Making a Case for the “Impossible”
8 weeks is considered the overall threshold for the average human’s ability to survive without food. There have been cases in human history where the time frame has been substantially shortened as well as lengthened tremendously.
A rather obvious reason for the consumption of food is due to the “energy” it gives us as the end result of the metabolic process. A less obvious reason amongst the general public is for the production of a co enzyme called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate). This co enzyme is considered the “energy” of cells, organs, and ultimately life as a whole. When malfunctions take place in terms of ATP production and recycling, our bodies begin to degrade and/or die. When our ATP levels are normalized and robust, we are very likely to be considered to be in great health.
Food has always been considered a necessity in terms of ATP production and maintaining our bodily functions. The process of food metabolism has been well documented over the past decades.
However, after continuing to look further into the effects of Melatonin and the potentiality for internal DMT production, it is rather clear that these hormones provide a platform far greater than simply helping us to regulate our sleep patterns. The most common usage of Melatonin is in the form of an over-the-counter pill for the treatment of sleep disorders. Less commonly known effects of Melatonin are it’s powerful anti-oxidant capabilities in addition to it’s role in the protection/regulation of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
An extremely interesting by-product of mitochondrial regulation is the subsequent regulation of ATP production and recycling.
In 2002, in the “International journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology” a study outlined the increased production of ATP in rat brain and liver Mitochondria from Melatonin administration. A year later in 2003, “Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology” published a study on the effects of Melatonin on Mitochondrial regulation. The effects of Melatonin led to a normalization of ATP production.
Another study in 2005 in the “Journal of Pineal Research” outlined the role of Melatonin administration on liver bile flow and ATP levels for Rat’s with liver problems. It was found that ATP levels were elevated from the Melatonin. A 2006 study in the “Neuroendocrinology Letters” was done on the role of Melatonin given to septic Mice. The dying mice had been running at an ATP deficit until the administration of Melatonin. The results concluded that Melatonin was able to normalize the production of ATP.
Here is a list of a few more peer-reviewed studies on Melatonin’s positive effects on ATP regulation and production:
2001 - “Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology”
2002 - “Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences”
2004 - “Life Sciences”
2007 - “Free Radical Research”
2007 - “Federation of European Biochemical Sciences”
2007 - “Journal of Pineal Research”
2008 - “Experimental Gerontology”
2009 - “Journal of Pineal Research”
2009 - “Toxicology Letters”
2011 - “International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease”
2013 - “European Journal of Pharmacology”
It’s difficult to decipher just how many studies can be cited regarding the positive effect that Melatonin has on Mitochondrial function and subsequently ATP production/regulation. There appear to be dozens if not many, many more both directly and indirectly related.
The next question I present is in regards to end points. Since our basis for eating is largely predicated on converting the food we eat into ATP… what happens when we focus solely on ATP production regardless of the method?
If a person was producing Melatonin in quantities above and beyond that of the “average” human, could they potentially produce enough ATP to survive indefinitely?
That is purely a theoretical question… or could it be be a legitimate question?
Even if a person was producing 5 times the amount of Melatonin of the average person which provided all the ATP their body could ever need, how would they be able to deal with those gnawing hunger pains every time lunch time came around?
There are two hormones that control our hunger. Leptin & Ghrelin.
Leptin is thought to have at least two major functions. First, it binds to receptors in the appetite center in the brain, regulating brain cells that tell you how much to eat. Second, it increases sympathetic nervous system activity, which stimulates fatty tissue to burn energy. Higher levels of Leptin in the body lead to appetite suppression.
Ghrelin is released primarily in the stomach and is known as the “appetite increaser” hormone. When the stomach is empty, Ghrelin is secreted. When the stomach is stretched from eating, secretion stops. An interesting observation made in 2012 in the “Journal of Comparative Neurology” is that the receptor for Ghrelin is found on the same exact cells in the brain as the receptor for Leptin.
The relationship between these two hormones (Leptin, Ghrelin) and Melatonin is an intriguing one to say the least.
Melatonin appears to have a positive effect on Leptin levels based on this 2000 study published in “A Journal of Biosciences” as well as these 2007 and 2009 studies published in “Acta Biologica Hungaria”. While the experiments took place in mice, rats, and minks being fed externally derived Melatonin, it’s interesting nonetheless that the Melatonin group exuded significantly higher plasma Leptin levels than the control group.
It is also rather intriguing that Melatonin appears to have a negative effect on Ghrelin levels showcased in this 2001 study published in the journal “Endocrine” and this 2008 study published in “Regulatory Peptides”.
