Anthony Bourdain. Kate Spade. Robin Williams.
The news of a celebrity suicide is always shocking and brings mental health to the forefront of discussion. It's a sad reminder that anyone, no matter how they may be perceived publicly, can be in anguish on the inside.
Josh Macin, our guest this week, was at the top of his world: He was a recently minted Brazilian Ji-Jitsu world champion, had a stable sales career, and a healthy social life. On the surface, he appeared complete. Yet, he began to mentally break down and lose his sanity...all over a two-week period. Depression ensued, panic attacks became a common occurrence, and suicidal thoughts were not uncommon. When his doctors and traditional pharmaceuticals couldn't help him, Josh went on a long journey to find his cure and essentially save his own life.
You can check out Josh, his story, and what he's up to now here.
Geoff: Josh, thanks for coming in.
Josh: Thanks for having me.
Geoff: This is pretty atypical for us. To the folks who are listening, you don't see this but folks on YouTube, you see that he's in a medicine ball. He's got a shoes off. Why are you doing this? Let's start that up.
Josh: The shoes off are just getting more comfortable, but the medicine ball is because I herniated my L5 disc about nine months ago. I've recovered in amazing ways. I can jog, I can run, I can stretch and do yoga and do all kinds of cool positions with my body, but I literally just can't sit in a chair. I think it's called a subluxation where the disc actually goes to the back towards the spinal column instead of most herniations which go to the left or to the right. It's also the lowest disc so basically-
Geoff: It's like your lower back right above your-
Josh: The sacrum. It's the worst disc to herniate because when you're sitting, all the pressure comes on to that one disc. If it's a little bit off, mine was a five millimeter herniation, just pretty intense but I know people who have had way worse.
Geoff: Five millimeters, that's a lot.
Josh: I think like the most that I've ever heard of a recovery happening without surgery is like 10, which happens to be my chiropractor, so I have the best in the business right now.
Geoff: Okay. That begs the question, how this even happen? I mean, let's just talk to your background as a jiu-jitsu practitioner. What's the journey here?
Josh: From my back specifically?
Josh: Basically, I trained and competed in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for almost five years and was very intense with that. I won the world championships in 2010 as a beginner white belt and then I won the Pan Ams as a blue belt and then I won Abu Dhabi trials as a purple belt.
I've fought a lot of the best black belts in the world. I was on that track to really becoming a professional.
Geoff: That's pretty quick. I mean, your progress through the belts was quick.
Josh: It was quick. It was super quick. I was gung-ho and it was my love, my passion, and it was part of my soul for so many years like I literally breathe, slept, and ate jiu-jitsu like that's all I cared about.
Geoff: How were you introduced into it? Were you a wrestler in high school?
Josh: Yeah. I wrestled and then I got super bored in college. I was like, "Okay." I was getting into street fights because I didn't know what to do with myself. I just couldn't process the amount of energy that was surging through me. I was up wrestling with one of my friends in the rec center. I went to University of Maryland and there were some jiu-jitsu people in there. We're not allowed to grapple in there at all, so we got kicked out on a regular basis, but in any case, I saw this jiu-jitsu dude. He was like 40 pounds lighter than me, total nerd-looking dude and I was like, "This guy is asking me to roll it. I'm going to fuck this dude up." Are we allowed to curse on the show?
Josh: Okay. I trained with him. He literally choked me borderline unconscious in like seven seconds with a guillotine choke.
Josh: Then, I was like, "That was a fluke. Let's go again." I was angry. I was, "Let's go again." Same exact choke, 15 seconds later he caught me in it and I literally just said, "Holy shit!" I needed to learn what this dude and what this people are doing. I started training at his school, Yamasaki Jiu-jitsu. I don't know if you've ever seen Mario and Fernando Yamasaki on the UFC.
Geoff: UFC ref.
Josh: Exactly. They were my first coaches, amazing, amazing coaches. I just was all in.
Geoff: Wow! You're a high school wrestler. Were you wrestling in college?
Josh: I wrestled for like four months of pre-season at University of Maryland, but once like the real season started, there were just like, "Hey, dude, like we like you and you're showing up and that's great, but you're not going to make it." I probably was good enough to be a bench type dude to just get beat up from the other guys and I started to get really, really good in those three or four months, but the fact is that my class schedule was just way more intense than any of the wrestlers because the wrestlers went there to wrestle. I went there to go to college and I just really wanted to do something with my energy as well. It was a combo of probably not being good enough and also just being too invested in actual school.
Geoff: Essentially what I think about this is like a D1 D2 college level wrestling base channeling that energy into Brazilian jiu-jitsu and then just make like wanting to take a tear at it.
Josh: Yeah, and I was very intense and also I was very cerebral about it, which is why I think I was successful because it really became like human chess to me. The combo of the intensity, the physicality and also the chess, the cognitive side of jiu-jitsu.
Geoff: Right. I think a lot of people describe it as human chess or just playing a cerebral match with your limbs as a knight and a bishop, what are you sacrificing, what are you fainting with.
Geoff: I think this is interesting subject to just explore more. I would say commendable that you are humble enough to like go, "Hey, these people, this kind of nerdy dude could happen to teach me."
Josh: With anger, but I did it.
Geoff: What were the first few sessions like? To give you a sense, I grew up playing tennis and then rolled a little bit at Stanford. There was a BJJ club, so nothing overly formal but had some like summer like messing around a little bit, which is like one of the most intense workout. I think my sense of how I rank like toughness in terms of athletes based under a discipline, wrestlers are definitely up there. BJJ is definitely up there. It's just such a dynamic full body kind of crazy contorted movements, very, very functional where I would say that something like tennis, the sport that I grew up playing, very constrained awkward motion. No one is doing these top spin looping motions normally in life like it's a very technical activity or movement where I think BJJ is this like free flow fighting on the ground. Just curiously go from like as a wrestler into the BJJ world, the transition, how do you see your body evolve? Did you see a step up in terms of [crosstalk 00:07:43].
Josh: I love that question. Wrestling was very one dimensional. There was technique and the best in the world are very technical, but it was more about strength, more about tenacity, more about just getting shit done, just finish the take down, get off your back. There was this fortitude that you had to have to be a successful wrestler. When I started moving to jiu-jitsu, especially the gi because the gi causes a lot of friction and it also causes strength to not be as effective as technique. When you have all of this fabric on you, you can't get out of a move with poor technique and strength. When you're not wearing a gi and you're just in rash guard or shirt off, you can use strength to escape the technique.
You can use willpower to escape the technique. With that gi on, you're absolutely forced to learn the deepest intricacies of the move, of the correct technique.
One few inches this way with your wrist can make the difference between escaping and not escaping whereas in no gi, all you have to do is just fucking want it.
Geoff: Maybe one way to think about it is that the gi offers a lot of leverage and multiplies a weaker person's strength.
Geoff: You have lever now to like trap your movements.
Josh: Exactly. When I first started, I started with no gi and I was like, "Oh, wow! I'm really, really good at this jiu-jitsu thing." I'm destroying everyone.
Geoff: Did you just like wrestling people?
Josh: I just wrestling. I was just controlling their bodies, preventing getting submitted and just holding them to the ground. Then I put a gi on and that's when I started getting tossed around like I was a small child basically by good blue belts basically would just throw me around and do all these weird things and choke me in weird ways with my own collar. That's when I started to hate and also have curiosity for the gi and wanted to learn about it. That's when the cerebral aspect started kicking in once I started learning about the gi. It's interesting talking about the subject. I haven't talked about jiu-jitsu in so long. It's like I'm going deep into my memory I think here.
Also, what started happening, this is not necessarily for the show but I started smoking marijuana at some point during my jiu-jitsu career and I didn't smoke since high school for many, many years. Then, I started smoking marijuana and I just started playing the guard. I went from being a wrestler, always wanting to be on top to using this plant to mellow myself out and all of sudden I started training stone on a regular basis and I was just playing on my back and like playing like a monkey and learning the body, tuning into where people's mind was. Because if you can feel their mind while you're training with them, you can feel where they are, you can always be a step ahead if you're tuned into them, where they are, if they're angry.
Josh: If they're determined and weed just intensified [crosstalk 00:10:35] with that other human being.
Geoff: It makes sense. I mean, I think typically something like THC or CBD will increase your tactile feeling and maybe it kind of mellows. That's interesting. I can imagine the change of perception allows you to be more intuitive with your movements.
Josh: It did and it let me crack out of a patterning of wrestling. The patterning was that always wanting to win, if I lost, I was dead. Losing to me would equate as a death. I had to take a step back in order to get actually good at jiu-jitsu. I had to accept loss. I had to put my ego aside and that's the case with the best jiu-jitsu athletes as they've been beat up so many times that if they were in their ego the whole time, they would have gotten hurt and never would have been able to have a sustainable career. You have to learn how to like put that aside.
Geoff: I mean, I think that's just progress and learning if you're not humble enough to realize what you are doing is wrong. If you think, hey, like I'm just going to punch through everything. At certain point, you break and I think like the mature approach to quickly progress is to be open-minded to learn. It sounds interesting that like you basically at a certain point, maybe through the use of substances was able to switch the mindset a little bit. Now, you started playing guard which is essentially instead of being on top, you are on your back.
Josh: Yeah, and that's when I started to get really good at jiu-jitsu. Once I learned how to play the guard, once I got comfortable on my back which is a no-no in wrestling and learning the gi.
Geoff: How quick was this? Was this like a three-month progression, one month, six months? Give us a sense of the time here.
Josh: Man, I love talking about this. I won the world championships in June 2010 and I started training no gi jiu-jitsu maybe November 2009 and then I think I got my first gi in like March. Three months later, I was at the world championships in California. My gi was way too long for me. It was like someone else's gi actually. I think I had seven fights, 140 people in my division, single elimination.
Geoff: What weight class?
Josh: Middleweight, white belt middleweight.
Geoff: Which is 100-
Geoff: 181, okay.
Josh: Yeah. I didn't really know what I was doing with the gi, but I would still in a little bit mostly wrestling mode at that point in time. Then I got my blue belt and I started training with good blue belts and realized, "Okay, this wrestling thing maybe I'll win if it takes me so much energy just to get a few points off these dudes. Let me learn how to actually train in this sport." Then cannabis came and the guard came and then March 2012, which was I guess a couple of years being a blue belt, I won the Pan Ams which was again I had 144 people in my division, single elimination in one day also. It keeps branching off, getting cut in half and then left with two folks at the end. The dude who I fought in the finals beat me three times that year and he beat me all three times in under 40 seconds. He destroyed me all three times and something-
Geoff: Those were smaller tournaments? It didn't matter.
Josh: Small local IBJJF tournament. It mattered, I still cared.
Geoff: Like this is a big deal.
Josh: This was the most important one. It was so important that he quit the sport after losing to me in the finals.
Geoff: He broke his spine.
Josh: He didn't even show up to the podium and he quit the sport.
Josh: Yeah, I literally broke him.
Josh: Well, I can only speculate.
Geoff: I was curious. That's a crazy story. What did you do?
Josh: Well, how did I win or why did he quit?
Geoff: Both. If I were in that shoe, I'm like, "Okay, I was able to beat this person three times in a row pretty repeatedly right under 40 seconds." Why didn't he just rationalize, "Hey, I choked. I did a silly error. I'm going to come back in ..."
Josh: I was terrified of him. To me, he was just unbeatable. In my head, there was a piece of me that thought I had no chance. There was a piece of me that thought that, but there was also a piece of me that came to the surface only a few times in my training. It was like an animal that came to the surface that when it came out I was like I literally would black out and be like, "What was that? I'm back, I'm back." I just wanted it so bad. At that time, I used to listen to techno music and I just put that techno music in and I just breathe. All I did is breathe. I said, "Until this fight I had an hour to kill, I'm not going to focus on anything except for my breath. I don't care what thoughts come in." I'll say, "Okay, maybe that's true, maybe that's not true, back to my breath." I literally did that for an hour straight.
