Author Topic: Potential Hormesis Experiments  (Read 12132 times)

Offline thomas_seay

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Potential Hormesis Experiments
« on: February 24, 2011, 10:56:58 AM »
Hello!  This is my first post to this forum.  I have just this week become enthralled with hormesis and am delighted to find like-minded people with whom I can exchange ideas.  I am a Software Engineer here in Silicon Valley, do not have a particularly strong background in "health sciences" and have just begun to read some of the scientific material on the subject (any suggestions would be welcome).  All this to say that most of my posts will probably smack of naivete.  So be it!

I noticed that there are only a limited number of hormetic experiments that people on this board seem to be discussing.  I was wondering if we could come up with a list of some potential experiments that people could do. I'll begin.

1) Oxygen deprivation -  One way this could be executed is breathing into a paper bag, just as people are advised to do in cases of hyperventilation.  The biochemist Ray Peat has written quite a bit on the benefits of CO2 increase:  http://www.raypeat.com/articles/articles/co2.shtml

2) Sensory deprivation - this would take more effort and/or money.  You can build a sensory deprivation tank on your own.

3) Ormus - I don't know what to make of this material, but some are claiming interesting results from it, and I suspect if there is any truth to it that it is a result of hormesis:
http://www.subtleenergies.com/ormus/whatisit.htm
 

4) Light smoking.  I don't see any posts about this.  What would be the benefits?

5) Mercury.  Anybody want to try this?  For what it's worth, ancient Indian ayurvedists and alchemists made great claims about ingesting small amounts of mercury: http://www.splendourindia.org/splen_jun03/Acharya%20Nagarjuna.htm

6) Seems like a lot of people here eat a quasi-paleo diet (me, too).  What would happen if a couple days a month you gorged on high-carb food?

7)  For men, what if you applied an ice pack to your testicles?  (Possible increase in sperm count?)

8) What would be the effect of ingesting a small amount of xenoestrogens in people who have a good estrogen level?

Some of the above are probably silly, but I'm just brainstorming here.  Please add your own ideas.


Offline aelephant

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2011, 07:20:05 PM »
Hello!  This is my first post to this forum.  I have just this week become enthralled with hormesis and am delighted to find like-minded people with whom I can exchange ideas.  I am a Software Engineer here in Silicon Valley, do not have a particularly strong background in "health sciences" and have just begun to read some of the scientific material on the subject (any suggestions would be welcome).  All this to say that most of my posts will probably smack of naivete.  So be it!

I noticed that there are only a limited number of hormetic experiments that people on this board seem to be discussing.  I was wondering if we could come up with a list of some potential experiments that people could do. I'll begin.

1) Oxygen deprivation -  One way this could be executed is breathing into a paper bag, just as people are advised to do in cases of hyperventilation.  The biochemist Ray Peat has written quite a bit on the benefits of CO2 increase:  http://www.raypeat.com/articles/articles/co2.shtml

I definitely believe breathing / oxygen / CO2 could be an interesting avenue of exploration. See "free divers" who can hold their breath for extraordinary lengths of time. See meditation practitioners who use breathing exercises to manage neurotransmitters. If you pay attention to your breathing while reading, the breath also seems to have a very close relationship with attention. When deeply engaged, we tend to hold our breath. When taking in new ideas, our breathing seem regulated by the rate of our reading. Strange and interesting, at least to me.

2) Sensory deprivation - this would take more effort and/or money.  You can build a sensory deprivation tank on your own.

He is certainly not a scientist, but Joe Rogan (the comedian & UFC commentator) is a huge proponent of sensory deprivation tanks. He claims using them has greatly improved his life and allowed him to mature mentally much faster than he otherwise would have. Do a search on YouTube for some of his comments on sensory deprivation.

3) Ormus - I don't know what to make of this material, but some are claiming interesting results from it, and I suspect if there is any truth to it that it is a result of hormesis:
http://www.subtleenergies.com/ormus/whatisit.htm

I have no idea what this is talking about, but I am highly skeptical.
 
