September 23, 2021

Simple ways to boost your immune system

It’s not rocket science, or is it?

I am reminded of the book and movie, “The Andromeda Strain.”  by Michael Crichton, M.D.  Dr. Crichton was a medical doctor, that’s why many of his books, like The Andromeda Strain, made medical sense.  The crux of the Andromeda Strain story is that an extra-terrestrial virus is brought to Earth and it kills a bunch of people in a small town except for two: 1) an alcoholic drinking Sterno (methanol); and 2) a crying baby.  The protagonist of the story, Dr. Jeremy Stone, wonders why were they are able to survive?  It turns out that most people’s blood pH is around 7 or neutral, neither an acid or a base.  A neutral pH is perfect for growing viruses and bacteria.  The Sterno made the man’s blood very acidic (lower pH) making his blood inhospitable to the invading virus.  The crying baby was hyperventilating and blowing off all the CO2 in its blood, making it significantly more basic (higher pH) which turns out is pretty hostile to viruses, too. 

Of the two methods, I prefer the notion of hyperventilation to consuming massive amounts of Sterno.  Hyperventilating is simple and can be done at home (just not in your bathtub, jacuzzi, or pool, i.e., when it’s safe and appropriate.)

The Wim Hof Method

Which brings me to Wim Hof.  Wim Hof, AKA, the Iceman, has set numerous world records for withstanding the freezing temperatures, e.g., climbed Mt. Everest wearing only running shorts.  Wim credits his ability to withstand the freezing temperatures to the breathing technique he teaches.  The technique consists of taking a series of 30-40 rapid deep breaths and then holding your breath for 10-15 seconds.   This process is repeated several times. (Doing this too many times may cause you to pass out, hence the caution to not perform this while in a pool or driving, etc.)  This process oxygenates the blood and increases the pH of the blood.  Hyperventilation also raises your metabolic rate creating heat as if you were exercising.  It is the increased pH of the blood that messes with viruses and bacteria that don’t belong in your body.  Numerous studies have corroborated these effects[1-3]

Complementing the breathing is the taking of a cold shower every day.  Not just cold, but ice-cold, for 1-5 minutes.  Wim suggests starting off warm to get blood to the surface, i.e., take your regular shower,) then turn the water temperature way way way down.  People practicing Wim Hof’s method will submerge themselves in tubs of ice water.  Pretty shocking stuff.  But you don’t have to go to that extreme.  Besides cold showers removing any negative thoughts, the showers stimulate the guess what?  Yes, your immune system. 

So utilizing the Wim Hof methods you get the one-two whammy of killing bad stuff in your bloodstream and stimulating your immune system to create more antibodies.  This doesn’t guarantee you won’t get a cold, flu, or coronavirus, but it may work to ward it off.

How long does the effect last?

If you have questions about the Wim Hof method, just contact me.  There are lots of Youtube videos with Wim Hof walking you through the breathing.  And as soon as Guffey Gorge clears of ice, I’ll be heading back there to jump in the water.  Feel free to come and join me.

Synopsis: What you can do today to boost your Immune System

There are two things you can start doing immediately to boost your immune system:

  • Start taking cold-showers and/or adding a cold shower to the end of your regular show.  30 seconds to 1 minute (is more better? I’m not sure.) should suffice based on the available literature [1-4]
  • Do the Wim Hof breathing technique to make your blood less hospitable to viruses.

Lastly, remember a lot of what keeps you well is the placebo effect. If you believe it will work for you, mysteriously it does. So, lots of so-called “cures” are based entirely on belief. I’m not comfortable with this. I prefer to have some hard data to rely on. Consequently, I try to cite research that supports some of the claims made here. As with anything, check with your Doctor first. Don’t worry he’ll say not to do it. C’est la mort.

[1] Buijze GA, Sierevelt IN, van der Heijden BC, Dijkgraaf MG, Frings-Dresen MH. The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial, PLoS One. 2016 Sep 15;11(9)

 [2] Kox M, Stoffels M, Smeekens SP, van Alfen N, Gomes M, Eijsvogels TM, et al. The influence of concentration/meditation on autonomic nervous system activity and the innate immune response: a case study. Psychosom Med. 2012;74:489–94.

[3] Kox M, van Eijk LT, Zwaag J, van den Wildenberg J, Sweep FC, van der Hoeven JG, et al. Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014;111:7379–84