The “Naturopathic Glow Method” Program is Now Available

The only Naturopathic Program designed to help women struggling with adult acne. 

Are you currently suffering from acne, or do you know someone who is struggling?

Do you feel like you have run out of treatment options, or are hesitant to resort to using accutane or antibiotics?

As a previous acne sufferer, I have a passion for helping women overcome their skin struggles. I understand how frustrating this condition is, and how much of a toll it can take on your self confidence.

In the Naturopathic Glow Method program you will learn that acne is a complex condition, and should not be treated solely with an antibiotic prescription or topical acids. We are going to heal you from the INSIDE OUT! This will include a comprehensive plan to address body, mind, and spirit. My ultimate goal is to clear your skin and to empower you to take back control of your health. Let’s put a stop to any confusion immediately, and address the underlying issues. If you are tired of resorting to bandaid solutions, it may be time to consider a holistic, personalized, evidence based approach, to resolve skin symptoms for good.

This program will include:

  1. A comprehensive, individualized approach to acne.

Duration: 

4 months

Components of the program:

Module based learning in the form of audio, video, and pdf for easy learning.

Modules covered: 

  • Topical Skincare
  • Gut-Skin Axis
  • Blood Sugar Dysregulation
  • Nutrition
  • Detoxification
  •  Hormones
  • Stress & Skin

2. Handouts

3. Resources

4. Meal plan

5. Access to the private Naturopathic Glow Method facebook community where I will personally answer questions through weekly live videos and posts.

6. Personalized supplement prescription

7. Four one on one video consults with me.

Don’t waste another moment feeling overwhelmed and discouraged. It is time to clear your acne for good so that you can get on with your life, to feel confident and beautiful once again.

Please feel free to join my public Facebook group, “The Glowing Skin Community,” for more info on all things skincare related.

If you are ready for a change and want to chat with me to see if this program is right for you, please use the link below to book your FREE discovery call today:

https://naturopathicglowmethod.as.me/

Acne Facts:

  • Acne affects 5.6 million Canadians, nearly 20 per cent of the population.
  • More than 80 per cent of acne sufferers are between ages 12 and 24.
  • Acne affects about 90 per cent of adolescents, and 20-30 per cent of adults ages 20 to 40.
  • Acne affects the face in 99 per cent of cases but can also affect the body in 50% of cases.
  • Women make up 75 per cent of adult cases.

Fuelling Your Body for Exercise

With social distancing and limited access to organized sports, outdoor activity such as walking, hiking and running proves to be a great way to maintain heath and improve cardiovascular fitness during these challenging times. Part of preparing to achieve your fitness goals, is the consideration of proper fueling in the form of the food you eat and fluid you drink pre, during and post exercise.

Proper fuelling is essential to ensure:

  • Sustained quality and intensity of exercise
  • Prevention of digestive upset during your exercise session
  • Avoiding unwanted and distracting hunger during the session

Just as your vehicle requires the proper fuel to operate smoothly, so does your body during increased activity (and every other time as a matter of fact).

Not getting the proper nutrition or hydration can result in:

  • Reduced energy or early onset of fatigue
  • Reduced endurance and/or speed
  • Poor concentration
  • Skill errors
  • Upset digestion
  • Suboptimal body composition

Nutritional Needs

Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are always the most important fuel source before and during exercise because they are the form the body can most quickly use to make energy. Carbohydrates are always the limiting fuel, meaning they are the most important source for continued energy during exercise. The common ‘hitting the wall’ phenomena experienced during long intervals of exercise is due to running out of carbohydrates for fuel.

Protein & Fat
Exercise increases the breakdown of protein; therefore, protein is a very important part of recovery post exercise to aid in tissue repair. Fats are less important during and after exercise. Although they are an unlimited source of fuel, they should be avoided during and after exercise because they slow the rate of stomach emptying, which will delay the rate of absorption of nutrients needed for energy and repair.