The first time I've ever did any meditation, I wasn't meditating, I was trying to win. My coach came up to me before the finals and he said, "You have to breathe, you have to breathe."
I just started breathing, started breathing and I got out there and I channeled what would to me what I now know is my soul and my spirit. I channeled that in the final match, but I wouldn't have known until three and a half years of torture and mental unrest after that moment what my soul and spirit was. Now in hindsight, that was my spirit.
Geoff: Interesting. I mean, that's like multiple voice that scientist, physiologist, or psychologist, or gurus would call it like flow state, tapping to your soul. I mean, blasting some chemical of your mind and body working as one.
Josh: 100% flow.
Geoff: Then, you beat him.
Josh: I beat him.
Geoff: Choked him out. What happened?
Josh: I beat him four-nothing. It was a seven-minute fight. I beat him four-nothing and I started screaming after I won, screaming at my buddy. Man, this guy Adam and I, he's a world-class black belt right now. He owns his own school in Montclair. It's Adam Peterson. I'm totally spacing the name of his school, but I want to give him a shout out. He deserves it. He was coaching me during those Pan Ams and I literally ripped off my gi and was screaming at him because we had beaten the shit of each other for almost three years at this point, two and a half years just nonstop beating the shit of each other. Brothers outside of jiu-jitsu, outside of killing each other we were brothers, but in the moment we were literally trying to kill each other. That's the essence of jiu-jitsu. When you choke someone, if there wasn't the construct of tapping and giving up, you'd actually be killing them. I just rip my gi off and I started screaming and the dude said, "You barely won, man."
Then, I was just like, "Man, you beat me three times this year. Fuck you." Everyone was screaming. "Don't listen to him. Don't listen to him." I was just crying like little baby because in those moments I was only a blue belt. I wasn't making money, but I didn't fight for any of those reasons. I fought because I had this deep internal passion towards the sport, an internal desire to prove to myself that I was worth it. I fought because I thought I was worthless in this world and I thought that if I could win in fighting that I would mean something in this world and I would mean something to myself. That's the truth of it. When I won that, I'm literally tearing up because it just let me know that I can win in life. That was just the feeling that I got invoked with and it has not left me. It has left me during times of illness but the overarching way that I've made it through my illness which we'll talk about is through that victorious energy, that spirit, that feeling that I've got after winning that tournament.
Geoff: I mean, that's inspiring to hear. I want to continue the story but it sounds like the seminal moments, if one can't tap into it, hopefully like that's where it can be of inspiration for other people. If people can realize they can breakthrough, just surpass what you thought was possible, that seems to be a recurring theme that people that whether they're in the military or elite performance, that's binds them to their practice that notion that they can do something that they didn't think was possible.
Geoff: Then, your opponent just broke.
Josh: He just didn't show up to the podium picture and the picture on IBJJF, it's literally there's three of us on the podium. Normally, there's four because we don't fight for two bronzes and he just wasn't there. He never competed again. I can tell you his name but ...
Geoff: Yeah, I don't think we need to shame someone on this but it's just surprising that he clearly was a competent athlete, but there's a difference I guess between someone like yourself and someone like that where that forced mental snap they just gave up.
Josh: Exactly. You have to learn how to lose in order to learn how to win I feel. To be the best, I don't believe that character is shown when you're winning. The real character is shown and revealed when you've lost. What do you do when you're down? I feel like this is one of the cardinal rules in terms of success in life. It's literally what do you do when you're down. What do you do once you've lost? That's what makes the difference. All world-class motivational speakers always talk about and it's so cliché but it literally is the truth. What space of consciousness do you fall into when you lose? How fast do you get out of them? How much you believe them and where do you return to? What homeostasis do you go to after the loss? It broke him and he was identified with his wins and I had lost before. I knew what it was like.
Geoff: I mean, I think that's one of those things that might sound overly fuzzy or bullshitty or overly spiritual, but I think it's something that I've been puzzling about recently just like how do you set standards or how do you guide people towards life. I think in like a modern educational setting, there's not a lot of guidance for how to think or how to approach life. I think as a small anecdote here where you learn how to lose, you learn that not when you're tested when you win. It's tested when you lose and like flipping that script in your mind. If more people have this kind of mindset, I think more people would be doing better viable things in their lives.
Geoff: It's interesting nugget for people to take away here. One thing that struck me was what prevents people from sandbagging? If you've been training for three years, what if you just want to crush a bunch of white belts if you were equivalent to like a purple belt or brown belt or black belt and you want to just win the blue belt Pan Ams and just hold yourself back to the blue belt and just crush some people that are less experienced than you?
Josh: Every single person in the world stage at every single belt, white, blue, purple, brown is sandbagging. Basically, this was four or five years ago, so it could have changed. I doubt it has, but there's two lines. There's recreational jiu-jitsu basically training in the gym, being good in your gym and then there's competition jiu-jitsu, being good amongst the rest of the pack, amongst all the gyms, amongst IBJJF. If you're going to be in the top of any of those belts, you are basically almost one to two belts above that. If you win the world championship as a blue belt, you're already going into normal gym. I'm sorry.
Geoff: Like crushing brown belts.
Josh: And fucking up brown belts, probably even some black belts. When I quit from the sport, I was a world-class purple belt and I was destroying most black belts that I rolled with. Being a black belt in jiu-jitsu in my opinion, there's no gauge in my head. I never even ask people what belt they are because it doesn't mean anything to me. Of course, it's a real accomplishment. I'm not taking away from that, but seeing the difference between competition jiu-jitsu and around the corner bare jiu-jitsu-
Geoff: Like signing up for 10 years and getting a black belt.
Josh: It's a world of difference, so to answer your question, everyone sandbagging and everyone is ready for their next belt if they're getting even in the top 16 in the world or in the Pan Ams in their division and this is my opinion from five years ago. I could be very wrong and if there's anyone who is hardcore into jiu-jitsu right now and they're like, "Please leave a comment." You know I'm fucking wrong right now. I don't think so.
Geoff: Interesting. Basically, like the competition around, there's just understood hierarchy. You're constantly competing. You kind of know what everyone is calibrated at. You know like they are competition purple belts or competition brown belts like you kind of know your range despite like getting out there.
Josh: Range in the world?
Josh: Yeah. If you're just casually training jiu-jitsu and then you go to like an IBJJF tournament, you'll see the real level of competition amongst the belts in the world.
Geoff: One thing that I want to also expand upon is you mentioned that you're fighting and you're fighting until you kill someone or die. I've only tapped into that feeling maybe like once or twice and most recently was doing a charity boxing match with a good friend, Naguib. It was a friendly fight but like when you're in the ring you're staring at someone and you see in their eyes they're trying to kill you. We talked about that before and like, "Hey, we're friends outside the ring. In the ring, I'm going to try to fuck you up and vice versa." I think in normal life, you never see the intensity. In normal day-to-day activity, you don't ever see someone trying to kill you. The intensity level of life is pretty muted and imagine when you're doing your BJJ competitions and fights, you were literally in your mindset trying to kill the other person. Was that accurate?
Can you dive into that mindset and how you separate that intense, animalistic, murderous energy from being a normal human being that can survive in a civilian world?
Josh: I think there were times when my consciousness rested on killing like there were times when that was what I would describe as where I was. I think winning was more prevalent for me, but often times it was winning and killing combined. It wasn't the type of killing that you see in like serial killers where it's twisted and like weird. It was pure animal defending one's territory.
Geoff: A need to survive.
Josh: Tribal murder or tribal defending of one's life. That is what I believe is in the deepest depths of the belly, deepest depths of our being I feel that actually exist and it's actually repressed in our culture. I believe that a lot of mental issues and all kinds of neurosis that are happening in our culture are a result of people not feeling comfortable in their animal nature and not being free to express it when in reality that animal nature is not actually bad. There is a place for it. It should be cultivated and learned. If you don't learn it, it owns you.
Geoff: It should be channeled in a productive way.
Josh: Exactly. If it's a mystery, it owns you. If you can learn how to own it, then there won't be a problem. You won't release it on someone in a weird way. I believe that energy can actually be given to every conversation. It doesn't have to be murderous or a killing, but I actually live my life with that same energy. You see, athletes, you were a very good tennis player, right?
Geoff: I mean, good for high school.
Josh: In any case, anytime someone is an athlete and then they're losing in life, they're like "I only knew how to be victorious in this one sport." I say that's bullshit. I say that the energy that went into the sport is that person. That person can cultivate that energy and they can bring that energy into the world whether it's a conversation or an essay or acing a test.
Geoff: Like confidence transfers, right?
Josh: Yeah, and it's not only confidence. It's like an energetic pathway. You see people when they're good at sports. They're in their flow. They're in their body. They're dancing to something. They're dancing to a beat. They're not just rigid. They're always in some sort of rhythm the best athletes in the world. How do you bring that rhythm into life? I believe it's doable but we're trained to believe that we're only using that energy and it was the tennis that revealed it. It was the sport that revealed it but it wasn't the sport that created it. You are the creator. We are the ones who have the energy in the first place.
Geoff: The manifestation of energy, but the energy is innate to oneself.
Josh: Exactly. To answer your question, I feel that I'm often in that state still in my life, in a deep belly state, not necessarily like with killing intent but I take life really seriously. I'm very serious with my life. I think I've translated if from jiu-jitsu into my every day.
Geoff: Interesting. I think one thing I think kind of strikes me is that I think as an inexperienced just jumping into the ring like three months of training. Maybe part of that immaturity is like I just wasn't comfortable there, but it sounds like you just been in so many fights basically fighting like a life or death intensity where it's like less about fear or survival and thinks now it's channeling energy in a productive way perhaps is my sense here.
Josh: Now or back then you mean?
Geoff: I mean kind of both.
Josh: Yeah, it felt very productive to me. It felt that if I don't have jiu-jitsu that I would have kept getting into street fights, I would have never been able to hold down my corporate job. I was working in Microsoft at that time. I've never would have been able to hold that down. I would have just freaked out at someone.
Geoff: Even in the comfort in the ring because I think it's like stressful to fight someone. It's scary to go into a one-on-one confrontation. I think in modern society it's very rare or it's like you squared up yelling full intensity, "I want to kill you, you want to kill me." Do you ever lose that fear?
Josh: The fear is always there. It's terrifying and all you do is learn how to put aside that voice that chimes in. The raw fear is always there. There's this feeling that kicks in, butterflies in the stomach, you're cold, you're hot, you have to pee, you have to shit. It's these things that happen before a fight. It's just as weird feeling. The thing that kills people is not that. It's the story that will chime in that will grab on to and hook on to and believe the story of, "Oh, I'm so tired today" and then, "This guy is really good. This guy beat this guy and I lost to that guy. That means that by nature, by default I'll be losing to him." Once you buy into those stories, you may as well as lay on the mat.
Geoff: It's experiences like channeling the energy in a productive way.
Josh: Yeah, and not listening to the stories. Just saying, "Okay, maybe that's true, maybe it's not. Move forward, next."
Geoff: I think one thing that struck me when you are talking about how that raw energy should be or is already being tapped into by society, that caught me with the tribal elements of team sports. It's essentially like if when people are cheering for like Golden State Warriors or football team or their baseball team, it seems to be that same channel that society has created to allow people to get their tribal aggression out. Like they're letting someone else battle out their aggression and they get this sort of cheer on like very tribal air viscerally. That seems to be the main pathway, but maybe you would agree to this. I'm curious what your thoughts on this.
