Sterculia Oil: How to Escape Torpor!

  • Sterculia Oil shuts down PPAR gamma.
  • PPAR gamma is a crutch
  • Stimulate PPAR alpha, the master regulator of fat burning while you shut down PPAR gamma
  • Sterculia Oil and Berberine is a great one-two punch
  • Fish Oil perhaps has its place

Brad’s Daily Recipe

  • 1200 mg Sterculia Oil (two squeeze bulb squeezes)
  • 1500 mg Berberine
  • 3000 mg Fish Oil (optional)


I’d like to reach my target weight this year or next, but more importantly I’d like to understand HOW I get there as the journey continues.  I’m not interested in losing weight by starving myself, I’d like to FIX my metabolism. 

Many (most?) of us are in a torpor-like state as defined by a metabolism largely run on fat (as defined by upregulated PPAR) with a preponderance of PPAR gamma instead of PPAR alpha, and constantly up-regulated SCD1.  This metabolic state leads to low metabolic rates, low body temperature, high expression of lipogenic (fat making) genes, and stored body fat. 

Torpor and the PPARs

The question is how do we get out of torpor?  Based on my preliminary results, I believe that sterculia oil, by inhibiting the enzymatic activity of SCD1, shuts down the runaway regulatory feedback loop of SCD1, PPAR gamma and the other lipogenic genes as demonstrated by the dramatic reduction I saw in my red blood cell phospholipid levels of very long chain fats such as lignoceric acid and nervonic acid.  The massive drop in my triglycerides is another piece of supporting evidence.  That is a good step!

But it’s not without danger.  PPAR alpha seems to be the master regulator of fat burning, but PPAR gamma can increase fat burning as well!  I think that PPAR gamma is a crutch.  It’s keeping us upright for now and sometimes when you kick the crutch out, it can cause problems.  For this reason, in my current trial I am using a PPAR agonist (turns it on) in addition to the sterculia oil.

In the long term, I think that merely increasing the saturation level of our body fat, just like healthy cultures, may lead to huge metabolic improvements.  Unfortunately, we don’t yet know how long that will take!

Getting PPAR alpha Back on Board

The key during the transition period – the time when PPAR gamma activity is lowered but before you have gotten rid of enough of your stored PUFA and MUFA – may be to recruit PPAR alpha off of the sidelines.  During torpor PPAR gamma goes up and PPAR alpha goes down, but that doesn’t imply that reducing PPAR gamma will increase PPAR alpha!  I’m now doing a trial to reduce PPAR gamma while increasing PPAR alpha.  The results have been VERY good but I’m only four days in, so I don’t want to present results yet, it still could be a blip but it’s consistent with my reading of the science.  Check back soon!

Here is the theory behind the recipe.   The sterculia oil is there to continue to shut down the cycle of SCD1-PPAR gamma leading ultimately to a buildup of stearic acid and a loss of oleic acid in my fat tissue.  The fish oil is there because my tests have shown that I’m low in long chain omega 3 fats but also to provide membrane fluidity and reduce any potential inflammation from the relatively low dose sterculia oil.  Fish oil also happens to stimulate PPAR alpha AND limit expression of SCD1!  Nice synergy, huh?

That brings us to the berberine, which is an herbal supplement that has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years, is a potent stimulator of PPAR alpha, and has been shown to be very safe in many clinical trials.

64 thoughts on “Sterculia Oil: How to Escape Torpor!”

      1. I know. He vanished at some point. Really interesting ideas though. His comments are still on hyperlipid’s blog too.

        (You can still find some of his blog posts on the internet archive.)

      1. Yeah, I think LMHR is HIGH HDL with LOW Trigs. I started as the opposite of LMHR.


  1. I’ve been doing this for a couple of months now. I supplement Hesperidin and Gynostemma. I’m using butter and stearic acid exclusively with some 1/2 & 1/2 or heavy cream for tea and coffee. Once in a while I will use MCT oils.

