The difference between biohacking, functional medicine & conventional medicine.
In my daily interactions with various groups of people, personal connections or on social media, I come across differing opinions regarding the different approaches to health care.
Clearly the most wide spread method is what we call conventional medicine. It is the method sanctioned by governments, scientists, the doctors, hospitals and the world health organization. Sounds great. So what is the problem? Why would anyone be tempted to look elsewhere?
For the majority of people who turn to “alternative” healing modalities the answer is quite simple.
They are sick, have been for a long time, have tried all the doctors, the specialists, gotten second opinions, travelled to the best medical centers – and are still not getting answers. I’m not talking about the dire situations of a terminal illness (in most cases). What I’m really talking about are those people who seem to suffer chronically from the “small” ailments and just can’t seem to get to the bottom of them. It could be chronic skin conditions, digestive troubles, fatigue, inability to concentrate at work, headaches, joint pain.. and a million more types of chronic annoyances.
While a chronic condition may not kill you, it sure undermines your ability to be the best version of yourself.
· Your productivity plummets,
· You loose the ability to keep up with daily tasks,
· You become overwhelmed.
· Your ability to show up for your family, friends colleagues & work is severely affected.
And after having been through the system time and again,
– some people fall into depression,
– lower their expectations for their lives,
– or assume they are just lazy and
– believe it is their own fault.
– Some begin to believe it is that perhaps it is all in their head.
Yet there are also some who keep their inner strength. They start to question the system. What is really wrong? Why are they still feeling like crap?
“Yet some of these people start to question the system. What is really wrong? Why am I still feeling like crap?”
Conventional medicine is largely based on the pharmaceutical model which primarily works by aiming at molecular targets. The idea is to identify a metabolite, a biochemical pathway or a symptom and find a drug that acts on that target. Most often it acts through mechanisms of inhibition, repression or interference.
Just to be clear, I don’t mean to de-value the usefulness of drugs. They do in many cases provide an efficient interruption of a disease process and avoid downstream complications. They also have serious limits. While they can stop a pathology in it’s steps, they don’t actually “fix” it.
A good example of this is blood pressure drugs which target angiotensin, either the peptide itself or more recently it’s receptor. While they sure prevent complications of high blood pressure, they don’t actually restore the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure. After a few hours the drug wears off, and if you don’t take the next dose your blood pressure shoots right back up again. Ideally, if you are looking for a return to health, you want to prevent the high blood pressure from happening in the first place rather than become dependant on long term drug consumption which brings the downward spiral of side effects, followed by more meds to compensate the side effects.
Of course the pharmaceutical view is that high blood pressure has no cause (with a few exceptions), it just “happens”. There is a scientific term for this concept : “idiopathic”. Once you get it, you’re stuck.
Functional medicine takes a radically different approach. It focuses on the restoration of homeostasis. It is complicated, more messy perhaps, requires more testing, more work and there are no one size fits all solutions. It is easy to reduce someone’s blood pressure by feeding them a med (“pawning them off with a med”). It works. To find out what is really wrong - that takes a lot more investigation. It requires in depth knowledge of the fundamental principles of biology. It doesn’t fit well into a budget conscious, time limited standard framework of a 10 minute consultation in a doctor’s office. And the cure doesn’t necessarily involve the purchase of a patented drug... Because some things just can’t be fixed with a drug:
“some things just can’t be fixed with a drug”
Yet functional medicine often provides the most powerful solutions. It evaluates metabolism such as cellular respiration, nutrition, enzyme activation, genetic variants, microbiology, environmental pollutants, possible toxicity, sleep quality, biomechanics, neurology and immunology. Functional medicine is an evidence based discipline with a strong scientific backing. Yet surprisingly that it remains “controversial”
What ever your views, doctors and practitioners alike agree that the best results are obtained when people take a proactive interest in their own health. Even a functional medicine practitioner who takes more time with clients (and even more so a coach) has a limited interaction time. It is simply impossible for a professional to know all the details of another person’s life.
What is a Biohacker?
A biohacker is a person who has taken control of their own results. That isn’t to exempt the professionals from the responsibilities of their role. It means that a biohacker consults the professionals for advice and guidance, but they also do their own research. They are not afraid of asking questions and following up on finding the answers.
A biohacker doesn’t question their own value as a person to the extent that they limit themselves by not looking up information because they believe they are “too dumb” to understand something they have no formal qualifications in. The biohacker’s mind doesn’t even entertain thoughts questioning their own self worth – it is a curious mind focused on information and ideas that is not afraid. They know all problems potentially can be resolved with the correct information and action steps. The biohacker is aware that no person on earth – even the most “qualified” has ALL the answers – even the professionals are humans subject to error – including themselves of course.
“The biohacker’s quest for finding solutions is not limited by doubts of their own personal worth, nor are they limited by fear.”
Who in your life do you spend the most time with ? Yourself of course!
Ultimately you are the one who how you feel, reacted to such and such a substance or practice.
Biohackers get informed, tracks their data & from their investigations learn about their own body. They are able to formulate the key questions to bring to their doctors or practitioners.
they take the initiative on :
· dietary changes,
· exercise regimes,
· selected supplements,
· optimizing sleep,
· stress management,
· meeting physical and emotional needs,
· improving / cleaning up their personal spaces (home, workspace etc)
· removing toxicity
· managing / improving on medical conditions
· and many more
A biohacker adheres to a classical experimental method whereby they define their goal, try out a method based on information, track & evaluate their data, consider the effectiveness of their choosen method, then either maintain or modify their plan.
Biohackers often share goals around restoring the body’s original functionality. They are not adverse using pharmaceuticals, though they view them as a suboptimal and almost always a temporary, or intermittent solution. Other common goals are improving performance and productivity, increasing longevity and generally becoming the best possible person you can be.
Whatever setback comes your way, there is always a way to manage it better, overcome it quickly and make it history.
To be a Biohacker is to be a truly Resilient human.