February 7, 2024
by Pacha Mama
When it comes to getting a cast put on, or a blood test to see what’s missing in your nutritional reserve—traditional western medicine has come a long way, explains holistic health practitioner and one of the Pachamama Body Cleanse facilitators, Omie Hady. But an increasing number of seekers coming through Pachamama share with us: I just don’t feel well, and my doctor tells me nothing is wrong. Or: I want to improve mental clarity, and my doctor has no answers for me.
This is where biohacking comes in: learning to fine-tune our bodies and unlock a true sense of thriving through ancestral wisdom and the latest modern science.
We sat down with Omie to get to know the world of biohacking and some of its science-backed as well as ancient modalities you can try at home, or here at Pachamama—including Wim Hof breathing, cold plunge tubs, lucia light therapy, intravenous micronutrient therapy with the Myers cocktail, aromatherapy, and heat therapy in a sauna or sweat lodge, and more.
We’ll start by saying that Omie doesn’t love the word biohacking. Although we use it in this article for the sake of simplicity, it’s a bit of a buzzword that seems to imply there’s something that needs to be “hacked” about the body. For Omie, this work isn’t about forcing or hacking, but unlocking the natural medicine of the body that’s already present within us and always has been.
There are do-it-yourself (DIY) coffee tables, costumes, and kombucha. And then there’s do-it-yourself biology (DIY biology), which is another name for biohacking. But unlike other DIY disciplines, biohacking has a wealth of scientific research and ancient holistic practices behind it, drawing on the latest findings in nutrition, genetics, neuroscience, and more—in addition to time-tested techniques derived from Chinese medicine, pranayama, energy medicine, and other healing modalities. Biohacking empowers individuals to use these tools to make gradual changes to their body systems to optimize wellness and performance.
Omie describes this as a process of activating our inner doctor—and our inner wizard and witch—so we don’t have to rely so heavily on the often limited options offered to us by traditional Western medicine.
While we can all benefit from attuning to the body’s intelligence—Omie finds that biohacking is particularly well suited to support individuals feeling “out of tune” in the form of fatigue, weakened immune response, or nervous system imbalance.
As Omie explains, many of us do not have the tools to deal with the strong current that some of our environments can bring, specifically industrialized areas. We find ourselves sacrificing our physical bodies at work, feeling perpetually tired and overextended, without realizing what the baseline of a regulated nervous system feels like, and how overstimulated we are. We often find ourselves overeating, binging on sugar, after-work beer, Netflix, scrolling—habits that help us cope and soothe, but begin to take a toll on our health and wellbeing. Until our bodies begin to rebel in ways we can no longer ignore.
For Omie personally, it was this high-stimulation lifestyle of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” that eventually brought him to his limits, revealing the need for deep self-care on the physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. He began to explore the world of biohacking, which led him to Pachamama and its fountain of ancient and modern tools to optimise wellness and restore balance in the body.
Now one of the most popular biohacking tools, cold water therapy is an ancient practice dating to Ancient Greece and several other civilizations—where cold plunge tubs were used to treat muscle fatigue, pain, fever, and other symptoms. In recent years, the trending Wim Hof method has raised awareness around ice bath benefits like improved immunity, weight loss, reduced anxiety, and speedier recovery from injury.
You can try it at home with a simple practice of a cold shower, or here at Pachamama’s cold plunge tub, nestled in the forest with a view of the wild green valley below. Pachamama’s certified Wim Hof facilitator, Yati Or, starts each session with Wim Hof breathing practices (more on this later) before you enter the individual cold plunge tub for a suggested minimum of 90 seconds.
According to Omie, a powerful subset of biohacking practices involves exposing the body to certain extremes, in this case, extreme cold, so that our system can reset and develop resilience, among other benefits. When exposed to what might feel like impossibly cold ice bath temperatures, the body begins to activate inner resources—including certain beneficial DNA strains—that might otherwise lie dormant, says Omie.
For example, research has shown that ice bath temperatures of 16 degrees Celsius or lower activate brown fat tissue, which only kicks into gear in the cold. Building brown fat over time through cold therapy supports weight loss, boosts your metabolism and regulates blood sugar and insulin.
Ice bath benefits also include a more regulated nervous system and speedier physical recovery. A dip in the cold plunge tub stimulates the vagus nerve, which helps reduce anxiety and improve gut health. Plus, increased circulation helps reduce inflammation and supports the healing of muscles and other tissues.
In the Wim Hof method, these ice bath benefits are paired with Wim Hof breathing techniques for a full-body reset.
Breath is one of the greatest forms of medicine that mother nature can provide, says Omie. It is an automatic process, like the heart beating—except we’re able to consciously control it, making it a powerful tool to influence our physiology. Wim Hof breathing aims to harness this tool to unlock greater vitality by increasing energy and mental clarity while reducing stress and boosting immune function.
