Brainpower, Consciousness, & The Placebo Effect With Jesse Lawler


Brainpower Upgrade

For anyone who's ever been interested in increasing their brainpower and learning more about what their body is capable of and how to get started, this is a great Wellness + Wisdom podcast episode for you to listen to!

What an amazing time for all of us to be alive with all of this technology to help us enhance and improve our minds and bodies. On this week's episode, we dive into an incredible conversation with return WFR guest, Axon Labs Founder, and Smart Drug Smarts (SDS) Podcast Host, Jesse Lawler about smart drugs, meditation, the placebo effect, and how we can take that next step forward to learning more about ourselves.

If you tuned into last week's episode with Daniel Schmachtenberger, we dig even deeper this week to uncover how smart drugs like nootropics not only alter or state of consciousness, but how they can help benefit our wellness.

Enhance Your Brainpower With Smart Drugs


“Smart drugs are a part of a wide family that doesn't really have a common starting point.” – Jesse Lawler


Jesse explains that there is one main, common misconception about the origins of smart drugs. It's a popular disbelief that all of the smart drugs that are out there just operate in the same way. Many believe that they're similar to the drugs (Ritalin and Adderall ) that are used to help ADHD.

However, there's so much more to smart drugs than we originally thought was possible. 

Smart drugs don't have one common root and each one individually helps us to enhance different cognitive senses:

  • Memory
  • Mood
  • Energy
  • Focus

How to Choose the Perfect Smart Drug for You

If you're curious in trying a smart drug, don't rush into taking anything immediately without giving yourself enough time to think if it's right for you.

A lot of us already take a common cognitive enhancer: Coffee.

Consider if coffee already helps you achieve what you want more of: energy, focus, or mood. A lot of us already know our limits with coffee and we can only drink so much of it before we become over anxious and jittery. If the right amount of coffee (1-3 cups or more if need be) already gives you what you want when you need it, do you really need to add a nootropic to the combination?

Today it's quite popular to add different substances to your coffee and Bulletproof Coffee is a great example of that.  Some people like adding aniracetam, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter to their coffee, but it might not be for everyone.

Should You Take Smart Drugs?

When trying a new smart drug, you have to take it one step at a time to see how different combinations affect you. Keep in mind that  you don't have to try everything to see what affect it will have on you.

If you already have a good idea of what can happen when you take a smart drug and you don't think it will benefit you, then you can avoid taking it without the trial period.

Alternatives to Taking Smart Drugs

As already mentioned, coffee is a great cognitive enhancer without someone needing to take additional smart drugs.

Another one is green tea. Green tea contains ethylene and GABA which has the same effect on the body as coffee does except it's much more gentler. Green tea doesn't have caffeine so it will help you be focused and calm without the jittery side effects.


Achieve a New State of Consciousness



Today, we are discovering that there is a large variety of different ways that we can achieve a new state of consciousness.

How can smart drugs help us achieve consciousness?

Specific smart drugs have been created help us improve our memory, creativity, and attentiveness.

Jess said that in general, our brain is able to keep track of 7 ideas in our working memory at a time (some people are able to take on between 5-9 ideas, but 7 is the average). But if you're able to add just one more working memory to the mix, think about what else you could achieve!

Why are tech CEOs in Silicon Valley microdosing on LSD?

Psychedelics have been used regularly to help people be more creative in their field and it's certainly gaining momentum for top executives in Silicon Valley.

This might appear to be just a hippie phenomenon, but CEOs are finding that small doses of LSD are helping them do more than they could have done before. Even former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, credited LSD to influencing his progress in the world of technology.

We're not supporting the use of LSD, but it's fascinating that psychedelic use is now encouraging further research into how LSD affects the mind and our state of consciousness.

Learn more in Jesse's interview with Dr. James Fadiman on the use of psychedelics to achieve a new state of consciousness.

Using Oxygen to Enhance Our Consciousness: Holotropic & Wim-hof Breathing

Believe it or not, oxygen is a natural drug that can take you to a new state of consciousness. There are two types of breathing techniques that you can use to get you to the state that you want to achieve: Grof's Holotropic Breathwork and the Wim-hof breathing technique.

