Saturday, October 17, 2015


Merriam-Webster defines it as:
a theoretical phenomenon of dose-response relationships in which something (as a heavy metal or ionizing radiation) that produces harmful biological effects at moderate to high doses may produce beneficial effects at low doses
As a general theory, it might be lacking and can be especially dangerous if you're stupid about it. Even known-good hormetic phenomenon have significant caveats. I'll describe my protocols and if you decide they may apply to you, be smart, read up, consult a doctor, and most importantly, listen to your body. Don't overdo it. In addition, these protocols are significant stressors and performing more than one at a time might violate the "don't overdo it" principle.

The known types of hormetic stressors are: toxic chemicals, radiation exposure, physical stress, caloric restriction, hyperthermic exposure, and hypothermic exposure. I avoid toxic chemicals and radiation exposure since research has not provided enough dosage nor beneficial effects information.

Physical Stress

The simplest to understand and best understood hormetic phenomenon is physical stress -- or as we all know it, exercise! One paper has this to say:
Physical inactivity leads to increased incidence of a variety of diseases and it can be regarded as one of the end points of the exercise-associated hormesis curve. On the other hand, regular exercise, with moderate intensity and duration, has a wide range of beneficial effects on the body including the fact that it improves cardio-vascular function, partly by a nitric oxide-mediated adaptation, and may reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's disease by enhanced concentration of neurotrophins and by the modulation of redox homeostasis. Mechanical damage-mediated adaptation results in increased muscle mass and increased resistance to stressors. Physical inactivity or strenuous exercise bouts increase the risk of infection, while moderate exercise up-regulates the immune system. Single bouts of exercise increases, and regular exercise decreases the oxidative challenge to the body, whereas excessive exercise and overtraining lead to damaging oxidative stress and thus are an indication of the other end point of the hormetic response. Based upon the genetic setup, regular moderate physical exercise/activity provides systemic beneficial effects, including improved physiological function, decreased incidence of disease and a higher quality of life.
My personal protocol consists of regularly spaced extended medium intensity effort (endurance) and short bursts of high intensity effort (HIIT). I won't say much about how regular moderate intensity physical activity reduces the risk of developing many diseases as the subject is well-researched and accepted as common knowledge. Deeper investigation is left as an exercise for the reader. Wikipedia has this to say about HIIT:
High-intensity interval training (HIIT), also called high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) or sprint interval training (SIT), is an enhanced form of interval training, an exercise strategy alternating short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less-intense recovery periods. HIIT is a form of cardiovascular exercise. Usual HIIT sessions may vary from 4–30 minutes. These short, intense workouts provide improved athletic capacity and condition, improved glucose metabolism, and improved fat burning.[1][2][3] Compared with other regimens, HIIT may not be as effective for treating hyperlipidemia and obesity, or improving muscle and bone mass.[4] Researchers also note that HIIT requires "an extremely high level of subject motivation," and question whether the general population could safely or practically tolerate the extreme nature of the exercise regimen.[5]
In addition to endurance exercise and HIIT, I also perform regular (low-intensity) strength training, for, well, strength, as there is very little additional hormetic benefit to it. My strength training consists of weight lifting, core exercises and yoga.

Be careful, be informed, see a doctor before starting your own protocol.

Caloric restriction

The research on caloric restriction is also surprisingly detailed with many possible protocols that can be followed. I've already pulled together several points on this form of hormesis which you can read on Google Drive. The presentation is fairly easy reading so I won't rehash the points here. My personal protocol is a 3-day fast beginning after breakfast on the first Friday of each month.

Be careful, be informed, see a doctor before starting your own protocol.

Hyperthermic conditioning

Northern Europeans have known hyperthermic conditioning for centuries simply as "spending time in the sauna". My friend Dr. Rhonda Patrick (Ph.D. in molecular biology, not M.D.) has put together a fantastic video overview of the overwhelming health benefits of sauna use. For more details, including specific protocols and molecular basis of operation, please download her in-depth sauna report. I also won't rehash her points here. My personal protocol is a single 35 minute session four-times weekly in a sauna maintained at about 170-190 degrees F.

Be careful, be informed, see a doctor before starting your own protocol.

