Cold showers or alternating between warm and cold has been shown to have great health benefits and has been practiced for millennia by Naturopathic healers. In this Page, after speaking about Hormesis as a general healing principle (Section A) i will demonstrate the benefits of hydrotherapy for different health conditions and peak athletic performance (Section B) and conclude with a word on hydrotherapy modalities in showers and bathtubs. (Section C)

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Top: Jet pressured therapeutic baths in either stainless steel, clay or zinc tubs with herbs, epson salts, hydrogen peroxide, essential volatile oils, wine or grape juice, sodium bicarbonate and other active ingredients.



In the same way that holistic birthing begins in the warm waters of a bath-tub, in a similar way, the Holwerrc Center proposes to begin the health restoration journey via balneotherapy, if only because detoxification, cleansing and tissue revitalisation help to restore one’s vitality. Therapeutic baths can come in the form of hot to warm baths, including with “electrolytes” (like with a fetus’ amniotic fuild), or as a mud bath, or sand bath, or salt water bath, or grape water bath, or seaweed water bath,… For more, click here…..

Section A

General Hormesis Principle

The phenomenon of hormesis, whereby small amounts of seemingly harmful or stressful agents can be beneficial for  health and lifespan have been abundantly reported in the scientific litterature as well as in this website. (Cf ) By creating a moderate controlled stressful event via hot and warm water, the body triggers compensatory mechanisms that benefit the entire physiology.   The Cold and ice water immersion (CWI), a trendy recovery modality in fatigue reduction after doing intensive exercises activates the body sympathetic system more than mild hydrotherapy, as a result, the hormesis mechanisms is even more engaged.

Section B

Benefits of Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy benefits different physiological processes, from the general circulation, to the immune and central nervous systems.

Peak performance recovery, Heart Strengthening, Circulation & Lymphatics

Alternating shower temperatures between warm and cold has a powerful effect on blood and lymphatic circulations.  Exposing oneself to cold temperatures promotes the constriction of the blood supply.  When exposed to heat the vessels dilate and expand.  Changing these temperatures and using cold water dramatically improves the tone of the blood vessel walls.  This gives the body a greater adaptability in driving blood into areas that are needed including the heart area, thanks to which cardiac pumping will be more efficient. One of the more popular “peak performance” techniques is Cold Water Immersion (CWI). Comparative experimentation shows that it’s safe and effective insofar as lactate-reducing recovery is concerned.

“…Fatigue occurs due to the lactate accumulation and causes prevention of muscle contraction. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of different recovery methods on the blood lactate level. (…. The results showed that the mean blood lactate during resting time and also immediately after the activity was not significant in all groups, but this amount was significant after doing different methods of recoveries between groups. Mean blood lactate reduction after recovery had the lowest amount in the passive recovery group (5/21±2/46)(mg/dl) ;while it had the highest rate in CWI group (1/8±6/21)(mg/dl).Our findings show that CWI have a significant effect on the reduction of blood lactate level (p<0.05)…..”

www.ijcrar.com/vol-2-9/Miad Mokayef, et al.pdf

Hydrotherapy also improves lymphatic flow.  The lymph system carries away waste products from immune related activity.  Lymphatic flow depends upon muscle contraction to move through the system.  If lymphatic flow is slow or stagnant it leads to pooling and lymphedema in the lower extremities.

Pain, anxiety, insomnia via endorphine Pathways

Research has indicated that taking cold showers releases endorphins and improves circulation throughout the body including the brain. The net effect of this is that cold showers have been shown to help individuals suffering with depression, insomnia, anxiety and mental lethargy (8, 9).

“Exposure to cold is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline and to increase synaptic release of noradrenaline in the brain as well. Additionally, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower is expected to send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which could result in an anti-depressive effect. Practical testing by a statistically insignificant number of people, who did not have sufficient symptoms to be diagnosed with depression, showed that the cold hydrotherapy can relieve depressive symptoms rather effectively. The therapy was also found to have a significant analgesic effect and it does not appear to have noticeable side effects or cause dependence. In conclusion, wider and more rigorous studies would be needed to test the validity of the hypothesis.



