7

votes

N=1, Is Self Experimentation the Future?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created June 18, 2011 at 3:52 PM

I was reading and pondering this article this morning.

There is much talk on Paleo Hacks regarding self-experimentation. There are groups and blogs devoted to this subject.

What do you think about the validity of self-experimentation?

Do you think N=1 self experimentation can influence Health Care Providers?

What is the weirdest thing you've tracked about your health, diet, exercise, etc?

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on November 12, 2011
at 04:45 PM

then you are lucky

Medium avatar

(4878)

on June 19, 2011
at 04:45 PM

An experiment with a sample size of one.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 18, 2011
at 11:28 PM

I think self-experimentation may be an inherent trait of Paleo Hackers.

696079a860ef54810406ae25e4650863

(1623)

on June 18, 2011
at 10:59 PM

Thanks for posting this-it's definitely been on my mind. Nice to see the thoughts it provoked :)

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on June 18, 2011
at 06:03 PM

Good for you. Plus one!

E48833ca4e98b24f35191a02e84cc262

on June 18, 2011
at 05:52 PM

Oh yea and being a born Muslim, 'baconbitch' incites a feeling of repulsion, not to mention taboo at the derogatory female dog reference. Cool!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:15 PM

The one-legged experiment! Loved it. I started standing while working at the computer and it improved my productivity. Shoulda mentioned that.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:14 PM

I agree, M! But I am finding docs that are just as disgusted as we are at the state of our profits-over-people healthcare. Its not new - the AMA still tries to outlaw midwifery. Docs don't receive nutrition training. Experimental procedures are rarely covered by insurance. Many docs practice under the fear of being sued. The insurance companies really have our medical community by the ahem...balls. I mentioned my mom's colon cancer in a post - doc said it was because of too much red meat!

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 18, 2011
at 04:51 PM

Oh, and Seth Roberts tracked standing on one leg four times a day - it seemed to improve his sleep! Weird.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 18, 2011
at 04:49 PM

I meant to mention CureTogether, so thanks for doing that here. That site (which you introduced me to BTW) is amazing! I can't help but be skeptical about "professional medical advice". There seems to be a big happy orgy of academics, Drs, scientists, politicians and PHARMA going on that we ordinary people are not invited to.

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on June 18, 2011
at 04:13 PM

But what if I am the lowest common denominator?

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9 Answers

6
Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:16 PM

It is the now and the future for me and my patients.

4
Medium avatar

(19479)

on June 18, 2011
at 04:07 PM

I definitely think that we are moving closer and closer to "self-knowledge". The fact that we have access to information via the internet that used to be possessed only by "experts" has allowed us to remove the "middleman" so to speak.

We are also unbound by geography and physical space. For example, there is no way I could have conversations like the ones I have on PaleoHacks at my local library, park, or workplace. This group is an example of this "flattening" of barriers between affinity groups.

We are going deeper into the long-tail of our own human experience rather than being defined by the lowest common denominator.

D3ff004d4a0c42b67cc2c49a5ee9c0f3

(5801)

on June 18, 2011
at 04:13 PM

But what if I am the lowest common denominator?

8949bf87b0e0aefcad10f29975e4fa2b

(8989)

on November 12, 2011
at 04:45 PM

then you are lucky

3
E48833ca4e98b24f35191a02e84cc262

on June 18, 2011
at 05:49 PM

Self experimentation has been my life since 2003. I guess its just not marijuana anymore...

Ed71ab1c75c6a9bd217a599db0a3e117

(25482)

on June 18, 2011
at 06:03 PM

Good for you. Plus one!

3
5113df7e1c5a7e9c7555b6b59144de24

(920)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:32 PM

Yes, N=1 can influence health care providers especially if they see it happen often enough.

Here is an example. All the top researchers in celiac disease now recognize non-celiac gluten sensitivity. One reason this happened is because so many patients they diagnosed free of CD returned to say they dropped gluten and health improved. Now there is research into non-celiac gluten sensitivity - an area totally ignored by mainstream medicine until recently.

Another example - what about the N=1 experiment by Nobel Prize winner Barry Marshall. He infected himself with H.pylori to prove it could cause stomach ulcers.

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 18, 2011
at 04:37 PM

I absolutely think self-tracking is going to have an impact on the future of our healthcare. More technologies are coming into existence that make it easier for us to track our health and share it with others (thank the internet gods for open source!). However, I've been to the doctor for myself and my kids and I've been told that my tracking information has no value to them and they've immediately written prescriptions. The problem with many docs (as we all know) is that they're training is not so much based on getting to root causes but masking symptoms and getting through as many patients as possible.

