Ice and Immunity: The Marvels of Cold Water Therapy

Abstract

Naturopathy is derived from two different roots. First is natura latin root for birth and pathos greek root for suffering which suggest natural healing. In naturopathy, We use natural measures as a healing agent. These measures are mud,water,sun rays, air and fasting. So let’s talk about water therapy or we can say hydrotherapy. In hydrotherapy we use water as a healing agent in various forms like cold, Warm, enemas, bathing, fomentations,steam etc.The father of hydrotherapyis lui kuhne. Hydrotherapy is also known as water therapy, aquatic therapy, pool therapy, and balneotherapy. So now onwards let’s discuss cold water therapy in detail.

Cold Water Therapy

Introduction

Cold water therapy includes immersion of the whole body or particular body part in cold water temperature ranging between 12.7C-18.3C for various health purposes.The human body has a phenomenal healing power and it needs a chance to make the body healthy. In Naturopathy, this power is used to cure diseases and maintain health for a long time. In the ancient era cold water therapies were used for internal and external health and benefits. During vedic kala we see multiple references for cold water application in ayurveda which belongs to the atharva veda. Roman physician Claudis galen also used cold water therapy for fever.

Methods Of Cold Water Therapy

  • Ice bath– Ice bath includes a large vessel or bath tub filled with chilled water and ice cubes and then gradually well practiced people sit in this vessel. This practice is only done under supervision and any experienced person.
  • Hot cold immersion– This process also known as contrast therapy because we use both cold and hot water alternatively.
  • Cold showers– Cold showers are the most common and least difficult practice in this category. This can be practiced at home on daily bases.
  • Packing– Pold packing is used most commonly in febrile conditions in households.
  • The Wim Hof Method– This method combines breathing, cold water therapy, and commitment to help you connect more deeply to your body.

Precautions For Cold Water Therapy

  • Alway practice therapies according to the condition of doshas
  • Cold therapy needs a lot of practice for a longer period.
  • During any kind of cold induced health issue you should avoid cold water therapy.
  • Do not perform any cold water therapy excessively

Benefits Of Cold Water Therapy

1. Physical Benefits

  • Increase blood circulation: When human body is exposed to the cold water body shifts into a fight & flight condition which is activated by endocrine changes leads to the adrenaline rush which causes vasoconstriction which leads to
  • 1. High perfusion rate towards vital organs

    2. High blood pressure

    3. High blood sugar

    Which makes humans more efficient, more alert and healthy.

  • Increase skin and hair quality – Cold water showers are like bliss for our skin. Our skin and scalp produce natural oils and sebum which acts as a natural protective barrier against infective or any damaging agents. They always protect us but when we shower with hot water they wash out all of them and leave our skin and scalp damaged, dried,inflamed, unprotected with open pores on skin. These are some bad things that hot water do to our body, now let’s discuss about how cold water can help us with these issues first is
  • 1. Cold water cleans only extra sebum and oils.

    2. Cold water doesn’t cause any inflammation and open pores which are the prime reason for acne.

    3. Build good resistance towards infections by promoting healthy sebum and oil glands.

    4. Increase blood circulation of scalp and skin which make them lustrous

  • Detoxification– in this era where everything we eat is adulterated, processed, genetically modified, treated with fertilizers and pesticides. Due to this our body goes under a depressive phase which hampers our complete health profile. We need to detox our body and what if we get a way to get detoxed without any medicine or heavy procedure. This will be a very convenient way.we can detox with cold water therapy without any hustle. Our lymphatic system is our defense system. When our body gets depressed by toxins defense system also get depressed-
  • 1. When we use cold water therapy channels of the lymphatic system constrict and then in contrast we use hot water our channels expands.

    2. With this lymphatic channels flush out debris and toxins.

  • Speedy recovery of muscle damage– recovering from exercise fatigue and soreness is very important for each and every athlete. When any athlete is involved in any vigorous exercise some micro tears take place in micro fibers of muscles. Which is completely normal . When our body tries to recover from these micro traumas, hypertrophy of muscular fibers which means enlargement of total muscle mass happens. This hypertrophy we see in those people who do heavy exercise on a daily basis. Some these mechanism are followed by cold water for muscle damage:
  • 1. The concept of hydrostatic pressure, when our body is immersed in cold water changes simultaneously which forces our channels to throw lactate and other waste products out of the muscular system which decrease recovery time and decrease soreness.

  • Immunity booster– During any cold water therapy when our body is exposed to cold stressor our body tries to protect us during this process natural killer cells are produced which help in fighting with cancer and other dangerous infective agents. Cold water also
  • Increases adaptive immunity which is a versatile form of immunity. Now lets see how it actually works for us:

    1. When performing cold water therapy our body tries to keep it warm after that which enhances metabolic rate which leads to production of more white blood cells.

    2. This process continues to give us natural killer cells, T-lymphocytes , B-lymphocytes, il-6, CD3,CD4, CD8. This is the jackpot of immunity that every human needs to be healthy.