Timing of Nutrition

2-3 Hours Before Event

  • 30-60 g of carbohydrates
  • Moderate protein (2:1 ratio of carbs to protein)
  • A few ideas include a small bowl of cereal with fruit and yogurt, piece of toast with honey, fruit smoothie, or small bowl of pasta with tomato-based sauce.

During

  • Activities lasting longer then 60 minutes require a 6-10% carbohydrate solution (30-60 g) per hour to prevent dehydration. See electrolyte drink recipe below.

Recovery
Recovery is the period of time after a workout to allow regeneration of muscles and tissues. Workouts of medium to high intensity lasting longer than 40 minutes require recovery. Signs that recovery is lacking include muscle soreness and fatigue lasting more than 12 hours, frequent injury and/or frequent illness. Typically, the optimal time to ensure proper recovery nutrition consists of a 30-minute window following the activity. During the first 30 minutes post-workout, the activity of the enzymes in the body responsible for replenishing the sugar stores are most heightened. Do not compromise the recovery meal, as it is the most critical for exercise and continued activity performance.

Optimal recovery nutrition consists of the following.

  • Protein: 20-30 g and upwards of 40 g for older athletes. A liquid source is best, as it empties from the stomach more quickly than do solids, which allows for maximum tissue rebuilding.
  • Carbohydrates: 50 g of simple sugars (fruit). This number can be slightly lower in those that are monitoring weight, and higher in more elite athletes where weight and calories are not being restricted.
  • Avoid fats and fiber post workout, as they will slow digestion of the required nutrients.

Recovery Ideas

  • Smoothie: Protein powder with berries/fruit (or 1 cup of premade smoothie)
  • Greek style yogurt and fruit
  • Egg white omelet with slice of toast and honey
  • Protein bar
  • Chicken and salad
  • Tuna on crackers and a banana
  • Pasta with beef and tomato sauce

Hydration

Water plays an important role in the body by controlling blood volume and body temperature. During exercise, the body cools itself by sweating; however, if not replaced, the loss of body fluid can lead to dehydration. As dehydration advances, poor focus, fatigue, increased heart rate and body temperature, increased perception of how difficult the activity is and nausea, vomiting and diarrhea during and after exercise can result.

To prevent dehydration during and after exercise the following tips can be helpful:

  • Begin exercise well hydrated to prevent dehydration during. Aim to consume 400-   600 mL of water 2-3 hours prior to beginning your session.
  •  Aim for pale, straw colour urine as a useful sign of adequate hydration.
  • You will continue to lose fluids through sweating and urination after you finish exercising; therefore, plan to replace 125-150% of the fluid lost in the 4-8 hours after you stop exercising.
  • Mix together ½ teaspoon of sea salt, ½ teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, juice of 1 lemon and 1 cup of water to replenish electrolytes during and after your exercise session.

Resources

Recovery Nutrition – Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA) [Internet]. Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA). 2020 [cited 7 October 2020]. Available from: https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/factsheets/fuelling-recovery/recovery-nutrition/

Smith-Ryan, Abbie and Antonio, Jose. Sports Nutrition and Sports Enhancing Supplements. Ronkonkoma, NY, Linus Learning, 2013.

Say What, Now? Vinegar can help my diabetes?

After almost 15 years in practice, I think I can safely say that the two most powerful disruptors of health are chronic psychological stress and the poor diet choices that go along with it (not that these two variables need to go hand in hand, only that they often do). We’ve witnessed the erosion in our health for some time: shift work, fraying family units, smart phones (with the implicit expectation that we need to be ‘ON’ 24 hours a day 7 days a week), lack of social supports, and economic stressors in concert drive the need for easy, processed, hyperpalatable, and lamentably, nutritionally bankrupt foods. Is it really any surprise that our medical offices are congested with people desperate to alleviate their depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, migraines, insomnia, diabetes, and weight gain? Let’s be clear. These are diseases of civilization! Our bodies didn’t all of a sudden just decide to revolt against us to make us suffer in this way. Our lifestyles are overwhelming our body’s capacity to maintain balance during these unprecedented times and we are diminished as a result.

