Cold Therapy and the Immune System
It is a general notion that having a healthy diet is the only way to boost immunity. However, recent research has implied that the mental health of a person also has a significant impact on their immunity. (1)
Various physical and breathing exercises are employed to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Among these, Cold Hydrotherapy, also known as cold therapy, is a notable way to promote self-control and general physical and mental well-being. In cryotherapy, the body is exposed to cold temperatures in a controlled way. Water has a healing effect on the body in general and when cold water is applied, the benefits become manifold.
You can read all about the benefits of bathing with cold water here.
Let’s see how cold therapy benefits a person and improves their immune status.
How is Cold Therapy beneficial for the Immune System?
Once you start having regular cold therapy sessions, you will experience improved energy levels, a better mood, and a noticeable improvement in your immune response.
Keep reading to learn about some of the many ways in which cold therapy helps strengthen the immune system.
- Improved Circulation
When the body is exposed to cold therapy, the blood circulation pattern is altered. Blood is shunted from the extremities to the core of the body. This leads to a better blood supply to vital organs and the prevention of hypoxia. Nutrients and oxygen rich blood are supplied to the organs and the overall effect is an improvement in their health and function. All the organs involved in maintaining a good immune status such as the spleen, liver, and lymphatic system also benefit from this. When the cold therapy session ends, the blood enriched with nutrients gets backs to its usual circulatory pattern, benefitting both central as well as peripheral tissues. (2)
- Removal of Toxins
The liver and the kidneys are two organs that play a prime role in removing toxic substances from the body. Due to increased blood flow and improved organ function during a cold therapy session, the ability of the kidneys to filter blood effectively also increases. Their efficiency is improved and toxins are removed readily. Similarly, the ability of the liver to conjugate waste substances and turn them into harmless compounds is also increased. In this way, coldwater shower serves as a natural trigger for your immune system.
- Decreased Cortisol
Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is released from the adrenal glands (present above each kidney) when the body is experiencing stress. It has a role in regulating metabolism and immune response. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect but when cortisol levels are chronically raised, the immune system becomes resistant to it. Stress hormones are accumulated and inflammatory cytokines are produced which affect the efficiency of the immune system. (2,5)
Cold shower therapy is also known to help release Endorphins in the body. Endorphins are the “feel-good” hormones of the body, they lower pain as well as cortisol levels. In this way, they help keep unnecessary inflammatory response is in check, and the immune system functions in a better way.
- Elevated WBC count and Anti-Inflammatory Cytokines
White blood cells are just like soldiers, they fight off infections and any foreign agents in the body. When you take a cold shower the number of white blood cells in the body is increased, (3) and at the same time, the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines is reduced to a bare minimum. (4) Although an inflammatory response is protective when appropriate and well-timed, it can become harmful to healthy cells when chronically and inappropriately active. This response is particularly helpful for people who suffer from inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, etc. The anti-inflammatory cytokines help in repairing damage to cells whereas the white blood cells fight off infections. Taking cold showers improves your immune system for the long run as it works as a natural stimulant for your immune response.
When carried out properly under the guidance of professionals, the benefits of cold therapy are innumerable for all systems of the body. Cold water below 15 degrees Celsius boosts your immune response to a significant extent. CryoShower’s patented technology can reduce the temperature of the cold water to this desirable range and improve the befits of cold therapy exposure.
To know more about how it works, check the blog on our website. Additionally, you can download our CryoShower app on an Apple device from Apple app store or an android device from play store to track your benefits, performance, recovery and mental well-being.
- Cahalan, S. (2012). Linking Immunity and Mental Health. In Scientific American (Vol. 308, Issue 1, pp. 14–14). https://doi.org/1038/scientificamerican0113-14b
- Falls, H. B. (1969). Circulatory response to cold showers: effect of varied time lapses before exercise. Research Quarterly, 40(1), 45–49.
- Pilch, W., Pokora, I., Szyguła, Z., Pałka, T., Pilch, P., Cisoń, T., … & Wiecha, S. (2013). Effect of a single Finnish sauna session on white blood cell profile and cortisol levels in athletes and non-athletes. Journal of human kinetics, 39, 127.
- Research, C. M., & Case Medical Research. (2019). Feasibility and Effects of Taking Cold Showers: A Randomized Controlled Study. In Case Medical Research. https://doi.org/31525/ct1-nct04130126
- . Shevchuk, N. A. (2007). Possible use of repeated cold stress for reducing fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome: a hypothesis. Behavioral and Brain Functions: BBF, 3, 5