Cold Shower Therapy for Improved Health: Q&A
Last Modified on Jun 26, 2014
a) How do cold showers affect cortisol levels? (the "stress hormone"). I think I heard that increases cortisol. But cortisol doesn't really have a positive connotation. Are there different types of cortisol? Is there a "good" and a "bad" type? I had assumed that cortisol was something that people already have too much of, and should be reducing. So is there a reason to be concerned about cold showers and cortisol?
b) Do cold showers affect men and women in different ways? Some people say that cold showers could increase testosterone levels for men. Does it do anything different / special for women?
It would be appreciated if someone could share their thoughts and insight, thanks!
06/23/2008: Earth Clinic replies: The instructions are quite simple: "Simply massage the body with almond oil before taking a shower. Shower in cold water until your body temperature rises and no longer feels cold, but toasty and warm. Make sure the bathroom is heated. Never get out of a cold shower into a cold room." It usually takes about 3 minutes for your body temperature to rise. Additionally, you should take the cold shower first thing in the morning.
A few people give instructions in the Reader Feedback section, like starting the temperature on hot for a minute, then turning it to cold for 20 seconds, then back to hot, then to cold, etc. Another instruction is to run the cold shower down your neck and spine for at least 1 minute. Another instruction is to aim the water at your armpits (lymph nodes) for some of the time.
Ted from Bangkok, Thailand replies: Actually the aromatherapist uses the same almond oil that we normally use, but they can also use a number of other oils besides almond oil, which are often used as carrier oil. In my own practice, I don't use carrier oils as often since it dilutes the effectiveness of healing found in the lavender oil and other oils. Oils are not generally used in hair but used in the body instead. The reason maybe because its generally messy to apply to the head with oils and generally difficult to remove them afterwards.
Ted from Bangkok, Thailand replies: The practice of cold showers is to give the body its electrical effect and wake up the languishing body with sudden cold shower in hot or warm weather or taking a cold shower and going into a warm room.
The reason this is done is that if the body is in hypothermia for too long of a period, the body's immune system remains suppressed and the body's temperature is not operating in an optimum condition. This is how we catch cold.
This begs the question why a cold shower help in the first place if there is a fear of hypothermia and suppressed immune system.
The reason is simple: the body needs some sort of short term stimulation such as a sudden cold shower from a languishing body. It is the same why if we get too sleepy, someone throws cold water on our face.
It would defeat the purpose of the cold shower and would invariably make you sick, if not from hypothermia, perhaps catch a cold.
The point is NOT to lower the body temperature, BUT give the body sufficient stimulation with cold shower quickly enough, without changing the body temperature. And to do this successfully, is to go to a warm room AFTER the cold shower so that the body remains in homeostasis.
It is the same with massages. The purpose in a massage is to give some muscle the circulation it needs to get rid of toxins and help circulation, but a 24 hours a day, 7 day a week massage would invariably lead to a badly bruised body just the same.
'The key is to do just enough, without hurting yourself.