4) Light smoking.  I don't see any posts about this.  What would be the benefits?

I'm skeptical about this too. The difference between cold showers and smoking is that one is physically damaging to your body, the other just uncomfortable. I'd imagine that there are semi-permanent deposits of tar and so forth even from intermittent smoking.

5) Mercury.  Anybody want to try this?  For what it's worth, ancient Indian ayurvedists and alchemists made great claims about ingesting small amounts of mercury: http://www.splendourindia.org/splen_jun03/Acharya%20Nagarjuna.htm

Quite a few bodybuilders eat canned tuna on a regular basis. How would you study the effects and what would you expect?

6) Seems like a lot of people here eat a quasi-paleo diet (me, too).  What would happen if a couple days a month you gorged on high-carb food?

Yes! There are definitely benefits to eating high-carb periodically. Weight loss and caloric restriction tends to increase over time levels of a hormone that tells your body to increase hunger called ghrelin. Periodic caloric surpluses theoretically would help stabilize levels of ghrelin and leptin, allowing you to lose even more weight. There's also a good argument that our wonderful host has proposed to eat carbs just to ensure that your carb burning systems are still tuned and ready to work.

7)  For men, what if you applied an ice pack to your testicles?  (Possible increase in sperm count?)

Ouch. Cold showers are enough for my testicles, thanks very much.

8) What would be the effect of ingesting a small amount of xenoestrogens in people who have a good estrogen level?

No idea on this one.

Some of the above are probably silly, but I'm just brainstorming here.  Please add your own ideas.

Most are interesting and I am envious of your creative thinking. If I could think of any, I'd post them!

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2011, 07:54:17 PM »
Very creative, thomas!  I tend to agree also with most of aelephant's comments.  The idea of light smoking as a hormetic practice may not be so far-fetched.  See this recent post by Seth Roberts, which references some statistical analyses of smoking effects, suggesting that light smokers who don't inhale deeply led to some health benefits such as reduced cancer -- but that heavy smokers who inhale have increased cancer incidence.

Thomas, are you willing to put a stake in the ground and volunteer to carry out one of these experiments yourself!  (I'm guessing it will not be light smoking or putting ice between your legs).  If you do decide to take the plunge, feel free to use this forum to post frequent updates.  In his book, Tim Ferris makes the point that measuring your progress, writing it down, and ideally sharing it for the world to see are great motivators.

Todd

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2011, 09:49:19 AM »
Thanks for feedback Todd and Aelephant.  I am willing to test some of these ideas, and I will definitely post results.

I have to eliminate a few to start off.  The problem with light smoking is how would I measure it.  If the only benefit is that people that do light smoking are less likely to get certain types of cancer, then I don't know how a personal study on myself would work.

Mercury:  I would give this shot, except that, if I am to believe a urine test I took (with Doctor's Data Labs...I did a DMPS challenge) I already have elevated mercury.

Sensory Deprivation: I did this a couple of times.  There was a place in San Francisco where you could do it.  Interesting, but it's kind of expensive to do it long-term.

Now, Oxygen deprivation seems like a good one and I am willing to do this one.  For one thing, I can get objective measures of CO2 before and along the way. So I could report both subjective effects (I hypothesize a relaxation response) and objective measures.

Actually I might also do the Ice-Pack-On-The-Testicles experiment.  This is another thing that could be measured.  I see that there are now home kits for testing sperm count.  Anybody know if they're accurate?

Another one worth trying might be resveratrol.  Am I right that in larger doses it is an estrogen antagonist and at lower doses it is an estrogen agonist?  If so, what counts as a low dose and what counts as a high dose?  If we knew that, then we could use estrogen levels as a measure.

Todd, I believe I read that you work in Palo Alto.  I live and work in Palo Alto, too.  I guess people on this list don't get together for lunch, but maybe we could get together and fast sometime  ;)


Offline aelephant

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2011, 05:36:59 AM »
Another one worth trying might be resveratrol.  Am I right that in larger doses it is an estrogen antagonist and at lower doses it is an estrogen agonist?  If so, what counts as a low dose and what counts as a high dose?  If we knew that, then we could use estrogen levels as a measure.

