Wim Hof’s Cold Trickery

Dutchman Wim Hof earned his nickname ‘The Iceman’ for his world records involving the cold – standing for almost two hours in a crate full of ice cubes, that sort of things. But in recent years he is promoting the methods that he claims enabled him to achieve these records as a method for achieving better health as the ‘Wim Hof Method’. Already he has gained a lot of enthusiastic followers and he has been training many people to propagate his method.

*** 19 January 2020: more about recent research on the WHM in my new post: Iceman Wim Hof in the goop lab on Netflix ***

On this website I have written about Hof before, not directly about his method, but about a promotional stunt a year ago which didn’t go as well as he wanted the world to believe: his group climbing of Kilimanjaro in the ‘record time’ of 31 hours didn’t reach upto the actual summit (read  Iceman’ Wim Hof over the top‘).

koudkunstje-wim-hofFor Skepter, the magazine of Dutch skeptics foundation Skepsis, I was asked to write an article about Hof and his method. In this article I focused more on the scientific evidence for the many claims surrounding the Wim Hof method. Luckily I could base my article on the book Hof published in spring last year which precisely claims to give the state of scientific evidence for his method from his point of view: ‘Koud Kunstje – Wat kun je leren van de Iceman?’ by Wim Hof & Koen de Jong (april 2015) [translates as: Cold trickery – What can we learn from the Iceman?].

The article I wrote for the August editon of Skepter can be read online on the Skepsis website (Dutch):  Bergop, bergaf met The Iceman – De Wim Hof methode. I will give a summary here, but if you have questions about the original article and you have trouble understanding the Dutch text, feel free to leave your questions in the comments.

Update 22-12-2016 The book is now available in an English translation titled ‘The Way of The Iceman: How The Wim Hof Method Creates Radiant Longterm Health‘ (e-book).

Update 11-1-2017 And also in German: Die Kraft der Kälte: Wie du mit der Iceman-Methode gesünder, stärker und leistungsfähiger wirst.

The science

The Wim Hof Method is a combination of three things: exposure to cold, breathing techniques and meditation. The cold exposure is the most visible part of the method, especially when people step into bathtubs filled with ice cubes. Hof’s ability to withstand long exposure to cold has been researched and is partially explained because he has larger than usual amounts of brown fat on his body. His twin brother André (with similar brown fat amounts) also showed the bigger capability to endure the cold, without being trained (*) in the breathing techniques Hof uses  (research by prof. Van Marken Lichtenbelt, Maastricht University – published in PLOS ONE, 2014).

The breathing  and meditation are based on Tibetan Tummo techniques, which spiritual aspects were stripped off by Hof for his method. The breathing Hof promotes comes down to repeatedly taking 30 deep breaths in a row, followed by keeping your breath for as long as you can. In this way you cause hyperventilation. A good thing according to Hof in his book, because that would lead as much oxygen as possible deep into your cells, enabling your mitochondria to produce more energy, unwanted rest products from processes in your body being cleaned up, and also prevent the production of lactic acid. You will even feel better according to Hof, because his techniques get more oxygen to the pineal gland, which then starts to produce more melatonine.

At the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen several researchers investigated the physical capabilities of Hof. They found out that Hof is able to show some control over his immune system, which was not thought possible. The most important scientific result for Hof came in 2014 with the publication of Voluntary activation of the sympathetic nervous system and attenuation of the innate immune response in humans, Kox, Pickkers et al. (PNAS, 2014). In this research twelve healthy volunteers were trained in the Wim Hof Method and twelve others were not. They all got an injection of an endotoxin from the Escherichia coli bacteria. Normally the body reacts quite vehemently to this, but the trained volunteers were able to keep the body’s reaction at a far lower level than their untrained counterparts. Kox and Pickkers think that this is mostly caused by the breathing technique:

In the intervention group, plasma levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 increased more rapidly after endotoxin administration, correlated strongly with preceding epinephrine levels, and were higher. Levels of proinflammatory mediators TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-8 were lower in the intervention group and correlated negatively with IL-10 levels.

In lay terms: the hyperventilation reduces the normal response of the body to the endotoxin. This would not  be generally worthwhile, because the body is now acting less aggressive against the invasion of something it wants to get rid off. But there are cirumstances where this might be actual beneficial. However, whether this is anything more than an interesting scientific fact remains to be seen. Pickkers and Kox emphasize that this experiment was done with healthy volunteers and has only proven that a short term effect can be obtained. Suggesting that this might lead to an effective treatment for people who suffer from an overacting immune system is pure speculation.

The quackery

Strange thing about this book is that the authors give attention to other methods as well, which don’t really have a link with the Wim Hof Method and are clearly nonsense. Most likely this interest comes from Hof’s co-author De Jong (a former pro-cyclist turned running coach), who has connections with people who have written or practice these methods. One such method is the Buteyko Breathing Technique, which like the Wim Hof Method promotes a specific way of breathing, but is based on a totally different theory. And that theory is utterly flawed. There is a nice article on Science Based Medicine by Joseph Albietz on this: Buteyko Breathing Technique – Nothing to Hyperventilate About.

The other obvious bullocks is earthing. Wim Hof hasn’t said anything about this before this book came out. He walks barefooted a lot of the time, but never associated this with earthing as far as I know. Earthing is based on the bizarre idea that we need to give electrons from the earth easier access to our body, because these are needed to neutralize free radicals there. But you can better read what Steven Novella wrote about earthing. Also David Servan-Schreiber is mentioned in the book, who promoted all kind of dubious alternative treatments against cancer.

In my opinion the attention given to these silly theories undermines the serious scientific attitude Wim Hof claims to pursue for his own methods. There seem to be a lot of people surrounding Hof who are willing to jump the bandwagon to promote their own ideas, which do not really have anything in common with the Wim Hof Method. I’m not sure why Hof lets this happen, but I guess he is just happy with all attention which looks like it supports his own ideas.

One other person is making an appearance in this book as a Wim Hof supporter: former professor Pierre Capel. He is speculating a lot on the working mechanism underlying the effect Pickkers and Kox have shown. Something about transcription factors which can be influenced with mediation. And he makes quite bold claims of the possibilities of this for curing cancer. To me his ideas sound an afwul lot like the pseudoscientific ideas of Deepak Chopra. Capel left the professorship he held at Utrecht University in 2002, only 56 years of age, which is rather peculiar. After ‘retiring’ he hasn’t published any scientific article and only seems to promote yoga and meditation, so I would be very careful to take the ideas of this man too seriously.

False hope?

I guess that most people who are critical of Hof (or even call him a quack) are worried that he gives false hope to patients with serious diseases. Although Hof is aware of this and states in his book that he definitely doesn’t want to do this, it is hard not to get the impression that Hof has difficulties to keep his enthusiasm and optimism about the possible effects of his methods restrained. A good illustration of this is the following part of an interview he gave to regional television station Limburg 1 (L1) on May 20th 2014, shortly after the Pickkers and Kox study was published:

L1: ‘Are you convinced that someone with cancer can cure himself with these methods?’
Hof: ‘No, absolutely not, I would not go that far. What this is about … we have shown now, as the first group in the world, that the autonomic nervous system, of which science upto now was telling that you aren’t able to influence it, we can influence this in relation to the immune system. This means that every human from this moment on, can influence his autonomic nervous system in relation to his immune system and can learn to do this in really short time.
L1: ‘But Ockels thought …’ [PvE: Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutch astronaut, died of cancer just two days before the interview. He had shown much interest in the Wim Hof Method as one of the many alternative methods he tried out to beat the terminal cancer he was suffering from]
Hof: ‘This is what we have achieved at this moment. And science is above speculation, it is not philosophizing.’
L1: ‘I just asked you: can you cure cancer with these methods?’
Hof: ‘I believe that every disease, any disease whatsoever, is essentially a disbalance of the immune system and that this immune system …’
L1: ‘But do you claim that even cancer can be beaten with these methods?’
Hof: ‘Yeah, but proper research is necessary for this.’
L1: ‘OK that’s clear, it has not yet been proven, but you think it is possible?’
Hof: ‘I think absolutely that there, uh .. 95 percent of all diseases, amongst which are numerous types of cancers, can be cured.’

So far my impression of the Wim Hof Method is not too bad and I would really hesitate to call it quackery. The method doesn’t look that dangerous when performed in the presence of others (if you are alone, there might be some risks of falling when passing out performing the breathing exercises) and you can hardly find reports of bad experiences [see update]. Furthermore, it is quite cheap. Hof isn’t selling expensive stuff, just workshops which don’t seem overly expensive to me. Also he is not explicitely promoting his methods to sick people. Whether patients start using the Wim Hof Method, because of false hope he gives, is up for debate. I surely would like to see Hof more careful on this matter than he has been in the past.

Mt. Kilimanjaro, view from Moshi ,Tanzania (via Wikimedia Commons)
Mt. Kilimanjaro, view from Moshi ,Tanzania (via Wikimedia Commons)

More on the Kilimanjaro expedition

The Kilimanjaro expedition of 2015 didn’t go as well as the company of Hof (Innerfire.nl) was trying to let the world believe in their press release as I had set out in January last year (‘Iceman’ Wim Hof over the top). In Koud Kunstje the expediton is also mentioned and in the book Hof corrects the claim that they reached the summit in almost the same words as he used on Twitter to answer my question. However on Kloptdatwel.nl (the website on which I had written the original Dutch version of that blog), we were contacted by one of the participants of this expedition who told us that the expedition had been even far less succesful than we had already reported. Not only had a lot of the participants who didn’t make it to the edge of the crater shown clear symptoms of altitude sickness, but a big part of the group had to be evacuated off the mountain by car because of their poor physical condition. Among those Wim Hof himself, who had been exhausted and had been suffering from injuries to his feet.

I checked this story carefully with a couple of other participants, who confirmed this version of the story, before contacting Hof’s company. Hof and his son Enahm were not willing to indicate specific flaws in the reconstruction, but offered to talk about ‘the context’ on a cup of coffee. I didn’t pick up this invitation, because I felt I had given them ample opportunity to tell their side of the story. I published the reconstruction on Kloptdatwel: Bergaf met Wim Hof (Going down with Wim Hof). These blogs of mine probably set some bad blood between the Hofs and me. This became more clear on Facebook later, on a totally unrelated issue, where I was called a lousy journalist and even accused of using hate speech by Enahm. But when my article from Skepter was published online and he had actually read it, he even shared it via the Facebook page of Innerfire. Not that they apologized in any way, but at least this shows that they are not totally allergic to sound criticism.

Update 4 July 2016
Recently a couple of reports have appeared in newspaper Het Parool (1,2) on deaths by drowning probably caused by using the Wim Hof Method in an inappropriate way. Four men had been practicising the breathing techniques just before a long swim under water. This is extremely dangerous, because of the risk of ‘shallow water blackout‘. Wim Hof tells he and his company Innerfire have always warned for this risk during their workshops and on the Internet, but questions remain whether they have actually always given it the attention it needs.
Update 17 May 2018
Some weeks ago I was contacted by Canadian newspaper La Presse for commentary, the article was published on 2 May: Sur les traces de l’homme de glace

* [added21/9/2018] The article states that André was ‘familiar’ and ‘aware’ of the breathing techniques, but that those were not part of his regular routine. When exposed to cold in the experiment, however, the authors noticed (visual observation) that his breathing changed in such a way that it looked similar to the breathing of Wim.

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173 thoughts to “Wim Hof’s Cold Trickery”

  1. I don’t think Wim Hof is a quack or a liar. He is definitely eccentric and a bit ‘wacky’ and of course is not a scientist. As a result, he does hold some beliefs that are debatable, but from what I’ve seen his intentions are sincere. Most importantly, be it by luck or not, many of his methods do have proven and measurable health benefits, and have helped many people to become both physically and mentally healthier. Cold exposure as well as breath exercises/breath holding have numerous beneficial effects that are confirmed in medical research.

    It is a bit unfortunate that he will always be known for his eccentric attitude and weird endurance records and that he is associated with things like goop lab and that his eccentricity and unusual practices attract a lot of weirdo’s, which seems to sometimes pull him into their world of new age stuff a bit. However, that should not be used to downright dismiss the actual benefits that these methods do provide.

