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Incredible fuel could treat countless diseases, if only it was funded

Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart problems, concussions, and more could all be treated with this simple ketone ester, but because the science isn’t as sexy as genetics, it remains unfunded. All it would take is one startup millionaire to step in. One.

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This could be as impactful as the discovery of penicillin

That’s the first thing that comes to mind when learning about the history-altering work of NIH scientist (for over 45 years) Dr. Richard Veech, a man the general public has probably never heard of.

Why haven’t you heard of him? Because he’s dedicated to science, not sales. So, what do scientists and entrepreneurs have in common? They both dedicate their lives to making a difference, discovering ways to make the world operate more effectively. But there’s an important cultural distinction between the two: Entrepreneurs’ success is tied to dollars, while scientists’ success is tied to discovery.

Remember how penicillin altered history? We might be at that moment in history again, but with a “ketone ester” drink invented by Dr. Veech, that has insanely widespread uses. Imagine a drink that could treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, epilepsy, concussions, heart failure, all while helping elite endurance athletes break world records. Then, imagine that it’s a formula perfected over decades, but only now ready in an era where genetics is sexiest of sciences, so this liquid goes underfunded and underproduced. It seems too good to be true, but it’s not. It’s real.

Add to the issue of funding is an overly modest old scientist who said he would literally run if someone called him a hero for his work.

Next, toss in imitation products that use salt-filled caffeinated versions of Dr. Veech’s decades old, already discarded work and you might be left very confused. If a breakthrough sports drink and patient treatment exists, would anyone even believe it?

So what is this ketone ester?

Ketones are human’s back up fuel system that kicks in when humans starve, or at least run out of sugar. The body then burns fat to create an efficient ketone fuel. What many of the therapeutic uses (including Alzheimer’s) have in common is the brain’s blockage of the path to use sugar for energy, meanwhile ketones can bypass this blockage and simply fuels the brain.

Dr. Veech invented a way to bottle that fuel, in a fat-free and salt-free super FDA-approved concentrated food, not a drug. Ketosis is the metabolic state that uses ketones as a primary fuel source, but is mainly known by those that undergo an Atkin-like ketogenic high fat diet. This is drastically different because you get the benefits of ketones without the drawbacks of the high fat. Some call the fat-free version of ketosis, “Veetosis,” in honor of Dr. Veech, the doctor who holds the key to so many treatments.

The catch is that even though billions can be made from this invention, it is unbelievably expensive to make and there’s no funding for an older scientist that doesn’t schmooze. How expensive? For scientific purposes, labs can make a patented product, and for this exact ester they charge $60,000 per 25 mL serving, but with a newly discovered process and an investment, that could drop quickly to $20 a drink.

Absent a single investment, perhaps that can be done via the new world of crowdfunding (or rich, science-inclined geeky startup folks), so hopefully you’ll see Dr. Veech’s ketone ester on shelves sooner rather than later.

The path to the discovery has been long

Dr. Veech worked in 1966 with Dr. Cahill (the man that starved volunteers to prove the brain could run on ketones), and in 1969 under nobel laureate Dr. Krebs (if you took chemistry, you have definitely heard of the Krebs cycle). Dr Veech solved a problem which Krebs delegated to him. Krebs said he must be wrong, only to come back later to co-author the longest paper of Krebs’ career. It was the foundation for understanding why ketones work. Right now, our science geek readers get it – Dr Veech is a pretty big deal, and his work should be taken seriously.

Fast forward to 1995, Dr. Veech co-authored a breakthrough paper on how ketones change metabolism, and in 2000, a paper on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and abolishing the effects of free radical damage.

In 2004, as part of a competition to find a new fuel for the special forces, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), gave a handful of groups $2 million each per year. Only Dr Veech’s group, including Oxford University partner Dr. Kieran Clarke, was left standing. They earned $10 million of total funding, resulting in an FDA-approved food. Who would have guessed DARPA’s role in potentially treating millions of patients with this new food?

A modest scientist does not a salesman make

Even a simple Oxford-approved boxing study to demonstrate ketone ester’s benefits for concussions hasn’t been picked up. One would think a football team owner might want to donate to prove a treatment backed by science that may bring a $20 million a year quarterback that has been earholed, back onto the field a few games earlier. Not to mention, the league could limit the potential liability around debilitating diseases plaguing players decades later.

