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[00:00:00] Hello everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

This podcast is brought to you by PAR.

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Hello everyone and welcome back to The Testing Psychologist Podcast. As always, glad to be here. Today, I am talking through my continued journey/experiment with Magic Mind. If you didn’t catch the first episode in this series, then I [00:01:00] would highly recommend you go back and listen to it because that sets the stage for today’s episode and the final episode, which will be coming in another week or two.

My experiment here is to ingest or take or drink a supplement called Magic Mind for about two weeks and see what the effects are. I want to make sure folks know that this is not any kind of paid advertisement. Well, the company actually reached out to me to do an affiliate relationship, and I turned them down so that I could do a more objective review of the product. I just like doing biohacking sorts of things and anything to try to optimize my life. So this seemed like a natural fit.

So that’s the stage. I’ve got a supplement that I’m taking and I’m documenting the progress with that.

The second episode today is all about [00:02:00] diving into the ingredients. So this is a drink, a productivity shot, so to speak that contains nootropics and adaptogenic substances. And so I dive into the research on these substances and see if this is legit or if it might just be a placebo.

Before we get to the conversation, I invite all of you, of course, who are practice owners or soon-to-be practice owners, to check out The Testing Psychologist Mastermind groups. Cohorts tend to start in July and January. We are approaching that July mark. Cohorts exist for beginner practice owners, intermediate owners, and advanced owners. So any level that you might be at with your practice, I would love to support you and have you join a group. You can get more info at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting.

All right, let’s [00:03:00] talk about these ingredients in Magic Mind.

Like I said in the intro, I am going to be talking all about this Magic Mind supplement. It is a drink like I said. I provide all the background in the previous episode, so please go back and check that out. I’m going to dive right into all of the ingredients and their research and effectiveness.

I have to say as we start off that, generally speaking, I am skeptical of the effectiveness of adaptogens and nootropics, but I wanted to give it a fair shot and dig into the research and see what I was able to find.

Before doing that, let’s talk a little bit about [00:04:00] the placebo effect. Y’all have all heard of the placebo effect, of course, but I think it’s particularly relevant here where I am going through this experiment trying to notice the effects of something when the effects may not be noticeable.

When I think about the placebo effect this is the idea that someone’s mental or physical health seems to improve following a placebo or a dummy treatment, right? And one aspect of that, or the flip side of that, I suppose is the nocebo effect when health declines just because of beliefs. For instance, side effects increasing when patients know that side effects are supposed to happen.

So the takeaway here is that someone’s beliefs can make a huge difference. [00:05:00] The placebo is often thought of as something that’s all in your mind, which lends itself to the idea that nothing is actually happening and this is not true. There are real differences in brain chemistry when the placebo effect is happening. It’s just those differences may not be, well, they’re not due to the active treatment intervention. They are happening for any number of other reasons.

So, a true placebo involves a non-treatment like a sugar pill, or in this case, hypothetically, a green shot of liquid. And I want to be clear that I’m not saying that these ingredients aren’t effective. I have not explored all the research with all these ingredients up to this point, but the research on homeopathic remedies and supplements effectiveness is [00:06:00] historically very questionable. I’m just naming the possibility here that I might perceive benefits and side effects simply because I imagine that they will be present or won’t be present.

This is a case too, where I have to mention the difference between traditional Western medicine and other approaches to health and wellness, Ayurvedic philosophy, eastern approaches, and so forth. A lot of these ingredients are drawn from some of those non-Western approaches, and a lot of the research that I found in fact did come from more Eastern countries or look-hows. So thinking of China, India, Southeast Asia, and so forth. I just want to name that some of these [00:07:00] ingredients may in fact have a long history of effectiveness and we are just not as tuned in to their effectiveness as we could be being traditionally Western.

With all that said, let’s dive into the actual ingredients in this Magic Mind drink.

The first listed ingredient is Matcha. Matcha is a green tea powder. It’s basically pure green tea. A 2020 meta-analysis showed positive effects on mental fatigue, reaction time, and the serial seven subtraction task. It seemed to be dependent on dosage, frequency, and amount. An acute dosage rather than a chronic or consistent dosage was more helpful. The same study also found that matcha boosted brain [00:08:00] derived neurotropic factor.