I'm having trouble finding good info on resveratrol.

According to ConsumerLab.com it has mild estrogenic effects. They also say there are two small pilot studies in humans that show it may be useful in increasing insulin sensitivity.

According to Wikipedia it increases testosterone by being both a SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulator) and an aromatase inhibitor.

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/135/4/757.long
This study in rats showed increases in sperm count & testosterone levels.

http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/61/20/7456.long
This study in rats supports it being a SERM & suggests it might be beneficial for preventing breast cancer.

http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/92/1/71
This study showed that it is an aromatase inhibitor in breast cancer cells.

The real problem with resveratrol is the lack of a significant amount of studies in humans, but at least this is some info to digest.

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2011, 09:57:10 AM »
According to ConsumerLab.com it has mild estrogenic effects. They also say there are two small pilot studies in humans that show it may be useful in increasing insulin sensitivity.

According to Wikipedia it increases testosterone by being both a SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulator) and an aromatase inhibitor.

The article I am referring to is this one by Calabrese:

http://www.belleonline.com/newsletters/volume16/vol16-2.pdf

Offline aelephant

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2011, 07:33:32 AM »
According to ConsumerLab.com it has mild estrogenic effects. They also say there are two small pilot studies in humans that show it may be useful in increasing insulin sensitivity.

According to Wikipedia it increases testosterone by being both a SERM (selective estrogen receptor modulator) and an aromatase inhibitor.

The article I am referring to is this one by Calabrese:

http://www.belleonline.com/newsletters/volume16/vol16-2.pdf

Wow, what a great resource! Thanks for sharing that.

I have a potential experiment in mind now: spicy food.

I like spicy food, but typically not too spicy. I imagine that, like cold showers, I could condition myself to tolerate increasing levels of "heat". Also like cold showers, I believe spicy food might have a slew of health benefits. I am still in the process of researching this, sorting out all of the bogus claims from the scientifically tested ones, but so far the search seems promising.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6244715.stm
Capsaicin killed lung and pancreatic cancer cells in vitro.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-365281/Eat-chilli-help-sleep.html
Subjects eating 30g chillies each day slept better, woke better and had more energy.

http://www.medindia.net/news/Capsaicin-in-Chilli-Peppers-Increases-Metabolism-Body-Temperature-40322-1.htm
Capsaicin increases thermogenesis.

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/116/7/1272.full.pdf
In rats capsaicin lowered triglycerides.
References a study that shows it lowered total cholesterol in turkeys.

http://www.chronogram.com/issue/2005/11/wholeliving/index.php
Says capsaicin applied to nerve cells triggered endorphin release (no reference; a bit skeptical of this source).

ConsumerLab says it may be useful topically for skin conditions like psoriasis; that cayenne may be useful for dyspepsia and in protecting against stomach ulcers.

https://www.everettclinic.com/kbase/topic/special/ut1025spec/sec1.htm
Oral capsaicin may improve digestion, prevent infection, prevent diarrhea, prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol, and lower blood pressure. Prevents atherosclerosis and clotting. Has antioxidant effects. May thin mucus. May strengthen lung tissues and help treat or prevent emphysema.

Interestingly (and perhaps fitting with the theory of hormesis) this site recommends NOT to take capsaicin if you have high blood pressure (why not?! you just told me it LOWERS blood pressure!) and warns that it can cause ulcers in extremely high doses.

http://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/abstract/S1550-4131%2810%2900228-7
Dietary capsaicin intake reduces blood pressure.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18769453
Capsaicin binds to TRPV1, appears to be able to inhibit it, TRPV is a promising target in the clinical management of inflammatory SG disorders (for example, acne vulgaris). Capsaicin inhibits the expression of genes involved in lipid homeostasis and of selected proinflammatory cytokines.

http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/pr901175w
Very technical, but says capsaicin may be a useful phytochemical for attenuation of obesity. Rats fed high fat diet treated with saline vs. capsaicin. Capsaicin rats body weight decreased by 8%.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2011, 06:28:34 AM by aelephant »

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2011, 10:00:10 AM »
Wow, what a great resource! Thanks for sharing that.

