Chris and Joe Claussen watched their grandfather, and then their father, die of Alzheimer’s disease.
They did genetic testing that showed they are also at increased risk for the disease.
They founded First Person, a company focused on the medicinal power of mushrooms.
When Chris and Joe Claussen were children, they watched their father struggle when his own father developed Alzheimer’s disease. Years later, just 65 years old, their father was diagnosed with the condition that affects memory, brain function and behavior.
“We’ve seen it go from small things to a complete disaster,” said Joe.
The brothers had seen how the disease ends and were looking for answers. They were intrigued by the possible medicinal uses of mushrooms. They made dietary changes for their father and saw small improvements in his abilities. Unfortunately, it was too late to reverse the course of the disease.
“The simple truth is that if you wait too long to start taking care of your brain, there’s not much you can do right now,” Chris said. “You have to start 20 to 30 years before you start seeing symptoms.”
The brothers are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
The brothers decided to do genetic testing to better understand their Alzheimer’s risk. It revealed that they both carry the APOE4 gene, which doubles or triples the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. For the brothers, that knowledge provided valuable information.
“It shouldn’t be scary, it should be a guide,” Chris said.
They started following a healthy brain protocol, which included following a ketogenic diet and supplementing with medicinal mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane. Both said they noticed physical and cognitive improvements in themselves. That convinced them they were onto something, and they started First Person.
“We wanted to get the message out: the time to take care of your brain starts now,” Chris said.
Research into the impact of mushrooms and microdosing
First Person produces functional mushroom supplements to support brain health. Functional mushrooms such as Lion’s Mane do not contain any psychoactive substances that are banned in the US.
But the Claussens believe those connections are just as important in unlocking brain health. First Person researches psychedelic mushrooms in Jamaica, where the mushrooms are legal. Both Claussens believe that some legalization in the US is inevitable, and they want their research to support that.
“We’re studying these compounds and looking at standardizing the dosage,” Joe said.
These are compounds that have been used for millennia, especially in Asian cultures, Joe said. US drug policy has stigmatized them, but now Western researchers are beginning to understand their potential. At the same time, there is a strong grassroots movement, with everyone from moms to veterans praising the benefits of microdosing – the use of very small amounts of psychedelics.
The brothers want to prevent a disaster for their own families
The Claussens believe that, despite their genetic risk, their future is not sealed. Through diet and lifestyle changes, they believe Alzheimer’s disease can be prevented. Research shows they may be on to something: Up to 40% of dementia cases can be prevented through lifestyle changes, such as reducing alcohol consumption and maintaining healthy blood pressure.
“This is just a few minor tweaks that aren’t too hard to do,” Chris said.
That can help your whole family avoid heartbreak in the future. “It affects everyone if you can’t take care of yourself,” Chris said.
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