In some situations, a low or relatively low dose of certain active ingredients may help us. On the other hand, exposure to high doses can be very harmful. This is what is called hormesis and this is the quality of many remedies collected not only in the homeopathic materia medica, but also in the general path of medical allopathy.
The key is in the dose and in the sensitivity to the response..
What is hormesis?
Word hormesis was born in the field of toxicology. It’s about dose-response phenomenonIt is characterized by stimulation at low doses and inhibition at high doses.
In other words, the administration relatively low doses drugs or active principle can benefit and strengthen us. However, on the other hand, excessive exposure very high doses the same medicine, it can cause just the opposite effect and be bad for our health.
For example, in heliotherapy, sun exposure is considered important for health. A dosed and constant exposure to the sun can be of great benefit. But to be naked at 13:00 on a hot summer day, without prior adaptation, protection or clothing that covers us, you can get burned and seriously injured.
When vitamins and microelementssmall doses are not only beneficial, but necessary for health, and large doses can be dangerous.
Hormesis, a controversial principle
The principle of hormesis is controversial for several reasons. First, hormesis does not always apply to every substance.
When the concept of hormesis is applied to some toxic pollutantssuch as radiation, tobacco, alcohol, or food in poor conditions, it seems that the explanation of a non-threshold linear model, which assumes that the probability injury starts at zero dose and increases linearly the higher the dose or the more sensitive the person.
On the other hand, some psychological or environmental factors cause us to produce endogenous substances that may be positive responses known to us as eustress.
In our body, the enzyme heme oxygenase produces endogenous carbon monoxide, which helps us in neurotransmission. However Inhalation of carbon monoxide causes severe poisoning..
WITH oxygen We also maintain a certain balance. His lack takes lifeMeanwhile he excess causes disease and oxidative stress. A balance occurs between oxygen and the antioxidants we produce to combat oxidative stress.
Some bacteria in our gut are capable of producing ethanol., but only in exceptional cases or by changing other bacteria that control them. In this case, self-distillation syndrome occurs and the amount of alcohol increases, which leads to pathological drunkenness. This fact was due to the fact that small amounts of alcohol may be helpfulbut it should be noted that when these microbiome changes occur, or when alcohol is consumed, both situations are unhealthy.
Finally, the fact that the concept of hormesis suggests that hazardous substances have benefits raises concerns that unscrupulous industrialists and lawmaking corporations try to introduce toxic substances into environmental regulations causes great damage to the population in all areas.
Eustress: how to improve adaptive response
We have seen how some environmental or psychological factors also induce a positive response to low doses, which is known as eustress (positive stress) or increased adaptive response to stress.
In the study of aging, these factors have been studied the most, but we can find other examples of how “dose” in various areas can be the key to better health:
- Heating and air conditioning, for example, make us live in permanent thermal comfortwhich atrophy our thermoregulatory mechanisms and adaptation to the environment. Eustress is achieved not by creating discomfort, but by facing small daily problems of cold or heat in order to increase our tolerance and become stronger.
- Exercise is another example.. By practicing this, oxygenation and free radical production are increased. To compensate for this, we produce antioxidants. If we go beyond intensity and durationwe do not give time to produce enough antioxidants and excess oxygen hurts us.
- Together with thermal training or exercise, we intermittent fastingin which a little stress, periodically created by the body, is beneficial.
- in psychologysmall stimuli, challenges, and stressful activities can help to adapt and maintain a healthy balance.