Why I started Selfhacked
I started selfhacked.com because I realized that the more I read from the health blogosphere the sicker I got and the more I read directly from the scientific sources the healthier I got. At a certain point, after trying everything out under the sun, I realized it wasn’t beneficial to read health blogs because of the terrible advice that’s given. Most of the material published by these people is filled with marketing and hype, and the currency is false hope. Critical thinking is woefully missing in the health sphere as well. You may also notice that within the blogosphere there are a few originators and thought leaders and a multitude of copycats, who are just marketing and packaging the same idea differently, but essentially have no real novel insights.
It’s my goal here at Selfhacked to introduce cutting edge and novel insights and not just recycle the same old garbage. I offer unique, creative and effective solutions, instead of using marketing, hype and selling false hope like almost everyone else. I’m extremely open-minded and willing to try anything, but I’m also highly skeptical and take a critical look upon everything. I don’t fit in any category. I’m not “paleo” or anything else for that matter. I do what works and what’s most supported, without labels or trying to fit into any group. I’m well aware that this will cost me in readership because few people want to interview or reference a guy that is willing to disagree or criticize everyone and anyone. People interview and reference others who accord with their own ideas. I believe no one and independently try to come to my own conclusions. In forming ideas, I look to traditional and cultural knowledge, mechanistic studies, animal studies, human studies, expert opinions, anecdotes and my own results.
My name is Joe and I’m a self-learner, human guinea pig, biohacker and extreme novelty seeker, who is willing to go to any length to feel and think better. Accordingly, I use my experience to consult/coach others to achieve their individualized health goals. I spend the vast majority of my time reading medical journals, performing experiments on myself and thinking up creative solutions to solving various diseases and improving performance (all types of performance, but especially cognitive performance). I’m not committed to using only “natural” solutions, but for various reasons, the vast majority of people do best with these solutions. My life can be categorized as one big experiment and I’ve experimented heavily with supplements, diets, lifestyle factors, devices and philosophies. I have two degrees in finance and psychology as well as pre-medical coursework, in addition to lots of independent study in the biological sciences-particularly pathology (the study of disease). At some point – I’m not sure when- I plan on enrolling in a PhD program to become a biomedical scientist.
To some extent, I have an “advantage” in figuring different causes and solutions to health issues because I’ve had to deal with so many of my own. In addition, when it comes to cognitive enhancement, I am uniquely positioned because I grew up in unusual circumstances and lacked even a rudimentary education, in addition to to having all sorts of physiological cognitive problems like brain fog, neuroinflammation and cognitive dysfunction. With regard to my state of education, at the age of 19 I had a third grade ability to read and write and the focusing capacity of a 6 year old, whereas now I either score perfectly or in the 99th percentile in writing and verbal on a variety of standardized tests and score highly in math and various other intelligence tests. Figuring out how to overcome these barriers presented huge challenges and required creative solutions.
It’s my hope to keep gaining knowledge and utilizing ever advancing technology to become ever more healthy, so that I can live indefinitely and beat the aging/disease curve.
Individual Approach is Key
The posts on this blog are generalizations and geared for helping the majority of people. It’s my sincere belief, however, that no one size fits all. Everyone has a different set of issues that needs to be dealt with in different ways. For this reason, if I talk positively or negatively about something it doesn’t mean it’s categorically good or bad. One man’s poison is another’s cure. I think this is why people are so confused when it comes to health information. Health writers talk about what worked for them for a specific set of health issues and all of a sudden what worked for them is a panacea for all.
The Problem with Doctors
I must say it’s unfortunate that today’s medical doctors don’t begin to understand the full range of options because it simply wasn’t taught to them and they aren’t enterprising enough to read the literature directly. The few doctors who do read the literature directly are stifled by an ultra-conservative philosophy that if something isn’t studied and replicated by massive double blind, placebo controlled trials (which only the drug companies can afford) and published in prestigious journals then it has absolutely no value. Instead of looking at problems with a risk/benefit analyses they are stifled by their parochial view. On the other hand, there’s way too much dogma and quackery in the alternative health sphere. In contrast, I take an open-minded, yet highly skeptical approach and try to figure out what has the highest probability of working.
