:34:30]Luke Storey:  For sure. 

[00:34:30]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. Now, I think that will help you a lot. And then, what I did with our NFL players, so I did the first and largest study on active and retired NFL players. We've had over 300 players. And the level of damage is ridiculous. I mean, It's like, okay, let's stop lying. This is a brain damage in sport. Doesn't mean you might not play. It's like firefighters, right? They had some brain-damaging job. It's just so clear to me. Almost all the firefighters I see, their brains look terrible. 

[00:35:03]Luke Storey:  Because of toxin exposure? 

[00:35:05]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Toxins, falls, very high level of head trauma and emotional trauma.

[00:35:12]Luke Storey:  Oh, right. 

[00:35:13]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Which is clearly bad for your brain, but does that mean we're not going to have firefighters because it's a brain-damaging job? No, you have to have firefighters. And so—so anyways, if you're going to play football, you should be doing everything else right. You should be repairing your brain all the way along. And I also put my players on a high-dose, high-quality multiple vitamin we created for them. High-dose fish oil like 5.6 grams and a brain boost that works in a number of different ways. And I put those together and 80% of our players showed improvements in blood flow, motivation, memory, mood and sleep.

[00:36:00]Luke Storey:  Wow. 

[00:36:00]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, supplementation would be-

[00:36:01]Luke Storey:  And those are like the toughest customers too. I mean, just right here.

[00:36:05]Dr. Daniel Amen:  But, you know, I love them because they're used to being coached. 

[00:36:09]Luke Storey:  Right. That's a good point. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:36:10]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And they don't argue with me. 

[00:36:11]Luke Storey:  Right. They're good at compliance. 

[00:36:13]Dr. Daniel Amen:  They're compliant. 

[00:36:14]Luke Storey:  That's cool. 

[00:36:15]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. It's like, “Hey, coach, put me in.”

[00:36:17]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Yeah.

[00:36:18]Dr. Daniel Amen:  My favorite player, one of my favorite players is Anthony Davis, the hall of fame running back from USC. He's called the Notre Dame killer because in 1972, he scored six touchdowns against the University of Notre Dame. And he came to see me when he was 54. No memory, really irritable. Was starting to get into fights that he shouldn't have been getting into. And one day, he got confused on the freeway and he just stopped his car on the side and he is like, “I have no idea where I'm going.”

[00:36:49]Luke Storey:  Whoa. 

[00:36:49]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And he called the head of the pharmacy department at USC who sent him to see me. And his brain at 54 looked like he was 90, and it was bad for 90. And he's just like, “Hey, coach, what do I do?” And he took those supplements. He's taken them for 10 years. Actually, his brain, 10 years apart. And he's the one that helped me do our NFL study.

[00:37:13]Luke Storey:  Oh, cool. 

[00:37:14]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. 

[00:37:14]Luke Storey:  And for parents listening, I've heard you talk before about the dangers of both football and soccer. I mean, if you had a kid right now that was 10 years old and was obsessed with football, would you let him play? 

[00:37:28]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Absolutely not. Your brain is soft. It's about the consistency of soft butter.

[00:37:35]Luke Storey:  Wow. 

[00:37:35]Dr. Daniel Amen:  People don't know that. They think it's sort of firm, fixed and rubbery. 

[00:37:38]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[00:37:38]Dr. Daniel Amen:  That's what happens after you die.

[00:37:39]Luke Storey:  But when we asked them embalmed, right? 

[00:37:41]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right. After you die and they fix it in formaldehyde, it gets like that. 

[00:37:43]Luke Storey:  Right.

[00:37:44]Dr. Daniel Amen:  But in your skull, it's like soft butter or tofu, custard, somewhere in between eggs, white gel.

[00:37:51]Luke Storey:  Wow. That’s crazy.

[00:37:51]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And this is the problem. Okay. Your brain is not smooth—your skull, I'm sorry, is not smooth. It sits in a very hard shell. 

[00:38:01]Luke Storey:  Oh, so the inside doesn't—isn't smooth like the outside. I think how I picture the inside of your skull is just completely symmetrical and smooth, like, you know, when you shave your head, it looks like that, just reversed, but there are compartments and- 

[00:38:12]Dr. Daniel Amen:  No, it has a sharp, bony ridges. And some really important parts of your brain, like your amygdala and hippocampus. So, amygdala involved in fear and emotional regulation. Hippocampus is memory and mood. They sit right behind this very sharp, bony ridge. And when I was talking to God about this, I'm like, “Why didn't you put bumper guards there?” I mean, I'm like, “Seriously?” And he's like, “How would I know they'd like bang their heads? Isn't that stupid?”

[00:38:47]Luke Storey:  “We didn't know you dumbasses were going to invent football.” And the same goes for soccer, like doing headers, I remember being a kid and like it was like really cool if you could bounce the ball off your head. And soccer balls are not—it's not like a volleyball. I mean, they're big, thick. They're heavy. 

[00:39:01]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right. And imagine when they get wet. 

[00:39:03]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Oh, wow. 

[00:39:05]Dr. Daniel Amen:  That's really a disaster. And it's not just heading the soccer balls. It's heads hitting heads, heads hitting knees, heads hitting the goalpost, heads hitting the ground. There are so many different ways to get a concussion.

[00:39:19]Luke Storey:  Wow.

[00:39:20]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And people, “Oh, come on, be a man.” And it's like, “Well, are you really a man when your brain works right or when your brain works wrong?” I mean, when your brain doesn't work right, you're more likely to beat your wife. You're more likely to make bad financial decisions. You're more likely to struggle in school. It's like, no, that's not being a man. I mean, you know, I think we have this wrong idea and that's why we want to create brain-safe sports, table tennis, tennis, golf, and avoid brain-damaging sports. 

[00:39:56]Luke Storey:  Cool. Is there anything else on the scans that we want to look at before I start going into some other stuff?

[00:40:03]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, you know, the thing I really want you to see is how much better it can be, that this scan, as we talked about when we started, is only good news because despite what you've done, it's not worked as well—I mean, who knows what your brain would look like now- 

[00:40:24]Luke Storey:  I wish I had one from 1997. Oh my God. 

[00:40:27]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Who knows what's your life would be like, right?

[00:40:30]Luke Storey:  Right.

[00:40:30]Dr. Daniel Amen:  If you wouldn't have made those good decisions, but it can be better still. And that's what I get really excited about. 

[00:40:40]Luke Storey:  Cool. I want to ask you about your perspective of mental illness. Your new book's called The End of Mental Illness, which I think will be—it's on preorder now as the time of this. 

[00:40:52]Dr. Daniel Amen:  It is.

[00:40:52]Luke Storey:  So, by the time this comes out, it'll be out. And I love the way you talk about kind of reframing mental illness and removing the shame and the stigma out of it because I think historically, mental illness has had this connotation that there's something wrong with the person on just the level of their humanity and your perspective is that there's something wrong with their physical brain, just like if you had a bad arm and you walked by people and actually kept hitting people doesn’t make you a bad person? Just means your arm does not work right. So, what's the kind of premise of your book in how you're framing the different things that we call mental illness? 

[00:41:32]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I've hated the term mental illness ever since I decided to be a psychiatrist. I think it's shaming, it's demeaning and it's not accurate. These things aren't mental, they're brain. And that one distinction, it just begins to change everything because people see their problems as medical and not moral. It decreases shame. It decreases guilt. It increases compliance because people want a better brain. It increases forgiveness and compassion from families. And it's more accurate. I'm also a child psychiatrist. 