I don't think that's a great pathway because you're just watching other man or woman do stuff and you're being very passive. Well, I might tap in that tribal instinct like our team won, our team beat your team, and maybe that's good enough for some people, but it seems to be kind of a waste of energy. Again, I don't want to like this sports fans. Obviously, sports inspires people, etc., etc. Maybe this is someone that wants to focus some of the intense energy on improving oneself. Is there a place to maybe help redirect some of the energy to not grant responsibility of your internal animal instinct to give someone else to be your avatar to fight? Is there a way to channel it internally to improve yourself? Can you share your thoughts on that?
Josh: I definitely agree with you. I've never watched sports, I mean, I did like for small. Some days I would watch an event or one event at a time a year, but I never was into sports because I wanted to be on the field. I think there are people who are just meant to be in the stands in life. There's nothing that's just where they are right now in this life. There's nothing wrong with that but I think for anyone who is really wanting something for themselves that being in the stands won't actually help you get there. I think it satisfies a very surface level primal energy as far as being on a team and rooting. I think more so like maybe in the mind and the ego versus like some actual primal thing. How could people channel their energy towards I guess doing it for themselves?
Josh: I think it just has to be a decision. I don't know the how exactly, but I would say the most important facet of that would be the decision to take matters into your own hands, to want to explore your edge in any sport. When we're surfing our edge, look at all the best athletes, all the best, most famous people who have done amazing things in the world. They were on their edge every single day, their edge of comfort. Watching sports is just really comfortable for most people, so there's nothing wrong with it, but I would say you just find the edge and playing in sports is an amazing way to crack that.
Geoff: I think let's dive into this a little bit more. Do you think this is a learned behavior or is it genetic behavior or something that you're born with? With you, we work with a lot of athletes, but honestly, I'm not a big sports fan either. My thing is not like go turn on the TV and root for other men playing the game. I'd rather do that myself or just do something active. I don't know where that came from internally. I mean, do you have a sense of when you wanted to be the person on the field versus the person on the stand? Do you think that was learned? Do you think that's something you're born with?
Josh: I think it's both. I was definitely born with a spirit I wanted to participate, no doubt about that, but there were so many times in my life where I could have chosen comfort. I think it's a choice and it's cultivated but it's also there's like a blueprint that someone is born with as far as propensity to do that sort of stuff. For me, I don't even know how to relate in the stands because I have this internal fire on the field in my life. It was never a comfort for me. It was never something that I actually got enough pleasure for to rest on and lean on, so I don't understand. There's no judgment at all. I can't relate to it.
Geoff: I think just for myself I think it is a mix of nature and nurture. I guess, again, maybe when you're like a kid you're growing up and my parents sign me up for like soccer, little league baseball, basketball, just trying all these sports and you just realize that's not more fun to do that and like watch TV. Then maybe like you have some early successes where you realize that you can be competent here and I think that mastery could develop more and more confidence. You fall in this virtuous cycle.
I think maybe that's one way to just inspire people to just start finding some sort of small mastery, get better at it and get that positive loop going.
Geoff: I think one thing that struck me that was really strange was when I was a freshman at Stanford. Everyone would go to the football game. It was like a whole thing like, "Wow! Every single freshmen, let's go see like the football team play." These are like random classmates of mine. I didn't go to see football games in high school. I think I'm pretty good at what I do and I was like a nerdy computer scientist like I'm doing important shit too.
Josh: Let's go play football.
Geoff: Right. It was just like, "Why are you like spending like a whole freaking weekend to watch like a game?" I think that realization almost made me double down to not be just the person on the stands. It takes some agency, do something of value and maybe if more people in society think that way, we would have more creations, more services, happier people.
Josh: Healthier people.
Geoff: Yeah, healthier and happier people. Hopefully something like conversations like these hopefully inspires listeners and people on this edge of like, "Oh, should I just kind of tap out?" Encourage them not to tap out. Don't be like the competitor and be the crush ones and never show up again. Take that loss and then come back.
Geoff: Cool. I want to keep following your story here, so blue belt, Pan Am champion. I guess it was one of the several moments in your jiu-jitsu career. What was next?
Josh: The next thing which is basically will lead us into what I really do for my living now, my real new passion, my new jiu-jitsu. I got incredibly ill. October 2013, I went from being this guy who lives in the Lower East Side. I got with all the women. I was a jiu-jitsu champion like I made good money. Everything was good. I was suave to basically feeling like I was tripping on acid 24/7 without taking any drugs in a two-week period of time. I went from this place to this whole new place in two weeks and it was just this quick decline, a losing of my psyche, a fracturing of my psyche. To put into perspective, I mean, in those days I realized I started experiencing panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, depression that I never experienced in my life before just thoughts of doom and gloom, thoughts of dying.
Geoff: Sudden onset. This is like you-
Josh: Sudden onset. I was totally out of nowhere. The level of pain that I was experiencing was, again, as if I was on bad trip. The worse trip you've ever had in your life if any viewer or you have had a trip on of acid or bad weed or anything, the worse 30 seconds of that trip, I lived there, I literally lived there.
Geoff: You're questioning yourself like, "Am I just on some crazy trip?"
Josh: Every minute. I thought I lost my mind. I thought I completely lost my mind.
Josh: I thought I totally lost it and I have a head injury from jiu-jitsu or I have a psychotic breakdown. The bottom line is I thought I was going to end up in an institution. Basically, the first route was to take drugs. I started taking Xanax because I tried to find any drug I can to mask the pain. I started approaching tons of women on the street because I was into street game and that was one thing that I can get out of my funk if I picked up a girl in the street. I was just like super depressed inside, having panic attacks and going out on the street saying-
Geoff: It's like bump of excitement.
Josh: Yeah, exactly.
Geoff: Talking at the moment.
Josh: "Hey there, I'm Josh. I'd be kicking myself later if didn't talk to you." I had a whole script. "Let's exchange numbers. I'll convince you to get a drink with me one night" and it still worked even in my dark days. Then, I would text them and then all of a sudden I would be high for a minute and then fall right back into my misery and I was like, "Okay, this isn't working. What's next?" Tried drugs, none of that works. What's next? I talked to family. I was like, "Look guys, I'm going through something very, very serious right now and I need help." I went through a psychiatrist. That was the next route for me so I went to a psychiatrist and then an hour I got diagnosed with everything under the sun, major depressive disorder, major anxiety disorder, bipolar, whatever, anything, ADHD, all of it which I've thrown it all away now and I can get into that.
Geoff: They were doing blood markers, everything, just all sort of tests, all sorts of psychoanalysis?
Josh: In the beginning, no, no blood test.
Geoff: They're just like, "Hey, we think this is a mental disorder. Take some pills."
Josh: Man, you may be far way away from conventional psychiatry. The conventional psychiatry is literally an overweight dude in the chair waiting for you to say the word depression to give you a prescription for three different things.
Geoff: I know. There were people looking at endocrinology or people looking into testosterone, anything, insulin, glucose.
Josh: No, dude, you're so ahead of the game. You don't understand. When people start and I know where you're at because I feel that I'm in a similar place now like heavy metals, toxicity, blood tests, of course. When things first start, where people are in their box and their world, where my family was, where my field was in my consciousness, it was not in any of this, man.
Geoff: You're just searching for help.
Josh: Yeah. It was depression. I was in New Jersey, New York, so right away more close-minded than California. I started taking these medications and I took them for four months and they were absolutely horrible. They made me numb. They made me feel like a zombie and I flush them down the toilet one day. The day I flush them down the toilet was the day that I decided to go to the Amazon jungle to drink ayahuasca.
Geoff: We actually had a couple folks from Rogue Hearts Foundation that basically used ayahuasca as a way for therapeutics for PTSD for veterans so using that channel as a way to broaden the horizon on ayahuasca, so yes. DMT but from a plant to more traditional method.
Josh: Yeah. It's DMT from the chacruna leaves and it's an MAOI from the caapi vine and they're brewed together and introduced orally, allows the DMT to bypass the blood brain barrier and you basically have a deep hallucinogenic experience for about five to six hours.
Geoff: Usually, there's some tradition.
Josh: When it's done the right way, there's tradition ceremony. There are people who buy ayahuasca off the internet and do it in their room. I would not recommend that at all.
Geoff: You were just like the standard stuff isn't working for me. I'm going to hop Brazil and do some drugs.
Josh: Peru. Come on, don't be ridiculous, Brazil? Basically, I looked at my life and I said no one that I know in my life right now I feel actually knows what's happening to me. Everyone I've talked to, I can look at them in the eye and know that they are completely dumbfounded by what I'm going through and they can only offer their best. I appreciate them but what I'm going through is something new and it's something different than I've ever learned before. I realized that at that point in time that it was something new.
It was a new experience aside from all of my conditioned beliefs and thoughts. I had fork in the road.
On one end was these medications and eventual probably an institution and probably a hundred extra pounds on my body and the other route was to die or to go crazy trying to figure out the root of this illness. In those moments, in those weeks before making that decision, I learned about ayahuasca.
Geoff: Through a friend, through online?
Josh: Online, natural depression remedies, etc.
Geoff: You are just searching. You're figuring out you're like self-teaching at this point.
Geoff: You're like, "The docs aren't working. They're wasting my time, giving [inaudible 00:39:49] on pharmaceuticals." Any other routes here?
Josh: I flew to Peru. Ayahuasca is in the four surrounding the Amazon; Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. I flew to Peru and I did one ceremony. I was supposed to do seven and I literally had such a bad experience. I was not ready for it. I was in such bad shape. My physical body was filthy with toxicity, with remnants of pharmaceutical drugs and I had the hard trip from hell which could be the whole episode if we wanted it to be.
Geoff: Is this like three months after the initial onset, six months in?
Josh: This was May 2014, so this is seven months after the initial onset.
Geoff: Seven months of just being in hell and trying everything, nothing working.
Josh: Every day was torture and I guess I skipped that part. Just to let you understand every day was pure utter torture.
Geoff: You kind of roll?
Josh: I trained. I trained as a coping mechanism and it was a desperate coping mechanism for me.
Geoff: You're still physically pretty decent shape. It wasn't just like you got fat for seven months?
Geoff: You were trying like coping to survive as much as you could.
Geoff: You're in fairly good shape and you're now in Peru and the first ayahuasca ceremony, you are not good.
Josh: Yeah. Just a brutal hellish, nightmarish experience, a lot of throwing up and a lot of torturous thoughts and I was petrified and I flew home the next day and I went straight into a mental hospital actually. I went straight into a mental hospital in New Jersey. The good thing we can laugh at it now.
Geoff: It's pretty wild to be like, "Okay, I just came back home from a crazy ayahuasca trip. I'm certifiably insane now. I'm checking myself in."
Josh: That's what happened.
Geoff: You were at that level.
Josh: Again, ayahuasca was this foreign thing so now I went from foreign thing here in New Jersey to foreign thing here in the jungle and now I'm back home and I have to tell them this foreign thing that I did. There is so many hooks to latch on to as far as what could be wrong with me because they're like, "Oh, that ayahuasca stuff. You're fucked for life." Everywhere I went in my mind was just torture. I'm screwed. I irreversibly damaged my brain with this tribal drug.
I woke up the next day in the hospital after three days of not sleeping because of the ayahuasca, I couldn't sleep, and actually I almost brought the plane down. I was in the back of the plane literally in full convulsions, panic attacks, crying. I couldn't make it home. I literally couldn't make it home. I was in so much agony, mental anguish. I literally had to make an announcement on the airplane for benzodiazepina which is benzos in Spanish and I was in Colombian airline for whatever reason traveling through Peru. A firefighter came in the back and a Colombian nurse came and they gave me Xanax and I got escorted off the plane first.
