Iceman Wim Hof Breathing Method

cman89

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I have heard of positive results from Zen Meditation, and Tantric Breathing practices also. When tolerated, cold exposure alone can help with immune regulation, as long as it is metered properly. Any combination of these techniques can be useful. I use vibration breathing to address migraine onset, and it helps, but does not cure. Given that, I can easily see how anything that calms your system can have a positive influence on immune factors.
 

Effi

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I think many ME patients with autonomic nervous system problems would have a lot of trouble with this Wim Hof method. The energy it takes for your body to warm up again could easily lead to a crash.

Btw, there have been reports about people dying while doing these exercises. Supposedly he doesn't warn people enough about possible harmful effects. This doesn't mean the exercises are dangerous per se, but caution is definitely in order for people like us who are weakened by chronic illness to begin with. (article about this here - this article talks about three people in 2015; there was another death in 2016)
 

Deltrus

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I found the pranamaya breathing technique he uses gave around a 6% ish boost to my health in general permanently. Honestly my diaphragm and breathing in general was getting very weak from lying down all day every day, and the exercises can be done laying down so they are good for people with CFS. I still have CFS but I feel like I'l be a bit healthier when they find a cure than I would be without it.

People with CFS should also look into zhan zhuang and standing in horse stance. They really help preserve posture and proper musculoskeletal dynamics even for people with severe fatigue.
 

ChrisD

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I think many ME patients with autonomic nervous system problems would have a lot of trouble with this Wim Hof method. The energy it takes for your body to warm up again could easily lead to a crash.

Btw, there have been reports about people dying while doing these exercises. Supposedly he doesn't warn people enough about possible harmful effects. This doesn't mean the exercises are dangerous per se, but caution is definitely in order for people like us who are weakened by chronic illness to begin with. (article about this here - this article talks about three people in 2015; there was another death in 2016)
@Effi To be more specific, I wasn't suggesting the Ice bath breathing as first port of call. If you download the app or resources from Wim Hof Online, he has recorded various training videos seated in a meditation position. In that respect it is very safe. To be honest it has been making me feel quite tired but I am potentially sleeping better and 'healing', I have moderate CFS (not severe) so I have been able to try a few cold showers too which have contributed towards better ennergy levels by stimulating mitochondria...
 

ChrisD

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Thanks for posting this, Chris. I started this method after reading this in november 2018 and it seems to have a positive effect on my well being. It is not an easy path and I find you need to take small steps in increasing the cold exposure as well as breath exercises, but overall I like it a lot.
 

helen1

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I’ve been doing wim hof cold immersion therapy for a couple of years. It reduces my PEM symptoms noticeably especially when the water’s coldest. A few times it’s eliminated PEM completely if I do it at the start of PEM.

At times, I have to really convince myself to get into the cold ocean but many times I’m happy to march in, breathe slowly, paddle about for 30 seconds (that part is definitely unpleasant), then feel better - always. I can usually stay in 1-15 mins depending on the ocean temperature. It varies during the year from 6C to 11C (43-52 F) where I live.

I prefer the ocean by a mile but do cold baths if it’s too cold & rainy out for me. I’ve recently graduated to lying down in the cold bath when I bathe, not just immersing myself to the waist. It honestly feels great (after about 10 seconds of unpleasantness) when I lie back.

I started very cautiously a few years ago with just my feet immersed, then I went to sitting in a few inches of water with my upper body wrapped in sweaters.

I definitely agree with the others that cold immersion would almost certainly cause a crash if you didn’t start very low & slow.

Even though it’s not very appealing at times, it’s sure good to have something that reduces PEM.
 
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Was curious if anyone with ME had any experiences with this method and found this post. Just started on this myself and am hoping it will prove beneficial.

