Hormesis: What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

Optimize Your Body With Hormetic Reactions




When you optimize your body and fix all deficiencies, where is there to go next in enhancing your body?

Well there is hormesis, which is a very powerful tool for enhancing all aspects of your life.

Hormesis, if done properly can strengthen metabolism, longevity, and wellbeing as well as protect you from chronic illness in general.

In this post, we will discus what hormesis is, how to do it, and what to watch out for so you can do it properly.


  1. Basics Of Hormesis
  2. The Benefits Of Hormesis
  3. The Dose Is The Poison (Or Cure)
  4. How To Do Hormesis
  5. Examples Of Hormesis
  6. Caveats Of Hormesis
  7. Mechanism Of Action

Basics Of Hormesis

Hormesis works by adding a small amount of stress on your body.

This stress creates a reaction in the cells to produce a beneficial reaction in the body and sometimes is defined as eustress.

This better prepares your body for stronger stressors in the future. R

Some really common forms of hormesis are things like going out into the sun

You get UV on your skin, the skin in turn produces alpha-MSH, and makes you tan to protect you next time for when you go into the sun.

Another common example of this is exercise. R

You lift some weights or run a certain distance, then your body adapts, and so are able to handle bodily stresses better (ie lifting more weight/running a further distance or even just having more energy to walk).

Another example is eating plants - the toxins in them (when eaten in low doses) produce the benefits (ie sulforaphane, resveratrol, curcumin, EGCG). R R R

Low dose naltrexone (LDN) works this way as well, stimulating upregulation of endogenous endorphins. R 

The Benefits Of Hormesis

The 3 main biological factors for hormesis are: R

  1. Hormesis challenges the body to induce biological plasticity (grow brain, muscle, tissue, lifespan)
  2. Hormesis influences genetics to make use adapt and evolve
  3. Hormesis allows the body to react properly to a toxic threat



Hormesis Benefits:

  • Anxiety and Depression R R
  • Cognition R
  • Insulin Sensitivity R
  • Lifespan/Longevity R R R R
  • Mitochondrial Function (via mitohormesis) R
  • Neurodegenerative Conditions (ie Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Stroke, TBI, seizures) as hormesis strengthens folding in endoplasmic reticulum R R R R
  • Organ/Tissue Health (as well as protects against infection-based tissue damage) R R R
  • Recovery from Toxins and Stressors (ie heavy metals, exercise, etc) R
  • Resistance To Hypoxia R
  • Tolerance To Foods R

The Dose Is The Poison (Or Cure)

The dose of the stressor is very important.

If done in the right amount, it can either help you greatly, but if done too much, it may hurt you.

Hormesis usually works in a J-shaped or an inverted U-shaped dose, as it is biphasic. R R R

 J Shape Curve

J Shape Curve



 Inverted U Curve

Inverted U Curve



What this means is too little may do nothing, whereas too much may hurt you, so you must fall somewhere in the middle of the U-curve.

When you reach this threshold (and not go over it), you are in the range to feel benefits.

The benefits of hormesis may take some time to feel (a couple days possibly) and are not felt instantly.

It is possible to over-do it and feel bad. 

How To Do Hormesis

To find the right dose you must try a tiny amount.

If you don't feel any effects then on your next session move up a little bit more.

Work this up every session until you start to feel benefits.

If you feel bad after doing it, you've gone too far and you want to go back down until you feel the benefits.

Examples Of Hormesis

My Favorite Ways To Do Hormesis:

  • Exercise - I do High Intensity Strength Training (HIST), which is heavy weighted exercises of 7 minutes every day or 20min every 2-3 days. 
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen
  • Mircodosing (not anything illegal haha) and ultra-low doses of substances R
  • NRF2 Activation - Broccoli Sprouts (Sulforaphane) is strong for this
  • Sun Exposure (all over my body including my head, that's why I shave the sides of my head)
  • LLLT (on my gut, head, organs)


ANY flavanoid, polyphenol, or phytochemical rich food: (not exclusive list)

Other Lifestyle/Diet: (not exclusive list)

  • Alcohol R
  • AGEs R
  • Brain Games
  • Caloric Restriction, Intermittent Fasting, and Fasting (as well as CR Mimetics) R
  • Cold (Cryotherapy) R
  • Exercise (any, but should probably be rotated) R R
  • Fish R
  • Heat (Sauna or Hot Yoga) R R
  • Ketosis R
  • Mediterranean Diet R
  • Sugar (fructose) 
  • Sun/UVB R
  • Yoga R

Devices And Treatments

Any Oxidative Therapies: (not exclusive list)

  • Acupuncture R
  • Cryotherapy R
  • Hydrotherapy R
  • Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy R
  • Hypergravity R
  • Immunotherapy (such as to induce allergen tolerance) R
  • LLLT R
  • Low Dose Radiation (EMFs) and Radiation Mimetics - stimulates the resistance pathways of the DNA repair of radiation-induced damage R R
  • Ozone R


Any supplement or drug that activates:

  • HIF-1α R
  • NF-κB R
  • NRF2 (see full list of NRF2 activators here) R R
  • PPARs R


  • Electrophiles R
  • Heat Shock Proteins R
  • Reactive Species (oxidation, nitrogen, sulfur) R


Caveats Of Hormesis

If you have a chronic infection, it is paramount to take care of that before doing hormesis. R

This is because the dose is now the poison and you are no longer doing hormesis, but just adding too much oxidative stress to your body (see pic below). 




This is one reason why people will feely crappy after exercise (such as NRF2 blockage). R

There used to be a time where researchers thought people with chronic fatigue syndrome/fibromyalgia (CFS/FM) just didn't exercise enough and that's why they were tired.

Well that was found out to be false and if you have experienced CFS or FM you know what I'm talking about when I say exercise makes you worse than before.

Also, as I said before the dose is the poison.

That means:

  1. Don't combine hormetic tools
  2. If you have a chronic infection, work on that first 
  3. It's a good idea to take breaks (not do hormesis every day)
  4. Let your body fully recover before your next session of hormesis
  5. Minimize antioxidant (ie Vitamin C, Vitamin E, NAC) intake when attempting hormesis

The conclusion on whether hormesis contributes fully to cancer has not been established. R

Bacteria can also use hormesis and may be a contributor to antibiotic resistance. R R

Mechanism Of Action





  • Increases BDNF R
  • Increases bFGF R
  • Increases CAT R
  • Increases CREB R
  • Increases FOXO R
  • Increases GPX R
  • Increases GRO-78 R
  • Increases GSH R
  • Increases HSP-70 R
  • Increases NF-kB R
  • Increases NRF2 R
  • Increases SOD R
  • Increases UCP R
  • Increases VEGF R
  • Reduces mTOR R