I'm the first person off the plane, restraint into JFK police. They weren't security. They were police and they basically searched every cavity. They thought I was a drug dealer and thank God I probably could have been there for another day but the dude that saw my ears and he said, "You trained MMA?" I'm like, "Jiu-jitsu." He's like, "What happened to you man? What the fuck happened to you on the plane?" I said, "I went to Peru. I wanted to take a vacation and I forgot my anxiety medication." I didn't tell him about ayahuasca. I forgot my anxiety medication. He goes, "Oh man, I'm sorry to hear that. All right, you're good. You look like you're a good guy. Go ahead, you're good to go." That's when I went straight to the hospital. I called my dad and I said, "Dad, I'm scared I'm going to kill myself. We got to go the hospital."
Geoff: Wow! It's like full on panic attack and you feel like claustrophobic in the plane, just everything.
Josh: The only way I can describe it to someone, there's no way that anyone who hasn't gone through this could ever possibly relate to it. They may be able to understand it or grasp it from the mind when I explained this but there's just no way. It's basically like the feeling you would get is someone holding a gun to your head and imagine how your heart would start racing and you'd start sweating and you start running through your life. That's the feeling I was living in, that type of fight or flight.
Geoff: Like 72 hours straight.
Josh: And many days before that, but the ayahuasca intensified it. I'm in the hospital and I wake up after three days of not sleeping and I vowed to myself that I was going to back to the jungle, imagine that. They gave me a sleeping medication, I fell asleep. I slept for like 16 hours. I woke up and I said whatever it was that was inside of me was inside of me anyway. Ayahuasca just brought it to the surface. I didn't actually think anything bad about ayahuasca or anything like that. I just simply woke up with the deep knowing that I was going to go back.
I called my friend the next day and I said I'm literally in the hospital calling my friend. Everyone thinks I'm nuts at this point and like, "Get some mushrooms. We need to do mushrooms. I need to build up my way to being able to handle ayahuasca again." Six days later, I get out of the hospital and I did two ketamine injections. Ketamine is legal for people who are suicidal in New York and you trip out and it's somewhat therapeutic, but I would never do it again but I was wanting to die every day so I just constantly needed to invest my whole soul, my whole being into something in order to live another day, another week to give myself hope.
I did those ketamine injections and immediately after the ketamine injections, me and my friend started doing mushroom ceremonies in Brooklyn like botanical gardens and we would drink this mushroom teas and we would spend six to eight hours in the fields and have these deep revelations and I would cry and he was basically a healer without being a healer like he's had a healing spirit. I just would cry to him and building up this internal strength, this internal witnessing of this deep darkness as opposed to getting caught in it every time. I started focusing on diet and fasting and started understanding how important it is that whatever we put in our bodies is what we get out. Up until this moment, I could have never imagined that anything I put in my body affected my mind. I mean, for you, you're like of course, but where I was and my consciousness being a Jersey bro, it didn't even register. I knew it registered in terms of physical fitness.
Geoff: You are doing like some sort of coaching.
Geoff: It sounds like body building stuff.
Josh: Sports, performance, but in mental health I thought it was a whole other category of life. I start diving into all these things and I started cleaning my body. Sure enough, six months later, I met a woman who happened to be the communication's director of the largest ayahuasca center in the world and she happened to go to my high school and I never knew her in high school and we connected. I told her about my experience and she was amazing and beautiful and we started dating. I was a mess when we started dating.
Geoff: Six months, you're still a mess.
Josh: Total mess.
Geoff: You are starting to come back or just you're holding on?
Josh: I was basically one hand on a ledge with a really, really good grip. I wasn't going to fucking let go but I was holding on and there was a 5,000 foot drop below me, so I wasn't progressing.
Geoff: The bottom point if you could say would be the airplane right back.
Josh: We haven't even come close to the bottom.
Geoff: Okay, let's continue the story.
Josh: That's like a vacation compared to where I went after three and half years. I hope we have the time for it at all, but I'll try and accelerate it here. Basically, I went to the Amazon a second time and I spent six months in the Amazon, five months maybe and then a month in the mountains. I drink ayahuasca 21 more times. I fasted for weeks on end and I meditated every day all day and I walked on the ground barefoot and gave myself self-love every single step. I had this practice where I would do for two hours a day and just every step, "I love you Josh. I love you Josh." Everywhere I went except for love or at least the thought of love was torture, so I just was constantly trying to stay afloat dealing with this depression, this panic, this anxiety, feeling like I was dying all day almost like a meat hook was in my gut and in my heart. That's what I felt like every day all day.
Geoff: I mean, 21 ceremonies, were these like little bumps that seem to have started working or why did you do so many if you were still in this like torturous situation?
Josh: Ayahuasca cleared out so much junk and cleared my intuition and revealed to me the aliveness of the earth, the aliveness of me as a body, the aliveness of the fact that I was a spirit in a human body. I felt like avatar at times. For minutes at a time, I would realize that I was this avatar in a body temporarily inhabiting this physical vessel for this lifetime.
Those were the conclusions I came to through the medicine so there were revelations and there was a new paradigm that was opening for me...but the suffering didn't go away.
I could have this amazing beautiful thought of wisdom and light and then my homeostasis always got you back to this place.
Geoff: You kept doing it because you saw this oxygen as a kind of breath of fresh air, but you would revert.
Josh: I saw the oxygen and didn't know where else to turn at this point. I had tried float tanks, supplements, diets, fasting, meditation, Vipassana 10-day retreats.
Geoff: Silent retreats?
Josh: Yeah, silent meditation retreats. I tried everything I could find on Google. I was like, "Okay, it's ayahuasca or it's death."
Geoff: In a sense that ayahuasca you saw the most potential.
Josh: The native indigenous shamans, they held something so deep in their eyes, in their speech, in their ceremonies that there was no other person in my life that I could feel that I could put my life in their hands. When I was with the shamans, I surrendered. I said, "I know you guys know what's going on with me. I know you understand the level of illness that I'm dealing with right now. It's in your core." I couldn't do that with a psychiatrist. I couldn't do that with my family, with my friends, even world renowned doctors who I had spoken to up until that point. I reached out to every hallucinogenic doctor on Google. I talked to all of them.
For whatever reason, they just decided to talk to his random dude from Jersey because the way I wrote to him. I don't want to go into names because I'm saying that they didn't help me. All of those dudes who are in mats and I've talked too so many of those dudes when I was just like a Jersey bro with no name, with no nothing. They would just pick up the phone and talk to me.
Geoff: It wasn't just like you just want to do a bunch of drugs in Peru.
Geoff: It's like you tried every single path and the only thing that you saw success in was through this ayahuasca ceremonies?
Josh: Yeah. There was no desire for drugs. There was no desire to trip out, purely to escape suffering.
Geoff: Which is a helpful context just to make sure that we're not just like this guy just likes being high.
Josh: No, no way. Hate it being high. Every ceremony was torture. Once in a while I would have a ceremony of light, but mostly it was just pure darkness. Again, to answer your question in a deeper way, which also brings us to the next place in the story. The shamans would always tell me they would laugh at me and they would say similar things along this line of that you have a big medicine for the world but you also have a big problem that you're dealing with right now. I had read about shamanic initiations.
See, the only thing I could grasp onto at this point, which may sound crazy to a lot of people, is that I was a shaman or a healer and that this was my initiation into being a healer because for generations and many, many points in time, the shaman in a village was actually the one who got very, very sick and then the community would come around and chant and help them go through to the experience. We call it schizophrenia. They call it shamanic initiation and eventually after enough time that individual transcend the experience and actually hold these amazing qualities and visions and lessons from the spirit world in order to bring it to the community to help the community.
Josh: I was like, "Okay, so I'm a shaman and this is my shamanic initiation." The reason I say that is because these shamans went through voices and auditory and visual hallucinations, which I did go through as well on a regular basis and they were tortured.
Josh: It wasn't just normal depression, normal anxiety. It was torment, so I couldn't put my faith in any book that I read about depression.
Geoff: Interesting. These shamans almost saw that you are cut from the same cloth as them. You weren't like some western tourist trying to go on some drug trip.
Josh: They knew that. No, no. They knew that.
Geoff: You're like, "Oh, this ... Okay."
Josh: They treated me with the utmost respect.
Geoff: And almost like welcomed you into their community of being a shaman.
Josh: Basically, not so simple as that, but they knew that I was holding something and going through something that was different than a normal westerner. That leads me to the next phase of the journey, which after months and months of this, I couldn't get to the root of my illness. I flew back home and I was a caddie at a country club and I was carrying golf bags, 36 holes a day often, making really good money, saving up money for my next ayahuasca adventure. I spend nine months in Jersey drinking two gallons of distilled water a day, fasting for sometimes 7, 10. I think I fasted once per 12 days. I still got up and went to the caddie yard.
Josh: I almost fainted.
Geoff: Longest water fast I've done is seven days.
Josh: Okay, awesome, so you've done fasting.
Josh: Amazing. I did juices I think during that fast, I think. I've done so many fast that I can't remember which one was which. I'm caddying. I'm saving up money. I'm living in torment and I'm still working on myself, meditation four hours a day, stretching four hours a day. To give you an idea of how much suffering I was in, I would wake up and I would have to put on meditation music and sing to myself in order to pretend that I was happy. I would literally walk around my basement. People would think I was like euphoric. I would just sing these chants and these songs in order to just get moments of peace, moments because you never want to stop trying to do the things that are supposed to be good for you. That's to me that felt like giving up. Even though the things that were supposed to be good for me didn't-
Geoff: I'm surprised like you even got out of bed. You still have enough of you inside that had the desire to continue to wake up, get out of bed.
Josh: The panic attacks. It was like lying in bed was torture. Everywhere I went was torture but panic attacks sparked up my whole electrical system. I had energy at the same time is being tormented, which is extra torment, so I go and I do this dieta in the jungle. I do what's known as an isolation dieta, which is an apprenticeship with the shamans because the whole time I was there, they said "You need to learn from us. We'll teach you." I flew to their home village in Contamana, no westerners, just me and the shamans. They didn't speak any English, the people of shamans, and my plan was that I was going to learn how to be a shaman and I was going to transcend this illness once and for all.
I flew to the Amazon, third time, Contamana, Peru and I'm doing isolation dieta where I was a 30-minute walk inside the Amazon jungle. Once we're already on a remote island in the Amazon, once we're on the island 30-minute walk into the jungle, I was to have no human contact for 90 days and drink ayahuasca three times a week and the tree wida caspi, which is the tree I was doing a dieta with which is a tree that all the shamans told me was the one that a lot of shamans did at their earliest age, 12, 13 years old in order to prove their discipline to the plants.
Josh: It was a powerful, powerful tree. Dieta is where you basically drink the sap of the tree incongruent, in conjunction with ayahuasca.
Geoff: The shamans weren't trying to oversee you.
Josh: They came and visited me once a day.
Geoff: Just to check that you weren't dead.
Josh: Basically, yeah. To them, death is funny. To them, death is just part of life. There's no part of them that views death as bad and the reason I know that is because I almost died in the ceremony and one of the shamans at the very end literally ... One shaman kept fighting for me. See, this whole story is just nuts.
Geoff: It is. This is super interesting because I think we've all heard about people doing ayahuasca, but I don't know there's that many people that talk about going to a shamanic induction and doing this sort of dieta. This is like very new to me. It's very interesting.
Josh: Basically, they don't view death as something bad and the reason I know that is because I almost died in the ceremony, actually almost died, not ego death. I watched as one of the shamans literally dropped his hands and was like I think we lost him in Spanish. I think we lost him and his girlfriend was still fighting for me and I eventually survived. I literally was out of my body. It was an outer body experience and I didn't care that he did that. I didn't have any anger but I learned through my time with the shamans that there's no western grasping towards death. They just know that I'm a soul and then I'll go somewhere new or whatever, however they view the world. It's not so doom and gloom of death. They don't look at, "Oh my God. His family is going to think this. His friends ..."
Geoff: It was like, "Okay, this guy has been transitioning on to the next life or whatever."
Josh: Exactly, and we did the best we could. In any case, they checked on me and the dieta was agonizing. I ate fish and plantains every day.