A 2021 study showed positive effects on a visual processing task with executive functioning components, also from an acute dose. And when I say acute, I mean once, a daily dose, or rather a dose on a specific day rather than consistent every single day. That seems consistent with the research that I know of on coffee which also shares the main ingredient of caffeine, which is an ingredient in matcha. When you take it in a more targeted way, it’s going to work better than if you take it consistently and develop a tolerance.

And then finally, a 2023 meta-analysis showed decreased stress and anxiety, improved memory, enhanced spatial learning, increased brain-derived neurotropic factor, improved glucose metabolism, and reduced [00:09:00] inflammation from matcha. So all this to say, research on matcha seems pretty good. So, that’s one day on. That is the main ingredient.

It is encouraging to see some of this literature. And I should say all of the studies that I’m going to discuss for each of these ingredients are meta-analyses. I only looked at meta-analysis to try to get a nice survey of all of the available effectiveness research out there.

All right, let’s talk about the next one. So this is a plant called Bacopa monnieri. I hope I said that right. So this is, as I said, a plant substance. There is no clear mechanism of action in the brain that we’ve identified, though several are proposed and those include reduction of beta-amyloid [00:10:00] levels, increased cholinergic function, GABA modulation, reduced inflammation, and increased blood flow in the brain.

So let’s look at the literature. A 2012 meta-analysis found some evidence to support improvement in free recall. 2013 meta-analysis found “the potential to improve cognition, particularly speed of attention.” And the 2021 meta-analysis found modest effects on older adults who were complaining of memory loss, but overall, very little evidence to support consistent improvements on neuropsychological measures in healthy or age-related memory decline-experiencing adults.

So, the evidence here is a little dicier. There were a lot of words like potential and [00:11:00] mild. And even in this most recent meta-analysis, it went so far as to say very little evidence. So this is a little dicier. I’m not totally sold on the effectiveness of this particular ingredient.

So let’s move on to the next one, which is Lion’s mane mushrooms. I’m guessing any of you who have lived in this adaptogenic realm have heard about mushrooms. There are all sorts of mushroom coffees out there, elixirs, things like that. So this is one of at least two mushroom ingredients or fungi ingredients.

So it’s meant to be an anti-inflammatory. That’s the claim from Magic Mind. In 2023, there was a meta-analysis. It only found three studies that met the inclusion criteria [00:12:00] which means that only three studies were rigorous enough to be even included in a meta-analysis, well, in the effectiveness of lion’s, mane mushrooms, and it showed support for cognitive protection but none for anxiety and depression.

And so I went to some one-off studies, and there are some one-off studies that have shown some modest support for the anti-inflammatory qualities of lion’s mane mushrooms. Again, research is mixed here. Certainly not super strong, but it also doesn’t seem to hurt to have lion’s mane mushrooms.

The next ingredient is turmeric. Again, the claim is that it’s an anti-inflammatory and it improves circulation. In 2021, there was a meta-analysis that showed that [00:13:00] turmeric is better than placebo but comparable to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil for knee pain, though the results were moderated by BMI, the index of height to weight. So there was, again, some evidence it’s better than a placebo, but comparable to NSAIDs. If you have trouble taking NSAIDs, then turmeric might be a good option.

There was another meta-analysis in 2016 that said it did have a positive impact on systolic but not diastolic blood pressure. So this is possibly good. There’s some research out there that has found more risk of stroke and heart disease with higher systolic blood pressure, so [00:14:00] that sounds good. And I think that’s relatively in line with this claim of improved circulation. It didn’t necessarily claim to have any benefits on blood pressure, but I think those are closely related.

Again you’re starting to get a theme here, I’m sure, where the research is not highly convincing for many of these ingredients, but at the same time, many of them do have mild to moderate effects over placebo.

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All right, let’s get back to the podcast.