Depression, Mental Fog and Anti Psychotic Effect

From the viewpoint of biochemical mechanisms, what appears to be happenings is

As described previously, an adapted cold shower could work as a mild electroshock applied to the sensory cortex and, therefore, it might have an antipsychotic effect similar to that of electroconvulsive therapy. Additionally, a cold shower is a vivid example of stress-induced analgesia and would also be expected to “crowd out” or suppress psychosis-related neurotransmission within the mesolimbic system. Human and bacterial toxic waste can sometimes be partially retained in the colon and it is known that many high-molecular-weight compounds can be absorbed there. Most narcotics can cause intoxication if administered rectally and there is also significant comorbidity of schizophrenia with intestinal illnesses. Additionally, there is indirect evidence that colon cleansing can significantly improve mental state. Therefore, it is possible that chronic intoxication with yet unknown components of partially retained waste could be one of the unrecognized organic causes of psychosis


Immunity and cancer

Cold showers also boost the immune system by activating two important virus fighting cytokines.  A German study indicated that gamma interferon and interleukin-4 are elevated and work more synergistically after the body was exposed to cold.  People who take cold showers on a regular basis have been shown to have a lower chance of developing cancer, colds, flu’s, hemorrhoids and varicose veins (10).

This paper hypothesizes that brief cold-water stress repeated daily over many months could enhance anti-tumor immunity and improve survival rate of a non-lymphoid cancer.

“In this perspective, there is accumulating evidence that daily brief cold stress via bath or shower hydrotherapy can increase both numbers and activity of peripheral cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells, the major effectors of adaptive and innate tumor immunity, respectively”.

Infect Agent Cancer. 2007 Nov 13;2:20.

Possible stimulation of anti-tumor immunity using repeated cold stress: a hypothesis.

Shevchuk NA1, Radoja S.

Author information


The possible mechanism of the non-specific stimulation of cellular immunity by repeated cold stress appears to involve transient activation of the sympathetic nervous system, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axes

Daily moderate cold hydrotherapy is known to reduce pain and does not appear to have noticeable adverse effects on normal test subjects,

. adjunctive immunotherapy for some (non-lymphoid) cancers, including those caused by viral infections.

some studies have shown that it can cause transient arrhythmias in patients with heart problems and can also inhibit humoral immunity. Sudden immersion in ice-cold water can cause transient pulmonary edema and increase permeability of the blood-brain barrier, thereby increasing mortality of neurovirulent infections.


Preventing immune related Disorders

Taking cold showers on a regular basis also helps your body adapt to extreme temperatures better.  Sudden weather changes are one of the more challenging environmental stresses we have to deal with on a regular basis.  This is why so many people get colds & flu’s when the temperature drops.  People who take cold showers are more adaptable and their body responds to this stress more effectively.

Asthma, pain and Rheumatism

People who have suffered with chronic pain, rheumatism and asthma have reported great improvement from cold water immersions (3,

In this perspective, there is accumulating evidence that daily brief cold stress via bath or shower hydrotherapy can increase both numbers and activity of peripheral cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells, the major effectors of adaptive and innate tumor immunity, respectively. This type of regimen (for 8 days) has been shown to improve survival of mice infected with intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which would

Sports Med. 2013 Nov;43(11):1101-30. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0063-8.

Water immersion recovery for athletes: effect on exercise performance and practical recommendations.

Versey NG1, Halson SL, Dawson BT.

Author information


Water immersion is increasingly being used by elite athletes seeking to minimize fatigue and accelerate post-exercise recovery. Accelerated short-term (hours to days) recovery may improve competition performance, allow greater training loads or enhance the effect of a given training load. However, the optimal water immersion protocols to assist short-term recovery of performance still remain unclear. This article will review the water immersion recovery protocols investigated in the literature, their effects on performance recovery


It also opens up the lungs and enhances respiration and the bodies’ oxygen intake and utilization.

Cold Showers Boost Metabolism and Athlete’s Recovery

In summary, quantitative and qualitative analyses demonstrated that immediate CWI performed after a HIIS resulted in better next day running performance (YRT), while delayed (3 h) CWI was also likely to result in improved YRT performance, compared to no CWI. Importantly, greater benefit was associated with immediate CWI. This information is pertinent to athletes, particularly if they do not have immediate access to recovery facilities following exercise performance.


