All across the nation, a powerful trend is emerging. It’s unique, it’s decentralized, and it has the potential to be life-changing.
No, we’re not talking about CBD for once. We’re talking about biohacking!
In this article, we’ll be exploring what biohacking is, how it works, and how it might become even more effective with a little help from CBD. Here’s an outline:
What Is Biohacking?
Despite its futuristic name, biohacking is nothing new. The word “hacking” in this case simply means positively manipulating something . . . in this case, your own biology.
Biology + Hacking = Biohacking
How far back does biohacking go? Just take a look at an old Sears catalogue from the 1890s and you’ll see all sorts of rather creative devices aimed at placing people’s health back into their own hands.
And that is the essence of biohacking. Trendy “biohacks” may come and go, and some trends of old were certainly less effective than others, but at the heart of it all is a passion to become more attuned to one’s own body—to experience firsthand the latest in scientific discoveries.
Biohacking’s modern iteration began, as so many things do, in California, where it became en vogue among programmers and other creative groups beginning around 2005. As physicist Rob Carlson told Wired that same year, “The era of garage biology is upon us. Want to participate? Take a moment to buy yourself a lab.” Early biohackers went so far as to give themselves research chemicals in hopes of boosting their mental performance.
And while biohacking used to be more of a fringe idea, today it’s taking off—and turning holistic.
How Do You Biohack?
Most biohackers today aren’t buying entire laboratories or chemistry sets, but they are closely monitoring the bio-chemistry set that is the human body by tracking metrics such as heart rate variability, ketone levels, glucose tolerance, and sleep patterns.
Modern-day biohackers aim to quantify their health carefully enough to be able to slowly, progressively improve it. They might track their vitamin D levels for two months while doing daily sunbathing, or try to approximate their brown fat levels by monitoring internal temperature during an ice bath. Regardless of the methodology involved, it’s all about optimization.
Biohacking also requires keeping a journal of some sort—something we at Green Maiden are already advocates for because it can help optimize CBD dosing. As the old saying goes, that which isn’t measured can’t be improved, and a critical aspect of biohacking entails measuring things both before and after any “biohacks” are made.
Here’s a practical example: Take your average biohacker, a 30-year-old guy or gal who really enjoys fitness and wants to get stronger. They’ve been powerlifting (google it if needed!) for 3 months and have begun to hit a plateau. What next?
The biohacker will systematically try all sorts of things, isolating one variable at a time. They might do a week where they take caffeine pills 30 minutes pre-workout and another week where they take green tea extract—documenting the results the entire time, of course.
They might switch up their training frequency and follow Martin Berkhan’s Leangains protocol, or Dr. Doug McGuff’s Body By Science. They might supplement with amino acids like L-Carnitine . . . or not. Get the idea? Once any “biohack” has proven anecdotally effective, it becomes part of the baseline program and is further built upon.
Why Biohacking with CBD Could Help You
Biohackers are always on the lookout for new supplements, so it’s not surprising they’ve quickly become interested in CBD.
What is CBD? Simply put, it’s a compound found in the hemp plant that may help with promoting one’s inner balance, or homeostasis. And if you’re wondering why CBD might be so valuable to one’s attempts to biohack their way to optimal health . . . keep reading.
CBD meets virtually all the standards most biohackers look for in a new supplement. It’s natural, safe, effective, and even nootropic (i.e., capable of boosting cognition).
How safe? CBD is realistically impossible to overdose on because it doesn’t bind to receptors in the brain stem, which controls autonomic functions like breathing. The same can’t be said for substances like coffee or vitamin A—CBD is safer than both.
Overdone the caffeine supplementation in a quest for greater muscular endurance? No worries. CBD could provide a counterweight via its protective effect on adenosine receptors. No wonder CBD has become a mainstay in the daily routine of so many biohackers and health enthusiasts.
5 Creative Ways to Biohack with CBD
Equally exciting, CBD can be layered onto one’s existing routine, potentially allowing other biohacks to work even better. For example, are you currently on a quest to sleep better or lose weight? CBD may be able to help. Let’s take a closer look at how various CBD Biohacking can be carried out.
Biohack Your Sleep
Sleep is one of the most crucial aspects of one’s health, which means it’s also a major focus of serious biohackers. Many of them advocate for supplementing with melatonin, taking adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, or—perhaps most importantly—limiting blue light exposure by avoiding screens and wearing blue-light blocking sunglasses in the evening.
These practices are thought to help optimize the circadian rhythm that controls your ‘inner clock’ . . . and they most likely do. But guess what else controls circadian rhythm? The endocannabinoid system. And guess what strengthens the endocannabinoid system? CBD.
This means CBD can provide a powerful way to biohack your sleep. It’s pretty simple, too. Since CBD’s effects follow a biphasic dosing curve (i.e, low doses are stimulatory, while high doses are sedative), taking CBD to improve sleep is as easy as taking a little more CBD than you normally would. Do you normally take 25 milligrams a day? Then consider taking an additional 10 milligrams shortly before bedtime.
And don’t forget to avoid those blue-lit screens . . . the science is pretty clear about that.
Biohack Your Diet
Did you know that endocannabinoids like anandamide are actually synthesized from the fats that you eat? It’s true!
And that means you can biohack your diet in two ways. You can take CBD to help your body shift to fat-burning mode and potentially reduce food cravings . . . and you can also keep your endocannabinoid system nourished.
How much CBD is needed to promote a healthy metabolism? That much is still unclear, but we’d venture to say that however much CBD you’re already taking is probably enough.
