Achieve Peak Performance with Contrast Therapy: Hot & Cold Baths, Ice Plunges, Saunas & Breathwork

  |   EP154   |   74 mins.

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Episode Highlights

Water is fundamentally the operating system of our consciousness Share on XBreathwork improves your physical performance by 50% Share on XContrast therapy is the key to a healthy mindset & peak physical performance Share on XYour tolerance to heat or cold changes everyday Share on XControlled & relaxed breathing is the answer to taking control of stress in your body Share on X

About Dr. Marc Cohen


Dr. Marc is a multifaceted professional, excelling as a medical doctor, professor, author, poet, entrepreneur, and wellness advocate. With 30+ years in integrative medicine, he emphasizes nutrition, herbal medicine, yoga, and elite athletic performance. His extensive work includes 100+ scientific papers and influential books like ‘Herbs and Natural Supplements: An Evidence-Based Guide.’

He founded the Extreme Wellness Institute, Beautiful Water, and co-owns ventures like Extremely Alive and Maruia Hot Springs. Dr. Marc’s global presentations promote a wellness-centered culture for universal health.

Marc Cohen

Top Things You’ll Learn From Dr. Marc Cohen

  • [3:14] Ancient Future Medicine
    • The recipe for wellness
    • Mental health benefits of yoga
    • 10 hacks to relax in life
    • How bee meditation hubs provide deep relaxation
    • Why social connections are important for health & longevity
    • The importance of bathing and how it affects your health
  • [17:01] Why You Need To Focus on Breath For Better Health
    • What is dysfunctional breathing & what causes it
    • How forced hyperventilation & carboxy helps you deal with fear & anxiety
    • Benefits of hyperventilation for your health
    • How to do Intermittent hypoxic training & long-term benefits of breath-holding
    • Why breath control can rewire the nervous system
  • [31:39] The Importance of Contrast Therapy for Peak Performance
    • What is contrast therapy & how it’s a good advantage for your health
    • The recipe for success of an Olympic gold medalist
    • Debunking myths about ice baths
    • How Ice bathing affects mental health
    • Health benefits of submerging in hot springs
    • Why resting is a must in contrast therapy
    • What are thermo-neutral environments & how it affects your daily life
    • How to slowly integrate thermo-neutral environments to daily life
  • [42:16] How to Start Contrast Therapy
    • How to ice bath the right way
    • How to enhance your sauna experience
    • Traditional saunas vs. infrared saunas
    • Common mistakes people make with contrast therapy
    • How to prepare your mineral bath for optimum health results
    • Risks of bathing in chlorinated water
    • How to make a filtered bath at home for free
    • How to stay relaxed during contrast therapy

Resources Mentioned

  • Program: Extreme Wellness
  • Course: Outliyr Longevity Challenge
  • Article: Cold Plunge Benefits
  • Book: The Fourth Phase of Water: Beyond Solid, Liquid, and Vapor

Episode Transcript

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Nick Urban [00:00:05]:
The cold plunge and sauna might be some of the hottest biohacks, But are they actually Health, or are they taking you in the wrong direction? In this week’s podcast episode, we dive into the science and how contrast therapy or the oscillation between cold and hot works, the common mistakes, how to do it properly, how to build wellness in your lifestyle without uprooting your lifestyle, our guests, daily wellness essentials, a simple checklist you can use to make sure that every day is getting you healthier while at the same time being enjoyable and making you happier. We touched on the topic of water, why it’s much more than just simple h two o molecules, the power of bathing, also called boneotherapy. We touched on breath Urban and intermittent hypoxic training. Our guest shares an essential and free hack to purify the water coming out of your bathtub or even shower. It’s great for traveling. I’ve actually been using it here in India. And best of all, he shares the process of health optimization in a lighthearted and fun way. Our guest this week is doctor Marc Cohen.

