Biohacking is the use of science or scientific knowledge to hack our biology. Its aim is to improve our health or enhance our lives. We all want to be healthier, perform better, and live longer lives. We hate getting old. We do things such as exercise and eating healthy which helps us in living a long healthy life. Even though these are normal things we humans have been doing for thousands of years, we can call these a mild form of biohacking. But the topic of this article is, is it really possible to hack your body to have superpowers by using advanced forms of biohacking?
And what about longevity biohacking? Is it really possible to increase our lifespan using biohacking?
Things like exercise, eating healthy and optimizing sleep, etc, are simple forms of biohacking. But biohacking is much more than that. Nowadays, there are some people who are taking it further to previously unexplored territories.
Hacking biology is not the only thing a Biohacker does. Many biohackers do body modification. They are known as grinders and they insert technological devices such as computer chips, motion sensors, and even magnets under the skin. Many grinders identify themselves with Open-source transhumanism or the biopunk movement.
Transhumanism is a philosophy that believes humans can upgrade their physiology and brainpower by merging the human body with machines. We already use machines like pacemakers, hearing aid devices, bionic hands, and legs. So we are already transhuman to some extent. But till now these devices have been mostly being used by people who have genuine medical needs. Almost no one uses them for upgrading human capabilities, except biohackers.
Biohackers use a lot of hacks to make them better than the average human being. It starts from simple things such as diet, Fasting, etc to little risky procedures like inserting devices inside of one’s body. Some biohackers even do extreme things like gene editing, which is really risky at the present moment.
Biohacking is mostly DIY, or do it yourself. Sadly, there are no government-approved centers where you go to hack your biology. People who are from science backgrounds or have in-depth scientific knowledge, generally, are the ones who dive into the field of biohacking. Although many biohackers are Ph.D. in science, there are some who are totally amateur.
Currently, our healthcare system is built only for the sick. On the other hand, biohacking is not only for someone who has some type of sickness or lacks something. It is to upgrade our human abilities and become superhuman in some ways.
Some of the technologies that biohackers use are already being used by the medical community for a long time. But what differentiates biohackers from the traditional medical community is the mindset. The reason for a Biohacker to use those technologies is different than compared to its traditional use.
Grinders, who implant various devices inside their skin, do not do it in a hospital. Either they do it on their own or in a tattoo parlor, without the use of any type of Anaesthetic.
So the fact that no healthcare professional is looking after you and what you are doing to your body makes the job of a biohacker pretty risky.
I think, apart from grinders, there are mainly two groups of people, one that wants to live longer i.e. interested in Longevity biohacking, and the other group wants to improve the function of the brain such as cognition, memory, concentration, etc, and also improve bodily functions.
A lot of research is going on in the field of longevity. Scientists such as David Sinclair and Aubrey De Grey, are some of the prominent names in this field. Please check this article where I wrote about three different approaches in the field of longevity research.
Drugs like Metformin and Rapamycin have shown promise in some clinical trials.
Metformin is generally used for type 2 diabetes all over the world. It is also used to treat many other diseases like prediabetes, Polycystic ovary syndrome, and weight gain from antipsychotic medications. But some studies have also suggested that it could also increase our lifespan and prevent many age-related diseases. However, more research is needed.
Rapamycin has also been shown to significantly increase the lifespan of Mice in some clinical trials.
NMN(Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) is another supplement that is quite in the limelight in the area of anti-aging research. It is a precursor of NAD(Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). In various animal studies, NMN has been shown to slow down aging. Recently, a study, done on humans,(Middle-aged and Older adults) has also demonstrated some anti-aging effects.
Biohacking to improve brain function
Back in 2015, I heard the term biohacking for the first time. I was blown away by the fact that something like this exists. I got really excited and started to read a lot about biohacking on the internet.
Have you heard the term nootropics? I also started learning about nootropics at the same time. Using nootropics is also a mild form of biohacking.
Nootropics have become quite popular in the last couple of years. It is said that nootropics can increase concentration, boost memory, and enhance cognition by altering certain cognition in the brain.
Some common nootropics are substances like Racetams which include Piracetam, Vinpocetine, L-Theanine, Bacopa Monieri, Gingko Biloba, Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine, etc.
Some nootropics that are scientifically proven to enhance brain activity are highly controlled because of their addictive nature and are available on prescription only. Drugs like methylphenidate and amphetamines(Adderal) comes under this group.
People in Silicon Valley are always looking for new ways to enhance their intellect and physiology. Things like micro-dosing with psychedelic drugs like LSD and Psilocybin mushrooms are one such trend that is getting quite popular recently.
Can biohacking upgrade humans?