Geoff: They're bringing you food, right?
Josh: They brought me food twice a day. We checked in and I was just walking around the jungle naked for supposed to be 90 days. I literally walked around ass naked, full body electrocution, anxiety, panic and prayer. I was just praying, walking around, giving myself love, showering in the rain all day every day, literally outside naked with-
Geoff: It sounds kind of beautiful to be honest.
Josh: It was beautiful. It was fucking beautiful if I could have been in a state to receive beauty. I have pictures now of it and I just think, "Oh my God, if I was in this state that I'm in now."
Geoff: You're not thinking about like were there bugs, leeches?
Josh: I'm sleeping with cockroaches running across my face on a regular basis, mosquitoes, literally four or five monkeys would hang 30 yards away from me right before bed and then the worse mood I was in it almost seem like they would torment me and just like literally taunt me. It's like they knew when I was in a bad mood or something. It sounds crazy but they were just totally fuck with me and make noise all night.
Geoff: Were you afraid of like a leopard coming down and eating you?
Josh: In all of my time in the jungle, I saw many venomous snakes which a few of them I almost stepped on literally. Twice I almost, I was five, nearly six inches away from a venomous snake and one time someone else called my name and I misstepped. Another time, my lantern was dull and I wasn't looking at the ground and I literally for whatever reason and this is the beauty of ayahuasca is it connects you to some type of intuition despite what our western minds may think.
This dull light, I ended up having it on top of my head, it was hardly working and I was about to take a step and all of sudden something came in my consciousness. I took the light, went on the ground. It was a red, I think it's called a coil snake that I was literally four inches away from and probably could have killed me, but I think they had some protocols on the island in order to help you but in any case, I almost died a few times in the jungle.
Geoff: Wild. I mean, just 90 days butt naked, just being a primal animal.
Josh: Yeah, but I didn't last 90 days. I tapped out after 30.
Geoff: You're like I have enough.
Josh: And yes to all what you said primal animal, just all of the above, staring at the moon, enjoying the rain.
Geoff: Getting bitten my mosquitoes every single night.
Josh: Yeah. My place didn't have mosquitoes, outside did. Snakes, there was an anaconda but I never saw it and there apparently was jaguars but I never saw them and I was walking 30 minutes by myself with this little head lamp. Every time I would walk, I would just be like I was praying for a jaguar to eat me. I'm walking and just praying for an easy death and it wouldn't count as a suicide, so I could bypass the earthly loss of a suicide and not be a tortured soul. I walked into the shamans' cove after 30 days and said I wanted to quit. They looked at me and they said "Are you sure?" I said, "I can't. I'm done." They closed the dieta. They basically said, "This is very, very bad. Okay, we can't do anything. We'll close the dieta." They did their little ceremony. They do a lot of breathwork and chants, closed the dieta, and I flew home.
Geoff: Also, for clarity, so during the dieta every day you were doing ayahuasca?
Josh: Three times a week and only eating fish and plantains. This is really the only true helpless moment of my stories what I get into now. Basically, I flew to Miami because I couldn't go to New York. I couldn't go home to see my family. I was distraught. I was fractured.
You can look the photos of me from back then, I was 30 pounds lighter than I am now with a fractured psyche. I couldn't carry a conversation.
I was petrified to do everything from leaving a room to going to the bathroom, to going onto a plane, everything was petrifying.
Geoff: Did you feel like a failure? Did you tap down in 30 days?
Josh: I felt like a failure. I felt like I had given up hope because if it wasn't a shamanic initiation, then there was nothing else to latch onto. There was nothing else. I was just crazy. Simply put I was psychotic and everyone else is right, and I lost my mind, and I started to believe that. Then, I flew to Miami, my best friend, Eden Lambert, who stuck by my side for three and a half years. When every single person in my life gave up on me, he still believes in me and he offered me home, shelter, food, pay for acupuncture sessions, and he said, "Dude, I don't know how to help you. I don't know what you're going through. I just know that I'm here for you and we got you. Me and my mom, we got you."
I spent a month there, pure utter torment, not getting any better and I called my mom. I told them all the truth about how bad I was and I flew home and this is when suicide actually was at the forefront of my consciousness. I had experienced suicidal thoughts for hundreds and thousands of times before that, but this actually got me to a place of actually the majority of me started wanting to kill myself when I got home. I had nothing left, man. I had nothing left in the tank. That was the first time I felt what actual desire for suicide was, not just suicidal thoughts, like what actually a deep internal desire to like check out was and it was the scariest fucking thing in the world man.
That's all a big blur, but I was scavenging for something to grasp onto, my last ditch effort at life and then I remember these people in the jungle talking about iboga. Iboga is another hallucinogenic found in Africa. It's very helpful for heroin addicts and it's a 36-hour intense hallucinogenic experience like people die on it. It's fucking crazy and it's a rite of passage for people in Africa. I said, "Okay, I'm doing this before I kill myself." I'm probably going to kill myself but I have to do this.
Geoff: Might as well do this.
Josh: I have to in every last effort at life. Booked to the trip to iboga. I paid a shaman $4,000.
Geoff: Where is iboga? East Africa?
Josh: East Africa, 23-hour flight. I didn't even know how to get on the flight.
Geoff: Which country is it in?
Geoff: Okay. I was just recently in Tanzania.
Josh: Were you?
Josh: Leading up to the iboga was basically my parents trying to help me, my mom's boyfriend desperately trying to help me. All these people, Eden, my stepmom, basically just calling me checking upon me. My uncle, "How are you? Don't do anything stupid. How are you?" They knew how fucking broken I was and eventually, I quietly and cautiously planned this trip to Africa. I only told Eden. I didn't tell anyone else, paid for my flight, opened up $25,000 in credit cards like new credit cards. My credit was perfect. I was like, "Look, if I'm going to die, money is pixels on a computer screen, who cares." Paid all this money that I didn't have to the shaman, for the flight, everything.
I was two days away from getting on that plane and I started thinking about mercury fillings, my mercury fillings in my mouth, mercury, thinking about it, dreaming about it, ruminating on it, touching them like maybe this ... I read an article a year before that heavy metals or braces or mercury in the mouth can cause an antenna to the spiritual world to be faulty because it's metal and it's conductive and I was like, "That's bullshit but I'm going to get these fillings out because money doesn't mean anything." $3,000 later, I got those fillings out, came home 24 hours to go before getting on the plane. Google mercury poisoning stories, enter, my life would never be the same after that.
I read this woman's story. Her name is Connie Fox. She is an amazing, beautiful human being and she was the only story that I had ever read up until this moment that resonated with me. Aside from shamanic initiations, this level of torment and inner unrest was the only thing I'd ever seen up until that point. I broke down in tears. I called, scream for my mom. I called my dad on speaker phone and I said, "You guys almost lost your son." I was 24 hours away from getting on this plane to Africa. I found out what's wrong with me. You may not believe it. You have to believe me and I need money and I need help. I need support and there's tons more to the story. I understand probably we're going way longer than you normally do, so I'll accelerate it here and that I basically went from being on death's door in every way physically, emotionally, spiritually possible to seven months later regained my mind, my clarity. I did an intense mercury and heavy metal and parasite detoxification protocol and I shout out hundreds of worms, tapeworms, rope worms, roundworms.
Geoff: That probably happened when you're in the Amazon.
Josh: Maybe, partially. A lot of people have worms though in the United States too I think according to my research. Detoxing the heavy metals in my body and healing my gut which by the way-
Geoff: Like chelation?
Josh: I didn't do any chelation until at that point, but I did gut healing because my gut was destroyed. I couldn't digest any foods. Now, we're two and a half years later and I think I'm one of most stable people I know, I'm very grounded and I don't have any depression and no panic, reasonable life anxiety.
Geoff: What were these interventions? What were these heavy metal detox? If it wasn't chelation, then what are the typical techniques then?
Josh: With severe toxicity the way I had it, chelation is a disaster because what's happening when someone is as toxic as I was is that there are tons of metals floating around the gut causing inflammation, preventing proper digestion and when we chelate, we pull metals from inside the cell and they go right towards the central channel to be evacuated. If that central channel is already destroyed, you're further stripping the body of minerals, further destroying the body of its harmony.
Geoff: It's like too far gone for a chelation therapy?
Josh: Which is partially the clients that I worked with today who are too far gone for chelation. I made a miraculous recovery without detoxing any heavy metals from my cells. This is what I believe is a huge misconception in the holistic healing world right now.
Geoff: What were the interventions that you did that?
Josh: Like the modalities to be exact?
Josh: Basically, I started with gut healing. I started with mast cell stabilization and gut healing, so I took something called ketotifen which is an antihistamine and mast cell stabilizer and there's other ways to do that now. You don't necessarily have to get the prescription but that's something that I took that allowed my body to be able to handle supplements. I couldn't handle supplements or foods. I was so sensitive to everything. This calmed the immune system down in order for me to be able to handle the things that are good for me.
Geoff: Connecting the dots here. You went from mercury poisoning. This might be the thing to recovery. I guess it's like, what were the steps there? Were you like, "Okay, I got toxin like heavy metal mercury poison experts." You worked with doctors?
Josh: I signed up for that woman, the woman who I read that story.
Geoff: Connie's story.
Josh: Connie Fox. I signed up with her right away.
Geoff: Okay. Did she have a medical background or she just went through personally?
Josh: No, she just went through it.
Josh: She went through it and I trusted her and when you're in that situation, credentials mean nothing.
Geoff: I know. It's interesting to heal like okay you try like literally everything.
Josh: And now this random woman.
Geoff: This 36-hour iboga trip and then you saw a mercury poisoning story and you just started talking to her and then going through the interventions that she did.
Geoff: It started off with something like an antihistamine base?
Josh: Yeah. It was a combination of her and this other doctor that I had eventually seen a few months later and another person on the internet who I don't even want to mention his name because I don't believe in what he does and he's not a good human being, so I don't even want to give him credit, that guy. Basically, it was a combo effect but the main thing was gut healing.
This was the core principle that saved my life, not detoxification. It was actually healing my gut, reducing inflammation, and replenishing minerals.
Whenever you're toxic with heavy metals, we're also very nutrient deficient, so the combo is what makes people sick not only the toxin.
Geoff: Do the combination of these different, I guess, experts through their own experiences and a doctor and then your own practical experience trying their techniques, you kind of have your own system or framework and how you look at this now?
Josh: Yeah. Everyone had their own little medicine in their amazing little wisdom to offer me and it was all beautiful amazing pieces of advice. At that point, even though I was distraught, I was like a master with my own body. I was fucked but I was liked I knew my body, and so I was starting to learn all of these things and experienced everything. I was saying, "No, no, no. I don't think that should go like this" and I started tweaking and I became an experiment. As soon as I recovered some resemblance of sanity and didn't have to rely on one person's words, I became my own little doctor.
Josh: That's when I started tweaking with things and coming up my own protocol basically.
Geoff: No one over the last like three years of you going through hell and no one tried to do a mercury poisoning test on you?
Josh: No. I had heard of it, I knew about it, but you got to understand it didn't register to me as something that was even feasible. To me, with ayahuasca, I thought everything was spiritual, emotional. How could these fillings in my teeth or sushi, how could they make me depressed? I couldn't see it, which is why I understand why people can't believe it.
Geoff: I mean, it's wild that through all the doctors no one decided to give you that sort of tests if we're going to just screen for everything possible.
Josh: If I'm honest, I really only saw mostly conventional western medicine, maybe I saw one naturopath and a functional.
Geoff: You would think that even in standard western care that if there's some psychotic breakdown, you would do some sort of heavy metal toxicity screen. That seems to be of like a standard care.
Josh: Yes. Maybe now, it wasn't then. Is it now? I haven't been a doctor in a long time.