For anyone else considering this here is some more information that you might want to consider (I am no expert, but this is my understanding from what I've read):
"get more oxygen around the system" as the original poster says seems to be said everywhere (even by Wym Hof himself in the past) but this method does not increase o2 levels (blood o2 is usually sometihng like 99% for healthy people so you normally can't really get it higher). The breathing technique (form of hyperventilation) instead lowers blood co2 levels and the body needs co2 for the cells can take up o2. This lack of co2 temporarily turns the blood a bit alkaline and it also activates the fight-or-flight response with adrenaline and other things and will for most (healthy) people generate a rush (high) afterwards.

From the study the op linked:
"practicing the learned breathing techniques resulted in an immediate and profound decrease of pCO2 and bicarbonate, and an increase in pH"

Since this method seems to strain your system with the fight-and-flight response I would advice people to be very careful with this method depending on ME severity.

I am at about 70% of normal now and for me it so far it seems ok, but I've only done it a few days. I do notice this method takes some energy, but so far not any major adverse effect at least. Have noticed that on my bad days the body hardly seems to react and I get no kind of "rush" while on better days I can notice a small rush after. Seems like on bad days the body is unable to respond like it should.

Regarding cold showers I haven't looked much into it yet but this will also stress your system in some way and increase metabolism, so be careful.
 

BeADocToGoTo1

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The benefits of hot shock proteins and cold shock proteins are discussed often in the athlete community too. Search for Joe Rogan podcasts and he has a number of intriguing discussions on it with medical researchers, doctors and athletes.

There are many variations to the theme and many are thousands of years old. (Primal lifestyle) Finns have the sauna (hot shock) and then a quick jump in the icy water (cold shock). Hot yoga (hot shock). Ice water dips (cold shock) for athletes post game. Cryotherapy (cold shock) shops are popping up all over, and some athletic teams have one in their facility.

Beside the cellular response, hot/cold shock also stimulates deep breathing. And there are many breathing exercise methods, Yoga likely being the most widely known. But, even just plain exercising will get more oxygen into your system and more blood flow. It all helps with oxygenation (feed your mitochondria), improved blood flow, heart rate variability, autonomic nervous improvement, etc.
 
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Arius

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Was curious if anyone with ME had any experiences with this method and found this post. Just started on this myself and am hoping it will prove beneficial.

For anyone else considering this here is some more information that you might want to consider (I am no expert, but this is my understanding from what I've read):
"get more oxygen around the system" as the original poster says seems to be said everywhere (even by Wym Hof himself in the past) but this method does not increase o2 levels (blood o2 is usually sometihng like 99% for healthy people so you normally can't really get it higher). The breathing technique (form of hyperventilation) instead lowers blood co2 levels and the body needs co2 for the cells can take up o2. This lack of co2 temporarily turns the blood a bit alkaline and it also activates the fight-or-flight response with adrenaline and other things and will for most (healthy) people generate a rush (high) afterwards.

From the study the op linked:
"practicing the learned breathing techniques resulted in an immediate and profound decrease of pCO2 and bicarbonate, and an increase in pH"

Since this method seems to strain your system with the fight-and-flight response I would advice people to be very careful with this method depending on ME severity.

I am at about 70% of normal now and for me it so far it seems ok, but I've only done it a few days. I do notice this method takes some energy, but so far not any major adverse effect at least. Have noticed that on my bad days the body hardly seems to react and I get no kind of "rush" while on better days I can notice a small rush after. Seems like on bad days the body is unable to respond like it should.

Regarding cold showers I haven't looked much into it yet but this will also stress your system in some way and increase metabolism, so be careful.

Thanks, sb4. This is very informative and helps me make sense of my experience. WHM is still for me at this time too intense. Same with Kundalini yoga, which is supposed to have excellent health benefits. Too intense.

And I was wondering myself about if I was putting my body into a fight-or-flight response with WHM. What you said makes sense, and may be a reason for people in the crash phase of ME/CFS to avoid this method. Although I think a little bit of temporary stress can be healthy, no? Retrain your system? I'm not sure. I know I started getting worse on WHM and was concerned enough to stop despite actually really enjoying it.
 
