In Defense Of Shivering
My absolute favorite activity at my recent two-week stay at Hippocrates Health Institute was the cold plunge. I spent every day at the end of the day alternating between the Dead Sea warm pool, and the VERY COLD cold plunge. I have noticed that my essential metabolism seems to have changed since I have been plunging into cold water. Last week, when frigid weather enveloped New York City, I was walking around in a light coat, and truly enjoying the cold air. I felt pleasantly chilled.
I decided to review all the research I had done over the years on cold water therapy. And then decided to begin every day with a cold shower. BRRRR… By the fourth day, I actually began to enjoy the shower.
Cold Water Therapy
Cold water specifically helps to oxidize the cells of tissues, increasing the absorption of oxygen and aiding in the elimination of carbonic acid. In making parts of the body cold, you are actually asking your own circulation system to warm you from the cold. This exercising of the circulatory system builds up a resistance in the body to take care of ordinary situations—drafts, cold weather, and exposure to pathogens—all of which might cause illnesses if you’re in a weakened state.
The yogis from long ago understood how to use cold water therapy to achieve absolutely precise effects in the body.
For a clear mind:
Get in the shower and let cold water fall just below your lower lip for 15 minutes.
In the shower, let cold water fall between your eyebrows and upper lip for 15 minutes.
To induce sleepiness:
In the shower, let the water fall on your forehead for 15 minutes.
Cold water for colds:
When you have a head cold, the fastest way of getting rid of it is to do a cold sponge bath. Make sure the bathroom is warm, and then sponge your whole body with cold water. Wrap up quickly in a sheet or big towel, without drying yourself. The principle here is that you’re getting your body to respond more vigorously to warm you, so you don’t want to interfere with your body’s doing all the work. Then hurry to bed and lie there covered as warmly as possible for an hour. Do this every hour four times. Then get up and dress warmly. You’ll notice that each sponging gets you to feel warmer. By the third sponge, you should actually begin to sweat when you are in bed. Congestion in your nose will clear up; in fact your nose may begin to run profusely for a while. And your head will feel lighter. It’s a guaranteed one day cure for a chest or head cold. The next day you’ll feel 100% better.
Cold water for infections and inflammations:
You can get good results with local infections and inflammations by using a cold water spray on the affected area. The process is the same. Wet the area with a shower spray, then cover yourself without drying and relax. Repeat this several times. Once you get the hang of this
therapy, you can get really creative and follow the basic rules while, at the same time, following your own intuition about what would help your body to respond.
Cold water for overweight:
Cold water therapy keeps the glands in good working order. There is almost always some kind of glandular disturbance in an overweight condition. Also, keeping the bowels and kidneys functioning, which cold water therapy effects, helps to discard toxins which often settle in as extra weight. For losing weight, it’s best to do a hip spray in the morning and a back spray in the evening. These techniques help to both cleanse and keep the cells of organs well saturated with water. As well, the muscles will stay well-toned, and you will avoid that sagging that comes with weight loss. Of course, cold water therapy should be augmented with drinking lots of water and healthy eating habits.
To do the hip spray, aim the shower spray directly at your hip. Do this several times, then wrap up and jump into bed for a half hour. Remove the wrapping and stay in bed for another half hour.
To do the back spray, you need someone to aim the water at your back. Go up and down the back several times, wrap and go to bed.
For a complete body rejuvenation:
This is the most powerful yogic water application. Yogis believe that daily performance of this cold water shower will insure health and long life. First, coat your skin with almond oil. Then, immerse your whole body in water as cold as you can stand it. It may take a few attempts to get used to it but what’s remarkable about the technique is that after the first shock of the cold, you actually will feel warm, not cold. Your blood rushes out to meet the challenge of the cold and begins to generate its own heat. This is better than a sauna or a steam bath, where your body is passively heated; here it is an active process, activating your entire circulatory system and changing your entire bloodstream.
The technique is to stand under the cold shower, massaging each part of your body that the cold water is hitting. Use your feet to massage your calves and feet. The almond oil will help to keep the heat sealed in. Repeat the cold dousing and self-massage several times until you’ve been in the shower for 15 minutes. By the time you get out, you should feel toasty warm or even hot. Then towel dry yourself; put on warm clothes and wrap yourself in a blanket. This technique totally rebuilds your body and you will feel simultaneously invigorated and calm.
Cold water therapy was practiced some years ago at the Kneipp Sanitarium in Wörishofen, Germany. This was a highly successful and popular treatment for a variety of health problems; over 4000 patients a week were treated using cold water therapy. One of the keys that Sebastian Kneipp discovered was that if you have good circulation all the way down to the legs, it gives you good circulation all the way up to the head, and everywhere in between. The Kneipp Sanitarium became known for its Kneipp water walk, which consisted of a 30-foot walk through cold water which reached up to the knees. You can create the same effect as the Kneipp water walk.
Kneipp outdoor water walk:
Use a simple garden hose without the sprinkler attachment. Run the water against your leg, starting at the point that is farthest away from your heart, the ankle of your right leg. Move the stream of water up your leg until you reach your groin, then around and down the back of the other leg. Then do the same to the front. Let the water evaporate naturally; otherwise you don’t get the benefit of your circulatory system getting activated. To augment the effect, end the treatment with a barefoot walk through either sand or grass. In the winter, you can do the same thing in your bathtub.