The good news is that if we can work in a few keys areas we can mitigate MUCH of the risk factors that leave us vulnerable to chronic disease.

By now, I think many people are starting to realize the pitfalls of eating without any regard for the consequences, especially as it relates to blood sugar. More and more my patients are coming in with an impressive understanding of:

  1. Glycemic index
  2. Glycemic load.
  3.  Adequate protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat.
  4. The relationship between blood glucose/insulin/exercise.
  5. How stress can overwhelm glycemic control.
  6. The vicious cycle of insulin dependency and worsening insulin resistance.

However, we can know so much that simple solutions having tremendous benefit are often overlooked. In the context of blood sugar or glycemic control, our unsung hero today is apple cider vinegar (ACV). Beyond its use as a skin tonic, a household cleaner, a condiment, an antiseptic, a preservative, (you can even use it to kill weeds?!!), it also happens to be a very handy way to reduce morning blood sugars simply by consuming 2 tablespoons (diluted) at bedtime. In effect, it lowers fasting morning sugars, what diabetics know as the ‘dawn effect’, a phenomenon whereby morning blood sugars are higher independent of any meal consumed.
How it works isn’t well understood. Some researchers suggest that vinegar exerts a protective effect on the insulin response itself, improves satiety, and perhaps may inhibit salivary amylase (the enzyme that digests carbohydrate). Regardless of how it works, the data is clear.

  1. 2 teaspoons of ACV with a high carbohydrate meal reduces blood glucose and insulin by 34%.
  2.  Vinegar to sushi rice lowered glycemic index by 40%.
  3. When consumed with peanuts (I know, random!) glycemic response was reduced by 55%.

I’m often asked: how should I eat to balance all these variables; to live my life, balance my health, and avoid risk factors for chronic disease?

This plate leaves lots of flexibility for Paleo diets, AIP diets, Vegetarian and vegan diets and even a “regular diet”. It simply requires that we stick to whole foods. I will add one more layer to this when considering how to build your plate:


50% of your calories should come from healthy fats.

25% of your calories should come from lean protein.

25% of your calories should come from complex carbohydrates.

Annnnd….. 2 tablespoons of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar before bed. Welcome to your health!

For more on Glycemic Control and apple cider vinegar, check out Jason Fung’s Website for more info. https://www.idm.health

Dr. Stark Returns to Prairie Sky

“Maternity leave” just seems to be the perfect opportunity to make great changes! My amazing and generous colleagues Drs Marika Geis, Allison Ziegler and Lynn Chiasson stepped up to fill in for me so that care in the IV room could continue while I enjoyed a few weeks adjusting to becoming a mom of two then got to work on my “mat leave” projects. I have finally made some significant progress towards creating the online programs that have been living in my head for years. At least one of them (my way of making the mind-body work of cancer more accessible) will be launched before the end of this year! Then, after 2 years at Clear Health Inn, the stars magically aligned in just perfect timing to bring me back home to my ND family at Prairie Sky Health. In the last 2 years (since my first “mat leave” whirlwind changed everything) I did lots of learning and exploring options for creating the best care options for cancer patients in Regina. Now, I am beyond thrilled to be finally laying some permanent foundations for all the great things to come.

Renovations of the refreshed main floor space are nearing completion and I am so excited to finally be able to offer my patients care in a space actually designed with function in mind. The new IV Room will provide nice space for a horseshoe of chairs for easier visiting (and covid spacing), a well equipped prep area with all the storage space I dream of and a spot from which baby Nova will be able to supervise! Now with 3 IV certified NDs under one roof, we have enhanced capacity for serving the people of Regina with these advanced therapies and in an accessible space!