Okay, so the next one is an ingredient that I will attempt to pronounce. It is Phosphatidylserine. You can check the show notes for spelling, but it is meant to improve memory and attention span. It is found naturally in the body. It’s a phospholipid. It also contains some Omega-3 in supplement form. 2021 Meta-analysis found that it reduces inattentive symptoms compared to a placebo, and a 2022 meta-analysis found a positive effect on memory loss in older adults. So research is a little stronger for this one.[00:16:00] It seems to actually do what they say it does.

I did read some one-off research saying that some folks are using this to treat ADHD off-label. So with the improvement in memory and attention span, that seems like a natural application. I’m not going to go down that rabbit hole. I did not dig deep into the effectiveness for ADHD, but generally speaking, research seems relatively positive for the effects that it claims to have.

The next ingredient is vitamin C. I’m not going to go deep on vitamin C. I think we’ve all probably heard about vitamin C and its impact on health and well-being.

Cordyceps is the next ingredient. This is the second mushroom-derived ingredient on our list. It claims to be helpful for endurance and an [00:17:00] anti-inflammatory. In 2015, a study found beneficial anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering effects for cordyceps. But honestly, this was a tough one. The literature here is fairly dense and a little hard to sort through simply because a lot of the literature is related to a bunch of different conditions like cardiac issues and circulation and things like that. And it like I said, was just a little dense for me to really comb through, but overall, it seems the same as most of these other ingredients that it is a promising ingredient, but more research is needed.

The next ingredient I want to talk about is Echinacea. You’ve probably heard of Echinacea as a wellness supplement to [00:18:00] decrease the length of the common cold. In 2015 article in the journal, The American Medical Association, JAMA, showed a small reduction in incidents of the common cold for those taking Echinacea. There was no evidence of treatment effects once someone was sick, however, so it did reduce the frequency of the common cold, but didn’t actually help once someone was already sick.

Another study from 2015 found similar results with respiratory tract infections specifically. So there does seem to be some evidence for Echinacea to reduce the frequency of colds and respiratory tract infections. So I can get on board with this.

Our next ingredient is Vitamin D3 claimed to improve cognitive performance, boost the immune system, [00:19:00] and help reduce symptoms of depression. Interesting study from 2019 found that higher vitamin D levels are associated with a lower risk of death from cancer. A 2022 study found a reduced risk of acute respiratory infection compared to a placebo, and in 2020, a study did say that Vitamin D3 can reduce negative emotions. Those with depression and low Vitamin D3 are most likely to benefit.

So research is pretty good here, and I personally have taken vitamin D for a number of years off and on, and this was relatively convincing. I think Vitamin D3 is appropriate and potentially more helpful for those who already have lower vitamin D, which makes sense.

[00:20:00] All right, just a few more ingredients here to go. The next one is Ashwagandha. Now, y’all again have, maybe heard of Ashwagandha. It is meant to reduce stress and anxiety. Found several meta-analyses here. In 2014, a meta-analysis found that Ashwagandha did reduce anxiety compared to placebo. 2021 showed a positive effect on sleep, both the quality and the quantity of sleep. And a 2022 study found reduced stress and anxiety but the “certainty of evidence was low for both of these.” So the effect was there, it just wasn’t super compelling.

I will say Ashwagandha is a little bit more of a complex ingredient because of the other effects. So it is known to increase testosterone and lower your cortisol which sounds like good things, but it really depends on, particularly with the [00:21:00] cortisol when you take the Ashwagandha.

I read some things that would seem counterintuitive to the way I was ingesting magic mind in the morning as a substitute for coffee because you don’t want to lower your cortisol in the morning. Typically cortisol fluctuates throughout the day and it’s supposed to be relatively high in the morning. So, again, not going to go super deep on that, but just know that Ashwagandha is a little bit more of… It has a little more complexity and there is some literature out there to say that you should not necessarily take it every day either. So take that with a grain of salt. But research seems to be pointing in the right direction for reducing stress and anxiety and helping with sleep.