[00:42:20] And I did my child psychiatric training in Hawaii, a joint program with the University of Hawaii and Tripler Army Medical Center. I was in the army at the time. And what a lot of people don't know is Hawaii is really an Asian culture. 70% of the population is Japanese, Korean or Chinese. And in Asian cultures, I'll probably get myself into trouble here, they're shame-based cultures. And you never want to do anything to bring shame to your family. And so, mental illness, no, we don't have mental illness in our families. 

[00:43:03] And so, the kids or the adults have to be so sick before they say, “I'm in trouble, please help me.” But these same families, what I've seen, will do virtually anything to give their child an edge in school. And if we just change the conversation from mental illness, which people want to hide from and they're ashamed of. To brain health, if we optimize your child's brain, they're going to do better in school. They're going to be able to get into a better school, get a better job, be able to take care of you later on in life. They're all in on that. 

[00:43:51] I think I have 12 books translated into Korean, Japanese, and Chinese because the message resonates. Let's not shame people, let's optimize their brain and they'll figure out how to do their lives. And what psychiatry has become is embarrassing to me. When I went to medical school and fell in love with psychiatry, my first wife tried to kill herself. And I took her to see a wonderful psychiatrist. And I came to realize if he helped her, it wouldn’t just help her, it would help me and help our babies and our grand babies. 

[00:44:30] So, I knew this could change generations of people. I fell in love with the only medical specialty that never looked at the organ it treats. And I'm like, “Well, that's insane.” So, let's change this. And when I started looking at the brain, it changed everything. I can't make diagnoses just based on symptoms. So, based on your symptoms, I'll give you this diagnosis, but how the hell do I know what's actually going on in your brain? And I don't want to hurt you. And all psychiatric medicines, all of them have black box warnings. 

[00:45:05] What does that mean? The FDA has decided this medicine, yes, it may help some people, but it may kill some other people that these are dangerous drugs. And yet, 85% of psychiatric drugs are prescribed by non-psychiatric physicians. You know, your family doctor, your physician assistants, your nurse practitioner, 85% of these black-box-warning drugs prescribed by non-psychiatric physicians in seven-minute office visits who do standard of care treatment 12% of the time. It's like, this has just turned into a disaster where psychiatrists are now the 15-minute med check doctors, rather than really taking a whole person approach. 

[00:45:52] And in the end of mental illness, it's like, okay, this is brain, but it's not just brain. I always talk about our four circles that I want to look at your biology, you know, that's what we looked at with your SPECT scan, which you look at with your labs. I want to look at your biology, but I also want to look at your psychology. How do you think? What developmental dragons do you have from the past that are still haunting you? What's the social circle? How's your job? How's your relationships? And what's your spiritual circle? 

[00:46:27] Which very few psychiatrists I know would touch, but we're all spiritual beings. And 80% of us have really deep-rooted spiritual beliefs about why we're on the planet and why we care. And so, I think getting well is hyperbarics for your brain and targeted supplementation and all the health stuff you're doing, but it's also working on your mind, teaching you not to believe every stupid thing you think. I love Byron Katie's work. Also, like EMDR to help calm down your emotional brain. It's a specific psychological treatment for trauma. 

[00:47:09] I like helping people get their relationships better. And I want to know, for all of my patients, why the heck do you care? Why are you on the planet? Do you believe you’re here just by random chance and your life has no meaning or what meaning have you created? Because speaking of Byron Katie, who's this just wonderful spiritual teacher, she and I are friends and I have her brain. And she has the brain of a murderer. I could get her off. If she killed her husband, I could probably say probably wouldn't put her to death. 

[00:47:46]Luke Storey:  Her brain.

[00:47:46]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Her brain was terrible.

[00:47:48]Luke Storey:  Really? Got. That’s so fascinating. 

[00:47:49]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And what's interesting-

[00:47:50]Luke Storey:  Because she seems she has such a gift in her ability to communicate in her intuition and just her—I mean, you know, she would not call herself enlightened because she's too humble to do that. But I've met few people that have those types of insights. And to me, that would indicate that sure, spiritually, something's happened. Yeah. I think her brain would be pristine. 

[00:48:10]Dr. Daniel Amen:  No.

[00:48:11]Luke Storey:  Because she's so-

[00:48:11]Dr. Daniel Amen:  But if you know her story, she woke up on the floor of a halfway house in Barstow, California in 1986. 

[00:48:18]Luke Storey:  That's a really bad start.

[00:48:21]Dr. Daniel Amen:  In 1986, because she was a ranger and an alcoholic and had eating disorders. And she was a nightmare, mother and wife. And she woke up on the floor and she realized when she believed her thoughts, she suffered. But when she didn't believe her thoughts, she didn't suffer anymore. And what it tells me is even if your brain isn't as healthy as it could be, of course, we work on that because life becomes easier, but working on the other circles, not believing every stupid thing you think, being connected, being purposeful. I've had the opportunity to see the scans of some of the mass school shooters. And Kip Kinkel comes to mind, murdered his mom and dad in 1998 and then, he went to his high school and shot 25 people.

[00:49:23]Luke Storey:  Wow.

[00:49:23]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And based on my work, they scanned him in Portland and he had a devastated brain, but he also had dark, evil thoughts that he had no control over. He had no relationships and no purpose. So, when you have-

[00:49:43]Luke Storey:  Was he on psychiatric medications? 

[00:49:44]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And he had taken Prozac and Ritalin and they both made him worse. And he didn't have a brain-

[00:49:52]Luke Storey:  Because no one looked at his brain.

[00:49:52]Dr. Daniel Amen:  ... that would work on Prozac and Ritalin. They would make him worse. Right. They didn't have any map. So, I'm basically in a mapless profession and I had no clue. When I first started scanning people, I'm like, “well, this is the future. Of course, people would do this.” You know, cardiologists look, your neurologists look, orthopedic doctor looks, gastroenterologists look, proctologists look. Everybody looks, psychiatrists guess. And I'm like, “Not okay.” Nobody should be okay with the paradigm. 

[00:50:28] But when you mix complexity with a lot of money, that paradigms don't get changed, the status quo takes over and the billions of dollars that are invested in the current diagnostic model, I'm going to base—I'm going to diagnose you as bipolar based on your symptoms with no biological data. And, you know, pharmaceutical companies don't want to be in the order business, where, “Here, take this medicine and let's fix you.” They want to be in the reorder business.

[00:51:02]Luke Storey:  Right.

[00:51:02]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, they're really interested in creating a chronic disease patient because that's—you know, it's sort of like why Uber works because it's a subscription model, right? Or Amazon prime, they built a subscription model. That's really what the pharmaceutical companies are after. They’re after a lifelong customer, not, “Let's get you well.” 

[00:51:28]Luke Storey:  Well, when I first sobered up, I was 26 and I had just insane thoughts tormenting me all the time. I just would, you know, kind of wiz between depression and anxiety. And I was just a train wreck. And I went to a psychiatrist in Century City and described my symptoms, which later, I came to just see as unresolved trauma. And just, you know, I had to learn how to meditate and have a spiritual way of life and have a meaning and purpose-based life, which I didn't have. So, there were a lot of other factors that unfolded. But in one session, he wrote a script for something called Effexor and got me on that. 