Nick Urban [00:01:15]:
He’s a rare combination of a medical doctor, an entrepreneur, a university professor, a poet, an author, a wellness trailblazer, and my favorite, a perpetual student of life. He aims to cocreate a culture of wellness that affects the world. Doctor Mark has been researching and practicing integrative medicine for more than 30 years Mind has spent more than 20 years as a university professor teaching a lot of the topics that we talk about on this show. Nutrition, herbal medicine, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, detoxification, saunas, hot springs, cold plunges, a lot of the natural biohacks that have become quite popular over the last couple years. He has published more than a 100 peer reviewed scientific papers Mind many books and technical texts on wellness and natural medicine. If you wanna try his products, if you want to check out his work, his research, or my favorite, his wellness poems, you can find those in the show notes for this episode at mindbodypeak.com/thenumber154. This podcast is sponsored by Outlier Urban specifically Outlier’s brand new 14 day longevity challenge. Doctor Mark, welcome to Body Peak Performance.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:02:28]:
Thank you, Nick. It’s great to be with you.

Nick Urban [00:02:30]:
I’m excited for this one because a lot of people talk about bridging the ancestral and the modern advanced science. Few people actually have extensive backgrounds in both. You seem to really bridge that gap. So today, we’ll talk a lot about your background, the research you conducted, your insights from 30 years practicing and researching holistic Health, and a whole lot more.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:02:54]:
Great. Yeah. So I’ve I’ve had all these different interests over my career, and I just thought it was my ADHD that I I’m juggling different ideas and different projects, but I’ve actually realized, now I just saves to turn 60, that that what I’m what I’m really about is ancient future medicine. So it’s it’s all the different practices that our hominid ancestors practiced That, you know, where where super primitives, but that they’re also so obvious that every great tradition and every master Practitioner prescribed them that modern science can’t fully understand, but they’re but they’re so practical and easy. We can you can do them at home by yourself without much code, training, or equipment. And and those practices include bathing, so hot and cold bathing, the use of herbs, the use of fermentation, the use of honey, Mind, and bathing, lifestyle habits and and skills and things like acupressure, but just lifestyle practices that you can do at home for yourself, but have intense impact on your physiology and and your health. So it so that’s that’s sort of the areas I’ve had I’ve had Cohen a lot of research. I’m Health involved in the hot spring industry.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:04:09]:
I’ve done a lot of sauna research. I’m a partner a part owner of a hot spring in New Zealand and the medical director of a hot spring group. So we do a lot of, contrast bathing. I I train people to do hot and cold ice bathing and sauna bathing and take guide guide people for those experiences. But I’ve also, you know, written textbooks, you know, up here on on herbs and supplements. Done a lot of work with I actually I have a kombucha vinegar company where we we make, probiotic kombucha vinegar in infused with leaves, roots, flowers, fruits, and fungi. And we’ve done we actually did the first ever human, clinical trial of kombucha, which was published last year And, did a metagenomic study and a physicochemical study on that Biohacking at the the microbiome in the kombucha. And I’ve also done a lot of work in the beauty and the wellness industry, working with resorts and hotels and and that side.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:05:00]:
Mind, bringing those all together under this banner of ancient future medicine sort of brought a lot of, like, my disparate areas of my life together. And, yeah, now, you know, I I I work with a whole lot of different companies. I work with a medical cannabis company or the hot spring company or the convention company or the honey company bathing, like, super high grade manuka Cohen. But it but it all all sort of comes together now. And, I’m still a university professor. I I can as a young physician at 2 different universities. I’m still doing ongoing research. And, the products I I develop, I’m happy to, you know, have science based products and develop, like, the best products in the world, but I’m also happy to teach you how to do it at home yourself for free.

Nick Urban [00:05:42]:
Nice. Yeah. Let’s start off. There’s a lot of different ways we can take this, but we’ll do a warm up just to kick things off. And that is if what are the unusual nonnegotiables you’ve done so far today for your health, your performance, and your Bioharmony?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:05:55]:
So the things I’ve done today, had a great night’s sleep. You know, I’ve been bathing today. You know? Did did a contra shower, eating really nutritious food. I mean, I’ve I’ve I’ve got a a recipe for wellness that I pretty much follow. And over over the years, I’ve I’ve condensed a lot of medical wisdom. You know, I’ve collected a lot of medical wisdom, and I’ve tried to condense it Cohen. And I’m a lot of it’s turned out of poetry. So so one of the one of the poems I have is called the recipe for wellness.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:06:25]:
So I think I pretty much followed that today. So recipe for wellness is super simple. It’s bathe in beautiful water, prepare delicious food, make the most of every breath, dance through every mood, tend the soil beneath your feet, embrace sunshine from above, share your gifts with all the world, and fill your life with love.

Nick Urban [00:06:48]:
I’m all about simplifying things and having a simple poem like that you cold even print out and just use it as like a checklist almost. And then eventually, you learn the lyrics, and you just can run through that in the middle of your day, the beginning of your day, the end of your day, and figure out what you’re missing. You’ve really made it quite simple. But one thing you’ve mentioned so far several times and that is the importance of bathing. And I think for most people, myself included, I had previously thought it was just something you do to wash off the dirt and to clean yourself mainly for aesthetic purposes, but there seems to be a lot more going on. Why are you such a fan of bathing?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:07:24]:
Wow. So we we could do a whole show on this. So I mean so water is, like, the most mysterious, magical, complex substance in the universe. You know, if we if you count the molecules in your body water than you you’re about 2 thirds water by by mass or by volume. If you count the molecules, you’re 99.9% water because water tiny compared to protein or collagen or, I mean, you know, nucleic acids, etcetera. So water is fundamentally the the operating system for our consciousness. Yeah. So water water Mind being in touch with water, it has incredible ground I mean, sensual feelings, grounding feelings.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:08:05]:
It connects us with with the world. But then bathing has, all these other applications. So in bathing, you can expose yourself to temperature changes that are life threatening and be a 100% under control because, I mean, all life must exist in the Goldilocks zone between, you know, too hot and too cold. And, you know, the the only reason why there’s life on Earth is we’re in the Goldilocks zone where water can exist in solid Peak and gas forms. So if you’re too hot for too long, you die. If you’re too cold for too long, you die. And yet in bathing, we can explode ourselves to cold or to heat and really stress ourselves with a life threatening stress that we’re in a 100% control of. The the other thing is when you’re bathing, you can also be in thermo neutral water, and you can be buoyant, and you can be really in homeostasis.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:08:59]:
So you can be at total at rest in total plunge. And there’s a lot of practices. I I have a whole program which I I talk about extreme wellness. And that’s when we go to the extremes of our physiology. And and there are there are 5 main elements of life, which is water, glucose, oxygen, temperature, and carbon dioxide. And they’re the they’re the elements of the equation of photosynthesis and respiration, and we can take ourselves to the the limits of each of those. And when you’re at the limits, you’re at a at a physiological, edge, and we can then practice being relaxed while we’re stretched. So you can you can be dehydrated.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:09:42]:
You can over hydrate. You can, feast or fast. You can do hot and cold, bathing. You can, you know, hyperventilate and and, or hold your breath, and you can do nothing or you can do everything in flow. So what I like to do is I like to go to the to an extreme when I’m stressed and in a controlled stress and practice relaxing while I’m stressed. And then just like you do in a yoga class where, you know, you you stretch your muscle and there’s a point where you’re stretching water your body should stop. If you go any further, you’re gonna hurt yourself. And at that point, you stop, and you just do some relaxed breath.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:10:16]:
So you practice being relaxed while you’re under that stress. And that’s that’s really great. It’s a great test for your resilience. It activates all your homeostatic responses, you know, from the molecular, you know, heat shock protein level to the cellular Nick the to the organ level. But then just like in a yoga class, once you’ve done the stretches, you then just relax in shavasana Mind corpse pose, and you practice being relaxed while you’re relaxed. And there there’s a a saying in eastern wisdom that the greatest movement comes from the stillest point. So if you can be totally still at 1, in total homeostasis, then that gives you the anchor to act in all your other, responses. So whether and whether you’re doing martial arts or juggling or mental juggling, if you have a still point that you can be have your center, your frame cut that comes from that, then it gives you the biggest ability to reach out in different directions and Nick come back to that center.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:11:20]:
So cultivating that still point, which is actually the whole purpose of yoga. Yoga yoga is that URBAN, you know, the union of mind and body through the breath. And the happy yoga is is really designed to to create a still point so you can meditate. And Optimization is designed to create no no mind to create to cultivate that still point. So I really love cultivating that point of absolute stillness, and it’s best done after you’ve actually cultivated the maximal movement. And and to move your physiology, you need to stress your physiology and through those 5 elements. And and I call them the channels of elimination, which is your bladder, your bowel, your breath, your body, and your brain. So your bladder, you know, is for water, your bowel is for glucose, your breath is for oxygen, your body is for temperature, and your brain is for carbon dioxide and activity.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:12:11]:
So you can stress each of those URBAN, and then you can come back into balance. And and that that’s just a a really great way to make sure that your your body can cope with stresses that are out of your control, by practicing stress that’s in your control.