Ayahuasca: A Natural Smart Drug

Jesse discussed the uses of Ayahuasca with Dr. Rick Strassman on the SDS episode, Breakthrough Work With “The Spirit Molecule.”

Ayahuasca is a DMT (di-methyl-triptamine). DMTs are actually all around us and they're even a naturally occurring psychedelic made in the body! Yes, you read that correctly. DMT is naturally found in small amounts in every living thing.

Ayahuasca can have a negative effect on the body such as nausea and diarrhea, but plants can have an overall positive impact on our consciousness. In fact, Jesse believes that more people should be more open to experimentation. If something can lead to a positive outcome like it can for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) survivors, then it could be worth giving it a shot.


“If you have a condition like PTSD, then almost nothing should be off the table as a potential therapy. There are plenty of success stories with people treating depression, PTSD, and things like that with psychedelic therapies. If you've got a significant problem that you're trying to solve, it seems like it should be one of the things that you certainly can consider. ” – Jesse Lawler on using plant medicines and psychedelics to help us heal our minds. 


Achieve Mindfulness Through Meditation

One of the easiest ways to naturally get to a different state of consciousness everyday is through the power of meditation.

From beginners to the advanced, there's not just one way to meditate and you can use different apps or pieces of technology like the MUSE Headband.

  • Silent meditation
  • Vipassana
  • Focusing on breathing
  • Listening to be in the present moment

A lot of people tend to go too fast, too quickly with meditation. Meditation won't be very effective for you if rush into doing hours of meditation compared to just a couple of minutes when you're a beginner.

Meditation that helps to quiet the mind can be good for someone who is depressed. It helps to get rid of nagging negative thoughts inside the mind and shut out everything.


“The style of meditation that a person chooses is really going to affect what they're practicing and getting their brain to be better at. So to be aware of what your meditation goal is, you will gravitate towards a certain style.”  – Jesse Lawler


When it comes to meditation, there is no one size fits all. Just try different forms of meditation until you come cross the best way for you to become more mindful.


The Connection Between Placebo Effect & Willpower


“You're either an abstainer or a moderator.” – Gretchen Rubin on willpower


Can our willpower fatigue with too much use (like a muscle) or is it just something that we're born with?


“Willpower is probably something that does get exhaustive in a person, but I think that something that looks like willpower to an outsider might not actually be willpower to that person. A person can train themselves to avoid Doritos to the point that it takes zero willpower to avoid it now. Willpower's just not an option to that person.” – Jesse Lawler


It can be very difficult for some people to control themselves and have the willpower to prevent themselves from eating unhealthy foods.

Both the optimistic and negative mindset on health can impact our willpower. Those with a negative mindset will believe less in their own health and wellness than people who are overly optimistic that something like a smart drug or meditation can help them.

Having an optimistic mindset will help you find something that works for you, but a negative  mindset can hinder your progress to look for something that can help you.


“Optimists tend to be stronger responders to placebos. The placebo effect is a pervasive phenomenon; in fact, it is part of the response to any active medical intervention. The placebo effect points to the importance of perception and the brain's role in physical health. The opposite of a Placebo Effect is a Nocebo Effect. A Nocebo effect causes the perception that the phenomenon will have a negative outcome to actively influence the result. Pessimism may now be correlated with the Nocebo Effect.” – Jesse Lawler on WFR 097 


Jesse's Own N=1 Self Experiment


“One of the greatest advantages of experimentation is just realizing that you can do it. It's a continuous reminder of our power to start changes in our own lives when you're just screwing with something to see if it works in your own life. It's a constant reminder that we're always in flux and flux can't change but at least you can direct it.” – Jesse Lawler


An N=1 self experiment  is understanding what works for you through a process of elimination or a process of strategic testing. During the experiment you might use self quantifying devices such as wearable trackers, apps, and more that allow for self-optimization.

