The Truth About “Homeopathic” Medicine

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Homeopathy -- effective, useless, or dangerous? (Photo: Marcos Zerene)

Homeopathy — effective, useless, or dangerous? (Photo: Marcos Zerene)

[Audio version]

[Text version]

I routinely use an arnica gel for minor muscular strains. In fact, it’s one of my “go to” treatments.

In 2010, however, I found myself swallowing Boiron Arnica Montana 30C pellets, an oral version that was the only option at the closest GNC. I started at five pellets, SIX times a day–TWICE the recommended dose. Risk of overdose? Not likely.

“30C,” which I looked up that evening, tells you all you need to know.

This consumable version of arnica, unlike the creams I’d used in the past, was a homeopathic remedy. Samuel Hahnemann, a German physician, pioneered the field of homeopathy in 1796, if the term “pioneer” can be applied to alternative “medicine” founded on concepts like mass dilution and beatings with horse-hair implements. From the Wikipedia entry for “homeopathic dilutions,” last I looked:

Homeopaths use a process called “dynamisation” or “potentisation” whereby a substance is diluted with alcohol or distilled water and then vigorously shaken by ten hard strikes against an elastic body in a process called “succussion”… Hahnemann believed that the process of succussion activated the vital energy of the diluted substance.

Riiiight.

Back to 30C. 30C indicates a 10-60  (10^(-60), or 10 to the negative 60th) dilution, the dilution most recommended by Hahnemann.

30C would require giving 2 billion doses per second to 6 billion people for 4 billion years to deliver a single molecule of the original material to any one person. Put another way, if I diluted one-third of a drop of liquid into all the water on earth, it would produce a remedy with a concentration of about 13C, more than twice the “strength” of our 30C arnica.

Most homeopathic remedies in liquid are indistinguishable from water and don’t contain a single molecule of active medicine. In systematic review after systematic review, these dilutive homeopathic remedies display no ability to heal beyond placebo.

I found this particularly bothersome. Bothersome because I appeared to heal faster using oral 30C arnica.

There are a few potential explanations… Read More

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Are Saunas the Next Big Performance-Enhancing “Drug”?

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Preface by Editor

This post will explain how heat can be used to increase growth hormone, muscular hypertrophy, endurance, and otherwise aid performance.

It’s authored by Rhonda Perciavalle Patrick, Ph.D, and it’s comprehensive. But before we get started, you need to read some background and warnings…

Heat is no joke.

Ever since I was a premie, overheating and thermo-regulation have been my arch-enemies. On a few occasions, I’ve been hospitalized for heat stroke symptoms, and the symptoms hit suddenly and without warning. I’m extremely lucky I didn’t smash my skull on the ground after the collapses.

To delve into this handicap, I even became a test subject at Stanford University in 2005.

I underwent military-related heat marches to exhaustion, capturing data the entire time. Here are some choice pics.

It was as fun as it looks (I’ll share videos another time, as they’re hilarious):

After each session, I was so incapacitated that I couldn’t do any work for 8-12 hours. I often had to simply go home and sleep, even at 11am. These issues led me to eventually leave the study.

Heat is serious fucking business, m’kay?

People can die from excessive heat (sauna example here, recent running death here), so read these warnings carefully… Read More

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Potential Tactics for Defeating Cancer — A Toolkit in 1,000 Words

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(Photo: Irina Souiki)

I’ve wanted to publish this post for years.

It will propose a few simple approaches for minimizing the occurrence of cancer.

With 19 billion capillaries in our bodies, on average, virtually 100% of us have microscopic cancers by the time we’re 70 years old, more than 40% of us by age 40. There’s a good chance you have pinhead-size cancers in your body right now. These “cancers without disease” aren’t typically a problem, as they can’t grow larger than 0.5 mm without a blood supply.

But if cancer cells gets constant blood and glucose? That’s when you can end up dead.

That’s not where I want to be, and it’s not where I want you to be.

A Little Backstory…

While at the annual TED Conference in 2010, I learned that two close friends had been diagnosed with cancer. The year before, another friend had died of pancreatic cancer in his early 30’s.

This all made me furious and sad. It also made me feel helpless.

As luck would have it, TED in 2010 was abuzz about someone named Dr. William Li. His 24-minute presentation had introduced the crowd to “anti-angiogenesis therapy”: in plain English, how to starve cancers of blood. Dr. Li specializes in inhibiting cancer-specific blood-vessel growth, which ostensibly keeps abnormal growth in check. The simplest “drug” he recommended was tea. Drinking a daily blend of white tea (specifically Dragon Pearl jasmine) and green tea (Japanese sencha).

I started drinking the cocktail immediately, but it was just a first step… Read More

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Ten Popular Diets — Which Work and Which Are Hype?