[00:52:09] And it made me crazy. I was so much worse, like I became so compulsive and so obsessive and just like it acted like I'm amphetamine, you know. That's kind of like how it reacted in my brain and body. And it was terrifying because here, I had just gotten off drugs, right? I'd gone to rehab and I mean, I kicked some really difficult drugs to get off. And I was free finally and I was so happy about that. But then, I became really what felt like addicted to this Effexor. And if I started to run out, I would just start to lose my shit. And then, he became kind of my dealer. And that was kind of when I got a view into that world that whoever's making this medicine doesn't want me to take it for 30 days and then, throw the bottle. It's not an antibiotic. You know what I mean? This is something-

[00:52:58]Dr. Daniel Amen:  No. And stopping it is a nightmare. 

[00:53:00]Luke Storey:  Yeah, very much so.

[00:53:01]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Now, just to be clear, I'm not opposed to psychiatric drugs.

[00:53:05]Luke Storey:  I know you're not, yeah.

[00:53:06]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I'm opposed to that’s the first and only thing you do because that is just freaking insane. So, head-to-head against antidepressants like Effexor, fish oil has been found to be equally effective. Head-to-head against antidepressants like Effexor, exercise has been found to be equally effective. Head-to-head against antidepressants, learning how to not believe every stupid thing you think has been found to be really effective.

[00:53:39]Luke Storey:  Right. That’s-

[00:53:39]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, when you come to see me, why don't we first work on, “Here, take fish oil, walk like you're late 45 minutes, four times a week. Let's begin to correct the way you think and then, begin to bring up and work on the unresolved trauma”? I had this great case recently of the son of someone who was a gang leader. And he had a fear of public speaking. And I mean, would get panicky. And so, I have a bridging technique I use, which is, “So, tell me, before you give a talk, what are you thinking and feeling?” “Petrified, like I'm on death row and they just opened the door to my cell and I have to take that first step.” I'm like, “Whoa.” I said, “Close your eyes. I want you to go back to a time when you felt like that.” 

[00:54:45] Starts crying. Nine years old. He's at the Los Angeles Superior Court. He has to give an impact statement for his father who was on trial for murder in a death penalty case. Now, I can drug you so that we never have to talk about that memory, but is that really going to help you? And I helped him see that nine-year-old as a hero rather than this a scared little boy, that he was involved in saving his dad's life. And he's powerful. But if you don't shift the story, then he doesn't know why, he just feels like he's weak and inadequate and flawed. And how's that helpful? Right? We have to learn to change the stories that we have in our head. And sometimes, it has to do with how your brain works. 

[00:55:46]Luke Storey:  It seems to me after all of these years of just sort of unpacking my history in addiction and then, working through, you know, getting off of that medication at one point and questioning my thoughts and practicing meditation, all of these things, where I’ve arrived is that most of our issues when it comes to, especially addictions, but also just other types of disorders that people encounter, if they don't happen to be wired toward using drugs and alcohol as their medicine, they might find some other way of behaving that, you know, masks that trauma, but it all seems to come from trauma. 

[00:56:22] And especially, it seems around year zero to seven or maybe even zero to 12 that those of us, and this is true for so many of my friends and my interpersonal relationships, that we experienced some acute trauma and almost all of them end up being drug addicts or alcoholics. And so, once you find a recovery program and you check yourself into treatment or whatever route you take, and you get the monkey off your back, then the real work begins much like this kid, right? So, the real work is like not just numbing something with medication or street drugs, but like going back to look. 

[00:56:59] When it comes to healing that trauma, originally, so that perhaps we can avoid taking medication or street drugs or something like that, you mentioned EMDR as something effective. What about—there's two things that come to mind. One, I just did a session called PSYCH K, something Bruce Lipton told me about. PSYCH K, it's kind of an obscure—it's a little bit like EMDR. But the idea behind those is you're kind of reprogramming the subconscious mind or hypnotherapy, things like that. So, there's things you can do with the practitioner. Something that I found extremely useful for kind of uncovering the root of some of these things was taken ayahuasca. 

[00:57:40] And I did four ceremonies about a year ago and did a whole podcast trilogy in Costa Rica about this experience. And it's a long story and I already covered it. But from your perspective, do ceremonial, traditional plant medicines have a place in healing trauma? And also, something that's now kind of re-emerging after being dormant for maybe 25 years is the clinical use of psychedelics, which I find to be fascinating. So, things like psilocybin and ketamine and MDMA used in a clinical setting to heal past traumas and to get people past those things so that they don't have to use self-destructive behaviors to sort of numb the pain. So, what's your point of view on that side of things or do you have one at this point?

[00:58:28]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Oh, I do. You know, the big innovations in psychiatry in 2019 is the legalization of marijuana for everything and hallucinogens, which horrifies me. 

[00:58:42]Luke Storey:  It does?

[00:58:43]Dr. Daniel Amen:  It absolutely does. In fact, Joe Polish, I mentioned him, and I love Joe, he has this beautiful brain and he's doing a documentary on ibogaine, which is like ayahuasca.

[00:58:56]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[00:58:57]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And I'm like, “Please don't do that.” Because my experience looking at scans before and after is generally not good.

[00:59:05]Luke Storey:  Really?

[00:59:06]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And I get attached to the brains I treat. And his is better. I mean, his is like freaking normal, when it came, it’s damaged to me. But he didn’t listen to me. And I scanned him afterwards. And his brain looked like crap again. And so, I just wonder if that experience maybe involved in your brain because you've worked so hard. I'm a fan of ketamine if I have a suicidal patient and nothing is working.

[00:59:45]Luke Storey:  Right.

[00:59:45]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And I would go to ketamine before I would go to ECT, electric shock therapy, which actually works for people who are acutely suicidal. I like TMS way better than both of them, transcranial magnetic stimulation, but there's all this interest. Michael Poland wrote a book on hallucinogens. And he also wrote a book on food. Did you know that if you change your diet, your mood gets better, that it actually can be a treatment for depression? There's this a fun study from Australia where they looked at two outer islands. One had fast food restaurants, the other one didn't. The island with fast food restaurants, low levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and five times the level of depression. It's the food. 

[01:00:37] And so, I get bothered by—and I'm for the legalization of marijuana. Please don't put potheads in jail. But I'm also for, “Let's educate people that this is not a good thing for you.” I published two studies, one in a thousand people who smoked pot every year, their brain was slower. And, you know, I have no dog in the fight. The scans look terrible. That's meaningful. I published another study on 62,454 scans, so world's largest imaging study, on how the brain ages. And then, we looked at, “Well, what accelerated aging?” Marijuana was one of the worst things that accelerated aging. Worse than alcohol, worse than nicotine.

[01:01:24]Luke Storey:  Really? Worse than alcohol? 

[01:01:27]Dr. Daniel Amen:  None of those things are good for you. 

[01:01:29]Luke Storey:  Right.

[01:01:30]Dr. Daniel Amen:  None of those things are good for you, but I'm concerned that it's not the right discussion, that the right discussion is what is it we can do in those four circles that will serve your health rather than potentially hurt your health?

[01:01:50]Luke Storey:  When it comes to the difference between someone smoking pot and getting stoned all the time and damaging their brain and the use of CBD, do you think that CBD without the THC has a place? 

[01:02:03]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I think it's the Wild West and what I'm very concerned, again, think of complexity and money that the supplement industry is sort of growing 5% to 7% a year. The CBD market is growing like 600%. And so, all of these companies are going in, but what's not happening are the randomized double-blind placebo-controlled studies showing this is helpful or not. And they'll go, “But CBD has no psychoactive effects”, which is complete crap. Why would it work for seizure disorders? Why does it work for people with social anxiety if there's no psychoactive effects?

[01:02:46]Luke Storey:  Right.