  2. I personally thought the article and the writer’s comments were fair. Wim is a very eccentric guy and is very likeable. It was unfortunate that he was on goop lab episode 2 on Netflix. The presenters were the most annoyingly righteous preachy shitheads I’ve ever came across with a dollop of condencension and self important blinking only the elite can muster. Wim could have commercialised his method a lot more. I think he really just wants to help people and money is not his shtick or motivation. I do worry though he could be a bit carried away. He almost has religious zeal. I’m an older person near 50 and I used to be an arch sceptic. I was so certain about my scepticism I had the same righteous indignation as the goop lab in scientific fact and reason. It’s sad but true that people have preconceived ideas or a worldview that totally affect their objectivity. I’ve matured now enough that pseudoscience or alternative medicine like accupuncture, reike etc don’t annoy me anymore. I personally think it’s mostly placebo for many treatments including pharma and regular doctors. Wim Hof is helping weird middle class people with too much time on their hands the same as any new age guru or philosophy. Yoga is free though and you don’t need to get cold. Cryotherapy is all the rage now anyway. 15 years ago I would have dismissed whm as pseudoscience and quackery but now I’m starting to believe in the mind over matter for general wellbeing. Of course it is a dicey place when cancer patients refuse chemo and try WHM instead! I think he tries to discourage that BUT and it’s a big BUT. People with terminal illness want to suspend belief and want to live. Delude themselves. That is what needs to be said. It can’t cure cancer or end stage liver disease. However for anxiety and many illnesses caused by our hectic lifestyles and loss of connection to nature maybe it is ideal. I’ve used breathing techniques to break substance abuse and alleviate anxiety. Was great. Felt wonderful. Should he have let the girls jump into ice cold lake though in goop lab. Very irresponsible indeed and could lead to further drownings. If there has been 4 drownings now as per his wiki page I can’t understand why he get the trainees hyperventilating then jumping into ice cold lake. Bad example anyone? 4 deaths previously? You serious? I actually think wim is a little bit challenged. He’s a likeable character but he’s totally mad as a box of frogs. His breathing techniques aren’t new at all. They do work though and can give short bursts of euphoria and pain relief. Don’t think he’s a charlatan. Think he really believes in his technique and wants everyone to feel as good as he does. I hate cold water even for 1 second. I think I could do the cold lake splash if I used breathing techniques but think it’s all just taking your mind off going into a physiological shock. The writer was fair but seemed fixed in an idea it was all woo while a couple of very logical and scientific types argued the wonders of WHM and thought the writer didn’t try it or seriously or at all. Both sides equally sure in zeal. There is no black and white here. The writer was very careful indeed not to explicitly say he’s a charlatan wim but other supporters sounded like Jesus Christ fanatics in the comments. Author doesn’t have to try Christianity to know it’s a bit dubious so why does he have to try win’s method or he just won’t know the score! I give kudos for a well researched article and balanced including the comments section.

    1. I’m a cold water (~10degC) and ice swimmer (I swim for 20+ minutes in water at 0degC) and skeptic. I’m also currently conductive scientific research in ice water exposure and its effects. I don’t follow the WHM at all, but do slow down and lengthen my breathing when I enter the water (feels like a sensible thing to do). My recovery is better than most. After a cold water swim (10degC), I don’t shiver unlike almost all of my fellow swimmers. I also don’t need to wrap up warm either. Although not tested our ice swimming doctor (and research partner) believes that my brown fat percentage is higher than normal (as it’s believed of Wim and his brother). Anyway I find Wim to unfortunately mix up science with gobbledygook. I swim with hundreds of cold water swimmers. We know that some regular swimmers struggle a lot with the cold and others don’t (even if we control for body fat % and BMI this is the case). The evidence is pointing towards genetic differences (not, as a Wim states, that it’s achievable by everyone). Anyway Despite this I agree he is a rather benign eccentric who has achieved some remarkable cold water feats. I’m sorry he associates himself with the Goop brand in the recent Netflix documentary.

  3. Thanks to you and the commenters for the article and discussion. I like WHM, and think it has great promise, but I agree that healthy skepticism is warranted.

  4. A real sceptic here but hope the experience would be useful. Only heard about WHM a month ago on TV, so bookmarked a youtube film to watch and only found time today. Something interesting happened – I tried the breathing method in my bedroom this morning, lying with my wife sleeping next to me. You feel your lungs expand (that’s strange, but maybe purely explainable by my lack of physical activity recently). What I felt was that a feeling of blocking in the heart area, actually something between a blockade and slight pain when breathing out, has disappeared immediately. I don’t know the reason behind it, and planned going to a doctor, but left it after the holidays, and now it seems obsolete. Another strange effect – I am a smoker and had a visible decline in my desire to smoke (for the next several hours (this effect, I think, should be researched further).
    I wouldn’t make any scientific conclusions, of course, but thats an important personal experience. Which reminds me of another one, years ago – like many skiers, my skiing and mountain experiences do include falling in a state of euphoria after something I can relate to hyperventilation. And this is not only normal feeling after an intensive skiing day, which many people can confirm. Years ago, I had a mountain hike which was really above our physical abilities – we went up to a mountain top after 4-5 hours hike after which we decided to go back to the initial point instead of going to the next stop one-to-two hour ahead. Combined with a storm (storms at 2600m are not the same as ones in the valley) we had an extreme experience of more than 10 hours walking at whose end I clearly remember a state of full exhaust followed by euphoria and return of physical abilities unseen and unfelt before.
    All these experiences increase my interest in the WHM and just like many people here I would like a non-BS approach. Thank you all for sharing, I see some are biased but most if not all keep the balanced approach and the whole discussion is very valuable for me.
    What I can say I remain sceptical re general health effect and would be very cautious whether to recommend it at all but will give it a cautious try while observing closely my body reactions. What is still not clear is what is the relation between breathing and cold showers but this will be my trial.

  5. I find on wikipedia that Stig Severinsen broke other records worth mentioning, still based on breathing techniques and diving under ice lakes. The problem with cold water is not that you cannot do it, but if the damage is for the reason pain arises. I do cold showers myself as part of no fap community for years in order to sustain and release on the body behaviors and the mind tendencies. I haven’t done this particular technique, but i’ve done normal meditation, even up to hours at a time. I can do cold showers, does that make me super-human? The idea is to do it in away that is proper, and listen adequately to the body. I’am not sure if the WHM is based on the stress, or on the adrenaline with the fire breathing, but the water can be so cold it feels like the bones would fall off and the skin would get bruises and blisters. Would anyone do the cold water if the feeling was like that? Of course not, so the one technique cannot be attributed to the feeling alone, or the lack of it, but to the actual reason you doing it. To break world records? The guy i mentioned has PH.D and also a book on same topic. It can be attributed to brown fat the resistance to cold, and is silly not to believe this. Fat is associated with resistance to cold in nature. Don’t need any technique to this. Also, how do i know without facts that exposure to cold, does not reflect to less tolerance to heat? I do notice i get to wear less clothes in the winter and that i burn more calories. The problem in the summer is, that is really hot. If you want health benefits, calm your mind with any meditation you can get. Meditation is as long as our history.

  6. I have been practicing the Wim Hof method got six months. Breathing and cold showers. My wife and I have been visiting Tasmania for the last couple of months and after listening to Wim thought my chances of getting a a cold or flu would be remote. However I have got the worst flu in years. So does it work. There are benefits my circulation has improved in my hands and I am sleeping better. But as far as stopping sickness I am not sure. As it had not worked for me with the flu but other things have got better. I will continue to practice it as its help my breathing and walking up hills is easier.

    1. I’m looking for the science stating what cold plunging for 2 minutes per day along with 4-8 rounds of Wim Hof breathing can do to the adrenal glands.

  7. If stories of people claiming to have suffered as a result of the Wim Hof method are worthy enough to be included in a Sceptics review, why are stories of people claiming major life changes considered to be just anecdotes and not real evidence?

    In my opinion, you made an earnest attempt to actually evaluate the evidence for the WHM, but, again in my opinion, your bias is still discernible. Sure most alternative health claims are wrong, so it’s reasonable to have suspicions, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. However, we do have evidence that this guy has really stumbled upon something very extraordinary, being able to control his immune system and all, and I feel that this is not really reflected when using the word trickery.

    Also, your bias shows again when you discuss the buteyko method as evidence of quackery, a method that has been shown to reduce asthma medication usage by something like 50 percent. That the explanation behind the method is bs is a valid criticism, but not the main point. In one of the previous comments you defended yourself by stating that what you meant by quackery, is that the theory is bs, regardless of the results. This feels like moving the goalposts to me, surely somebody who gets actual results would not be called a quack.

    However, you not having tried the whm method is completely irrelevant to this review, so please just ignore that criticism.

    An ideal skeptic should aim to find the truth, and not just come to conclusions that agree with the preconceptions of the skeptic community ; this review went into a good direction, but I think there is still room for some improvement

    1. If stories of people claiming to have suffered as a result of the Wim Hof method are worthy enough to be included in a Sceptics review, why are stories of people claiming major life changes considered to be just anecdotes and not real evidence?

      Did I use “stories of people claiming to have suffered as a result of the Wim Hof method” in my review? Don’t think so. Maybe you are referring to the drownings which are said to be associated with the practice of the WHM, but that’s something Hof warns for too more clearly.

      surely somebody who gets actual results would not be called a quack.

      If someone got the result on all the claims he made, you might have a point. But the fact that the Buteyko method is promoted as a panacea for many illnesses besides asthma, without any evidence, makes it a clear case of quackery in my opinion.

      1. Thank you for your response.

        Yeah sorry, I did mean the drownings. Since I can’t read the original articles that you cite in the update from the 4th July, I am not too sure how confirmed it is that the afflicted people were actually using the Wim Hof method, but I am going to trust your summary that it is confirmed.

        Regarding the Buteyko method, you refer to it as “clearly nonsense” and “obvious bollocks”, which is just not a fair assessment, Pepjin. You do not qualify it with regards to specific applications, it just reads as a very strong, blanket judgement, which you should be able to defend with very convnincing arguments.

        Yes, the number of diseases that some practioners claim to be able to heal is ludicrous, and I don’t know which ones are being promoted in the book. If you look at this website, which is the most polished one regarding Buteyko, the diseases are all related to breathing and stress, which seems at least sort of reasonable https://buteykoclinic.com/.

        Since the book was written for a general audience, I assume it’s general health benefits that are being promised by implementing Buteyko breathing. However, it’s also important to note that there have not been any studies AT ALL into Buteyko apart from investigating asthma, so that’s one reason why it’s not reasonable to claim that it’s clearly bullocks.

        One purpoted reason for Buteyko’s efficacy in asthma is that it relaxes the practitioner, which again seems at least possible given that meditation, where some forms definitely do promote slower breathing, has been shown to reduce stress. It’s again not clearly nonsense to extrapolate that normally healthy people could benefit from it.

        I think that you implictly at least kind of agree with that kind of reasoning, because you do not call the Wim Hof method itself quackery: just as with Buteyko, there is some scientific evidence that it works for a particular thing, just as with Buteyko, the practitioners extend that to promote general health benefits.

        If you really want to be critical, imho a reasonable wording would be that the claims for general health benefits from the Buteyko method are not backed up by science and just leave it at that.

        I hope you can at least keep an open mind about this, and be willing to change your position in the future if you see different evidence.

    1. I live in Canada and have ulcerative colitis and bad eczema. I’ve practised the WHM for a year or so. Personally, this method led to all sorts of changes physically and emotionally. I handle stress better and I think chronic stress is the cause of most illnesses (and the effect stress had on the nervous system). I have read the scientific publications (I have a Masters in Kinesiology) and also the book ‘What Doesn’t skill You’ in which a skeptics journalist goes and trains with Hof to debunk his method and expose him as a fraud. Ultimately, the journalist embraces the WHM and still uses it today according to his book. I think people have s hard time with this because a) it is not easy to do, especially putting yourself in the cold every day and b) Wim himself can get over excited when talking about the method and maybe exaggerate what it can do. He’s not a conventional guy and that further opens him to criticism.

      As for my health, my doctor recently told me I can try going off medication for colitis if I like as testing shoes no signs of disease. I haven’t had a cold or flu in the last 12 months which is odd for me. Whenever I feel like I might get sick I double down on the breathing and cold showers and the next day I am fine. My skin condition has mostly cleared up.

      Science is important but often it is behind experience. If you are going to criticize a method please try it over the long term before you put pen to paper.

      1. Andrew,

        Your anecdote is compelling, and I don’t think anyone would try to take away the gains you have made in your own life and health.

        That being said, I believe this author’s article was more geared toward your everyday skeptic who has only recently heard about WHM (such as myself) and is looking for a relatively unbiased and unexaggerated take on the extraordinary claims he makes. Note: the way Hof described his Kilimanjaro expedition on Russell Brand’s podcast was as an astounding and unmitigated success – something that this article clearly disputes.

        Remember – extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and so far the more extraordinary claims of the WHM have little beyond individualized anecdotes – which are subject to all sorts of cognitive biases and confounding effects (positivity bias, survivor bias recall bias, and placebo effect to name just a few off the top of my head).

        Thanks for sharing your experience!

      2. Hey man, sucks about your UC I got AS , also a skeptic but hey there’s definitely something to better breathing I need to work on. Whether that’s WHM or something else.

        The main reason I’m posting this is I got into histerics at “testing shoes” and that laugh made my day. Thanks.

  8. Thanks for the article.
    I find this kind of claims highly disrespectful and even sometimes get angry.
    It’s quite simple: if you come with the quintessential way of not being sick, cure any kind of disease and all that nonsense; you will put first hundreds of scientific evidence, research, results… and it is NEVER the case. Always speculation, anecdotes, and empty words.
    A friend of mine says: if someone’s putting his/her life and health in the hands of those charlatans, we must assume this is the new natural selection.

  9. I would like to know your source for saying WIms brother, who truly is his identical twin, also has higher than normal brown fat and can do these things similar to Wim? It has been stated many times that his brother could not, and the extra brown fat Wim has can be attributed to what he is doing, as scientifically it has been proven to increase brown fat. Please refer us to where you have found any evidence that WIms brother can also do things similar to Wim? Thank you.

  10. I’m exploring\practicing WHM techniques and I enjoyed the article. I’ve been searching for english articles with a skeptic tone.

