Wanna learn a cool breathing technique?

Ok, fair point, sorry; my point is these changes are healthy. For instance the pH going up is crucial… I’m just happy I found this as a subject of interest and practice; if I’m not mistaken it’s easy to check and verify these changes are healthy indeed. You’ll do it if you want, I won’t try to convince anybody, just sharing some links :wink:

I’m glad my thread gained this much attention, whether it be positive, negative or just curious. :slight_smile: I’ll address a few points from my own perspective.

He does, but I don’t feel like that’s problematic. Everyone needs to make a living somehow. He sells books and advanced courses, but the basic technique (which is enough to get all of the health benefits that have been confirmed so far) has always been free.

At first I thought you were just poking fun, but then I googled it and learned something new and cool. :slight_smile: Super interesting that even “forced” voluntary laughter would have the same health benefits as spontaneous laughter! I’m gonna experiment with that for sure. :slight_smile:

I think it would be helpful to define what we mean when we talk about “healthy”, then. You allow that climbing a mountain wearing basically no clothes without any discomfort is possible. None of the participants so far have reported any long-term negative consequences. At the very least then, this breathing technique strengthens your immune system in the short term (unless you’re saying that all of these people could have achieved the same feat without the technique). You say that you feel like the breathing wouldn’t “make a healthy person healthier”. How is a strengthened immune system, even just in the short term, not healthy? What effects would the breathing have to bring about for you to consider it healthy?

I’ve never gotten lightheaded practising the technique (although I know some people do). I don’t think anyone argues that lightheadedness brings about health benefits. At most, it’s a harmless (if practised in a safe environment, as is always advised) side effect.

Nice one :smiley:

That’s very interesting. I guess this is what I get for copy/pasting someone’s achievements without finding out for myself what, if anything, they signify :slight_smile: I don’t know then if this makes for a drastic difference, but the temperature in his case went into negative (single-digit) Fahrenheit degrees (and of course he had no T-shirt, hat or shoes).

I’ve never heard him talk about doing that (which I guess doesn’t have to mean anything).

Not sure if an internet article could be creditable enough to conquer your disbelief, but in any case, here’s some more information about that… http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2072156/Burning-man-Adventurer-loses-14lbs-completes-marathon-40C-Nambia-touching-drop-water.html

(Before anyone says “but surely this is not healthy”, no one is saying that running a marathon in a scorching hot desert without water is healthy… The point is that this breathing technique can make your body healthy enough to accomplish dangerous feats like this without dying. In other words, you COULD do it, but no one is saying you SHOULD.)

All that is VERY interesting. Thank you for the information. :slight_smile: In return, here’s some more for you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpTG02x6w5o

EDIT: Part 2 of that video is very interesting and informative, too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWHRumILOOk

Skepticism is healthy and important, but you’re doubting something which has several different health benefits that have been proven in university studies all over the world. Like I said in my first post, I really recommend checking out this page and all the links provided there: https://www.wimhofmethod.com/science


I haven’t either, I think you have to do it pretty intensively for that to happen.

Is in strengthened? I was under the assumption that he was able to lower his immune response (Let’s see… This paper). Id est, his body doesn’t react as heavily to foreign contaminants. This is usually a bad thing, inflammation is there for a very good reason. It’s true that it can be beneficial to people with auto immune problems, where their immune system reacts too heavily or attacks its own body, but for normal healthy people I don’t feel this is necessarily a health benefit.

Note that my main point is not to attack the technique, it is to attack the practice of declaring something to be healthy. I feel that happens way too often, and many times way too fast. Everybody knows the kind of news reports where it is claimed that (let’s say) chocolate is healthy, solely based on a report that shows a negative correlation between eating chocolate and getting a specific kind of cancer. But then it is ignored that another study found a positive correlation between chocolate and a different cancer, let alone the more obvious problems such as addiction leading to obesity. Something might have a health benefit on one side, but be a hazard on the other, or it might have short term effects that are beneficial, but long term effects that aren’t.

