Joining the movement for medical and bodily autonomy
We get a fair bit of email from folks who like what we do and want to know how to plug into our work. If you’re reading this, you’re probably at least a little interested. While we do have needs for certain skills, it’s sometimes hard to find a good fit for prospective volunteers. We hope this post will help you find ways to make“Right to Repair for Your Body” a reality in your community.
Ways to contribute
There are four main ways to get involved with our corner of the medical autonomy movement:
- Sharing – Think of any friends who might be interested and introduce them to our work.
- Implementing – Find a project that’s ready to be used, identify folks who could use it, and make it happen.
- Replicating – Pick a project and start building your own copy.
- Developing – Push a project forward or expand it into new areas.
Let’s talk a bit more about what each of these means.
We can always use people with specialized skills in a discipline like chemistry, biology, programming, or engineering; but if you don’t have these, maybe you know someone does who is looking to make a difference. Maybe you have a community that might be sympathetic. Spreading the word is something that everyone can do.
If you’re going to hype us up, you may wish to familiarize yourself with our projects. You can check out some of our videos here. At the end of the day, we are people doing science for humanitarian reasons. If you’ve got skills or are willing to learn, you can do this stuff too and make bodily autonomy into a de facto reality—not a right to be debated or granted or taken away.
If you or someone you know believes that the time has arrived for citizen science, maybe it’s time to steal a little vinegar of your own.
As of writing (Jan 2024) we have a number of projects in development that we hope will make positive changes in the lives of people who need them. Some of our projects are ready for replication. We’ve researched, developed, tested, and published all the instructions to do it yourself.
But what if you don’t need a controlled lab reactor like the Microlab? Sure, you could use it to mix drinks at your next party, but for most it might remain a hobby project. Fortunately, we have a project that anyone can make and that everyone can use.
Enter Tooth Seal
Tooth Seal is an anti-microbial fluoride treatment that contains silver nano particles. The fluoride re-mineralizes the enamel on the surface of your teeth while the silver makes them slightly anti-microbial. The bacteria that would ordinarily take up residence there find it a little harder to set up shop. Tooth Seal can be applied to halt the progress of a cavity, or as a prophylactic to prevent tooth decay for up to a year.
It costs about $200 for enough ingredients to seal about a thousand teeth. It consists of a powder that you mix into a liquid in a single step. You brush and floss, dry the teeth, then apply the solution and give it 2 minutes to absorb. This has been shown in studies to be effective (there are links to them in the instructions).
If dentistry is hard for you to access or if you just want to worry a little less about your oral health, Tooth Seal is an easy and low-risk way that you and your friends can get started taking your health into your own hands.
Full replication and application instructions are here, including citations to primary sources so you can be sure we’re not just making this all up.
If you’re a fellow traveler who believes in harm reduction for the living and you want to replicate a project, we encourage this! We’ve got full instructions for the latest version of the Microlab available on our github. Replication can be a fun project for a hobbyist (or even a high-school classroom). We’ve also got instructions on creating your own Plan B from oral contraceptives, making “Plan B+” which is simultaneous emergency contraception and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment together, and of course there’s also the EpiPencil DIY epinephrine auto-injector.
Whether you’re making a project for fun or to prepare for a time of need, each replication is a manifestation of bodily autonomy that changes the facts on the ground. Replicating our work is also an opportunity to test, refine, and offer feedback so that the next person can do it better, easier, and safer. If you’ve re-created one of our projects and want to let us know, consider tagging us on Twitter, Instagram, or Mastodon, or send us an email. You may also want to consider the next step: founding your own den of thieves and developing your own projects…
Developers take replication to the next step: building on what has been done and improving or expanding it for new uses. We’re always keen to see people standing on our humble shoulders and we get super-excited whenever we see people that have taken things beyond what we’ve done or even imagined. In a world where most people are at the mercy of profit-driven bureaucracies and callous government institutions for the very things they need to live, we take heart that there are others striving to make bodily autonomy a reality.
We at Four Thieves are a part of the DIY healthcare movement, but we’re not the only ones. There are friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers out there working hard to expand possibilities and make the Right to Repair for Your Body a reality. We welcome collaboration, and nothing makes us happier than seeing others raise up the banner of bodily and medical autonomy in their own communities.
We’re all in this together
In times of great change—whether social, political, or technological—opportunities emerge to change what’s real and what’s possible. We believe that proliferation of knowledge and technology alongside the rise of people-powered movements and citizen science make this one of those times. Things often seem impossible until someone does them—after that, it’s just how things are.
Each of us has the agency to decide what we will do with our lives and what world we want to leave behind when it is over. If you believe that everyone deserves access to medicine, consider working with us or finding some like-minded friends and founding your own den of thieves.
To everyone reading this, as always:
Keep each other healthy. Keep each other safe.
And keep stealing that vinegar.