All along the watchtower
Rockford Files, green tea, and Baobab
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When I was in seventh grade, we moved to the sticks. Our home was across the road from a state game preserve, which was literally swamplands. We had no cable, and the primary source of heat was a big woodstove to which I dedicated many hours, stacking wood, carrying wood inside, starting fires in the morning, and keeping the fire burning during the day. The bus stop after school was a quarter mile from our house down a gravel and oil road. We didn’t have Atari and my parents worked. There was only so much trouble to get into.
The single TV channel we could get carried The Rockford Files with James Garner, and so my slacker afterschool routine was to grab a big mug of Lipton instant tea, a bag of pretzels, and plop down on the worn sofa by the wood stove to watch. I’m really not sure it’s fair to call the sugary mixture tea, as it bears so little resemblance to the real stuff. But I loved the salty sweet yeasty flavors of fake tea and pretzels, and couldn’t get enough of Jim Rockford’s misadventures.
Years before the handsome Tom Selleck played Magnum PI, James Garner won my heart. Magmum PI lived the cushy life in a Hawaiian guest house and rolled in a red Ferrari. Rockford was the cranky antihero who drove 1974-1978 model year Pontiac Firebirds, was a wrongly convicted ex-con, and lived with his dad Rocky in a trailer. He got beat up more often than not.
My favorite scene ever was when Rockford flipped his cigarette into the face of a thug. It was supposed to be a distraction, enabling him to land a punch and escape. Instead, the thug didn’t miss a beat and knocked Rockford off his block. It’s not that I liked seeing my guy get beat up. It’s more that I felt validated, like, “Yeah, you think you’ve got it figured out and it never goes the way you imagined. Blam!”
My Nana took tea to the next level. She would brew half a dozen bags of Lipton orange pekoe tea for-ev-er on the stovetop in a gallon pot whose sole duty was tea time. Then she would dump a little can of frozen lemonade in and voila! Iced tea Marsland-style.
In my late twenties I would make fun of my friend Brett and his tea habits. He wouldn’t be caught drinking tea made with a tea bag. In his cupboard were special decorative cans from Kusmi Tea with names like Prince Vladmir. He had a special tea pot which heated water to just the right temperature for a particular tea, AND he had a timer to brew it for a specified time. It all seemed so precious and pretentious, and I figured, well, unless you were English or a metrosexual, a bag of Lipton was adequate.
Fast forward twenty five years and I think that Brett could make fun of me! In the top drawer of my work desk I have a thermometer and a tea strainer. Teabag tea tastes like cardboard to me now, and there is a time and a temperture for all: two minutes for Sencha, three for green, four for black, and five for Pu’er. 160F for green, 170F for Matcha (and a whisk don’t you know), boiling hot for black. And no burned tongue for me, as it won’t pass my lips until it’s cooled to 140F. Rishi Tea, the largest American importer of organic teas became my go-to supplier.
With the pandemic, green tea went beyond yumminess to essential equipment for survival. I was working evenings at SUNY Upstate in the trauma center, and the drive home at 12:30am was 1 1/2 hours of bleak, cold, darkness. I calculated that I could start sipping upon departure and stay awake on the road, then drink a big glass of water upon arrival home and wash out the caffeine. It wasn’t until I joined Pierre at The Leading Edge Clinic and began learning how to fight COVID, then treat post-acute sequelae of COVID (PASC) and vaccine injury that I realized how important that green tea had been.
There are multiple studies now which demonstrate how the epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea blocks spike entry into cells. See studies here, there and everywhere. It turns out that after spending hours providing bedside care to sweating, coughing, distressed acute COVID patients, that green tea was not only keeping me awake on the drive home, it was also blocking spike from taking hold in my body.
All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan, made famous by Jimi Hendrix:
There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There's too much confusion
I can't get no relief
Business men, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None will level on the line
Nobody offered his word
No reason to get excited
The thief, he kindly spoke
There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But, uh, but you and I, we've been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us stop talkin' falsely now
The hour's getting late, hey
If you’ve read this far, let me reward your curiosity and tenacity by introducing you to Baobab. After eight months of personal and patients’ use, tracking labs and monitoring clinical effect, I think it is some kind of way out of the confusion, and none too soon.
Baobab is a tree which covers half the continent of Africa. It dates back to biblical times, and was important to tribal people in arid desert regions, because both its hollow core and spongy bark could store water. It is an odd looking tree, which produces a large fruit the size of a football, which has a hard shell. When ripe, the fruit is a dry powder which can be mechanically separated from fiber and seeds. Every single part of the tree is useful to humans and animals alike. The leaves can provide forage for wild animals and livestock, the bark can be made into rope, the wood used for fuel, and the fruit for medicinal purposes. For these reasons it is often referred to as The Tree of Life.
Before there were words for these actions, Baobab fruit was antibiotic, antiviral, antifungal, antipyretic (fever lowering), and poison neutralizing. Tribespeople who hunt with poison tipped arrows and spears will mix Baobab powder with water to apply to the entry wound and neutralize the poison so that they can eat the flesh. Baobob has a pre-biotic fiber which modulates glucose metabolism, thus lowering fasting blood glucose levels. The fiber also creates a welcoming environment for an abundant and diverse population of bifida bacteria in the gut.
Baobab also has EGCG.
Last Spring, Pierre was at a conference in Hawaii and I was covering some of his patients. It was serendipity that I saw the labs come back for a family which had decided to measure the spike antibody for everyone in the household. Mom, college-age daughter and high school-age daughter were unvaccinated, with spike antibody (ab) levels of ~7,000, 3500 and 1500 U/mL respectively. Dad is a physician working in a busy outpatient clinic. He received two Pfizer shots, both from bad batches, and was exposed to ongoing shedding while delivering patient care in a healthcare environment. His spike ab was about 100 U/mL. I was stunned, and understood that this was either a lab error or a very intriguing aberration.
