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Why you’ll want to attend the BR+NAD Brain Restoration Summit on NAD: An interview with Dr. Richard F. Mestayer

 

Dr Richard F. MestayerSince his retirement in 2005, Dr. Richard F. Mestayer, III, has been co-founder and chief psychiatric consultant at Springfield Wellness Center, a non-residential mental health clinic that has pioneered a proprietary formula of NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) for the treatment of alcoholism, addiction, chronic and post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. Since February 2012, he has also served as medical director of NAD Research, Inc. and, since April 2014, as the sole proprietor of BR+ MD Consultants, LLC, a training program for medical practitioners who seek certification in BR+NAD methods and protocols.

 

Mestayer is part of the Springfield Wellness Center team that is producing the 2020 BR+NAD Brain Restoration Summit, which is being offered virtually Nov. 20-21. As the Summit’s master of ceremonies, Dr. Mestayer spoke with us about this foundational molecule and what attendees will gain from Summit participation.

 

Tell us a little bit about your background and what got you into researching NAD.

 

I was a general psychiatrist at Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans for about 26 years. While I was there, we started a stress treatment unit, helping patients manage stress through counseling, diet, and exercise. It was an inpatient program for patients with psychophysiological kinds of problems, like hysterical conversion, depression, and other psychosomatic problems.

 

I had back problems, which were aggravated by all of the sitting my job required, and which eventually caused me to take medical retirement.

 

During this time, our teenage children began dabbling with drugs and alcohol. My wife found out, through a physician friend of hers, about a doctor in Mexico who was doing some unconventional treatment using what he described as “amino acids.”

 

Our children got such good results from the treatment that my wife started using the doctor’s protocols and his “amino acids” for her patients in need of addiction detox. After the doctor died, however, we lost our supply of his product. It was then that we had the contents analyzed and found out that the main ingredient was NAD. It clearly had anti-craving properties so, after I retired, I joined her clinic as medical director because we were seeing clinical results that you just don't see otherwise. It’s been 20 years now, and we’re discovering many more benefits of this remarkable molecule, NAD.

 

Our results led us to conduct more investigation into the effects we were seeing. In the old medical literature from the ‘60s, there are references to a compound called DPN, which is the same thing as NAD. Using our anecdotal information as a foundation, we began to get pilot data. Now we are waiting on funding to conduct clinical trials.

 

We’ve formed a nonprofit research foundation, which has been able to raise some money and conduct some initial research. However, in research, as everyone knows, every time you answer one question, you raise three or four more. So we now have a lot of questions we want to investigate.

 

That’s one of the motivations for our BR+NAD virtual summit in November: the proceeds will fund additional research.

 

Do you think that most practitioners have any idea what NAD is, what it does, and what its potential has?

 

When you say most? No. But word is getting out. It's become a hot molecule now because of the antiaging group. A lot of the research thus far has been animal research, but they're now doing some trials in humans and we’re excited to see the results. But I don't think most people really know or appreciate how important this molecule is.

 

How is NAD administered to patients?

 

We have a variety of options now. When we began it was all intravenous because we just didn’t see the results from NAD administered orally.

 

For background, NAD is a coenzyme of niacin, or vitamin B3. Niacin was discovered probably as a result of the pellagra epidemic, which is caused by a B3 deficiency. We occasionally see pellagra symptoms in alcoholics who have very poor nutrition. You give them niacin and they improve. My own opinion is that the heavy-lifter in niacin is the NAD. In our own experience, when we treat people who have some psychotic symptoms from crystal meth, or even from alcohol, we can dial those away with the NAD IV. This is just what we see; there are no studies out yet, but, again, that is something to study.

 

You see, NAD is a foundational molecule that is involved in many biological processes that we know of, to say nothing about the ones we don't know of yet. For example, NAD is extremely important in DNA repair; it's important in immune function; it’s important in sirtuin activation. All three of these three activities consume NAD, so if you're turning genes off and on and utilizing your immune system, and repairing DNA, you're using a lot of NAD. NAD is also a basic ingredient for mitochondrial function and cellular energy production. At our clinic we’ve seen a couple of cases where we suspect there were mitochondrial problems and, with the IV NAD, we were able to see improved patient outcomes, probably through improved mitochondrial function.

 

Bottom line, NAD is essential to multiple biological process. The antiaging researcher David Sinclair says, "If you don’t have NAD, in 30 seconds you're going to die." That probably is about right. It's just a very important molecule.