Geoff: I mean, I'm not a doctor either, but imagine that doctors on the lab we have on a program. It seems that like there's a standard lab test for heavy metal toxicity.
Josh: There is a blood test. The problem and all engineers and people who worked with industrial exposure, they get blood tested. Problem? Mercury does not show up in the blood. Most heavy metals leaves the blood within 24 hours.
Geoff: They go into your bone, right?
Josh: They settle into your bones, organs, tissues, so blood tests are useless. To answer your question, yes, all doctors do blood tests. They're useless though.
Josh: There are probably some doctors who go a little deeper, a urine test or a hair test but I would say they're probably coming more alive to that now but at that time, I would say majority of western medicine or conventional medicine practitioners didn't do that, at least not the ones I wanted.
Geoff: I know it's interesting and I guess have you tried to measure your mercury now?
Josh: I tried a year after, which was a year and a half ago and I went from one of the highest levels the company had ever seen to one-third.
Geoff: This is I guess more of a specialized either go seek this kind of test, diagnostic yourself.
Josh: It's called an HTMA, hair test mineral analysis.
Geoff: That's right. A lot of the heavy metal poison you can tell from hair.
Josh: Yeah, and then there's provoked urine tests which are very dangerous for people who are really sick because they're chelating, so they're doing the final step. I believe it should be the final step, they're doing that first.
Geoff: I see.
Josh: There's horror stories of people who are very, very sick doing the oral chelation in order to test their urine and then they get more sick and at that stage of sickness, every increment matters. Getting worse to someone in that place, it's like you can't imagine, it's like having a hundred knives in your body and then someone coming with another sword right in the middle.
Geoff: To the folks who might not know what chelation is, you want to quickly describe chelation as a therapeutic?
Josh: Chelation is basically giving the body certain chemicals, herbs, sometimes synthetic that actually signal to the cell to purge the heavy metal from the body, so when a body has many nutrients, cells have different nutrients attached to them.
When the body is toxic and malnourished, cells will actually grab on to the metals instead of a mineral. Instead of selenium, a cell will grab on to mercury.
Once it's there, it's tight, it's in there, it's locked in. It's dangerous to let it go because when you release it, it goes into the blood. The body knows that it never wants heavy metals floating through blood, that's when you're going psycho when they're in the blood.
Geoff: It's like non-metabolizable. The body doesn't break it down, so just stuck in there.
Josh: Yes, and floating around basically. Chelation signals to the body to purge on an individual cellular level.
Geoff: Then binds the heavy metal [inaudible 01:13:59] urinate it out?
Josh: Yes. Sometimes these chelators are also binding agents, sometimes you have to take binders in addition like microsilica, charcoal, clays, zeolites and these things will actually grab on to the heavy metal to prevent it from being redistributed.
Geoff: Okay. It's pretty wild. You basically self-diagnosed essentially mercury poisoning and then through some consultations with a practitioner and a doctor to essentially purge out the heavy metal toxicity and now it's sort of proven by a hair and a urine test?
Josh: Yeah. I never do the urine test.
Geoff: But the hair test.
Josh: The hair test showed that I reduced my mercury dramatically means nothing to me though. I don't take test into account. Hair tests are very inaccurate. I understand the desire to have evidence. I totally understand that and if I was more of a salesman, I would probably say, "I have strategically proved" but I just don't. My truth is that it means nothing to me because many, many people's test falls lows, so if their body is not healthy enough to actually remove the metals to the hair follicles, they'll have very low levels on their hair test.
Josh: Furthermore, when it comes to detoxification, it's not even only heavy metals that are the problem. There are thousands of new chemicals that have been introduced to the environment, plastics, estrogen-like substances that don't show up on any tests. I would say someone could give me a test that has zero heavy metals, zero parasites, zero everything and I would literally say, "Okay, great, now detox" because it can only help. I don't feel how it can hurt.
Geoff: That's interesting. One, I think there's clearly some signal here, just from subjective experiences of you improving and I think from that signal, how do we tease up placebo with data? I think, hopefully, we can start tying more and more rigorous processes to formalize this and also present to more people, right? Because if it's actually helping people, let's build more and more frameworks and data around is my approach. Let's have some a crazy journey like this.
Josh: Totally. I think that's happening now. It's not my expertise, but I think dudes like [inaudible 01:16:01], Quicksilver Scientific and there are people in the detox community who are very, very science and fact and analytical based and it's all revealing the same truth that detox is real.
Geoff: I think it's all necessary to push a movement forward.
Geoff: I think how these anecdotes, these personal healing stories and then you also have the data that randomize controlled trials that just back up and concretize these anecdotes and these stories. One thing that I think is interesting, the buzz word of detox. Let's drill into that a little bit. On one side, you have people saying detox. It's a buzz word, doesn't mean anything. In your context, what do you mean by detox? What do you think of the argument that detox is a useless word?
Josh: There's a lot of people giving detox a bad name. Basically, there's a lot of products on the market. There's a lot of false bullshit going out there, products that are less than pure, products that are ineffective. Anytime, there's money to be made similar to the ayahuasca community, something breaks. We lose some type of authenticity when there's so much money to be made.
Geoff: It's overly commercialized.
Geoff: I think that's the risk now with the discussion that allow these shamans or fake shamans and these tourists going to visit them.
Josh: Exactly. A lot of people think of detox as taking a product and detoxing your body with a product. Keep your same diet, do whatever you want, just take this product and you'll detoxify.
Geoff: I'm sure if we've all seen the Instagram models with the detox tease or something.
Geoff: Drink this tea, detox. You're not trying to sell that stuff?
Josh: Oh my God.
Geoff: Okay, it's good to clarify.
Josh: I've been contacted by like seven of those detox companies. I don't even answer the emails because it's bullshit. It can be good herbs but to truly reverse the tide of mental, physical chronic illness, you need way more than tea. You need way more than juicing. You need way more than all the things I experimented with before I found my protocol basically. Basically, detox to people like that and it is the spectrum. There's the teas and then you start moving to real things like juice fasting. Juice fasting is incredible for the body because most people have pounds of old fecal matter in their intestines because we're sitting in chairs all day.
We are eating bacteria-ridden foods, antibiotic, animals that have been fed antibiotics, miserable depressed meats, processed foods.
We're eating incorrect food combinations, right? We're having fruits with proteins and doing all of these different combinations that are disaster.
Geoff: I think perhaps some of the, again, some of the similar down sides you have with teas or detox teas is that, if you have juices that are very, very sugary, you're actually limiting some of the benefits of what like a water fast would give you. I'm actually curious that tea is a little bit on the juice stuff.
Geoff: Just to make sure that we are nuance on. Does that mean like you're just drinking Tropicana or are you doing more of a sensible juice cleanse or juice fast?
Josh: Water fasting is amazing because water fasting brings us into a process called autolysis.
Josh: Yeah. That cannibalizes all things in the body that don't serve us. Now, fasting has been mentioned in the Bible. Fasting is an incredible art towards healing. However, I believe that we are so nutrient deficient today that extended water fasting actually exacerbates conditions, most conditions from my experience. Because whenever you detox the body, you're always losing minerals with toxicity. Toxicity never comes out alone. It always comes out with minerals. For someone who is pretty healthy, water fasting a few days, a month could be amazing. For someone who is dealing with severe illness, I don't believe water fasting is the answer.
Geoff: We want to have some micronutrients in there.
Geoff: That's where like the juice tends to come in from that.
Josh: Precisely. The juice has electrolytes, minerals, low sugar juices which you juice yourself. You don't buy Tropicana. You were juicing like with a juicer, cold pressed. They're not going to spike the insulin too much. Those types of juices are what we drink on a juice fast. We're giving the body something to work with but we're also borderline in that autolysis.
Geoff: That seems a lot more sensible.
Geoff: I think that in terms of fasting is something that has been popular in a recent couple of years and I think there are different approaches that people would treat fasting. People will get coconut oil or just have fat as a way to jump start or like a sister fast or caffeine as an appetite suppressant or bone broth for example. I think the danger with a sugar from a juice is that that triggers insulin and insulin actually triggers mTOR pathway which is the mediator for autophagy. You don't want to get in this weird combination where you actually are calorically restricted, but also not sugaring mTOR so the danger with just like okay juice cleanse. I think you're sensible if it's like making sure people know the difference.
Josh: Borderline ratio is what I've always done.
Geoff: Right. It's like a sensible crutch that is highly micronutrient and low on things that trigger mTOR then I can see that there's some data and mechanistic theory of why that would be beneficial. I just want to clarify that.
Josh: What was it? mTOR? I've never heard of that. That's a gene?
Geoff: It's a metabolic pathway and that's the metabolic pathway. It's a nutrient sensing pathway is another way to think about it. mTOR senses the presence of carbohydrate, protein to a lesser extent and then doesn't sense fat because when you're fasting, you're destroying a lot of fatty acids. When mTOR doesn't sense nutrients in the bloodstream, then it's like they're going to breakdown to go through to the autophagy process, start recycling and start releasing our own energy stores. If you get that carb and then protein in that system and then it's like, "Okay, we have enough nutrients going around. We're not going to turn on autophagy."
Josh: Makes sense. In that sense, water fasting would be better, no doubt from the science standpoint.
Geoff: I can agree that from a palatability issue or from appetite or just like ease of use, like a little bit of calories, some juice cleanse or a bone broth or something like that, definitely going to help. I can understand like you could play with it and I think-
Geoff: Ultimately, you got to figure out what works for oneself.
Josh: Totally. What makes you able to actually do the fast.
Geoff: Exactly. That's ultimately the most important.
Josh: Then there's the juice fasting and that's generally where it's left. That's as far as I feel as deep as it goes in conventional detox world. Where I feel like I've taken it and learned about the next level is a few different things. One is actually taking care of the gut health, taking things like colostrum and glutamine and butyric acid and eating low-lectin diet and what else? There's tons of other supplements that I talked about, licorice root and purple cabbage juice is pretty good too but not too much. Anyway, there are tons of different supplements that I take for the gut.
There's the reducing of inflammation in the gut in order to allow the body to detoxify. Because when the gut is inflamed, every other detox process shuts down. Then there's binders. We talked about it, things like clays, charcoals, zeolites, chitosan, citrus pectin. All of these things actually go in and act as a vacuum. They're negatively charged so they attract the positively-charged glutens, suck up the junk, allow you to poop it out.
Geoff: The elemental table, right? Metals are positive ions.
Geoff: Makes sense.
Josh: That's another step and then there's parasites, so I use suppositories and I believe most westerners if they do the suppositories but they should always be done in the right context. They have to work on their gut first. They had to know what they're doing. I wouldn't just say for everyone to just shove a suppository up there, but most people see physical worms.
8 out of 10 of my clients see physical worms coming out in the United States. Candida worms, things like that.
That's another facet that doesn't get talked about.
Geoff: That's something I've been like curious about like you just see these YouTube videos. They are just like worms everywhere and you just like, "Do I have worms?" Like how many people in this office do you think have worms?
Josh: Probably but-
Geoff: Like I got too curious given your practice and your experience, you're just hypothesis here.
Josh: Yeah. I would say more than half but the question is not if there's worms or not. The question is how much have they taken over. I still have worms I'm sure. We all have parasites as part of our microbiome. It's literally innate to us as a human being.
Geoff: I would say gut microbiome flora is much different from worms.
Josh: Yeah, but there's parasites, right? It would be almost impossible to rid ourselves of all parasites from my research. I would say most people in this office probably do but ...
Geoff: This is a selection bias. If 8 out of 10 people that come to you, people are like visibly ... I mean, clearly, there's some issues going on for people to seek you out. There is some selection bias entering your purview, but I'm just wondering down the spectrum of you as a case being like quite fucked up to like normal people. What is your typical range?
Josh: I work with people in that whole range. I work with people who are trying to optimize through detox and I also work with people who are like about to kill themselves tomorrow.