    I’ve gained 4 lbs. and am stuck at 198 lbs. My goal is 171. I’m even more run down having added carbs back into my diet and my digestion is messed up. I toss and turn at night with gurgling and constipation. A lot of people are telling me that my calories are too low but I am getting between 1900-2100 calories per day. THIS SATISFIES my hunger! I’d literally have to force feed myself to get to 3, 000 – 4,000 calories.

    I see a hematologist bi-monthly for hemachromatosis. He looks at my blood work and sees nothing wrong although my fasting glucose this past year has never been below 97 and sometimes is as high as 120! My testosterone is 769 (I am 56). We are waiting for the estradiol panel to come back but he does not think that is an issue.

    I wish I could get back down to the 32’s I was wearing just a few years ago but it seems like no matter what I do the weight keeps going up, not down.

    1. Have you done the OmegaQuant test? I think those numbers tell you a lot about where your enzymes are at.


  2. I’ve been interested in Sterculia Oil since you first mentioned it on this thread and this just furthers my curiosity. I know you’re looking to sell the stuff State side, do you ship to/know how to go about sourcing it in Australia?

    In addition to stearic acid muffins I’ve been playing with the recipe of, I’ve already introduced many of the other SCD1 inhibitors that were mentioned here and in the subreddit. I’ve been using berberine and heaps of green/black tea, and this is something I’d like to tinker with as well.

    While I’ll *try* not to get my hopes up too high before the germane future post; when you say that results look good so far, what do you mean by that? Elevated body temperature?

    Regarding your dosing, do you take everything all at once at some point in the day, or do you space out your three pronged approach across a day?

    1. I think it ships to Australia for 8 bucks.

      When I say it’s looking good so far… It’s a bit complicated. My resting RER is typically over 1.0, usually around 1.15. This is not how it’s “supposed” to be. The normal human range “should” be between 0.7 and 1.0. I have a couple of theories about what could be pushing up my RER, one of them being that my body is doing a lot of de novo lipogenesis (making fat from blood glucose, etc). Combining the sterculia oil with berberine has gotten my Resting RER into the normal range. Yesterday it was 0.94, which is totally “normo”. Today I briefly hit 0.88!

      My body temperature has been inching up as well. After I did the eight week break from Sterculia Oil I got some pretty low numbers (as low as 96.1). Today it was 97.7.

      So I’ve gone from having massively high triglycerides and a resting RER of 1.15 to being normal on both fronts with a relatively high metabolic rate. Once I’ve used the berberine and sterculai oil long enough to get my new baseline data, I’m going to try the banana milkshake stearic acid approach to see if I can get a metabolic boost.


      1. Brad I suspect the high RER is inflammation driven which you have lowered dramatically but getting shot of the Omega 6 ….
        Congrats on reaching the sweet spot

        1. IDK why inflammation would increase RER? ROS production MIGHT, which I consider related to/different than inflammation.


        1. Yes!

          My thinking has absolutely evolved and it’s because of watching how my metabolism responds. The sterculia oil by itself seems to shut down PPAT gamma signalling, which I think is good, BUT! If your fat metabolism is running on PPAR gamma, just shutting it down without another option to run your fat metabolism might not be beneficial for metabolic rate/weight loss/etc. In the LONG term, if you can use sterculia oil to saturate your body fat, I think it’s a win. But we don’t know how long that will take.

          In the short term, berberine stimulates PPAR alpha, which is what we want.


          1. I’d say no, because the problem we have is runaway PPAR gamma, which is locked in a positive feedback loop with SCD1. PPAR gamma is the torpor leg of fat metabolism and we’d rather be in the fat burning leg of metabolism which is dictated by PPAR alpha.

            Having said all of that, PPAR gamma ALSO can have positive effects on metabolic rate. So I go back to the crutch analogy. If you kick out a crutch, sometimes it’s best to replace it with something in the short term. Until your leg is better.