Kneipp indoor water walk:
Fill the tub with water just a few inches as cold as you can tolerate, and walk back and forth. It may be painful at first, particularly if your circulation is poor. But you will feel your feet begin to get a little numb, and then warm. This is the time to step out. Build up tolerance for being able to walk for five minutes. If you’re really adventuresome, you can try the same thing outside in new, clean snow. In both
circumstances, warm your feet by continuing to walk for a while with shoes and socks.
Alternating hot and cold water therapy:
Alternating exposure to hot and cold water is an extremely powerful therapy. The simplest way of using hot and cold water therapy for health maintenance in your own home is using your morning shower.
Hot and cold shower:
Start with warm water. You can go to as hot as is comfortable. This will open the pores in your skin, and allow them to exhale toxins. Then ease into cool water that will close your pores.
Make the water increasingly cold until your breath quickens. This is the response that you want and where you should end your shower. At the right dosage, your body will have just received a good influx of invigoration and your skin will glow radiantly if you make this a regular part of your routine.
Another method of alternating hot and cold is to do a hot/cold wrap.
The hot-cold wrap:
You need first to line your bed with plastic. Take a sheet that has been dipped in a warm stew of herbal water, lay it out on the bed and wrap yourself thoroughly in it. Cover yourself with blankets and relax for a half hour. Then repeat this using the same sheet, now dipped in cold herbal water. This wrap is probably the most beneficial of the hot/cold applications, but also the most work.
Using alternating hot and cold packs is a way of drawing blood into specific organs and tissues when there are localized problems. In effect, you are stimulating the same circulatory response that is created by exercise. Because hot relaxes the tissues, blood is drawn into the area of the application. Cold, on the other hand, constricts the area, pushing blood away from the exposed tissues. By alternating hot and cold, you draw blood in, then force it out. Alternate the packs ten times, applying them for only half a minute cold, and a minute hot. This is a particularly effective treatment for moving along stagnant blood. Most benign growths are either caused by stagnant blood, or create stagnant blood. For instance, fibroid tumors in women respond well to frequent use of hot and cold packs applied to the abdomen. Using alternating hot and cold water in a sitz bath, which you can buy from your drugstore, is also an effective way of dealing with both gynecological and urinary tract problems.
Creating your own home spa:
The water that your skin is exposed to should be, as well as your drinking water, as clean as possible. Virtually all city water supplies are chlorinated; most are fluoridated. If it’s not good enough for our insides, it’s not good enough for our outsides. One of the best treats you can give to yourself is to make an investment in a shower filter. Get a good one.
You can turn your bathtub into a mini-ocean by simply adding Epsom salts to the water. Epsom salts are one of the all-time greatest detoxifiers, and help to draw impurities to the surface of the skin. After the bath, take a dry skin brush and brush vigorously to remove the dead skin cells and the toxins that these cells now hold.
Taking an herbal bath is the next best thing to going to a spa and having a body wrap. You can familiarize yourself with the common herbs and what they do, and hand-select your herb for its specific talent.
Alternatively, you can throw in a touch of essential oil that will leave your skin feeling well-nourished and baby soft.
For even more cold; really frigid cold:
I have also been going into a chamber that is 260 degrees below 0 (Fahrenheit). This process is called Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC). The maximum length of time in the chamber is 3 minutes. For my first two sessions, I made it to 2 ½ minutes. The next time, I broke the 3 minute barrier.
WBC was first used in Japan in 1978 by Dr. Yamauchi. He found that it reduced pain and inflammation in his patients for whom no other treatments were working. In the two decades since, technology has allowed us to perfect the application through sophisticated equipment. And, we have seen that the healing impact is not just limited to inflammation, but affects the endocrine, immune and nervous systems.
As you enter the cryo-chamber, the sudden drop in heat stimulates the temperature receptors of the body, prompting the brain to transmit messages throughout the body, whose temperature has dropped to 32 degrees. As the brain processes this new development, it sends signals to the body to protect itself, and activates an immune response that produces a host of benefits.
This process is what I have been speaking and writing about for several years now: The Hormesis Effect. Hormesis is the application of a stressor that stimulates the phenomenon that I call BOUNCEABILITY—the resilience to recover from the stressor and actually come to be better (better health, stronger, more fertile, less pain, longer life) than before the stressing agent was applied.
When you exit the chamber, blood is pumped vigorously around the body, which in turn enhances the oxygen supply and removal of toxins. The cold also triggers the nervous system to release feel-good endorphins. As well, the body’s natural anti-inflammatory reaction to extreme cold results in pain reduction.
The procedure has been especially embraced by athletes. The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, used a cryosauna at the 2012 London Olympics. Alberto Salazar used it when coaching Olympic medalists.
These are the results you can expect:
BEAUTY AND ANTI-AGING
- Cellulite reduction
- Boosted metabolism promoting weight loss
- Skin conditions ameliorated—including psoriasis, blemishes and acne
- Collagen production—skin toned evened, visible signs of aging reduced
HEALTH AND WELLNESS
- Pain relief from joint disorders, rheumatoid diseases and fibromyalgia
- Decreased muscle soreness, spasms and inflammation
- Improved post-surgery recovery
- Alleviation of depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, migraines and the effects of stress
- Lowered incidence of colds and flu
- Prevention of conditions like osteoporosis
SPORTS AND FITNESS
- Faster recovery from stress of competitive sports or training
- Reduced inflammation, swelling and pain
- Enhanced energy and endorphin release
- Improved muscle and motor unit activation
- Greater testosterone levels in men