[Wim Hof] Study first to demonstrate brain mechanisms that give The Iceman unusual resistance to cold

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A report on studies by Wayne State University School of Medicine professors Otto Muzik and Vaibhav Diwadkar.

Practice of the Wim Hof Method made Hof’s skin temperature relatively invariant to cold exposure, a finding the researchers attributed to his increased sympathetic innervation and glucose consumption in intercostal muscle revealed by PET imaging. The method appeared to allow him to generate heat that dissipates to lung tissue and warms circulating blood in the pulmonary capillaries… The researchers hypothesize that by generating a stress-induced analgesic response in periaqueductal gray matter, the Wim Hof Method may promote the spontaneous release of opioids and cannabinoids in the brain. This effect has the potential to create a feeling of well-being, mood control and reduced anxiety.

Otto Muzik et al, “Brain over body”–A study on the willful regulation of autonomic function during cold exposure, NeuroImage (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.01.067

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