So the path to the discovery has been long, but anyone we spoke to that was aware of Dr. Veech’s work sung his praises. The challenge is that the older sharp-tongued doctor is hyper-focused on his work, isn’t interested in fame, noting that it is “unseemly for doctors to promote themselves,” and that it is “not part of the job.” Times have changed, and modesty has been replaced by self promotion, as the driver in today’s world of discoveries.

Ketone esters have had success with human testing

In endurance sports, the ketone ester has been proven in a lab to increase output by up to 2%. That can be the difference between a gold and not placing. When tested on 19 elite rowers, there were nine season’s bests, five personal bests and one world record. Only one did slightly worse than the placebo test.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mary Newport was trying to treat her husband with Alzheimer’s and discovered Dr. Veech’s work while digging around in his 20+ patents. She was the author of “Alzheimer’s Disease What If There Was a Cure, The Story of Ketones” about her coconut oil therapy that naturally releases ketones, which she said turned her husband’s “lights back on.” Hundreds have written to her claiming similar results. Ultimately, her husband received Dr. Veech’s ketone ester for a few years and Dr. Newport said it was 10x more effective than the coconut therapy.

Think about that for a minute. The lights came back on! Why is the world not freaking out with excitement!?

Another believer in ketones and Dr. Veech is William Curtis. He has had Parkinson’s for over 15 years, and despite being on the common cocktail of meds, he had tremors, severe muscle spasms, and sometimes stared at the computer screen for hours, nearly frozen. With a little biochem in undergrad, he searched and came across Dr. Veech’s papers, emailed with the doctor, and sought alternative natural ways to raise his ketone levels (also referred to as D-bhb levels).

Dr. Veech told him that absent the availability of clinical trials with the ester, and as long as his primary care doctor approved, Curtis could try a high fat morning drink to increase his ketone levels. After some tweaks and fasting each night, Curtis says his results were stellar. He could concentrate for hours, spasm free, and was able to drive again. Dr. Veech has warned Curtis to watch his cholesterol and to stay on his meds. Curtis continues his routine today, shares his successes online, and plans to continue until the ketone ester is available in clinical trials.

This generation’s most significant medical discovery

The final problem is that scientists write papers and seek grants which don’t require a monetary return on investment; for many it’s just not in their nature to write a business plan and go to a bunch of pitch offs.

We believe that with billions being thrown at sciences like space travel, it seems that investors or Congress should be primed to pump a few dollars into a simple ester to treat a dozen common medical problems that impact all of us as individuals and is nearly bankrupting the country.

We will be following Dr. Veech’s progress (he even finally has his own website), and works as he blazes a path in the scientific community, and hopefully soon, the business community. It is our sincere hope that investors (both government, traditional, and non-traditional) “read the damn papers,” as Dr. Veech says, because we believe that he’s sitting on our generation’s equivalent of the discovery of penicillin. If not bigger.

UPDATE: Dr. Veech is now on Twitter so you can connect with him.

#Veetosis

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. A. Will

    February 17, 2016 at 7:31 pm

    Fascinating

  2. Britt

    February 19, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Interesting question if the body could even use the ketone ester without limiting carbs or glucose present in the blood?

    • Rob Coberly

      February 26, 2016 at 6:32 pm

      You may be thinking about hepatic ketogenesis, which is suppressed by carbohydrate intake. Unquestionably many tissues can make immediate use of the dominant circulating ketone body, beta-hydroxybutyrate. This is the substance that is liberated upon absorption of the ester. Veech and Kieran Clarke have published the human studies including pharmacokinetics.
      These are fuels that are taken up and enter metabolism freely in proportion to their concentration. There is a monocarboxylate transporter that moves BHB across the blood brain barrier as well. All of that is not suppressed by any other dietary intake.
      A good reference is this – “Ketone body metabolism and cardiovascular disease” which covers the general metabolism well.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23396451

  3. Christopher J

    February 22, 2016 at 2:15 am

    I’ve been thinking exactly this for the last year. Upon the emergency room endocrinologists asking me why I’d want to kill my 7 year old nephew and his kidneys, after I suggested a ketogenic diet when they revealed he in fact had type 1 diabetes, I’ve been researching this metabolic wonder ever since. The author missed one of the biggest target therapies; cancer! We’re talking billions upon billions of dollars. The scope is massive.