  11. The author’s and some commenter’s confirmation bias is staggering. I am no stooge for Hof, and do not use his method, but there seems to be more scientific support for his method than say, global warming–but I digress. There is growing and provable evidence that the mind does influence the body, which should be no surprise to “science” since “science” has long recognized the placebo effect and psychosomatic illness. What I find a bit amusing is the desire to be skeptical of Mr. Hof when he has done nothing to be skeptical about. The author takes issue with what some people, but not Hof himself, have concluded about the practice to somehow show that either Hof is a scam or he does no do enough to prevent the “appearance” of fraud. The facts are clear to those who have looked into this method. Hof has shown that with the use of his method he and those he trains can endure cold temperatures without lowering the core body temperature. He can also train those with pain conditions to exercise in a fashion that they could not before the training, and after some time these individuals experience an improvement in their quality of life–and the method is free. Lastly, Hof does not make any crazy claims nor does he claim to be super human or tapping into some unseen mystical power. He says that the method might help some but he does not claim to be able to cure illness. He also says anyone can learn to do what he does and many do. In the end the desire is to prove him a fraud because you believe he is a fraud; so you go to great lengths to confirm your bias to the point your article comes across as an exercise in mental masturbation but falls short of its intended purpose for all but the yes men of similar ilk.

    1. Notice the so-called skeptical journalist apparently didn’t actually try the method to make an assessment of it. Seems a slight oversight 🙂

      1. To be fair to the author, he DID say: “So far my impression of the Wim Hof Method is not too bad and I would really hesitate to call it quackery. The method doesn’t look that dangerous when performed in the presence of others…”

    2. Well said!

      I also had an issue with the “silly” earthing comment. Lots of rerearch supporting earthing. Really helped a close friend of mine to reduce inflammation.

      1. Well, as you claim that there is lots of research supporting earthing, you surely must be able to share some links to publications so that we can see if this research holds up under proper scrutiny.

    3. Outrageous claim that there is more Scientific evidence for WHM than for global warming – now that is mental masturbation

    4. Thanks for your article. Hof gave a recent podcast with Russel Brand where he was making very large claims for his methods!
      And now the boss of Twitter seems to have fallen for Hof’s method.

  12. Study shows (Please use a translator from Polish) that hiperventilation decreses oxygen in blood about 50%. WHM gets rid of the CO2 from the blood stream that’s why we don’t feel the contractions that normally force us to take a breath. In consequence we will drown much faster then we normally would but without any warning. Just black out and goodbye. Wim should say so and he seems being ignorant about that fact. Sad 🙁

    Here is the original article : http://freedivingpoland.org.pl/?sermons=wszystko-co-chcielibyscie-wiedziec-o-hiperwentylacji-ale-baliscie-sie-zapytac

    1. I’m a Wim Hof trainee instructor and the first thing we mention prior a course is “do not practice in or near water and we explain why or on any situation that require focus may put you in a dangerous position for yourself or others since it is possible to feel dizzy or to pass out”. Practicing the whm prior free diving or swimming under water as mentioned in the article is totally silly. Whm isn’t a free diving preparation breathing technique and can be dangerous is you don’t apply basic whm safety rules.

      Regarding the buteiko method, I never heard Wim or any instructor mention it. However Yoga, Pranayama and the Tummo meditation are inspirations for the method.

      Regarding Wim’s brother I heard the exact opposite and that they are very different. His brother didn’t not show the same abilities than Wim. Its the First time I hear that Wim’s brother has the same amount of brown fat than Wim.

      Regarding brown fat, based on the latest study in Michigan, it doesn’t seems to have as much influence as we thought on resisting cold or not. Doctor mentioned it was insignificant.

      Personally I have no doubt about the positive effects of the whm at many levels on my own life and health and that’s why im teaching it but I usually ask people to try for themselves.

      This method is not a magic pill, it requires commitment and practice. It’s a tool that must be implement in your daily life with consistency if you want to get some kind of positive influence. It’s more a way of life and helps me question everything (include the Whm itself) and makes me discover many other practices.

      So the WHM may not heal people with cancer but may help them reconnect their body and mind, feel that they are more in control over their mind and body, something we lost by being too comfortable… Our science and technology that should make us super humans can become clutches and weaken us at many levels. Question the WHM but please question everything else in your life and use the best of everything.

  13. I like the sceptical point of view on the WHM. I think, that all theories should be challenged in such way.
    The way WHM started to be commercialised irritates me.
    From my personal view: in some cases Wim Hot doesn’t understand, what he’s talking about.
    On the other hand, he is able to survive two hours in the ice bath… For an average person 15 mins means death. There is a nice video on the effects of cold exposure on the body. https://youtu.be/oM2chNTmCNI I am a sceptic person, still I tried the method myself 4 months ago. My facts are:
    1. My cold water tolerance has increased, I don’t get cold water shock any more.
    2. I started to enjoy cold water exposure. I get “a positive energy boost” just after the shower.
    3. I haven’t been sick since (my friends, family, work colleagues did).
    4. I’m breathing clearly through the nose, which was rather a seldom case last year.
    I’m still not convinced to the method. This could be a coincidence. I’ll see how it goes through the rest of the year.

    1. His website clearly states that you shouldn’t use it near water and he clearly states in the free introductory video that you should do it lying down on a soft surface. At a certain point you can’t keep cutting all the paper into circles 🙂

    2. Rafal, how has the rest of you year with the WHM gone so far? Do you have anything else to report? Thanks for sharing your experience before!

  14. Much of the Wim Hof effect is likely a placebo effect. Now this is not necessarily a bad thing because people really can benefit from such an effect. I bet I could start a health movement which involves holding an egg in your hand for 1-3 hr as the life energy from the egg transfers into your body. By making you commit to this arduous task, those who persist are likely a subgroup of people who really believe in my egg trick. On average they will swear on the Bible that it helps them in life, and it will. Add a Messianic-like personality into the mix and those believers will become disciples of my egg-body energy transfer and spread my technique around the globe. Maybe I’ll call the technique equilibrium electron energy transfer (EEET) and explain that it is possible to capture the energy from the outer shell electrons in an egg by committing yourself to meditation. I would use a little science to lend credibility to my technique, but largely discredit science in my teachings, after all most people distrust science already and they certainly don’t understand even basic scientific principles. All of this is to my advantage. To really top things off I might even perform a feat of superhuman endurance. But, before I commit to such a high profile stunt, I’ll do a little research on my drug options. Got it, I’ll load up on anti-malarials and have a doctor who I trust inject me with malaria. To prove it is real, let’s inject a couple of lab animals and watch them suffer from malaria. Of course I’ll have the malaria injection checked by an independent 3rd party to show it is real and not just saline. During the production of this show I’ll add a voice over describing how some Tibetan monks use a technique similar to mine to cure just about any disease. What more proof do you need!

    1. Agree, placebo is very helpful. But, look up the Wayne University study. And, others. At this point it’s changing a lot of people’s lives. Plenty of MDs are now practicing. basically, the premise that we need to challenge your homeostasis with some extremes looks like a real thing. The breathing challenges the body because it creates a hypoxic environment. The cold exposure also has its own benefits. And, he’s combined them in a way that combines the benefits to make them more powerful than done separately.

      It’s really easy to scream “placebo”. But, the scientific studies are showing very interesting activities and that’s why you’re going to continue to see more research. My wife is a psychiatrist she also thought it was Placebo. It took over 3 years to realize something else is going on.

    2. Have you ever considered that placebo effect is an evidence that mind and body are connected. Why a patient that was given a placebo should show a recovery, from biochemical point of view? Why the believe that you have been given medicine should have an impact on your body? Funny that some people use placebo to discard body-mind connection, when placebo is an evidence of body mind connection!

      1. Right… the term placebo tends to be used by people to suggest “not real” because it discards a result they are trying to disprove. And, by saying that, they inadvertently acknowledge the existence of something far more miraculous that whatever they were arguing against… the fact that the mind/belief of some test subject or another was able to create some “unbelievable” response in the body.

        “Ha! Gotcha! I reject your claim that your product or technique actual did whatever you claim it did! It was actual caused by unexplained mental magic! So there!”

      2. “Have you ever considered that placebo effect is an evidence that mind and body are connected. Why a patient that was given a placebo should show a recovery, from biochemical point of view?”

        Easy: they don’t. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd003974.pub3

        Placebo is often misunderstood:


    3. And if you achieved half the results Wim has achieved maybe I’d consider calling you Eggman and following you in order to see if there was anything beneficial I could intergreat into my life … you crack me up

    4. Even if it’s just a Placebo effect, (it’s not) at least it is harmless. Cardiac MD’s slice open millions of people in terrible health to improve blood flow. But the studies showed no increase in efficiency of the cardio system with bypasses and stents. So they began to slice them up to extend life. But the studies showed no increase in life span. So they continued to slice them up for pain relief. A double blind study released last year showed the pain relief was only a Placebo Effect (don’t ask me how they did this, I don’t want to know). The enlightened Cardiac MD’s (who no longer take the Hypocratic Oath) were humbled. But being humbled in no way stops their barbarism when it interferes with getting paid. This author needs to set his sights higher, on a more sinister pox on humanity.

      1. You make some rather bold statements which you claim are based on studies you don’t identify in your comment, unfortunately. It makes it difficult to discuss this further without the links to these studies. Your interpretation of these studies could be wrong.

  15. I liked this article very much, lots of useful info… Thank you!

    However… as others have commented, I found what you said about his brother to be *very* misleading and it *is* important. Your very short summery of the PLOS ONE article at the very beginning of the text sounds like his brother was able to withstand cold exposure almost as good as Wim solely because of the body constitution, as opposed to utilizing any breathing techniques… which would dismiss what Wim Hof teaches to others and would attribute his records primarily to his natural body constitution.

    That isn’t *at all* that what that article said. Quote:

    “Subject B is employed as an international truck driver, being on the road for multiple days in a row and experiencing longer periods of inactivity. He does not practice and train extreme cold exposure. However, he is familiar with the special meditation and breathing technique used by his brother.”

    “Interestingly, both subjects immediately switched to the g-Tummo meditation/breathing technique at the onset of cold exposure, and although subject B does not practice g-Tummo meditation regularly, highly similar breathing patterns were observed (visual recognition).”

    1. I already gave a reaction to a similar comment in this thread. That his brother is familiar with the meditation and breathing techniques doesn’t mean he practices those in his daily life. After reading Hof’s book even I am in a way familiar with these techniques.
      In my view, the experiment just shows that neither regular cold exposure nor implementing the meditation and breathing techniques in your daily routine has a significant effect on the ability to endure cold exposure. And maybe you could argue that the observed breathing patterns in both men are a very normal reaction for them.

      1. …or you could argue that one doesn’t need to practice breathing techniques daily for years to be able to effectively use them for above-average results for enduring cold exposure:
        – Both measured very high “cold-induced thermogenesis”,
        – Both test subjects had a similar body constitution,
        – Both utilized g-Tummo deep breathing techniques
        (as the study explicitly states, unlike young adult men which were previously tested).

        So yes, one could say they had exceptional results because:
        A) they are both naturally exceptional,
        B) they both utilized breathing techniques,
        C) mix of both A and B.
        So yes, case A is certainly possible and so are cases B and C (based on the article).
        …Don’t you agree with that?

        My only objection to that part of your text was that you didn’t make it clear enough. If one doesn’t also read the PLOS ONE article, solely based on your summery of it one could easily (wrongly) understand that the conclusion was A only.

        1. I can mostly agree to that, will see if I think it is important enough to clear up that sentence in my text. The “without being trained” might give the wrong impression that he has no clue at all about what his brother does. You could still argue whether André was really using the specific breathing technique Hof is teaching as we only have the words of the authors of the article which state that it looked similar. And was he changing the way he was breathing on purpose, or did it come naturally to him?

          In my view this isn’t actually a very important point (I didn’t even mention the research of Marken Lichtenbelt in my Dutch article explicitly), as I don’t think many people who are interested in the WHM will practice it with as main goal to endure long ice baths or other forms of long exposure to cold.

    2. Wim Hof has straight lied to the faces of everyone. He says in one video that he learned about Tumo and found out he could do it(look at YouTube video 2:10-2:20) and in another video that his method isn’t based on Tumo. OK, if that’s true then how would Wim Hof know his method will work for others when he used Tumo to get where he’s at? That’s what bothers me about him, he’s a liar because he didn’t use his method to achieve his results. Wim Hof couldn’t possibly know if his method could help others to be just like him because he didn’t use his method in the first place to get where he is.



      1. In that first clip, he says “I began to learn from them and to practice it. And I saw I could do it too.” I don’t think you can conclude from that that he means that he was fully trained in g-tummo like the monks (of which he says in the second clip that that would take 15 years). I make from “And I saw I could do it too” that he saw his own way to reach the same goal (‘it’=enduring the cold) but in a faster way. I don’t see an obvious lie here.

        1. I was watching his Joe Rogan interview and Wim Hof says he came up with this ability all on his own without the help of anyone. He says one day he saw the cold water and wanted to go in there. Then he found out he had this amazing ability to withstand extreme cold for long periods of time. The lie is that he is some sort of miracle child who came up with all of this on his own with the help of no one.

