Becoming An Expert In Biohacking
Biohacking is a concept that continues to gain popularity. It’s not all stem cell therapies and retina implants to turn us into machines. Instead, something as simple as eliminating sugar from your diet to optimise your health is strictly speaking a form of biohacking.
In fact, the best biohacks are easy and free. I’m talking sunshine, cold showers, walking barefoot on grass or the beach and limiting the use of electronics before bedtime. These are the needle movers.
But there comes a time in every biohacker’s life where they want to optimise and up their biohacking game. Below is a list of my favourite biohacks that are all available in South Africa and that I’ve found particularly helpful!
Yup, you read that right! And if you google this, you’ll find a myriad of guidance on how to do the best coffee enema. Amazon even has a helpful audio guide. And it’s exactly what the name suggests: coffee is inserted into your rectum.
While traditional medicine mentions coffee enemas only for relief from constipation together with a fair amount of safety warnings, weekly coffee enemas are being reported by biohackers as “leaving you clean as a whistle” and resulting in intense energy levels for the whole day.
Coffee enemas are actually an ancient herbal treatment. Why would we do them? Because we’re exposed to toxins and pollutants and especially heavy metals every day. These residues can remain in our bodies for years, so the main reason to use a coffee enema would be to remove toxins from your body. Other benefits include cleaning the colon, liver detoxification, eliminating parasites and improving mental clarity and energy levels.
Essentially, you want an enema kit (the stainless steel bucket kinds are the best to avoid plastics being inserted into your body) and very high quality, organic, mould-free coffee grinds.
Without overdoing it on the science, coffee is used, rather than water or other enema liquids, because of its astringency (good for colonic cleansing), antioxidant effects (protects the liver against oxidant damage), alkalinising the intestinal tract, increasing bile flow, providing selenium and zinc (well absorbed through the rectum), relaxing the sympathetic nervous system and actually improving hydration.
- Simple instructions: Brew coffee (sample instructions on Google for reaching a good temperature for this purpose). Next, you’ll want to lie on your left side (on the floor on some towels or in the bathtub) and follow your enema kit instructions.
- Pro tip: try to poop before your enema! If constipation is your reason for the enema, skip that step! Lube up the enema tip (olive or coconut oil are good) and spend the next 15-30 minutes concentrating on keeping the liquid inside, meditating or listening to your favourite podcast! Off to the toilet you go and…empty.
A clean bowel is always just one coffee enema away! Recommended to be done once every two weeks and I think they’re pretty fantastic!
Major Autohemotherapy (MAH)
I recently had MAH (or self-blood therapy) therapy done and maybe it’s psychological from seeing the process, but I really felt like a million bucks after the therapy. In short, blood is drawn in the same way as you would for blood donation. Medical-grade ozone is then injected into your blood (it’s super cool watching it turn a much brighter red from the oxygenation) and then infused intravenously back into your body. You definitely want to make sure that you have this done by a properly trained medical professional, in which case it is comfortable, safe and effective.
Benefits of MAH therapy:
- Increases oxygen levels in your blood, thereby pushing more oxygen to your cells (good for energy and vitality as it enhances the cell biology)
- Stimulates the production of white blood cells which the body uses to fight infections and cancer
- Kills bacteria and viruses
- Helps degrade, dissolve and eliminate petrochemicals and other toxins from your body
While it is an excellent way to treat disease, fight inflammation and stimulate the immune system, it’s also a really great treatment for promoting general wellness.
While not weird or whacky like coffee enemas or oxygenated blood infusions, this is one that a lot of people struggle with but has massive benefits! You can build your own ice bath with a chest freezer, but there are now facilities in South Africa where fit-for-purpose ice baths are offered at temperatures between 2-6°C. They are kept squeaky clean, and you can drop by whenever is good for you, and then get on with your day!
While cold showers are a great way to incorporate cold into your lifestyle, nothing quite beats a proper ice bath (in temperatures below 11°C) for 5-15 minutes for the amazing benefits of cold thermogenesis.
Ice baths have a positive impact on your central nervous system, help you sleep better, address fatigue, decrease inflammatory responses in our bodies, trains the vagus nerve (key for regulating your parasympathetic nervous system, i.e. the state of rest and digest), improves recovery after exercise, reduces stress and popularly, aids in fat burning!
When antibiotics were discovered, the medical community concluded that humans are chemical beings (not electrical). Chemicals are therefore the primary modality of treatment in modern medicine. However, since the work of Nicola Tesla, Harold Burr (1930’s) and Dr Jerry Tennant (Healing is Voltage, 2010), it has become more and more accepted that our cells are actually designed to operate at specific electrical potentials and that our body tissue is effectively an energy-storing electrical condenser!
You may have heard of harmful EMF (electromagnetic fields) from things like Wi-Fi. By contrast, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF) is proving to be a massively powerful healing tool. The difference between EMF and PEMF is in the wavelength (EMF is about 1 meter long, PEMF is 2 times the circumference of the Earth!), with PEMF being completely safe and supporting our cells as electrical beings.
PEMF therapy trains the brain to produce certain wavelengths and syncs your brain’s electrical activity to the rhythms produced by the PEMF, which provides a rhythmic stimulus.
While you might need a Physics degree to understand what all this means, you don’t need anything to benefit from the massive benefits of PEMF therapy. These are popularly available in the form of PEMF blankets that you lay under, and benefits include:
- Up to 20% increase in blood flow
- Increase in the number of your mitochondria (which power our cells)
- Improves immunity and protects against infection
- Decrease in inflammation
- With low cell voltage, oxygen leaves our cells. PEMF restores the oxygen.