Josh shared his own N=1 self experiment on last week's episode, Emotional Resilience, Nootropics & Outsmarting the Modern World with Daniel Schmachtenberger

Jesse's N=1 experiment ended up being a total crash and burn for him. He participated in the Uberman Sleep Schedule which meant he had to break up his sleep into 20 minute blocks that were separated by 3.5 hours throughout the day. However, that's way less hours of sleep than what the majority of us need in 24 hours! 

The Uberman Sleep Schedule is for people who want to be more productive during the day. The main idea is that you train your brain to drop into REM really quickly, but it's not a restorative way to sleep at all. 

Even though Jesse doesn't recommend this intense sleep schedule, he has been using the Oura Ring to keep track of his health. Why a ring instead of a bracelet? It's because the blood vessels are closer to the surface of the skin. Therefore, the ring is supposed to collect more accurate data than a bracelet.

Whatever you may decide to purchase, make sure you invest in something that is:

  • Safe
  • Can help improve your health
  • Usable for long term results
  • Worth the investment

Become your own citizen scientist. It's not about the app, bracelet, tracker etc. or anything you're using as long as it lines up with your main intentions. As a citizen scientist, begin your own N=1 self experiement by having a clear goal that something is going to help you perform better.

Brain Boost: Explore Nexus or Mitogen


Use code WELLFX to get 15% off both NEXUS and Mitogen from AXON Labs at

“You don't want your brain to just be doing one thing all of the time. I think about all of the cognitive enhancement that we talk about on the show as being a kin to Batman's tool belt. You know if Batman tried to use all of the tools in his belt simultaneously, he would hurt himself badly; even though he's Batman. That's how the tool belt is supposed to be used. The tool belt is supposed to be there for you when you come across a certain situation and you have something handy that's there for you and you know how's it's going to behave.” – Jesse Lawler on the use of smart drugs

About Jesse Lawler

Jesse Lawler is the Founder of AXON Labs and the Host of Smart Drug Smarts. Smart Drug Smarts is a top ranked podcast that brings you actionable insights from world-leading experts in neuroscience and
psychopharmacology — for the enhancement and protection of your greatest asset: your own

SmartDrugSmarts Podcast explores a range of health, wellness, fasting, cognitive
enhancement, smart drugs, meditation, altered states of consciousness and basically anything
or anyone that supports human and brain optimization.


Resources Mentioned by Jesse & Josh



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Lauren Bryant, Podcast Production

lauren bryant wellness force

Lauren Bryant is the Podcasting Assistant and Show Notes Writer for Wellness + Wisdom. She has a BBA in both Marketing and Spanish for Business as well as certificates in Advanced Business Communications and International Business from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

Lauren’s wellness journey began at a young age when she joined her local YMCA swim team, The Wave, of La Crosse, WI. One of the most profound views on wellness that anyone has said to her was when she was an assistant swim coach for that same YMCA swim team.

One day during a practice, former head swim coach, Jon Brenner, shared with her that the most important thing about coaching the swimmers was that “It doesn’t matter if they become the best athletes in the world. What’s important is that we give them the tools and guidance they need to live a healthy, active lifestyle for the rest of their lives.”

Since hearing those words, she has taken it to heart to not only focus on continuously living her own healthy lifestyle, but to help others pursue their wellness goals as well.

Lauren’s not only an avid swimmer, but a fan of running, yoga, cooking, and doing any activity outside that involves being surrounded by nature. In the Fall of 2014, she completed a long-awaited goal of walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

According to Lauren, wellness is about finding gratitude and joy in doing any type of physical or self-care activity that we love. Wellness means providing ourselves with self-love, good nutrition, and the inner peace that our individual minds and bodies need.


About Josh Trent

Josh Trent lives in Austin, Texas with his love Carrie Michelle, son Novah, daughter Nayah + a cat named Cleo. He is the host of the Wellness + Wisdom Podcast and the creator of the BREATHE: Breath + Wellness Program. Josh has spent the past 20+ years as a trainer, researcher + facilitator discovering the physical and emotional intelligence for humans to thrive in our modern world. Helping humans LIBERATE their mental, emotional, physical, spiritual + financial self through podcasts, programs + global community that believe in optimizing our potential to live life well.

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