Sunday, May 31, 2009

Become B-I-O-N-I-C

Hormesis...and cold showers...

I should... *ahaaa* more often (besides tri-training)

As I wish I could shut my playboy mouth...(Lady Gaga)

Mark Twight, founder of Gym Jones and former-Xfitter, was the coach hired to whip the '300' Movie actors and stuntmen into astounding warrior-shape. He employs several techniques to induce hormesis.

One technique: C O L D S H O W E R S (WSJ article, Training That's Beyond Boot Camp by Mr. M. Ybarra)
Other techniques: Mr. Cosgrove, '300' Workout

A researcher in Denmark, Dr. S. Rattan, has written about the benefits in extending lifespan via hormesis (Ageing Res Rev. 2008 Jan;7(1):63-78). "Hormesis in aging is represented by mild stress-induced stimulation of protective mechanisms in cells and organisms resulting in biologically beneficial effects. Single or multiple exposure to low doses of otherwise harmful agents, such as irradiation, food limitation, heat stress, hypergravity, reactive oxygen species and other free radicals have a variety of anti-aging and longevity-extending hormetic effects. (me thinks the torture umm... the WODs at X-fit fit this definition) Detailed molecular mechanisms that bring about the hormetic effects are being increasingly understood, and comprise a cascade of stress response and other pathways of maintenance and repair. Although the extent of immediate hormetic effects after exposure to a particular stress may only be moderate, the chain of events following initial hormesis leads to biologically amplified effects that are much larger, synergistic and pleiotropic. A consequence of hormetic amplification is an increase in the homeodynamic space of a living system in terms of increased defence capacity and reduced load of damaged macromolecules. Hormetic strengthening of the homeodynamic space provides wider margins for metabolic fluctuation, stress tolerance, adaptation and survival. Hormesis thus counter-balances the progressive shrinkage of the homeodynamic space, which is the ultimate cause of aging, diseases and death. Healthy aging may be achieved by hormesis through mild and periodic, but not severe or chronic, physical and mental challenges..."

Brief cold stress appears to improve our immune systems by stimulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axes as described HERE research is reviewed including an experiment where T. gondii-infected-rats had improved survival with cold-hydrotherapy x8days.

Exposure to periodic, repeated, short term (like 2-7mins) cold stress induces hormesis which can help to rebuild and regenerate our bodies and minds... making us... stronger, better, more powerful...

B I O N I C .

And...BTW make sure you don't consume too much sucrose (carbohydrates) and make sure you have healthy adrenal function (good quality/quantity sleep, reduced mental stress, adrenal support if needed, etc), otherwise the beneficial stress-responses will be shut down:
Sucrose intake and corticosterone interact with cold to modulate ingestive behaviour, energy balance, autonomic outflow and neuroendocrine responses during chronic stress.
Bell ME, et al. J Neuroendocrinol. 2002 Apr;14(4):330-42.

Dr. W. Bushell from MIT wrote a review called "From molecular biology to anti-aging cognitive-behavioral practices: the pioneering research of Walter Pierpaoli on the pineal and bone marrow foreshadows the contemporary revolution in stem cell and regenerative biology" in 2005 (Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Dec;1057:28-49). Stem cells are the backbone of rebuilding organs and other body parts. He suggests that a revolution is going on in medicine and science... ya think...???

Evidence is accruing that a cognitive-behavioral regimen integrating cognitive techniques (meditation-based anti-stress, anti-inflammatory techniques, others), dietary modification ("dietary restriction" or modified dietary restriction), and certain forms of aerobic exercise, may prolong the healthy life span in humans. Recent research has identified some of the likely molecular mediators of these potentially broad-ranging, health-enhancing and anti-aging effects; these include DHEA, interleukins -10 and -4 (IL-10, 1L-4), and especially melatonin. Relatedly, what some are calling a revolution in biology and medicine has been emerging from research on stem cells and regeneration processes more generally.

Dogma regarding limitations on the regenerative capacities of adult vertebrates is being cautiously yet enthusiastically revised in the wake of rapidly accumulating discoveries of more types of adult stem cells in mammals, including humans. For example, a recent review by D. Krause of Yale concluded that "in the [adult] bone marrow, in addition to hematopoietic stem cells and supportive stromal cells, there are cells with the potential to differentiate into mature cells of the heart, liver, kidney, lungs, GI tract, skin, bone, muscle, cartilage, fat, endothelium and brain." In addition, very recent studies have shown that DHEA, ILs-10 and -4, and melatonin all possess potential regenerative, including stem cell-activating, properties.

