Minimum Effective Dose


Do you know your minimum effective dose (MED) for exercise, chocolate, or meditation? I don’t, yet, but am on a personal quest to find out… Defined as the “smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome”, MED is an idea I’ve recently embraced, thanks to Tim Ferriss. Ferriss is the best-selling author of the books “4-Hour Work Week”, “4-Hour Body”, and recently “4-Hour Chef”. Recommended by one of my clients, I knew I’d appreciate the way he challenges conventional wisdom when the first words I read were a quote from Robert Heinlein, a favorite sci-fi author of mine: “Does history record any case in which the majority was right?

Ferriss proposes an exercise MED for adding muscle that consists of 5 minutes of exercise, three times/week, totaling about an hour per month. Does it work? I’ll let you know in about a month. Probably because he’s a guy, Ferriss hasn’t researched the MED for chocolate. I know that occasional binging on a bag of Hershey’s kisses isn’t the right dose for stimulating all of those endorphins. But, is a tiny square of Lindt hazelnut chocolate once/day enough to gain the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of chocolate? I’ll have to get back to you on that, too.

To uncover the MED for meditation, I turned to Andrew Newberg, M.D. and his book “How God Changes Your Brain.” Newberg references a study on meditation published in 2007 that looked at how meditation changes the structure of the brain and affects cognitive function. It turns out that 12 minutes a day for 8 weeks created significant, positive changes in the areas of the brain involved with emotional regulation, learning and memory and provided an average of 20% improvement in memory. Is that the minimum effective dose? Why don’t you take my Meditation Class June 15th and give it a try?