[01:02:46]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Now, the THC and people just think of it as innocuous, right? If you're on the democratic presidential candidate, you know, on the debate stage, they make fun of Biden because he's like, “Well, I'm not sure about this.” You know, Cory Booker said, “Are you high when you said that?” And the fact is if you smoked as a teenager, it increases your risk of psychosis 450%. That's a replicated study from Norway. If you smoked as a teenager, it increases your risk of anxiety, depression and suicide in your 20s. I'm not okay with that. 

[01:03:26] Why are we teaching people to go to a drug, and you know this from your past experience, rather than we have a high school course that teaches kids to love their brain, why don't we teach them in the standardized way how not to believe every stupid thing you think? Why don't we teach them about Kundalini yoga and meditation? Why don't we teach them about loving your brain? The little tiny habit to love your brain is just ask yourself every day, “Is this good for my brain or bad for it?” And if you can answer that question with information and love, you begin to make better decisions. 

[01:04:00]Luke Storey:  So, your perspective then on the—whether they be the plant medicines in the more traditional route or the clinical psychedelics is that you're just not convinced that they're not bad for your brain, so people could have a spiritual insights or heal trauma, but there is perhaps repercussions of damage to the brain. While you might have—like for me, one of the many, many profound insights I had when I did ayahuasca the fourth time was that I saw my birth, I had like a vision of my birth and I once I was born, I was thrown in this other room in an incubator and just kind of no one could touch me or anything for about four days. 

[01:04:38] And I had this deep sense of abandonment and just being afraid and I could see then kind of these touch points of how that played out through my life, even up until now, to some degree. And so, it was able—it was a way for me to see, “Oh, there's like a core abandonment that happened then that I was on some level cognizant of that now, has kind of played itself out throughout life.” And there've been other instances of abandonment also. But that was just, you know, one little insight and it was very freeing because it helped me to see kind of the root of a certain trauma. 

[01:05:11] And there were a number of other ones just throughout life that from a more spiritual perspective, it allowed me to zoom out and kind of, oh, sort of forgive myself for having some of the behavioral tendencies that I have or some of the deep-seated fears. And in fact, also getting the sense it was setting me free from certain traumatic events in my life and kind of having a forgiveness for the perpetrators or forgiveness of myself if it was something that was a self-imposed, you know. That's not to say that those four ayahuasca journeys didn't hurt my brain, but it's almost like-

[01:05:44]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And maybe we could have gotten to that through a bridging exercise or through hypnoanalysis, which is where I actually learned the bridging exercise. I had this one boy who I just dearly loved, teenager who's having panic disorders and I put him in a trance and I'm like, “What are you thinking and feeling?” And he's like, “When he's had a panic attack because I can't breathe.” And so, I said, “Imagine yourself getting younger and smaller. Go back to the first time you had that feeling.” I mean, he was four and got a piece of steak stuck in his throat and somebody had to do the Heimlich. He turned blue. He thought it was going to die. And I'm like, “Well, go back even further. Is there any other episode?” And he went back and he said, “A baby and I'm all wet and I can't breathe and I'm going to die, and I'm completely scared.” His mom was in the room. He was born with the cord wrapped around his neck.

[01:06:44]Luke Storey:  Wow. 

[01:06:45]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And the only reason I know that's true because, you know, the brain can make stuff up. The brain is actually really good at making stuff up. 

[01:06:54]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Many of us have memories that we think are real that aren't. 

[01:06:57]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Absolutely.

[01:06:57]Luke Storey:  I’ve heard that. 

[01:06:58]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And that's why if you remember something in a hypnotic trance, it's not admissible in court because, you know, the doctor can lead you. Anyways, his mother was there and it was a real thing. Knowing that helped to free him from it. And then, I taught him how to do diaphragmatic breathing and not to believe every stupid thing you thought. And I gave him, you know, “Here are 10 things to do when you get a panic attack”, and the panic attacks over time went away. It's, first, do no harm. I, you know, think about that all the time. In The End of Mental Illness, there's actually a section—and I'm a fan of plant-based medicines. I own a supplement company called BrainMD. But I'm a fan of the ones that have randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trials, like for example, saffron. Head-to-head against imipramine, Prozac, Effexor, Lexapro and Celexa, equally effective.

[01:08:03]Luke Storey:  Saffron?

[01:08:03]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And saffron has no side effects. 

[01:08:05]Luke Storey:  That’s crazy.

[01:08:05]Dr. Daniel Amen:  In fact, all the SSRIs have sexual side effects. It's so irritating. You know, your libido goes down. Your ability to have an orgasm goes down. I don't like that for my patients, you know? I think sexuality and bonding is like really important.

[01:08:21]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[01:08:21]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And saffron’s pro-sexual. Saffron helps your memory. Saffron helps PMS. And I'm like, “Let's take saffron.” It helps to balance blood sugar. You know what I mean?

[01:08:35]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[01:08:35]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Let's go with this stuff that has good research that is safe. So, it's always, first, do no harm. At least, you know, for me, that's how I practice because I don't ever want to hurt someone. And the scans have been so helpful to me because I'm always thinking, “Is this going to help your brain or could it hurt your brain?” And if it's potentially going to hurt your brain, I'm opposed. 

[01:09:03]Luke Storey:  So, when it comes to trauma, what you're saying is there are other ways that absolutely have no potential side effects that we can actually get back into the recesses of your memory and your mind and heal those traumas in ways that don't require taking some of that potentially.

[01:09:17]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, that would be the first thing I would do.

[01:09:19]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[01:09:20]Dr. Daniel Amen:  That would be the first eight things I would do before I would subject you to something that could hurt you. 

[01:09:26]Luke Storey:  Right. 

[01:09:27]Dr. Daniel Amen:  The other thing that's actually pretty important for you that we really haven't discussed is the potential early head traumas. 

[01:09:34]Luke Storey:  Oh, right. 

[01:09:35]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Because it's clear to me, given your scan, that because it's more left-sided than both-sided is that’s physical trauma. Undiagnosed brain injuries are a major cause of psychiatric problems that nobody knows about. They're a cause of homelessness. According to a study from Toronto, 58% of the homeless men in Toronto had a significant brain injury before they were homeless. 42% of the homeless women. It’s a major cause of depression, anxiety attacks, suicide being diagnosed with ADHD and failing in school. And every year in the United States, 2 million new people have a head injury. That means over the last 40 years, there's 80 million people in this country likely walking around with the effects of traumatic brain injury. Your addictions may in part be, you weren't able to say no because the front part of your brain, I think of it as the brain's brake. It stops you. 

[01:10:49]Luke Storey:  Yeah. When you say that word, I'm like, I don't think I have that part, but that would be indicative of what we just looked at, right? 

[01:10:54]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. It stops you from saying things you shouldn't say or doing things that don't help you. 

[01:11:03]Luke Storey:  Might make you a good podcaster because I talk about things that other people aren’t willing to.

[01:11:09]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, creativity. 

[01:11:10]Luke Storey:  I mean, I have to manually put the brakes on sometimes because I'm like, “I don't think you can say that, Luke. Don't say that. Okay. Thank you.” By yourself. 

[01:11:17]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, if your prefrontal cortex works too hard, it's like the brake is always on. You don't make progress. But if it doesn't work hard enough, imagine you're at the top of Big Bear Mountain, I was at Big Bear last holiday season, and, you know, say, it's snowing out and you're in a Ferrari and you want to have fun going down this icy road, well, if your prefrontal cortex doesn't work hard enough, if you don't have breaks, you're likely going to die cause you would not be able to steer, guide your car. 