  16. Liked your article. Objective for the most part. Thank you. Did you set out to dispeove the method? Or started objectively investigating and came to doubt? Fine either or, but my impression or “feeling” is you started out to disprove, or from a “desbelief”. I think most comments do clme from an un-biased perspective, but the overall tone leads me to lean towards the “desbelief” side. Congrats though. I enjoyed it and it raises some good questions.
    Have you read “The Oxygen Advantage”? Would love to see your comments if and whenever you do.
    And yes…I do not believe you need to try the WHM in order to write about third party findings. As matter of fact, I don’t trying it would change any of the claims you make…more than “I felt this” or “it helped me with that”, which in the end are purely subjective…

  17. I just wanted to comment to say I really enjoyed reading this article. I personally feel it offered a balanced view.
    Thank you.

  18. Fantastic site. Plenty of useful info here. I am sending it to several friends ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you on your effort!

  19. Hi Pepijn

    Thank you for the article and your continued replies to comments.
    I have recently discovered/had recommended the WHM, and have found it useful for calming my anxiety,
    however I was intrigued as to the “science” behind it, and whether it was legitimate or not,
    seems I would benefit from some yoga, breathing techniques and mediation,
    I feel thankful to Wim for sharing his discoveries and yourself for putting some clarity around these,
    I will continue to breath until I’m unable to do so…

    I also “discovered” grounding recently and have been walking around barefoot, when the situation allows, I’m again interested in the science behind this, not being an academic or scientist, I feel your average citizen is at risk from manipulation, and it’s difficult to research fully, the following article is extremly compelling https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3265077/ have you done any research on grounding? is it scientifically proven or snake oil?

    1. I agree with Steven Novella on grounding/earthing, link provided in the article. It’s rather a different topic, doesn’t have anything to do with the WHM, so I won’t discuss it here in detail.

    1. I’ve read the article briefly, but I’m not quite sure what to make of it as the interpretation of fMRI imagery is beyond my expertise. As far as I can see they claim to have gained a better insight into how Hof is able to endure cold for longer periods. But there’s a lot of speculation in the article. From the conclusion:

      The observed strong activation of the PAG might suggest the release of endogenous opiates/cannabinoids that mediate decreased sensitivity to cold exposure and promote a feeling of euphoria and well-being.

      This wouldn’t surprise me to be the case, but in this research, they did not even measure the actual release of opiates/cannabinoids. It does, however, concur with the stories from people who practice the WHM, that they feel better and/or that it makes it easier for them to cope with their health complaints. But it does not provide any evidence that practising the WHM can actually cure illnesses.

      1. You make an excellent point there re: managing the pain of illness Vs curing the illness itself.

        Fair review.

  20. Writing this article and giving all your pedantic replies must have taken a lot more effort than giving the method a try.

    1. So what is your point exactly? That I would change my view on the scientific claims surrounding the WHM, or my reconstruction of his Kilimanjaro adventure, after trying the WHM myself? Why?

      1. My point? Try being a big more open minded and less of a smug know it all. You might be pleasantly surprised (you might not). Life can be full of surprises. There are the benefits described in the PNAS paper, where people were able to control their immune system after 4 days of training. That’s pretty impressive to me. Less chance of catching a cold, or is that of no interest to you?

        I am guessing you aren’t going to change your mind because you have made up your opinion without trying the technique, and gone to the effort of writing a lengthy article.

        What have you got to loose by trying? 20 minutes of your life? I am sure you have spent more time pedantically replying to comments here.

        Wim Hof has a number of world records. What have you gained through your crappy blog post? A sumg sense of satifaction at best. Your loss.

        1. I think you don’t fully understand the PNAS paper. It shows a very specific control of the immune system (letting it work less hard against inflammation) and for a short period of time. This result does not point in any way to a potential control of the immune system that might help you fight a cold.

          And whether you have experience with the WHM or not should not influence the evaluation of the scientific results. The fact that Wim Hof holds a number of world records should also not give him a free ride on his health claims, and I’m pretty sure Hof would agree to that.

  21. After buying and trying the Wim Hof Method $200 10 week program I’ve concluded it’s basically a scam. The first 7 weeks of cold exposure really aren’t anything different than most people do as a kid in a swimming pool. I think it’s in week 7 when Wim has you do 30 breaths and then hold your breath while in a cold shower as long as you can. I don’t think that’s much different than what I was doing as a kid when I was holding my breath while swimming under water.

    The rest of the stuff Wim is teaching is Yoga and a very simple meditation. If you really want a Yoga class wouldn’t you go to a professional, certified Yoga Instructor rather than Wim?

    Wim offers what he calls his “brown fat activation technique” in week 9. He claims babies can do this but we shouldn’t try it if we didn’t do the steps from week one to seven? Those “steps” are nothing more than contrast showers and holding your breath in the shower. It’s the same thing you probably did as a kid in the pool at the YMCA. If a baby can do it I’m sure it’s probably not going to hurt an adult.

    Wim’s throws around science to the point of really sounding ridiculous. He said in one of the weeks that we’re fusing the nervous system and the cardio vascular system together by using his techniques. When weren’t they connected?

    I’m not a believer in Wim’s method. I’ve read way too many stories on his site of people injuring themselves with it. I injured myself a little doing his breathing technique. My lungs hurt. Of course the only response you’ll get from his supporters after you injure yourself is that it’s all your fault and has nothing to do with Wim Hof’s techniques. Scientist said Wim Hof has an unusual ability to withstand the cold because of his genetics. He has a lot more brown fat than your average person. Even his brother has the same genetics. I think the only reason people believe his techniques work is because they’re getting progress in something they never tried before. Of course if you take cold showers you’re going to get the benefits of doing that. You’re going to get some benefit from doing his breathing exercise too if you don’t injure yourself. I know because I’ve done breathing meditation for 10 years and they benefit me immensely. Sorry to say but I think Wim Hof has a lot of people fooled by his slick motivational style, slapstick use of science and taking advantage of things. I’m a little bothered that I wasted $200 on his course, but I’m thankful because I found some things in my own self exploration that will benefit me for the rest of my life.

    1. Hi Kent, I’m a journalist who is writing about Wim Hof. I’d really like to hear more about your experience and possible lung damage. My twitter is @ameliapangg; email is ameliaspang[at]gmail.com.

      1. You’re responding to a person who said literally mutually exclusive things throughout the entirety of his comment as a “source” for someone who supposedly suffered “lung damage” from doing things of which he claims Hof is not the originator (e.g. He complains that Hof’s method provides nothing new: Cold showers Kent already knew about; breathing techniques Kent already knew about; meditation Kent already knew about). Yet at the same time, he complains about having spent $200 on Hof’s course – which taught him nothing more than what he did in a pool as a child. Yet at the SAME time he ends his comment with: “[But I’m glad I spent the $200 because in the end] because I found some things in my own self exploration that will BENEFIT ME FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.” So which is it?!!?! Did his 10 week course & $200 teach him something about himself that will benefit him for the rest of his life?? Or was it a waste of money? Did he injure his lungs practicing this difficult method in a (presumably unsafe) lackadaisical manner? Or was he doing something so simple that “a kid does it in the swimming pool at the YMCA”? And yet, despite the fact this commenter “Kent” is either clearly lying, or he’s clearly a little unstable, we have some brilliant journalist asking for his comments on her apparently incredibly well-sourced article about the Wim Hof method.

        Yes, Wim Hof makes some outrageous claims. But as a clinical scientist for over a decade, and to be honest, as a skeptic of his methods, I can at least say there is literature – peer-reviewed articles of animal studies and large scale human clinical studies which do SUPPORT some of the mechanisms proposed to make sense of the outcomes of those who have used his methods.

        Having said that, part of the problems with the criticisms even in this article would be something as follows: If I just begin playing basketball today along with 60 other beginners, and we have Michael Jordan teaching us all of his secret tips to do the amazing things he does, how much of an effing moron would you realize I were if, after 10 weeks, I were angry that, despite his classes, me, as a 5’5″ woman can’t compete on the court the way he does? Of the 60 people will any one of us be able to successfully play for the NBA? Probably not. But maybe so… What I SHOULD EXPECT to be able to say after such a class is: Gee, my basketball skills are much more improved by taking this class then they would have been from just my brother teaching me to play. What I SHOULD NOT EXPECT to be able to say is: Gee, now I’m gonna go play street ball in Brooklyn and expect to own the court.

        Similarly, after Wim Hof’s classes what you SHOULD EXPECT to be able to say is: Wow, I can safely sit in an ice bath for much longer than I ever could before. What you SHOULD NOT EXPECT to be able to say is: Wow, now I can go climb a freezing cold mountain or willingly expose myself to abnormally high altitudes because I completed this 10 week course.

        At the end of the day, what Wim Hof ACTUALLY SELLS – versus what he discusses in interviews – is the ability to manage stress and increase energy with deep breathing techniques and cold showers – a claim no different than many schools of eastern meditative practices. The fact that Wim has simplified this technique to such a degree is perfect for our current generation of adults which has no attention span and apparently relies on journalists who seek out the crazies in blogs’ comments sections as “sources” for their own hack journalism.

        Is it right for Wim Hof to sell his method as a cure for cancer? No. Which is precisely why he is not selling it as a cure for cancer. Is it right for a “journalist” to bait him into making a statement that SOUNDS like he’s trying to sell his method as a cure for cancer? No. Which is why I’m wondering why the author of this article did exactly that and tried to frame about a third of this article around that.

        1. Come on, are you seriously making a fuzz about a journalist trying to contact someone who might have a less than positive experience with the WHM?

        2. Wim Hof does straight lie to people’s faces, so I do have a right to be suspicious of him. He says in this Youtube video he first learned about Tumo and then learned he could do it and that’s how he is able to do the things he does in the cold. Then on Wim Hof’s website he says that his method is better than Tumo. How would Wim Hof know that when he didn’t get his cold exposure abilities from his method? Wim Hof got his abilities from practicing Tumo, yet he tells everyone don’t do Tumo, do his method. That’s ridiculous.

          Also, I did hurt my lungs breathing doing Wim’s breathing technique because it’s way to harsh on the a person’s lungs. I was thankful for some yoga techniques I took from Wim’s course because they did help my back out, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have found them for free on Youtube. So I guess I’m not completely upset I spent $200 for his course because it did have some positive benefits.

          Look at this Youtube starting at 2:10. Wim says “I learned Tumo”. Then look at his website where he says “Don’t do Tumo, do my method”.



        3. For starters, Michael Jordan should make the statement that you could play like him in 10 weeks.
          Or write a book telling you how to play just like him and be successful on basketball.
          (Versus, you will learn to play basketball, and feel better because you’re doing some sport)
          And then, you’d have to be silly enough to believe it, and buy the book or the program.
          And maybe then, you could say “Jordan is a fraud”, or maybe, ashamed by your failure, say everybody you spent XX money and now you can play basketball like a pro. But in this specific case you may have to prove it.
          That’s exactly what Hof says. He’s not telling “you will feel better”. He is telling you “control your inmune system and avoid illness”. And I, having a close relative suffering lupus, find that highly disrespectful.

    2. Wait – so your lungs hurt from doing his technique? But wait – I thought what you were doing was “just like what a kid does in a swimming pool.” So which is it? So difficult that an adult (who clearly has no attention span) can injure themselves doing it? Or is it so easy that a “kid can do it in a swimming pool”?

      Yikes. So, this is an example of the type of people decrying Hof’s methods…

      1. I think you are overreacting to Kent’s story. He says he as hurt his longs a bit, at what moment in the course he did not tell. He compared the cold exposure during the first 7 weeks to what kids do in the swimming pool. So you’re are just assuming that he injured himself using the WHM during the first 7 weeks of the training, that does not have to be the case.

  22. I get it. Skepticism is a good thing. I’m with that, provided our minds our open enough to look at both sides of the equation. Your piece, while helpful, only looks at one side, while conveniently ignoring data which confutes your position. At the same time, you seem to be minimizing the scientific data you cite. This isn’t healthy skepticism. It would appear that you came to your conclusions a priori, (which is to taint the well at its source) and then proceeded to cherry pick the data which helps you make your case against the WHM. Whether this was deliberate or an accident, it’s still intellectually disingenuous. I’m reminded of the man who extols the negatives of aerobic exercise without ever having tried it himself. Now it’s my turn to be skeptical: Have you experienced the WHM firsthand? Ever attended one of the many workshops offered by Wim? Ever talked to the countless people who have beaten chronic illness using Wim’s method? I doubt it. And even when Wim offered to talk to you in person to explain what happened on that mountain, you declined and then proceeded to do a hatchet job on him. That’s a pretty low-ball move. No wonder he was pissed. Any normal person’s ire would be raised if they were treated like that. This behavior doesn’t make you a skeptic; it makes you an insufferable little troll. So I’ve got a little challenge for you…if you’re not too much of a coward. Go and talk to the man. Try the WHM for yourself, genius.

    1. So your criticism comes down to two things: first you doubt whether I have tried the WHM myself. Fair enough, I didn’t try it out myself. But why is that a big deal? I looked at the evidence provided by Hof, the science, and I’m quite aware that quite a few people are stating they feel very good using his method. It’s just nonsense that someone can only criticise a method when he as experienced it himself.
      And second: on my reluctance to see Hof in person to talk about what happened in the Kili-expedition, I think I explained that enough in my article and in other comments on this post. He (Hof or Hof’s spokesperson) wasn’t able or willing to point out one single statement in the story when I mailed my reconstruction. They had ample room to comment on it and also after publication, they have not complained about any falsehoods. Enahm Hof even shared the article via Facebook as I wrote in this post.

