Wellness vs. Biohacking

04 April, 2020 - 3 min read

Back in January (which feels like ages ago), I attended a biohacking event at Soho House, which, now as I’m typing, sounds like the equivalent of going to a library for getting a new driver’s license.

Off the bat I was disappointed with the event. For starters, the panel speaking at the event was comprised of a communications officer at a weighted blanket company, a guy selling B12 shots for alleviating hangovers, and a couple of others too unimpressive to describe.

The central qualm with this event was that it falsely advertises solutions in wellness (problem: hangover, solution: B12 shot, problem: anxiety, solution: weighted blanked) as biohacking.

To add to the dilemma, these solutions are problem-patchers, not problem-solvers. Problem-patchers exist, in my opinion, to build dependence on the patch itself. In fact, any solution in wellness that does not offer a weaning-off process is not designed to solve the problem, only temporarily alleviate it. The wellness world is split between solvers and patchers, which is worth its own post. But back to biohacking.

Biohacking is the application of the scientific method (question -> research -> hypothesis -> experiment -> observations -> results) to one’s own physiology.

Example:

  1. How can I improve sleep? Have I controlled for duration, setting, timing, exercise, and food habits?
  2. What can improve sleep if I’m already exercising daily, eating well and not before bed, creating the right sleep habit hygienes, etc? What biological markers are correlated with feeling well-rested? Find related research to the questions asked.
  3. I hypothesize, based on the research done in Step 2, that I will improve sleep by increasing HRV. Again based on step 2, I’ve identified a possible causer of HRV increase: 3:1 mg:body weight ration of CBD before bed.
  4. Time for experimentation. Control for variables mentioned in Step 1, and perform action in Step 3. Measure HRV for 2 weeks without CBD, then 2 weeks with CBD.
  5. Observe difference in variables from CBD stint with non-CBD stint. Look for outlier data and understand what variables may have lead to outlier.
  6. View results and make decision to add to wellness regiment or not.

We see here that biohacking can be a process of introducing a new action into your wellness practices. But, they are not one and the same.

Wellness looks to supplement deficiencies by offering solutions (regardless of problem- or patcher-based), while biohacking focuses on the margins. Biohacking assuming you are optimizing for wellness already, and not using it to get to a baseline level.

That’s the difference between wellness and biohacking, and I caution consumers to know the difference. Biohacking is for people already controlling for basic variables, and to see what added experiment can be played with to produce a marginal benefit to incorporate into their wellness routine.