Cold showers have also been shown to improve metabolism and fat burning (11).   There are white fat cells and brown fat cells.   Brown fat contains more mitochondria than white fat and burns more energy in order to produce heat.  Individuals who live in colder climates and/or use cold showers produce more brown fat for greater body heat production.  Brown fat helps protect us from aging, fights obesity and reduces the risk of degenerative disease (12).

There was no correlation between changes in rectal temperature and changes in hormone production. Our data supported the hypothesis that physiological changes induced by water immersion are mediated by humoral control mechanisms, while responses induced by cold are mainly due to increased activity of the sympathetic nervous system.


Obesity crisis

Cold acclimation recruits human brown fat and increases nonshivering thermogenesis

Anouk A.J.J. van der Lans,1 Joris Hoeks,1 Boudewijn Brans,2 Guy H.E.J. Vijgen,1,3 Mariëlle G.W. Visser,2 Maarten J. Vosselman,1 Jan Hansen,1 Johanna A. Jörgensen,1 Jun Wu,4 Felix M. Mottaghy,2,5 Patrick Schrauwen,1 and Wouter D. van Marken Lichtenbelt1

First published July 15, 2013 – More info

In recent years, it has been shown that humans have active brown adipose tissue (BAT) depots, raising the question of whether activation and recruitment of BAT can be a target to counterbalance the current obesity pandemic. Here, we show that a 10-day cold acclimation protocol in humans increases BAT activity in parallel with an increase in nonshivering thermogenesis (NST). 

The combined results suggest that a variable indoor environment with frequent cold exposures might be an acceptable and economic manner to increase energy expenditure and may contribute to counteracting the current obesity epidemic.

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a thermogenic tissue, the main function of which is heat production (nonshivering thermogenesis [NST]) when activated by cold exposure. Nowadays, it is well recognized that BAT is present and active in human adults (1–3).

When unacclimatized animals are placed in a cold environment, they will acutely defend their body temperature by means of shivering thermogenesis (muscle contractions), which increases heat production (energy expenditure). However, upon prolonged cold exposure, shivering will gradually decrease, but energy expenditure remains elevated, indicating increased NST (8).

the plasticity of BAT. We therefore investigated the effecences


2van Marken Lichtenbelt WD, et al. Cold-activated brown adipose tissue in healthy men. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(15):1500–1508.View this article via: PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar 


4Virtanen KA, et al. Functional brown adipose tissue in healthy adults. N Engl J Med. 2009;360(15):1518–1525.View this article via: PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar 


6Muzik O, Mangner TJ, Granneman JG. Assessment of oxidative metabolism in brown fat using PET imaging. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2012;3:15.View this article via: PubMed Google Scholar 


8Ouellet V, et al. Brown adipose tissue oxidative metabolism contributes to energy expenditure during acute cold exposure in humans. J Clin Invest. 2012;122(2):545–552.View this article via: JCI PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar 


10Vijgen GH, Bouvy ND, Teule GJ, Brans B, Schrauwen P, van Marken Lichtenbelt WD. Brown adipose tissue in morbidly obese subjects. PLoS One. 2011;6(2):e17247.View this article via: PubMed CrossRef Google Scholar 



Section C

Best Strategies to Achieve Peak Performance and Restoration after intense physical activities


The best strategy for beginning to use cold shower therapy is to begin with a comfortable warm shower and then switch the temperature lower towards the end of the shower.  If you do this consistently, over time body, via the hormesis principle,  will adapt and get more tolerant with the temperature change and you will reap the health benefits.

Modality One

Take a warm shower the way you normally would. Get outside the shower and do push ups and other exercises to pump up and flex muscles, thanks to which there will be more blood and heat in the muscles.

Once pumped up, pour the cold water thereon.

Modality Two

Same as above, except sharing this experience with a beloved companion. The heat generated by sexual gymnastics will spike the pain tolerance threshold to the degree that ice water could also be used for maximum benefits.