[01:11:59] Now, if the brakes are too hard, they work too often, you don't make it down either, right? So, you need a balanced frontal lobe. And so, that would be my goal for you is, how can we get this stronger, so you can still be creative, but you steer better? And before you say things or before you do things, this is going to help me get my goals. One thing I do with my patients, all of them, is an exercise called the one-page miracle. One piece of paper, I want you to write down what you want. Relationships, work, money, physical, emotional, spiritual, health. 

[01:12:43] What do you want? Because then, what we'll talk about, is your behavior getting you what you want? Do those actions, do those thoughts, do those emotions, are they serving you? Are they hurting you? So, for example, I always want a kind, caring, loving, supportive, passionate relationship with my wife, who's my best friend. Always want that. But I don't always feel like that. You know, these rude thoughts will come in my head and if I can—if my frontal lobe works right, I supervise them and go, “Does this help you or will this hurt you?” So, it's not, I shouldn't do this or I shouldn't do that, I'm always looking to, does my behavior help me get what I want? 

[01:13:34]Luke Storey:  When it comes to healing trauma, I had a thought, I’m just going back to that, it seems that neuroplasticity is part of that, you know, like healing old memories and traumas and building new memories and new ways of responding to the world rather than reacting. Does neuroplasticity—if you're working with modalities that have that net effect, does that show up in the scans as more blood flow or is that a completely different like mechanical action? Because neuroplasticity like create what a pretty brain, in other words.

[01:14:07]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, if we—you know, four months from now or six months from now or whenever we scan you again, neuroplasticity, we're going to see your brain heal, but it also can heal like common circuits in your brain. So, for example, it's about a decade ago, I did a study on police officers who were, well, involved in shootings and they all went off work. And they all had too much activity in their limbic brains. And we did, on average, eight sessions of EMDR. And you could see on the follow-up scan, it calmed. 

[01:14:49]Luke Storey:  Wow. Really? 

[01:14:50]Dr. Daniel Amen:  The limbic brain. And so, a psychological treatment has a biological effect. I mean, in reality, all four of these circles are working together all of the time. We just did a study on prayer. 

[01:15:06]Luke Storey:  Oh, really? 

[01:15:06]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. We did a study looking at conversational prayer. I pray for you speaking in tongues, which is actually channeling the Holy Spirit from the book of Acts, prophecy and discern. And it was so interesting because our hypothesis would be compared to conversational prayer, speaking in tongues would drop the function in your brain because if you're going to channel the Holy Spirit—we've actually done channelers as well, if you're going to channel the Holy Spirit, you have to drop the noise in your head. Like I always have a busy brain, so I'm not going to be a channeler. And 60% of our patients, that's exactly what they did. They dropped their frontal lobes, like, boom. It was so cool to watch. One of them completely lit up their pleasure centers, almost like we just injected them with cocaine. It's like, boom. I'm like, “I bet you do this a lot.”

[01:16:05]Luke Storey:  Wow. 

[01:16:07]Dr. Daniel Amen:  It was really interesting. 

[01:16:08]Luke Storey:  While doing their practice of prayer 

[01:16:10]Dr. Daniel Amen:  While doing the practice of prayer. 

[01:16:11]Luke Storey:  See, this is very interesting to me because as I said, in the beginning of the journey, you know, I was lacking any spirituality in my life and then, tried the meds, tried a few other things and then, eventually found like, “Wow, when I pray and meditate and I, you know, have a devotional life that I'm feeling much better and I'm able to witness those thoughts and be an observer of the mind”, Byron Katie. And then, it's like I never stopped those practices, but I still felt like at some points, I hit a wall and it's like, “God, there's something in my brain that's not letting me go further no matter how spiritual I get”, you know? 

[01:16:46] It's just interesting that I think with you having those four circles, it is so important because you can't just fix whatever's wrong with you by becoming spiritual and believing in God and being of service and living, you know, a more sanctified life. Like I don't think that alone does it if you're still eating McDonald's, right? And you can eat the healthiest food in the world and still have toxic thoughts and no connection to source or God and really be lacking. So, what I'm finding really interesting right now is the work of Joe Dispenza. I'm sure you're familiar to some degree.

[01:17:20] I feel like you guys would be buddies if you're not already, but it's really interesting how he's sort of making a very accessible approach to spirituality and bringing in practices like breathwork and a lot of things that are very reminiscent of Kundalini yoga, but kind of removing all the branding and the metaphor from it and any sort of attachment to any kind of cultural or religious connotations. And people are having these profound physiological healings and changes from spiritual practices. And then, he's quantifying them through all these studies. It's just fascinating. So, sort of, you know, it's kind of going backwards. It's like you're becoming your own psychiatrist in a sense from just doing these practices that move the energy. Do you have any knowledge of what he's doing or that kind of framework of healing?

[01:18:08]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, I loved his—the movie he was in, What the Bleep Do We Know.

[01:18:11]Luke Storey:  Right. 

[01:18:12]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Actually, paid for all of my staff to go see it and gave them three hours off to do that. 

[01:18:17]Luke Storey:  Oh, cool.

[01:18:17]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Because I liked it so much. It's just about how your mind affects your body. And I went to medical school at Oral Roberts University. Oral Roberts was a very famous faith healer. And if you think of it, faith healing where he puts—he would put his hands on people and they would literally fall to the floor. I mean, it was stunning. The level of energy he had—and I completely believe in energy transfer, that if you're around someone who's toxic, it makes you feel bad. I mean, you get headaches, you get stomach aches. We did another study on qigong. And we had a qigong master direct energy at 11 people. Changed their brains almost immediately. 

[01:19:06]Luke Storey:  Oh, that's cool. 

[01:19:07]Dr. Daniel Amen:  It was really interesting. 

[01:19:09]Luke Storey:  That’s amazing.

[01:19:09]Dr. Daniel Amen:  We are all energy. I mean, your brain at any point in time is like producing 10 to 15 Watts of energy. And you can learn to harness it and direct it in a healthy way or in unhealthy ways. And that's why we have to end this idea of mental illness, where, “Oh, you have six of these nine symptoms, so you're depressed, take Lexapro”, and really get people to learn these skills, biological, psychological, social, spiritual, so that they can have whole lives. And-

[01:19:51]Luke Storey:  It seems that what's happening in those practices, and even in the qigong experiment that you described, that there's a neurogenesis taking place, that we're building new neurons and they're firing together. And this is kind of what's coming out of this resurgent movement of psychedelics, specifically with psilocybin that they say, those scientists over there say that it has the ability to create neurogenesis and again-

[01:20:16]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I’d like to see it. 

[01:20:17]Luke Storey:  ... is that dubious? A dubious claim in your opinion?

[01:20:20]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, you know, I'm not going to tell you I'm an expert in it, but I know—so, your listeners will like this. Your brain has this very special part on the inside of your temporal lobes called the hippocampus. Hippocampus is Greek for seahorse. And it's one of the few parts of the brain that produces new baby cells every day, up to 700 stem cells. So, I think of them as baby seahorses. 

[01:20:49]Luke Storey:  Oh, wow. 

[01:20:50]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And so, every day, and whether you're 16, my daughter's age, or 65, my age, we're producing about 700 of them. Now, her stack and mine are less likely because of blood flow. If I have low blood flow, happens as you age, it's less likely to nourish the babies and they die. And so, I'm always thinking about the baby seahorses and, is my behavior growing them or murdering them? Getting them drunk murders them. Likely, getting them stoned murders them because I have scans on my, you know, marijuana folks, and they're not healthy. 