    • Lani Rosales

      February 25, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Hey Christopher, thanks for weighing in – Dr. Veech opted not to comment on cancer, and although some people do seem to feel confident in ketones’ potentiality for treatment, I’m sure Dr. Veech has his reasons for not associating the two at this time.

  4. Rob Coberly

    February 22, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    I strongly agree that investigation into the potential benefits of moderate ketosis for many medical conditions is justified. Moderate ketonemia may be induced by administration of ketone body esters – these are esters of either of the principal ketone bodies, beta-hydroxy butyrate and acetoacetate, usually esterified with butanediol – or by ketone body salts, or medium-chain triglycerides. The esters are most direct and efficient, they have no sodium or potassium load as the salts do, and they do not require the stages of oxidative metabolism followed by hepatic ketogenesis that the MCTs must undergo. The elevated circulating ketone body levels may reach the 2-5 mM range, physiologic as if in a prolonged fasting state, and this state is fundamentally different from the dangerous and pathologic condition of diabetic ketoacidosis.

    For decades, much of pharmacotherapy has focused on the more complex molecules that may interact with cell surface receptors, nuclear receptors, or enzymes. We haven’t heard much about these small molecules, the ketone bodies, in medical applications; but thanks to the work of many researchers, there is mounting evidence for potential usefulness in many difficult conditions such as neurodegenerative diseases, inflammatory diseases, and metabolic disorders. The ketone bodies were recognized early on as biologic “substrates and signals”. They are now known to function both as versatile and efficient cellular fuels and as signaling molecules that deliver messages – promoting increases in cell antioxidant capacity, in mitochondrial biogenesis and the “browning” of adipose tissue, and decreases in inflammation, in overexcitation of neurons, and reactive oxygen species generation. When therapeutically employed, the KBs are also likely to support many intracellular functions in various tissues without interference or interaction with most of our commonly employed medications, as the mechanisms of action should be distinct.

    In addition to the exogenous ketone approach long championed by Dr Veech, Dr Kieran Clarke and more recently by Dr Dominic D’Agostino, I also support similar broad research into ketogenic and other low-carbohydrate diets. These diets are already known to benefit epilepsy, obesity, mitochondrial diseases, and disorders of insulin resistance. Ketone bodies may be a principal mediator of some of these benefits, but the diet’s decreased reliance on carbohydrate intake and thus glycolysis may also be vital in lowering excessive insulin secretion, preserving the NAD+/NADH ratio in cytoplasm to a range favorable for the epigenetic actions of sirtuins, and decreasing the potentially damaging “reductive pressure” placed on the mitochondrial respiratory complexes by typical “Western” diets. Such low carbohydrate diets are actually not very difficult to follow; anyone interested may consult the published work of Dr Stephen Phinney and Dr Jeff Volek.

    Rob Coberly MD
    Albuquerque

  5. Angie

    February 24, 2016 at 11:09 am

    I drink pure therapeutic ketones everyday! Ketones have cleared my mind, given me sustained level energy. I am free from anxiety that I’ve lived with for 17 years. I’m so thankful for these brilliant dedicated scientists!

    • Jose

      February 25, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Angie, the Ketone Esters that are featured here are not available. Do you have a connection with NIH? And if you are taking the “Salts”, perhaps you didn’t read the part about the imitation products mentioned.

  6. Peter H

    February 25, 2016 at 2:05 am

    I find this line particularly interesting
    “toss in imitation products that use salt-filled caffeinated versions of Dr. Veech’s decades old, already discarded work.. ”

    Yet those same companies link to this article as if it validates their completely different product. Hum.

    I guess the caffeine results in skim reading.

