When people first hear about the Wim Hof Method, they often wonder how it can possibly be healthy to repeatedly expose your body to ice water, hyperventilate and hold your breath.
Turning to science, the research field of hormesis can readily provide answers to these legitimate questions. The concept of hormesis was developed more than a hundred years ago and research in this area has rapidly expanded over the last two decades.
By definition, hormesis is a dose-response phenomenon characterized by low-dose stimulation and high-dose inhibition.
Hormesis means that the administration of small doses of stress which in high doses would be very harmful to a specific live form can stimulate physiological processes that are beneficial in the long run.
Now transfer the hormetic principle to the Wim Hof Method: immersing yourself in cold water for just the right amount of time, or challenging your body with periods of low oxygen during breath retentions for just the right amount of time, should have beneficial effects on your physiology!
Edward Calabrese has been dubbed a “Toxicology Rock Star”. He is a professor of Toxicology at University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences. He has an impressive resume, including over 600 scholarly articles and more than 10 books. He was awarded the Marie Curie Prize in 2009 for his work on hormesis. In the past 20 years, Calabrese has conceived and carried out hundreds of experiments to test and re-confirm his findings. His work is a reminder that it is easy to think we have attained vast amounts of understanding about the natural world, but in fact, there is so much more that we don’t know.