Therefore I’m ambivalent towards the breathing technique. In my eyes it has similar health benefits to something like eating your cereal with yoghurt instead of with milk. Sure, it might be different, and it might be better / worse for your health, but that’s such a difficult thing to measure that I feel any global health claims are ungrounded.

I sure hope it’s healthy though, it feels good and is quite relaxing, so it would be ideal if it was healthy as well :stuck_out_tongue:

I know that’s what happens, I guess I used misleading language. :slight_smile: As you said, this lowered immune response is actually desired, especially in people with auto-immune problems. (And of course, if that was the ONLY effect of this breathing technique, that WOULD be hazardous for healthy people!) What I meant was that the immune system is strengthened in the sense that it stops overreacting to potential threats. Bad wording on my part.

Again, this is fair enough in general, but as far as I’m aware, no short- or long-term consequences have been found by any of the several studies investigating this technique so far. In this sense, the current discussion does resemble climate change discussions a little. “Sure, there is evidence that it is caused by humans, I acknowledge that. But who’s to say that we won’t find evidence to the contrary in the future?” You see what I mean? (The difference obviously is that none of us here are ill-spirited or dishing out ad hominems. I’m really enjoying this discussion, and you’re an engaging interlocutor. :slight_smile: )

Btw I edited my above post to add in part 2 of the video I had linked, very interesting and informative as well IMO. :slight_smile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWHRumILOOk

Very interesting video’s, thanks.

I was indeed aiming at the general point about health discussions.

As for this particular topic’s topic, I haven’t found negative consequences either. But the same applies for positive consequences, if we’re talking about general health. Assuming “health” is interpreted as “ability to live long in good condition”, the technique doesn’t seem to have any real consequences. To illustrate, if I do this technique daily, for the rest of my life, will I be living longer and in better physical / mental shape? I’m not sure of the answer.

It does have short term consequences on these specific short-term hardships, like cold exposure, infection or Kilimanjaro. This is the truly impressive part of the technique, since you can’t normally control your subconcious body response. But is ability to overcome extreme conditions the same as “healthy”? In a similar way the exercise and diet of heavyweight lifters makes them able to gain tremendous strength (thus overcome a specific extreme condition), but I would be hesitant to say that becoming a heavyweight lifter has health benefits. If a boxer gets used to pain by getting hit on the head, does that make hitting people on the head healthy? (I have to admit that these analogies are a little extreme)

You might have a slight point there. One of my vices (virtues?) is that I generally love discussions more than I love changing my point of view and agreeing with my opponent; I have a habit of become the devil’s advocate and keep discussing for the sake of the discussion…

You are right about you statement about gerning rid of the CO2 but the light headed does come from more oxygen to your brain. The defficiancy doesnt occour until you run out of oxygen, which never Will happen in a breathing excercise. This excersise though is not recommended before long breathholds since you might pass out because the brain, as you Stated Think its all full of oxygen.

If what you’re saying is true how did the extra oxygen get to your brain if your blood doesn’t get more oxygenated during hyperventilation?

In a normal healthy individual, the blood in an artery (except those going to your lungs of course) should be fully saturated already (between 95 and 100 percent, is what I can find), so breathing more doesn’t give you more oxygen; there simply aren’t more hemoglobin molecules it can bind to, since they’re all saturated already.

The problem is that hemoglobin only releases oxygen in a low pH, high CO2 environment, and what hyperventilation does is raise the pH level and dispose of CO2, making it more difficult for the oxygen to leave the hemoglobin. As an aside the arteries to your brain get constricted, which results in lower blood flow.