[01:21:32] Not always, but in general. I had one guy, friend of mine in Hollywood, it's like, ”Oh, I've been smoking for 50 years.” I'm like, “Well, let me see your brain.” Looked like crap. I'm like, “Your 70-year-old brain looks like you're a hundred.” And so, let's not get the seahorse babies stoned. And I think getting them high is probably not good. I mean, I know cocaine and methamphetamines are definitely problematic for them, but bad food is problematic. Not sleeping is problematic. Having an infection like Lyme is problematic, being exposed to mold. 

[01:22:08] And so, what can I do to grow my brain? Exercise, new learning, healthy food, sunshine. You know, the dermatologist one, they made us afraid of the sun. And now, we have this massive deficiency in vitamin D, which is killing us. People don't know, if your vitamin D level is over 40, you have half the risk of cancer for those that are under 20. And in the end of mental illness, it's basically, “Here's what I've learned from imaging. Here's what I know about how to keep your brain healthy. This is how we end mental illness.” And there's a mnemonic called Bright Minds where I'd go after the 11 major risk factors that killed the baby seahorses. 

[01:22:54]Luke Storey:  When you talk about addictions, you've indicated something that I've never heard anywhere else, and that there are like sort of, I think, it was six or seven different types of addicts.

[01:23:04]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right.

[01:23:04]Luke Storey:  Could you break those down briefly? I’m so curious about that.

[01:23:07]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I mean, it’s just insane to say everybody who's got an addiction is the same.

[01:23:11]Luke Storey:  Right.

[01:23:11]Dr. Daniel Amen:  It's like everybody who’s overweight, “Let's just put them on one program. My program works for you.” And based on our imaging work, what we realized is there are impulsive addicts. They have low frontal lobe, so they can't break their behavior. There are compulsive addicts, they can't stop thinking about whatever they're addicted to. There are impulsive-compulsive addicts, they actually have features of both. There are sad addicts, they're treating an underlying depression. There are anxious addicts, very common, they're treating an underlying anxiety, especially social anxiety disorder. And there are temporal lobe addicts, their temporal lobes are hurt often from head injury. And so, knowing your type and balancing your brain helps whatever treatment program you're in work faster. And I'm like a huge fan of the 12 steps, but not 12-step meetings because they're generally filled with toxic food. 

[01:24:11]Luke Storey:  That's so funny. Yeah.

[01:24:13]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I mean, I am a fan of 12-step meetings. 

[01:24:14]Luke Storey:  No, I know what you mean.

[01:24:17]Dr. Daniel Amen:  But like, can we at least honor the organ that makes us who we are? Can we at least be nice to it?

[01:24:24]Luke Storey:  It's really funny that you say that because, you know, when you drive by a church, you know, when you see a bunch of people out there smoking cigarettes, you know that those are people that are in recovery, right? And they’re in their 12-step meeting. And I've always found that—I mean, it's kind of obvious, like if you quit drugs, like you're going to hang onto the nicotine because you just need something to get you through. But when you go in more specifically AA meetings, you know, there's always like a big old coffee pot and then, a bunch of sugar, you know. And I remember asking someone about that and he said, “Well, in the early days, you know, guys would be going through the DTs. And part of that is like, you know, the lacking the sugar from the alcohol that they were drinking so much of.” 

[01:25:01] And so, that's where the donuts and cookies and all that stuff. But as I got sober, I got really into health and wellness and detoxing and all of this, and I knew that, you know, obviously, like white sugar and gluten was bad for you, I mean, long, long time ago. And I always would—you know, I'd walk in there and want to be like, “You guys, like I have something to say, like can we get some green juice in here, you know, or some healthy fats? Like no one's going to last if we're on this horrible tap water, fluoridated coffee and all the sugar”, you know. It seems to me, there's a direct correlation between like getting off alcohol and just eating copious amounts of sugar. 

[01:25:36]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Do know about my work with the Daniel Plan?

[01:25:39]Luke Storey:  Uh-uh.

[01:25:41]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, about 10 years ago, I wrote a book called Change Your Brain, Change Your Body. 

[01:25:48]Luke Storey:  Yeah. 

[01:25:48]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And it was a monster bestseller for us. And when I finished that, it was a Sunday morning and I was really happy. Because even though I've written a lot, books take a lot of energy for me. And so, I was really happy and we're on our way to church. And I told Tana, my wife, “Why don't you take Chloe”, our six-year-old at the time, “and drop her off at children's church and I'll go save us seats.” And I walked toward the sanctuary, this huge church here in Newport Beach. 

[01:26:23]Luke Storey:  Is it Rick Warren's Church? 

[01:26:24]Dr. Daniel Amen:  No, it's called Mariners Church. 

[01:26:26]Luke Storey:  Okay. 

[01:26:27]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And I walked by hundreds of donuts for sale for charity. And it just pissed me off.

[01:26:32]Luke Storey:  Right.

[01:26:32]Dr. Daniel Amen:  I'm like, “I'm going to get my soul fed. These bastards are trying to kill me.” And then, I walked by bacon and sausage cooking on the grill, and I felt like somebody just slugged me. I'm like, “They're not just—they're not thinking.” And then, I walked by hundreds of hotdogs. They were cooking for after church and I was so irritated. And as I sat down, the minister started talking about the ice cream festival. They had them—and when my wife found me in church, I'm typing on my phone and she gave me that look that only your wife can give you, like, “Why the hell are you on that thing in church? Don't you know you're going to hell?” And I showed her what I was writing, you know, “Go to church, get donuts, hotdogs, bacon, sausage, ice cream.” 

[01:27:16] They have no idea they're sending people to have them early. Save them, then kill them. This is not the plan. And I prayed that Sunday that God would use me to change the culture of food at church. No lie. Two weeks later, Rick Warren called me. I'd never met Pastor Warren. He's the senior pastor at Saddleback Church, one of the largest churches in the world. They have 20 campuses, like 60,000 people show up on the weekends. And he called me up and he said, “I'm fat. My church is fat. Will you help me?” And I'm like, “You had me from hello”, because of the prayer I just prayed. And on January 15, 2011, we launched the Daniel Plan, which is a program to get the world healthy through churches. 

[01:28:10]Luke Storey:  Did you—and was a Mark Hyman involved?

[01:28:12]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Mark Hyman and I wrote it together.

[01:28:12]Luke Storey:  That’s right. Yeah.

[01:28:14]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And the first week, 15,000 people signed up. The first year, they lost a quarter of a million pounds. And now, thousands of churches around the world have done that. So, I say that to say, intention prayer works. And how you change the world, it starts by you changing yourself. Because if you're not authentic, if you don't live the message of your life, you suck as a messenger. So, the first place it starts is with you and then, you can give it away because people are going to want what you have. 

[01:28:52]Luke Storey:  The last thing I wanted to ask you about is nootropics, smart drugs. You mentioned Modafinil. I think, because it was in my intake form. And for me, that's something—it's more like if I have a long flight or I just slept like crap for some reason, and I have to perform at a high level, I'll take a very small, like I guess it would be like a quarter of a 200-milligram Modafinil. And it just kind of makes me feel not sleepy, basically, you know? So, it's useful in some cases, not the kind of thing I would take every day, but there are a few other things that I've found to be really useful depending on what I'm doing. 