Once I am set up on the main floor, I will be “fully” back to practice with some new creative structures to best serve my patients as well as myself and my wee ones. I will continue to use telemedicine options for follow-up visits whenever possible as long as I have baby Nova as my sidekick. I will begin accepting new patients again in October, but in a paced fashion (only a few new patient spots available per month). I’ve also come up with a new way to offer follow-up care: through anytime direct messaging! In a nutshell, $100 will provide 30 minutes of follow-up through a direct messaging app (can do voice notes as well) that allows for the quick clarifying questions to get answered, labwork reviews, or close monitoring of your situation with response time under 24 hours on weekdays and under 48 hours over the weekend. The $100 sits as a credit on your account and normal insurance-claimable receipts are produced as this service is used in my normal per 5-minute billing increments.

Along with the physical space renovations, my website is finally being completely rebuilt to create space for my digital offerings to finally come to life as well. Visit www.LauraStarkND.com for a whole pile of updates and new resources soon!

The theme of 2020 has certainly turned out to be “let’s just turn everything on it’s head and figure out what to do next”, but from the position I’ve landed in at this point, the future sure looks sweet. I am so grateful to be a part of this incredible space we call Prairie Sky, for this family of amazing colleagues and for this career I am so blessed to have found myself in. Plus these eternal joys…

therapeutic order

The Therapeutic Order: The Hierarchy of Health in Naturopathic Medicine

The Therapeutic Order: The Hierarchy of Health in Naturopathic Medicine

Despite common belief, naturopathic doctors do not merely just prescribe supplements using a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, naturopathic medicine has a rich history and philosophy that has been curated, cultivated and passed down through our elders. Components of our history include our naturopathic principles, our oath, and the therapeutic order. The therapeutic order is a unique hierarchy of tenets that is meant to govern the naturopathic doctor’s clinical approach to patient care. The therapeutic order ultimately ensures a gentle approach that stimulates the innate healing ability of the body.

Remove Obstacles to Health
Bodies can affected by both internal and external obstacles and when this occurs for a prolonged period of time, the body will begin to express symptoms. Thus, we approach symptoms with curiosity and acknowledge that they are the body’s way to communicate its needs. Obstacles to health can be stressors, ineffective breathing techniques, dehydration, poor nutrition and/or lack of exercise to name a few.

Stimulate the vis
In naturopathic medicine, your vis is considered your life force and it harbours the body’s innate self-healing ability. As naturopathic doctors we truly believe that the body is capable of self-healing and we hope to inspire our patients to think the same. Traditionally, we use energetic approaches to stimulate vis including acupuncture, hydrotherapy and homeopathy and/or drop-dosing botanical herbs.

Correct structural integrity
Since we consider the whole person, we observe the physical body and determine if it is possible to increase circulation and vitality through spinal mobilizations or manipulations. A common example would be the posture we often see today from people on their cellphones or computers; shoulders rounded in, head drooping slightly forward and the chin tilting up. Although it may seem like this type of posture would only affect the musculoskeletal system, it also makes it more difficult for people to fill their lungs completely as they breathe or to digest properly if they are rounded over applying unnecessary pressure on their gastrointestinal system.therapeutic order

Support and restore weakened body systems
Sometimes there are body systems that need to be restored and cannot simply be stimulated. The particular system and the approach will differ drastically patient to patient but this is often where we will call upon botanical medicine, acupuncture and/or nutraceuticals to tonify weakened systems.

Use of natural substances
Our primary goal is to restore health and not to treat pathology. However, there are instances where this approach becomes a priority such as an acute infection or to ease a troubling symptom while we continue to address the root cause.

Note that use of supplementation is further along the hierarchy than establishing the necessities for a healthy life. It is becoming common for practitioners to bypass all the previous steps as supplementation can be easier and more convenient than lifestyle changes. This approach is known as green allopathy, whereby a healthcare practitioner prescribes a supplement to treat a symptom without questioning why the symptom has arisen in the first place.

Despite its growing popularity, green allopathy is ultimately unsatisfying to both patient and naturopath as it evades the roots of our medicine. A patient can only proceed so far along their health journey if the foundations for health have not been met through the previous tenets and the cause remains unknown.