  • Analgesia– Cold water therapy has miraculous effects on pain management. This method of pain relief is also useful for Gout and rheumatoid arthritis patients. Now let’s see how it actually works for us:
  • 1. When we expose our body to cold temperature minimal heat loss is activated with vasoconstriction which is controlled by autonomic nervous system and local hormonal control followed by vasodilation for 15 minutes and then finally again vasoconstriction and this vicious cycle goes on.

    2. When the temperature of the peripheral is reduced then nerve conduction automatically reduces itself. Unmyelinated nerve fibers are less prone to this change.

2. Mental Functions

In today’s world Mental health is more damaged than physical health so as humans we want something easy going, convenient and non-invasive therapies to maintain our mental health in busy life. Cold water helps in improving depression, anxiety, concentration and mood by managing serotonin, cortisol, dopamine, norepinephrine, and β-endorphin levels. Now we’ll discuss each of them one by one:

  1. Serotonin: It is called the love hormone which is produced in our gut. It helps us in sleeping, waking fresh in the morning, feeling of satisfaction,and stabilizes our mood and anxiety.
  2. Dopamine: Dopamine aka happy hormone which helps us with being motivated, feeling pleasure, alertness and this special neurotransmitter and hormone produced in our brain.
  3. Cortisol: This is called the angry hormone and stress hormone. This angry hormone is produced by our tiny adrenal glands which sit on both of our both kidneys . The amazing thing about this hormone is that it regulates our stress hormone during dangerous situations.
  4. Norepinephrine: This hormone regulates our arousal, attention, cognitive activities and stress reactions.
  5. Β-endorphinp: These happy agents improve symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety, self-esteem, appetite, alleviating childbirth pain

All of these benefits you can get with little effort.

Till now we discussed about modern point of view. But is there any other view that we missed? Yes, ayurveda which is our ancient health system from 5000 b.c. So now let’s discuss about ayurvedic point of view.

Introduction

उदकमाश्वासकराणां

{CHARAK SUTRA 25/40}

Water Is The Greatest Element For Life Survival

Properties of cold water

“ईषत्कषायमधुरं सुसूक्ष्मं विशदं लघु|

अरूक्षमनभिष्यन्दि सर्वं पानीयमुत्तमम्||”

{ CHARAK SUTRA:27/202}

  • Ras (taste)-Madhura (sweet), Kashaye (astringent)
  • Gun(qualities)- Vishada(clear & clean),sukshma (subtle), Laghu(nimble) Aruksha(moist), anabhishyandi(not causing effluxions).
  • Virya(potency)- Sheetal(cold).
  • Vipaka(metabolic property after digestion)-Madhu(sweet)
  • Elemental composition– Parithvi+jala(earth+water)

Uses Of Cold Water In Ayurvedic Text

1. Use for Pittaja Jawara

तृष्यते सलिलं चोष्णं दद्याद्वातकफज्वरे||

तम्|

{Charak sutra 3/143-144}

In kaphaja jawara only warm or hot water is directed to the patient because it helps to digest ama which is fever inducing toxin. Now pittaja jawar in which cold water is indicated with cold decoctions.

2. Use for Alcohol Induced Dehydration

तप्तास्विव सिकतासु हि तोयमाशु शुष्यति क्षिप्तम्|

तेषां सन्तप्तानां हिमजलपानाद्भवति शर्म||

{CHARAK CHIKITSA:22/22}

When we throw a little amount of water on heating soil it evaporates immediately, the same as an alcoholic patient. For cooling it down we need a great amount of cold water.

Indication of Cold Water

तृट्दाहमूर्च्छाभ्रमक्लममदात्ययास्रविषपित्ते|

शस्तं स्वभावशीतं, शृतशीतं सन्निपातेऽम्भः||

{CHARAK chikitsa:22/47}

  1. Excessive thirst (Trishna roga)
  2. burning sensation (Daha roga)
  3. Vertigo (Murcha roga)
  4. Altered sensorium (indriya vikara)
  5. Alcoholism (madaatya)
  6. Hemolytic disorders (rakatja vikara)
  7. Poisoning
  8. Heat induced diseases (Pittaj vikara)

Conclusion

In nutshell cold water therapy is a healing process which is a completely adverse effect free and non-invasive method.cold water is benefiting us from centuries. it prompts body’s self healing power and immunity by empowering us physically and mentally.

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Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD - Ayurveda) is a Globally Renowned Ayurveda Physician with Expertise of more than 25 Years. He is the CEO & Founder of http://www.PlanetAyurveda.com, a leading Ayurveda Brand, Manufacturing, and Export Company with a Chain of Clinics and Branches in the US, Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, India, and other parts of the World. He is also an Ayurveda Author who has written Books on Ayurveda, translated into Many European Languages. One of his Books is "Ayurveda – God’s Manual for Healing". He is on a Mission to Spread Ayurveda All Over the Planet through all the Possible Mediums. With his Vast Experience in Herbs and their Applied Uses, he is successfully treating Numerous Patients suffering from Various Ailments with the help of the Purest Herbal Supplements, Diet, and Lifestyle, according to the Principles of Ayurveda. For More Details, visit. Read More

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