Before entering the ice bath, Yati recommends a practice of Wim Hof breathing techniques. You can start with 3 rounds of classic Wim Hof breathing: a set of 30-40 deep breaths, followed by a breath retention on the final exhale of the set, before beginning the next round. Deep breathing lowers our heart rate and stimulates our parasympathetic nervous system, or our body’s relaxed, “rest and digest” state, helping our body to release stress and boost digestion, and immune function.
During the breath hold, low oxygen levels briefly activate a stress response before transitioning back to the parasympathetic state of relaxation. This trains our body to more effectively switch from an activated to a relaxed state—improving our ability to manage stress in our daily lives. Wim Hof breathing helps the body build capacity to function with low oxygen levels, which then translates into more efficient oxygen use and improved performance in the long run.
Beyond the physical benefits, Omie explains, the practices of Wim Hof breathing and cold therapy also work with the emotional body, supporting release and balance. They help us drop into the body and let the mind take a back seat as we unlock inner resources and resilience that extend far beyond these practices.
Contrasted with the resilience-building extremes of the ice bath, you can also explore more subtle yet powerful biohacking tools of IV therapy with the Myers cocktail, aromatherapy, and lucia light therapy.
In developed countries, many of us are consuming more calories than ever before—without getting the nourishment we need to truly thrive. Omie explains a large part of the problem is due to conventional farming practices, hybridization, poor dietary habits, and compromised digestive health that leaves us struggling to properly absorb nutrients.
Intravenous therapy, or IV therapy, aims to deliver essential nutrients directly into our bloodstream. Working with our registered nurse, workshop participants will get to experience this with the Myers cocktail, an infusion of critical micronutrients developed in the 1960s to help address chronic health conditions. The Myers cocktail includes the immune-boosting antioxidant Vitamin C, a mix of B vitamins to support brain function and energy levels, magnesium and calcium to support bone and heart health, and more.
As Omie says, receiving IV therapy is like plugging ourselves into Mother Earth and directly receiving minerals into our bloodstream—through the support of modern science.
Another more subtle yet powerful biohacking tool Omie recommends is Lucia light therapy. Known to stimulate EEG brain wave patterns, Lucia light supports you in entering a hypnagogic trance, or a deep meditative state, as you sit or lay facing the light with closed eyes. Omie compares the experience to the no-mind state many of us have accessed with plant medicine. As the Lucia light activates the pineal gland and creates new neural pathways, you may see sacred geometry and experience a heightened sense of perspective and mental clarity.
It may not sound like an obvious biohacking tool at first, but aromatherapy is quite scientific in its approach—activating receptors in the nose connected to our nervous system and directly influencing our brain chemistry. The essential oils used in aromatherapy can impact your hypothalamus, which is connected to mood, blood pressure, hormone release, heart rate, and more. They’re also known to interact with the limbic system, which is related to emotions.
Whether in the comfort of your own home or here in the Prana Clinic, a restorative aromatherapy session can help balance the nervous system, reduce stress, promote relaxation and improved sleep, and support emotional regulation. You can easily experience these benefits at home with a diffuser or by directly applying essential oils to your skin.
Heat therapy in saunas or sweat lodges is one of Omie’s favourite ancestral (as well as science-backed) biohacking modalities—and one that can double as a potent prayer. The ceremonial sweat lodge from the Red Road is a cherished practice here at Pachamama that invites what Omie calls the greatest form of self-care: gratitude.
Pachamama’s traditional sweat lodge on the banks of the Rosario River is heated by volcanic stones, giving you the chance to offer your prayers of gratitude in the form of your sweat. For millennia, sweat lodges and saunas have been used to support detoxification and purification of the body. Modern science now supports that raising your core body temperature and temporarily exposing your body to heat stress can support a healthy metabolism and cardiovascular function, as well as reduce anxiety and flush heavy metals from the body.
As temperatures rise to the heartbeat of the drum, the sweat lodge offers us the opportunity to develop resilience, Omie says. We become a better surfer in our daily lives when that strong wave comes through.
Unlocking the doctor within isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes discipline, patient fine-tuning, and ongoing deep listening to the language of the body. But the reward is great.
You start to come back to having a true dialogue with mother nature, Omie shares. You begin to experience a heightened awareness that connects you to something greater than yourself—supporting you to come into alignment with your natural state of vitality.
This is what Omie and his fellow holistic health practitioners at Pachamama most hope to seed in the Prana Clinic’s newest workshop: Fine Tuning Your Temple. The 3-day workshop allows participants to rejuvenate, reset, and explore ancient and modern biohacking modalities—leaving them with the tools, awareness, and discipline required to move through life, empowered to tune their temple. If you’re curious about exploring these tools in a safe and supportive container, learn more on the workshop homepage, or email us to register.
“I have nothing against Western medicine, but to me, it is the alternative,” says Omie. “The first medicine is the ancient intelligence of our body, the capability it has to heal itself and regenerate.”