Hypothermic conditioning

I think it's safe to say that everyone hates the cold. That's too bad... it can provide many, many healthy benefits. The most well known is reduced pain and accelerated healing by simply applying a cold pack to sore/sprained muscles. Hypothermic hormesis has also been shown to improve immune response by reducing the number and size of tumors in mice. It also has been shown to improve general physical conditioning. Weight-loss and the reduction of metabolic syndrome can also be induced through prolonged, regular exposure to cold. My personal protocol is alternate 10 minutes in the hot tub with 10 minutes in the 60 degree F swimming pool at my gym.

Be careful, be informed, see a doctor before starting your own protocol.

Concluding comments

The research is in and putting our bodies regularly through certain types of stress can be very beneficial to us. No one likes the temporary discomfort that the physical effort, calorie restriction, hyperthermic exposure, and hypothermic exposure induces, but they each have different mechanisms by which they improve our bodies and we should include them as an integrated part of our overall physical conditioning regimens. And as I've said several times already: be smart, read up, consult a doctor, and listen to your body before starting your own protocol.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Busy Work Day

  • Pulled up sod for new flower/herb bed
  • Worked in some beautiful black compost
  • Covered the bed with mulch
3 hours (really sucks to break up hardpan clay)
  • Dug holes and moved clay and grass to compost pile
  • Planted bushes that have been in planters for 3 years
  • mixed straw, clay and sod in compost pile
2 hours
  • added compost to raised beds
  • mixed compost, soil, and last year's mulch for a very tilthy soil
  • planted lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and onions in beds that had tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers last year
  • covered plant beds with wood chips
  • (found unharvested potatoes starting to sprout!)
2 hours

  • watered all the mulched beds
30 mins

Work left:
  • At least a dozen potted bushes
  • 40 strawberry roots ($8 at Walmart!)
  • most of the straw, clay, grass to compost
10 hours? 20 hours?

I'm too tired and too sore for doing this again tomorrow!

...crap, wanted to get a half flat of marigolds to put in the raised beds to confuse pests and to provide nectar and pollen for the new bees. Ugh at least another hour of digging and watering.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Langstroth to Warré conversion

The recommended solution is to acclimate the bees to the new hive by putting a 'converter' between the Langstroth nuc and the top of the Warré hive. In 10 days, create a bee 'funnel' and shake the bees out of the Langstroth nuc into the Warré hive and then take the Langstroth frames, cut them in half and attach them to the Warré top bars. Easy peasy... except I'm wondering if I shake the bees, will they get pissed off?

Got Bees - Starter Frames Bigger Than Hive!

So... the 3 pounds of bees on starter frames/comb are bigger than the frames of my hive! This is not good. I've posted a question on how I should proceed on a message board. Waiting for feedback from the experts... will post their recommendations later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Home for New Critters at Asberry Acres

Warré Hive
This is going to be the home of the newest animals we're adding to our farm: bees! Warré beekeeping is a minimally invasive (only get into hive a couple times a year: Spring to add two supers to the bottom, pulling the top super after the first flow, and Fall to harvest the top two supers), top bar (no frames, the bees build all of the honeycomb) style of beekeeping focused on the healthiness of the bees rather than the harvesting of bee products. This type of hive is typically put directly on the ground, however, I'm concerned about flooding so I'll put it up a few inches on blocks.  Now that I have the home, I'm looking forward to receiving the family that's going to be moving in!

To learn more about Warré beekeeping, go to and download Beekeeping For All!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Rooster Crows

Been a while since I've posted anything. Haven't been in a writing mood.

But, I did want to pass on a chuckle: our rooster started crowing this morning. And it was pitiful... "oh oh ohhohhhhhh". Poor boy sounded like he was in pain! He'll probably have it down good in a few weeks, but it woke me up laughing this morning :-D

Friday, September 9, 2011

Tomato hornworms

Over the last few weeks, I've been finding tomato plants stripped bare of leaves and half eaten green tomatoes. The other day I discovered the culprit!

(Insert picture here, oh wait camera only taking blank pictures.)

The culprits were pretty easy to identify... and pick off of the plants. Of course, they are a delicacy to the chickens who fight greedily over these juicy treats. The destruction they've been doing to the tomatoes will now pay off nicely as a protein source in our chicken eggs!

(Insert another picture, this one a glass mixing bowl full of tomato hornworms)

Other good news is that almost half of the hornworms were carrying predatory wasp eggs!

That picture is as gross as it seems, but, those wasps will take care of all manner of pesky pests!

What else is going on? Picked two quarts of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and tomatilloes. Most of the bounty were tomatoes that I blanched and put in a freezer bag for making future goodies. And finally, I've started my next batch of black garlic. It should be ready October 17th.