Science now shows us that cold exposure is a very potent way to increase chemicals in the brain that improve mood, mental acuity and levels of alertness. When paired with breathwork techniques such as Tumo, which creates heat and hones in one’s focus that allows for surrender into a calm meditative state, the experience and results are unparalleled.
Immersing in cold water increases dopamine by 250% and norepinephrine (adrenaline in the brain) by as much as 500% over baseline. Dopamine is involved in elevating our mood, making us feel energized and enhances our ability to focus. Increases in dopamine evoked by deliberate cold last for hours and are as strong, if not many times stronger, than the fleeting increases elicited by nicotine and cocaine or from behaviors that are known to be addictive. Additionally, cold exposure does this without a significant increase in the stress hormone cortisol, meaning it stimulates a stress response without negative health consequences.
Brain function not only influences what we think, but more importantly, it influences how we think. From modern medicine’s mental health perspective, issues such as ADHD, PTSD, addiction and depression are narrowed down to a faulty chemical or electrical reaction between cells called neurotransmission.
When neurotransmission is out of balance, mental health degrades. Western medicine has, for decades, tried to correct those imbalances through medications that aim to increase or decrease the neurotransmitter reaction. Unfortunately, you cannot add a chemical to one part of the brain without affecting other parts of the brain or the rest of the body for that matter – e.g. the negative side effects of almost all medications. Additionally, it is now well established that the chemical imbalance theory as the cause of depression has been thoroughly debunked.