This 2010 study in the journal “Hormonal Behavior” outlines Melatonin’s role in appetite regulation of the Zebrafish and specifically addresses the increase in genes codifying for molecules involved in decreased appetite such as Leptin & reduction in the major appetite stimulators such as Ghrelin.
It appears as though Melatonin’s profound effects on Leptin & Ghrelin levels within the body can answer our question about dealing with that gnawing pain of hunger. With sustained Melatonin levels in the body it’d seem as though you would have the very theoretical potential to never even get hungry while possibly maintaining adequate levels of ATP.
In 2011, a study published in the “World Journal of Gastroenterology” titled “Distribution, function and physiological role of melatonin in the lower gut” outlines some key aspects of Melatonin and the digestive tract. According to the study, the lower gut contains “at least 400 times more melatonin than the pineal gland”. In a 1992 study on mice in the “Journal of Pineal Research” a 24 to 48 fast induced increased levels of melatonin in all investigated tissues “particularly the stomach and the brain”.
It’s also interesting to note the general environment of the average person in developed countries as it pertains to melatonin production. The negative effect of electromagnetic fields (television, wifi, computers, electrical towers, mobile phone) on pineal gland melatonin secretion have been presented in a 1993 study published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy and in the journal Radiation Protection Dosimetry in 2013. There have also been numerous studies presented on the negative effect of “blue light” (mobile phone, television, computer) on melatonin levels. Knowing the effect that elevated melatonin levels have on Leptin/Ghrelin as hunger suppressants, it isn’t all that surprising that an environment that inhibits melatonin production would likely lead to the potentiality for over eating and subsequently an obese population.
So far we have established the following properties of Melatonin:
Regulation of Mitochondrial Function leading to ATP production
Powerful Anti-oxidant capabilities
Regulation of Leptin & Ghrelin levels
Sleep Aid Hormone
The reason for asking these probing questions is based upon having viewed an interesting documentary titled “In the Beginning there was Light”.
In this documentary, there are numerous cases of people claiming to be able to live without eating food. In some cases, the people even claimed to be able to live without eating food or drinking water. Some of these subjects claim to have gone years without ingesting food or water. The first thing that comes to my “logical” mind is that these people are definitely liars. After watching the documentary and seeing the analysis done in a hospital setting by doctors & scientists verifying some of these claims albeit in a “short-term” (10 days) spurt… my question then became, “If by outside chance this is a legitimate phenomenon, how could a human theoretically pull it off?”
(A hard copy version of the articles on this site have been compiled in a book titled “Questions for the Lion Tamer”. It’s for sale on Amazon for $19.99)
One of the “theories” behind this type of alternative lifestyle by the subjects themselves is that they were “living off light”. I have no idea what this encompasses as it has no measurable or “scientific” equivalent currently. One of the subjects, Michael Werner holds a PhD in chemistry and wrote a book about his experience titled “Life from Light: Is It Possible to Live Without Food? A Scientist Reports on His Experiences”. The book provides some valuable insight with a first hand, analytical perspective from a science-grounded skeptic. The only subject who tangibly ingested a form of “light” throughout the documentary was a man known as Hira Ratan Manek. Manek discusses the practice of “Sun Gazing” in which he looks directly at the sun only beginning at sunrise and continuing for 44 minutes and starting 44 minutes prior to sunset. He states that a potential by-product of engaging in this practice is the possibility of being able to live without ingesting food.
Neurologist, George C. Brainard PhD from the Thomas Jefferson University and leading expert on neuroendocrine physiology reportedly observed Manek in 2002. Alongside Brainard was neuroscientist Andrew Newberg who is certified in internal and nuclear medicine. The biggest take away in the study from my perspective was the reported measurement of Manek’s Pineal Gland.
According to this study published in the “American Journal of Neuroradiology”, the average pineal gland size amongst fully matured adults measures approximately 7.4mm in length and 6.9mm in width. According to the study conducted by Newberg and Brainard, Manek’s pineal gland measured 11mm in length and 8mm in width.
The significance of Manek’s pineal gland size is based on the potentiality for exuding enhanced overall pineal function as well as potentially producing an elevated amount of Melatonin in comparison to the average person. Whether there is a correlation between his abnormally large pineal gland, increased melatonin secretion, and his self purported abilities to sustain himself without eating food has yet to be verified.