I have a potential experiment in mind now: spicy food.


Aelephant, I think that's a good project, and I really encourage you to pursue it.  I will be very interested in seeing your results.  I am quite interested in using cayenne.  I suspect that I have poor circulation and that this would really help.  However, when I have tried taking cayenne supplementally, after a couple of days I get diarrhea (TMI).  I just abandoned taking the cayenne, because I figured it wasn't for me.  However, now that I know about hormesis, I suspect that my body's reaction might just have indicated that I would need to take a lower does than some folks.

On the other hand, it could be the case that I just shouldn't eat cayenne.  Wondering about this:  I have always hated liver.  The only way I could bear it is if it was in the form of pate' or rillette.  I have recently discovered that I have iron overload.  Given that I am of Celtic ancestry, could it be that I have hemochromatosis and that the repugnance towards liver reflected that?  Don't know.  Definitely need to get the genetic testing for hemochromatosis or, at the very minimum, get to the blood donation center soon (going tomorrow).  Anyway, as usual, just some random speculation which need to be verified.

I fully intend to start the testing that I mentioned previously using ice and oxygen deprivation soon.  First, I need to have the tests done.

Offline UrsusMinor

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2011, 01:23:31 AM »
As to the "occasional high-carb meal"--Jeff Volek, one of the leading low-carb researchers, has a book called "The TNT Diet" that advocates exactly that.

However, Volek has many different pahses of the diet depending on what your body composition might be. He advocates low-carb, pure and simple, if you need to lose large amounts of fat. But when you get within shouting distance of your target weight, and basically want to recompose (swapping fat for muscle), he has a regime that involves low-carbing most days and then free-feeding for a certain period.

I think the reason that some systems based on "cheat meals" once a week often work isn't so much because of the psychological benefits, but because the body needs to be be exposed to variations--in terms of total calories, macronutrient composition, everything.

I take a lot of supplements, but, unlike most of my friends, I don't make a big point of taking them every day. I give myself breaks of a day, and every so often, breaks of a couple of weeks.


I can't prove that there is a benefit, but I think mixing it up is inherently healthy. Low cal, high cal, no cal; lowcarb, high carb; exercise, sloth. I think one mode needs to predominate, but I think the same damn thing every day is unnatural.

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2011, 11:12:31 AM »
 I will have to check that book out.  I am a 210 pound male at 16.3 percent body fat (had it measured this past week at a place that has a Bod Pod).  I eat a little bit of grain every day.  I don't do well on dairy (except for some butter...which I adore!) and I would otherwise have to eat a lot of meat and fat to not feel hungry.  I am not against that, but sometimes it is impractical.  I do a 24 hour fast once a week.  As I eat a little bit of grain everyday (and by "little bit", I mean a couple of pieces of sprouted bread or a cup of rice, occasionally a little pasta).  I do worry about my metabolic rate falling if I don't eat enough.  Besides that, I am a competitive Olympic-Style Weightlifter and I worry about losing strength.

Since I do eat some grains, I haven't been doing one of those eat-til-you-drop days.  Maybe I should. What do you think?

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2011, 09:03:06 PM »
I have a potential experiment in mind now: spicy food.

I like spicy food, but typically not too spicy. I imagine that, like cold showers, I could condition myself to tolerate increasing levels of "heat". Also like cold showers, I believe spicy food might have a slew of health benefits. I am still in the process of researching this, sorting out all of the bogus claims from the scientifically tested ones, but so far the search seems promising.

Great project, aelephant!  My latest post, The case against antioxidants, may provide some additional justification for adding capsacin to your diet:  it can boost your innate ability to neutralize oxidative stresses more effectively than taking antioxidant supplements.

