Dr. Pierre Capel on the Power of the Mind & the Science of Wim Hof

Posted on January 3rd 2016 (almost 3 years)

Dr. Rhonda Patrick interviews Dr. Pierre Capel, professor emeritus in experimental immunology at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands where he researched a wide range of topics from genetic modification to cancer immunotherapy.

A special focus of this podcast, however, centers on Pierre's relationship with previous podcast guest Wim Hof, who is especially well-known for his extraordinary ability to withstand extreme cold, taking on many world records by doing so.

One such example: Wim once stayed in a tub with direct contact with ice for over an hour and fifty-three minutes.

What's especially interesting about Wim, however, is the fact that he's been able to reproduce some of the effects of his "technique" with a group of other people and the results of this has been published in a scientific journal.

"Factors from inflammatory reactions will affect your mind, and your mind will affect your immune system." - Dr. Pierre Capel Click To Tweet

The Science of Wim Hof (as explained by Dr. Capel)

In this video, Pierre explains what he believes to be the reason why Wim Hof's technique, which involves breathing techniques that can kick off a gigantic release of catecholamines and induce a mild state of respiratory alkalosis. The latter of which causes a change in blood pH(something shown in the 2014 PNAS study)

The missing piece to the puzzle that Pierre brings to the table is the fact that pain receptors that are critical to feeling cold temperatures actually rely on what are known as "acid-sensing ion channels", which have been shown in other studies to become inactive within the pH ranges Wim and his trainees can increase their blood to.

Aside from just being able to better tolerate the cold, Wim has also demonstrated another interesting property of his method: in a 2012 study he showed he was able to suppress his response to bacterial endotoxin. As we learn in this video, this feat is most likely made possible by the enormous release of catecholamines he's able to achieve in even a lab environment through his breath.

Other discussion...

In addition to talking about some of the thermo- and pain- receptor stuff, Pierre and Rhonda also discuss other literature he's familiar with, including:

  1. Good stress and bad stress and how meditation affects the expression your genes.
  2. Meditation and the speed with which it affects fMRI changes.
  3. How even loneliness can change gene expression, including some involved in metabolism, inflammation, and the endocrine system.
  4. The effect of social isolation in mice on cancer metastasis, and conversely how wound healing can be affected in mice just by changes in their environment.
  5. What affects the stress hormone cortisol has on gene expression.
  6. What the inflammasome is and how its activation can be linked to the central nervous system.
  7. How the limbic system regulates emotions (and this is not easily controlled) but meditation has been shown to help control the limbic system.

Learn more about Dr. Pierre Capel

WARNING: Breathing techniques should not be practiced when in water or before swimming. Shallow-water blackouts, which may be fatal, can occur.

Member support keeps us strong.

If you enjoy the fruits of foundmyfitness, you can participate in helping us to keep improving it. Creating a pay-what-you-can subscription does just that! Plus, we throw in occasional member perks and, more importantly, churn out the best possible content without concerning ourselves with the wishes of any dark overlords.

Our website is 100% supported by people like you through this pay-what-you-can mechanism.

Monthly Support

  • Fundamentals

    $5 / month
  • Loyal Fan

    $10 / month
  • Super Fan

    $25 / month
  • Power Supporter

    $50 / month
  • Heroic Supporter

    $125 / month

One-time Support

You can also become a one-time supporter with a single donation in any amount.