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100+ pounds lost on The Slow-Carb Diet®.

If you want to lose fat in 2014, how about we do it together?  I need to work off some Danish butter cookies.

Last year, the Lift team helped me test The Slow-Carb Diet® with 3,500 readers.  The result: 84% of people lost weight and the average weight loss was 8.6 pounds over four weeks.  Many people lost more than 20 pounds.  This didn’t surprise me, given the case studies of people who’ve lost 100+ pounds.

Working alongside UC Berkeley, Lift is now launching the largest study of popular diets ever performed.  You can choose from 10 different diets (Paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc.), and the study includes control groups and a randomized trial.  The Slow-Carb Diet is one option.

I will be participating, cheering you on…and advising.  Here’s what you should do today:

  1. Download the Lift app for goal tracking and motivation. Lift now has Android and web versions, along with the original iPhone version.
  2. Visit the Quantified Diet homepage to choose your diet, or to be randomly assigned to one.
  3. If you choose the Slow-Carb Diet, join the community at 4HBTalk or Reddit for support.  I will pop in every once in a while to check things out.  I’ll be following the diet with you, in addition to using biochemical cocktails I’ll share later.
  4. If you want the full monty, get The 4-Hour Body.  You can lose a ton of weight without it, but the details in the book will prevent you from stalling and make everything faster.

For more background on this study, I asked Tony Stubblebine, CEO of Lift, to tell the story.  Here it is!  It’s a quick read, and I suggest it… Read More

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Soylent: What Happened When I Stopped Eating For 2 Weeks

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Shane Drinking Soylent

Tim Ferriss Intro

Hundreds of people have asked me about Soylent, a controversial Silicon Valley team trying to replace food with a grayish liquid.

“Does it really deliver all the nutrients the human body needs?”
“Is it safe?”
“Why hasn’t anyone tried this before?” [Hint: they have]
And most often: “What do you think of Soylent?”

Serendipitously, four or so weeks ago, I received an e-mail from Shane Snow, a frequent contributor to Wired and Fast Company:

I’m sure you have seen the buzz about the food-hacking movement, where a couple of Silicon Valley techies have been creating Matrix-style food replacement formulas for “optimum” chemical nutrition. Soylent.me, in particular, has been buzzing like crazy, having raised $800k in a Kickstarter-like campaign.

But nobody (besides the creators) has gotten his or her hands on any yet.

Except me.

Naturally, we had to do an experiment.

This post describes the longest non-employee trial of Soylent to date (two weeks without food), including before-and-after data such as:

- Comprehensive blood panels
– Body weight and bodyfat percentage
– Cognitive performance
– Resting heart rate
– Galvanic skin response
– Sleep

I share my thoughts in the AFTERWORD and occasionally in brackets, but this article focuses on Shane’s experience and data.  Please also note that this is *not* a Soylent take-down piece. I hope they succeed.

That said, there are some issues. I expect the debate on Soylent to be fierce, so please leave your thoughts in the comments. I’ll encourage the Soylent founders to answer as many questions as they can. From all sides, I’m most interested in studies or historical precedent that can be cited, but logical arguments are fine.

Also, a quick clarification: There is a bit of soy lecithin (an emulsifier) in Soylent, but soy is not a main ingredient, which is understandably confusing.

Enjoy the fireworks… Read More

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Going from Obese to Bikini Body — Briana Case Study (Plus: New Tools, 4-Hour Body Group)

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Briana Christine- 100 POUND transformation_FRONT
All tactics, no excuses.

This post will explain exactly how Briana, a mother of three and reader of this blog, lost 100 pounds. It’s a lot simpler than you might think.

For additional real-world examples and the fundamentals, I suggest reading “How to Lose 100 Pounds on The Slow-Carb Diet.” There are several men and women profiled.

Sidenote: Many of you have been asking for a free 4-Hour Body support group… so I created it here. It’s designed to improve success rates by 50%+.  In a recent four-week test, 86% of people who finished lost an average of 8.6 pounds.  Many lost more than 20 pounds.  If you’re serious about progress, take a look.

Now, onto our post, which was written by Briana herself. I’ve avoided any major edits to preserve her voice.

Please add any questions or tips of your own to the comment. Both Briana and I will jump in to help… Read More

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Jedi Mind Tricks: How to Get Loved Ones to Lose Weight

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03.31.13 Darya and Kevin
Darya Pino Rose, PhD, and her dad, who transformed himself after years of resistance.

“Families are like fudge: mostly sweet with a few nuts.”
– Anonymous

“Language is a means of getting an idea from my brain into yours without surgery.”
– Mark Amidon

Losing fat yourself is one thing. Readers of this blog have lost 100-200 pounds without too much trouble.