The multi-factorial nature of disease
I think the nature of disease is woefully misunderstood. The usage of drugs by conventional medicine indicates an approach to disease that is highly targeted. For some diseases that happen because of a very specific cause, this is a good approach, but for chronic disease, it’s usually not optimal or effective. This is simply because chronic disease – whether it be depression, anxiety, cancer, obesity, schizophrenia or heart disease- has multiple causes that contribute to the disease. Multiple things need to go wrong in the body by the time we realize something is seriously wrong. The body is good at adapting when one or two things go awry. These multifactorial diseases can’t successfully be treated with a drug that only addresses one of the issues. In practice, this is what’s called treatment resistance – a continuation of disease despite one or more treatments. You see, when one factor in the body goes awry, the body adjusts through homeostasis and tries to work around the imbalance to function normally. When multiple things go bad, a new homeostasis is created and at that stage even if someone tries to fix one of the underlying issues, the body will get back to its new diseased homeostatic state. We see this with every chronic disease. This is why it’s so hard to treat any chronic disease and find that all of our attempts are almost futile. We can give drugs for depression but it barely makes a dent. There might be a small decrease in depression for a few weeks, but after a few months depression takes hold again. Cancer drugs are mostly useless and clinically insignificant for most cancers because of their selectivity. When it comes to chronic diseases there is no silver bullet. If one is in a diseased state, they must attack it from multiple angles that address all of the underlying causes of the disease. Some of these causes we aren’t aware of yet, but our knowledge is progressing at such a clip that we keep finding more causes every few years. Finesse and balance are required for attacking the disease in multiple ways. If one treatment is targeted too much, as is the case by drugs, an imbalance will occur and the person may have side effects that are worse than the disease itself. So the treatment must target every cause significantly but not so much that it causes tremendous harm to the body. One must always remember , though, that any treatment – diet, exercise, supplements or anything else – always comes with a trade-off. The older someone is the less wiggle-room they have and their condition becomes significantly harder to treat. I view disease as just a manifestation of aging, where we eventually succumb to one diseased state or another if we live to be old enough. In this paradigm, there is no “cure” for a disease, only a slowing of its progression. So if you see me use the word “cure”, realize that what I really am saying is a a temporary reversal which can last a long time if the person is young enough or a halting/slowing of its progression if a person is very old.
My overarching philosophy is to simplify and achieve more with less.
Below is a partial list of things I have tried:
Vegan, Raw Vegan, Whole food diet, Whole food plant based diet, Vegetarian, Dairy free, Gluten free, Grain free, Low carb, Paleo/Primal, Low fat, High Saturated fat, Mediterranean diet, High protein, Low glycemic index diet, Bulletproof diet, Atkins diet, Harvard school of public health recommendations, Intermittent fasting and caloric restriction.
CR, Fasting, Alternate day fasting, Time restricted eating, Meal regularity, Skipping various meals, Circadian rhythm, Different types of Meditation, different forms of Yoga, Mindfulness, Cold, Heat, Interval training, Endurance Sports, Breathing exercises and many others
LLLT, tDCS, CES, Emwave, Neurosky neurofeedback, Blue/green blocking glasses, Bright light therapy, Dawn Stimulation, Ionizers, Whole Body Vibration, Foot massagers, Foot stimulation mats, Various vibrational devices, Breathing device/inhaler, Grounding pad, Oxygen tank,
I grew up in a very religious household and environment, so I really got a chance to experiment with what it’s like to be religious. In fact, I went to religious schools my whole life and studied Talmud for 2 years post high school and for 15 hours a week for a number of years after. I was also always curious about other denominations, religions and cultures. I’ve also experimented with Secularism, Bhuddism, Hinduism, Atheism, Taoism and various other philosophies and survived – just barely- quite a few self-help books. I’ve tried to take the best from all of these philosophies.
