My name is Brad Wilson. A health and wellness explorationist for most of my life, both to my detriment and benefit.
I have been generally fit for most of my 59 years of age, enjoying competitive and recreational cycling as well as weight training from a teenager to a competitive power lift in my early 50s. To this point in my 59 years on this planet, I have experienced two coronary artery heart attacks, one at 55 years of age and a second one at 58 years induced by hypoxia training at the equivalent of 14,000 feet doing indoor cycling Tabata protocol.
I have a lovely wife and three great kids, 13 and 11-year-old girls and a 5-year-old son. I’m a late bloomer, 1st marriage.
1. My Health Journey and Crisis
My interest in health and well-being began at a very early age, from working out in my basement with a “Bullworker” exercise device to a Soloflex, and later hitting the gym where I exploited what I considered an “easy-gainer” type of body. The below photo captured unknowingly by a journalist in my hometown when I was 23 years old. No, both Slurpees were not mine, lol.
From Journey to Crisis
2 Heart Attacks and Pre-diabetes Symptoms
November 1, 2015 – Myocardial Infarction#1 (Heart Attack) Age 55
I was working downtown as a consultant in the oil industry on a Sunday consulting. There was a break in the workflow and I had finished a large pizza dinner and followed that by a heavyweight workout as the workplace had an in-house gym.
I noticed I was not feeling normal after the workout and my neck, jaw, and teeth started to ache. I requested one of my co-workers to Google the symptoms of a heart attack of which an aching jaw and teeth were listed. I said to everyone in the room “not to alarm anyone but I think I may be having a heart attack”, and one of my coworkers drove me to the nearby downtown hospital. I was admitted and given some injectable clot busters and transferred to a larger medical facility that had a dedicated cardiac unit and catheter lab.
My heart stopped on the way to the second hospital and the ambulance stopped to resuscitate me. I was stented in my Right Coronary Artery the same night.
Why did this happen to me? No major risk factors, not overweight (more on that later), non-smoker, no family history. I could say one thing for sure, I was under a lot of stress at that time in my life. Having just had a job opportunity fall-through in New Zealand and working with some very difficult people. I count my blessings now the New Zealand job did not go through as I’m sure I may have died had I gone to New Zealand and had to be transported several hours back to Auckland to receive the same level of care I received in a major North American city.
Chalk that one up to oxidative stress and a lifetime of plaque building up in my arteries perhaps due to a sub-optimal diet (that’s a nice way of saying a bad diet, lol). One other factor as well, which is hard if not impossible to manage, elevated Lipoprotein(a).
Myocardial Infarction #2 (Heart Attack) Age 58
September 28, 2018
I had gone through a 3-month post-cardiac event rehab program reintroducing exercise in a monitored and guided program after my 2015 MI. Having been stress tested several times, and under the guidance of the rehab center, given a reasonable heart rate range for exercise.
I was about a year out from my MI and checked in with my cardiologist and had received clearance to exercise in an “unrestrained” fashion including hypobaric training to re-vascularize my heart. I initially took up indoor cycling training (ComputrainerTM) through the winter for 2 years followed by Altitude Sessions in a hypobaric studio equipped with stationary bikes and treadmills.
So how did MI #2 happen?? Still not having an optimal diet and going into the Altitude Lab on Friday, September 28, 2018, slightly dehydrated and under some work-related stress, again!
I was doing an 8-interval maximal effort Tabata session at the equivalent of 14,000 feet altitude, couldn’t finish the second to last interval because of an elevated heart rate that was not dropping over the rest period. I came out of the session feeling post-exercise nausea, hung around the studio for about an hour and a half monitoring my heart rate and having the owner check my blood pressure. Went back to work and was feeling some chest pains (but not the aching neck, jaw, and teeth of my 1st MI in 2015, they said I would have exactly the same symptoms if I were to have another MI), went to the drug store and bought some aspirin and consumed 3.