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When you meassure the oxygenlevels while breathing normally and hyperventilating you see an increase O2

What is your source for this statement? Where do you see this increase in O2? Perhaps in the O2 content of systemic venous blood, since the increased pH of the blood (caused by the hypocapnia induced by hyperventilating) increases the affinity (binding) (= decreases the release) of O2 from the hemoglobin (Bohr effect) as it passes through the blood capillaries. But what use is increased O2 in venous blood of the systemic circulation?? That is actually disadvantageous. Venous blood (in the systemic circulation) does not supply our cells with O2, arterial blood (in the systemic circulation) does that.

As @Vsotvep mentioned, arterial blood (except for that in the arteries going to the alveoli in the lungs – the pulmonary circulation) is nearly 100% saturated with O2 already (most recent testing indicates 99% of the O2 in systemic arterial blood is bound to hemoglobin). This means that only 1% of the O2 is not bound to hemoglobin but is dissolved in the fluid portion of the blood. The only way to increase that is in hyperbaric environments.


Isn’t that silly?

Hyperventilation causes a LOWER oxygenation of muscles and brain BUT Wim Hof says that his method hyperoxygenates the brain.

Lightheadedness and tingling are symptoms of LOWER oxygenation of muscles and brain BUT Wim Hof says that they prove hyperoxygenation.

Passing out is caused by LOW oxygenation of brain and Wim Hof method can cause it.

Benefits from Wim Hof method are attributed to hyperoxygenation of muscles and brain while Wim Hof method does exactly the opposite: pushing out CO2 it cheats your body, annuling the FEELING of need of oxygen. You are not hyperoxygenated: you just don’t FEEL the need to breathe, because it’s specificly the amount of CO2 in you body that tells your brain that you need to breathe.
So you are LOW of oxygen (in muscles and brain), but you can hold your breath for a long time because you cheated your body.

And all of that cheating makes you feel better because you think you’ve discovered the shortcut to power and strenght.

I don’t really know if Wim Hof method is good for something: it can be, I just don’t know. But all those lies about hyperoxygenation doesn’t make me feel comfortable and trustful.

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So the thing is that Wim doesnt do the best job of explaining the science behind his method (both because he’s not a scientist, and his English isn’t the greatest). People then blindly pass on what they’ve heard him say when they describe the method to others (including me in the opening post).

However, as I’ve pointed out various times throughout this thread, this breathing method has been the subject of various scientific studies. I’ve linked to the Science page on his website before, but maybe a direct link to one of the studies would be more helpful?

This one directly addresses what’s going on in terms of oxygen levels, blood alkalinity, release of adrenaline (= epinephrine) etc. and the implications of all that: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4034215/

I am not a scientist. I must look at the world around me using the tools that I can manage. One of them, not reliable 100% though, is choosing who I trust and who I don’t.

I don’t trust Wim Hof because he talks like a newage illusionist: he uses a lot of pseudo-scientific terms in a freestyle hotchpotch, with enviable charm and strong voice. I don’t trust him. That’s it.

I’m very sorry if my opinion on him makes you upset. I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about him.

I paid a lot of attention to your post.
I never heard about Wim Hof before. I searched informations about him and his method. I listenedt to him explaining the breathing exercises (posted link). I gave it a try, also. And looked for more informations, also.
I discovered in my 50’s that what I knew about hyperventilation was partially wrong. I learned the importance of CO2 in the oxygenation process. I looked at the charts displaying why you could pass off underwater and die if you do hyperventilation before swimming.
I’m italian. Maybe you never heard of Enzo Maiorca, but he was very famous here when I was a child. I tried to emulate him keeping my breath in the swimming pool. I tried also to improve using a little hyperventilation, like he was doing at the time. It was a child play, but now I learn I could have died doing it, if only I pushed it too far.
I don’t think I blindly passed on what you said.