The next analysis of these “breatharian” subjects would be lifestyle. Much like the field of Epigenetics has outlined the fact that external & environmental factors directly effect which genes get turned “on” or “off”, the daily routine of “breatharians” must be analyzed in terms of potential melatonin production.
Simply from viewing the documentary, it would appear that a combination of meditation, quietness, and breathing exercises would likely be a part of their daily routines.
In 2000, the scientific journal “Biological Psychology” published a study in which night-time plasma melatonin levels were measured amongst experienced meditators. The conclusion of the study is that it “showed significantly higher plasma melatonin levels in the period immediately following meditation compared with the same period at the same time on a control night”.
In 2004, in the “Medical Science Monitor” a study was published which measured melatonin plasma levels in experienced meditators compared to non-meditators. During the study, it was confirmed that the experienced meditators exuded an average of 58% higher plasma melatonin level (4.9 pg/ml-1) compared to the control group (3.1 pg/ml-1) during a normal, waking state. Interestingly enough, the study also showcased the fact that plasma melatonin levels temporarily decreased each hour during a 3 hour meditative practice for the experienced meditators but not the control group. The study didn’t extend to verifying plasma melatonin levels in the hours following the completion of the meditation session.
In 2012, in the journal “Frontiers in Neurology”, an extensive review was done on meditation and it’s regulatory role in sleep. According to unpublished data in the paper, experienced meditators had melatonin levels nearly 500% greater than non meditators. Here is the excerpt - “Diurnal (daytime) melatonin levels were found to be significantly high in Vipassana meditators (approximately 300 pg ml) than non-meditating controls (65 pg ml).”
In 2010, in the publication “Journal of the Formosan Medical Association”, a study was done on nighttime melatonin levels from “Chinese Original Quiet Sitting”. The conclusion of the study was that “COQS” could be used as a psychophysiological stimulus to increase internal melatonin production.
In 2011, in the journal “Evidence Based Complimentary Alternative Medicine”, a study was published on the effects of diaphragmatic breathing and it’s effect on the body. The study concluded that the diaphragmatic breathing group exhibited approximately a 42% greater level (27 pg/ml) of nocturnal salivary melatonin levels compared to the control group (19 pg/ml).
When observing the general premise for how breatharianism is a possibility, it would appear that it’s almost as if they are creating a condition of light sleep or even self hypnosis during their waking hours. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if the breatharians spent the majority of their waking state not in beta brain wave. This 1997 study in “Biological Signals” indicates that melatonin levels in the gastrointestinal tract is independent to pineal gland production of melatonin. This signifies that it could be possible that without the “burden of food” in the GI tract, the GI produced melatonin is potentially free to recirculate throughout the entire system much like this 1992 study in “Journal of Pineal Research” shows. This study showcased significantly elevated levels of Melatonin in the brain after fasting which could point to the potentiality that an increase of internally produced DMT might be in order.
Much like the 2014 paper in the “Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences” showcases the innate human ability to control our nervous & immune systems when specifically altering our internal environment, we must study the EEG brain waves and breathing patterns/lung capacity of these “breatharians”. If strange phenomena tends to occur when people are outside of the common Beta brain wave state, it would not be unreasonable to make the hypothesis that “breatharians” are likely operating predominantly outside of Beta wave during their waking hours especially if they are exuding significantly higher levels of melatonin compared to the average person.
This 1996 study in “Neuroscience Letters” details the effects of daytime administration of melatonin. The study concludes that the externally ingested melatonin correlated with an increase in Alpha & Theta brain waves according to EEG measurements. The five brain waves of Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta, & Gamma all signify varying levels of brain functionality & mental alertness. Alpha & especially Theta correlate with a transition into a more relaxed state compared to that of Beta.
What about the lack of necessity for water concept?
This is likely to be one of the most mind-bending aspects of this phenomena as most people can somehow fathom not eating for prolonged periods but foregoing water would appear unquestionably dangerous to the masses.
The pituitary gland produces a hormone called Vasopressin which acts as an antidiuretic hormone. The primary function of this hormone is to regulate the retention of water by acting to increase water reabsorption in the kidney’s collecting ducts as well as decreasing perspiration. Vasopressin plays a key role in homeostasis as it regulates the levels of water, glucose, and salts in the blood.