 

Where do we get NAD naturally, rather than taking a supplement for it?

 

NAD is basically a coenzyme of niacin. You don't get the NAD per se, you get the niacin that then gets converted to NAD. So if you have a healthy diet that includes vitamin B3 (niacin), you’re getting the basic ingredient to produce NAD. However, some interesting research that has now been reproduced in two groups shows that our NAD levels drop as we get older. And, as NAD levels drop, our bodies have to choose, or prioritize, what functions they will assign the NAD to: Do I repair DNA today? Do I silence genes? Do I produce energy? Do I help with immunity? What do I do? Something gets compromised because our NAD levels are deficient.

 

It looks like your clinic has shifted its focus a little bit from mental health issues to using NAD for degenerative disease of the elderly. Is that accurate?

 

Correct, we've had a couple of patients with Parkinson's who showed definite improvement following NAD treatment. One case has become almost famous. He has been able to stop all of his Parkinson’s medications for the last five years. I saw him last week and he's doing great.

 

We also had an Alzheimer's patient, a friend of ours, who had no other treatment options. We've been treating him for five years as well, and he is a lot better. He's stable; his condition is not deteriorating. He’s not cured, of course, but he is not continuing to decline. That’s just another indication of the need for a lot more research.

 

Where do you see that research coming from?

 

I get discouraged about that. I've talked to people from NIH and the Society for Neuroscience. They're kind of interested, but they haven’t written any large checks yet. I'm constantly trying to get people's attention because I don't consider myself a researcher, but a clinician. I just see the need and glimpse the potential.

 

The event you have coming up, who do you hope will attend and what do you expect them to get out of it?

 

The Summit is really for clinicians who want to be on the cutting edge of practice, and also for people who are interested in conducting clinical research. We keep seeing these clinical effects that we need to understand better. NAD is something that can be integrated into any healthcare practice to optimize patient outcomes. It is synergistic with many other treatments. For example, one of the talks will be about using NAD with ketamine. The presenter has produced some very interesting results there. It makes sense because, if your NAD function is impaired, other treatments will not be as robust as they might be. So understanding how and why to incorporate NAD with other treatments is a big reason to attend for physicians in family practice, functional medicine, psychiatry, neurology, internal medicine, cardiology, nephrology, and then researchers as well.

 

Do you think that most of the people who will be attending have some knowledge about NAD already?

 

They'll probably have some knowledge because we're not going to give a basic course; we're really presenting advances in the field. I know that word about NAD is traveling around the internet because I get calls all the time. People are starting to think, "Gee, there's something here I need to pay attention to." That's really what I want.

 

Has this event occurred before, or is this the first time?

 

Our first NAD Summit was in 2015. Even then, when research was just ramping up, we had people coming all the way from London and Australia. We've since developed great relationships with the researchers in Australia, two of whom will be presenting this year. One of them, Ross Grant, from the Australian Research Institute, is the guy I will call to say, "Look, we're having this unusual clinical response. What do you think?" And he'll talk me through the NAD pathways and tell me how, theoretically, the response we’re seeing is possible.

 

That’s another great result of the Summit. It creates all these possibilities for collaboration, which is so important because, otherwise, people end up working in silos. The researchers don’t otherwise get to see how patients respond to the ideas they’ve been in theory, and the clinicians, like myself, get insight into the theories behind the results we’re seeing in practice. We grow our understanding of the entire field in that way.

 

Jim Watson is another well-known presenter. Jim will share some brand-new theoretical ideas about why we’re getting the craving effects we see with intravenous NAD and how that might open up new ideas for addiction management. He's also giving a second talk about NAD in relation to viral issues such as the virus responsible for Covid-19. He'll be presenting some new ideas that haven't been talked about before much.

 

Ross Grant, from Australia, is going to talk about testing for NAD. The problem with NAD levels is that they’re constantly in flux. So, for example, if you wait for an hour before processing a sample, you’re going to get a different result than if you processed the sample immediately. So we need to have some standardized way of measuring NAD levels so we can compare our results accurately—and also so we can know whether someone’s NAD levels are deficient.

 

How do you know a person has the proper level or not?

 

You don't. People might say they do, but the reality is we don't know. We don't even know what a proper level is. We've certainly examined NAD levels and we can see trends. We can say that, theoretically, it makes sense that alcoholics have low levels because they’re consuming NAD as their bodies try to detoxify their alcohol consumption. And we see how dramatically these people respond to intravenous NAD: their skin tone and complexions change; their cognition changes; their cravings go away. They feel better than they've felt in 10, 20 years.