I experiment with substances different than most people do. I first take the suggested dose. If I don’t feel anything or I’m not sure, I double the dosage. I keep doing this until I notice effect to the point that it’s uncomfortable and too strong. Like this I am relatively certain if/how things are working in my body. Needless to say, many experiments haven’t gone well and damage has occurred, but I think there’s long term dividends with this approach.
Most of these have been experimented with different forms, brands, and methods of preparation.
Deer Antler Velvet, Sage, Bacopa, Chocamine, Saffron, Tea (white peony, silver needle, green, Jasmine, Napalese black, Houjicha, ), EGCG extract, Tulsi, Chamomile, Yerba Mate, Olive leaf extract, Astragalus, Ginkgo, Gotu Kola, Lion’s mane, Matcha, Licorice, Milk thistle, Hyssop, Turmeric, Apple cider vinegar, Curcumin – Bio-curcumin, Longvida Meriva, Curfen, Rosemary, Relora, NAC, NAG, Resveratrol, Danshen, Panax/red Ginseng (multiple kinds), Nucleotides, Shankhpushpi, Pregnenolone, 7-Keto DHEA, Sea minerals, Calcium Magnesium Citramate, Whey Concentrate and isolate – Goat and Cows, Hemp Protein, Rice protein and Bran, Pea protein, Colostrum, MyoInositol, D-Chiro-Inositol, SAM-e, Chlorella –Pyrendosa and yaema, Raspberry Ketones, Pycnogenol, Ubiquinol, CoQ10, Sharp Phosphatidylserine, Citicoline (CDP-choline), Choline Bitartrate, Alpha GPC, DMAE, Melatonin, Limonene, Uridine – TAU, UMP, Nattokinase, Cordyceps, Bilberry, Green Coffee Extract, Vitamin D3, Ashitaba, Noni Juice, Coffee, Barley Grasses, Wheat Grass, Enzymes, Betaine HCL, Taurine, Shilajit, Fulvic+Humic Acid, L-Carnosine, Carnitine, ALCAR, Maca, Yohimbe, Quercetin, Brainon, ENADA, Hordenine, Syneburn, Schisandrol A, Saw Palmetto, Stinging Nettle, Bitter melon, Kava, St John’s Wort, Fennel, Aniseed, Parsley, Dandelion Root, Dandelion Leaf, Guarana, Kola Nut, Catuaba, Stone Breaker, American Ginseng, Lemon Balm, Marshmallow, Activated Charcoal, Bentonite Clay, Spirulina, Blue-green algae, Psyllium Husk, Cod Liver Oil, Purified Fish Oil, Krill Oil, Long Jack – LJ100, Tribulus,, Nutritional Yeast, Caffeine, Lysine, Citrulline, Glutamine, Arginine, Acerola, Cinnamon – Cassia, Verum, Hawthorn, Blueberry extract, Pomegranate Extract, R- Lipoic Acid, DHLA, PQQ, Andrographis, Ashwaghanda, Apoaequorin, Rehmannia, Fo-Ti, Chaga, Muira Puama, Reishi, Maitake, Shiitake, Cat’s Claw, Creatine, Soy and Sunflower Lecithin, Pollen, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Various raw honeys, Rooibos, Malic Acid, EDTA, 5-HTP, Tryptophan, Aloe Vera juice, Aloe Vera gel, Aloe Ferox, Dulse, Wakame, Nori, Kelp, Wassabi,Hyssop, Basil, Schisandra, Echinacea, Elderberry, Hibiscus, Noni, Artichoke, Huperzine- A, Rhodiola, Eleuthero, Sceletium, Valerian, Angelica Root Extract, Amla, Camu Camu, Mangosteen Juice, Yacon powder, Manuka Honey, Honeybush, N-Acetyl L-tyrosine, Mucuna Pruriens, Magnesium (Threonate, Citrate, Oxide), DMG, Sea buckthorn, PEA, Suntheanine L theanine, Peppermint tea and oil, Lithium Orotate, Acai, Goji Berries, Mulberries, Probiotics – many different