This June is Boston’s Biohacking Congress, everyone from prominent podcasters to entrepreneurial technologists will be gathering for the Biohacking Congress, where experts in the space will share ideas, compare notes and hobnob. Presenters will include a gerontologist and podcaster; an entrepreneur who created a set of infrared-related products; and an artist who creates immersive healing spaces.
Get tickets here for Boston’s Biohacking Congress.
What, exactly, is biohacking? That depends on whom you ask. But Vox, a publication dedicated to in-depth explainers, defines biohacking as “the attempt to manipulate your brain and body in order to optimize performance, outside the realm of traditional medicine.” The devil is in the details: “optimizing” could mean everything from using red light therapy to heal muscle soreness and headaches to doing a therapy-assisted psychedelic session.
For Julia Smila, one of the founders of the Biohacking Congress—which since fall 2019 has been a moveable (and sometimes virtual) feast of panels and gatherings in places from Las Vegas to Miami and London to Silicon Valley—biohacking actually begins with something far simpler than special lights or magic mushrooms. Instead, she says, the practice of self-optimization begins with mindset.
“Any Biohacking program has to be personalized and holistic, and must take into account the spiritual, psychological, emotional, and physical aspects of the human condition. If you follow your personal health protocol on a daily basis it will help you to prevent disease, achieve optimal health, and improve quality of life in all aspects.”
The foundation of Smila’s health practice (and indeed, her life), is meditation.
“When I meditate, I get balance, from which I can create all other reality [of my life],” she says. “If we can submit our consciousness, we can achieve everything.”
Beyond that foundation, however, Smila is a big proponent of functional medicine and the rigorous lab tests that it often entails. In contrast to more traditional medicine, the functional approach looks to find and treat the cause of health issues, not just the symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners typically administer Immunoglobulin G (IgG) tests for sensitivities to foods and environmental factors.
Other types of tests that functional medicine often use include hormone panels, GI pathogen screenings, mucosal barrier assessments, and metabolic wellness profiles. Through results from those, says Smila, practitioners can customize a set of health protocols specific to each person.
The main foundations for a holistic, biohacking practice, she adds, should include healthy diet, rest, exercising, stress reduction, supplementation, and tackling what she calls hidden stressors—not just psychological stress, but things like toxic chemicals in makeup, plastics, poor sleep and other potentially harmful day-to-day habits and exposures. Balance, in all things, is key.
“The root cause of all disease,” she says, “is genetic potential exposed to negative signaling from the environment, exposure to toxins, chemicals, and their secretions, and other environmental and lifestyle factors such as poor diet, sleep, and supplementation. These are all pro-oxidative signals.”
Metabolism, says Smila, plays a key role in all of this.
“With normal metabolism, our bodies should be able to handle those negative contributors,” she says. “Pro-oxidative and Non-oxidative [processes] have to be in balance. When metabolism is out of balance, free radicals or reactive oxygen species (ROS) can trigger negative changes in our body. They can destroy the cell membrane, prevent cellular processes, which are necessary for the proper function, and prevent normal cell division, destroy DNA, and block energy generation.”
That is where an effective biohacking program can step into the equation. With a carefully designed program, one can measure all the hidden stressors and dysfunctions plus interplays between them, and get them under control.
The Biohacking Congress, then, was the culmination of Smila’s greatest passion. She already had experience organizing corporate conferences when she took her skills and applied them to her favorite topic. But three years ago she co-founder of Unicorn Lab, which connects startups from the biotech, biohacking and wellness world with investment, and created the Congress to connect like-minded people who share her passion. Each conference features around 30 speakers, and educates attendees on topics from mitochondrial health to innovative, health-tech startups.
The next Boston’s Biohacking Congress conference will run from June 11-12, 2022, in Boston (Get tickets here). Some of the speakers and companies will include:
Zora Benhamou, HackMyAge
With a Master’s in gerontology and a certification in sports nutrition, Benhamou’s focus is optimal health and energy for women over 50. With HackMyAge, her company and eponymous podcast, she strives to educate and inspire peri- and post-menopausal women who are experiencing fatigue. Her goal: reboot her clients’ outlooks and energy for longer and happier lives.
Rob Besner, Therasage
With an undergraduate degree in pre-med and engineering, among other specialties, Besner had long been a proponent of natural health and wellness. But when his teenage daughter was diagnosed with Lyme disease, he set out on a quest to find homeopathic or alternative approaches to her treatment. He began experimenting with infrared lights and when he and his daughter saw results, he wanted to share their findings with the world. He formed his infrared device company, Therasage, and has since become a thought leader in the infrared industry.
Vivian Rosenthal, Frequency
A veritable renaissance woman with expertise in fields from kundalini breathwork to non-dairy based yogurt, at the Boston Biohacking Congress Rosenthal will be discussing her latest project, Frequency. On its website, the enterprise describes itself as an “emotional wellness company that creates immersive healing experiences both in person and online.” To that end, it offers in-person and live-streamed breathwork classes designed to help participants reach greater levels of consciousness.
As for Smila and her partners, the Biohacking Congresses are just the beginning of her vision. Her next goal is to take biohacking principles to traditional health care, and to influence access to treatment. Her vision is nothing short of lofty.
“Regarding the mission of the biohacking congress, I wanted to create a world where more people are engaged with their health and have happier, healthier lives.”
The next Biohacking Congress is in Boston, June 11-12, 2022. Find the full schedule here.