- Chris and Joe Claussen watched their grandfather, then their father, die of Alzheimer’s disease.
- They did genetic testing that found they’re at increased risk for the disease too.
- They founded First Person, a company focused on the medicinal power of mushrooms.
When Chris and Joe Claussen were kids, they saw their father struggle when his own dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Years later, at just 65 years old, their dad was diagnosed with the condition that affects memory, brain function, and behavior.
“We saw how it progressed from little things to complete disaster,” Joe said.
The brothers had seen how the disease ends and they scrambled for answers. They were intrigued by the possible medicinal applications of mushrooms. They implemented dietary changes for their dad and saw small improvements in his abilities. Unfortunately, it was too late to reverse the course of the disease.
“The simple truth is, currently, if you wait too long to start taking care of your brain, there is not a lot you can do,” Chris said. “You have to start 20 to 30 years before you start to see symptoms.”
The brothers are at increased risk of Alzheimer’s
The brothers decided to do genetic testing to better understand their risk for Alzheimer’s. It revealed that they both carry the APOE4 gene, which doubles or triples the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. For the brothers, knowing that provided valuable information.
“It shouldn’t be scary, it should be a guide,” Chris said.
They started following a healthy-brain protocol that included following a ketogenic diet and supplementing with medicinal mushrooms like Lion’s Mane. Both said they noticed physical and cognitive improvements in themselves. That convinced them that they were onto something, and they started First Person.
“We wanted to get the message out there: The time to take care of your brain starts now,” Chris said.
Exploring the impact of mushrooms and microdosing
First Person manufactures supplements based on functional mushrooms to support brain health. Functional mushrooms like Lion’s Mane don’t contain psychoactive compounds that are banned in the US.
But the Claussens believe that those compounds are just as important in unlocking brain health. First Person is conducting research on psychedelic mushrooms in Jamaica, where the mushrooms are legal. Both the Claussens believe that some legalization in the US is inevitable, and they want their research to help support that.
“We’re studying these compounds and looking at standardizing dosing,” Joe said.
These are compounds that have been used for millennia, particularly in Asian cultures, Joe said. US drug policy has stigmatized them, but now Western researchers are starting to understand their potential. At the same time, there’s a strong grassroots movement, with everyone from moms to veterans extolling the benefits of microdosing — the practice of using very small amounts of psychedelics.
The brothers want to avoid disaster for their own families
The Claussens believe that despite their genetic risk, their futures are not sealed. Through dietary and lifestyle changes, they believe that Alzheimer’s can be prevented. Research shows they could be onto something: Up to 40% of dementia cases could be prevented through lifestyle adjustments like reducing alcohol intake and maintaining healthy blood pressure.
“This is just making a few small tweaks that are not overly difficult to do,” Chris said.
That can help your entire family avoid heartbreak in the future. “It affects everybody if you can’t take care of yourself,” Chris said.