strains, Oregano oil, Fenugreek, D-Ribose, Grapeseed Extract, Grapefruitseed extract, Eyebright, Pau Darco, Chayawanprash -5 brands, B complex, Biotin, Garlic, Ginger, Soy Isoflavones, Stevia, Xylitol, Gynostemma, Epimedium, Sulforaphane, Calcium-D-Glucarate, Berberine, Leucine, Glycine, Glutathione reduced, Desalted sea minerals, Boron, Forskolin, Vanilla, Cannabis, THC, Astaxanthin, Lutein+Zeaxanthin, Fisetin, Modified Citrus Pectin, Arabinogalactin, Gelatin, Carob, Arrowroot starch, Potato starch, Evodia, Gymnema Sylvestre, Celastrus Paniculatus, Suma root, Triphala, D-Aspartic-Acid, Plant sterols, Adrenal, Brain, Stomach, Kidney, Heart and Liver glandulars, Collagen type 1, 2, 3, Beta- alanine, Luteolin, Pterostilbene, TMG, Rutin, Plant sterols, DIM, Apigenin, Apple Polyphenols, Tart cherry extract, Kudzu root Waxy maize, Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Trehalose, Palatinose, Isomaltooligosaccharide, Inulin, GOS, Acacia, Chrysin, Salicin(white willow bark ext), Aquamin sea minerals, Allicin, aged garlic ext, Lycopene, Ox bile, Pancreatin, DPP4, Bromelain, Papain, Serrazimes, Proteases and a bunch of mixed enzymes, White Kidney Bean ext, Citrus bioflavanoids, MSM, Ferulic acid, Vitamins and minerals (Various forms of Zinc, Magnesium, Chromium, Calcium, Potassium. Strontium, Boron, Phosphorous, Iron, Selenium, Manganese, Niacin, Pantothenic acid, B12, B complexes, Vit D, Vit K1, Vit K2-MK4, MK7, Iodine, Vit C, Vit E, Germanium, Vanadium, Molybdenum,) Cardamom, Tamarind, Oxaloacetate, Nicotinamide Riboside,
Iberogast, Mindcare, Adapt 232, Arctic Root, Khan Jang plus, Cereboost, Cognitex, Jack3D, Ginsana, AHCC, Epicor, Mindpower Rx, Alpha brain,
Methylene blue, Modafinil, Nicotine, Piracetam, Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, Galantamine, Donepezil, L-Dopa, Centrophenoxine, Sulbutiamine, Pyritinol, Hydergine, Picamilon, Phenibut, Desmopressin
Rosemary, Ylang Ylang, Pine, Emu, Jojoba, Tangerine, Sweet Orange, Clary Sage, Tea tree, Arnica, Frankincense, Myrhh, Roman Chamomile, Sandalwood, Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove oil, Bergamot, Marjoram, Lemongrass, Neem, Peppermint
These are previous health problems that I have had at some time in the past and in no particular order and cured:
Keep in mind that these are downstream events caused by more fundamental issues. For example, all of the issues below stems from a dysregulated hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid and adrenal axis. Specifically, I have an autoimmune disease that targets my hypothalamus and maybe thyroid and dysregulates my neuroendocrine system every time I get inflammation. From this one issue, all the of events below occured. That’s really all it was, but understanding exactly why they got dysregulated and how to fix it is the tough part. Understanding the interactions of all aspects of the endocrine system is quite complex and science doesn’t yet have all of the answers. I’ve spent quite a bit of time figuring out this system and how supplements influence it, with the added help of many self-experiments.
