Original Biohacker: The Director’s Cut – Want to know my full background? Here’s the extended cut of what I wrote above.
What Led Me to Become an Obsessed Biohacker?
She’s the reason I became a “biohacker.”
I was 13 and she was 13, but not like any other 13-year-old-girl I’d seen in Junior High School. Long, platinum blond hair, a cute splash of freckles, and a body that was already beginning to hint at the glories to be. And she was tall, probably close to 5’8”, which towered above my pre-pubertal frame.
I knew I didn’t have a hobbit’s chance at making this Elven queen mine until I at least got within a bunny hop of horizontal parity, so I tried to figure out how to grow taller, pronto. I pored through my older brother’s college biology textbooks for the answer, and there it was: protein, yes, protein, the building block of life, the building block of growth.
So, I found the nearest, cheapest, most accessible source of protein I could find, which were the eggs in our household fridge. I started eating 4 a day, and then 6, and eventually a dozen, managing to cajole my mother into tolerating this new, eccentric, costly behavior.
This went on for weeks. It, of course, didn’t accelerate my growth rate. Puberty eventually took care of that, but for several years I held the record for being the youngest person in Southeast Michigan to have suffered a coronary.
I lived to tell about it, though.
Inspired by Marvel
Okay, I didn’t really have a coronary (not that eggs would likely do that anyhow), but the experience piqued in me a fascination with growth. Well, that and the Marvel comic books I’d recently glommed onto. I had no idea that humans, or at least artistically rendered ones, could look like that, and I wanted to know how to do it.
Oh, and Vickie? She started dating older football players and various leather-jacketed bad boys. She missed out on exploring the mysteries of science with me; traded it for cheap thrills, excitement, popularity, and probably lots of sex. Ha! Her loss! Sigh.
I moved on to botany experiments.
But to be perfectly honest, my interest in science and growth, in general, had begun at a slightly younger age for reasons outside of juvenile concupiscence. I had a little botany lab when I was 10 and I even tried to recreate some of Mendel’s experiments with pea plants. The lab phase didn’t last all that long, though. I got some gibberellic acids – plant growth hormones – but rather than being a disciplined scientist, I sprayed it on all my plants, halfway hoping I’d wake up the next day to a roomful of Audrey IIs like the one in “Little Shop of Horrors.”
Unfortunately, they all wilted and died, victims of too much plant hormone and youthful exuberance.
I began experimenting on myself.
Soon came another experiment, but this was one I conducted on myself. I started to develop acne, and my pre-internet “research” led me to believe that vitamin A was the solution. I read that the RDA for someone my age was about 3000 IU daily. Great, so I figured, say, 100,000 IU a day should cover it, right?
Well, the acne didn’t go away, but after a few months, I started to get headaches, and my gums started to bleed, which led me to the revelation that Vitamin A was fat-soluble and accrued in body tissues and could, in supranatural doses, cause toxicity, often manifesting itself with the advent of headaches and bleeding gums.
I lived to tell about it, though.
A guy named Arnold inspired me too.
There were other experiments, too, most inspired by the Marvel Comic book characters I idolized, along with the coming of a living embodiment of those comic book characters, a guy with the unlikely name of Arnold.
I started using my brother’s weight set in the basement, along with various crude protein powders, protein tablets, and weight gain “medicines” from the pharmacy administered by spoon, along with taking inositol to lose body fat – anything to give me “superpowers.” I even spent many frustrating hours looking hopefully at my chemistry set, trying to figure out which chemical(s) to take to Hulk me out.
Perhaps tellingly, most of my interests intersected with the growth and development of the human body. I was fascinated by chemistry, biology, botany, genetics, nutrition, exercise performance, longevity, and even cooking since cooking is really just another type of chemistry.
My studies: Microbiology & English
That led me to pursue an education in microbiology in college because, in my mind, it married all those interests together in one way or another. I also pursued a joint combined degree in English language and 20th-century American Lit for the simple reason that I like reading quality stuff, quality science and quality literature.
I only mention my background in English and lit because, combined with a science degree, they allowed me to read research papers with increased comprehension, making all the difference.