Our next ingredient is Rhodiola Rosea. It’s meant to improve endurance [00:22:00] and reduce fatigue. A 2012 meta-analysis found contradictory evidence that said it may be helpful for enhancing physical performance and fatigue, but it was not clear by any means. So then I went to a 2020 study that found some evidence as an anti-inflammatory but may be more advantageous as an alternative to other anti-inflammatories without side effects. So, the support for this one again, is a little murkier. I’m not totally sold on it. It does not seem to hurt though.

Our next ingredient is vitamin B complex. It’s meant to boost the immune system, help with cognitive functioning, and improve your mood. So in 2019, meta-analysis found no effects on older adult results on the mini-mental status exam. And in 2019 as well, [00:23:00] there was another study that showed some benefits for stress but not for anxiety or depression.

So once we got into the clinical symptoms of anxiety and depression, it didn’t seem to have any benefit, but it was beneficial for “stress ” in the way that folks self-perceived their stress. So again, mixed results. Not a whole lot to support boosting cognitive functioning, but it did have some evidence for lowering stress. These are vitamin B complex.

All right, the next one is choline, and in fact, this is going to be our last main ingredient. Choline is purported to help with cerebral metabolism, brain healing, and boost dopamine. So it’s a nutrient similar to B vitamins. A 2022 study showed that supplementation during pregnancy likely helped with [00:24:00] child neurocognition. They qualified that by describing neurocognition as memory, attention, and visual-spatial learning.

Interesting thing about choline though, this is the only one that mentioned fairly discreet side effects of sweating and a ” fishy body odor.” I did not notice that, but if you are supplementing choline separately and independently, that may be something to be aware of.

All right, so that is our list of ingredients of Magic Mind. All in all, I think the takeaway from most of these ingredients is mildly to moderately helpful certainly compared to a placebo or compared to some traditional treatments or medications that we might take. There’s not [00:25:00] overwhelming evidence for any of these ingredients except for maybe matcha and perhaps the Echinacea. So a lot of these, though, they are maybe mildly helpful and they’re not going to hurt. So, that’s what I took away from all of this.

The vast majority of these meta-analyses like many meta-analyses specified that more research is needed on a lot of these ingredients. So if anyone’s looking for a dissertation, there’s plenty of room here.

So enough for me, it’s enough to say, okay, I’ll undertake this experiment. It seems worthwhile. It seems like there is some legitimacy to many of these ingredients.

So with that, I will transition out of this discussion on ingredients. [00:26:00] My mind is settled that it’s actually worth it and could be doing something different. And I should say too, that there’s no evidence that I found on two things: the combination or dosage of each of these ingredients within Magic Mind is not disclosed. That’s part of the proprietary formula that they have put together. So I don’t know the dosages of any of these things, and that does make a difference. The second aspect is I did not find any research, of course, on the combination of all of these things and what happens if there’s a synergistic effect or if any of these ingredients are going to counteract one another.

The company itself. Has a lot of research on their site. I think like many companies, they do claim that they have done rigorous research and testing into the ingredients to find an optimal blend. And so [00:27:00] I like to see that. It’s always hard to know exactly what that may look like internally for a company, but they do have the claim that they have put a lot of research into it.

So with all of that behind us and some peace of mind that these ingredients may actually do something, I’m going to move on to the third episode. So next time I will be talking about my reflections after taking Magic Mind for 15 days, and wrap this series up. So thank you as always for listening.

All right, y’all. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode. Always grateful to have you here. I hope that you take away some information that you can implement in your practice and in your life. Any resources that we mentioned during the episode will be listed in the show notes, so make sure to check those out.

If you like what you hear on the podcast, I would be so grateful if you left a review on iTunes or Spotify or wherever [00:28:00] you listen to your podcast.

And if you’re a practice owner or aspiring practice owner, I’d invite you to check out The Testing Psychologist Mastermind Groups. I have mastermind groups at every stage of practice development, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. We have homework, we have accountability, we have support, we have resources. These groups are amazing. We do a lot of work and a lot of connecting. If that sounds interesting to you, you can check out the details at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can sign up for a pre-group phone call and we will chat and figure out if a group could be a good fit for you. Thanks so much.

The information contained in this [00:29:00] podcast and on The Testing Psychologist website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area. Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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