The article you linked talks about how adrenaline can influence the immune system.
Moreover: it says that adrenaline can LOWER body inflammatory response.
The article states it clearly: “The innate immune system is crucial to our survival, but excessive or persistent proinflammatory cytokine production can result in tissue damage and organ injury, such as in autoimmune diseases.”
Well, I am a lucky guy: I don’t have any autoimmune disease, so inflammatory response in my body is something healthy. It’s my body fighting for life. :slight_smile:
In the article, it’s the reaction of introducing a poison (bacterial endotoxin) in the body, so it’s something good!
So why should I try to reduce it?

The article is pointless for all the healthy people (except for those interested in medicine, of course).

Do you like to raise adrenaline levels in your body? Please, do!
Someone does bungee jumping, someone rollercoasters, you can hyperventilate if you like.
This makes you feel good? Wonderful! Be happy!

This doesn’t change the fact that Wim Hof is telling lies about hyperoxygenating your brain. And that’s not because of “poor english by a dutchman”. He could hire a good translator, if needed, but I think he’s perfectly able to understand what he says.


I loved this chart:


If anything, I love this topic for the things I learned while contributing to this conversation! :smiley:


That’s fair enough. :slight_smile:

I’m not upset, and I realize you’re talking about Wim, not me. Like I mentioned above to Vsotvep, I am really enjoying this discussion and learning new things as I go along. :slight_smile:

I admire your scientific interest in this. :slight_smile:

I’ve never heard of him, but I know about the dangers of pushing hyperventilation too far. One important thing to consider, though, is that with Wim’s method, you do a certain amount (30 - 40) of deep breaths, and then retain your breath. What’s more (and I think that step is overlooked), afterwards, you take another deep breath and retain your breath WITH air for 10 - 15 seconds. Reducing the method to “essentially hyperventilation” is simplifying things.

I think you misunderstood my previous post. I was trying to say that I was passing on blindly what Wim has been stating. :slight_smile: I have watched a lot of interviews and documentaries about both him and his breathing technique and blindly passed on the claim that his method hyper-oxygenates all of your body’s cells without looking into the studies myself first.

Fair enough. Keep in mind that this is just one of the studies conducted on his breathing technique and focused specifically on the topic of adrenaline and body inflammatory response. I’ll try to look for some of the other studies later.

Unlike you, based on the interviews and documentaries I’ve seen, I do trust Wim and I think there IS something getting lost in translation here. I’ve tried to find some more information specifically on the oxygen levels involved with the method. The best explanation I’ve found so far (NOT from an expert) is this, and I would welcome the perspective of you and other people who know more about these things than I do. Like I said, I love to keep learning :slight_smile: What do you think of this?

"I’m not an expert, but here’s how I understand it.

This hyperventilating induces hypocacnia - low CO2.

The body cannot measure O2. But it can infer O2 levels by means of measuring CO2. It keeps these two things balanced normally. CO2 low: inhale, CO2 high: exhale.

So, when CO2 is blown off intentionally, via hyperventilation, the body assumes O2 is low as well! But it’s not. This is the ‘trick.’

Because of this, the body wants the inhalation response to happen. So it takes all the O2 currently in the blood (it not knowing how much there is, assuming there’s too little), and keeps it sequestered in the blood, and temporarily away from the body’s organs (this is lightheadedness), in the hopes that it’ll compel you to inhale, until CO2 builds up in the blood again from normal processes (the lightheadedness fades).

So you inhale once CO2 re-elevates. Your body’s confused, and forces an inhalation response. But now, after a big inhalation and hold, extra O2 is pulled into the blood, and the blood is again both very CO2-rich and O2-rich. The blood was already full of O2 to begin with (remember, it was sequestered), and now there’s more O2, plus more CO2. So now the blood shunts all the O2 into the organs and brain, effectively ‘hyper-oxygenizing’ the brain and vessels, with higher-than-normal amounts. Remember, the body cannot transport O2 into cells without CO2! CO2 is not simply a waste product, it’s needed.