I questioned whether I should go to the same downtown hospital that I went to during the first MI. Dismissed my symptoms as being related to my Altitude Session and a heavy chest workout on the morning of the same day. I went home, took my daughter and her friends as well as wife and son, out to an amateur rodeo. I came home and had a very unrestful sleep, woke up, “thankfully”! I was checking my daily heart rate variability and noticed my resting heart rate was 44 bpm which was unusually low for me followed by a jump to 71 bpm in about 2 seconds. SOMETHING WAS WRONG (no kidding yeah!). Off to the hospital to discover that same artery that plugged off in the first MI had plugged off again. Given the latest and “greatest” ha, ha, drug protocol to follow, out the door in five- days and back to work on day six. It was more stressful not to be at work, lol.
So, what went wrong there?? Stress and dehydration in combination with extremely intense exercise, poor diet, etc. Perhaps genetics if you include the elevated Lipoprotein(a). Needless to say, I hydrate myself better now and don’t exercise in a hypobaric studio or at max heart rates.
Today (well actually over the last 5 weeks) – Pre-diabetes Scare
Fast-forward a year from MI #2 and here we are September/October 2019. Eating better, taking my heart medication as prescribed. Discovering through regular checkups and blood work my fasting blood sugar, GFR (kidney function) and Creatinine (kidney function) are all going the wrong way. Perhaps too much honey in the morning herbal tea? Drinking too much water which can lower GFR and increase Creatinine as well. Cold and numb fingertips, blurry vision. I did some internet research on the symptoms and starting panicking (you generally panic sooner and more frequently after 2 heart attacks, lol) thinking my kidneys were failing, I’m pre-diabetic, etc, scared and panicked, I stop taking my statin**(Rosuvastatin), stop my taking my anti-platelet**(Ticagrelor), both which are documented to have negative impacts on liver and kidney function. Realizing if I get full-on diabetes, I’m increasing my risk of another coronary complication which is the paradox of some of these current heart medicine protocols that are prescribed post-myocardial infarction.
Ok, time to go to war protecting my health (thank you for that sound bite from an individual interviewed on Youtube that took his Glycated Hemoglobin-AC1 from >14 to 5.6 as well as Dr. Jason Fung’s work and Youtube videos on preventing diabetes). I have switched to a high “good fat” (olive, fish & krill oil), high fermented foods (apple cider vinegar, natto, kimchi, etc.), and zero refined sugar and zero simple carbohydrate diet. And without mention, intermittent fasting and exercise, thank you, Logan, for your 80/20 Protocol and Inner Circle Newsletter article on fasting, contributing to me crushing those pre-diabetes symptoms.
My vision has noticeably improved, no more tingling, cold and number fingers, energy and balance are back. As of this writing the evening of October 10th, 2019, I would say my vision over the last two days has more acuity than I have experienced in the last several months.
What do I do to Stay Health and Monitor My Health?
Heart Rate Variability Monitoring (HRV)
I can’t overexpress the value of Heart Rate Variability Monitoring throughout my health journey/crisis, to which I thank Joel Jamieson from “8 Weeks Out”, for introducing HRV monitoring and understanding to me. Knowing when you can go hard, and when you are about to step off a cliff, so to speak, has and will be a permanent part of my daily protocol and training. The perceived sense of wellbeing can be deceptive so more accurately knowing your position on the spectrum between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous evocation can make a big difference in how you manage your daily stressor and whether you place yourself in a position of declining or increasing wellness.
Lost Empire Herbs & General Supplements & Diet
Through my weight training years and later in my short stopover in competitive powerlifting, I would say I had a very unbalanced, and quite frankly unhealthy diet with an over-emphasis on powdered protein and workout supplements, including energy drinks, and an insatiable sweet tooth. I can’t recall my first prompting from “Superman Herbs,” now “Lost Empire Herbs,”, but interest in herbs and natural supplements came about in part from pursuing my love of road and mountain bike cycling and wanting to increase my performance and enjoyment of the same. I have been taking various Lost Empire Herbs for about six years now and have outlined my experience with each one of them below.
On the general supplements and healthy eating side, my focus from my heart attacks and pre-diabetes condition has been on anti-inflammatory and high antioxidant foods and vitamins/supplements that facilitate my body’s natural production of glutathione. I have in the past tried the ketogenic diet and currently, with my pre-diabetes scare, I’m back to a high fat, modest protein, low complex carb, zero sugar, and zero refined simple carb diet.
