It's the 'hack' in 'biohacking'.
When you select an intervention, you usually have some implicit or explicit beliefs about the intended outcomes.
You have a hypothesis: If I do this, I hope to get that.
Such as, if I remember to do oil pulling every morning my dental health will improve.
Or, if I stick to my healing protocol, I'll start to reverse my autoimmune symptoms and maybe get my life back.
In this way, most n=1 experimentation for healing follows the scientific method.
It's entirely possible to select an intervention just for exploratory kicks. To find out what might happen, without any specific hypothesis in mind. That can be fun, but it's straying into the territory of Developmental Biohacking, which I'll explore in future posts.
For now, let's stick with the scientific method.
(Fun fact: the origin of the scientific method is attributed to Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haytham a millennia ago.)
The Scientific Method
Step 1: Question
Let's say you have a desired state that is different than your present condition.
Your intended outcome for your n=1 experiment will be some variation of that desired state. Usually, it will involve a reduction of undesired elements or an increase in desired ones.
Whatever your intended outcome, write it down. Be realistic without unduly limiting yourself.
Step 2: Research
Next, select a hack that you think has a reasonable chance of getting you closer to your intended outcome.
To do that, look at published research &/or the reports of fellow biohackers.
Decide what sources you trust. One of the best ways to do this is by first digging in to the methodology (is it sound?) & then by triangulating (find at least 3 distinct sources that support the finding).
After this research, you may need to revise your intended outcome.
Step 3: Hypothesis
Once you've chosen an intervention, you have a hypothesis (If I do this, I'll get that).
Write it down. Include a realistic time frame.
Step 4: Experiment
Test your hypothesis.
Start by documenting your current state in light of your intended outcome. Gather data for your baseline measure, using indicators that are relevant to your experiment.
Then engage with the intervention. As designed.
Step 5: Analyze
Observe. Gather data at appropriate intervals & at the end of your experiment.
Gather the same data as at your baseline, but document unanticipated outcomes, too.
Compare your observed outcomes to your baseline. Then compare your observed outcomes to your intended outcomes.
This is where you assess the efficacy of your hack: was it sufficient? Was is implemented correctly? Does it need to be refined? Abandoned? What about unintended outcomes? Are they desirable/undesirable?
Draw conclusions. Conclusions are best guesses. They inform the next iteration.
Step 6: Report
Document your findings. For your own purposes, or publish your findings.
A blog is a great forum for that.
Bonus Step 7: Adapt
This step is depicted by the arrow.
It's a magic arrow that can take you back to any stage of the process. Use it to ask a new question; do more research, recraft your hypothesis; relaunch your experiment; do more analysis; or change your direction entirely.
N=1 experimentation: the quick version
At it's most basic, n=1 experimentation involves choosing an intended outcome ('I will reverse my autoimmune symptoms & get some of my life back'), running an experiment that you think will help you to achieve that outcome (such as the Autoimmune Protocol), and then comparing the observed outcomes with your initial condition & intended outcomes.
Your intended outcomes are your aspirations. The data you gather describes you, in particular domains, over time.
N=1 experimentation is about systematically organizing your life so you can align the two.
Bulletproof Foods: designed for biohackers.
Through my own n=1 experimentation, I've learned what resources help me to stay adaptive. Bulletproof Foods hold up for me, over and over again.
Most people associate Bulletproof with coffee, but (though I adore it) my adrenals can't handle it very often. Instead, I eat: