(The Sun Horse Energy herbal formula, Lung Protection + is a highly concentrated respiratory support supplement with herbs that increase oxygen capacity in the lungs and potentiates cellular energy. Also, not to mention our wonderful adaptogens that help our bodies resist stress and normalize even in extreme conditions. In this post, we reveal a no-cost way to increase lung capacity and support your immune system.)
Would you willingly have yourself injected with toxic e. Coli bacteria?
How about submerging yourself chest-deep in freezing water and sitting still in an ice bath for several minutes?
Or about this crazy feat: attempt to summit Mt. Everest wearing nothing but shorts and shoes?
If you’re a mere mortal you’ll likely take a pass. But thanks to Wim Hof, a super-human 61 year old Dutch dude known as “The Ice Man,” more and more people are learning how to control their bodies and be able to withstand chilly plunges that within seconds would make most people scream in terror.
The secret to Wim Hof’s immunity to flu-like symptoms after being injected with an endotoxin and his ability to swim long distances completely submerged underwater and, in comparison, the more pedestrian ability to sit in an ice bath is: deep breathing.
If it weren’t for a foot injury, Wim Hof may have successfully summited Mt. Everest. (Maybe he’s not such a super-human after all.)
The Benefits Of Deep Breathing On Stress & Immunity
By now, most people have become aware of the fact that meditation helps calm the mind. But fewer people are aware of how breathing, and particularly deep breathing, can help improve immune function.
Here’s how deep breathing supports overall health and immunity:
- Increases the body’s pH: Many people with inflammatory diseases (most diseases are inflammatory) have blood pH levels that are more acidic than those with people with no health problems.
- Raises oxygen levels in the blood.
- Boosts the activity of infection-fighting white blood cells (macrophages).
- Increases levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines such as Interleukin-10 [IL-10]: Cytokines are proteins involved in immune-cell communication) while decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines.
- Lowers levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
By lowering the body’s stress hormone levels, deep breathing, such as the method taught by Wim Hof (see the Wim Hof method below) supports a balanced immune system.
In a research study on mice, scientists noticed that mice with low levels of oxygen reacted differently to infection. When oxygen levels are low, the immune system initiates a hyper overreaction. Not only does an out of control immune response not clear the infection, it can cause a cytokine storm, which is deadly.
According to this study, immune cells encounter a wide range of oxygen levels as they travel within the body. So-called “T Cells” are the body’s most important adaptive immune first-responder. T cells mature in the thymus gland (perhaps the most underrated gland in the body yet so critical to the immune system). T cells are exposed to oxygen concentrations, depending on the organ, between 3 and 19% oxygen. These oxygen levels can be further modulated within the cell’s microenvironment.
And the best way to modulate oxygen levels in tissues and cells is through deep breathing, Wim Hof style. Deep breathing has the ability to not only prevent a runaway immune response, it can actually turn it off in a good way.
The Wim Hof Experiment
Two Dutch researchers were fascinated by their fellow countryman’s astonishing feats and set out to experiment on Wim Hof.
The duo injected Hof with an amount of e. Coli that would make mere mortals experience fever and chills and other flu-like symptoms. But after being injected, Hof showed no signs of illness. Researchers believe that the deep breathing technique Hof was practicing while being injected lowered the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
The researchers attributed the drop in pro-inflammatory cytokines with adrenaline. When faced with the deep stress of a pathogen, the hypothalamus gland, through deep breathing, releases a flood of adrenaline.
What may come as a surprise to many people is that this flood of adrenaline actually suppresses the immune system. Most people mistakenly believe that when the body is faced with a foreign invader like a virus, you want your immune system boosted. The reality is that sometimes a dampened immune response is a life saver.
By the way, in case you’re thinking that Wim Hof is merely a genetic freak of nature, the researchers experimented on a group of people Hof personally trained in his deep breathing technique. The 18 people in the experiment group were able to recover much quicker than the dozen brave souls in the control group, not privy to Wim’s breathing whims.
Although Hof’s innate immune system became suppressed during the experiment, his adaptive immune response was highly active; white blood cells went on the warpath devouring every last morsel of harmful bacteria.
How To Do Wim Hof Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is extremely therapeutic. You will feel amazing after doing it. But rather hear it straight from the Sun Horse’s mouth as it were, watch this 10-minute introductory video of Wim Hof explaining the technique.
Have you tried the Wim Hof technique? What do you think of it? Leave a comment.