Modality Three.

Besides to warm-cold modality, one can try jumping under an entirely cold shower for maximum  whole body contraction effects, thanks to which the lymphatic flow will quicken.

Modality Four.

Each of these three modalities can be preceded with a 20 minutes hot detoxifying sauna.

The use of contrast temperature water therapy by Hamlin[16] and Morton[17] showed a substantial reduction in blood lactate concentration and heart rate during the therapy. They concluded that contrast water immersion therapy is a valid method of hastening the decrease in lactate levels during recovery.

The common practice ratio of warm to cold bath duration is normally 3:1 or 4:1, with hot baths ranging from 37 to 43°C, alternating with cold baths at 12–15°C. The duration is usually 20–30 min, repeated twice daily. It has also been documented that the treatment should finish on the cold treatment to encourage vasoconstriction in the athlete.[18]




Hydrotherapy is one the these underused holistic therapeutic tools to maximize vascular dynamics. The Feel Good and peak performance experiences after hydrotherapy showers or baths can last all day and more while accelerating the body’s recuperative and restorative mechanisms, in particular regarding lactate while promoting the detoxification of  metabolic waste products and environmental toxins out through the skin and bladder. As a consequence, the hydrotherapy practitioner feels refreshed and charged with rejuvenating gusto.

Christian Joubert  (HMI director and Cso)


some studies have shown that it can cause transient arrhythmias in patients with heart problems and can also inhibit humoral immunity. Sudden immersion in ice-cold water can cause transient pulmonary edema and increase permeability of the blood-brain barrier, thereby increasing mortality of neurovirulent infections.


It is not recommended to take cold showers under the following conditions: Pregnancy, serious heart condition (arrythmias, pace maker) or extreme adrenal fatigue, when too often body is unable to adapt to the stress of the temperature change. Whatever the case, advise your primary care physician.

Sources For This Article Include:

Shevchuk NA. Possible use of repeated cold stress for reducing fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome: a hypothesis. Behav Brain Funct. 2007 Oct 24;3:55. PMID: 17958903

Mooventhan A, Nivethitha L. Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body. N Am J Med Sci. 2014 May;6(5):199-209. PMID: 24926444

Bleakley C, McDonough S, Gardner E, Baxter GD, Hopkins JT, Davison GW. Cold-water immersion (cryotherapy) for preventing and treating muscle soreness after exercise. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Feb 15;2:CD008262. PMID: 22336838

Versey NG, Halson SL, Dawson BT. Water immersion recovery for athletes: effect on exercise performance and practical recommendations. Sports Med. 2013 Nov;43(11):1101-30. PMID: 23743793

International Journal of Current Research and Academic Review. Effect of cold water immersion on blood lactate levels of table tennis players Link Here

Lateef F. Post exercise ice water immersion: Is it a form of active recovery? Journal of Emergencies, Trauma and Shock. 2010;3(3):302.

Brophy-Williams N, Landers G, Wallman K. Effect of Immediate and Delayed Cold Water Immersion After a High Intensity Exercise Session on Subsequent Run Performance. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine. 2011;10(4):665-670.

Shevchuk NA. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression. Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(5):995-1001. PMID: 17993252

Shevchuk NA. Hydrotherapy as a possible neuroleptic and sedative treatment. Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(2):230-8. PMID: 17640827

Shevchuk NA, Radoja S. Possible stimulation of anti-tumor immunity using repeated cold stress: a hypothesis. Infect Agent Cancer. 2007 Nov 13;2:20. PMID: 17999770

Srámek P, Simecková M, Janský L, Savlíková J, Vybíral S. Human physiological responses to immersion into water of different temperatures. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2000 Mar;81(5):436-42. PMID: 10751106

van der Lans AA, Hoeks J, Brans B, Vijgen GH, Visser MG, Vosselman MJ, Hansen J, Jörgensen JA, Wu J, Mottaghy FM, Schrauwen P, van Marken Lichtenbelt WD. Cold acclimation recruits human brown fat and increases nonshivering thermogenesis. J Clin Invest. 2013 Aug;123(8):3395-403. PMID: 23867626Take a Cold Shower For Your Health



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