Is The Goop Lab Right About The Healing Powers Of Ice Water Baths?

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix.
Gwyneth Paltrow's The Goop Lab is officially on Netflix and ready to be binged. After making it through all six episodes, you may have a few questions. Where can I learn the Betty Dodson Method? Can I still buy tickets to the Goop cruise? And my most pressing query: Should I be submerging myself in ice water on the reg?
Episode two of The Goop Lab attempts to answer that last question. In it, we meet Wim Hof, aka the Iceman, polar plunges' biggest stan. “Cold water is a great way to learn to deal with stress," Hof tells a gaggle of Goopers on the show. "If you learn how to breathe deep, you can go into the cold water and adapt. And with that, you become the alchemist of life itself.”
The Iceman is the creator of what's known as Wim Hof Method, which involves three pillars: (1) cold therapy (hence the chilly baths), (2) breathing, and (3) commitment.
Hof says his program unlocks a ton of insane health benefits. Sticking with the ice water plunges and a specialised deep breathing technique is meant to balance your hormone levels, boost your energy, reduce stress, strengthen your immune response, and more.
Hof even believes his method helps him control his body temps. "Just by using my mind, I was able to make my skin temperature not go down after exposure of cold water," he tells Paltrow.
According to the Iceman's website, the human body is naturally able "to adapt to extreme temperature and survive within our natural environment." But because we sit around in temperature-controlled environments most of the time, we start to lose some of our "inner power." His three-pronged approach is meant to help us tap back into it.
It sounds nutty, but from looking at his website, it's easy to see that people who love the Wim Hof Method really love the Wim Hof Method. Fans say they've been able to improve their athletic performance, conquer fears, better cope with loss and grief, and even even treat Lyme disease symptoms. Plenty of A-list celebs have also admitted to warming up to the practice: Paltrow, of course, but also Jim Carrey, Tom Cruise, and Harrison Ford.
To back up Hof's claims, The Goop Lab mentions on a 2014 study of 24 participants. Half were trained in the Method, then they all were injected with an endotoxin that caused fevers, chills, and headaches. The 12 participants that Hof worked with were able to suppress the side effects of the injection, while the others were not.
In another experiment published in the journal NeuroImage, researchers studied Hof himself and found that he could indeed raise his body temperature with his technique to combat the cold.
Vaibhav Diwadkar, PhD, one of the study authors, said that the Iceman's method may change autonomous brain mechanisms, which control things like respiration, cardiac regulation, and certain reflexes like coughing and sneezing. In an interview with ScienceDaily, he explained that the method might help people manage conditions including autoimmune diseases and mood disorders.
That said, the studies that looked into the method are super-small, and therefore don't prove much.
Plus, jumping into ice water isn't safe for everyone. Hof's own site says that the breathing technique may also be dangerous and cause you to faint. As The Goop Lab's pre-show disclaimer reads, the series "is designed to entertain and inform — not provide medical advice.”
Although the Goop team survived their day with the Iceman, it's probably a smart idea to check in with your doctor before trying to recreate their trip to the tundra.

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