Humans can overcome their bodily shortcomings with practices and/or technological solutions, according to biohackers. By overcoming limitations in our nutrition, intelligence, genetics, or physical abilities, we can solve medicinal ailments, enhance our wellness or become more efficient in our day-to-day life.
Biohackers typically use technologies like wearable devices to track their heart rhythm or other biometric data. They'll also take supplements with purported properties like antiaging or nootropics and smart drugs to enhance their cognitive abilities. Gene modification kits like The Odin and body implants are also common. A subset of biohackers called grinders implant microchips in themselves to expand their body's capabilities.
Biohacking also includes radical practices. One of the most notorious is young blood transfusion, which is the process of pumping a younger person’s blood into your veins to combat aging.
Other radical practices include "cryotherapy (purposely making yourself cold), neurofeedback (training yourself to regulate your brain waves), near-infrared saunas (they supposedly help you escape stress from electromagnetic transmissions), and virtual float tanks (which are meant to induce a meditative state through sensory deprivation)," wrote Vox's Sigal Samuel. The practices can also be simple. Meditation, intermittent, proper posture, and other habit improvements fall under biohacking.
Some individuals in the biohacking community experiment on their own bodies. Many of them perform experiments that are legally sketchy or physically dangerous. Zayner, for example, performed a fecal transplant on himself to replace the microbiome in his gut.
In another instance, Zoltan Istvan, a grinder, implanted a microchip into himself that works as a key. "I’ve had my chip for over three years, and I’ve grown to relish and rely on the technology," Zoltan Istvan wrote in The New York Times. "The electric lock on the front door of my house has a chip scanner, and it’s nice to go surfing and jogging without having to carry keys around."
Research teams at universities are also a part of the biohacking community. A group of PhD students at the University of California, San Diego, for example, created a device that breaks down a compound in sweat in your fingertips to create enough electrical energy to power medical sensors.
In addition, science foundations with wealthy backers are performing their own research. For example, gerontologist Aubrey de Grey has a foundation called the Methuselah Foundation that is focused on developing strategies for repairing types of cellular and molecular damage associated with aging. The foundation has received more than $6 million from billionaire Peter Thiel.
From a business standpoint, biohacking is expected to become more lucrative. The global biohacking market size was valued at $15.42 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $63.7 billion by 2028. According to Grand View Research, Inc., wearables, supplements, and gene modification kits will be some of the major drivers in the market's growth.
Regulatory agencies will intervene in the market to provide disclaimers on some of the biohacking technologies being sold. For example, after Zayner injected himself with the gene-editing technology, the Food and Drug Administration released a notice deeming his gene-editing kits to be illegal for use by humans. His startup continues to sell the kits.
The FDA has recently come down hard on some radical biohacking practices. In some cases, the FDA has called them scams. In February 2019, the FDA issued a warning about young blood transfusions stating, "We’re concerned that some patients are being preyed upon by unscrupulous actors touting treatments of plasma from young donors as cures and remedies." The warning caused a young blood transfusion startup named Ambrosia to shut down.
We are still in the early days of bio-hacking and learning about how to tap into living our best lives for decades to come. It will be a fascinating learning curve as leaders experiment in this realm.
Disclaimer: Consult your doctor before starting any bio-hacking tactics. Here at Astrolight, we take a look into the future, but sometimes that is risky. Our team reports what some are trying but do not necessarily recommend any of these actions.