More than a quarter of a century ago, Walter Pierpaoli initiated a series of extraordinary studies that demonstrated in experimental animals the potential for dramatic regeneration associated with changes in the pineal gland and bone marrow. This appeared to be not only retardation of aging, but also its REVERSAL.

Furthermore, as Pierpaoli was attempting to understand both anti-aging regeneration and oncogenesis, he was focusing on both pro- and anti-mitotic mechanisms: recent research now suggests that there is a nonpathologic, "healthy" form of regeneration that is actually antagonistic to oncogenesis, and that melatonin may be important in this form of regeneration.

This paper explores Pierpaoli's pioneering studies in light of recent developments in stem cell and regenerative biology, particularly as related to the regenerative potential associated with certain cognitive-behavioral practices, and includes evidence on this subject presented for the first time.

Prior relevant animal pharm posts:
Melatonin: Evoke Tranquility
Thyroid: Hormonal Imbalances
Bone Marrow: Immoprotective and Improves Endothelial Function


Anonymous said...

Very, very interesting. I like to go the contrast route myself -- about 10 minutes in the steam room followed by a cold shower plunge until good and chilled. Repeat (and again and again...). Super invigorating!

dr j said...

hi G,

fabulous postings.

I enjoy the task of getting in step with your train of thought and anticipate the next steps!

the other day I bought a pair of rollerblades, even though i am hopeless so far, the fear and stress may contribute to hormesis?

here is a nice pdf of Walter P

The claimed effect of melatonin on thyroid has implications on the TYP attitude to thyroid?

dr j

dr j said...

your post has led me on a merry path from melantonin to pineal to fluoride and thyroid and iodine displacement by fluoride ..
here is just one link


Dr. B G said...

Takes my breath away...

HAAAaa... I mean...thinking of 3 rounds of hot/cold immersions! Keith, I somehow guessed this was one of the 'tools' in your armamentarium :)

Gals... a cold water rinse of the hair (and y'll know I have a LOT) makes it shinier and glossier b/c cold seals the hair cuticles!

Dr. B G said...

dr j,

That is a FANTASTIC article on melatonin from Pierpaoli! (couldn't find any yesterday)

Thank you for the links...I'm reading more about the dangers of both flouride and chlorine (from swimming pools -- which of course we have a hard time avoiding during hot Cali summers).

Absolutely... I believe melatonin has huge implications for the whole HPT axis (hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid). Of course, unfortunately, it's not the only player for thyroid. I've heard about melatonin from various people (my sister, Dr. Davis, a renowned cardiologist in China, authors Uzzi Reiss MD, Colgan PhD, etc) but I never considered it for myself until a fantastic friend of mine advised once some melatonin 3x/wk and I have to say when I do take some 500mcg to 2mg, I feel an immense sense of calm the next day.

Pierpaoli definitely is on to something...

Armour Thyroid USP is of course great stuff as well for hypothyroidism.


David said...

LOVE this post. Love the movie 300 and love hormesis. Hormesis is one of my favorite words/concepts, and all my clients are well familiar with it. I take cold showers all the time, and they feel terrific, I think. My wife tries to take them kind of cold, but can't seem to get them as cold as I like them. Sometimes I sneakily shut off the hot water to the shower while she's in there. Good medicine, I tell her. She'll thank me later, I'm sure...

Cold baths/plunges are even better than the cold showers, though. They leave you gasping for air for a couple minutes before you adjust. I remember swimming in a pool in the back of a cave (over 300 yards back into the side of a mountain) on one of my wilderness outings (this cave, actually: It was SO COLD. But wow, was it refreshing. Left the body buzzing for the rest of the day.

Along with low carb, I also throw in IF advice for clients who are curious about weight loss. And for the really serious (daring) ones, I include info about cold induced adaptive thermogenesis, i.e., cold plunges. Particularly on fasting days. I think there's a great advantage to combining fasting, exercise, and cold water, and I have a couple clients (including myself) who have tried it with seemingly good success. I talked to one just a couple days ago who lost a couple more pounds with this strategy than with fasting alone. Seems to be a real winner.