  7. JB

    February 25, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    There is at least one commercially available supplement that will provide what is generally considered to be a therapeutic level of ketones, demonstrable through any of the usual testing methods. The “salt” is a BHB compound that facilitates delivery of the BHB in a drink mix, and it helps to buffer the acidity of the ketones in the blood as well as help replace salt the body naturally loses in ketosis (elevated ketone levels are known to have a diuretic effect). This is based on a formula patented by Dr Dominic D’agostina and a few others (mentioned in Dr Coberly’s post above). And it’s available without caffeine. So if it delivers the ketones at that level why would it not have value on its own merit, especially given that it’s actually available and affordable? Dismissing it out of hand as an “imitation product” requires some substantiation.

    • Shane

      February 25, 2016 at 11:32 pm

      Yes, I take the product with alkaline ionized water. Because a having ketones can lower your blood ph levels. everyone who takes the product should have an ionizer to mix the product.

    • Rob Coberly

      February 26, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      Right, KetoCaNa. BHB calcium and sodium salts. And no caffeine. Is the BHB a racemic mixture? I don’t know the answer to that.

      • JB

        February 27, 2016 at 12:35 pm

        The one I’m familiar with has only been on the market for a few months and is called Keto//OS. It’s a combination of BHB and a (proprietary I think) MCT powder. Couldn’t tell you whether it’s racemic. It is based on a formula developed at USF on an Office of Naval Research grant by Dr Dominic D’agostina and Angela Poff to reduce incidents of seizures in divers with excellent results. And it does deliver a therapeutic level of ketones (AKA ketosis, just not dietary ketosis). Sounds like a real thing to me so I’m just wondering if there’s a more specific comparison to the esters as far as efficacy, etc.

  8. Peter H

    February 26, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    He invented the Salts too, 10-15 years ago. If what he found worked, he would have pursued it. But the amount of salt necessary to get bhb levels up enough would require the consumption of about one restaurant salt shaker. Huge difference. There is a reason there is no lab proof of any gain with the salts. Even one study in Europe said bhb didn’t work on a rat study. Oops, they used the Salts. Didn’t work. Won’t magically work on humans.

    • JB

      February 27, 2016 at 12:43 pm

      The product I have experience with provides a ketone level in the “ketosis” range (.5 to 5+ mmol) detectable with urine or blood testing. Many of the commonly described characteristics of ketosis are in evidence. So if the BHB and acetoacetate levels are there, what “doesn’t work”? Where is the functional difference?

  9. Rob Coberly

    February 27, 2016 at 7:37 pm

    I am pleased overall that various products are being marketed and discussed for promoting moderate ketosis. Whether based on MCTs and/or ketone salt mixtures, or based on ketone esters, all should get BOHB and AcAc into circulation to some degree, and all should be safe when properly manufactured. So no one is likely to be hurt by them, the first consideration in medicine. They may differ in efficiency, or in concentration range achieved. The products various parties have been able to bring to market so far are all at an early stage of public experimentation and adoption. Time, experience, and more science will likely tell us what the differences among methods actually mean for health.

    I’m not going to tackle in this comment the various reasons to expect that ketosis may promote health and diminish risk for various chronic illnesses. The ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, calorie restriction, and induced ketosis appear to me to each be distinct but related alterations in diet, energy metabolism and therefore biochemistry. These likely form an overlapping set of interventions. If any of these techniques share common mediators, the ketone bodies would be principal candidates. For many of us there are good reasons to adopt a very low carbohydrate diet, and thus produce our own ketosis by lipolysis, beta-oxidation, and hepatic ketogenesis. Bear in mind that exogenous ketone bodies may downregulate our own lipolysis by the activity of BOHB at the GPR109a receptor on adipose cells.

    I’ve been looking at my reference collection to find any documentation pertinent to the issue of BOHB racemic mixtures. This is an issue that conceivably could make a difference in the quality or efficiency of the products we are discussing. D-beta hydroxybutyrate, also described as (R)-3-hydroxybutyrate, is the predominant ketone body in circulation. It is enzymatically interchangeable with (non-chiral, less stable) acetoacetate in a redox reaction that occurs intracellularly and this reaction is the first step toward ketone body oxidation (which will yield acetyl-CoA leading to ATP production via the TCA cycle and oxidative phosphorylation).