      1. It seems you have either not understood, or decided to ignore the main criticism (which has nothing to do with the two things you mention):

        “Your piece, while helpful, only looks at one side, while conveniently ignoring data which confutes your position. At the same time, you seem to be minimizing the scientific data you cite. This isn’t healthy skepticism. It would appear that you came to your conclusions a priori, (which is to taint the well at its source) and then proceeded to cherry pick the data which helps you make your case against the WHM. Whether this was deliberate or an accident, it’s still intellectually disingenuous.”

        Perhaps you could take that one on.

        1. I don’t think it is very useful to argue against unsubstantiated criticism, it’s just his opinion.

      2. Have you really spent all this time writing about the guy and not even tried the breathing once?

        1. I don’t see why that’s relevant, I’ve also written about Mars without visiting that planet.

      3. *So your criticism comes down to two things: first you doubt whether I have tried the WHM myself. Fair enough, I didn’t try it out myself. But why is that a big deal?

        It is a big deal, and this not just apply to this particular situation but on ALL situations of life. especially on technical things.

        1. So, you’re just the next in line just stating that it is a big deal without explaining why and why it would have changed my view on the Wim Hof as expressed in my blog?

        2. I guess what’s a big deal to me is: 1. You have not tried the Wim Hof method and you refused (though given the invitation) to meet Wim Hof in person for discussion. You have not attended any of his classes, I presume? So, lets point out firstly that you are not an expert in the Wim Hof method.

          So what are you? Are you a scientist? Is that the specialty that gives you the ability to cherry pick the literature so that you may clearly demonstrate many of the peer-reviewed articles written in SUPPORT of Wim’s claims were actually improperly executed, or perhaps fraudulent or misleading in their claims? (e.g. Small samples sizes; insignificant p-values; lack of clear controls; lack of double-blinding; poor/mis-use of statistics – these are some of the things we scientists typically cite when being critical of a study.) I see you find fault with the fMRI study – I do not blame you there. I don’t care for fMRI studies because they often are only published in support an already accepted mechanism; and even then can easily generate “false positives” in supporting a hypothesis.

          But then I ask myself: Do I want to put a lot of weight on a man’s opinion of the Wim Hof Method (because, lets be clear, what you wrote was oddly biased for the most part considering that your conclusion ultimately was: “actually I don’t see anything wrong with Wim or his method”) when that man is 1. Not a scientist but cherry-picks the literature; 2. Refuses to even try a Wim Hof session, not even for, say, uuuhhh research for this article???; and 3. Refuses to sit down and actually do an interview with Wim (despite Wim extending the invitation – also, isn’t that what journalists do when given the opportunity?? That is to say, actually interview the person about whom they’re writing?).

          Sorry, but all things considered, if you still don’t see any need to perhaps rethink your approach to “researching” your topic of interest, then I can’t say I have any reason to trust your opinion any more than I trust Wim Hof’s Method can cure cancer.

        3. I really find it hard to grasp why you react in this way. To me, it seems as if you read a totally different blog than the one I wrote or the remarks I have made in the comments.

          To start: I didn’t try the WHM myself, but I’ve have repeatedly argued in these comments that that is not a necessary precondition to talk about the method. I’ve not seen a convincing argument to prove me wrong.

          I didn’t accept the invitation by Wim Hof to talk about his Kilimanjaro trip, as he didn’t want to respond to reconstruction I sent to him. Sending him the reconstruction to allow him to comment, is just proper journalistic behaviour, it was his choice to decline the opportunity. The invitation had nothing to do with experiencing the WHM myself.

          Where did I cherry pick the literature? Be concrete. On the fMRI study, I just mentioned (in the comments) that the interpretation is beyond my expertise. What’s your problem with that statement?

          And then you give a quote that is supposed to be my conclusion on the WHM which you just made up. Why?

          You seem to react more emotionally to quite mild criticism on Wim Hof and his method than the man himself. Quite remarkable …

        4. Wouldn’t the sample size of 1 be an anecdote and not data? Feeling better does not mean the body is functioning better. You need objective tests for that. I see the claim about the ph of the blood after the hyperventilation, but I can find no measure much less against a control. Objective data is the only thing to keep our cognitive bias in check.

      4. Trying the method would validate your criticism more effectively. Not that you aren’t allowed, but that what is posited here (your Mars comment in contrast) is an internal reality, not experienceable by others. I know that you’re restricting comments to the measurable scientific findings, but the inner feelings of energy, health, vitality and so forth seem pretty critical to the method.

        Also, the ability to manipulate the immune system does in fact suggest the possibility that far greater controls over the immune system are possible. It seems a very promising area of research for auto-immune diseases, obviously. And even cancer, which some types are autoimmune.

        But as you say, wouldn’t to give anyone hope, would we?

      5. The world is largely subjective, science is one way of making it less so. Try it, and add it to your report. At least you would be seeking as much information as possible, your subjective experience matters.

        1. Subjective experience cannot replace scientific facts. The inner feeling doesn’t count. Subjective feeling is important for people looking to find a meaning to whatever, but are blind to facts.

        2. Now that is truly a confused statement.
          Seems an army of believers turned up in this comment section, categorically uninterested in such banalities as empirical knowledge, daring to ask questions, the medical struggle against certain heinous diseases mentioned above and that of actual debate.
          The need for conspiracies and fast alternative solutions is strong in a tumultuous world.

          Hilarious that some comments discredit the article because the author has not subjected himself to this certain therapy – if all opinion and knowledge only was to be obtained through agnostic experience or mere impulse – then we all are doomed to injecting bleach in the fight against COVID19.
          Roughly speaking this is the level some people want to debate on – while mobilizing some confused seudo-scientific discourse.

          Thanks for keeping it sane in the article.

          And just to finish my rant, .. dear internet folk devoted to your own bodies, anti-elite emotions (not the same thing as anti-authoritarian), personal development and to mindfulness as a means to an end – Why this need to cling on to certain miraculous men and their grand truths .. It’s suggestiveness, placebo, self-confidence inspiring routines and basic breathing exercises, of course there are wonderful effects to this but don’t be afraid to question the generally unsubstantiated holistic fluffiness of it all.

          Lol @ Kent in the comments: let it go man haha – it is senselessly besides the point whether he recognizes Tumo etc. come on

  23. Another thing that cast doubt on Wim Hof’s Method is his consistent habitual lies about learning his method from nature only. Looking at an older History Channel special on Wim Hof we can see Wim Hof saying he learned Tumo from the Himalayan Monks(start at 2:00 in the Altered State – The Iceman – Wim Hof). In more recent interviews you’ll never hear Wim Hof say that he studied Tumo, rather you’ll hear him say “I learned my techniques from nature” as if he made them up himself. That consistent, habitual lie does lead me to believe he has the capability to boldly lie. It brings into question everything he says in my view.

    Also, if you visit his website you’ll see numerous stories of people who have tried his method and have been getting sick more, getting tinnitus and ear issues(which cold can cause because of increased blood pressure), injured from his yoga practices and breathing technique and more problems.


    Start at 3:50 and end at 6:00 to see Wim Hof saying “I just made this breathing method and stuff up all by myself” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZaT0KUziq4

      1. I just logged in didn’t see any stores of people getting sick and injured on the first 4 clicks of “more”.

        Your comment seems pretty dishonest implying that it is filled with such stories.

    1. One more thing to add is if you watch Wim Hof’s history channel video he says that he studied Tumo. Then you see him exercising and meditating in a meat locker. He doesn’t teach these things in his course. So it’s safe to say he’s not teaching you to get where he is since he’s not teaching you what he did to get where he is.

    1. The programme only describes the research that was done on Wim Hof himself, not even the more interesting research that Pickkers en Kox did after that with volunteers who were instructed in the method (and a control group), which I mention in my article. So I’m a bit confused why you think it might change my view on Wim Hof, my article is in fact more up-to-date.

  24. I would like to know why Wim Hof says raising adrenaline is a good thing for all people? I believe I’ve had adrenal fatigue and from what I understand it’s a bad thing to raise adrenaline when you have adrenal fatigue. I tried his breathing method and I already noticed that tell tail sign of asthma later on after my adrenaline dropped. I used to get that asthma feeling really bad at night if I drank a cup of coffee earlier in the day. I’m pretty sure it’s because when adrenaline raises it opens up the air ways in the lungs. So it’s natural to assume what goes up must go down. When the adrenaline goes down you get the opposite, your air ways close down. That’s one reason I’m skeptical of Wim Hof’s method.

    Also, I’ve been practicing a breathing technique I made up for the last 10 years. I would say the technique combined with light exercise, qi gong exercise, self massage and lots of other stress relief stuff has made it to where I don’t get cold and flu anymore, I haven’t in 7 years. And I don’t do any cold showers either. My exercise is very simple too. I lay down on my back on the ground, breath in and out my mouth 5 minutes, breath in through my nose and out my mouth 5 minutes and finish by breathing in and out my mouth 5 minutes. I do this exercise every 2-3 hrs. Wim Hof says it doesn’t matter what hole you get the oxygen in through, but I think he’s scientifically wrong. If you breath in through your nose you get a release of nitric oxide from your sinuses into your body. It’s very important that you get it because it helps your immune system. Also, nitric oxide helps increase your ability to get oxygen in your body. My theory is get the energy in your body and it’ll go where it needs to go.

      1. All I know is a 1/2 teaspoon of salt with some vitamin C makes me feel great when I’m fatigued. It’s much better than a cup of coffee and doesn’t leave me with any down feeling afterwards. I encourage those here reading this to try it next time they feel fatigued(assuming you don’t have any high blood pressure or other heart health issues).

        1. Also, science hasn’t proven it to not exist.

          To our knowledge, this is the first systematic review made by endocrinologists to examine a possible correlation between the HPA axis and a purported “adrenal fatigue” and other conditions associated with fatigue, exhaustion or burnout. So far, there is no proof or demonstration of the existence of “AF”. While a significant number of the reported studies showed differences between the healthy and fatigued groups, important methodological issues and confounding factors were apparent. Two concluding remarks emerge from this systematic review: (1) the results of previous studies were contradictory using all the methods for assessing fatigue and the HPA axis, and (2) the most appropriate methods to assess the HPA axis were not used to evaluate fatigue. Therefore, “AF” requires further investigation by those who claim for its existence.


    1. That’s a video from years before the group climbs I discuss in my article. Just check the publication date on YouTube.

      1. So what if they all didn’t make it the top of the mountain?

        Look how far they did make it – amateur climbers at best wearing NOTHING BUT SHORTS!!

        Have you looked at how many professional, vastly experienced climbers in top physical health, suited up in professional climbing gear and clothing, plus O2 tanks, who also didn’t make it to the top, or even as far as a bunch of mostly average people wearing nothing but shorts?
        No, because if you added that information then your article would promote that something in the Wim Hof group was statistically different.
        How can one call it quackery when you compare the two groups?
        Quackery would suppose that the Wim Hof group would most likely have expired from exposure, had they not actually achieved the remarkable.

        What would happen if you took all those pro climbers and asked them to get to the same point on the mountain as the Wim Hof group.

        What do you think that story would look like? What do you think the scientific data on vitals would look like compared to the guys wearing the shorts?

        You are a cherry picking troll as someone else pointed out.

        If the human race needs motivation and hope, let’s hope you don’t ever get asked to help.
        Even better, let’s hope Elon Musk sends you off to Mars so you can begin your critique on how impossible life there is – yet it will happen, of course after you are dead and your article legacy makes you look stupid and close-minded.

        1. You don’t need “professional climbing gear and clothing, plus O2 tanks” to climb Kilimanjaro, it’s just a long walk up to the top. Therefore, the rest of your comment makes no sense.

  25. I believe that WIM HOF’s breathing methods was one of the main reasons why I caught Pneumonia. 🙁

    Before I used his methods I was really healthy, when I started practising it my health went down hill and eventually found out i had servere pneumonia and was hospitalized and luckily survived.

    I dont doubt it works, but for some people it is dangerous. Especially if you live in the city where the air isnt clean.

    I played myself… but im here to tell the tale. x


  26. You write: “The ideas of Buteyko (1923-2003) we can safely file under quackery.” However, it is my understanding that only practises, not ideas, can be considered quackery. If I read the reference [1] associated with the quackery-of-ideas claim, it actually provides evidence of effectivity of the Buteyko breathing method in reducing symptoms and bronchodilator use. I think Lewis Wolpert famous quote is lots of scientific progress is made based on wrong ideas. So as long as a practise can withstand experimental scrutiny (which is still under serious scientific debate it seems), whether or not the underlying idea is “quackery” is not so important.

    1. Ah, you refer to the Dutch article for this quote on Buteyko. In that article, I point out that his method seems to benefit people with asthmatic attacks, but that that seems to be a lucky shot by Buteyko. His ideas make no sense, I call it quackery.

      1. Biological sciences are full of scientists who follow completely wrong ideas and yet make useful discoveries, so from my personal perspective I would be milder towards Buteyko. By the way, the exact quote from Wolpert is: “[scientific] progress can be based on incorrect but productive ideas.” (Evolution of the cell theory, L. WOLPERT, 1995). Whether or not Buteyko’s breathing method is (or will be) productive you can argue about. I note that there is quite an industry emerging on the “oxygen advantage” (Patrick McKeown) method in sports, which I believe (still need to read this book) is somehow inspired by Buteyko.