 

And how is NAD circulated in our bodies? Is it cellular?

 

Well, we started measuring NAD in plasma, even though some researchers said we wouldn’t get much out of that. But we did. We found NAD in plasma, in the cell, in the mitochondria; NAD can be found in many places. However, in our first intravenous NAD pharmacokinetic study, we also discovered a mystery. We were giving participants a lot of NAD and not measuring that much in the samples, so where was it going? My theory is, and this is just pure theory, that there's a storage mechanism for it, maybe in the liver or who knows where. Maybe that’s a survival strategy that developed earlier in our evolutionary history so that we could survive a famine, for example, by storing the NAD we’d need to stay alive for the feast.

 

How quickly do you see results when you start somebody with NAD therapy?

 

It depends on what the problems are. One of the most dramatic responses is from alcoholics who are getting detoxed. Because their NAD stores are so low, by the second day of treatment they're feeling better and they're not having the withdrawal symptoms they’ve had from conventional detox. By the end of five days, they're feeling really good, and by the end of eight days, they often feel as if they don’t need their last two days of treatment. Our addiction detox patients are feeling significantly better by the third to fifth day of treatment. We also see rapid improvement—even within the first few hours of treatment—from our Parkinson's and Alzheimer's patients; however they have to continue treatment. That's a downside. We've restored some function, but whatever's behind the dysfunction remains. However, we can usually maintain their improved condition using only monthly “boosters.”

 

Do you see that the product will be, or could be, supported as a nutritional supplement of some type?

 

It really is a nutritional supplement. Right now the IV is classified as a drug. However, we've got multiple delivery systems available to us now. Nothing works as well as the IV, but we’ve also got a nasal spray, a sublingual solution, patches, and patches that have batteries in them (which keep the NAD in solution so that it enters the skin more effectively). We have a subcutaneous shot, which is probably second in effectiveness to the IV. We have a cream that helps with sore muscles, sore joints, and conditions like that. Sometimes it works just as well as the patch, or better, because it's easier: you just rub it on. It helps promote healing too. People have used it post-op to help their scars heal better. All these things sound too good to believe, but these are things we see.

 

The one thing we didn't touch on at all was how NAD can be used for PTSD.

 

We had a patient who was on opiates as a self-medicating strategy for his war trauma. He had been through a couple of detox programs—one for 60 days, one for 30—but he always went back to heroin. We didn’t know that he also had PTSD; we were just treating him for his opiate addiction. On the third day of his treatment, though, he came in and told us, “Last night is the first night since my discharge I have not had a nightmare." By the time he had finished treatment, his PTSD symptoms were gone. However—and we learned this over time—in about a month, his symptoms would start coming back. He would start clutching the steering wheel as if there were IEDs on the side of the road. Then his sleep would begin to deteriorate. And, if we waited, if we didn't do anything, he'd eventually be in his room with his back to the wall hallucinating his dead buddies from Fallujah coming out of the wall.

 

We'd give him one booster IV and that night, he would sleep again and he’d be good. But then, a month later, his symptoms would be back. It was like a reset button, he'd be good for a month, but it would happen again. This went on for a year. Then, all of a sudden, he was three months before he needed a booster; then it was six months, and now it's a year, or maybe even a year and a half between boosters. And just like a lot of guys, they know they need to come back in, but they don't. They wait.

 

There's a doctor who works with the VA who has also seen NAD effectively treat PTSD, and that's one of the studies we want to do. What I think is happening is that NAD draws down the excess sympathetic nervous system discharge so you can allow more parasympathetic—or rest and digest—nervous system activity. We’ve seen that NAD does the same with opiate withdrawal. We’ve also seen similar limited response to NAD for partial complex pain syndrome, which results from an excess of sympathetic nervous system activity.

 

And then, look, there's all the stuff we don't know yet about NAD too. There's a place for NAD treatment in PTSD. We've approached the VA and we have a study designed. We could conduct it if we had some funds. That's probably the second study on our list. The first is an alcohol study which we is designed and ready to, and the third is Alzheimer's. We’ve got an Alzheimer's study designed too.

 

It sounds like you got your work cut out for you. So much for retirement!

 

For more information on the 2020 BR+NAD Brain Restoration Summit, please visit www.brplusnadsummit.com.

 

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