Mitochondrial uncoupling is DA BOMB:


Dr. B G said...

dr j,

Rollerblades!! That is SO cool!


Dr. B G said...


You are a naughty wild boy... shutting off hot water *tssk tsk* who is so brilliant, aware, and balanced for such a young age!

It is really Richard, the warrior, at FreeTheAnimal who kinda inspired this post. He shared a really neat experiment after cold IMMERSION and fasting, lost about 3- 5 # overnight. THANK YOU for the uncoupling link -- I like the 'overfeeding' aspect *haa* which I'd prefer over cold showers.

BAT -- brown adipose -- and brief cold stimulation and mitochondrial uncoupling are amazing metabolic achievements! Yeah, you are right's all about the mitochondria...

Hulbert talks about cold stimulating peripheral thyroid hormone activation too:


Aaron Blaisdell said...

If one does not want to lose weight, are there any dangers to trying cold-water exposure?

Dr. B G said...

Hi Aaron,

No, I don't believe so. Again, only if the adrenal glands are not taxed or fatigued. Just as intermittent fasting (which is advised in TYP and Crossfit) should be avoided, I think brief intermittent cold exposure is best done when well rested, sleep adequate and adrenal glands 'happy'. Extra stress otherwise could be perceived pathologically and trigger high cortisol, high insulin and a host of other inflammatory cascades. I believe Stephan engages in the practice of some cold exposure as well -- part of his high HDL-chol 'secret' *haa*.


David said...

Wow, so I looked up fasting on Richard's site and found the post you're talking about, I think. This must be the one:

It was pretty recent! I check his site when I think of it, but must have missed that one. It's fantastic! And very similar to what I do myself. The post by Robert McLeod ( he links to in one of his closely preceding posts is really great as well.

As for Aaron's question about cold water dangers, I concur with G. Since the point is to stress the body in an intermittent manner, it's not a great thing to do if you're already stressed in some way (emotionally, physically, sleep deprived, etc.). Adding stress to stress is counter-productive. Chronic stress: Bad. Targeted, short-term, occasional stress: Good.


Dr. B G said...


Right on!

I like McLeod a lot too *smile* (esp his Highlander NAME).

My favorite post (besides the one you linked) incl his 3 strategies for body recomp which I wholeheartedly agree on here.--long, low-intensity exercise 4+ hrs + periodic HIIT/ Tabata/ plyometrics
--eat consistent low low carbs (for the brain) and fat (ketones) for the body
--periodic fasting to go through glycogen reserves, rip into adipose depots, and change BMR

Man, cave-swimming...that is so wild...


David said...


That post by McLeod is one of my favorites, too! I sent it to my mother-in-law awhile back when she was feeling too overwhelmed to read Good Calories, Bad Calories. It sums things up nicely.

Yes! I totally agree with those three strategies. Okay, here's proof that this strategy WORKS. Think of what McLeod says ("Very long and very slow exercise (4+ hrs)"), and then consider this:

When I was on that wilderness trip (yes, the same one with the cave swimming ;) ), my buddy and I were canoeing for most of the day (every day for 10 days). Canoeing can be pretty hard work, and falls into the kind of exercise described by McLeod. So 4+ hours of that per day, definitely. Probably more like 6+, but it varied.

On top of this, we didn't bring any food, and had to eat whatever we could hunt down and/or trap. So it was necessarily and naturally low-carb and the feeding was totally intermittent. Sometimes we went a day or two without anything at all, and then would suddenly have a couple big turtles, a trout, and a huge pot of crawdads. We were always moving (had over 100 miles to go), so the trapping success was sporadic at best, and we mostly found food as the opportunity presented itself (I spent a good deal of time diving off the canoe and chasing turtles under the water. lol).

So all the elements for body recomposition were in place. 1) Sustained activity for 4+ hours, 2) Very low carb intake (essentially zero, actually, except for some nettles and watercress we would eat every now and then when we found them), and 3) Intermittent fasting. Oh, and I suppose you could throw in a #4, which would be cold water exposure, since this was a spring-fed river. Now check out this photo.That's me about 7 or 8 days into the trip. Notice the pants I'm wearing. See the huge gap in the back? At the beginning of the trip, those pants were SNUG all the way around. I bet I dropped 15 lbs.