Geoff: Then, the overall average you say even in that average of like that range 80% or so.
Josh: Yeah, more towards the sicker than definitely more prone but, "Why don't we put suppository up your bum and see what happens?"
Zhill: Molly is going to do this. We can see if she can.
Josh: I think. We have a course the other day. I don't know if she's actually going to do suppositories.
Geoff: I'm not opposed to it. I'll think about it. It would be interested.
Josh: We'll put on the protocol for like 10 days and you can see.
Geoff: What would that protocol look like?
Josh: Basically, I like essential oil suppositories so lemon grass, turmeric, ginger.
Geoff: This is not like a pharmaceutical suppository? This is a-
Josh: You're making yourself.
Geoff: You just-
Josh: Pop it in.
Geoff: Pop it in?
Geoff: Then, it sits there for a while.
Josh: In the beginning, it's very difficult to hold for more than like six, seven minutes and then by your fourth-
Geoff: You just feel like you want to just poop?
Josh: Yeah, exactly. By your fourth or fifth one, you should be able to hold it for an hour and then at some point, when you get good at it, you can put it in in 48 minutes to an hour later. You can literally taste and smell whatever the oil is that you used because it's systemic. Rectal absorption is really efficient, brain, liver.
Geoff: I mean, people would do like coffee enemas which hits you fast. Again, this is from recreational drug usage if you want to hit fast. Suppository works and the fact from that is that flushes out parasites, they don't like it.
Josh: They can't stand these oils. The problem with just doing that is that if you don't take care of the actual house mucous layer which is keeping our integrity of our gut, tight junctions, leaky gut, if we have all those things that are not established and fixed, you kill worms, two months later you're back to where you were because the house isn't healthy enough to contain the new life, the good life.
Geoff: Eating like the same contaminated food or something and then it just gets repopulated.
Josh: Yeah. I mean, there's parasites everywhere. There's eggs everywhere in all food and doorknobs and bathrooms.
Geoff: Something like I thought about because I like sushi. I like my meat on the rare side and it's like okay and our space start researching are curious since like most animals out there are probably getting some feces mixed in the food supply. What is that 1% chance where you get something a little bit dirty at a little bit sketchy restaurant over like a lifetime of 20, 30, 40, 50 years. It's like not insane to me that you get that over that long period of time. You get some sort of eggs, parasites going. Wow! Going to your practice. You're like, "Okay, suppository." Like it sounds kind of crazy and funky but like I'm kind of desperate. It seems like it's going to possibly help first time and then what? It worked, you just felt great, the parasites coming out of your butt like what happened?
Josh: Dude, pretty much. I mean, if I'm feeling great park, I have pictures too. Should I bring my phone out? I have hundreds of pictures.
Geoff: We can show them in the show notes.
Josh: I can send them to you.
Geoff: Literally the first time?
Josh: I can't remember if it was the first time, probably the third or fourth time I did a suppository. I was doing garlic suppositories. I was already four months into a gut healing, binder protocol, nutrient replenishing, a lot of fear and a lot of different styles.
Geoff: Also, like the binder, it's like you choose to go more like natural ingredient route rather than like a therapeutic pharmaceutical binder.
Josh: Yeah. The only pharmaceutical binder I was told about was cholestyramine but I don't believe it works as well and I believe it's very problematic for people who are sick so I stick to chitosan, MicroChitosan. I used all of them, chitosan, bentonite clay, coconut charcoal, bamboo charcoal, zeolites.
Geoff: Are any of these needs prescription or are these-
Josh: All of them over-the-counter.
Geoff: Okay. You went that route instead.
Josh: I believe, yes. I believe. Natural is debatable because they take the husks of coconuts and they cook them, bake them in low oxygen high temperature kilns.
Geoff: It may be helpful to get a sense for our listeners out there like are these things like I got to go to a doctor?
Josh: No. Basically, I was four or five months into my healing protocol. I was doing very, very well. I started waking up feeling alive again. It was as if I woke up for the first time in my life. It was like I literally would wake up and be like, "Oh my God, I'm here. I'm on planet earth. I'm not spiraling to these torments of hell."
Geoff: What was that first catalyst? I mean, not to jump around too much here, but like it sounds nuts that you were just crashing. You tried all sorts of things, pharmaceuticals, ayahuasca ceremonies and then the first couple things I guess you started doing juice cleanses, starting to treat your gut. What were like the main catalyst? All of them together? When did the light start turning for like, "Wow! I got a double down on this"?
Josh: Within three weeks, I realized that I was feeling better, which is the first time I could say that in years.
Geoff: You stuck to it for three weeks?
Josh: I stuck to it. I was going to stick to this no matter what.
Geoff: It was like your last hope now.
Josh: My last hope in life. Then three/four months into it is when because of the things I was taking, my gut, the inflammation was going down and the binders were sucking up all of the mercury that was floating around my gut. I was being electrocuted. I literally had electrical impulses going off in the top of my brain from here up to the top of my brain, sometimes 50, 60 times in the night just shooting up like I was being stabbed almost.
All of my symptoms started to get better. I started sleeping. I started feeling less panicky. My thoughts started coming in slower.
Colors started getting brighter and it was all basically as if I was living out of my body for three and half years and I started my body was so toxic I couldn't even inhabit it and then at some point I was like, "Holy shit! Were was I the past three and a half years?" I'm not feeling happy right now but I'm exhausted, I'm tired but hello.
Geoff: Something turned on.
Josh: Something turned on. It was the combination of all the different things. I was eating so many nutrients, so many nutrient dense foods like tons of butter and ghee and eggs and raw egg yolks and lots of supplements, kelp and the vitamin Ds, the B complexes, the Cs, liposomal C. There's hundreds of supplements that I've rotated between but ...
Geoff: You see that's kind of like low carb or [inaudible 01:31:33]. I'm hearing like a lot of healthy dense fats.
Josh: My diet is very low carb, lectin avoidance. I don't eat any nuts, seeds, beans, grains or nightshade vegetables. You've heard of gongura, right?
Geoff: Yeah, interesting.
Josh: Basically, the suppositories after my third and fourth one I remember seeing a worm and I was like I doubted it. I was like, "Okay, this definitely isn't stool. This is weird and mucilaginous."
Geoff: You poked it?
Josh: Hell yeah. I was like every time I would go for a stick because in that level of illness and recovering from that level of illness, I needed every ounce of mind gratification that I could get. Seeing one worm could be fuel for the next month because you see something and then you know it's real. Before this, it was an invisible enemy. Mercury, it was invisible, I couldn't see it. Even though I'm getting better, I'm still doubting this whole mercury poisoning thing. The mind will always doubt whatever it is that could possibly be beneficial for us or helpful. My mind was always like, "Mercury? I don't understand" and then I can have the best day I've had in three and a half years and then that night I can be in a summer mood and say, "Mercury? This is bullshit." Seeing an actual worm is like, "Huh? It's real. It's true." Basically-
Geoff: It was like I guess a bloody stool?
Josh: Yeah. It was bloody.
Geoff: Kind of messed up.
Josh: The first time I started seeing parasites is when I would do a suppository on an empty bowel and I would get this massive pain in my stomach, massive like literally have to be on my bed.
Geoff: You don't think that like it was suppository fucking you up?
Josh: I did.
Geoff: You're like maybe I should stop this.
Geoff: You're like I just poisoned myself with some weird essential oils on my butt.
Josh: Absolutely. That's what went through in my mind. I was just like, "This is miserable." I think this was when I got up to a strong enough dose. My first two or three I did were very mild. I was like, "I'm going for the big guns." I did the suppository, I'm in my bed, I get up and there's this gurgling sound. It's a quickening happening in my stomach and then all of a sudden I go to the bathroom and what feels like a massive bowel movement comes out and it was literally just three worms. There's no stool whatsoever. It was just three worms and then pretty much for the next like three weeks I was doing it every day. I remember being in like Home Depot and like nature calls because sometimes it's not for three hours that it comes out. I was like at Home Depot, my quickening starts happening and I'm like, "Oh, fuck!" I'm in The Home Depot bathroom and it's garlic suppositories.
Geoff: Poop out worms and garlic.
Josh: Yeah, like destroying public bathrooms. I felt guilty. I would go to the bathroom and the smell was like literally as if ... Imagine like it is garlic, it was everywhere.
Geoff: That's insane. Your worms are coming out of your butt?
Geoff: Did you thought like, "Hey, maybe I should check a doctor?"
Josh: No, not for a second.
Geoff: You're totally like just check it out a standard medical system.
Josh: At this point in time, I didn't even care what other people's input was. I was so focused on my body, my relationship to illness, to my brain health. It was like I knew what was happening on an intuitive level because of my experience. I didn't even care.
Geoff: You're like there's probably some like anti-parasite pills you'd take, but I don't want to even deal with it. I've had just poor success.
Geoff: I feel like I can manage myself better given the information.
Josh: Totally because I knew there are brilliant geniuses out there when it comes to the parasite work and brilliant doctors. I also knew that none of them would ever understand the level of sickness I came from and because of that I was petrified to put my life in anyone else's hands because of how fragile I was.
Geoff: I got it. I'm just imagining for myself just like pooping out worms. That's terrifying.
Josh: You get over it quick.
Geoff: I guess you get over quick. That's some scary like, "Whoa! There's worms in my gut. Get this stuff out of me." I can imagine I had surgery, just cut me open, pull that worm out.
Josh: All that stress and fear. It doesn't help.
Geoff: You are used to it.
Josh: Yeah, but it doesn't even help. It's like if that's true and it's real, but then when you go deeper within and it becomes part of your routine, it's like the fear of the parasites. This is why people don't buy into it is because there's so many fear mongers out there who are like, "Parasites! Parasites!" Zero fear. There's no fear.
I never instill this to invoke fear in people and then get them to act. That's a low vibrational way of instilling change in someone.
You just take care of business. There's no like doom and gloom like, "Oh my God. I got to get these out" or "Oh my God, the chemtrails." I don't go into any of those spaces. Does that make sense?
Josh: Totally valid and that's where everyone stops.
Geoff: Devil's advocate or just someone like, "Okay, worm is coming out." What would like a standard person, citizen probably like, "Okay, call the doc. Worm is coming out. Can you give me some antiparasitic pills or something?"
Josh: That's what normal people would do.
Geoff: I'm curious like get into your thought process. Suppositories, worms coming out and like, "You start doubling down." Okay, something is working here. It helps you purge these worms out. At a certain point, did you just like cleaned out?
Josh: What do mean? Like all the parasites?
Geoff: Yeah. It's like at a certain point, you still have worms coming out.
Josh: Pooping out all these parasites for like almost a year and a half.
Geoff: Like these are big worms?
Josh: I've had worms this big. I've had ...
Geoff: This is like 12 inch, 14 inches long just for people that are listening.
Josh: Totally. I've had 14 inches worms coming out.
Geoff: How thick? Thin guys? Fat guys?
Josh: The rope worms that I've had are thin, little mucilaginous like mucus.
Geoff: Like little spaghetti?
Josh: A little thicker than that. I've had roundworms. They look like earthworms. I had liver flukes and tapeworms. Tapeworms are big sometimes. I had a tapeworm that big come out.
Geoff: That's like 24 inches.
Josh: Something like that. Remember, I was highly, highly toxic so I'm an extreme case. Not everyone is going to have this plentiful.
Geoff: I hope not.
Josh: Plethora of organisms in their body.
Geoff: You think that the heavy metal poisoning weakened your immune system for these parasites you take hold?
Geoff: You think they were in parallel.
Geoff: Former, okay.
Josh: Dr. Klinghardt is one of the best detox doctors in the world. He talks about the triangle. It's toxicity, malnourishment, parasites. All three of them, they each make every other one worse. When you have more heavy metals, you're more malnourished, you get parasites. More parasites, everything else goes down, so that's the spiral downward basically.