    So, is L-beta hydroxybutyrate different in any important ways? It would be a component of the synthetic racemic BOHB mixtures. So far I’ve found enough to make me want to continue research on this question. And I’m sure there are knowledgeable individuals who could tell us more.
    1-“One of the KB, BHB, is optically active and as the chemically-manufactured form is an equal mixture of the D- and L-isomers. Endogenous BHB is the D-isomer and mammalian tissues have no recognized pathways for conventional oxidation of the L-form (Robinson & Williamson, 1980). This would suggest that half of any administered exogenous BHB may be metabolically useless. …All these studies have used the racemic mixture of BHB and must be interpreted with some caution because of uncertainty about the pathways available for the metabolism of the L-isomer (Robinson & Williamson,1980) which has constituted half the infused load.” from Ketone Bodies As Substrates, Rich AJ, Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 1990, 49, 361-373.
    2- “The ketone bodies enter extra-hepatic tissues on the same carrier, where other monocarboxylates can act as competitive inhibitors. Unphysiological isomers such as D-lactate or (S)-3-hydroxybutyrate can also act as competitive inhibitors to ketone body transport. Since ketone body transport across the blood brain barrier is a limiting factor to ketone body utilization in brain every effort should be made to keep the blood concentration of these unphysiological enantiomers at low levels during ketogenic therapy. When blood ketone body concentrations are elevated to levels found in starvation, heart, muscle, kidney and brain utilize ketone bodies as the preferred energy substrate.” from US2001/0014696A1, patent, RL Veech.

  10. Rob Coberly

    February 28, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Concerning specific DBHB, or racemic mixtures. There are a few references. Anyone who has more, please chime in.

    References to L-beta hydroxybutyrate are not common. Even the classic 1980 Robinson and Williamson “substrates and signals” review of ketone bodies expressed uncertainty about any metabolic role for the L isomer. That paper does note that, “…The presently known pathway of utilization of the L(+)-isomer is different from that of D( -)-3-hydroxybutyrate since 3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase is specific for the D-(-)-isomer…and there is no evidence for the existence of either a mitochondrial L-3-hydroxybutyrate dehydrogenase or a racemase catalyzing the interconversion of L( +) and D( -)-3-hydroxybutyrate…” So observations about D BHB are not likely to just carry over to L BHB. One of the important enzymes leading into metabolism is specific for the D isomer only.

    Importantly, from “D-beta-Hydroxybutyrate rescues mitochondrial respiration and mitigates features of Parkinson disease”, Serge Przedborski et al, The Journal of Clinical Investigation, September 2003, Volume 112, Number 6 – excerpts.
    “…Circulating DbetaHB readily crosses the blood-brain barrier and enters mitochondria, where it is metabolized by beta-hydroxy-butyrate dehydrogenase to acetoacetate; the latter is converted to acetyl-CoA, which feeds into the Krebs cycle…To control for the specificity of DbetaHB neuroprotection, another set of MPTP-injected mice received infusion of the inactive isomer LbetaHB. In these mice, the loss of dopaminergic neurons was as severe as in mice infused with vehicle…Thus, DbetaHB, but not its inactive isomer, can attenuate neurotoxic effects of MPTP on dopaminergic cell bodies in the (substantia nigra pars compacta) and nerve fibers in the striatum…Consistent with DbetaHB being a mitochondrial substrate, we found that it increased oxygen consumption in a dose-dependent manner…The effects of DbetaHB in supporting mitochondrial respiration are stereospecific, since the inactive isomer LbetaHB failed to improve oxidative phosphorylation…As shown in Table 3, DbetaHB increased ATP production from a base line of 5.37 ± 0.30 nmol/mg protein to 76.16 ± 6.11 nmol/mg protein. The increase of ATP production was not detected with the inactive isomer L`HB (3.85 ± 0.24 nmol/mg protein)…”

    That is, L BHB and D BHB were both studied, in living mice and in brain mitochondrial preparations from those mice; the L isomer did not support oxidative phosphorylation and did not provide neuroprotection from mitochondrial toxins. The ATP content measured (their table 3) showed cells given L BHB had a lower content than with no substrate at all.

    It will be more expensive to obtain stereospecific D BHB, but it is most likely to be worth it. I am concerned that inactive L BHB may compete with D BHB for blood brain barrier transport, or cell or mitochondria entry. I wonder if that has been looked at.

