The science behind the Wim Hof Method
The start of scientific research
What "The Iceman" Wim Hof is capable of was long viewed as scientifically impossible. It wasn't until the first Radboud University study in 2011 that things really kicked off.
The study showed that by using his method, Wim was able to voluntarily influence his autonomic nervous system - something which until then was thought impossible. This ground-breaking finding, published in PNAS and Nature, established credibility, quite literally rewrote biology textbooks and piqued scientists' curiosity.
Since then, many researchers have taken an interest in the potential benefits of the Wim Hof Method. Today, Wim and his team continue to work with research institutions and various promising studies are currently underway.
Key scientific studies
The Netherlands 
Aimed to test if the results from the first study on Wim could be reproduced with a larger group
Injected 12 Wim Hof Method practitioners with an endotoxin
Results showed that, like Wim, they were able to control their sympathetic nervous system and immune response
Anti-inflammatory mediators were —200% higher, while pro-inflammatory mediators were —50% lower
Potentially important implications for "conditions associated with excessive or persistent inflammation, especially autoimmune diseases." [2014, Knox et. al.)
Wayne State University
The Netherlands 
Also known as the 'Brain Over Body' study
Aimed to understand the brain function that allows Wim to withstand extreme cold exposure
Wim was put in a special temperature controlled suit and placed in both an fMRI and a PET scanner
Results showed activation of areas in the brain associated with pain suppression, self-reflection and well-being, in particular the periaqueductal gray area (PAG)
This may have implications for "lifestyle interventions that might ameliorate multiple clinical syndromes." (2018, Muzik et. al.)
Ongoing worldwide scientific interest
In the Netherlands, Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen is completing a new study about the effects of the various components of the WHM on inflammation and pain.
Authors: J. Zwaag, R. Ter Horst, I. Blaženović, D. Stoessel, J. Ratter, JM. Worseck, N. Schauer, R. Stienstra, MG. Netea, D. Jahn, P. Pickkers, M. Kox. This research extends the study published in 2014 of the effect of the WHM on our sympathetic nervous system and the innate immune response. It was demonstrated that the sympathetic nervous system can be voluntarily activated following the WHM. This study assessed whether the WHM affects the plasma metabolome and if these changes are linked to the observed immunomodulatory effects. The present study demonstrated that practitioners in the WHM had higher plasma concentrations of lactate and pyruvate (among others). This points towards increased activation of the Cori cycle. The study believes that within the trained group, lactate and pyruvate in part contributed to the increase in anti-inflammatory IL-10 and lower pro-inflammatory IL-1beta, IL-6 and TNF alpha. Lactate and pyruvate in high enough amounts have been shown to cause an anti-inflammatory response from our immune system. As it turns out, our metabolism does affect the immune system. The method causes a shift in metabolism which partly contributes to an anti-inflammatory response.
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