Throughout the subsequent years, I conducted several N-of-1 trials (i.e., the “study” only had one person – me – in it) based on things I’d read in research papers. I started using the DHT-blocker finasteride in the early 90’s to preserve my hair, based on an early experiment I’d read about the use of the drug on Macaque monkeys. I eventually graduated to using the 2nd generation version of the drug, dutasteride (aka Avodart), which, I admit, is still controversial because it’s been known to upset sexual mojo.
I currently cut a 0.5 mg capsule of dutasteride into two and dissolve its contents into a shot glass (1.5 ounces) of ethyl alcohol (or even a high-quality vodka) and then add 4 shots of distilled water. That way, I can easily administer 0.1 mg of the drug to thwart hair loss instead of the 0.5 mg recommended to control BPH – without messing up my sexuality. Again, this was an N-of-1 trial, but it worked in my case. I still look like the blond, mop-haired kid on the cover of a Dutch Boy Paint can.
And I lived to tell about it.
“The Clear,” TRT, and Metformin
I’ve done steroid cycles. I’ve experimented with “The Clear,” made famous by Barry Bonds and Victor Conte and Patrick Arnold. Boy, that stuff crashed my blood chemistry quickly.
I almost didn’t live to tell about it.
I was (and still am) an early adopter of the diabetes drug metformin for its apparent longevity and body-fat reduction properties. I’m also trying to find a viable and economical source of rapamycin for its lifespan or, more accurately, in my case, “healthspan” purposes.
I’ve experimented with various TRT protocols for over 15 years. I was 6’3” tall and weighed 150 pounds when I started this journey. I eventually got to 235 pounds, but now that I’m approaching coot-dom, I prefer a trimmer version of myself, and I usually hover around 210 pounds.
I’ve even put some ailing pets on TRT and fed them appropriate doses of metformin in an attempt (apparently successful) to quell the recurrence of mast cell tumors.
So yeah, I’m a “biohacker,” but truth be told, I’m not entirely happy with that term. It’s getting overused. Hell, just about everybody in health or fitness now considers themselves to be a biohacker – even a lot of people who aren’t in the biz. Tucker Carlson probably thinks of himself as a biohacker because he radiates his taint. Same for fat bastards who use Wegovy for weight loss.
Nevertheless, here’s my definition of biohacker: Someone who adeptly uses nutrition, supplements, medicines (most often off-label uses), drugs, chemistry, and lifestyle modifications to improve all aspects of the human condition: health, health span, life span, performance, cognitive abilities, appearance, sexual performance, and even mental well-being.
If you can think of a better word, lemme know.
What makes me different from other Biohackers?
I can’t speak for others, but my strongest suits are my experience and my belief and use of the scientific method. Regarding the former, I’ve written probably more than 3,000 articles in over 30 years in the business, which I gotta’ believe is some sort of record, and regarding the former, in case you’re not familiar with it, the scientific method is comprised of essentially 5 steps, give or take one or two:
- Ask a question about something you observe or have thought about.
- Do background research.
- Come up with a hypothesis.
- Test your hypothesis.
- Look at the data and come up with a conclusion.
Again, since most of my “experiments” are often of the N-of-1 variety, it’s difficult to come up with advice that pertains to everybody or that will work for everybody. I fully recognize that. Still, I usually have basic science and at least some pertinent studies to back me up.
I also read a lot. Admittedly, I’m an autodidact in many areas. There’s a scene in an old Robert Redford movie, “Three Days of the Condor,” when Redford, a book analyst for the CIA, seems to have abilities that belie his experience. When government operatives and CIA bigwigs interviewed Redford’s CIA section chief, Higgins, about where the Redford character learned evasive maneuvers, for instance, the conversion went like this:
Higgins: “He reads.”
CIA bigwig: “What the hell does that mean?”
Higgins: It means, he reads everything.”
I like that scene. I kind of relate to it. Still, I know my limitations. I’ve tried and failed a lot. Lots of dead ends. All off it adds to my experience, though, and nearly everything I’ve written about, I’ve tried, practiced (or discarded), or continued to practice.
I’m also quite happy to learn from my readers. There are so many out there that have more knowledge than I do about particular subjects. And being wrong, or being proven wrong, doesn’t scare me at all. In fact, I appreciate it because it saves me time.