      2. As someone who experienced significant reduction of asthma symptoms using the Butyeko ‘method’ I feel you have missed the point. The theory of why this method has worked for thousands of asthmatics – is just that – a theory, as Maarten Fornerod writes. The Science Based Medicine (quite a conceit in that name) article attacks the theory – fine, no problem there, that’s how science works – but completely misses the point about Buteyko. The SBM article was written in response to a New York Times article on Buteyko written by health editor Jane Brody. Brody disclaims that she never writes about so-called ‘alternative’ modalities but had to make an exception with Butyeko because a close friend of hers with severe asthma made considerable recovery with Buteyko. Buteyko’s theory is that CO2 is the mechanism. Forget the theory; explain the results. The SBM writer has missed the point: failing to explain the improvement Brody’s friend experienced. Why do asthmatics (and sleep apnics, pulmonary hypertension, panic disorder, etc) experience significant reduction of symptoms with Buteyko? Or is it really about discrediting something that works better than mainstream asthma drugs (which the research shows actually only serve to deepen asthma symptoms over time). You may argue that the purpose of the SBM article is to address the theory,
        not the results of the method. Fine. I don’t accept their conclusions as reliable, or even sincere. Haven’t they missed the point of medicine which is to heal?

  27. How about you get your details right before you write an article? And who the fuck are you anyways to judge whether such method is real or bs?

    The tests on his brother sayd the following: “He does not have the same or similar brown fat level as Wim, he cannot withstand cold similarly to Wim”

    , even if his brother can stay in the cold more than the average human, Wim’s body temperature stays constant, or he can consciously higher it, that’s the special part you pseudointelectual, I can freaking withstand cold longer than the average people sometimes, without doing any kind of special breathing technique, it’s a relative thing and it’s connected to sheer will, but I can’t stay in freezing water & etc without WH Technique.

    It’s one to be a sceptic, and one to be a sceptic who doesn’t know what he is talking about.

    1. You give this as a quote:

      “He does not have the same or similar brown fat level as Wim, he cannot withstand cold similarly to Wim”

      I don’t know where you found this. The scientific article by Van Marken Lichtenbelt et al. gives this under ‘Discussion’:

      The present study investigated the metabolic and insulative responses during mild cold in the so called ‘Iceman’, who has a lifestyle with frequent exposure to extreme cold, and in his monozygotic twin brother who is not frequently exposed to these extreme conditions. It was hypothesized that the Iceman would have a greater CIT and BAT activity. However, we found comparable CIT, BAT activity, and vasoconstriction in the extremities (hand and toe) during mild cold exposure and a slightly lower skeletal muscle mitochondrial proton leak in the Iceman compared to his twin brother.

      BTW if you want to keep commenting on my blog, I suggest that you use less offensive language, I will delete comments formulated like this one.

      1. According to the scientific article in which brown fat, etch were tested Wim’s brother used a similar breathing method, the one from which Wim derived his method. It is called tummo breathing, I believe. Wim’s twin, in essence, uses the same breathing technique, just not the other stuff of Wim fame.

        1. In the experiment, both brothers used this breathing technique, but if I interpret the article correctly Wim’s brother is only familiar with it, he doesn’t practise it in his daily life.

      2. Can’t take criticism but are happy to dish it out?

        Why not be a bit more open minded and try it out yourself.

        1. If I wouldn’t be able to take criticism, why would I allow ciritical comments on my blog? I replied on the content of his remark and made it clear that his views are welcome as long as those can be stated in decent language.

    2. Bogdan, sorry to say, but your language is inadequate … No judge, but it simply not the full You, that You can be 😉

      Take care!

  28. To preface: I do not practice this method, but know a few people who started a couple months ago and have completely changed their life around since being inspired by this method. (not a direct correlation to the method, but with a change in ideas, a change in lifestyle comes soon enough)

    In the interview quoted from L1, I have a real problem with the way the reporter persistently asked Wim if he thinks the method cures cancer. Wim’s first three words were “No, absolutely not…” then the reporter continues to circle back to that question until it seems like Wim is lost in his ideas. In that interview, it clearly seems like Wim believes that it COULD cure fatal diseases on a case by case basis, but he never claims that his method is a miracle cure, or that it works for every person.
    The Wim Hof Method is simply something that has benefited many other and because it has, spreading the method (with the proper precautions, of course) can only help, so long as a middle-man party doesn’t tout it as a miracle cure and misrepresent its effectiveness.

    1. Absolutely I had the same problem wit the interviewer, he asneered the question cright away and after he had moved on they tried to imply that he was avoiding it.
      Having worked in herbalism and the health industry in customer service I would frequently have customers (several a day) demanding concrete answers like this. We are not allowed by law (without becoming an ND) to make claims that herbs, food, suppliments or techniques will cure a disease. Even after explaining this, people will get very angry and I had a customer yell at me that I shouldn’t ‘live in fear’ and hung up only to keep calling back looking for someone who would make this claim.

    2. Yea absolutely; I noticed this too. Shows a lack of honesty on the part of the interview; he would rather have a “gotcha” soundbite of “Wim Hof says his breathing technique cures cancer – quack”, as opposed to the truth which is “Wim’s method shows definitively that the nervous and immune systems can be voluntarily modulated, but when asked if it could cure diseases such as cancer, Wim says that it’s plausible, but would certainly need to be validated by scientific research.” The author of this article also falls victim to ad hominem fallacies in this article; hardly becoming of a so-called skeptic.

      1. The interviewer just did his job properly: getting straight answers from a man who leaves a lot of wiggle room in his answers. Hof makes a lot of fuss around this ‘scientific breakthrough’ which in the end might be a rather useless phenomenon if you look at it from a health perspective.

        The author of this article also falls victim to ad hominem fallacies in this article; hardly becoming of a so-called skeptic.

        That’s easy to write down in a comment, but can you be more specific: give the quotes in the article which you consider unjustified ad hominem attacks.

        1. “I guess that most people who are critical of Hof (or even call him a quack) are worried that he gives false hope to patients with serious diseases. Although Hof is aware of this and states in his book that he definitely doesn’t want to do this, it is hard not to get the impression that Hof has difficulties to keep his enthusiasm and optimism about the possible effects of his methods restrained”

          I’d consider that misinterpretation. Considering Wim started the conversation with a hard no and once asked the fourth time said that it could be a possibility with scientific proof but this is what his team has achieved thus far. The interviewer is badgering him and it was definitely overboard. That isn’t good work on his part at all.

    3. I have practised that method for a year now and had amazing results. Not been sick for a long time, much stronger an fitter and I’m even able to do the splits now at the age of 49 without much practise. Most of all, I’m much more tolerant to cold water and low temperatures than I ever was before. I also noticed that with some practise, most of my inflammations have all but disappeared.
      However, I agree with the author of this article that perhaps it’s counterproductive in the long run to interfere with the immune system in that way. I am a scientist by profession (not medical though), so it’s interesting to me to perform this experiment myself. So far it’s been amazing but I am still a bit sceptical. Even though Wim Hof shows quick results with people within days, I found from my own practise that it took me about 6month until I felt that “I’m getting it”.
      I don’t think it’s healthy that the author of the above article calls the method “quackery” because Wim Hof mentions ‘grounding’. As a scientist I prefer to focus on the things that work and make sense and ignore the rest if I feel that it does not add anything to the thesis rather than entirely focussing on the weakness. We all well know by now that even the peer-reviewed community has a reproducibility crisis. It would be nice if everything was more clear-cut than this but it isn’t.
      Wim Hof is not a scientist himself, so I think the occasional “slip” should be forgiven. I’m eager to see more research coming out on the subject.

      1. I don’t call the method ‘quackery’, I prefer to use that term for more clear-cut cases like ‘grounding’. That’s why I wrote:

        So far my impression of the Wim Hof Method is not too bad and I would really hesitate to call it quackery.

        1. I’m going to add a thought here on the “quackery” of grounding. Just because something isn’t able to be shown in a laboratory setting that it works better than a placebo, by no means should it get the quackery stamp. I think health and wellness is very much rooted in nature and that modern medical science hasn’t even scratched the surface of understanding the functions and relationships intertwined in living things and our environment. Does it not seem right, that as a species who evolved walking barefoot on this earth, that there could be a benefit to doing that? A benefit that we just can’t pin down exactly, or measure in a lab? (this is not to say grounding shouldn’t be scrutinized, because i understand there are harms from doing it around existing electrical currents, but the general point still stands).

          Another related case is “forest bathing” aka walking around in the woods which was recently discovered to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of wellbeing. If you think about it, a lot of things have probably been called quackery before all-mighty science proved it was indeed helpful.

          I think this is a huge problem these days, we have forgotten our own sense of what is right for ourselves, our intuition and innate compasses, and instead just trust everything to “science” to show us the way.


        2. In my opinion you have to make a clear distinction between claims on health and claims that ‘just’ refer to wellness. As long as you say that walking barefoot could make you feel better, I won’t have a problem with that. But when people start claiming that the stuff Clint Ober made up is real, that’s just madness. But I you want to discuss earthing I suggest you do that on the blog of Steven Novella I link to in the text, because it doesn’t really seem to matter that much to Wim Hof himself and isn’t part of his method.

        3. > I don’t call the method ‘quackery’,

          Yes, you do, its in the tags of your article, you have a subsection “The quackery” and a comment saying “I call it quackery” at 24/07/2017 at 7:45 pm.

          What a weak argument.

        4. That was in reply to a comment on the Buteyko method! You obviously missed that. And for the ‘quackery’ tag: I discuss some of the things in the book that are clearly quackery. On the WHM I state: “I would really hesitate to call it quackery”. I think you should reread the article and the comments.

      2. I agree, very well balanced comment. Wim is not scientist and he can deviate, he can be optimistic and so on. Not everything he says should be quoted as granted. Even he in a modest way says, he is just a man, or at least I have the feeling out of his appearance.
        One strong comment though. More detailed and updated scientific reseach is much of a need. I think Innerfire should realise that and I shall mention that on the Advanced course which I will participate in July 2017.

    4. I have been doing the method for 6 months now and have noticed immense changes in my physiology and health, both measurable and by feel. Granted, it does not mean it works for everybody. BUT, as far as cancer and many incurable diseases, this method holds a lot of promise because most diseases are caused by inflammation or the underlying causes of inflammation. And this method directly reduces inflammation (documented in the PNAS study and ask anybody that uses the method), so it really does help or cure many of these diseases.

      There are alternative treatments and studies that back this up. Most types of cancer prefers sugar as its fuel source. So by switching the body to a keto diet, one can deprive cancer of its fuel source while still providing fuel for the body (body fat). A few days before chemotherapy, intermittent fasting further starves the cancer cells and puts the body further into ketosis. On the day of chemotherapy, placing the patient in a pressurized chamber to force oxygen into the blood creates hyperoxia (or do breathing exercises), which will make it harder for cancer cells to divide and spread. Combining all this together, it can reduce the side effects of chemotherapy and reduce the chances of remission. You can break these steps up to find published studies for each of these theories/experiments.

      Just because these methods are not mainstream enough for proper statistics and its success rate is not 100% does not mean that it does not work, it may very well already work better than conventional treatments. And if so, needs more studies and scrutiny, not dismissal. I understand that this review is mostly based on his book and from an earlier time, a time when the method is still finding its voice. The Wim Hof group is expanding everyday and new studies on Wim is still ongoing to show new benefits and potential of the method. I think things are serious enough to drop any bickering and foul language. This method needs an updated review in the coming years (after the hype dies down, if it ever does) for fairness’ sake as many people are continuing to benefit from it for a wide range of situations. At the very least, this method deserves a high recommendation as there are no real downsides. There are other methods that work too, but this one seems the most accessible and well understood/studied.

      Seriously, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. You’re missing out on some major health benefits that probably does prevent/delay many aging and autoimmune diseases. Which makes sense, there’s no way the birds and critters in your backyard can withstand sleeping out in the cold of winter all their lives and we can’t even survive a 10 minute cold shower. And precisely because most of us would not, our immune system shows it.

      1. I think you have to read up a bit on what inflammation is and what its use is in your body. What the PNAS study showed is that a specific process of the immune system can be influenced, but that doesn’t mean that this is good to in all circumstances. It might be interesting in cases where the immune system is overreacting.

        Your comments on treating cancer with a ketogenic diet are quite off topic here, it has nothing to do with the WHM. I suggest you read this article on that matter: Ketogenic diet does not “beat chemo for almost all cancers”, which puts the claims around this ketogenic diets into perspective.

        1. I was also wondering about inflammation and the WHM as it pertains to free radicals in the body. I’m probably looking at this too simplistically, but wouldn’t prolonged hyperventilation draw more oxygen into the body, producing more cell oxidation, and therefore more free radicals? Aren’t free radicals suppose to be a contributor to ageing and cancer?

