By Patrick Craig, Special FBA Contributor
Biohacking, according to Dave Asprey, whose books, talks, and podcasts have made biohacking a lot more trendy, is “changing the environment around you and inside of you, so that you can have full control over your own biology.” What Asprey doesn’t say is that such practices go back a lot further than 2020, when the pandemic pushed the fitness industry into a desperate scramble to find new ways to pull in clients.
What was natural to folks as far back as biblical times — things such as waking up with the sun, sleeping in complete darkness and practicing longer periods of fasting — suddenly have become “bio-hacks”.
Additionally, personal practices that encourage a resilient body, mind, and spirit, including meditation, breathwork, vigorous exercise and nutrition monitoring, were all “bio-hacks” long before the word was invented.
Add those ancient practices to the rise of 21st century technology and a new paradigm has intruded into the daily routines of Fitness Centers, Chiropractors, Doctors and other wellness professionals, with innovations such as red light therapy, cryotherapy (local or general use of very low temperature in medical therapy), hyperbaric oxygen chambers (made famous by Michael Jackson), vitamin IVs, wearables, meditation apps and other devices, to name a few.
Do they all work? How do you know whether one brand is worth your money over another? Is biohacking proven or is it mainly just a scam? A scam is a situation where someone is intentionally deceiving you, telling you something they know doesn’t work does work so they can make money off you, or they are selling you something they assume works, but they really don’t know. According to Asprey, “There are times people believe something works, but over time, we all figure out it doesn’t.”
Another thing that is creeping into common practice is that the already established wellness brands are looking for ways to get their products under the umbrella of the industry’s hot new development, so they are putting a façade on top of their existing product to make it attract people’s attention. In other words, they find some mechanism of wellness that people are working on and make it sound like their product is “hacking” that mechanism.
Another thing to keep in mind—the quality of various pieces of biohacking equipment various from okay to completely shoddy. Take, for example, red light therapy panels. China manufactures all the panels on the market today. Putting aside China’s known propensity for slipshod manufacturing practices (try getting that Black and Decker drill to last longer than six months), there is a wide spectrum of quality that customers will pay for in the materials they made the panels from.
Higher quality panels basically look the same as the funky ones. The difference will be in the performance—are your panels flickering? Do they have a high EMF? Are they the right spectrum of red light? Are they powerful enough to do the job? How will you know? You won’t, unless you choose from an established and reputable brand.
Here are some ways you can avoid getting scammed by biohackers.
1. What you think of a company or product shouldn’t override doing real research on the product.
Just because you bought something from a company that you like, or you were really impressed by some videos and podcasts by a personable young fitness personality, that doesn’t mean the product they are offering has been through rigorous testing. There are many unanswered questions about how certain hacks are going to affect your personal well-being. Be a skeptic.
2. Listen to a lot of different influencers and then choose for yourself.
Just as many doctors get paid to push certain pharmaceuticals, a lot of influencers are getting paid to share the brand. Use different methods to check things out. Social media uses algorithms that amplify division and controversy. This helps people rise to the top who are outspoken and radical. And as we have seen in the recent Twitter scandals, the algorithms have also been known to filter out voices that go against the preferred narrative. So, don’t just use Google. There are other search engines, magazines and trusted professionals out there.
3. Make sure your hack has done clinical validation in an unbiased, non-anecdotal way.
Don’t go for those long, involved sales pitches that give you testimony after testimony without ever saying anything about the product. You are not interested in how long Joe Blow suffered from fungal nails. You just want to know if the stuff they are selling actually works. That can only be shown by a multitude of comparable clinical studies. And don’t just trust something because it says FDA approved.
Since the pandemic, there are many schools of thought about how trustworthy the FDA actually is. So just because they manufactured the product in an “FDA Approved” lab, this may or may not be the holy grail of standards. Get actual proof from real people—professionals and users that you trust.
4. If you are trying to read and interpret scientific papers, it can be a hard road to travel.
Remember this: Genuine science is based on empirical studies. That means that the lab does the same test over and over and ALWAYS arrives at the same result. But many labs diffuse your ability to understand what they are presenting by couching their studies in health terminologies that are difficult to understand. Find a doctor, either traditional or holistic, that you know personally and can trust, and ask them to help you interpret what is being presented.
5. Avoid “Quantum” technologies. Quantum is the new buzzword for bio-hack companies.
They use it to describe everything from the computers in their labs to the financial system that your payment goes through. Companies that use the term “Quantum” as the reason your product works should put up a big red flag in your mind. The best products will give you a relatively simple, verifiable scientific description or even a common-sense validation as to why their product works.
I’m not saying there is a plethora of companies out there who are actively scamming people. Mostly the problem can lie in companies overstating what their product can do. So, if all this seems like something you might want to wait on, that might be a good idea. I never buy the latest computer because there are always bugs to work out. Give me OSX 10.14 and let me use it for a couple of years before I move up to 10.15.
If you are unsure, then maybe you should look to the tried-and-true methods of hacking—eat fat, lots of it (good fat like butter, coconut oil, ghee, nuts, etc.), kick off your shoes and walk barefoot in the grass, get up with the sunrise, go to bed when the sun goes down, get up from your desk several times a day and stretch it out, sleep more, change how and when you eat, and remember, be anxious for nothing. Stress will kill you quicker than anything.
Patrick Craig has worked in the Marketing Industry for the past twenty years. He is a published author and has written extensively about the fitness industry, particularly the gym software aspect of it. He has been with Money Movers, Inc. for the last six years where he serves as the Marketing and Operations Manager, web designer and coder, and maintains the custom websites Money Movers, Inc. develops for their Online Business Manager gym software clients.