However, I'm starting to see more local providers come together in my community to set themselves apart from the HMO/PPO standards of bottom-line healthcare and they are more receptive to the tracking data.

I think self-tracking empowers us in such a way that we can identify a root cause easier, attempt to heal it, and save ourselves trips to the doctor and in the end - save a lot of money on health care.

I'll refer to the CureTogether site as I have in the past. (I have no affiliation with them - simply respect). The woman who runs this site is affiliated with the QS folks too. What I LOVE is how we can enter our health data and it is matched in a social web format. For instance, I am trying to self-treat depression and found that music therapy is one of the most reliable way to help depressed people. I would never have known that. It also makes it more reliable for me to try based on the culled n=1 tracking.

I can't say I've tracked anything totally weird on myself but as a parent, I recall tracking my babies' poop. That was kinda icky but I don't know one new parent who doesn't track that type of info :) I track my sleep, mood, exercise, food. I'm beginning a new form of tracking about my learning capacity. I'm still developing it but I want to see the ways I learn best, how much I can learn in the shortest amount of time.

E48833ca4e98b24f35191a02e84cc262

on June 18, 2011
at 05:52 PM

Oh yea and being a born Muslim, 'baconbitch' incites a feeling of repulsion, not to mention taboo at the derogatory female dog reference. Cool!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:15 PM

The one-legged experiment! Loved it. I started standing while working at the computer and it improved my productivity. Shoulda mentioned that.

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 18, 2011
at 04:51 PM

Oh, and Seth Roberts tracked standing on one leg four times a day - it seemed to improve his sleep! Weird.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 18, 2011
at 05:14 PM

I agree, M! But I am finding docs that are just as disgusted as we are at the state of our profits-over-people healthcare. Its not new - the AMA still tries to outlaw midwifery. Docs don't receive nutrition training. Experimental procedures are rarely covered by insurance. Many docs practice under the fear of being sued. The insurance companies really have our medical community by the ahem...balls. I mentioned my mom's colon cancer in a post - doc said it was because of too much red meat!

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on June 18, 2011
at 04:49 PM

I meant to mention CureTogether, so thanks for doing that here. That site (which you introduced me to BTW) is amazing! I can't help but be skeptical about "professional medical advice". There seems to be a big happy orgy of academics, Drs, scientists, politicians and PHARMA going on that we ordinary people are not invited to.

3
41dfb1a4fecb38d24075ff52f13ccb28

on June 18, 2011
at 04:36 PM

I wonder if, to whatever extent, there are some that don't feel as if they have any other option. With so many people lacking health insurance in the US, doctors fees being high, salaries being low, and then even if they do spend the money to see a doctor it's can sometimes feel like the doc comes in, barely listens (or just flat out doesn't believe what you tell him/her **), writes a prescription for god only knows what, and then runs out.

I guess I can just understand the frustration, and the feeling of "well who knows me better than me? I'll figure this out!"

And on top of that, I think there is also a trust issue going on. Take "my plate" for example. All those grains would make me sick, but it's supposed to be "healthy" for me. So I guess I also wonder how much self experimentation is born out of realizing that just one piece of mainstream medical advice is wrong and then having that trust broken.

Is it valid? I don't see how it's any less valid than anything else. When it comes down to it, you only have the one life to live. So either you can figure out how you, personally, can really enjoy your time here, or you can do things that don't work for you because someone says it should and spend your life (possibly) miserable.

** Just as an aside: I have a lower body temperature than most. I always have. I've had thyroid tests and they all came back fine. This is just the way I am. Over the years when I've told doctors this, they've rolled their eyes at me or told me I was full of ----. Seriously, of all the things I could possibly lie to a doctor about, why would I pick that?!

2
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on June 18, 2011
at 06:45 PM

My opinion. Self experimentation is only valid on the personal level. YOU are the arbiter of your own health, and you can make better decisions if something works for you (or not).

However, you can't make that same assumption in general. N=1 with the general public has little use to the medical profession. Multiple N=1's that all say the same thing, yes. But a single person saying "Hey this works this way for me", not so useful.

1
425aa4bfb79556ed50ea693c3edd7e13

(609)

on June 18, 2011
at 06:04 PM

Look at the questions on the main page and ask yourself if the posters are capable of honest, rational, neutral observation when they're chasing gremlins like adrenal fatigue and popping colloidal silver.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 19, 2011
at 02:40 PM

what does N=1 mean?

Medium avatar

(4878)

on June 19, 2011
at 04:45 PM

An experiment with a sample size of one.

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