Have you ever jumped into a very cold shower after a 12-minute sauna seans? Or just taken a cold swim? After you get over the initial shock of the cold, it is usually very stimulating. The reason is that when you enter a cold temperature very quickly, your blood moves from the surface of your body to the core, and this helps bathe your brain and organs in fresh blood while also cleaning out your system.
Would you believe that a cold shower could also offer relief from depression and anxiety without the side effects, complications, and costs of prescription medications?
THE SCIENCE BEHIND THIS
Molecular biologist Nikolai Sheychuk found evidence of this in a study he conducted in 2007. One of his startling results was that cold showers used regularly, might even be more effective than prescription antidepressants.
COLD ACTIVATES YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM
Sheychuk’s study found that when exposed to cold, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, and the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline is increased. Norepinephrine, an organic chemical that functions in the brain and body as a hormone that can help people feel happier, is released in the brain as well. These “feel good” molecules will give one a sense of wellbeing. Additionally, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which results in an anti-depressive effect.
COLD REDUCES YOUR ANXIETY
Patients suffering from generalized anxiety disorder were studied, comparing the use of hydrotherapy to the use of the medication Paxil (many side effects).
During the study, 237 patients with generalized anxiety disorder were assigned randomly to balneotherapy (using water baths for healing) and 120 to the medication Paxil, a leading SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) medication.
The patients given the balneotherapy treatment had weekly medical visits and daily bath treatments using mineral waters for 21 days.
The anxiety scores showed an improvement in both groups, however the group given the water therapy had higher results compared to the Paxil users.
Remission and sustained response rates were also significantly higher in the hydrotherapy group, as well as no reported side effects, as would be expected.
HYDROTHERAPY AT HOME
You can use your shower at home to expose your body to cold water. Start with a shower at a comfortable warm temperature. Slowly cool the water down over a 5-minute period, until you hit 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), or until it’s almost too cold to tolerate. Stand in the cold water for 2-3 minutes.
Some cold-water enthusiasts use the “all-at-once” method, saying that sudden immersion into cold water is more effective.
Do what works for you. Give it a try for a few weeks, even if you can only tolerate the cold water for 30 seconds.
If the invigorating experience doesn’t get you hooked, the amazing mood lifting and health supporting benefits just might.
The study quoted above was conducted in 2007. So, how come 60-70 years go my father was forcing me to take cold showers? Similarly, many years ago he would criticize me for not chewing on the seeds of black grapes. Now we have scientific proof that cold showers are good for you, and black grape seed extract is sold as a super antioxidant in pharmacies and health food stores. How did ne know all this???
Makes one wonder, right?
As a natural follow-up, I will tell you about similar benefits of exercising next week. I’ll be killing two birds with one stone; as I gave a very short answer to my dear reader Tuğçe’s e-mail question on exercising last week, so I hope she get a clearer picture.
See you all next week.