The aim of biohacking is to upgrade the human potential, to become Human 2.0. So yes, using biohacking, we will be able to upgrade humans. The question is when? Currently, the field of biohacking is in a very nascent stage. Maybe in the future, we will have government-approved centers for performing some of the advanced biohacking procedures such as gene editing. The risks will be minimal because we will be doing such things under supervision.
What are some examples of biohacking?
Some popular biohacking examples that I can think of right now and are used by many famous biohackers
We all know that fasting has many benefits. Fasting is not a new thing. We humans have been doing it for various reasons(be it religious or health-related) from a long time. Many biohackers also use intermittent fasting as a form of biohacking technique to rejuvenate their body.
This helps reduce inflammation by cutting blood flow to certain parts of the body. Cold Therapy includes cold showers, ice baths, or even using liquid nitrogen or argon gas to cool the body, also known as Cryotherapy, Cryotherapy is actually used by doctors to treat certain skin conditions and even some cancers.
Red light therapy
Red light is also a medical process that is used in treating many skin diseases such as acne, wrinkles, and scars. It can also treat many other health conditions. The red light of a low wavelength is used in this therapy.
Red light Therapy works by biohacking mitochondria. Mitochondria is also known as the powerhouse of cells.
It is used to improve blood circulation in the body by applying pressure to the lower parts of the body, especially the legs. It also reduces inflammation in the body and helps in wound healing such as leg ulcers. It is also used by doctors in the treatment of varicose veins.
Using wearable devices that track various indicators of health. You can track your sleep and check if you are getting proper sleep. Many Biohackers use Wearable devices to track their sleep. Optimizing your sleep is also one form of biohacking.
Neurofeedback is a type of Biofeedback therapy. Biofeedback therapy helps a person gain control over various involuntary bodily functions such as muscle contraction, heart rate, and brain waves. With biofeedback, people learn to improve their mental, emotional and physical health by modifying their physiology.
Neurofeedback specifically, focuses on self-regulating or gaining control over a person’s brain activity.
Neurofeedback is used by biohackers because it promises cognitive enhancement even in healthy individuals.
Some controversial examples of biohacking include
The technology is called CRISPR. We can edit our genes by using this technology called CRISPR. It’s already out there. But according to the scientific community, more research and trials are needed to ensure its safety.
But for Biohackers, it’s hard to wait. Many biohackers have already injected themselves with the gene-editing tool CRISPR.
Biohacking pros and cons
Many biohackers say science is very slow. Scientists follow methods and all the safety concerns. According to them, biohacking is risky but the risk is worth it. It will be beneficial for humanity.
According to a lot of biohackers, many of the technology to enhance human life are already available and we should start using them.
Now, what are the risks of biohacking?
Whenever a new drug or therapy arrives, it needs to go under rigorous clinical trials to get approved to use medically in humans. But many biohackers don’t really think such things are necessary because it makes the process slow. Also, Clinical trials cost a lot of money, and for that reason, many treatments become unaffordable for a lot of people.
Some biohackers, like grinders, implant devices under their skin, which requires a minor surgical procedure. They generally don’t go to a doctor for such processes. Sometimes, if not done properly, these things can lead to severe infections.
Is Biohacking legal?
Biohacking is just an umbrella term for a whole range of things people do to upgrade their bodies and mind. Biohacking in itself is not illegal but some of the procedures people do in the name of biohacking are dangerous and even illegal.
Is gene editing biohacking legal?
Are CRISPR kits legal?
Few years back, some people were selling DIY gene-editing CRISPR tools because there were no laws against them. But back in 2019, California brought a bill that makes it illegal to sell CRISPR kits. Selling gene-editing tools which are for self-administration is against the law.
Finally, is it possible to hack your body to have superpowers?
So, the original question was, is it possible to hack your body to have superpowers? The answer to that question is, yes, theoretically it is possible. But will our society allow it to happen?
Let’s look at this example.
There is a gene called MSTN. It creates a protein that restricts the growth of our muscles once it reaches a certain point. It’s like a brake. So if we somehow suppress that gene, the brake will disappear and our muscles will keep growing. Researchers have already applied it to mice and cattle. But should we do it in humans?
Science is out there. And even if it’s not, it will be there soon in the next couple of years. But ultimately, it depends on what we accept and what we don’t. Will we as a society accept genetic enhancements? Are we okay with having traits and capacities that exceed what any human being ever had, from the beginning of human civilization? What about having super eyesight and night vision? Or having enhancements that allow us to see infrared light?
These are the questions we as a society have to discuss in the coming years and then come to a conclusion. After that laws will be made according to what enhancement is allowed and what is not and whether we are allowed to hack our bodies to have superpowers.