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I've given WHM a shot multiple times, but the breathing method is way too intense for me and leaves me dangerously depleted. I still take cold showers, but I can't handle the breathing.
Similar experience for me. I tried the breathing method for about a week. At first the body got very restless, and a small "high" maybe. Quickly, it turned into a state of "wired but tired". Then I got depleted and fatigued. I could feel lactic acid was building up in my muscles. I had to take some pills to get to sleep (I usually don't take anything for sleep).

I stopped cold turkey on the WHM three days ago and now slowly starting to feel a little bit better. An awful week in the back mirror though, never again for me.

I am between moderate and severe. 45 yr old male.
 
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Wolfcub

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It's possible that ice baths help for those people who can tolerate them. But I also feel putting myself in to an ice bath (which I would happily have done when I was fit and well!) could cause some crash.
Today I experimented with a cold water sluice-down after a mildly warm bath, and it made me very shaky. Not a great start to the day.
However, I heard that cold stimulates the vagus nerve which can be helpful for some things.

I am adapting that and putting cold compresses on each side of my neck where the vagus nerve runs. That feels quite good and easy to cope with and rather refreshing.

I haven't tried Wim Hof breathing method yet. I am trying diaphragmatic and belly breathing, which so far, I have found slightly energising and helpful.
 
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I tried the breathing last night. Felt good afterward, but today I feel a symptom exacerbation. It's the type that usually comes after having overdone it physically. Hard to describe exactly how it feels, but it's notable and recurs following similar physical exertions. One notable symptoms was temporary reduction in visual field (everything goes a bit dark and I see some patterns) after going from laying down to standing up.

The breathing was 30 full inhale/exhales, full exhalation on final set and then hold the breath for ~2 minutes with the final 10 seconds is forcing the breath into the head. Did 4 cycles of this back to back.

Was definitely an enjoyable experience at the time and immediately afterward.

This link shows a YouTube video where an MD with research background examines the various claims made about Wim Hoff. Very informative, without getting overly technical.
 
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I repeated the breathing technique - same breath pattern and reps, same day of the week and time of day. Previous post was made 1 day after first session, I’m posting some more info as I’m thinking there’s much more to this for me than just a bit of symptom exacerbation.

It’s five days since the second try, I haven’t experienced the same vision loss on standing as I did the day following the first try.

In the week after both sessions, I did feel much more motivated and a bit more energetic overall. I also feel a bit more relaxed. During the breath hold phase of both sessions, I did get a sensation of it being just me and my body and breath, and I felt incredibly centred.

So for me, with mild (occasionally moderate) symptoms, at this stage it appears there is some positive benefit from the breathing technique. Both psychologically and as far a good verkalk energy. I will continue to practice once weekly and post updates periodically. I am only doing the breathing for now, as I don’t fancy jumping in the deep end and potentially overwhelming my systems.
 

tango

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There is a Facebook group devoted to this topic and there are some people in that group who have made progress using this breathing method.
I have not mastered it yet. I find the breathing technique exhausting. It’s very similar to bellows breathing and I find it makes me yawn and want to go to sleep. I do plan to have another go at it but for now I am doing alternate nostril breathing for 10 minutes a day. I plan to do that for 30 days and see how I go.

I think the key is to not push yourself with this breathing technique. Start slower than recommended, and only do one set. Build up from there.

I have not mastered it yet. I find the breathing technique exhausting. It’s very similar to bellows breathing and I find it makes me yawn or want to go to sleep. I do plan to have another go at it but for now I am doing alternate nostril breathing for 10 minutes a day. I plan to do that for 30 days and see how I go.
 
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I found this guided exercise from Wim Hof and I love it. Can't even imagine it being possible to hold my breath for a minute and a half upon full exhale, but I can with this technique. Air hunger has traumatized me. :cautious: