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Ask Adam | Ep. 10 - What are the benefits of a cold bath? Do they work?

Updated: Jun 25, 2023



What is going on, guys!? I got a ton of feedback about my cold bath video. People wanted to know a little bit more about them, and how they actually work so I wanted to do that in today's video.


Before I get too deep into this video, I wanted to preface with a study that was done and also published in the European Medical Journal of Physiology.


Now in this study they took three groups of people and placed them in different temperatures of water to see what would happen to their biology.


In one group they placed them in hot water. In the second they placed them in warm water, and in that third group they placed them in very, very cold water.


What they found was, the group they placed in very cold water had a massive, massive dump in dopamine and excitatory neurotransmitters that help dopamine because of the cold temperatures of the ice bath.


But what does that mean to you?


Let's kinda walk through the process of what happens when you get in the cold bath:

  • what's being released

  • when it's being released, and

  • what it's doing internally

So the first thing that happens is you're obviously stepping foot in that cold bath, and immediately you feel that cold against your skin. When you feel that your body's gonna start producing neurotransmitters that are very excitatory for you, like epinephrine (or adrenaline) or norepinephrine, these are gonna make you very alert. Which is good! You're in cold water and that's something to be maybe a little bit fearful for so you don't die in there.


So you become very alert, but you quickly feel all over the place. You don't know how to control that alertness. There's heavy breathing, and your mind is all over place telling you to get out of this situation.


Now comes dopamine.


In this study they showed that dopamine levels increased by 250% while being in the cold water. This is very important because dopamine is a neuromodulator, meaning it's going to take those now excited cells, and help funnel them into a place where we can now utilize to be productive.


In this scenario, it's utilizing dopamine as a motivator to get through it and help you push through to end of the cold bath.


So you get in, your body produces a busload of adrenaline initially, and then that's followed by dopamine to help funnel the want to be motivated to help get you through this cold.


Now, keep in mind there's a very specific thing here that I spoke about, and that was how far dopamine goes from base level to its peak, or top level, and that's gonna really dictate how much of this neuromodulator we actually get to be effective against this excitatory stuff. If we can't produce a big enough peak from baseline, then we may just end up with a bunch of excitatory neurons that turn very stressful because we cannot control them and we cannot control the situation.


We have to get outta that situation, as opposed to, if we can push a bunch of dopamine into that, we can now control that very excited situation calmly, and we can get through it, and we have this motivation to do so.


In that scenario, our body is not only going to look at the situation we're in but dopamine is also now going to look back at different times in the past where we were in these same situations, how we dealt with them, what we thought about them and those sort of things.


The way that we look back at stuff is going to help us frame that scenario we're currently in.


So if every time we are in that scenario, there was just a bunch of excitatory. Neurons going around. There wasn't a lot of dopamine or any other kind of modulator there to help us funnel these in.

Then our past experiences of this situation might be bad, and we can think about that.


Typically when we get into cold water, we experience it to be bad and we don't wanna do it again, but if we could stand it long enough to produce this dopamine and produce these neuromodulators that help us overcome it in these scenarios when we're in the cold.


Then not only do we have this extended amount of dopamine in glutamate, in adrenaline, even when we get out of the bath, to help us overcome more scenarios over the next couple hours.


It's also going to help us reframe the way we think of things, and ultimately, that's the goal.


We have to reframe the way we think about different situations so that we can have certain neurotransmitters and other neuromodulators help motivate us and overcome these scenarios.


So can ice bath be used long-term or chronically to help you overcome these sensitive?

Absolutely.


Can they be a great way to just help you start your day with high levels of excitement and dopamine and make you feel very confident in what you're gonna be doing?

Absolutely.


But on the flip side, That same cold bath can cause stress, anxiety, and put you on the complete opposite place, depending on how you frame that cold bath, how you frame anything in life, and what you think about is what's going to determine on what neurotransmitters get released, whether it's going to be excited, whether it's not gonna be excited, and then how you're gonna modulate those transmitters and think about that situation moving forward.


While you're currently in it and whether or not you can even get through it or want to get through it, there's a lot to this guys.


But at the end of it, cold baths, they do work for some people. For others, they can go completely against it and make you even worse.


Guys, I hope this helps out. If y'all have more questions, definitely hit 'em in the comments or on the site.

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