      2. I am currently practicing WHM – I did the 10 week course – and I am following the Facebook group and the posts in the Wim Hof Community.
        Many of the explanations and theories that are mentioned there are – at the least – just wrong, or even worse, wild speculations and interpretations of what Hof said.
        Detox and curing cancer, PTSD and autoimmune disease being the most popular ones. The criticism I have is that Hof does not go up against that, nor does anyone of his team.
        The other criticism is that Hof himself makes wrong statements about what happens in the body during Hyperventilation. In his defence: he is not a scientist or a doctor.
        It still would be good if he could get the facts right.
        Hyperventilation will neither increase the pO2 (partial pressure of oxygen) nor the oxygen saturation of the haemoglobin (carrier molecule for oxygen) by much. The partial pressure depends on the atmospheric pressure and oxygen content of the atmosphere and will only minimally change on hyperventilation. The oxygen saturation is 98 – 100% in healthy individuals. Again, there is not a lot extra (if any) to be achieved with hyperventilation – 100% remains 100%…
        The main effects of hyperventilation are related to the strongly decreased pCO2 (carbondioxide levels) in the blood. This causes alkalosis which again changes the concentrations of certain minerals (mainly calcium) in the blood followed by other physiological changes.
        All the lightheadedness, tingling and cramping sensations are consequences of these – and not of increased oxygen levels.
        After 10 weeks I can not detect any spectacular effects in my body, mind or spirit. I might feel a bit calmer and more focused. I can do more push ups, which can easily be a result of permanently doing them.
        I still have colds (maybe they are less severe than in previous winters? Not sure.)
        Maybe I haven’t trained long enough, maybe I haven’t pushed myself enough? Although I followed the course by the letter.
        So far the benefits of WHM are only anecdotal, meaning reported by individuals but not proven in trials involving dozens or even hundreds of people. There is no proof that WHM can cure or prevent any disease. I am happy for the people where it did help. However, many medical conditions can flare up and become better by themselves, so again our limited egocentric perception can trick us.
        There might be a strong reporting bias too: mainly the ones who have benefits will enthusiastically report them. The ones with no benefits will probably not make much noise.
        Don’t get me wrong: I think there is something to WHM and I will further practice and explore it. I am just uncomfortable with all these speculations, that get the hopes up and avoid people to seek professional help. Wim Hof should set things right and bring people back down to earth.

  29. To the oncologists and other highly critical people: Mr. Hof has always been reluctant to make claims that are not true. He is also a person who has discovered something important. You skeptics want a cure for cancer? Do you? Well then don’t serve habits that create cancer in the body and practise up to date prevention methods that are virtually COMPULSORY today. Reversing cancer once it takes hold is a nightmare for any doctor. It’s exactly like putting tooth paste back in the tube. Sure Wim has the imagination to see that strengthening the immune system could cure cancer but what I believe we are seeing in the Hof Method is a great tool to aid us in what we REALLY NEED TO BE DOING and that is PRACTISING PREVENTION! So while you guys are hating and throwing poo at Wim and at each other why not participate in the science here that actually helps people in the prevention of these diseases!

    I have been practising the Wim Hof method for ten weeks. I’m finding remarkable changes in my body, emotions and intellect. All Mr. Hof is saying is that we have been able to penetrate the second and third level of the immune system by going into the brain where we have never been before. Normally we can’t get into the second and third layer. Hof says: “We now have the key to the second and third layer of the non specific and specific adaptive immune system.” This allows us to look at disease in a different way. Tapping into the innate immune system up until now was not possible until Hof had nine people do so within 15 minutes. They talk about resetting the immune system. Not about curing cancer. So you guys who criticise Mr. Hof so brutally and pedantically may soon be eating your own words. While you sould smart and love the sound of your own voice, let me tell you this method has helped me dramatically.

    The Wim Hof method is like a shield for prevention and healing but it may be a superstar for prevention while it may be only moderately helpful in healing. Invaders like cancers are wildly different. They mutate and change wildly both in form and type. To restore the balance within then becomes a great challenge. Honest oncologists will tell you the statistics about how “effective” chemo and radiation are. Nobody has a cure for cancer that works. But we do have tools for prevention that are stellar. Nobody has to get sick as often as they might have if they did not start down the path of compulsory prevention methods.

    I have great respect for all healers. But when judgemental people enter the discussion with fog-horn like “doctoral” disdain it brings the tone of the quality of the discussion into the limitations of their own training and paradigm of their culture of medicine. This is understandable and not unexpected from main-stream medical practitioners who may believe they have received top notch medical training. Many of the have but this by no means suggests that they medical school trained physicians have think they have the game under control cancer continues to increase attacking one out of three people in 2015 when the numbers were one in twenty in 1971. I suppose what I’m saying is those in glass houses should not throw stones.

    Any prevention method that works to amp up our defenses is most welcome and will find it’s way into my permanent tool box. Wim Hof has developed a wonderful discipline and daily practice for people interested in maintaining their health and increasing their athletic performance. Lets leave the heavy criticism to the men and women at the universities where his work is being studied. Thank you.

    1. Lack of agreement does not make people your enemy: and this is how you are addressing skeptics; as enemies. This also makes you sound like an uncritical acolyte of Mr Hof.

  30. My mom has stage four cancer. We have her on a strong protocol but would love to implement a breathing technique that can help her immune system and increase oxygen on a cellular level (cancer is anaerobic).

    I messaged a breathing coach about Wim Hof vs. Buteyko to hear his advice. This is what he wrote back. Would love to hear anyone’s advice and if there’s evidence backing up one technique vs the other for cancer.

    “I think you should do a little reading about hyperventilation, which is what Wim Hof’s method is. From the Buteyko perspective it is absolutely not what your mother should be doing. Hyperventilating ‘blows off’ carbon dioxide. This will hamper aerobic metabolism. See the haemoglobin dissociation curve https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen%E2%80%93hemoglobin_dissociation_curve
    and the Bohr Effect.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohr_effect

    Simply, low carbon dioxide means less oxygen delivered to the cells of the body. Hyperventilating does not ‘load-up’ the blood with oxygen. Respiratory physiology doesn’t work that way. People who attempt to hold their breath for a very long time underwater will hyperventilate before. This blows off carbon dioxide and then the brain loses it signal to breathe. Carbon dioxide guides breathing in low activity. So by blowing off carbon dioxide they can stay underwater for a very long time because nothing is signalling the brain to breathe. This is very dangerous. Those going for world records are having their heart rate monitored. If they pass out they pull them out of the water. People trying this at their local swimming pool have drowned which is why this practiced is banned from public pools in Canada and the US.

    Wim Hof may be ok for very healthy people. But in the long run I doubt it. If your mother hyperventilates she will start to feel bad very quickly. See Forced Hyperventilation Provocation http://www.normalbreathing.com/learn-1A-HVPT-test.php

    You would be supporting anaerobic metabolism with hyperventilation, not lessening it.

    I hope this is helpful”

    1. hmm, interesting point of view, but too broad to be precise in case of your mother and all using this breathing technique.
      It is all true about ratio of CO2 and O2 during breathing and that it is a type of hyperventilation.
      It is all true that in a long term time, this disballance would be bad for the body.

      The point, which many of us are missing, I think, is what this method is about. It is about exposing our bodies to some extreme factors (for short time) :
      1. Exposing to temporary lack of oxygen, creating stress
      2. Exposing to extreme cold, again stress
      3. doing some exercise, again you do micro damage to your musscle tissue ( then it repairs and so strengthens you 🙂 )
      If you go through Wim Hof World carefully, use your own feeling plus some knowledge, you sense that we need to put ourselves under those stresses from time to time.
      The system in use works good, the one not used deteriorates.
      So simple 🙂

    2. The butekyo folks think there is never any reason breath deeply, ever. They typically attack other methods as if they understand them, when in fact they don’t practice and don’t study yogic pranayama techniques at all and speak from total ignorance. WHM hyperventilation is followed by breath retention, which restores the CO2, and leads quite naturally to the very reduced breathing advocated by the Butekyo folks. That being said, I don’t believe their is any claim by WHM folks to cure those who are already very sick. No authentic yoga instructor would recommend Bhastrika for such people. Strong pranayamas are for the healthy, not the infirm.

  31. Just like Hatha Yoga’s pranyama deep breathing, the Wim breathing exercise can have almost instant effect. Iron clad imperical science? Perhaps not, but the gentleman has many impressive feats under his belt.

  32. I am an actual cancer doctor and scientist and must commend the author on his cautious skepticism of wim hof. He does not claim that breathing/meditation doesn’t help people (centuries of people have engaged in meditation which has been shown to lower stress), but that curing disease is an entirely different issue. Wim is no different than Buddhist monks who are able to be lit on fire or balance on spears without getting skewered. However, wim said he started meditation at the age of 16, which means he has spent decades training his mind. Yes everyone can do it, but are you willing to quit your job and do nothing but breathe for 40-50 years? Training for 10 weeks will reduce your stress levels, but it won’t cure disease.

    What’s more, if you carefully read the PNAS article that claims he can control the ANS consciously, you’ll notice they replaced 3 healthy participants because their cytokine levels were lower than expected after endotoxin injection and was. assumed to be an issue with the ampuole. This is called cherry picking and means they were not impartial, but rather had an agenda. They never proved this anomaly was a dosing issue although they could have easily checked the lot number and asked the manufacturer. Maybe those 3 healthy ppl had something that actually explained the reduced cytokine production, but we will never know bc they were biased. Moreover, it was not double blinded, which means the doctors DID know who was getting toxin and probably influenced the results. Finally, it was not an intention to treat analysis which does NOT make it a real RCT.

    Now before you go complaining that his marketing is harmless and helps people, I’d like to posit that his unwillingness to say his method does NOT cure cancer (the question on the website is a video of him handwaving explanations instead of “i don’t know”) IS harmful because it gives people false hope. I see cancer patients who come to me after trying meditation, marijuana, insulin potentiation therapy, Reiki, veganism, photo dynamic therapy, bicarbonate water drinking and a whole host of other expensive alternative therapies that dont work. These vague claims are harmful because its preying on a vulnerable population desperate for cure. I dont mind if you say his method helps de-stress after a long day of work, but even claiming it MIGHT cure disease without any real evidence is lying.

    Before you say its some kind of conspiracy to keep me employed, i’d like to emphasize that I want to cure cancer because I’m tired of watching people die horrible deaths–that’s why i went into medical research and I’m willing to admit there is a tremendous amount we don’t know. However, rather than giving up on rigorous studies that hold us all to a higher standard, we need it more than ever. Win says his his methods increases your resilience so you can handle the hard things in life. Well, searching for the truth is one of them and we cannot turn away from this hard task in favor of an “easy” solution.

    1. Hello Mary,
      “These vague claims are harmful because it’s preying on a vulnerable population desperate for a cure”
      Mentions of false hope?
      Where does this harm occur in learning how to breathe deeper and connect with yourself. If anything, for myself, doing this practise has made me more accepting of death. I’ve been doing this breathing method for a few years now and how a session makes you feel is quite the opposite of harmful. The dopamine release is wonderful. The clarity to thought happens every time. I just feel like this scolding of Wim, and concluding by calling it false hopes is irrationally scepticism, considering what he has discovered and published for physiological science. The guy has proven something quite remarkable, yet you throw the wet blanket over it all? I think encouraging the possibilities of what this method could achieve is a most important point to make. Keep optimism in the air.

    2. Mary wrote, “I see cancer patients who come to me after trying meditation, marijuana, insulin potentiation therapy, Reiki, veganism, photo dynamic therapy, bicarbonate water drinking and a whole host of other expensive alternative therapies that dont work.”

      You seem to be trying to bias alternative approaches by over generalizing them that they are expensive and don’t work.

      Several of the above practices are NOT expensive whatsoever. Meditation is not expensive, veganism is not expensive, and neither is bicarbonate water drinking (baking soda in water).

      It’s clear that you have bias and are promoting your own bias when you write in such a manner.

      The problem with studies and medical research is that they are expensive and because there is such a bias against alternative practices, theories, and modalities–there is a lack of studies and research on these. It’s a catch 22. Skeptics say, “give us your supporting studies and research”, but there is a dearth of same for the previously mentioned reasons.

      This is not even getting into the corporate and profit aspects, and the manipulation that the former does in influencing the entire system including the educational, political, advertisement, etc.

      1. Well, maybe reiki and meditation are not expensive (a vegan diet I think is slightly more expensive than a diet without restrictions), but I don’t think that is Mary’s main point. And there have been numerous studies by alternative practitioners who believe in these approaches, but the results are just not there. For a lot of these ‘therapies’, there isn’ t even a rational theory explaining why it might work. If there was a plausible theory, I’m sure you would find researchers willing to do experiments. The first stages of research don’t cost an awful lot of money.

  33. Thanks to Pepijn for the balanced article about the book.

    I just skimmed the german translation of the Wim Hof/Koen de Jong book. I am very disappointed. I have experience with breathing techniques, certain meditation techniques, swimming in cold water and diet. If this sounds like something special it shouldn’t. These things are common to many people. Think of the Kneip bathing techniques for example. I bought the book because I thought it could be a source to learn more about what I would call, for lack of a better term, auto manipulation of the psycho-physical system. The book does not help at all in this regard. Instead Koen de Jong buries what might be useful in the WHM-system under a lot of terrible esoteric tripe. Instead of asking good questions which could help to explain further some very interesting features a human can achieve Koen de Jong gives false answers in speculating about stuff like, for example, earthing. At last it is suggested everything from piles to cancer could be bettered or even healed by WHM and de Jong’s esotericism.

