Cold Showers Are Good for You - Official
Gillie, Oliver, The Independent (London, England)
COLD SHOWERS and cold baths, which were part of the regular regime of Edwardian gentlemen, may be set for a comeback. Later generations have dismissed cold showers as a masochistic fetish designed to control sexual appetite. But now German doctors have found that immersion in cold water has beneficial effects on body chemistry.
Year-round swimmers in Berlin have half as many chest infections as other people, say doctors from the Herzog-Julius Hospital in Bad Harzburg and the Medical School at Humboldt University in Berlin. Swimming in freezing water, cold plunges in ice water following a sauna, and other forms of cold immersion harden the body and benefit health by increasing resistance to chest infections, the German doctors say.
Dr Werner Siems, a biochemist at Herzog-Julius Hospital became interested after observing patients with rheumatoid arthritis who were given exposure to cold at -110C for up to three minutes at a time. Patients, who wear shoes and gloves and special protection for the nose, mouth, ears and other sensitive parts, report a reduction in pain following treatment in the cold chamber.
Studies of year-round swimmers, both men and women, have found that regular exposure to cold changes the body's chemistry, making it more resistant to oxidative stress. The swimmers' bodies have increased quantities of a substance, glutathione, and elevated levels of several enzymes that enable the body to remove reactive oxygen from the body more quickly.
It appears that swimming in cold water may help the body combat natural decay caused by reactive oxygen. Among the possible, but as yet unproven benefits could be protection against heart and blood vessel disease. "Modern life has a deficiency of stimulating factors such as cold, heat and physical stress and this results in poor resistance to disease," said Dr Siems. "Brief exposure to cold causes a mild oxidative stress which may prepare the body to resist a greater stress."
Cold treatment is popular in Siberia, where it has been witnessed by Professor William Keatinge, of Queen Mary and Westfield College in London, an expert on cold exposure. …