          2. Interesting. Diary products are a good source and this suggests they activate PPAR alpha….

    1. I’ve been using Nutrigold. Purchased locally at The Vitamin Shop. I suspect there are better brands! LMK if you have a recommendation.

      1. I had an industry list ranking fish oil brands by rancidity (many were extremely rancid in the capsules) I’ll see if I can find it. But this one was one of the best:

        Natural Factors, RxOmega-3 Pharmaceutical Grade Fish Oil

      2. Would the fish eggs supplement from Ancestral Supplements work for this or does it have to be fish oil specifically?

  3. I am going to be firing up a Croissant Diet style eating pattern next week and I just bought your Ghee & oil. Current plan is to have the ghee in my coffee (bulletproof style) as my breakfast (this is already common but just no ghee or butter) & take the oil in the evening (probably before dinner when I remember).

    I’ll add fish oil for sure and maybe the Berberine.

    I’m a decently big dude; 6’6″ about 260lbs, am I on the right track to start?

    1. Yes, you should be. If it was me I’d take the berberine with the sterculia oil. That way you won’t totally shut down PPAR signalling, which is the danger if you’re running your metabolism entirely through PPAR gamma. I’ll be posting some interesting data on this next week.

      OTOH, some have posted results that berberine is tough on their digestion. Another option would be g. pentephyllum.

      1. Yes, I tried berberine for few days and had guaranteed diarrhea each day. Perhaps it would be possible to adapt to that by just sticking with it a little longer.

        1. Probably. Another very good PPAR alpha activator that I haven’t tried is g. pentaphyllum. Perhaps it’s as good without the digestive upset? I haven’t tried it and don’t know, but it’s another option.


          1. Fwiw- I learned about Jiaogulan circa 2005 or so and used to try the tea, now I keep a bottle of capsules (basically ground up leaves in a capsule). It mellows you out, really cutting out any anxiety. 2 capsules extend those effects for 6-12 hours.

            In the past, I’ve noticed my “pulse pressure” – the difference between systolic and diastolic blood pressures- increase a bit (iirc systolic decreased a little and diastolic decreased more). I believe it influences blood artery nitric oxide levels and helps cardiovascular health as a result.

  4. Berberine and CLA have been working quite well for me, with stearic acid coming from a cacao butter and dark chocolate ganache. When I stopped taking the lifeextension brand EPA/DHA I noticed the best effects in terms of metabolism, inflammation, weight loss etc. Would you advise adding sterculia oil to the mix?

    1. I mean, if what you’re doing is working perhaps I wouldn’t mess with it?I know I sound like a broken record, but the OmegaQuant test can tell you a lot about what’s happening by looking at your desaturase index and levels of nervonic acid (24:1) and lignoceric (24:0).

  5. First off, thanks for “Lab ratting” yourself and sharing what you have learned.

    I am awaiting my SO shipment:) Are you taking the SO, Berberine and fish oil all at once? And what time of day? My inclination is to take the fish oil at night because I hate burping fish. I did the omegaquant test and my results were horrible. I have not been taking fish oil but I clearly need to. Do you find that the SO has any not so great burp issue?


    1. I take them all at once at dinner because I’m absent minded and if I try for a more complicated regimen I’m setting myself up to fail.

      The SO does have a funny flavor… I use the dropper to get it right down the back of my throat. I haven’t had burping issues with either but of course everyone is different.