I picked up the phone and called this family, speaking with the mom at length. Dad didn’t take any medications, nor did he take any supplements. In fact, it took about thirty minutes to uncover what he could possibly be doing which would result in such a low spike ab level. Finally she said, “Well, there is this drink he makes every morning and takes to work. It has Baobab powder, and he mixes it with stevia and ginger. He only drinks it during the week, and sips it over the course of the day.” Why Baobab I asked? “It has a lot of vitamin C, and pre-biotics, but I’m not really sure. He’s been drinking it for years.” I thanked her and hung up, then spent the next four hours reading papers about Baobab.
As I read about Baobab’s many qualities, and then learned that it had EGCG, I concluded that the Baobab was somehow connected to this physician’s low spike ab level. He was patient 0. Researchers had considered Baobab to control COVID, but as far as I could tell, hadn’t pursued it further. I pulled $500 out of my piggy bank, messaged twenty patients whose spike ab levels were >25,000 U/mL or relatively high, and made them a proposal. Eat, drink, sip, but one way or the other get 1 Tbsp of Baobab in your body every day for a month, and then let’s recheck your spike ab level.
Within the month the feedback started to roll in, and I had my own experience to contribute. I started drinking the Baobab with my morning vitamins. That didn’t go so well, because I ended up with increased paresthesias (decreased sensation) in my toes and feet. After hearing the same story from three other participants in the pilot study, I suggested that we all sip it over the course of the day, like patient 0. The paresthesias resolved.
When the spike ab results started to come back after a month of Baobab, there was a signal. If patients ate it or drank it, there was a slight change in their levels. But if they sipped it, boy howdy! There were drops in spike ab levels reaching 5,000 U/mL over a month. That was enough for me, and I began guiding patients to sip Baobab, 1 Tbsp in 16oz of water over at least an eight hour period.
More feedback with additional patients revealed a few quirks of the therapy. If someone has severe mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), they may need to go low and slow. Well, just about all of our patients have some level of mast cell activation, so I guided everyone to start with adding only 1/4 teaspoon to 16oz of water and slowly advancing. Initially, some patients (including me) experienced some bloating while sipping Baobab. I’ll attribute this to the recalibration of our microbiomes as we build up the bifida.
Labs in patients who were sipping Baobab showed a declining fasting glucose, similar to what we see when we use Berberine. Patients also report enormous formed brown stools with a clean finish, i.e. no wiping necessary, and a sensation of complete bowel evacuation. Gotta love that.
Then things got interesting. We have been treating patients for microclotting for over a year now, and so some patients were beginning to retest. What I saw was multiple signals that unvaccinated PASC patients who were sipping Baobab dropped their microclotting scores by two points in 2-3 months. For reference, it often takes six months on anticoagulation with Aspirin, Eliquis and Plavix for a PASC or vaccine injured patient to drop his/her/their score one point. It would appear that not only does Baobab block spike entry into cells, but also that it helps break down microclots faster and safely. How?
The likely answer arrived a few weeks ago when I was reading a review article about natural products for antithrombosis. I learned that EGCG acts along the COX-1 pathway, same as Aspirin, to inhibit platelet aggregation and activation. Whereas Aspirin has about a 20% effect, EGCG has about a 90% effect.
Why not just take EGCG then? Well, you could. But any herbalist worth his/her/their salt would explain that when you isolate an active component of a plant-based remedy, you leave behind other components which synergize and ameliorate adverse effects. Given what I have seen clinically over the last eight months, my vote is to stick with green tea and Baobab sipping.
Where do you get Baobab? There are plenty of sources online if you want to shop around, as Baobab is an agricultural product.
How do you mix it? If you can make gravy without lumps, you can mix Baobab. I usually start the day by slowly tapping one Tbsp of Baobab into a cup of water as I stir it with a spoon. I smush out any remaining lumps, and then add this to a thermos with cold water, shaking and sipping every half hour over the course of the day. Every time I talk to a patient about Baobab, I take a sip!
What does it taste like? I would describe Baobab as having a mild citrus flavor. If it doesn’t agree with you, feel free to flavor it like patient 0. A few patients have complained that it has given them heartburn, and there have been others who can’t be bothered with the fuss and muss of mixing/sipping. My position it this: Baobab costs about $20 for a 1 1/2 month supply, blocks spike, breaks down microclots, builds up my bifida, lowers my fasting glucose, doesn’t taste too bad, and helps me have a very satisfying poop every day. Sold!
Baobab sipping is an economical way to combat shedding. My suggestion is to prepare your Baobab sipper before you head into any social interaction. Start sipping ahead of time, sip during the event, and continue sipping afterwards. In effect you are delivering a steady supply of EGCG and whatever synergy we haven’t yet isolated in a lab, which is blocking spike entry into your cells. If you are going to travel, bring the powder with you and once you are through airport security, mix it up at the water fountain and get down to sipping. Our patients and team have been doing this for months, and overall the results have been positive.
P.S. If you have ever seen a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, you can appreciate the power of a groovy soundtrack. My wife and I really enjoyed the updated series of Battlestar Galactica, and I’ll never forget when Jimi Hendrix’s anthem showed up in the narrative. Five main characters keep hearing the song in their head, and end up together in the same rom where they realize they are the Final Five Cylons. Internet wisdom says: “The song's biblical and mythical connections make it fitting for the show, as it foreshadows destruction and leads to a new world.”
P.S.S. I have no financial stake in any of the products I recommend, including Rishi Tea.
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