  11. keith

    March 22, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    I don’t agree with the line about getting the benefits without the dangers of a high fat diet. When following a ketogenic diet your body uses fats differently than when eating the same fats on a carb based diet. For example on a ketogenic diet the blood levels of saturated fat is lower (what really matters) even when consumption of these saturated fats has increased.

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  15. Mayumi Liwayway Espina

    January 7, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    This is a very interesting article. Just like everything, this needs a lot of studying. This could either turn into a great success or a big failure. Ketogenic diet is on the loop right now and a lot of people are getting hooked. Thanks for sharing this.

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Age discrimination lawsuits are coming due to the pandemic – don’t add to the mess

(BUSINESS NEWS) Age discrimination is spreading despite intentions to help, and employers need to know how to proceed in this unprecedented era.

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Ageism void

Before the pandemic, age discrimination was prevalent in workplaces. The EEOC reports that in 2018, about 6 out of 10 workers aged 45 years and older say they experience discrimination on the job.

A 2015 survey found that 75% of older workers found age an obstacle in job hunting. COVID-19 made the situation much worse.

Not only do older workers deal with discrimination, but they are at a higher risk of developing serious complications from the virus. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, older workers were hit the hardest by job loss during the pandemic, which is unusual during a recession. As offices reopen, employers need to be careful to avoid age discrimination in rehiring.

Lawyers expect age discrimination lawsuits to increase.

Last September, Harris Meyer published an article in the ABA Journal that predicted a “flood of age discrimination lawsuits” from the pandemic. Employers who have good intentions by keeping older employees out of the workplace to protect their health are still guilty of age discrimination.

What can employers do to avoid age discrimination?

It may be fine line between making sure you don’t discriminate based on age while offering ADA accommodations. The first thing employers should do is to know what laws apply based on their location. Some states exempt employees over 65 from returning to the workplace out of safety fears, meaning that those employees can still get unemployment. Other states are cutting benefits if employees don’t return to work, regardless of age.

There are some jurisdictions that have passed legislation about which workers have the right to be recalled. Next, review your own policies and agreements with laid off and terminated employees. You may want to consult legal counsel to make sure you’re covering your bases.

As you rehire, whether you’re bringing back former employees or hiring new team members, do not make hiring decisions based on age. Keep good documentation about your decisions to terminate certain employees. If you are citing poor performance, make sure to have a record of that. Don’t terminate older employees who have bigger salaries just because of lower sales. Monitor your words (and that of your hiring team) to avoid bias in hiring and firing.

Provide accommodations or not?

According to the SHRM, “Workers age 40 and older are protected from bias by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; however, that law doesn’t require employers to make accommodations for safety concerns.”

Still, employers can provide flexibility for workers, but it largely depends on the type of job. Reaching an accommodation for an office worker will be much easier than accommodating a sanitation worker.

Employers should assume that workers aged 40 and older can return to work. When the need for help is raised by the employee, enter negotiations for accommodations. Don’t initiate the conversation, and absolutely avoid any references to age.

Know that the environment may change as the pandemic continues to affect workers.

Be thoughtful about your hiring practices moving forward to avoid costly litigation from age discrimination.

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Business News

Missing office culture while working remotely? This tool tries to recreate it

(BUSINESS NEWS) This startup just released new software to help you reproduce the best parts of in-person office interactions while you work from home.

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Loop Team product page, trying to create an office culture experience remotely.

Are you over working from home? Feeling disconnected from your co-workers? Well look no further: The startup Loop Team just released a tool that reproduces the office culture experience virtually.

“We’ve looked at a lot of the interactions that happen when you’re physically in an office — the visual communication, the background conversations, the hallway chatter,” said Loop Team’s founder and CEO Raj Singh in an interview with TechCrunch. “[W]e built an experience that effectively is a virtual office. And so it tries to represent the best parts of what a physical office experience might be like, but in a virtual form.”

Singh’s company, founded pre-COVID, is posed as a solution to feeling “out of the loop” while working remotely. During the pandemic, where virtually all of us are working from home, this technology is needed more than ever.

