Biohacking can be confusing. A Biohacker is essentially a self-scientist, running N of 1 personal experiments. Science is complicated and even the professionals make mistakes all the time. Biohacking can also be expensive and time-consuming.
This article will break down common mistakes that both seasoned and rookie biohackers make costing them money, time along sometimes health and wellbeing.
10 Major Mistakes Biohackers Make
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Probably the biggest mistake that biohackers or the health-conscious make is buying stuff too rashly without doing sufficient research and making naive assumptions about product quality.
- Sellers of Nootropics and health supplements often employ very aggressive and clever marketing. Too many Biohackers are convinced by a few enthusiastic headlines or anecdotes and press the buy button without doing due diligence.
- Biohackers will often buy from the first source that they find or the first company in the Google search results.
- Biohackers will often buy a Nootropic ingredient that is wrong for their health goals or challenges.
- Biohackers will sometimes buy a product just because it’s pitched by some kind of internet celebrity who they like.
Taking Modafinil (or worse Adrafinil)
Modafinil is an anti-narcolepsy drug which is extremely popular among Biohackers, perhaps thanks to the movie Limitless with Bradly Cooper. New Biohackers will often order it with Bitcoin because they hear it described in really hyperbolic terms by some blog or Youtube. But Modafinil is a problematic drug and far from where people should start their Biohacking…
- It’s a hardcore focus and cognitive enhancer. But there are a lot safer more reliable Biohacking tools for focus and cognition.
It has a steep tolerance curve; you shouldn’t use it daily. Your first day on Modafinil will probably be awesomely productive, but dosing on multiple days you’ll run into diminishing returns.
- Modafinil releases a lot of dopamine and histamine which often results in undesired side effects. About a 3rd of Biohackers have some kind of bad experience with Modafinil.
Even worse than Modafinil is Adrafinil, which is the inferior older (and cheaper) version of the drug, developed back in the 1970s.
- It’s less effective than Modafinil, it’s not nearly as potent a cognitive enhancer.
- Repeated usage of it (likely) causes liver damage.
- And it tastes absolutely horrible.
I’m baffled at how many new Biohackers order and take Adrafinil…
Years ago, when I was a digital nomad, I had just arrived in a brand new (exotic to me) country. I was interested in seducing women there (and I totally succeeded, I actually got married to a girl there later) and I knew nobody so I went onto a local pickup artist Facebook group and found a wingman for the night. I met my wingman, a friendly young guy and he announced that he recognized me from my Youtube videos about Nootropics. I asked him if he had tried any Nootropics, and he revealed that he indeed ordered Adrafinil and had it shipped all the way to Eastern Europe. This was just a bit frustrating because in my videos and articles I make it clear that Adrafinil is a really mediocre drug.
Buying on Price
The instinct of almost any consumer is to buy the cheapest offering, they assume it’s the best value. Unfortunately, with health supplements, the cheapest product offered in a plastic bottle is often at best of substandard quality and at worst expired and rife with toxins.
- With a common health supplement like the herb Rhodiola Rosea, not all sources produce an equal product, there’s a quality spectrum. Some sources offer organic pure, high potency Rhodiola and some sources offer suspiciously cheap Rhodiola from China and that has probably been sitting in a giant warehouse for years.
- Whereas I wouldn’t be quite so suspicious of cheap Vitamin D, for example. It’s a molecularly consistent supplement, that’s the same from almost any source.
But the cheapest product is not always the worst and the most expensive is not necessarily the best. There are other factors that should be evaluated…
Not Verifying Purity
Perhaps the most important thing to do before buying or consuming a supplement is to verify that it contains the advertised ingredients. If you’re buying a Lexus, you don’t need to verify that it’s actually a Lexus and not a Kia. But you can’t be so trustful of supplements, unfortunately, there are a lot of bad actors in the industry who create attractive websites, print fake product labels and sell fake supplements labeled as CoQ10, CBD, collagen or whatever.
Ask to see a COA (certificate of analysis) for whatever you’re consuming that shows purity above 97% and an acceptably low amount of toxic heavy metals — it’s virtually impossible to get supplements that don’t contain a single atom of aluminum, but you can choose supplements with an acceptable scarcity of manufacturing byproducts.
Choosing a Poorly Absorbed Form
So you’ve got a Biohacking goal, like supporting your NAD+ levels for longevity.
Vitamin B3 is the natural precursor of NAD+, but you would need to take a lot of it to make an impact on NAD+ levels and it results in an unpleasant skin flush. NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide) is a highly efficacious form of Vitamin B3, it has high oral bioavailability that makes a difference in NAD+ levels and a number of other markers of aging.
As you’re researching health and anti-aging you want to delve a little further into the science and find out which form is best.
If you’re going to take Vitamin B12 take Methylcobalamin.
If you’re going to take CoQ10 take water-soluble (solubilized) Ubiquinol.
If you’re going to take Magnesium take Magnesium L-Threonate.
Usually, you can figure out the best form with a Google search or by cross-referencing the ingredient on Pubmed with “bioavailability” or “absorption”
A credible supplement should describe on its website which form of a given ingredient it contains. If it doesn’t, you can often assume it’s just the cheapest form.
Stacking before Self-Quantifying
Stacking is combining different Nootropic ingredients or supplements and stacking can really unleash your mind or empower your health. But a rigorous Biohacker will want to take ingredients individually and evaluate how they objectively and subjectively affect them.
- Do brain training or measure your HRV on a supplement and see how it affects your cognition and stress response.
- How are you sleeping on a particular supplement? It can be measured with something like the Sleep Cycle app.
- Does an ingredient cause any undesirable side effects for you? Does it make you sweat more? Dry mouth? Achy muscles? Low libido? Do you get any kind of autoimmune response (itchiness, rashes, etc) to it?
- How do you feel on a particular supplement? Stressed? Relaxed? Energetic? Happy?
When you stack or take a pre-made stack you don’t know which ingredients are having which effect. When I used Vinpocetine, for example, on its own, I discovered that it had an anti-Nootropic effect for me, it gave me the dopamine blues. So I know to avoid Nootropic stack products that combine Vinpocetine with other things.
So you want to start with one or two credible Nootropics or anti-aging agents; evaluate them for a week or two and record how they affect you. Then add something else, record the results and see if they are synergistic in your body. Over the course of several months, you can formulate an individualized stack that is copacetic with your neurobiology.