Did you know that taking a cold shower each day can provide a number of health benefits? The benefits include reducing inflammation and pain, improving cardiovascular health, recharging the immune system and everybody’s favorite, aiding in weight loss. Just to be clear, we’re not taking about the entire time you’re in the shower, just the last few minutes or so. Read on and we’re sure you’ll be hooked!
I was recently introduced to the concept of cold exposure through the Wim Hof Method. Wim Hof, referred to as the “Iceman” is a known for holding a couple dozen world records related to cold exposure. People also credit his method for helping them manage a number of health conditions. While cold exposure is only one of three parts to his method, it’s probably the easiest one to start with noticeable benefits.
Cold showers are actually beneficial for both your mind and your body.
As noted above, the health benefits of cold showers or cold exposure are numerous. They include the ability to reduce pain and inflammation, strengthen the immune system, reduce stress levels, aid in weight loss, improve sleep quality, reduce depression and speed up recovery time from injury. This list of neurological activities probably sounds familiar since it’s just a few of the functions controlled by our own Endocannabinoid System (ESC).
The Endocannabinoid System helps keep our bodies in balance.
Professors at Wayne State University published a study that explains how Wim’s protocol of cold exposure, breathing and mindset allows people to access parts of the brain called periaqueductal gray matter, located in the upper brainstem. This area is associated with brain mechanisms for the control of sensory pain and is thought to implement this control through the release of endocannabinoids.
Wim’s method leads to a feeling of well-being, mood control and reduced anxiety by raising natural endocannabinoid levels. Moreover, the boost in endocannabinoids have the potential to inhibit the swelling and inflammation associated with autoimmune disease. It’s exciting to see research connect the properties of the cannabinods in hemp such as CBD to those that we make in our own body.
The basis for the health benefits of cold exposure is a concept called hormesis. Exposure to small doses of certain stressors known as hermetic stress can actually can actually benefit your health. While chronic stress is certainly bad for one’s health, this type of limited stress triggers a cascade of physiological processes that enhance overall health.
Hormesis –The health-enhancing stress you need in your life.
Researchers are continuing to study the biological processes behind the body’s reaction to Wim’s method and how it may be used to manage various medical conditions ranging from chronic illness to more mental health conditions.
Taking the Plunge
Before you get too worried that you have to plunge into a frozen lake, the benefits are accessible with just a brief cold shower. For those who regularly take CBD to manage their own health, taking a cold shower seems like a no brainer. It’s pretty much free, convenient and not too time consuming! (That is, unless you’re are Wim Hof who holds the Guinness World Record for sitting in an ice bath for one hour, 52 minutes and 42 seconds. Burrr!)
It is essential to build up cold exposure gradually.
It is essential to gradually build up the duration and intensity to cold exposure. If you have no prior experience with cold showers, start with a regular shower and finish the last 30 seconds cold eventually build up to 2 to 3 minutes. You quickly notice that you are able to tolerate the cold more and more. Before you know it, you’ll be installing an ice bath in the backyard and looking forward to the cold plunge!
PRECAUTION: Before you start, be cautious with any form of sudden temperature change in your environment, especially if you have heart disease or other chronic conditions. Make sure to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your daily routine.
And, of course, contact our resident expert if you have any questions!