My Results & Observations from taking Lost Empire Herbs
Over the six years of Lost Empire Herbs, I have tried a broad selection of Logan Christopher’s offerings. My use of Lost Empire Herbs has been rotational and seasonal, often driven by my current state of health and focus of improvement over a specific time period. I’ll list the most prominent ones that I have continued to go back to and what benefits & observations I have experiences from each one of them.
- Cordyceps Militaris – I can’t say enough about how superlative the efficacy of LEH Cordyceps is. When I was indoor cycling training and often going to maximal efforts every two weeks I was amazed at how my respiration remained virtually unlabored approaching maximum heart rate. Sidebar – there is nothing more satisfying than pounding up a mountain bike trail passing your cycling buds breathing like you are on a Sunday stroll, while they sound like steam locomotives going up Pike’s Peak.
- Pine Pollen – the use of Pine Pollen has been an interesting one for me. In isolation, I can’t say it has provided a highly noticeable effect for me, like “WOW” on or off it. It seems to work better for me when combined with Tongkat Ali. I continue to take it as I fundamentally believe is doing something and having a physiological indication is not necessary for me to believe it’s at work.
- Tongkat Ali – as above, I believe Tongkat Ali works best with Pine Pollen for me. I found I needed to cycle it twice a week to derive the most benefit from the combination. See my lab results section for the effect on testosterone.
- Hercules Pre-workout Formula – I used Hercules formula prior to my indoor cycling workouts as well as occasionally pre-resistance training. Stamina is the one word I would use to describe the benefits of Hercules Formula. Unlike commercial pre-workout drinks that leave you vibrating for three hours and crash you after two, Hercules Formula has a synergistic effect on me that elevates and sustains my physical energy capabilities without blowing me up.
- Schizandra – Schizandra is another favorite of mine I start my day with. Balance, calmness, and clarity of mind are my experiences with Schizandra. Who needs coffee in the morning?!
- Nettle Root – falls into a similar category as Pine Pollen. I can’t sense it working or a difference taking or not taking it. I’m going to let my Labs validate its efficacy for lowering Estradiol if Estradiol is the right thing to look at in terms of its efficacy.
- Ashwagandha – one of my favorites for inner balance and an overall sense of well-being. I have been taking Ashwagandha before bed but have more recently included it throughout the day as well. Its effect is subtle but noticeable, provides a very calming and “things are right” sensation.
- Valerian – used before bedtime as an additive to Ashwagandha, magnesium citrate, and zinc sleep time blend. It provides an extra sensation of cool and calmness on the body.
- Gynostemma – reported having DNA protective, high antioxidant properties and nitric oxide regulating benefits, all of which I agree with I think its adaptogenic mechanism hides the real “Pop” of this herb when taken in moderation as recommended. I have on occasion not taken it in moderation and can report one instance of almost fainting I suspect due to low blood pressure in combination with my ACE inhibitor and Beta Blocker as prescribed for the management of my heart disease.
Supplements I Take for my Health
- Ubiquinol (CoQ10) – antioxidant, mitochondria, and oxidative damage control. Offset effects of statin.
- Arjuna – heart tonic increases pumping activity and coronary artery flow. Lowers BP, lipids, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory
- Hawthorn -improves heart ejection fraction (stroke volume) and increases exercise tolerance
- Grape Seed Extract – antioxidant, blood pressure regulation, cancer prevention
- Resveratrol – antioxidant, mitigates LDL oxidation, increased HDL, increases insulin sensitivity
- Quercetin – antioxidant, reduced heart disease and cancer risks
- Curcumin (TheracurminTM)- antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, improves endothelium function
- P-5-P – coenzyme Vitamin B6, protein, fat & carb metabolism. Decreases high homocysteine levels associated with heart disease
- PQQ – increases mitochondria-related functions
- Alpha Lipoic Acid – lowers blood sugar and HbA1c levels. Antioxidant reduces oxidative stress and improves endothelial function. It lowers triglyceride and LDL levels.
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine – glutathione precursor. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory prevents kidney and liver damage. Reduces oxidative damage to heart tissue.
- B-Vitamin Complex – metabolism enhancers, antioxidant, DNA protection, red blood cell production, neurological function
- Vitamin E – antioxidant, prevents atherosclerosis, BP regulator,
- Vitamin D3 with K2 (MK-7)– regulates calcium deposition to bones & teeth, preventing osteoporosis and calcification of arteries.
