In early December 2014, I wrote a six-part series of articles titled “To Bathe, or Not to Bathe“. Then, I was not aware of the existence of R. David Whitlock, a chemical engineer and a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who had not showered in the past 12 years.
Whitlock claims that he has not taken a shower in over 12 years because soap and bath gels affect and deplete the natural balance of the skin microbiome.
Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford, regards the human body as “an elaborate vessel optimized for the growth and spread of our microbial inhabitants.”
According to Published research for every one human gene, there are 100 associated genes within our microbiome. And so, more than 100 trillion microorganisms live in and on our body. They live in our mouths, tongues, guts, mucosal surfaces and on the surface of our skin.
These microbes perform various beneficial functions relevant to supporting life. They help to digest food, prevent disease-causing pathogens from invading the body, and synthesize essential nutrients and vitamins.
Changes in the microbiome can trigger changes in human cellular activities, resulting in disease or contribute to its progression.
Ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB)
In the late 1990s, when David Whitlock went on a date with a young woman, she asked him why her horse liked to roll in the dirt.
Unable to answer her, Whitlock read books on biology. He gathered soil samples and grew bacteria in his basement. After reading hundreds of papers, he concluded that it must be important for the horses to roll in the dirt.
He learned that sweat of the horse is abrasive to its skin and causes equine acne that starts as a small, oily black plugs in the skin and may develop into red, itchy inflamed bumps.
He found ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in the soil. He realized that ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) in the soil must be helping the horse to clean itself by converting urea and ammonia found in sweat into nitrite and nitric oxide.
Nitrite fights most bad bacteria while nitric oxide has anti-inflammatory properties.
In the following video, Dr. Larry Weiss, MD, a Key Member and Chief Medical Officer of AOBiome LLC talks about AOB.
From his study of the behavior of the horses, Whitlock concluded that useful bacteria once colonized on human skins too, and with the advent of knowledge in Chemistry and modern hygiene, humans eradicated them by sterilizing their bodies with soaps, lotions, and antiseptics, leaving our skin more susceptible to challenge.
Whitlock believed that by restoring the appropriate AOB levels, a range of human health conditions could be impacted.
In 2000, to test his hypothesis, Whitlock began adding AOB to water and dousing himself daily. He avoided using soaps because they kill the microbes. For the past 12 years, Whitlock did not shower. He found that the bacteria kept him clean and odor-free. His skin looks fresh, and he smells nice.
Though Dave Whitlock does not shower, he takes an occasional sponge bath to clean off the accumulated grime on his skin.
On August 10, 2001, Dave Whitlock presented his application papers for obtaining a patent for compositions, including ammonia oxidizing bacteria to increase production of nitric oxide and nitric oxide precursors and methods of using same. He obtained the patent US7820420 for same on October 26, 2010.
A method of enhancing health through the generation in close proximity of a surface of a subject, nitric oxide and nitric oxide precursors using bacteria adapted to oxidize ammonia and urea derived from perspiration is described. Local and systemic effects are described including a reduction in vascular disease, enhancement of sexual function, improved skin health, and reduced transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
NitroCell BioSciences LLC
In 2012, Dave Whitlock co-founded NitroCell BioSciences LLC as a pharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The company focused on getting U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for bacteria-based prescription therapies for acne, eczema, rosacea, wound healing, and more.
In March 2013, NitroCell BioSciences LLC changed its name to AOBiome, LLC.
Now, AOBiome, LLC develops skin products based on ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB). The company’s products are used to restore the natural balance of skin microbes that have been lost due to modern living practices, including the use of soaps and shampoos. It also develops AO+ Refreshing Cosmetic Mist, a cosmetic product to improve the look and feel of skin.
According to Jasmina Aganovic, an MIT graduate and AOBiome’s general manager for consumer products, as humans, we need to reconnect with our environment. “We’ve confused clean with sterile. … We’ve taken the dirt out of our lives. We don’t spend as much time outdoors as we used to — even as little children.”
So, AOBiome, LLC has created and launched “Mother Dirt” to add a little dirt back into our lives. AOBiome is the first cosmetics company to market a product that contains live bacteria. The company claims their products do not cause illness, even if ingested.
The Mother Dirt products set themselves apart from all other scientific skincare items that have flooded the market in recent times.
The Mother Dirt AO+ mist specifically contains live ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) that’s sprayed on the skin twice a day. It has no odor and feels like water. There’s a Mother Dirt shampoo and cleanser that doesn’t contain bacteria, but Jasmina Aganovic says it won’t interfere with it either.
Though Dave Whitlock still doesn’t shower, he uses Mother Dirt every day and hopes the rest of the world will join him. He said: “I would like a billion people a day to use this.”
Aobiome officials believe in the health benefits of these live bacteria. They are not making any scientific claims right now, but they will soon begin clinical trials on inflammatory skin conditions like acne.
- Boston man hasn’t showered for 12 years, prefers homebrew bacteria spray (boingboing.net)
- Meet the Scientist Who Last Took a Bath 12 Years Ago (spd.rss.ac)
- ‘I have not taken a shower in over 12 years’: Chemical engineer suggests live bacteria spray (q13fox.com)
- Engineer says new product allowed him to skip bathing for 12 years (wtkr.com)
- Here’s why this man hasn’t showered for 12 years
- ‘I haven’t taken a shower in 12 years’: MIT scientist gives up on washing and claims to keep clean by spraying live bacteria on
his skin (dailymail.co.uk)
- “I have not taken a shower in over 12 years:” Here’s what a chemical engineer suggests we try instead (fox6now.com)
- Some of My Best Friends Are Germs (nytimes.com)
- The Bacteria Solution – A cosmetics startup knows that live microbes are the secret to healthier skin. Will anyone believe that? (bloomberg.com)
- THE DIRT – The Skin Microbiome (motherdirt.com)
- New Skincare Line Mother Dirt Redefines Clean: Exclusive Interview (fashionnstyle.com)
- To Bathe, or Not to Bathe: Part 1 – That Was the Question in Europe! (tvaraj.com)
- To Bathe, or Not to Bathe: Part 2 – The Bubonic Plague (tvaraj.com)
- To Bathe, or Not to Bathe: Part 3 – Don’t Bathe Water Is Your Enemy! (tvaraj.com)
- To Bathe, or Not to Bathe: Part 4 – Bathing in Medieval Europe (tvaraj.com)
- To Bathe, or Not to Bathe: Part 5 – Did the Kings and Queens of the Early Renaissance Period Bathe? (tvaraj.com)
- To Bathe, or Not to Bathe: Part 6 – Did the Kings and Queens of the Renaissance Period Bathe? (tvaraj.com)