In 1997, a study published in the journal Brain Research Bulletin outlined the effects of melatonin administration on Vasopressin secretion in rats. The results showcased that significantly greater amounts of melatonin administration (5 ng) caused an increase in Vasopressin levels while lesser amounts of melatonin had no effect (0.5 ng) or decreases in Vasopressin secretion (1 ng). Could this potentially explain the ability of breatharians to forgo the necessity for consistent intake of water? Staying consistent with the potentiality for these subjects to constantly produce abnormally high levels of melatonin compared to the general population it’d appear that it might be key. Theoretically speaking it’d be absolutely essential for a breatharian to have the innate ability to maintain blood/plasma homeostasis consistently.
The question that now arises is… what role does DMT play in all of this?
If you’ve followed the Q4LT theme, it is our general belief that there is a definitive relationship between melatonin production, dimethyltryptamine (DMT) synthesis, and respiratory alkalosis. With the entire focus of the breatharian lifestyle appearing to be predicated on optimizing melatonin levels while inducing various levels of periodic alkalosis from breathing techniques, we do believe that DMT could very well be a factor in the potentiality for this lifestyle to perpetuate itself in reality. When studying all phenomena especially as it pertains to the human experience, it is rather clear that accessing different regions of the brain might lead to accessing innate abilities that have yet to be explained and/or documented thoroughly.
Yes, it’s clear that this topic is extremely controversial especially as it pertains to millions of starving humans around the world. The general argument is that if “breatharianism” is a true, innate potentiality for the human, why do people still starve to death? It’s a very important question to ask and I would theorize, simply from a narrow viewpoint that the external and internal environments of “breatharians” vs those suffering from malnutrition/starvation are likely very different based on EEG measurements, melatonin levels, stress markers, and breathing patterns leading to a vast difference in hormone secretion and gene expression using basic Epigenetic principles.
Just a theory to ponder I suppose…
In 1999, long-time self proclaimed “breatharian” Jasmuheen attempted to showcase her ability for the Australian TV program “60 Minutes” after being challenged to do so. For the first 48 hours Jasmuheen had been confined to a hotel room in Brisbane, Australia and exuded stress levels when measuring her blood pressure and hydration levels. On the third day, she was then moved to a mountainside retreat to accommodate her request for fresher air. By 96 hours her dehydration levels were reported to have risen to over 10% and the TV station pulled the plug on the program/challenge.
(Edit: Jasmuheen contacted Q4LT and claimed that the story that was portrayed by the media was not entirely accurate. She also stated that throughout the time of the experiment she was quickly woken up each time she fell asleep and there was full lighting 24/7. Most importantly she wanted to reiterate that their current studies outline the fact that maintaining a Theta wave brain state is essential to the “breatharian” lifestyle.)
Edit Comments: If it’s true that the study of “breatharianism” is undertaken in controlled conditions that drastically suppress melatonin production and upset circadian rhythms it would be rather inconclusive based on the outlined effects that melatonin has on mitochondrial function, ATP production, leptin, ghrelin, brain wave patterns, and a potential linkage to DMT.
On the other hand, Dr. Michael Werner, a “breatharian” subject has undergone two stringent, 10-day medical studies in controlled environments with apparent success. One of those 10 day studies took place in October 2004, at Lindenhofspital in Bern, Switzerland and was funded by the Asta Blumenfeldt Foundation of Dornach, Switzerland. Werner would publish his experience meticulously in this study in his book “Life from Light”. The second 10-day study took place at the University of Prague in May 2007.
Could the difference between success and failure in the cases of Jasmuheen and Dr. Werner be a case of distinctly different brain wave state and consequently varying melatonin production based on those waves? Just from an external perspective/observation, one could make the case that Dr. Werner was under much less media scrutiny and stress being that his study was in a clinical setting in a hospital without television involvement. His counterpart, Jasmuheen had been a much more controversial media figure leading up to and during the showcase which could have potentially altered her brain wave state and stress levels leading to a distinct alteration in the homeostasis of her average melatonin production.
These are just proposed theories in relation to making a case for the “impossible”.
In the future we will attempt to take a look at the role of Glycolysis, Sodium, Hypophosphatemia, and Vitamin D in this potential “breatharian” phenomena. How these factors affect and react with Melatonin, Pinoline, & Dimethyltryptamine will likely be key in exploring the unknown. It’s not so much that “living off light” isn’t believable, it’s more so that we believe there might be currently accepted traditional biological markers and levels that signify the distinct possibilities of this lifestyle.
For a more extensive look at the potential effects of DMT synthesis within the body and how they correlate with externalized and internalized experiences read “Measuring DMT Formation in Humans”, 6-part Series on DMT & Gamma Waves as well as the “Wild Theories” series.
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