Alex Chan
5 min read

What is biohacking?

Written by
Dr. Alex Chan
Published on
May 18, 2022

The term biohacking and the concept of “do-it-yourself” biology has been around since the late 1980’s. Greater interest in our health and how we could optimize it was born out of easier access to testing like personal genomic sequencing and functional analysis. It was developed as a movement against conventional medicine and the disease model of health care. People became invested in the idea that they could have more control about where their health was headed. Biohacking gained further traction in the 2000’s especially as the San Francisco tech community took off and began quantifying and gamifying our bodies and all aspects of physical, mental and emotional performance. In 2005 Rob Carlson wrote in an article in Wired, “The era of garage biology is upon us. Want to participate? Take a moment to buy yourself a lab on eBay.”

The DIYbio movement revises the idea that you have to be an academic or doctor in order to understand your own body. It allows people to feel empowered in making decisions that impact their health. As technology advanced Biohacking seeks to harness technology to measure and improve health outcomes. Biohacking takes a proactive approach to concerns often associated with aging. Biohacking can be defined as a series of practices which change your biology and chemistry. These changes are usually targeted at increasing:

  • Energy
  • Cognition
  • Function or performance
  • Longevity

Biohacking exists on two key principles:

  1. We can engineer our bodies to feel better
  2. We can do something about it right now

Generally, this occurs outside of the normal scope of traditional medicine as until very recently most conventional medicine is disease focuses rather than prevention based. Newer trends towards Functional Medicine, that seeks to optimize body function, is much more in line with Biohacking.



DOI: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2018.02.011

PMID: 22478803

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