Getting your mom or dad to take you seriously? To stop eating white bread or drinking 64-ounce sodas? That can seem impossible.

Loved ones — whether family, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, or otherwise — can be sensitive. The people who need help most often won’t accept it, especially from those closest to them.

So what to do?

This post gives a real-world example from Darya Pino Rose, PhD. I’ve known and followed Darya for years. Her PhD is in neuroscience from USCF, and she champions a whole-food-based approach to nutrition that avoids pills and powders. This combination produces fascinating results.

The below story, from her new book Foodist, shows exactly how she transformed her dad’s health without butting heads with him… and how you can do the same for your loved ones.

Do you have any tricks that have worked with your family or friends? Please share in the comments!

Note: For the purposes of this post, a “foodist” is someone who uses real food and real science to lose weight permanently.

Enjoy… Read More

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The First-Ever Quantified Self Notes (Plus: LSD as Cognitive Enhancer?)

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The very first Quantified Self meetup, held at Kevin Kelly’s home. Here, Dr. Seth Roberts is speaking, and I’m seated third from the right. (Photo: Kevin Kelly)

Below are the notes I took at the very first Quantified Self meet-up on 9/10/08.

It was held in the picturesque home of Kevin Kelly, the founding editor of WIRED magazine. Surrounded by books, wood paneling, and white boards, we had one hell of a jam session.

From that small, 28-person gathering, “QS” has since grown into a pop-culture term and international phenomenon, with organizations in more than 20 countries. Forbes has even called 2013 “The Year of the Quantified Self.”

Here’s where it started… Read More

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Announcing the "4 Fundamentals", Merrell Partnership/Giveaway, and Live Q&A

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I’ve worn Merrell shoes for ages, even back in 2007 for Japanese horseback archery training.

It’s a long story, but I still have those bad boys.

In 2012, Merrell themselves noticed that I wore Merrell. DMs were sent, and the seeds of a partnership were born. Today, I’m thrilled to formally announce that I’m collaborating with Merrell in 2013 to get more people outdoors. Of course, they want to move product, but I’m happy to help. Why? Because I already love their stuff, and the new minimal shoes are precisely what I wanted and wrote about in The 4-Hour Body. The soles of the M Connect line are designed by Vibram but less socially awkward than their Gecko-feet variety, which I’d stopped wearing.

I’ll be doing a lot with Merrell using their Twitter and Facebook accounts (keep reading), so you might want to follow them here:
Merrell Twitter
Merrell Facebook

I’d also like to give away some shoes! Just answer both of these questions in the comments below:
– What does “connection” mean to you?
– What are your favorite bodyweight-only exercises?

The best 10 responses will get 10 pairs (one pair each) of Merrell shoes: 8 domestic US winners and 2 international winners. All answers are due no later than 5pm PST on Tuesday, March 12.

Live Events and Q&A — Saturday and Monday

I will be doing a few live events today, Saturday:

- Live SXSW keynote in Austin, TX — 11AM-12PM Tomorrow, Saturday, March 12. It’s called “Acquiring the Skill of Meta-Learning” and is about how to become world-class in nearly any skill in 6 months or less.

- Book Signing at SXSW following above presentation, from 12:30pm to however long it takes :)

Then, next Monday (March 11), a free 2-hour Q&A on Twitter:

Here’s how it works:
– Go to @merrelloutside and follow them.
– Starting 9pm EST, ask any questions you like in the following format “@tferriss @merrelloutside [Insert question]?” Anything is fair game, and I’ll do my best to answer as many as possible.

Have a great weekend… and get outside!

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The Diet of UFC Champion Georges St-Pierre: How He Transformed Himself

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Georges St. Pierre, better known to fight fans worldwide as “GSP,” is currently the UFC Welterweight Champion.

His publicly stated goal is to retire as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and, at a record of 23-2, ESPN currently ranks him as the #3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. I think he’ll get there.

His intellect–and consistency–is what separates him from the brawlers. He has a scientific approach to winning.

This isn’t limited to training. He considers nutrition a critical part of his fight prep, just as important as being in the cage. In this respect, 2009 marked an inflection point. That year, after successfully defending his Welterweight title in his second fight against BJ Penn, GSP hired Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition to help him gain lean muscle tissue and improve his recovery abilities. Berardi, in charge of the nutrient science, recommended that GSP hire Jennifer Nickel and Rosario “Ross” Gurreri, two chefs in the Montreal area who worked at Cavalli and Bice restaurants, for his meal preparation.

In the next 8 weeks, GSP gained approximately 12 pounds of lean muscle and bulked up to 195 pounds. His upgraded speed and power helped him to dominate every subsequent opponent, posting a 5-0 record since 2009.

This post will walk you through how GSP ate during his 2009 transformation… Read More

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