[01:29:28] One of them is the racetam family, specifically piracetam, which I take probably three or four days a week, primarily before I do public speaking or conduct interviews. I find that it really helps with verbal acuity, word recall, memory in the moment, being able to circle back in a conversation. I mean, I've kind of tested having these types of conversations with and without, and it's unequivocally better with. Then, there's other things that have kind of come about, like methylene blue and just a lot of different, you know, the ginkgo and kind of on the herbal side. What's your take on synthetic nootropics, smart drugs, herbal things that are good for your brain? What can you tell us about any of those things? 

[01:30:13]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, I'm a huge fan of nutritional supplements. We call them nutraceuticals. I’m especially a fan of ginkgo, prettiest brains I've ever seen take ginkgo. I'm a fan of Rhodiola, ashwagandha, ginseng, green tea extract without the caffeine. And we make something called Focus and Energy that has all of those. 

[01:30:42]Luke Storey:  Nice.

[01:30:43]Dr. Daniel Amen:  They are memory formula, Brain and Memory Power Boost. And what I learned is the mind doesn't get sick in one way, so it's not going to get better in one way. And so, has ginkgo and vinpocetine for blood flow, has a Acetyl-L-carnitine for mitochondrial energy, phosphatidylserine, which has. I don’t know, 25 randomized double-blind studies, showing it helps with attention and memory, Alpha-lipoic acid to help balance blood sugar. And so, I think using these multiple mechanism formulas is why we developed BrainMD? Because that's our supplement company because this is what I do for my patients, you know. So, for you, for your brain, I'd put you on NeuroVite. It's not a multiple vitamin. It's a super brain-directed multiple vitamin that has like 3,000 of the RDA for B vitamins, like B6, B12, folate, the same levels found in research to decrease the conversion of mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer's disease. 

[01:31:58]Luke Storey:  That's very interesting that you mentioned that because when I just did my labs with Dr. Scott Sherr, he found me to be really deficient in almost all of the B vitamins. And I thought it was so weird because I supplement. He goes, “Well, you must not methylate B vitamins because you're very low.” It was the weirdest thing. So, that would be-that has kind of coincided with what you found.

[01:32:16]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Exactly. Coincide.

[01:32:17]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Interesting.

[01:32:18]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And then, high-dose fish oil. I did a study on 50 consecutive patients who came here that were not taking fish oil. I looked at their Omega-3 index, 49 of the 50 were suboptimal. And the CDC just came out and said 97% of the population does not have enough Omega-3 fatty acids in their blood, which is associated with all sorts of bad things like Alzheimer's disease, depression, heart disease. So, it's basically my NFL formula, Brain and Memory Power Boost, with NeuroVite Plus with high-dose fish oil. And it's like insurance, but I've seen it repair brains. I actually have a mixed martial artist I saw who—because I go, “I did my NFL work. I know this works in two months.” I didn't know how fast it worked. But I put them on that formula plus Focus and Energy. That's our focus product. Two-and-a-half hours later, his brain showed improvement, which was pretty cool. 

[01:33:20]Luke Storey:  Wow. 

[01:33:20]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, I'm a huge fan of things I know that are safe, that have studies showing that they'll work. In The End of Mental Illness, this chapter, Mind Meds Versus Nutraceuticals, actually show what supplements have A-level scientific evidence this is likely to make a difference. And Gingko is one of them. Saffron is another one. Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D. So, why wouldn't we do this first and do the right things, then get excited about things that may be harmful?

[01:34:00]Luke Storey:  You've talked about the clinical and sparse use of Adderall for certain types of ADD. So, like you've indicated there are different types of addicts, there's also a bunch of different profiles of ADD. And for some of those, a low-dose Adderall would be effective. And for some, it would be horribly wrong. What's the breakdown on Adderall? I've never taken it myself. I've seen people that are on high doses of it and they act very much like someone on crystal meth, so it's not been something I've wanted to take on, but when is that useful? 

[01:34:33]Dr. Daniel Amen:  With your sleepy frontal lobes, it might also activate your cerebellum. So, I'm not opposed to it. I've seen terrible things happen because they gave it to the wrong ADD type. So, there's one type we call the ring of fire, where their brain works too hard and you don't want to stimulate that brain. That's a bad idea. But when you have a really sleepy brain, like yours, I would say, is a sleepy brain, your cerebellum is sleepy, your frontal and temporal lobes are sleepy, stimulating it might be helpful. And I've seen—well, I'll tell you my favorite story. I have four children. 

[01:35:16] My oldest daughter, beautiful, sweet as can be, but the truth is, and I might cry when I say this, I never thought she was very smart. I haven't told this story in a long time. And I would try to teach her like the times tables over and over. And I'm like, “What is the matter?” And I took her in third grade to see the school psychologist. And I'm like, “Does she have a learning problem?” And she basically told me after she tested her, she wasn't very smart, but she said she'll be okay because she works hard, she cares. And in eighth grade, she won a presidential scholar award, not for academics because she never gotten an A, but for effort. 

[01:36:04] And in 10th grade, she fell apart because she was staying up every night until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning to get her homework done. And I was so worried about her. And one night—and I had helped her with her homework. And one night, she came to me and she was crying and she said, “Dad, I can never be as smart as my friends.” Horrified me. And I think it was 1996, I've been scanning people for five years. I'm helping all these people. And so, I had her come see me the next day. It's work. I'm like, “I'm going to scan your brain.” And she had a really sleepy brain, a little bit like yours. And I'm like, “I want you to come back tomorrow.” And I gave her five milligrams of Adderall, normalized her brain, normalized her brain. 

[01:37:00]Luke Storey:  The first dose?

[01:37:02]Dr. Daniel Amen:  The first dose. 

[01:37:03]Luke Storey:  Wow. 

[01:37:03]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, when it works, it's like glasses.

[01:37:05]Luke Storey:  Right.

[01:37:06]Dr. Daniel Amen:  You know, works when you take it and it doesn't work when you don't. 

[01:37:09]Luke Storey:  Right. 

[01:37:10]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And a week later, I took her to dinner. And I'm like, “So, what do you think?” She said, “Oh, my God, dad, you can't know the difference. I think I'm going to be a geneticist.” And I'm like, “What?” Because the thing she was crying over, they were studying genetics and biology and she was completely lost. She said, “Dad, I can see the DNA molecule rotate in my head. It's so interesting.” And from a child who never got As, first grading period, she got straight As, she got straight As for the next 10 years when I treated her inattentive ADD. And she got into the world's best veterinarian school, the University of Edinburgh. and she ended up not going because she had a family, but it changed the trajectory of her life. So, I'm not opposed to stimulants. I know they have a bad wrap, but it's because no—it's because they just give them to people without knowing anything about their brain. But for sleepy brains, can be really helpful. 

[01:38:25]Luke Storey:  Interesting. 

[01:38:25]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And would you withhold medicine if she had a heart problem? No. That would be abusive. Would you withhold medication if she had cancer? No. But because it's the brain, we think it's the mind and it's different, and The End of Mental Illness is these damn things aren't mental. Your brain, get your brain right and your mind will follow. The End of Mental Illness begins with a revolution in brain and health.

[01:38:58]Luke Storey:  How would one determine if they have ADD to begin with and also, the type and whether or not something like Adderall or Modafinil even would be useful? I mean, is like a SPECT scan kind of the only way to really see what's going on there or are there other diagnosis tools that are useful in determining that?

[01:39:18]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, you know, a long time ago, I realized not everybody's getting a scan. So, that's why I wrote my book Healing ADD that has checklists in it. People can go to ADD type test and take an online quiz. I mean, nothing's as good as the scan because you want to get a look at your—because you know, how you score, you actually had a lot of ADD symptoms that you said yes to, but you also had some OCD traits that you said yes to. And if I put you on an OCD medicine, I'd hurt you. Now, the ADD stuff, probably help you. 