I've thought about writing a book on Paleo strategies for FAST weight loss, based on my REAL LIFE paleo experiences. Haha. Travel 100 miles down a river eating only what you can find, and BAM! The weight is gone! Works like a charm.


Dr. B G said...


What a fantastic journey! How fun!! I love the pict.

Definitely I think you should chronicle your wilderness, youthful escapades for other people's enjoyment as well as health edification. I'd buy and read it! I can't imagine how wonderful your lipoproteins would be after that great (Paleo) adventure? Eating... TURTLES... wow. That's amazing.

Nettles taste great -- just tried them at a restaurant in NYC. (The tv stars like Bear and that other wild man hold nothing to your real survival and optimal heart health strategies. (I think Bear eats low fat/high carb and has premature CAD in his family hx, which I find so unfortunate)).


David said...

Yeah, with the early CAD in Bear's family history, and with the fact that he's such a spectacular athlete, I wouldn't be surprised if he has high Lp(a). Of course, that makes his low-fat/high-carb diet even more dangerous.

Gotta love him, though. His shows are among the most entertaining that I've seen.

Les Stroud (Survivorman) is great, too. A little more reality-based than Bear's show, and really gives a taste for what it's really like (nine failures for every success). Both shows are fantastic in their own ways.


Dr. B G said...

We like both Les and Bear at our house as well -- my girls couldn't get over how Bear drank his own urine on that one episode...!! (turns out I was reading that yogi's practice that as well -- they recover hormones??)

David said...

Yuck! He drank his own urine a couple times on the show (carried it around in a snake skin until he was ready to drink it one of those times). I'm convinced that that was just hype for the show. I've never advised anyone to drink urine, and all of my survival instructors and mentors specifically advised against it, due to the fact that it will actually dehydrate you and put you in a worse spot than you were in to begin with. Kind of like drinking sea water. Seems like a good idea at the time, but...

Can't forget about the law of diminishing returns. There are almost always better ways to get water.

Replace hormones by drinking urine? Hmmm... Maybe? BUT, there are also mothers (human ones!) who eat their own placentas for the same reason. Maybe it works, but WHO CARES? There are better ways to get those things, like bio-identical hormone creams, for instance. WAY more civilized than eating your own organ. LOL

Dr. B G said...

Don't worry, if we were ever in a survival situation, the LAST thing we would do is drink our own urine! I'm glad you clarified the lack of value. When yogi's do it, they probably have access to free water. That's so funny regarding placenta. I asked to see it with my second child's birth. It is SO COOL. For some reason, I had a strong desire to take it home with me! (Not to eat). Postpartum depression does however occur in many women... Maybe they should eat their placenta??
Progesterone cures it but it is NOT standard medicine at this time (SSRIs are -- which is stupid, and affects babies via lactation).

David said...

This discussion has taken an interesting turn. lol

That's funny you should mention eating the placenta for postpartum depression, because that's actually a growing practice -- especially in alternative healing and "home birth" people. Supposedly it stops postpartum depression and is good at stopping hemorrhaging as well.

Some women bring the placenta home and bury it. I hear of this stuff all the time because my wife is really big on home birth research, and she relays this info to me. She would never do it, and I don't think there's true evidence that it works, but some women swear by it, so maybe there's some value. Some even dry it an put it into capsules!!

Animals, such as dogs, eat their placentas (grew up raising puppies, so I saw a lot of this), but this is probably more due to the fact that they need immediate nutrition and can't leave the pups to get it, need a clean nesting area, etc. Humans can get nutrition elsewhere, can clean up messes, etc., and of course have the option of targeting their nutritional needs from other sources. each his own, right?

Oh yeah, and you can find recipes online. YUM. No joke.

Dr. B G said...


*haa* I think I've seen on TV, momma cats eating the placenta while cleaning up the kittens. Just as we're all into 'paleo' eating, living, movement, etc I guess it makes sense even childbirth and midwifery science might head in the paleo direction as well!

Don't worry David, doesn't sound like dads need to eat the placenta...