Josh: Because the malnourishment and the metals create degradation in the gut lining, so parasites now have a place to actually latch onto. Whereas before, there's a protective mucous layer. They don't have anywhere to live.
Geoff: Just like I know that the gut microbiome is an interesting subject of research now and I imagine that your gut microbiome was totally messed up, allowing space for parasites to take hold as well. I think with the mucous lining, all of these things are broken down. Interesting.
Josh: My gut microbiome at that point was one of total darkness. Look at the state of mind I was in. I always feel like this is reflective of this. However this is functioning, you just know that that was alive in here.
Geoff: I think that might sound kind of woo-woo to people out there but there is good data showing that microbiome has an access that ties directly to the brain, so it's not just like Josh's theories. There are some real science coming out that there is some linkage to gut and brain, absolutely.
Josh: I feel like we should partner up and I'll be the intuitive side and you'll be the science.
Geoff: Yeah. I think that's what progress is done because I think you need to have some intuition to guide science. If no bets out there that are unproven or where do you even know how to search. I think that is like the tie between art and philosophy guiding science and vice versa. Hopefully, these are not antithetical but hopefully they can work in parallel together and the strength and the knowledge of both because then your philosophy and intuition can be anchored by data. Then the philosophy can be further out to guide more experiments to figure out more truth. Ultimately, I think we're all searching for truth. I don't doubt you for a second that you've test this on yourself, you believe it. I think that there's some truth there and I think you're applying your experiences as a lens of finding truth. I think all of us I think that our reasonable human beings wanted to just find truth and like one of the tools that we get there with.
Josh: Totally, beautiful.
Geoff: I'm curious like you essentially cured yourself with the advice of some trusted sources and now that's become your mission now.
Geoff: Tell us about that.
Josh: Basically the company is The Detox Dudes and the YouTube channel. My website is thedetoxdudes.com and we help people all around the world with their chronic illnesses and detoxification and mental issues and basically people come to me from all different countries. They come to me with all different problems, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional problems and I just feel that I'm running a very intuitive-based recipe. I feel like people talk to me and through my illness. Again, I know people are going to say I'm woo-woo and full of shit or whatever. However, your audience, a lot of science people think I'm crazy because I'm an intuitive guy, but I literally just get messages.
I just feel like I know exactly what that person needs in that moment. I also understand science. I also understand there's theories behind all of these things that I recommend to people, but because of my illness, I just cultivated this force understanding of like where someone is at based on what they're telling me, their symptoms, their issues. What level on the spectrum are they as far as death to like to life and then there's a certain protocol that goes to each person. I just get out of the way man. I just get out of the way, something comes through me. I don't know how to explain it.
Josh: If something comes through me and it's helping ... most important thing is it's helping. I'm changing lives on a regular basis, and I constantly get that feedback and that evidence. If that wasn't there, I would have already shut down.
Geoff: People would come back. I don't think you could stay in business if you weren't helping people.
I think one thing that struck me that I think that actually is resonating with why people are fed up with American healthcare today is that their doctor relationship no longer has intuitive communication.
It sounds like you're really strong in that sense where like we just recently had Dr. Priyanka Wali on the program and she is talking about how she has to bill. The insurance company is demanding a 15 to 20 minutes slot and like jam people through and you get paid by prescribing medicine.
Some things you can solve with that and like overall that seems to somewhat work but I think most people would agree like the overall system is broken. I think people are yearning for this kind of constructive open conversation where the guide, I don't know what you call yourself, the practitioner has actual emotional tie. They sense that you care about them. I think it was broken with the traditional healthcare system, not to say all of doctors were like this, but some sub-segment are just treating people like subjects, like boom, stamp in, stamp out. Like we just turn through 30 people in the calendar today. I think someone like yourself I think is just showing the flip side of the human interaction when healing.
Geoff: Again, I don't think this is like super fuzzy, woo-woo stuff. I think it's like in medical school I think there is some emphasis on bedside manners and I think what you're saying is like basically taking that to like a much more natural intuitive way. You don't teach some medical school nerd to like be intuitive. Maybe you should, maybe they should to get a little bit more soft and they'd be able to communicate with people. You'd like that better results. I remember just reading actual recent study showing that and again I don't want to over-extrapolate here but female nurses or female doctors have better heart attack healing rate. I didn't read too clearly into the study but if you want to extrapolate and generalize here, maybe it's because these people are more intuitive in how they communicate and yield better outcomes.
Josh: Or holding a better space.
Geoff: Again, I don't want to generalize if woman are better at some things than man, but again I think my initial perhaps naïve look at that is what is that main difference. Maybe that's because of their bedside manner that tend to be a little bit more softer or more intuitive.
Josh: Another thing on that note is that because of what I went through, I jump through all those neural gymnastics that these people are going through by virtue of me knowing the gymnastics that they think that no other human being knows about because these people some of them are tormented and they're like going through the story and they're like, "Dude, you don't understand. I've had this thought and that thought and then I've gone through this. Have you experienced that?" Then I'll say something that lets them know that I went through it that only someone in those gymnastics could possibly understand. Then they're like, "Holy shit man. You did go through this." That bridge of like, "Hey, I'm here now. I've passed that world of darkness and I went through it" is different than medicine. Medicine is studying the books. Practice of course but it's never, "I personally went through this. Let's help you with this too."
Geoff: There's absolutely some value there because I think you come up a lot more authentic and honestly probably more authoritative in a lot of ways than some person that's very cold, clinical, like the textbook algorithm tells me that you should take this kind of drug as opposed like, "Hey, no, I understand your thought process. Let me help reason it through with you." I think if doctors of the traditional healthcare system just move a little bit more towards more patient coaching, mentoring, guidance philosophy, that would seem like you embody here for your clients. Can you get the best of both worlds? I mean, obviously, it's a far cry from changing medical school curriculum or styles but there's clearly some value to what you're doing, especially around I think the personal side, the intuition side, the communication side.
Josh: I think it brings me to another woo-woo subject. There is something called emerging of the eagle and the condor and it was an ancient philosophy talked about how the world would need to change is that we would need to merge the wisdom of ancient medicine with the science of modern days. That's the eagle and the condor flying together and I totally believe that that is how things will change. That is how we'll really change humanity is by the merging of these two worlds. I thought about getting like a naturopathic degree or diving into functional medicine. I've had a lot of opportunities of like apprenticing under amazing doctors living on their land and learning from them.
I've had two offers in particular, all expenses paid, living with them, and I literally turn them down because they didn't feel right from an intuitive place. I would love to learn from them but something in me was like, "I can't live there. I don't want to live with this person whatever." To be honest, it wasn't great. I didn't like him. I want the right opportunity to come my way where I can like really dive into the science and become the total package. I try and learn, do my best with the internet, but I really feel like I would need someone to like teach me.
Geoff: I won't discount it. I think the internet is a damn good resource like the world's brain is on the internet. I think you get pretty damn far if you're just reading the first paper literature if you're just coming from a first principle. You are a smart person, not to discount formal academic education but you're reading the same textbooks, the same papers. Let's actually talk science...If we're actually just talking science, citing papers, if you can match that level, I don't see why you necessarily ... If you can just talk in data like let's take the ad hominem argument. You don't do a version to authority argument for a logical-based argument or an ad hominem attack if it's like a logical discussion. I think if you can just ultimately arm yourself with the actual facts and data, I think the results will follow. Obviously but that said, I think stamps help. People care about the stamps.
Geoff: I see that dichotomy and I think it's our company. We have people on the team that have the stamps, the PhD, so how do you convert both. I also think that like one thing that you brought up the eagle and the condor. That was interesting. It was not even just for medicine or science. I think that's like a broader cultural, sociological phenomenon that's happening now where I think with post-modernism with just like broad multi-cultural space that we live in. I think that yearning for tradition again where there's like not a direction. I think you have this like factions popping up in culture.
I think one could argue that we are in America the most culturally factioned up in recent memory. It's just interesting that while there are some traditions that can help retie, rebind, I think the wonder of creativity and freedom and freedom of expression but how we not get to a point where everyone is living in parallel universe of facts. Like I said, I think people in the left are like okay and one universe completely different people in the right or completely different universe. How do you even believe these facts and I wonder if there's a similar analog there where ... Are there some like traditions from ayahuasca communities that's more tribal or more primitive humans that can help rebind the sense of community or neighborhood?
Josh: Totally. I think that's what ayahuasca is doing. I think that's what a lot of spiritual communities are doing. I think that the root issue of what you are talking about is the divorcement to nature. I think we've lost our connection to nature, which is it's our mother earth, it's our land and we are plugged into the internet.
We're plugged into the digital, which is fine and there's amazing people doing brilliant things in that world, but I think that our divorcement from nature is causing a lot of suffering in that department.
I think that hallucinogenics and plant medicines and all these different I see a huge movement towards reconnection to nature. I believe that both worlds can exist simultaneously, I hope.
Geoff: I think so. We're in the heart of Silicon Valley and it feels like a larger and larger percentage of people are more open-minded on this. I think they just realize that, "Hey, like we're just on our iPhones and MacBooks and iPads all freaking day long, not super happy." I think when you go out, you breaths fresh air and you're like, "Wow!"
Zhill: Burning Man.
Geoff: A lot of people are in Burning Man right now and it's like they're kind of ... It's not the very most natural. You've been to Burning Man?
Geoff: I mean, it's not the most natural. I've been once and it's like you're in the desert. It's like the most artificial food you're bringing and flying in. You're not like in a place that you'd want to live, but there's some sense of just going more to this primitive existence. We're just like talking to people, having conversation, but not just like posting like your MVP pics of like you and your highlights.
Josh: Being present with someone. I think that's what can change the world, presence, truly I believe that.
Geoff: I think we are all just social creatures by nature. We've evolved socially and I think people at the end of the day want to have social connections. This is a wonderful conversation. How do people find you? The Detox Dudes. What do you have in the pipeline for the rest of the year? I'm sure that people can find you at Detox Dudes, but what are the main projects coming up? How do people stay tune and follow-up?
Josh: Well, it's thedetoxdudes.com and it's The Detox Dudes on YouTube. Those are my two main channels, also the Facebook page, you can like me on there too. Basically, I do one to two retreats per year. I host retreats around the world and possible I'm going to be doing one in Colombia soon, also possible I'll be doing one in Southern California, still working out the details.
Geoff: Are ayahuasca may or may not be a part of it?
Josh: No ayahuasca.
Josh: One day maybe, one day.
Geoff: Just give some sense of what people could be searching for.
Josh: I have an advanced master course that I created, it took me a year to create. Arthur Moore, he's an amazing YouTuber. He filmed it with me in California. Again, it took me five years of suffering and then a year to actually make it and that's my course that I sell basically on holistic health detoxification, how to go from death to life or how to optimize. It's like the whole spectrum there.
Geoff: As you can see, our conversations are like way more deep and detailed.
Josh: With every supplement, there's just so much.
Geoff: You got the sneak peek teaser.
Geoff: If you're interested, get that course.
Josh: If you're interested in going deep with it and if you're not interested in going deep with it, just watch my four YouTube videos. I'm also coming out with a new beginner course in the next month or two because the advance courses like it's fucking intense. It's a lot. It's for serious seekers. What else? Working on my new website and I eventually want to have a detox retreat center where basically I live at the retreat center and people coming and out and I'll have it medically supervised and kind of what I do for my retreats but permanent. I'm kind of doing two different retreats, one that are detox oriented and one that is more emotional connection and just chatting and doing energetic emotional work and just basically community, being around people who are like you. It creates amazing vibe, amazing atmosphere. That's pretty much everything. I'm just really working hard at sharing this message to the world and spreading it.
Geoff: Thanks for coming and sharing this message story. It's a crazy journey. I'm excited to see how this story unfolds and continues and have this far as we can.
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