Then there are the dietary biohacks. Consider trying a diet high in seafood (omega 3’s) and low in processed oils (omega 6’s) to see how it affects you. This ratio is vital to one’s endocannabinoid health, and if you’ve eaten the standard American diet at any point in your life, yours might be wildly messed up.
As molecular biologist Dr. Bob Melamede wondered aloud in a scientific paper, “How much of the health benefits attributed to essential fatty acids such as omega 3’s are due to their products, [the] endocannabinoids?”
We’d say a lot. So, if you want to biohack your diet with CBD, just don’t overlook the other side of the equation.
Biohack Your Weight Loss
CBD’s effects on metabolism are among its most interesting. CBD and other cannabinoids seem to upregulate (aka ‘turn on’) certain fat-burning pathways. They also seem to shift one’s body away from sugar-burning, which in turn also lowers antioxidant demand.
Biohacking doesn’t have to be overly complicated either. Taking CBD for weight loss is simple: just pair your existing healthy diet with a baseline daily dose of CBD.
Want to take a more aggressive route? One of the most popular weight-loss biohacks of all is known as cold thermogenesis, and it can supercharge your metabolism. “When humans are exposed to cold, they exhibit mainly two types of physiological responses in order to protect their core temperature,” one especially interesting study explained. “They can rely on their body’s insulative properties by changes in blood perfusion to decrease heat loss”—that’s option one.
Option two is the one that really pertains to weight loss: “[or they can] increase their energy expenditure up to 3-5 fold above the resting energy expenditure, in order to counterbalance heat lost.”
Catch that? Cold exposure can increase one’s metabolism by a factor of 3-5 times. And CBD, by potentially helping fat cells acclimate to the cold, could make this process even more effective. Consider trying to harness it for yourself by taking a large dose of CBD a few hours prior to a cold shower or bath.
Biohack Your Focus
Cognitive function is another topic central to the world of biohacking. Many biohackers are programmers, graphic designers, writers, or artists for whom mental sharpness is vital.
In the past these demographics might’ve turned to prescription drugs like Ritalin or downright excessive amounts of coffee, but today’s biohackers have better options to choose from. There’s a whole host of adaptogenic mushrooms out there known to boost cognitive function: lion’s mane, cordyceps, and rhodiola are just a few.
But new research shows it may be time to add CBD to this list. One study discovered that cannabis smokers experienced “improvements in cognition” when given an extra dose of CBD. There may also be indirect benefits: if CBD reduces anxiety and shifts the metabolism towards a stabler type of fat burning, it might inherently improve focus.
Maybe best of all, CBD can safely be added to existing nootropic ‘stacks’ without the risk of drug-drug interaction. In some cases (as with the CBD + coffee combo we mentioned earlier) CBD might even reduce the side effects of other nootropics.
Biohack Your Workouts
Exercise and optimal health go hand in hand, so it’s hardly surprising that most biohackers out there are also big fans of working out. Here’s some good news: CBD could help make your workouts even more effective.
Take the compound before your next gym session, and you might experience everything from increased endurance (another cool benefit of fat-burning) to better proprioception (i.e. movement). While more studies are needed to validate these possibilities, these types of benefits are exactly what athletes who try CBD anecdotally report.
Then there’s the recovery-boosting possibilities. CBD may reduce both inflammation and stress hormone production—two things that are normally some of the biggest barriers to athletic recovery. Strongman Eddie Hall calls CBD the ultimate recovery product. To experience this boost for yourself, just take 10-30 extra milligrams of CBD on hard training days. Remember, the more stress you’re under, the more CBD you might need to keep things in homeostasis. Hard-training athletes can also throw in a CBD topical or two.
Biohacking and Energy
One final concept that’s central to much of biohacking is energy levels.
This topic might seem a little obtuse, and indeed, energy levels can be hard to quantify. But biohacking is all about paying close attention to how various changes affect your self-perceived energy.
And when it comes to energy-increasing substances, CBD’s right up there with the best of them. Many of the very same demographics that popularized biohacking in the first place (the coders, programmers, and thinkers) are now using CBD to boost their energy without side effects.
Part of this boost can be explained by how it may liberate fatty acids and make them available as brain food. Studies describe CBD as a “wake-promoting agent” and highlight how CBD might activate receptors located on our body’s energy-producing mitochondria.
Practically speaking, taking CBD for energy is easy: err on the low side when it comes to your daily dosing, or even consider microdosing.
CBD and Brain Health
Though many biohackers are young, healthy individuals, their focus transcends the here-and-now.
Biohacking is also meant to address one’s health status far into the future. And that includes future concerns about brain health. “None of us are getting any younger,” mycologist and biohacker Paul Stamets explained on the Joe Rogan Podcast. Stamets argues this means we should take every precaution necessary to protect our minds.
While he’s an advocate for mushroom-based solutions, plant-based elements can also do the trick. Many of CBD’s biggest benefits relate back to neuroprotection, something seen most clearly in those with pre-existing cognitive decline. “CBD also reverses and prevents the development of cognitive deficits in AD rodent models,” asserts a 2017 review paper. On a broader level, CBD may be able to reduce neuro-inflammation as well.
How these concepts might benefit those of us who are currently healthy is yet to be fully seen. But given that countless CBD users are already experiencing the markers of a healthy brain—improved focus, reduced anxiety, a more stable mood, better memory, and more—we think we have a good inkling of what’s going on.
To Your Health,