Have you heard of the Wim Hof Method (WHM)? It’s a wellness practice that involves concentrated breathing exercises followed by exposure to extremely cold temperatures, and it’s said to result in all kinds of health benefits. It has also led to Hof himself breaking many world records for cold temperature exposure.
This is pretty cool on its own, but it also turns out that WHM can raise the levels of your body’s natural cannabinoids, or endocannabinoids.
Like many, I was introduced to the eccentrically delightful Wim Hof—often called “The Iceman”—via the recent Netflix documentary, which features a group of Goop Lab staffers doing an ice-cold plunge after breathing exercises. That week, a doctor I interviewed for a Leafly article coincidentally brought up WHM too, suggesting it might help me manage fibromyalgia symptoms because it raises natural cannabinoid levels.
As you might know, endocannabinoids are the body’s version of the cannabinoids in cannabis; they interact with the receptors in our endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our bodies to regulate a large variety of functions and help keep the body in balance, so all kinds of things can go awry when your body isn’t making enough of them. It seems that breathing exercises, plus freezing water, can help.
The science of The Iceman
Professors at Wayne State University published a study on how The Iceman’s brain responds during controlled whole-body cold-temperature exposure. They studied Hof and found stunning differences in how he reacted to cold exposure compared to other healthy adults.
They expected him to show significant brain activations where the brain’s higher thermoregulatory centers are located, but instead they observed differences located in his 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 opioids and cannabinoids,” said Otto Muzik, PhD, one of the authors of the study, in a statement.
The study explains that the release of endocannabinoids due to WHM leads to a state of relaxed, euphoric well-being: “This mechanism might mediate the release of endogenous opioids/cannabinoids in both the periphery (via the descending pain/cold suppression pathway) and the CNS … leading to a feeling of euphoria, anxiolysis [decreased anxiety] and a sense of well-being, which further promotes an attentionally focused (mindful) state that augments the analgesic effect of endocannabinoids.”
Unfortunately, for those of us hoping to get ECS perks with the breathing exercises minus the freezing temperatures, the study says that the freezing element is needed to really get the ECS pumping: “Our results agree with earlier studies showing that aversive stimuli to the skin (thermal, mechanical or chemical) are particularly potent in activating endocannabinoid anti-nociception [blocking the detection of painful stimuli] in higher cognitive areas.”
The study also relates the boost to the ECS as a hope for healing autoimmune disease: “Moreover, endocannabinoids inhibit oedema [swelling] and inflammation … which agrees well with previous reports that describe a decreased immune response associated with WHM practice.”
This is why that doctor suggested WHM could help me manage fibromyalgia, as well as other diseases thought to be centered around the autoimmune response.
How to do the Wim Hof Method
Take 30 full breaths, accomplishing something many refer to as wave breathing: fill your stomach completely with air, at that point your lungs, at that point discharge through your mouth.
After the 30th breath, inhale out all air and attempt to hold it for one moment. At the point when the moment is up, take in and go through fifteen seconds with your lungs completely filled, at that point discharge—this is the sublime time when I begin to feel those endocannabinoids move in.
Similarly as what occurs with herb, my fibromyalgia torment is diminished in a whooooosh that causes such help, it's euphoric. With WHM, this current second's alleviation is likewise joined by an inebriating vibe that I once in a while get from cannabis (as a full-time clinical client).
And afterward you start once more. The second and third adjusts have you hold your breath out for 90 seconds, however it's imperative to not push it, and calmly inhale on the off chance that you have to. I've seen that the pleasurable sensations will in general increment with each round, which is enjoyable.
After the third round comes the virus shower. I like to do a dry brush before mine, which detoxifies the body and furthermore feels extremely pleasant after all that tingly-production breathwork.
How about we get Hoffy
Thus, it's been one month of day by day Wim Hoffing it up, and I should state: I despite everything don't care for cold showers. In any case, I do as of now observe the advantages of taking them, as they leave my vitality stores a piece revived and my skin feeling unusually wonderful for the remainder of the day.
I began with marginally enduring a moment long virus shower, and now my longest time is barely three minutes—I'm burrowing the self-rivalry component to WHM too.
What's more, the group at Wim Hof really put out a free Quarantine Challenge only for the present circumstance, which takes this activity through 40 days, finishing in 5 rounds of breathing and a two-minute virus shower. Hello, what else would you say you are going to do? Furthermore, what better time to support your safe framework?