- – antioxidant lowers BP, lowers LDL and triglycerides
- Vitamin CGarlic Allicin – cold virus prevention, lowers BP, lowers LDL, reduces oxidative stress, detoxify heavy metals
- Apple Cider Vinegar – kills harmful bacteria, lowers blood sugar levels, weight loss aid, lowers cholesterol and triglycerides
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, protects LDL from oxidation, Vitamins E & K, improves endothelial function, prevents unwanted blood clotting and lower BP.
- Fish Oil – increases HDL, lowers Triglycerides, lowers BP, prevents and stabilizes arterial plaques, may reduce arrhythmias, anti-inflammatory.
- Ceylon Cinnamon – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, lowers LDL, increases HDL, lowers BP, improves insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar,
- Astragalus – immune boosting, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, widens blood vessels, lowers blood sugar, improves proteinuria (kidney function),
- Milk Thistle – antioxidant, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, increases insulin sensitivity and decreases blood sugar
- Black Currant – anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antiseptic, anticancer, blood flow, immune system, eye health, gut & kidney health
- Natto – fermented soya beans – nutrient & vitamin-rich, probiotic, K2 rich, cholesterol & blood clot reducing properties, lowers BP
- Collagen Type II – Grass Fed Bovine Peptide Source – 19 amino acids, for rebuilding skin, hair, muscle, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, joints, bones, gums, teeth, eyes & blood vessels
- Probiotic – BioK+TM – 50 Billion Commensal Bacteria- “intestinal flora is our 2nd brain”
My Latest Adventures and Experiments
Logan Christopher’s The 80/20 Strength Challenge protocol.
Firmly committed to not having a 3rd heart attack and stepping back completely from high-intensity training, I was intrigued by Logan’s 80/20 Program and took it up in earnest in early August 2019. I liked the time efficiency of the protocol and the ease of entering the program at your desired and achievable level of progression. The multiple levels of progression allowed for quick uptake of the program which was good for me as it had been some time since I was resistance training in a consistent fashion.
When I was powerlifting competitively, I had experimented with very low rep (like 1 rep) maximal and sub-maximal (like 3-5 reps) bench, squat and deadlift in an “Occam’s Protocol” fashion finishing with some plyometric style pushups or short sprints. I found the post routine body/mind feeling almost euphoric physiologically with no post-exercise soreness or fatigue. It was like hooking up a battery boost charger to your hormonal and central nervous system and giving it just the right amount of “ZAP”. In many ways, Logan’s 80/20 Program provides the same benefits in my experience.
Here are my before and after results on Logan’s 80/20 Protocol, notwithstanding I got a little inconsistent for a couple of weeks when I was unraveling my pre-diabetes symptoms. Lean muscle up and body fat are down. I’ve never found <25 BMI to be attainable for me and would always say I’m not overweight with a BMI>25, I just carry more muscle than most people, ha, ha. Now that I’m almost <25 BMI I’m going to concede I was overweight especially midsection aromatase type of overweight. There are still more inches to come off around the midsection especially backfat, more noticeable in the October 4th picture.
My Lab Results
My labs for important markers related to my specific health concerns and herbal efficacy are as follows:
Observations and Possible Causal Dietary Factors:
1) Diet modification to high “good fat” & fermented foods as well as increased exercise and intermittent fasting may have corrected my Fasting Glucose levels. Fasting Gluscose has decreased >10% from Sept 11 – Oct 30, given Oct 30 sample was non-fasting.
2) More akaline diet, Astragalus, Milk Thistle, Pine Pollen & Alpha Lipoic Acid may have increased my Kidney function effectiveness. 42% increase in GFR & 23% reduction in Creatinine, not withstanding hydration differences between samples.
3) High “good fat” diet of salmon, fish oil & krill oil may have increased my HDL by 16%
4) Pine Pollen, Tongkat Ali and resistance training may have increased my total testosterone levels by 65%
What I Have Learned
- “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” – Hippocrates. Herbs are Nature’s medicine and food.
- I learned not to associate both positive and negative health outcomes to single variable causes. Example: eating sushi and drinking pomegranate juice will bulletproof me against future heart attacks
- Conventional medical wisdom is under serious mis-perception when they make single variable cause and effect attributions like LDL cholesterol levels as being the primary measure of cardiovascular disease risk.
