Thursday, February 18, 2010


I’m taking a course on Aging this week and one idea we keep coming back to is this concept of hormesis. Hormesis suggests that low-levels of poisoning can be protective by building up the body’s immunity against the poison.

If a poison/toxin is given in a low dose, 
it will then be inhibited when given in a high dose.
Image credit here

Hormesis is one theory for why caloric restriction extends lifespan – it induces a chronic low level of stress is ultimately protective. People who calorically restrict have elevated levels of corticosteroids (stress hormone), which may then help build resistance to other life stressors.

Maybe this is another reason why the ashtanga yoga practice (or any regular exercise) is beneficial. By subjugating oneself to this daily stressor, perhaps it raises the stress threshold and builds “immunity” against much bigger life stressors (i.e. disease).


  1. i have never heard the insight about hormesis and yoga. you may want to look up roy walford's (CR society founder) pioneering work on indian yogis and core body temperature
    greg critser

  2. Thanks, Greg. It's great to hear from you and I will definitely look for Roy Walford's work - thank you!


  3. A combination of yoga with hormesis. What is the result of it? Thanks