Use of pharmacological substances
In instances where the naturopathic doctor has prescribing rights and in provinces where they are able to, naturopaths may prescribe pharmaceutical drugs to suppress symptoms. Again, the goal is always to restore health so pharmacy is not seen as a solution but rather a tool to abide symptoms while we work towards treating the root cause.

Surgery
When surgery is required, the patient will be under the care of medical doctors who are trained in this arena. However, a naturopath may be of use in easing side effects of surgery.

Given all of the above, when you visit a naturopathic doctor, you can expect that there will be lifestyle changes, dietary changes and perhaps a prescription for contrast showers. You can also expect that we will do the diagnostic work required to find the root cause of your dis-ease and, in the mean time, we may employ any of our tools to abide troubling symptoms.

If you have been prescribed supplements for the purpose of suppressing symptoms but the root cause remains unclear, do speak with your naturopathic doctor. The well-trained naturopathic doctor will always prioritize patient safety while being aware of patterns, weaknesses, obstacles specific to that patient and, of course, will strive to prevent further dis-ease through employing the therapeutic order along with the principles of our medicine.

The Sunshine Vitamin- a drug we may be missing

The Sunshine Vitamin: a drug we may be missing

Recently, there has been a lot of buzz about Vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with worsening autoimmune diseases, increasing the risk of frequent infections, heart disease, and mental health conditions.

It is unique as it is the only vitamin that is produced in your skin in response to sunlight. It is both a hormone and a fat soluble vitamin.

Recently, I watched Dr. Rhonda Patrick discuss the new research regarding the links to adequate Vitamin D levels and our immune health.

Here is a quick video outlining some of the important roles vitamin D has in our body.

Remember that regular exposure to moderate levels of sunshine, and proper supplementation may be your best bet to strengthen your immune system. Blood tests are available to assess your vitamin D status and determine what supplementation is best for you.

the sunshine vitamin

The Next Right Thing

The next right thing by Julie Zepp Rutledge

Last night I watched the movie Brittany Runs a Marathon.  Here is the trailer: 

It’s well worth the watch, predictable as it is, it both hits home and inspires.  And it is actually inspired by a real life woman, a friend of the writer and director’s.  I feel it’s three big take-away messages are:

1.  In this movie the main character is confronted by the reality that her physical, mental and emotional health are all being challenged and she is given a wake-up call from a doctor who asks her to make difficult lifestyle changes in lieu of giving her medication.  Initially she has trouble wrapping her head around the cause and effect, that her nights of drinking, her poor lifestyle habits, food choices, toxic relationships and lack of exercise could have anything to do with her difficulties with focus and concentration and energy and on making something of her life.  It is a testament to how poor we can be at listening to our bodies!  Our bodies are always speaking to us and as I am frequently known to say: “when we listen to our bodies when they whisper, we don’t have to hear them scream.”  The first step starts with stepping out of denial and towards awareness and accepting responsibility for our choices.

We see this a lot, as Naturopathic Doctors, patients that come to us with ailments for which they want remedies, however the ailments themselves are but leaves on a diseased tree.  What we need to do is to treat the soil, the roots and the trunk of the tree through emphasis on the fundamentals of health: water, physical activity, fresh air, sunshine, healthy nutrition, proper rest and sleep and nurturing relationships, first and foremost the relationship we have with ourselves.

2.  Sometimes health can feel overwhelming and we don’t know where to start.  When confronted with the knowledge of her very real health issues, Brittany embarks on a program to start running.  She is motivated by a kind neighbour who reminds her to start with just one small thing.  A Lao Tzu quote that I love and refer to time and time again when I feel overwhelmed: “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.”  She starts with a block.  One single block.  And eventually works herself up to the New York City marathon.

3.  A classic “avoidant”, used to toxic relationships, Brittany tries to push her new well-meaning running friends away, not used to experiencing true support.  It is a great example that while we are the only ones that can do our work, truly, no one can make changes for us: not our friends, doctors, healers, counselors, spouses, parents, etc.  Truly the onus is on us.  We pick up the fork, we put one foot in front of the other, we say “yes” or “no”.  HOWEVER, if we were meant to do it alone, we would have been given our own planets!  Instead we are all here together and one of the most important things we can do for ourselves is learn to ask for help, receive help and lean on others.  Community is key to healing.