Nick Urban [00:12:28]:
Yes. Exactly. It’s a you get the benefits while you’re doing it, but then the most important part is the personal resilience you build by successfully navigating through those so that when life happens and a curveball comes your way that you couldn’t possibly have foreseen, that you’re able to maintain that composure because of the neural link you create by practicing over and over again. You mentioned several times that the important part is to regain your composure and to relax during stress, and, of course, the breath is one of the most powerful tools to do that. How Health? Say I’m in a hot sauna or a very cold plunge or some other, like, deliberate temporary acute stressor. How else can I, relax myself without using the breath or in addition to using the breath?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:13:14]:
Well, they call that the hormetic stress response. And and so that’s causing stress that forces your body to adapt and become more resilient. And you can you can do that through all sorts of stress. So so, I mean, just stretching, doing, yoga or just a a stretch, there’s a point where I call it the point of forced mindfulness where your body demands your attention of your mind because it stress a hurt. And at that point and and that can be a a poison in a sauna where you’re heating up and you and your body says, hey. Time to get out. You know, it’s getting too hot in here. Or in an ice bath, which is, hey.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:13:48]:
It’s really cold. You know, we’re struggling here. It’s time to get out. So that point of forced mindfulness, is is your edge. That’s that that is your body, or your body telling your mind, hey. You’re at the edge of your ability to tolerate this easily. And at that point, you need to use a breath to connect the mind and the Body. Because the 4th mindfulness is your your body is demanding attention for your mind saying, hey.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:14:14]:
We need to change what’s going on here because it’s it’s it’s getting out of control. And you can then take over control by having relaxed breathing. So if you’re in an ice I mean, so ice bath’s a great example. Where CHEK you when you go into an ice bath, the immediate response is actually to hyperventilate. Mind you start to do that. And that actually reproduces the the breathing pattern and the body chemistry of anxiety and panic and trauma. And in fact, people who who have had, you know, PTSD or they’ve got had had anxiety, and trauma in their life, it can actually reactivate it. So people have to be careful when they’re doing, you know, ice bathing and not to not to force it because they can actually have a reaction.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:14:56]:
They might might not code. But what it does do, it gives you the ability to relive that trauma in a controlled environment where you’re in control of it and master it and overcome it. So that can be really, really powerful. And, one of the one of the things you can do to overcome that is when you get into the ice bath or if you’re having a cold shower, is you take a really big breath, and as you’re going in, you breathe out. And that actually that a sigh is a parasympathetic, relaxation signal. So it’s telling your body you’re in control, you’re safe. And there’s a few there’s a few different body signals you can do to tell your body you’re safe and and trick your body into coping with more stress than you thought you could handle. And, might be a target.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:15:44]:
There’s another very quick poem that I that I created Cohen I was teaching people to get into ice bathing, thinking water what are the the physical things you can do with your body that activate the parasympathetic nervous system as opposed to the sympathetic nervous system. So when you get into an ice bath, you’re in a fight and fly. You breathe hard Mind and, you know, you wanna get out Mind you tense your tense your muscles and your lips and all of that. So parasympathetic is when you’re safe in your saves. That’s when you flirt. So it’s when you eat. That’s when you, do fine finger movements and sew and write and do things. So the the 10 things you can do with your body, I call them the 10 hacks to relax.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:16:21]:
It’s touch all your fingers, wiggle your toes, soften your stomach, breathe through your nose, sigh, smile, swallow, sing, flutter your eyelids, and focus within. So those 10 activities are all parasympathetically charged. A lot of them to do with breathing. So you’re softening your stomach, breathing through your nose, sighing, singing, Biohacking controlled, relaxed breathing. So and controlled, relaxed breathing is the key for in that forced mindfulness situation when your Body stressed to actually take control over what’s going