How it works is by essentially recreating an office experience on a virtual platform. Somewhere between Zoom and Slack with some added features, Loop Team lets you know who’s free to chat, who’s in meetings, and allows you to have private discussions using audio, video, and screen share. It’s ideal for working on projects together.

Loop’s layout is unique in the sense that it is designed to show you conversations in a clear, direct way – exposing relevant items and hiding the rest. Also, employees who miss meetings have the ability to review what they missed, making it perfect for companies that hire across time zones.

The platform was made available December 1st free of charge, but Singh is hoping to introduce a paid version next year. Pricing will likely reflect team size and should remain free for teams of 10 or less.

I’m a big fan of software that allows you to feel closer and more connected to your co-workers. Do I think anything will ever compare to a true, in-person office experience? Definitely not. That being said, I value this kind of progress, especially since I don’t think office culture en mass will make a return any time soon, regardless of vaccinations.

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What’s DMT and why are techies and entrepreneurs secretly taking the drug?

(BUSINESS) The tech world and entrepreneur world are quietly taking a psychadellic in increasing numbers – they make a compelling case, but it’s not without risks.

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DMT

Move over tortured artists and festival-goers, psychedelics aren’t just for you anymore. An increasing number of professionals in Silicon Valley swear by “microdosing” psychedelic substances such as lysergic acid diethylamide(LSD) in efforts to heighten creativity and drive innovative efforts.

This probably isn’t a shock to anyone following trends in tech and startups, particularly the glorification of the 8-trillion hour workweek (#hustle). But business owners, entrepreneurs, and technologists are also turning to other hallucinogens to awaken higher levels of consciousness in hopes of influencing favorable business results.

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is growing in popularity as business leaders and creatives flock to Peru or mastermind retreats to ingest the drug. It exists in the human body as well as other animals and plants. In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Dr. Rick Strassman says “this ‘spirit’ molecule provides our consciousness access to the most amazing and unexpected visions, thoughts and feelings. It throws open the door to worlds beyond our imagination.”

The substance is commonly synthesized in a lab and smoked, with short-lived effects (between five to 45 minutes, however, some say it lasts for hours).

Traditionally, however, it is extracted from various Amazonian plant species and snuffed or consumed as a tea (called ayahuasca or yage). The effects of DMT when consumed in this manner can last as long as ten hours. Entrepreneurs are attracted to the “ayahuasca experience” for its touted ability to provide clarity, vision and inventiveness.

Physical effects are said to include an increase in blood pressure and a raised heart rate. Users report gastrointestinal effects when taken orally, commonly referred to as the “purge.” The purging can include vomiting or diarrhea, which makes for interesting conversation at the next company whiteboarding session.

Users are subject to dizziness, difficulty regulating body temperature, and muscular incoordination. Users also risk seizures, respiratory failure, or falling into a coma.

DMT can interfere with medications or foods, a reason why many indigenous tribes that work with it also follow specific dietary guidelines prior to ingestion. Not paying attention to diet or prescription medication prior to consuming ayahuasca or DMT can lead to the opposite of the intended effect, potentially even causing trauma or death.

So why the hell are people putting themselves through this ordeal?

Many claim profound mental effects, often experiencing a transformative occurrence that provides clarity and healing. Auditory and visual hallucinations are common, with reports of geometric shapes and sharp, bold colors. Many report intense out-of-body experiences, an altered sense of time and space or ego dissolution (“ego death”).

Studies have indicated long-term effects in people who use DMT. Some report a reduction in symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Subjects in an observational study showed significant reductions in stress after participating in an ayahuasca ceremony, with effects lasting through the 4-week follow-up period.

Subjects also showed improvements in convergent thinking that were still evident at the 4-week follow up. People who consume DMT generally chronicle improvements in their overall satisfaction of life, and claim they are more mindful and aware after the experience.

It’s important to note that dying from ayahuasca is rarely reported, but that doesn’t rule out the risk. It’s also illegal in the states, explaining why groups flock to Peru to visit licensed ayahuasca retreats or why technologists buy DMT on the dark web to avoid detection.

For those considering a DMT journey (and we don’t recommend it based on the illegal nature and health risks), it’s critical to gain a full understanding of the potential risks prior to consumption.

For more reading:

This story was first published here in June, 2019.

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