The bottom line is, no matter what your health goals might be, chunk it down!  First, get honest with yourself.  Without any judgment on yourself, but rather a neutral inventory: what is working for you and what isn’t?  Figure out where you need to make changes and set about getting the support you need to help you out.  While goals are important, take it one step at a time.  I like to remind myself, and others, that I only have control over the moment right in front of me.  Which means that when I can be a mindful steward of the present moment and make the best choice for myself at that moment, these moments lead the way to a life filled with healthy habits.

So next time you are feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself: “what is the next right thing I can do for myself?” and do just that one thing.  Maybe it is having a glass of water, taking a walk, having a nap, making a smoothie*, having a good cry.  Commit to learn to listen to, honour and follow your body’s whispers and you can create a healthy and joyful life.

Need help?  Reach out!  We are happy to act as your guides and coaches on your personal journeys!

*because I love a good recipe, and your ‘next right thing’ might be making yourself a healthy smoothie, here are a few options for healthy next-right breakfast ideas!

beet smoothie Avocado power smoothie

the great outdoors

The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors by Dr. Julie Zepp Rutledge ND

With each phase of Re-Open Saskatchewan, we are offered the opportunity to slowly re-integrate ourselves back into the world outside of our homes and computer screens, a welcome relief for the majority of us.  Yesterday morning my eight-year old son woke up, exclaiming “yay! It’s Friday! I’ve been waiting for this day.  The playgrounds open today!!”

We have absolutely been cooped up for long enough, kids and adults alike.  I know for myself my own mental health has been affected by these pandemic times: like a leaf blowing in the wind sometimes up, sometimes down and often spinning somewhere in between.  For me getting outside and into nature has been a tremendously medicinal part of my last several months and I believe it is what has kept me resilient enough to weather the inner and outer turmoil that have been very much real in my life since mid-March.

If any of you are feeling any trepidation about what this means to be accessing playgrounds, beaches, golf courses, tennis clubs or any other outdoor venue that may be open to us at this time, rest assured of the safety of these environments.  Even if there are up to 30 people gathered!  A researcher recently put together this fantastic article about the transmission of COVID-19.  

It outlines those places where one is more likely to acquire the virus, and those that are safest.  As you will read being outdoors in the sun and wind there is next to zero transmission.  Perhaps this will bring you comfort as you venture out again, and perhaps it will even bring with you a new appreciation for these very windy days here in Saskatchewan of late!  Maybe Mother Earth is just trying to help us out and encourage us out!

Speaking of Mother Earth’s assistance, there is a documentary that I watched several years ago that has been brought back to my attention of late.  It is called The Earthing Movie and it is amazing.  It is an award-winning film that communicates the scientific validity in the power that literal “grounding” has on our bodies.  I highly recommend you take the time to watch it.  And then take off your shoes and go spend some time walking on the earth.  That wisdom you had as a child, the reason you feel so good when you have spent time with your hands in the soil, walking in nature, letting the sun kiss your skin?  All of the healing benefits are documented in this movie for you to enjoy and be inspired by.

So get outside, enjoy yourself and revel in the healing power of nature!

all vibes welcome

Not Just Positive Vibes: All Vibes Welcome

I recently listened to an inspiring TED Talk by a colleague of mine, Dr. Yashar Khosroshahi ND titled, “All Vibes Welcome”: How Glorifying Positive Vibes is Hurting Us. In his talk, Dr. Khosroshahi ND offers a new perspective on the ever so popular “positive vibes only” mantra. I invite you to have a listen!