        1. We have a sub reddit on reddit dot com.
          Brad stops in from time to time.

          Of course its named /saturatedFat

  6. Not sure if you keep up with the Low Carb MD podcast (found out about it through your episode!) but one of the recent episodes had me thinking- – If it’s true that Visceral Fat’s growth promotes muscle atrophy, and Muscle building promotes visceral fat draining (via IL-15, IL-6) then we have a solid argument that Obesity is a vestigial form of torpor. I wonder if the PUFAs are a signal that fall is here, visceral fat must increase & muscle must decrease.
    Likewise muscle gain should be a helper in this fight to “wake up” from torpor. I’m trying out one of the guests’ workouts, Dr. Ben Bocchicchio’s 15 minute 2x/wk workout program. This episode also underscored the importance of measuring waist in addition to weight as the “post-torpor” (my term) process involved losing visceral fat + gaining muscle at the same time so weight alone is a deceptive metric. I wonder- what do bears eat (what’s avail) after hibernation?

    1. I don’t listen to a lot of podcasts, but thanks for the recommendation, I’ll check it out!

      And yes, I think you’re onto something with obesity being a vestigial form of torpor!

  7. Thanks so much for your work – it is truly cutting edge and fascinating! You alluded to weight, but didn’t give us any info on that in your n=1 using the SO. Inquiring minds want to know how weight fluctuated with your usage of the SO. Can you elaborate? Is there a reason you didn’t include that info in these recent posts?

    1. I was eating pretty normo during the fall while I was taking the high dose sterculia. It was a busy fall and I was honestly just doing what I could to keep up. Wasn’t tracking weight much but it was fairly stable. But then the holidays came. I isolated in a northern cabin for two weeks before reconvening with family for Christmas (I have elderly parents). Something about me being in my parents house with my siblings results on late night ice cream binges and bowls of breakfast cereal. Sometimes I eat the ice cream and the cereal together!

      Also did a lot of feasting around Thanksgiving with freinds on naughty treats like the two different (organic but high-PUFA) turkeys (that my housemate raised here on the farm) I cooked over the Thanksgiving weekend. The last one was a traditional Mexican Turkey Mole and was quite epic.

      So anyway, it turns out that the sterculia oil is not a panacea against just all out stuffing yourself through the holiday season! I managed to gain about 12 lbs. I lost the holiday weight in January, but as per my safety trial I was no longer taking the oil and my red blood cell fat composition bounced back to like I’d never taken the oil! That was disappointing to say the least. But you iterate and move forward.

      At the moment I’ve been taking the oil for about five weeks at the low dose. I’m sending another OmegaQuant test this week. I’m hoping to be moving in the right direction. I’ll have a post to this effect coming up, but I witnessed through the magic of my metabolic tester my PPAR gamma shutting down in response to the oil and then my PPAR alpha picking up as I started berberine. That was only a week ago.

      My thought is that converting my stored body fat to saturated may take a few months but THAT is really when the magic of the sterculia oil will kick in. I’m hoping for a response curve a bit like the one Emmy saw. Very slow results at first that accelerate over time as I fix my fat levels.


      1. About berberine, jiaogulan (g. pentaphyllum) et al-

        Reading up on what these do, they appear to be transient/short-lived suppressors of mitochondria function by halting complex I, from what I read. I believe they mimic the AMP production (discharging of ATP->ADP->AMP like a battery) by halting the mitochondria’s ATP production, no? (Not sure if my understanding is right but that’s my intuition from reading about AMPK agonists).. It’s like turning off the circuit breaker for a few minutes

        Exercise also invokes AMPK but probably in the manner we all expect- it burns up ATP faster than the mito’s can generate them. My question is, if some folks (e.g. Dr. Ben Bo, who advocates high intensity workouts 2x/week with 2-3 day rest periods) believe in rest periods between exercises, should we treat AMPK agonists the same? Not berberine every day, but every few days letting the body some time to respond & operate entire days on a “suped up” metabolism before we assault it again with a plant’s valiant attempt to poison one’s metabolism..

  8. Sterculia Oil arrived today along with Berberine.

    Sterculia tastes like Play-Dough smells (if that makes sense).

    1. That’s a great description of the flavor and I received mine today- took 2 bulb squeezes of it tonight- exactly reminded me of playdough.

