When my husband and I were just a few months into dating, he started doing systema and krav maga martial arts training. From that, he learned something called dousing.
One day we were staying in a mountain cabin in the dead of winter. He asked “Want to douse with me?”
(Blank stare. Raised eyebrows. )
He then proceeded to fill up a bucket of ice water, walked outside in the freezing cold weather, in nothing but his swim shorts, barefoot in the snow where he poured the bucket of ice water over his head. Not once, but twice.
I didn’t know if I should be concerned or intrigued.
When he came inside, he could not stop talking about how great he felt and how I should try it.
I’m good. Thanks.
Fast forward to working in the health and wellness sphere where I can’t stop hearing about the truly profound effects of cold thermogenesis and why everyone should give it a try.
Types of Cold Thermogenesis
Cultures all around the world have been practicing cold therapy for hundreds of years because of the profound healing, detoxifying, and anti-aging benefits.
Today people like Tony Robbins and some of the most elite athletes and businessmen are starting their day plunging into cold water because of the mental and energetic boost it provides.
Like it sounds, cold thermogenesis is simply exposing your body to the cold for short periods of time.
Dousing involves taking a large bucket, filling it with water as cold as you are able to get it and then pouring the contents over your standing body, from the head down and repeating this immediately a second time. In the Russian tradition, dousing should be performed twice a day, with two buckets being poured in the early morning and two in the late evening before going to bed. Ideally, dousing should be performed in Nature, with your bare feet directly in contact with the earth.
Cryotherapy is incredibly popular in the athletic and health-seeking crowds. Cryotherapy consists of getting into a tank filled with liquid nitrogen that makes it -200-250F.
When you step into the chamber, your blood begins to pull away from outer extremities and towards internal organs like heart, lungs, stomach which stimulates the rate of tissue repair and reduce the circulating levels of inflammation.
This technique is wonderful for reducing pain and inflammation, healing injuries, and stimulating the immune system.
The easiest and least expensive way to get your cold water therapy is in the privacy of your own home. Ending your shower with 3 minutes of the coldest water will provide outstanding benefits for your immune system and body while also enhancing the appearance of your skin and hair.
Cold Water Submersion
You can also find a freezing lake or pool to jump in or simply fill your bathub with ice water.
You may have heard that Tony Robbins starts every day off by plunging into a 57-degree Fahrenheit pool of water.
Cold water immersion activates the body’s natural healing powers that can relieve the symptoms of many medical conditions and promote a sense of health and well-being. And when practiced on a regular basis, cold water immersion can even provide long-lasting changes to your body’s immune, lymphatic, circulatory and digestive systems that enhance the overall quality of your life.
Benefits of Cold Thermogenesis
Strengthens Immune System:
It is an old wives’ tale that getting out in the cold will give you a cold. It’s actually the opposite. Being exposed to freezing cold for short periods of time is one of the most powerful practices for boosting your immune system.
Cold showers boost the immune system by activating two important virus-fighting cytokines. A German study indicated that gamma interferon and interleukin-4 are elevated and work more synergistically after the body was exposed to cold. People who take cold showers on a regular basis have been shown to have a lower chance of developing cancer, colds, flu’s, hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
Going from hot to cold dramatically improves lymphatic flow. The lymph system carries away waste products from immune related activity. Cold showers lead to whole-body contractions which squeeze lymphatic flow through the system faster. This helps the body squeeze metabolic waste products and environmental toxins out of the skin. This helps you feel fresher and the skin and hair appear cleaner and younger.
Cold water immersion causes your lymph vessels to contract, forcing your lymphatic system to pump lymph fluids throughout your body, flushing the waste out of the area. This then triggers the immune system’s white blood cells to attack and destroy any unwanted substance in the fluid. In a way, it’s sort of a domino effect — the cold water effects the lymphatic system, which in turn effects the immune system, which ultimately keeps you feeling happy and healthy.
Cold showers have also been shown to improve metabolism and fat burning. There are white fat cells and brown fat cells. Brown fat contains more mitochondria than white fat and burns more energy in order to produce heat. Individuals who live in colder climates and/or use cold showers produce more brown fat for greater body heat production. Brown fat helps protect us from aging, fights obesity and reduces the risk of degenerative disease
Speeds Up Healing
Just as ice placed on an injury helps pain and inflammation because of the constricted blood vessels, same goes with the entire body.
Heals, Tightens, and Tones Skin
CT may be one of the best-kept beauty and anti-aging secrets around. I have found cold showers have a profound effect on tightening and toning the skin, promoting incredibly shiny hair and glowing skin. I love to recommend this to all of my clients that see me for skin and anti-aging consultations. This is also great for tightening and toning skin after having children, I know this from experience;).
A few times a week, alternate between cold and hot in the shower three times and notice how your skin changes.
Improves Energy and Mood
Research has indicated that short exposure to cold releases endorphins and improves circulation throughout the body, including the brain. Many reports feeling dramatically more energy and improved mood and focus after a cold therapy session.
When NOT to do Cold thermogenesis
As healing as cold therapy can be, it should be used with caution.
Pregnant women, those with heart conditions, and those under extreme stress struggling with adrenal fatigue should not do any of the cold therapies mentioned above.
Other Health Practices:
- Photobiomodulation (red light therapy at home)
- Oil Pulling
- Soaking grains, nuts, beans
- Red vs blue light
Sources For This Article Include:
1. Shevchuk NA. Possible use of repeated cold stress for reducing fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome: a hypothesis. Behav Brain Funct. 2007 Oct 24;3:55. PMID: 17958903
2. Bleakley C, McDonough S, Gardner E, Baxter GD, Hopkins JT, Davison GW. Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Feb 15;2:CD008262. PMID: 22336838
3. Shevchuk NA. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(5):995-1001. PMID: 17993252
4. Shevchuk NA, Radoja S. Possible stimulation of anti-tumor immunity using repeated cold stress: a hypothesis. Infect Agent Cancer. 2007 Nov 13;2:20. PMID: 17999770
5. Srámek P, Simecková M, Janský L, Savlíková J, Vybíral S. Human physiological responses to immersion into water of different temperatures. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000 Mar;81(5):436-42. PMID: 10751106
Kenn Kelly, thanks for the article post.Really thank you! Great.
Kenn Kelly, thanks! And thanks for sharing your great posts every week!
Hi! Why is this not rightcfor someone struggling with adrenal fatigue?
Hi Jaymee! Doing this does cause the body to release cortisol so if someone is already producing too much cortisol it can throw other hormones out of balance. They can start small, for a short amount of time maybe just 1-2 a week.
What about having your feet in a bucket of ice water? Will cold thermogenesis work then as well? If so it would be perfect as I work
It’s a very detailed and great article Kelly, thank you so much to share. I do cold showers since last summer, but with all these details I am going to prepare for dousing as well. Thanks for the inspiration again.