Coffee, Chi, and Me: Coffee Replaces Chi-Gong Exercises

By: Dave Asprey

“Previously, we found that qi-stimulating events exerted similar frequency-specific effects on the blood pressure pulse spectrum. Because coffee and qi induce similar stimulatory psychological responses, we aimed to determine whether they would induce similar pulse effects. Such a relationship would suggest a close linkage between the physiologic mechanisms underlying the psychostimulatory responses and vascular effects of coffee and qi. Therefore, the profound investigations into the mechanisms underlying the effects of coffee on the central nervous system and the vascular system may help to elucidate the underlying physiology mechanisms of qi.”

This is one of the coolest studies I’ve come across in a while.  Some creative biohackers in a biophysics laboratory in Taipei just showed that coffee causes the same changes in pulse rate that come from practicing Chi Kung, Chi Gong, Qi-Gong, Qi-Gung (or one of the other dozen ways to spell it).  They just linked coffee to your life-energy.

In Eastern practices, chi is the life force that is strengthened by a variety of exercises, breathing techniques, visualization, and meditation techniques (collectively called Chi Gong). Chi is measurable as an electrical field, as a magnetic field, and through its effect on your pulse rate.

Some of my biohacking techniques use computer-assisted feedback to help me consciously change my pulse rate, which raises my chi levels and lets me sleep less (among other things).  Chi is not a religion or a fairytale.  It’s as measurable and repeatable as your heartbeat.

Biohacking and coffee are two of my favorite passions and topics for blogging.  It is simply awesome that scientists were able to link the two and show that coffee and chi have very similar effects on the body.

For years, I’ve felt a remarkable similarity between a great cup of coffee and the “buzz” I get from practicing Eastern breathing techniques, or some forms of biohacking-assisted meditation.  This is the first time I’ve seen evidence they are related.

What’s not included in the research I cite here is the fact that caffeine (or perhaps coffee, the research is unclear) reduces alpha waves in the brain.  Alpha is the relaxed, alert state that is an antidote to stress.  Chi meditation improves alpha, but coffee does not.

Nonetheless, I’m going to have to see what happens if I do a cup of Bulletproof® Coffee with butter and MCT, immediately followed by chi exercises.  If you see a tall guy bouncing down the street, that will be me.

Study: J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Nov ;14(9):1145-50. PMID: 19055336