  9. Hi Brad,

    Listened to your podcast with Paul Saladino and promptly fell down the rabbit hole! We are animal based eaters so adding buttered croissants (and more) has been both fun and even more satiating. Really appreciate your work. Excited to add the sterculia/berberine/fish oil stack.

    What are your thoughts on Dihydroberberine instead of berberine? First heard about it from Shawn Wells on Ben Greenfield and more recently from the Bioptimizers guys. Research looks interesting.

    1. Honestly, this is the first I’ve heard of it. Good find, though, I’ll check it out!


      1. It’s not clear to me if this needs to be digested and emulsified, or if it will sip through and shut down SCD1… I’m on my 4th day of drinking it, I didn’t gained a pound like every week in my never ending cycle of 5 up and down.

  10. Jørgen H. Fjeld

    So how do these animals leave their torpor state?
    It appears to me that they fast, even without drinking anything, until they wake up lean.
    In that lane of thinking, have you looked at dry fasting?
    Specifically if activity and the absense of water forces the body to release energy from fat
    to obtain the hydrogen for making water, and thereby elevating the available energy,
    preventing a temperature drop.
    I sometimes do a 36 hour fast from food. Oftentimes I get a little cold during, and sort of have to kick into gear again, with some extra activity.
    Today I’m testing a 36 hour dry fast, and so far (26 hours in), I’ve not been cold yet, and not dehydrated either.

  11. Jørgen H. Fjeld

    So how do these animals leave their torpor state?
    It appears to me that they fast, even without drinking anything, until they wake up lean.
    In that lane of thinking, have you looked at dry fasting?
    Specifically if activity and the absense of water forces the body to release energy from fat
    to obtain the hydrogen for making water, and thereby elevating the available energy,
    preventing a temperature drop.
    I sometimes do a 36 hour fast from food. Oftentimes I get a little cold during, and sort of have to kick into gear again, with some extra activity.
    I’ve just tested my first 36 hour dry fast, and I’ve neither cold nor dehydrated.
    Staying warm during the fast was one of the reasons for doing it dry, presumably the body did not go into energy saving mode. More testing remains.

    1. The bears essentially do a five month dry fast – without eating, drinking, defecating or urinating. This doesn’t strike me as a realistic option for humans!


  12. My Sterculia Oil dropper only fills to about a thumbnail’s width. Is this normal? About how many drops is 1200mg?

    1. That’s normal. I haven’t actually counted the drops but a squeeze bulb full is ~600 mg.


    1. I’m not currently doing fasting days… but if I was I would take it on those days…


      1. I fast every day. I call it “between meals” 🙂 I’ve never benefitted from it except for gas from hunger pangs.

        Now, so far, and I am not sure it’s the sterculia/berberine/Fish oil or a difference in scales, but three weeks ago I was weighed at the hematologist’s office (I have hemachromatosis) and came in at just under 199 lbs. This past Saturday I weighed myself at home and came in at 195.6 lbs. I see no difference in the mirror or how my clothes fit. I’m sure Easter Sunday set me back a bit.

  13. Dixie Labrados

    yes definetly listen to that particular podcast, the guests were Dr Ben Bocchicchio, Prof Ben Bickman and Nick Norowitz

  14. Brad, do you think that the process of fat store re-saturation could be accelerated by the following?

    1. Some serious fasting, Keto, or OMAD for a period, burning off a lot of body fat, for a few days or weeks
    2. Then , a period of deliberate weight gain eating with a low LA diet and plenty of starches, while using your Sterculia/Berberine/fish oil regimen. Hopefully, filling the fat stores with saturated fat.
    3. Repeat the cycle several times. Each time the ratio of saturated/unsaturated stored fat should improve, until the goal is reached.

    I am not suggesting it would be easy, but it might get us to the goal in a few short months, after several cycles.

    1. It’s certainly possible and it’s an interesting idea! I guess we’ll all learn together!

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