Can you welcome all vibes into your life? What would it look like if you could practice self-compassion in times of “perceived inadequacy, failure, or suffering”? Perhaps you would notice the ability to embrace pain with a little more ease, a deeper sense of wellbeing, and the ability to grow as a person in a way that enriches your life.

all vibes welcome

Covid's got nothing on the iceman

COVID’s got Nothing on the ‘IceMan’

By. Dr. Marika Geis, ND

As an enthusiast of the ‘ancestral health’ model, I’m always looking for cool ways to incorporate elements of our prehistoric life into this modern one. Things like avoiding grains and legumes (especially if you have IBS/IBD or SIBO), waking up with the sun and going to bed with the sun (season permitting), higher fat diets and fasting multiple times weekly (provided we have stable blood sugar). So, when I came across ‘IceMan’, Wim Hof, I discovered yet another way that we can engage our biological programming, born of millennia evolution, to create the conditions for health and healing. Our harried modern life taxes us in unnatural and inappropriate ways; we are wired for physical stresses, not chronic psychological ones.

Covid's got nothing on the iceman - wim hof

So, what’s the deal with the IceMan you ask? In short, he is able to accomplish what should otherwise be impossible. In the year 2000, Hof set the Guinness World Record for farthest swim under ice, a distance of 188.6 ft. In January of 2007, Hof set a world record for fastest half marathon barefoot on ice and snow, with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 34 seconds. He has set 16 world records for direct body contact with ice the longest of which was 1 hour 53 minutes and 2 seconds. Naturally, scientists were curious. Conventional medical wisdom would have us believe that once a body’s temperature falls below 90°F, it is unable to warm itself back up. You can imagine their confusion when, trying to set yet another world record for full body ice immersion (wearing only shorts), his core temperature having started at 98.6°F, dropped to 88°F after 75 minutes of cold immersion then rose during the next 20 minutes to 94°F. Say what?! That’s not supposed to happen!!

Clearly, Hof is unique, both in his motivation and determination, yet he is still a human? Using breathing techniques similar to ‘pranayama’ and the Tibetan ‘Tummo meditation’, the ‘Wim Hof Method’ (WHM) is able to coach a body, any body, into tolerating longer and more intense periods of cold exposure. There are many variations of the breathing method. The basic version consists of three phases as follows (each stage with specific instructions):

  • Controlled hyperventilation
  • Exhalation retention
  • Breath retention

These three phases may be repeated for three consecutive rounds.

The effect?

COLD BREATHING
The buildup of brown fat and therefore increased basal metabolic rate Increased energy
Appropriate immune activity (think: autoimmune conditions) Mental clarity
Decreased inflammation  Boosted immunity
Balanced hormones Improved sleep 
Increased endorphins thus improved mood

Since research began into how Hof was able to accomplish these seemingly superhuman feats, scientists have been able to explore how this method: helps humans acclimate faster to higher altitudes, how we can voluntarily activate our autonomic nervous systems (supposedly beyond our control) and attenuate our innate immunity, how the combination of concentration, cold exposure and meditation can influence inflammation and how it can lead to shifts in metabolic activity, stress resilience and brain activity. Collectively, the effects of the WHM benefit respiratory conditions such as COPD and Asthma, Autoimmune conditions, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Migraines, recovering from Lyme disease, and high blood pressure. As of 2019, universities in Germany, Netherlands and the United States all have multiple studies exploring inflammation, mental health and metabolic issues thus expanding the body of evidence attempting to explain how and why this is even possible.

I’m not sure about you, but when I first came across the WHM, I thought “Cool, but do I really have to get into an ice bath for 95 minutes to get the benefits of cold exposure, ‘cuz it just ain’t gonna happen?”. The short answer? No, although it’s certainly something to aspire to. With the understanding that the human body was designed to handle environmental stresses, as this was the hostile and uncertain environment we, as animals, are born into, we can start off with gradual exposure to cold and, using the method outlined by Hof and his son, Enahm, slowly learn how to gain mastery over our environment and the stresses that go along with it. Since I’m the biggest chicken, I’m starting with a minute of cold after every shower…..but….at least I’m starting? (face palm).

covids got nothing on the iceman