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2011, 08:44:57 AM »
Aelephant, if you are indeed doing this, I would like to know at what doses.  I recall I tried taking a high-heat cayenne supplement at a dose recommended for therapeutic benefits (can't recall what that was) and let's just say I got over-active digestive symptoms as a result.  I abandoned experimentation at that time, but maybe I should try again at a lower dose.

Offline aelephant

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2011, 04:23:59 AM »
I am perhaps not approaching this as systemically and scientifically as I could, but I have started eating hot peppers on a regular basis.

Some observations so far:

1. Resistance to the effects of capsaicin develops rapidly. 6 months ago, eating even a mildly spicy dish would result in hiccups and an intense burning sensation. Now, my ability to tolerate the "heat" has grown immensely. Even what would be an intolerable heat that would send me running for the milk is now bearable. Hiccups still occur from time to time, but less frequently and last a much shorter time. I frequently need to increase my "dose" to achieve the same level of "heat".

2. Release of endogenous endorphins is a predictable and potentially useful side effect of eating hot peppers. When I eat them, I typically chew the pepper and the seeds it contains, making sure to expose it to all of the sides of my tongue and surfaces in my mouth. If I don't achieve a sufficient level of "heat", I add more. A successful "exposure" will generate an intense sensation of pain, like burning, usually focused toward the back of my throat. Tearing/crying and hiccups are common with a solid exposure, as well as a running nose. The pain sensation lasts about 5 minutes, gradually decreasing over time. Induced on an empty stomach, I believe the pain sensation will reliably produce intense nausea due to the release of endogenous endorphins such as beta-endorphin (a natural painkiller produced by the body that is many times more potent than morphine). Once the nausea passes, I believe you will experience a pleasant painkilling effect that can enhance sleep and could be helpful for musculo-skeletal and other forms of pain. I have read about (but not seen/experienced myself) an abortive medication for migraine headaches that is a capsaicin nasal spray. It works based on the premise of capsaicin-induced pain --> endogenous release of endorphins.

3. The capsaicin response is an effective way to clear mucus. After a good exposure, I will typically go through a few tissues blowing my nose. It is almost always clear and easy to get out. Afterward, my airways feel exceptionally unobstructed.

I'm hesitant to comment on effects on mood or weight loss. I practice intermittent fasting and carb restriction. I'd estimate my bodyfat% is somewhere in the 10-13% range. My mood is typically always somewhere between neutral and pleasant, and I haven't noticed any drastic changes recently.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2011, 04:26:23 AM by aelephant »

Offline thomas_seay

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2011, 09:15:40 AM »
Aelephant, could you tell us the dose you are using (how many peppers) and what kind of peppers you are using?

Offline aelephant

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Re: Potential Hormesis Experiments
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2011, 04:55:51 PM »
Aelephant, could you tell us the dose you are using (how many peppers) and what kind of peppers you are using?

Starting off I would eat about 1/4 of a dried red pepper, chew it, and pass it around my mouth until I felt I had been thoroughly exposed. Within a couple of days, I needed roughly 1/2 of a pepper. Last night I ate a whole pepper and had some strong exposure symptoms, like hiccups and tearing (lacrimation). In addition to a morning exposure, I usually have an opportunity to eat more spicy food at dinner.

As you might know, capsaicin is not water-soluble, but is soluble in protein (like the casein in milk). When eating a meal, a higher dose is required to achieve the same effects. I believe this could be due to interference from the various proteins in the food, or due to a "shielding" effect of the other foods on the tongue.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you with 100% certainty what type of peppers I have been eating. They are small, dried red peppers that in Mandarin are called "la jiao" which as far as I can tell just means "hot pepper". They do sell brighter, hotter and slightly longer fresh peppers at the market which I believe are Thai peppers. A tiny (roughly 1cm) segment of one of these peppers induces a very strong exposure response (they are rated at between 50 and 100k Scoville units, whereas Jalapenos, for instance, are rated at 2.5 to 8k). My impression is that the dried la jiao are somewhere inbetween Jalapenos and Thai peppers.