Blogcast: Breaking Down the Breathing

15 February, 2018
By Matthias Wittfoth

Professor Marc Cohen is one of Australia’s pioneers in integrative and holistic medicine. He is a registered GP with degrees in physiology and psychological medicine, as well as PhDs in Chinese medicine and biomedical engineering.

I had the pleasure and opportunity to speak with him for Science on the Rocks about his work, and his perspective on the science behind the Wim Hof Method.

Marc Cohen’s very impressive scientific work includes the investigation of lifestyle interventions, such as Yoga, breathing techniques, herbal medicine, and hot (sauna) and ice-cold bathing. Or, as he put it, “to investigate homeostasis during exposure to environmental extremes”.

In the podcast, I was able to ask him about his view on topics such as hormesis (which will be one of our main topics over the next few episodes), mountain sickness, the main differences between sauna and ice immersions, why people with Raynauds’ syndrome —a medical condition showing spasm of arteries that in turn causes episodes of reduced blood flow— have to be careful when going into the cold, the Bohr effect, a metabolite called dynorphin, and what mechanisms of the WHM might turn on stem cells in your body (which is an extraordinary process).

One of the things that I found highly interesting, and which increased my understanding of the WHM breathing technique, was Marc’s explanation of the five phases of breathing, and the intricate interplay between dysphoria and euphoria.

There is a treasure chest of knowledge in this episode, and we invite you to head on over to for the podcast and show notes. We also share Marc’s lecture, in which he presents the five phases of the breathing technique, and a lot more background info on the underlying physiology.

Listen to SotR #12

Matthias Wittfoth is a neuroscientist & co-host of Science on the Rocks.