- Prescription heart drugs are powerful and can have some very unintended and undesirable effects on your overall health. Liver and kidney especially.
- I’m the only one ultimately responsible and accountable for my health management and outcomes.
- Question everything but remain open to anything.
- My body is a wonderful and marvelous creation capable of unfathomable healing and transformation gave the correct maintenance schedule and nutrient-dense fuel and additives. (I’m a car guy, lol)
- Did I mention an absolute boatload of information about herbs and herbal remedies, natural supplements, healthy eating, prescription heart medicines, preventing heart attacks, diabetes prevention, heart rate variability monitoring, and optimization, exercise and physiology, training protocols, . . . HOW TO BE MORE GRATEFUL AND HUMBLE
In this final section, because of my age and cultural frame of reference, a pop culture recollection from my youth is echoing in my head, . . . StarTrek “Understanding my body, the final frontier, These are the voyages of the Brad Wilson, My five-year mission, To explore strange new herbs and supplements, To seek out renewed life, And new botanical civilizations, To boldly go where no man has gone before,. . .
Wait a minute . . . I think I have already lived that series in the last five years of my life, with the exception of not having left the planet like the Starship Enterprise, thankfully! Lol
On a more serious note, I plan on continuing with Logan’s 80/20 Exercise Protocol as well as continue with my listed Lost Empire Herbs and try to correlate my sense of wellbeing, health outcomes and blood markers to the use of the various herbs.
Having reached my first weight and % body fat goal, I have now set second-tier goals to reduce my body weight and % body fat to 185 lbs and 18%** respectively. **Tanita Impedance Scale
I have to put in several miles before my children have children, I’m going to continue the good fight and live a good life for myself and those I love. Inform myself, take responsibility and accountability for my health and share what I have learned with others such that they may not have to walk the same edge I have.
October 10, 2019
** Note: I do not prescribe or recommend anyone to come off their medications without their doctor’s supervision. In my case, I self-assessed there was not due care and attention being paid to my health issues by my GP or my Cardiologist. I attempted to see my cardiologist prior to making these changes but he is on extended leave and despite multiple efforts to get referred to another cardiologist in his absence, I have been unsuccessful.
Can you relate to Brad’s experience?
A lot of us are doing our best to live a healthy life but have trudged through health issues nonetheless. I was so excited to hear Brad’s story because of the way he took his health into his own hands. He has gained knowledge, independence, experience through his health journey.
Each one of us is unique and has our own path to walk. We at Lost Empire hope that we can help you find the resources you need to live your healthiest life. That is why we share as much information as we can with you and continue to research, lab test and write about what we find along the way.
Thank you for reading this far! Since you’ve stuck around for the whole shebang, maybe you’d share your story with us too?
We share these case studies in an effort to build up a body of anecdotal evidence that herbs change lives for the better. While gold standard, double-blind, placebo-controlled scientific studies are great, there simply aren’t enough of them in the realm of herbs. (For example, Pine Pollen doesn’t have a single human trial.) Although case studies are n=1 experiment, not tightly controlled nor placebo-blind, they still lend evidence of things working, especially when a large number of them are gathered. For the most part, we are not interested in reductive science isolating a single variable in these case studies. The fact is nature and life don’t work that way! We are much more interested in people getting results. And that often takes many variables, aka massive action. Thus, these case studies are shared in this spirit.
Now onto the legalese…These products are dietary supplements and are not intended to diagnose, treat cure or prevent any disease. Case studies are not intended as a substitute for appropriate medical care or the advice of a physician or another medical professional. Actual results may vary among users. Lostempireherbs.com makes no warranty or representation, expressed or implied, as to the accuracy or validity of the information contributed for case study submissions, and assumes no responsibility or liability regarding the use of such information. The information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. If you have a medical condition or disease, please talk to your health care provider. If you are currently taking a prescription medication, you should work with your health care provider before discontinuing any drug or altering any drug regimen, including augmenting your regimen with dietary supplements. Do not attempt to self-diagnose any disease or ailment based on the case studies and do not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. Proper medical care is critical to good health. If you have a health concern or suspect you have an undiagnosed sign or symptom, please consult a physician or health care practitioner.
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