Some of these are closely related. For example, generalized anxiety will be correlated with test anxiety, performance anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, nail biting, insomnia, etc…
Brain fog, Brain fatigue, Adrenal issues, Neuroinflammation, BBB permeability, Brain insulin resistance, ADD/Inability to focus, OCD- Nail biting, lip biting, OCD – Cognitive, GAD- Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, Test Anxiety, Performance Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Chronic Stress – even if I wasn’t busy, Anhedonia, Dysthymia, Memory problems, Cognitive dysfunction, Nervous tension and energy, Insomnia, Postprandial fatigue/reactive hypoglycemia/Neuroglycopenia, Chronic fatigue – physical and mental, Bouts of Low motivation
Intestinal permeability, SIBO, Gut dysbiosis, Gastric Ulcers/ Gastritis, Constipation, Excessive Flatuelence
Insulin resistance/metabolic issues, High liver enzymes, High cholesterol, Higher end of blood sugar range, Acne, Tinea versicolor, Hair loss – Male Pattern Baldness, Eye problems – dry eyes, continual loss of vision even after 21, Bad circulation in hands,feet and in general. ie cold extremities. Phlegm and Mucous, Hemorrhoids, Getting exhausted and nauseous quickly from exercising – like basketball( got tired after 5 minutes of exercise and felt like I was going to throw up), Migraines – exercise induced, Knee Pain, Arthritis, Back pain, Slowed wound healing, Lowered immunity – got sick after lifting weights and frequent sickness – colds, flu, strep, bells palsy. Needing more than 8 hrs of sleep, Nose bleeds, Weak gums, cavities, teeth problems, Hearing loss, Needing to drink a lot – like a gallon a day, Dry lips, Dry hands, Getting real itchy after insect bites
Again, all of the issues listed have been fixed. I don’t doubt that issues will resurface and tweaking will need to be done here and there, but I have built many firewalls for this purpose. If one firewall fails, I have the necessary back-up systems to stem the bleeding.
Why didn’t I go to doctors?
I did. They were useless.
So what is life like now?
I forgot what it feels like to be anxious, for one. I’m never stressed (even under pressure or deadlines) and I don’t ever get in bad/dreary moods. My OCD has vanished. Brain fog and fatigue are a thing of the past. I function fine on 5 hours these days, though I get more sleep for health reasons. I’m also pretty focused all day and my brain is working twice as good as ever. I’m barely ever thirsty, my circulation is great and I don’t have any aches or pains. I have lots of endurance and I feel great after intense bouts of exercise instead of feeling nauseous. I don’t get sick and I have no phlegm or mucous. All of my GI problems are gone. My vision has also improved.
I get asked how I deal with cravings a lot and the answer is I don’t. I’m barely ever hungry and I don’t have cravings.
All of my blood results are optimal in terms of anti-aging and peak health. For example my fasting blood sugar is 80 without supplements or exercise (I experimented without taking supplements for a few weeks), whereas it used to be 94, and that was with lots of supplements and exercise to bring it down. Also, my LDL cholesterol used to be high and it has since come down to normal levels. All other blood results are likewise optimal for anti aging standards.
Though not a health issue, over the past 11 years I have gained around 40 IQ points. At 15, I took a PSAT and scored an equivalent of a 400 on the verbal (less than the 50th percentile for my age group). At 23, I took the SAT twice and both times scored a perfect 800 on the verbal. Both scores weren’t a result of practice effects, since I didn’t study for it at 15 or 23. At 26, my reading ability is significantly better now than it ever was. On an SAT verbal score it would probably translate to greater than 1000, if such a score were possible. Although it’s a fair point that verbal ability isn’t completely indicative of IQ, I subjectively feel as though my general cognition improved in lockstep with my verbal abilities. So while I can’t know exactly how many IQ points I have gained, 40 points seems to be a reasonable and even conservative guess.
I exercise for about 2 hours a month, excluding walking. No sit-ups. The photo is current and taken from a cell phone.