Cold Water Immersion (CWI) Therapy is a simple yet powerful healing protocol that can improve cardiovascular health, reduce pain and inflammation, manage stress, build immunity and improve sleep. It can even be used as a tremendously helpful adjunct therapy for achieving long-term weight loss.
The practice dates back as far as 3500 BC with references to cold therapy found on an ancient Egyptian papyrus. In the fourth century BC, Hippocrates documented his use of cold water medicinally and as an analgesic, and the ancient Greeks used both hot and cold-water therapies for mental and physical health.
The Wim Hoff Method is a modern version of an ancient practice that focuses on the combination of breathing and cold-water exposure. The Wim Hoff Method teaches that over time, our bodies have become accustomed to modern-day comforts and are no longer accustomed to the temperature extremes found in nature. Exposing ourselves to cold conditions not only strengthens us – mentally and physically – but can activate the body’s natural healing powers and bring tremendous health improvements and resiliency.
One Agora Integrative Health uses Cold Water Immersion Therapy to treat a wide variety of medical conditions. Over time, when practiced on a regular basis, the positive effects of CWI can relieve symptoms and powerfully impact circulation, mental health, immune function, cardiovascular conditions, weight loss, sleep regulation, pain, inflammation and stress reduction. Cold Water Immersion can be practiced utilizing ice baths or cold showers, and a specialist will work with you to ensure controlled exposure.
Cold Water Immersion Therapy is the use of cold water – in ice baths or showers – to relieve the symptoms of various medical conditions. It can improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, strengthen cardiovascular function, and reduce pain, inflammation, stress and sleep problems.
CWI is also used in conjunction with sauna sessions for Contrast Bath Therapy. The two can be alternated for even more powerful health benefits that can impact a broader range of conditions.
Cold Water Immersion Therapy works through different physiological mechanisms, depending on the condition being treated.
For example, studies have proven that Cold Water Immersion helps to reduce muscle inflammation. When you submerge the human body in cold water, the metabolic waste created by inflammation is released into the bloodstream for excretion from the body, thus speeding recovery. The temperature of the water lowers the damage to the affected tissue, and reduces further swelling. CWI has been utilized as a way to help athletes recover after intense workouts or sporting events
As you immerse your body in cold water, it has to work harder to maintain its normal internal temperature, so the metabolic rate increases to produce heat for the body. When practiced regularly, Cold Water Immersion Therapy can increase the metabolic rate by as much as 16% - resulting in consistent weight loss.
Cold therapy also triggers brown fat and its tremendous benefits. By activating brown fat production, both metabolism and mitochondria production increase. The mitochondrion is the area of the cell that makes energy and helps to convert energy in our bodies and provide adaptive responses to our environment. These benefits have been shown in research to start even after only a few days of cold-water exposure and even at fairly reasonable temperatures.
Cold exposure signals your sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. In response, your nervous system releases massive amounts of norepinephrine into your brown fat cells, causing these cells to burn food and produce heat. By adapting to the cold, your body increases production of brown fat. This continues long after you get out of the water, continuing to stimulate long-term weight loss and increased mental clarity.
Before using CWI, it is necessary to obtain a correct diagnosis of the condition being treated. It is possible that CWI will either not be helpful or may be contraindicated for use in certain conditions. Individuals with hydrophobia (fear of water) may not tolerate CWI.
Cold Water Immersion Therapy is not ideal for individuals with certain medical conditions, like pregnancy, diabetes or epilepsy. CWI may also need to be avoided by people with a history of cardiac arrhythmia issues, autonomic dysfunction, or other very specific medical criteria, like the use of a pacemaker. Individuals with open, untreated or infected wounds should be treated before beginning CWI. Your One Agora Integrative Health specialist will work with you to determine if Cold Water Immersion Therapy is a good fit for you.
Cold Water Immersion Therapy can be beneficial for a wide array of symptoms and conditions, including:
Your Cold Water Immersion Therapy will be provided in our office. The longevity of your CWI effects will likely depend on the condition being addressed. You should not experience any side effects. Your One Agora Integrative Health specialist will discuss any aftercare you might need.
One Agora Integrative Health Clinic
9220 James Ave S.
Bloomington, MN 55431
Phone: (952) 234-5898