Wim Hof practices several techniques which he claims lead to voluntarily influencing the immune system resulting in increased resistance to toxins and the cold. The techniques are categorised into breathing exercises, training of mindset and gradual exposure to the cold. A vice documentary on Wim can be found here, a summary of the video follows

Wim Hof first caught the attention of scientists when he proved he was able to use meditation to stay submerged in ice for 1 hour and 53 minutes without his core body temperature changing. Since then, he’s climbed Mount Everest in his shorts, resisted altitude sickness, completed a marathon in the Namib Desert with no water and proven under a laboratory setting that he’s able to influence his autonomic nervous system and immune system at will.

Almost everything Wim has done was previously thought to be impossible - but he’s not a freak of nature.

To demonstrate that any human can learn his methods, Wim offered to teach Matt Shea and Daisy-May Hudson to climb a freezing cold mountain in their shorts without getting cold. But when Matt and Daisy signed up for the training, they had no idea that the so-called Iceman was planning to lead them on a psychedelic journey across Europe that circled the chasm between science, spirituality and mystery.

Some scientific journals exploring these claims include:

Quoting from the PNAS article

Healthy volunteers were randomized to either the intervention (n = 12) or control group (n = 12). Subjects in the intervention group were trained for 10 d in meditation (third eye meditation), breathing techniques (i.a., cyclic hyperventilation followed by breath retention), and exposure to cold (i.a., immersions in ice cold water). The control group was not trained. Subsequently, all subjects underwent experimental endotoxemia (i.v. administration of 2 ng/kg Escherichia coli endotoxin). In the intervention group, practicing the learned techniques resulted in intermittent respiratory alkalosis and hypoxia resulting in profoundly increased plasma epinephrine levels. In the intervention group, plasma levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 increased more rapidly after endotoxin administration, correlated strongly with preceding epinephrine levels, and were higher. Levels of proinflammatory mediators TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-8 were lower in the intervention group and correlated negatively with IL-10 levels. Finally, flu-like symptoms were lower in the intervention group.

I am not a biologist / medical researcher by training, so I was wondering

Q1. What issues if any are there with the PNAS article

Q2. More generally do these techniques or a subset of these techniques seem viable.

  • As far as notability, this was covered on a pretty popular AoM podcast a couple of months ago. – user5341 Sep 21 '17 at 14:50
  • 1
    Sorry what's AoM? Would you have a link please? – mgilbert Sep 21 '17 at 14:55
  • artofmanliness.com/2017/02/02/… – user5341 Sep 21 '17 at 15:03
  • "he’s climbed Mount Everest in his shorts" But did he still need oxygen once he reached the top? – JAB Sep 21 '17 at 17:30
  • So... my first thought is that these things aren't entirely implausible at first look. Mental state and physical behavior can influence endocrine levels of various sorts, and that can have an effect on display of symptoms of things like flu. "Climb Everest in your shorts" seems unlikely simply as a matter of degree, but it's not inconceivable on the face of it. – Ben Barden Sep 21 '17 at 17:35

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