[01:39:55]Luke Storey:  When you say a sleepy brain, would that subjectively be perceived as kind of brain fog and just a little bit out of it?

[01:40:04]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yes. 

[01:40:04]Luke Storey:  By the person who has that going on.

[01:40:06]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Often. 

[01:40:07]Luke Storey:  Yeah. I relate to that. That makes sense .

[01:40:11]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And not your fault. 

[01:40:12]Luke Storey:  Right.

[01:40:13]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Right? It's like you never smacked yourself.

[01:40:14]Luke Storey:  It’s the kid that hit me on the head with a basketball or whatever. Yeah. 

[01:40:17]Dr. Daniel Amen:  You'd never smack yourself because you needed glasses. It's like I have funny eyeballs, right? And my eyeballs were shaped funny, so I wear glasses. I don't like it, but I do it because I see better. And the Irlen Syndrome, I think you have, that Helen told you, you had.

[01:40:34]Luke Storey:  Yeah. 

[01:40:35]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Could have been from the head trauma. The addiction could have been from the head trauma.

[01:40:39]Luke Storey:  I should stop and see her on the way home today. She's right on the way. The last thing I wanted to ask you is where you find, if at all, neurofeedback has a place in this. I've done a lot of neurofeedback training and not based on a scan like we did today, but on a QEEG that I did three years ago and one that I did quite recently. 

[01:41:00]Dr. Daniel Amen:  You should send them to me. 

[01:41:01]Luke Storey:  Really? 

[01:41:02]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. 

[01:41:02]Luke Storey:  Oh, okay. 

[01:41:03]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Because I'm a huge fan of QEEG. And I think if I was going to develop a screening tool for the whole population, QEEG might be it. Because in fact, it's harder to do and it's not really portable. Requires an injection and a little bit of radiation. I did QEEG before I did SPECT. The SPECT scans are just so much like—I think they're cooler, but with QEEG, look at the electrical activity in your brain. And if you had excessive Delta or excessive Theta, which I'd predict based on my scan, that neurofeedback is a way to train that to be better. The problem is quantitative EEG, you're measuring electrical activity, which is pretty small to start with on the outside surface of your skull. And it really doesn't give you a good look at the undersurface of your brain, which is really where a lot of mental health stuff hangs out. 

[01:42:06]Luke Storey:  Cool. Interesting. Yeah. Because when I did the-

[01:42:08]Dr. Daniel Amen:  But I'd love to see it. 

[01:42:09]Luke Storey:  Okay. I'll send it to you. When I did the QEEG three years ago, I didn't know it at the time that I was living directly under two massive cell towers and I was having a really hard time. And I don't think I even have quite bounced back from that. My eyes went bad. I got horrible brain fog, dizziness, vertigo.

[01:42:25]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, and you wonder if the EMFs would have a negative impact on your brain. I mean, we already have—so, we have head trauma, we have past substance abuse, we have the ayahuasca use, we have the cell towers.

[01:42:39]Luke Storey:  Right.

[01:42:40]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And that's, you know, usually what I see is there are multiple risk factors, which means we have to go after all of them. 

[01:42:48]Luke Storey:  What was interesting about the neurofeedback, which I was fairly consistent with for a couple of years in between, but the QEEG three years ago and the one that I just did, there were—according to Dr. Andrew Hill that has Peak Brain LA, he said that I had three standard deviations of improvement in my overall brain function based on that from where I started. But he didn't know that I was living under these cell towers when I did the first one. So, I told him and it was like, “Well, we couldn't really quantify how much of it was the neurofeedback and improving the lifestyle and how much of it was just like not living under a cancer machine, you know, and sleeping right there for three years”, that I lived there. 

[01:43:25] But that was interesting. But it'd be interesting to see how those match up with what we found today because I think the neurofeedback is a really interesting. I've known so many people, like Dave Asprey, for example, who's invested a lot of time and energy. And his 40 Years of Zen, which I did a number of years ago, and has really seen dramatic improvements and emotional and just cognition and all of those things. So, yeah, I love it, man. Last question for you is, who have been three teachers or teachings that have influenced your life or work that our listeners might be able to go study? 

[01:43:59]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, you mentioned Byron Katie. When I get unhappy, I read her or listen to her books. 

[01:44:07]Luke Storey:  Yeah. 

[01:44:08]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Again, it just is so helpful to me. I love The Power of Now and Eckhart Tolle’s work. I love Mark Hyman's work. You know, I think the three big innovations I bring to psychiatry, imaging, if you don't look, you don't know, stop lying. Natural ways to heal the brain. And do it in a functional or integrative medicine paradigm. And I learned that from Mark.

[01:44:41]Luke Storey:  Yeah. There are definitely correlations between your whole approach as I sit and talk with you in the functional medicine. It's like your functional medicine for the brain specifically seems to be kind of how you roll.

[01:44:51]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. 

[01:44:51]Luke Storey:  Yeah. Cool, man. And where can people find your clinics? How many are there in the world or in the States? Websites, social media, anything you want to share?

[01:45:00]Dr. Daniel Amen:  So, we have eight clinics around the country. Four on the West Coast, Bellevue; Washington; outside of San Francisco; and Walnut Creek; Encino, just north of Los Angeles; Orange County, where we are now; Chicago; New York City, by the public library; Washington DC; and Atlanta, Georgia. Amenclinics.com is the website that they can learn all about our work. BrainMD is our supplement company. Our goal is to help you have a better brain. And that's what we do. We provide the products and services to make that happen. 

[01:45:38]Luke Storey:  So, someone could travel to any one of those clinics and get the same scan and get feedback from someone like you that understands how to read the scan and give recommendations based on that?

[01:45:47]Dr. Daniel Amen:  You bet. We have two cameras in every clinic because we see people from all over the world. And we have about 40 doctors. I've trained all of them. And love all of them. 

[01:45:59]Luke Storey:  Wow. Cool, man. That's awesome. You're doing great work in the world. 

[01:46:02]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yeah. Thanks for letting me share my work with you. 

[01:46:05]Luke Storey:  Yeah, I'm stoked. It's been a long time coming. I've known of you for a long time and your whole thing. And I'm just like, “One of these days.” I think I have you, in fact, on my—you're talking about like writing down the things you want. I have this master list of about a hundred fascinating, brilliant people that I've wanted to sit down with and you're on that list and it happened. So-

[01:46:21]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Well, thank you. 

[01:46:22]Luke Storey:  Yeah.

[01:46:22]Dr. Daniel Amen:  And I'm really looking forward, we should make a date for six months from now. You get in the chamber, do the right things with the supplementation. 

[01:46:32]Luke Storey:  Cool. 

[01:46:33]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Let’s see what we can do. 

[01:46:34]Luke Storey:  I'm on it. Let's do it because it's so fortuitous that there's a couple of hyperbaric places in LA, but they're not terribly convenient. And they're like in medical centers, which is fine, I mean, I would go anywhere to get well, but this new one I just found out about, it's like this super sweet spot and it's right—you know, they have cryo in the saunas and the whole thing, it's like a biohacking spot and it's like five minutes from my house. 

[01:46:57]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Awesome. 

[01:46:57]Luke Storey:  So, as long as I can work something out with them, we'll be on it.

[01:47:00]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Good. 

[01:47:01]Luke Storey:  Thank you, sir. 

[01:47:02]Dr. Daniel Amen:  Yes. You’re welcome.

[01:47:03]Luke Storey:  Appreciate it.



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