I like combining this with MAH therapy, it leaves you bouncing off the walls!
NAD+ is a natural coenzyme in all our cells, crucial to mitochondrial health (again, energy for our cells), DNA and cell repair. NAD+ always comes up in the context of healthy ageing because NAD+ levels decrease with age (so we start to age) and this process is accelerated by stress, inflammation and poor sleep and diet. When NAD+ levels are increased through intravenous supplementation, our cells produce more energy and cells are actually repaired, not only protected.
A good IV protocol is to go through a 5-day loading phase (500mg per day), followed by monthly 500-750mg drips. There are also NAD+ supplements that can be taken daily, but make sure to prioritise quality here!
This is not the easiest biohack as every drip takes 3-4 hours – it has to be pushed very slowly to prevent severe discomfort. I’ve tried speeding it up, but trust me, it’s impossible! But I push through with the monthly treatments because for me, it’s a complete game changer! I literally run faster in the days after the drip, sleep is improved, as is overall energy. The fact that it’s a darling of any anti-ageing protocol certainly helps as well!
Hydrogen is the most abundant molecule in the universe. It is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas and it is also the smallest molecule in the universe. Because it is so small, it can penetrate a lot of things. In addition, it is non-polar (neutral) which means that it can diffuse through cell membranes (anything ionic cannot go through cell membranes without a transporter of sorts). So, for these reasons, hydrogen can have a very therapeutic effect on most organs due to its ability to penetrate multiple organs and pass into cells. There is particularly impressive research in the context of rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s and metabolic syndromes.
A recent study concluded: “With its potent and unique antioxidant properties, gene regulatory abilities, and rapid rates of diffusion across tissue and cellular barriers, as well as its excellent safety record, hydrogen has many unique characteristics that make it very valuable for utilization in medicine and health.”
There are many different delivery mechanisms for hydrogen, but the most popular one is probably through hydrogen tablets (I really like the Neuro H2 Molecular Hydrogen tablets). Basically, you pop it into the water, let it dissolve for 3 minutes and you then need to chug it within like 2 minutes so that the hydrogen doesn’t evaporate, leaving you with the most expensive “normal” glass of water you will ever drink!
If you really want to splurge, the transdermal application is also a very effective and highly absorbable mechanism of getting more hydrogen into your system: you simply pop a few tablets in a lukewarm bath and soak up the hydrogen goodness.
Practically, this stuff is amazing. People are whispering “hydrogen” in the context of a Nobel Prize in the coming years for the potential that this perfectly safe molecule offers for human health. About 40 minutes after you take it, you should just feel completely rested and energised.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring
Non-diabetics can now get their hands on devices that are used to monitor your blood glucose levels in real-time with feedback to a device or your phone. You simply attach the patch to your arm and it stays on for two weeks.
If anything is going to impact your diet and lifestyle, it will be to understand the impact that specific foods have on your unique biology. We all respond to foods differently, so if you can learn which foods keep your blood glucose levels stable and which send them sky-high, weight loss and lowered inflammation are yours for the taking.
In the coming years, I really think that these will become more accessible and affordable because they could be a real lever to pull to manage chronic illnesses through diet. If you’re serious about understanding your health, this one is key!
At Home Gadgets
My two favourite biohacking devices at home are a grounding mat and a red-light therapy device.
A grounding or earthing mat is a “sheet” or mat that connects via a wire to the ground port of a plug that creates an electrical connection between your body and the Earth. Essentially, it replicates the effect that you would have from walking barefoot on the ground or the beach. Why do you want to be grounded? This is a very overlooked healing modality that reduces inflammation, pain and stress, while also improving blood flow, sleep and vitality. I like a grounding mat because it’s not always possible to spend hours barefoot outdoors like our ancestors did and this is a great “hack” to get the same result!
A red-light therapy (RLT) device is a spectacular way to biohack your health. Full-spectrum light includes many colours, including many that we can’t even see. There are a select few wavelengths that offer very therapeutic benefits. The really exciting wavelengths are red light and near-infrared light (NIR).
Arguably, a lot of the stuff that comes up in the biohacking world still needs a lot more research. RLT is not one of those. There is a staggering amount of robust research backing it up, including over 3,000 manuscripts and 200 double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trials. That’s huge. A good device will have a red light at around 600-670nm wavelength and NIR between 800-880nm wavelength, depending on how deeply you want it to penetrate your skin.
Documented benefits include better skin health and an anti-ageing effect, muscle recovery and performance, alleviating joint pain and inflammation, increased cognitive functioning, improved sleep and improvement of thyroid health (which I can definitely attest to).
Even a small hand-held device can make a big difference, so definitely one to consider spending some money on!
There are many other exciting treatments out there! I also love Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), previously only used by athletes but now a firm favourite of biohackers. Something like float tanks or sensory deprivation tanks is also popular, although I personally didn’t experience much of a difference with these. Wearables like the Sensate and Apollo are very popular for the nervous system and the Oura ring is an amazing tool for any biohacker who wants to see a quantifiable impact of the various biohacks that you try.
The point is that the world of biohacking is a terribly exciting space right now and with most therapies and gadgets now readily available in SA, it’s really never been easier to immerse yourself in this world of self-optimisation!
- Thea is the founder of Neolaia – Biohacking SA and passionate about all things biohacking, functional medicine, holistic and ancestral wellness. She enjoys the occasional triathlon, is fanatic about yoga and the gym and loves n=1 biohacking experiments more than anything else! Learning about the latest in scientific research for health and wellness and applying this knowledge is what makes her happiest!
This information does not serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and does not provide a comprehensive explanation of the different compounds. Always consult your doctor first when making any changes to medication or supplementation.