This does a few things: 1. Introduces a slight hormetic stressor (like exercise) that temporarily raises cortisol (which resets the body’s stress tolerance, by means of controlled acute stressors). 2. Hyperoxygenates the body, and 3. Trains the body to be comfortable with elevated CO2 levels (like when happens under heavy exercise load and so on), which improves cardiovascular function over time, by resetting O2/CO2 balance to a higher, more saturated value (similar to training in high altitudes).

Something like that. My explanation isn’t perfect, and I’m sure I’ll be corrected."

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/wimhof/comments/8hy67c/is_the_whm_hyperventilation_bad_for_you_restricts/dynlyyt/

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Wim has stated emphatically that his method should never be practised right before diving (or other exercises that involve retaining your breath for a prolonged time).

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Like you, I remember lots to publicity for people trying to break breath-holding records when I was about 10 or 11, in the mid-1960s. They all hyperventilated first, and I tried it too. I think I held my breath somewhere between 2.5 and 3 minutes; I don’t remember exactly. I’ve given no thought to breath-holding since and did not know hyperventilating was dangerous! Thanks for all the info.

By the way, in the 1989 movie The Abyss, two characters have to swim a long distance holding their breath, and they are shown hyperventilating first. This is the kind of influence that keeps the idea in the public mind.

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Yes I did, I apologize.
I read “pass on” as it was “pass over”. I’m not very familiar with phrasal verbs. Sorry.

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Sorry to say this @Sarah_Lisa but you made a number of errors in your attempt to explain what is happening. The topic is not easy to grasp, so do not feel bad about what I just said. I’m about to leave in a few minutes (strangely enough to lecture about pulmonary physiology to my students!) but just a few things for you to think about:

  1. The human body can “measure” O2 levels. It has chemoreceptors for not only pCO2 (activation by elevated pCO2 levels) and pH (activated by low pH levels) but also for pO2 (activated by low O2 levels). Interesting is that contrary to what most people would expect, the response to O2-receptor activation is the weakest of these three. However, the body does notinfer O2 levels” by measuring CO2.

  2. The statement “CO2 low: inhale, CO2 high: exhale” is unfortunately completely incorrect. Perhaps what you are trying to say is this (which is correct): “pCO2 low: respiration decreases (because the CO2-receptors are no longer stimulated), pCO2 high: respiration increases.” Here it is important to understand that the accepted way to measure respiration is to measure the respiratory minute volume. Also: one “respiration” is composed of one inhalation plus the following expiration. The actual “end” of an inhalation is determined by a number of factors (not the CO2 level), and the initiation of an inhalation is also not determined by the CO2 level.

  3. When “CO2 is blown off intentionally, via hyperventilation, the body assumes O2 is low as well.” Also incorrect.

  4. Sequestration of O2 simply does not occur. Oxygen is transported in the blood by hemoglobin (= Hgb, maximum of 4 molecules of O2 on each Hgb molecule). A very small amount of O2 is simply dissolved in the liquid portion of the blood (and this can increase only in special (e.g. hyperbaric) environments).

  5. Your statement “the body cannot transport O2 into cells without CO2” is also nonsense (no insult intended). Oxygen is not transported into cells – it moves into cells because of passive diffusion processes, moving down its concentration gradient: mitochondrial consumption of oxygen effectively makes the mitochondria “oxygen sinks” and outside of the mitochondria there are higher oxygen levels (extending all the way back to the nearest blood capillary).

Sorry, but I must go now. It would probably be best for you to read a good university-level physiology textbook (unfortunately they are quite expensive, but perhaps from a library or used…).

Have a nice day.


I don’t think this is correct.

High CO2 causes urge to breathe (inhale). Low CO2 makes you feel like you don’t need to breathe.
So, when CO2 is low, body assumes that everything is ok, thus no need to breathe urgently.

If CO2 is unnaturally low, body assumptions can be cheated and one can hold his breath for an extraordinary long time thinking that’s because he’s so cool and unaware of his own potential and a fantastic machine and so on, while he actually just shut off the alarm bell.