As Naturopathic physicians, our medical heritage traces back to the spa/hospitals of Switzerland and Germany of the early 1800’s. Patients were treated with fresh air, sunlight, simple food and brisk mountain water. These spas documented cures from many conditions including diabetes, cancer, tuberculosis and influenza.
This medical modal was ‘Vitalistic’ meaning the doctors healed not by fighting disease but by raising the patients’ ‘Vital Force’. It was believed that living things possessed a tangible property separating them from the non-living. This concept was shared by nearly all
cultures with developed medical systems. This is exactly what the Chinese called ‘Chi’ and the Yogis called ‘Prana’.
The European spa tradition developed methods of giving the body a gentle, controlled ‘shock’ which caused the body to respond and increase it’s vitality. Cold water was one of the preferred methods of inducing such a shock. Imagine being on a long hike in a remote woodland wilderness. Think about how invigorated you would be after splashing your face with alpine stream water. No one likes to get chilled but when you are exposed to brief, controlled cold your body triggers numerous healing responses.
First your metabolism increases. Did you hear about how Michael Phelps ate 10,000 calories per day during his training? Guess what, he did not swim enough to burn that much. But spending hours each day in an 80 degree pool caused his body to raise its metabolism to maintain body temperature.
Circulation is strongly stimulated by cold. What is the first thing we do for acute pain? We put ice on it. This increases the underlying blood supply while lowering the inflammatory process. These changes reduce underlying cellulite and reverse the effects of aging.
Our immune systems are also strengthened by cold. It has been shown that brief, controlled exposure can increase the activity of our natural killer cells by 5 fold. This protects us against colds and flus and lowers our cancer risk.
How can we use cold to our advantage? We’ll have more info on how to do so in a powerful way soon; in the meantime, here’s an easy way you can try tonight.
Get two pairs of socks: one thin cotton ankle high, and the other heavy full length wool. When you’re ready for bed, wet the cotton socks in the sink with cool water and ring them out well. Sit on your bed the put on the wet socks (trust me) then put the wool socks on over the top.
When your skin is exposed to water, your nerves respond by sending more blood to the area and increasing your metabolism. Remember wool warms even if it is damp. The cotton socks are just there to hold some water. Not only will you not chill, but your feet will feel toasty warm. Since your circulation is in a closed system, anytime you increase blood flow in one area, you increase it everywhere else.
You’ll sleep much more deeply than normal and wake up feeling refreshed. Any chronic
pains will be lower and your circulation will get stronger. You’ll even burn a few hundred more calories without exercising. This is a great trip if you feel like you’re coming down with a cold or feeling especially run down.
Promise me to try it at least once, I guarantee you’ll see some benefits and be hooked!