    The real good question would be how the interaction (if at all) of breathing techniques, certain meditation techniques (that is techniques of pure a cognitive kind), dietary techniques (e.g. intermittent fasting) plus techniques to expose the body to certain extremes would give positive results in regard of better resilience, higher stress tolerance, better over all health etc.

    The book goes to the opposite end: More esoteric lore, less material evidence (although it tries to look differently). Sadly Wim Hof and his supporters seem to fall prey to the temptation to become the one and only who found the one cure for every decease.

  34. It seems you misrepresented the facts from the PNAS study, you cited:

    ” ‘In the intervention group, plasma levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 increased more rapidly after endotoxin administration, correlated strongly with preceding epinephrine levels, and were higher. Levels of proinflammatory mediators TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-8 were lower in the intervention group and correlated negatively with IL-10 levels.’
    In lay terms: the hyperventilation reduces the normal response of the body to the endotoxin. This would not be generally worthwhile, because the body is now acting less aggressive against the invasion of something it wants to get rid off. But there are cirumstances where this might be actual beneficial. However, whether this is anything more than a interesting scientific fact remains to be seen. Pickkers and Kox emphasize that this experiment was done with healthy volunteers and has only proven that a short term effect can be obtained. Suggesting that this might lead to an effective treatment for people who suffer from an overacting immune system is pure speculation.”

    Here, the article indicates an increased amount of anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. Meaning there was an increased response from the immune system. The proinflammatory levels were lower, and negatively correlated with the anti-inflammatory. That is an effective immune system. – So I’m confused why you described it, “in lay terms” as the opposite.

    After all you’ve written about this guy and you didn’t even oblige for coffee.

      1. With all due respect, no. Inflammation means inflammation, there is no “case-by-case” use of the word. I must agree with Alex above, and Hannes below.

        IL-10 is an anti-inflammatory cytokine, considered a master regulator with multiple effects on various cells of the immune system. In this case, the experimental subjects had an increased robust anti-inflammatory response to the endotoxin, with a relatively decreased pro-inflammatory response. In lay terms, this means the immune system of the subjects trained by Wim had a more measured, “intelligent” response to the endotoxin if you will–it decreased the cytokines that cause people to feel sick with aches, fever, chills and the like; it up-regulated at least one master cytokine to prevent the immune system from unnecessary over-reaction to a foreign toxin. Response by a normal untrained subject to endotoxin would result in fever, low blood pressure, and even shock and death. So to say that this is not generally useful is inaccurate.


        I have no affiliations with you or Wim Hof, but am a medical scientist interested to learn more about how his techniques may benefit patients in general. I just learned of him recently.

        I appreciate you taking the time to contact and interview those who participated on the trip, to reveal that he has more brown fat, and to make other such helpful inquiries. It’s important to know the validity of his claims.

        Similarly, it is equally important that you take the time to fact check and make sure you understand the words you use in your articles, to prevent careless misrepresentation which would falsely damage a person’s reputation.

        The title of your article “cold trickery” implies that Wim Hof did this to trick others. From the little I know of him from research, I do not believe that to be true. I find it disingenous that you say in your aticle that you have a relatively good impression of him and that the “quackery” is mostly from claims made by his co-authors, yet you still choose to label him as a trickster. This reveals your bias, unfortunately.

        I agree with Hanne below–I also came here to participate in objective discourse about Wim Hof and possible mechanisms, and found your judgments to be unfounded and unfair.

        Mr. Hof has figured out a way to consciously alter some aspects of the autonomic nervous system. This deserves a more thorough scientific analysis as to mechanisms by way this is achieved, how soon do these changes take place in average people (not motivated athletes of all ages) and whether practice of his methods can alter the course of disease.

        My (very long) 0.02 cents.

        1. 1. I didn’t mean that inflammation means different things in different case, maybe I could have formulated that (quick) comment more precisely. The point is that I got the impression that Alex thinks that an increase of just any substance that plays a role in the immune response is beneficial and helps to ‘fight’ off an inflammation more easily, while these substances play different roles. For this article I didn’t plan to go really deep into this, because I’m not an expert and anybody who would be really interested in the details can read the Pickkers-Kox article themselves.

          2. The reponse of the trained subjects was only more “intelligent” when you take into account that this was not a living endotoxin producing bacteria. I’m not quite sure what would happen if you would exercise the breathing techniques while being injected with the real nasty stuff. When I talked to Pickkers about this study I have asked him about this and he agreed that it might be counterproductive in that case, or also not a very good idea to try when your immune system is not functioning very well. So where I wrote “This would not be generally worthwhile” I mean you can’t extrapolate this find to all sort of health issues where the immune system plays a role (as Hof and many of his followers do regularly).

          3. On ‘trickery’: I am aware that in most(?) uses it has a negative connotation in English, but the same is with the Dutch word ‘kunstje’. Considering Hof’s behaviour and reporting of his Kilimanjaro trip and the other issues, I don’t think it is too unfair to use it the way I did. I’m not a native English speaker, so there is a possibility that I made a misjudgment here, but you are the first to express having issues with it. I certainly do not state that he is a trickster and deceives people on purpose.

    1. “After all you’ve written about this guy and you didn’t even oblige for coffee.”
      It’s always easier to criticize from afar.
      That said, as a Wim Hof ‘believer’, I don’t find the tone of this article to be harsh or emotional. It’s always nice to see that people are trying to get to the very bottom of the facts. In my understanding though, Wim Hof’s methods works because of factors which still remain just outside of our simple material understanding of life. Science is always advancing though and I feel like we’re on the verge of some great breakthroughs that might help us understand why exactly it is that this stuff really works.

  35. ” I didn’t pick up this invitation, because I felt I had given them ample opportunity to tell their side of the story.” quite an egoistic and almost narcisstic perspective you show there. since you put yourself above hof bad blood is a very logical outcome of your decisions. not picking up the invitation is a very bad excuse for publishing a one-sided article. being a scientist i favor objective perspectives. your subtle pessimism bothered me throughout most parts of the article.

    1. You haven’t seen the e-mail correspondence between me and the company of Hof in which I gave them repeatedly ample room to indicate any factual error in the story. They never came with anything concrete, only mentioned that it had a wrong idea on the context (which they didn’t explain either). So why should I go to Amsterdam to hear that same vague story which would probably not give anything that would lead to a change in the reconstruction? That’s what I asked them, but they didn’t give an answer. And dont’ forget that this story on the Kilimanajro trip is based on contact with several of the participants.

      1. many sceptical people are trying to pin hof down to vulnerable statements he gave, i find it irrational and conservative. i was looking at some of his studies and the results are scientifically remarkable and a very clear indicator that we should go deeper with more studies to understand better what is happening exactly. i see one of the most promising alternative approaches. I understand that wim himself did not study science, he tries to tell people what he understood of the scientists telling him. i dont care if his formulations are flawed, it does not matter. does he believe to heal cancer with this or not, it does not matter. As there is no study on that matter no one can answers such question now. this one interview was horrible when hof was penetrated to give that answer that no one could give.
        there is enough evidence one safely say that the method HAS significant effects, which can be a rare statement in alternative medicine. since there was only a small number of studies so far the security of results needs to be improved by further studies. there need to be falsification studies (Popper). while all this will be happening we can watch the process and wonder how deep it actually is. But it is irrational to judge it. it is unfair to generalize parts of the evidence and facts. Wim opened up lots of possibilities and perspectives to a vast amount of people on this planet with very different matters they deal with. at the end we will surely find out that the Wim Hof Method does not cure everything or everyone, but we will understand the benefits and hopefully use that knowledge to improve lives.
        I am very much looking forward to more studies and I am very interested what the actual difference was between the expedition group on kilimanjaro that made it to the top and the group that did not make it as there are endless possibilities to explain this. Since it was not yet clearly communicated publicly i assume that it was complicated for some reason.
        I want to the sceptical negativity around this whole thing to become a bit more neutral and realize that judgements are not yet to be made. What I was wishing for when reading the article was getting the facts, I dont care about the judgement. If facts were not possible to be gathered objectively it’s a pity, but replacing those interesting facts with judgements and implications of personal arguments I believe is what made some people call it lousy journalism.

        1. I think if you read my article again, you’ll notice that I’m not that negative about his method at all. Whether it will eventually be found to contain elements which will benefit patients has yet to be seen, but I have no problem with that kind of research.
          The Kilimanjaro trip doesn’t really have anything to do with seriousely testing his methods, it’s more a self-exploring-mental-strength-guru thingy. Just business. Only the first group trip (2014) involved some medical expertise, because an MD went along.

          If facts were not possible to be gathered objectively it’s a pity, but replacing those interesting facts with judgements and implications of personal arguments I believe is what made some people call it lousy journalism.

          I challenge you to give examples where I replaced facts with judgements in this post. Inserting well argumented assumptions where no factual information is available is quite normal as long it is not presented as a fact.

        2. Checking back in again just now. I do not feel being in debt here. I got stressed times now business-wise and cannot afford to give such analyses for free anymore. If you are interested in a full analysis of your article I’ll do that for proper compensation.


      2. Beste Pepijn, met dwazen zoals Wim Hof die de mensheid opzettelijk bedriegen valt niet tot op de bodem te onderzoeken, laat staan over bevonden tegen feiten te communiceren, Wim Hof is onvolwassen kan niet tegen kritiek, he’s a joke, time will tell!

        1. Sharon, dit slaat echt nergens op, time will tell you. Hij kan heel goed tegen kritiek, hij is 35 jaar lang uitgelachen als hij weer eens in z’n broekie in ijskoud water ging staan. Hij claimt veel minder dan ieder ander in z’n positie zou doen. Zijn kop is helder gebleven.

      3. Sometimes actual conversation makes people more comfortable. As an objective journalist it seems you would have leaped at the opportunity to interview the guy you are evaluating. You seem like the sort of person that would love a written quote that you could “inject” where it fits your narrative.

        My read, you hop on a topic (Wim) gaining momentum, sit back a 1000 yards and potshot. You shift between editorialist and journalist when it suites. There is an American saying “picking fly shit out of pepper” you totally miss the influencing of the autonomic nervous system (believed to be impossible) by saying it might not be the desired response based on circumstances. Trust me the term “Trickery” has negative connotations in the US and I would assume the UK.

        I understand your gig (sorry best word I could think of) but to not have the intestinal fortitude (guts in American) to do a live interview or perhaps even try the method, makes you a lazy journalist at best.

        1. I think your comments might quite a bit off, partly because they are based on this English summary and not on the full article in Dutch.

          You state that a conversation can make people more comfortable, but I fail to see what difference that should make when I ask very simple to answer questions to a professional organisation. I was just giving them a chance to comment on my reconstruction, which already a few people independently had confirmed to be accurate. And remember that this was only about fact-checking the Kilimanjaro expedition, not about the scientific status of his method.
          Only after reminding them several times during a week that I would publish shortly even if that meant that unfortunately, I would have to write that Wim Hof didn’t want to comment on the allegations, at the very last moment this invitation for a cup of coffee the next morning came about, which would take me at least half a day without any prospect of getting decent answers. I had enough reliable sources for the story, they didn’t take the opportunity to give their view before publishing and haven’t commented on it publically since. Their choice, not mine.

          Also I don’t quite understand your “you totally miss the influencing of the autonomic nervous system (believed to be impossible) by saying it might not be the desired response based on circumstances.” as I also wrote: “They found out that Hof is able to show some control over his immune system, which was not thought possible.” (in the Dutch version I called the result found by Picckers ‘scientifically very interesting’).

  36. Wim Hof is one of the people who gave me some life changing insights so I made a video about his Wim Hof Method and his latest book. And after your post I believe there are more who share the same experience like me.

    Because I could only find a book in the Dutch language, I made an easy to follow animated video about it in English to share his theory and his technique for a broader public.


    I believe everyone can become like the iceman or have health benefit of his method.

    1. Thank you for making such an excellent video! I hope at some point there is an English translation but I’m sure much more will be written in due course.

      Good work Noel 🙂

  37. Pickkers and Kox start their reflection on the ‘significance’ of the PNAS study:
    “Hitherto, both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system were regarded as systems that cannot be voluntarily influenced.”
    This basic characteristic of the autonomous nervous system remains valid, even if I can increase my heartbeat through some exercises like deep knee bends, or enlarge my pupils by switching off the light. Or, as it appears in this case, by increasing the level of epinephrine through forceful hyperventilation. A more careful formulation would have been that one cannot directly and voluntarily influence functions that are typically considered being under the control of the autonomous nervous system.
    Likewise, in their ‘in conclusion’ I would have preferred to see the addition ‘-be it indirectly-‘ after ‘voluntarily’:
    “In conclusion, the present proof-of-principle study demonstrates that the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can be voluntarily influenced through practicing techniques that are relatively easy to learn within a short time frame.”
    In the meantime, Wim Hof (the Iceman) frames these findings in his own way, and in interviews I would say his ‘enthusiasm’ is rather bordering megalomania and far from neutral in the sense of claims!

    1. You offer an interesting and clever insight. I seem to remember that changes in Wim Hofs body were observed while he was not doing that breathing technique. I believe it was happening during the minutes prior to one of his cold immersion experiments.

      Then again, that doesn’t necessarily prove he is influencing it directly with his mind. It may just be that his body is trained to create change based on the knowledge that he is about to enter cold water akin to a pavlovian response.

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