Nick Urban [00:17:01]:
on. That’s interesting. So it sounds like a lot of the the cues are to to reintegrate mind and body Marc via the breath, and so you don’t wanna overlook that one. It’s important to focus on. And then once you get that in place, then you can look outside the breath and other things as well.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:17:17]:
Sure. So, I mean, they often say that, you know, fear is excitement without breath. So we we you need to you need to keep breathing. And and there’s so many times in our lives where we’re panicking, we’re anxious, and we’ve noticed we’re not breathing or when Cohen you’re anxious, you’re you’re unconsciously hyperventilating. I have a one of my PhD students was a, did 8 years of of research on dysfunctional breathing. And we and we analyzed different ways of measuring people clinically or or how they breath. But a lot of people with anxiety and a lot of people in in society who have got stress, you know, trauma, naturally hyperventilate. And that actually throws out their whole metabolism and their physiology.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:17:58]:
Just like your heart rate variability, that’s become, you know, a lot of attention now where your your beat to beat heart heart rate helps you adjust to what’s going on in the present Cohen, where your breath is similar. Your breath, adjusting your breath moment to moment, controls your, you know, the homeostasis of your Body. And it’s where the you have control of your breath or your breath is controlling you. And and part of the the practices that I that I like to teach and talk about is when you can actually take control of your breath and overcome otherwise difficult situations.

Nick Urban [00:18:33]:
Yeah. Part of that makes me wonder also if you’re focusing on just changing the breath itself, if that’s, like, a superficial symptom of the trauma Mind if you actually focus on resolving the underlying trauma if the breath would naturally resolve itself? And, like, what’s the pro and con to addressing the breath pattern itself versus going deeper and figuring out what’s causing the dysfunctional breathing?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:18:56]:
Well, often, you you don’t have access to what actually caused it. It could be, you know, perinatal trauma before you actually have words to describe it. And and I don’t even know if it’s it’s necessary to actually identify the trauma and overcome that. But what it what is necessary is to identify the signals that happen in your body and recognize that, and Cohen, use those signals to rewire your nervous system so when when when those situations happen, you can actually control them and and calm yourself down and gain mastery over your mind and body.

Nick Urban [00:19:34]:
Have you heard of people using carboxy or some Mind, like, oxygen and carbon dioxide mixture, inhaling it either as a gas or using a, like, paper bag to inhale their own c 02 at higher concentrations to help overcome fear.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:19:49]:
I’m a medical doctor, and and I used to do a lot of work in emergency departments. And and it’s not, that uncommon for people to come in thinking they’re having a heart Cohen, and they’re panicking. They’re hyperventilating. And you do that you know, you do an ECG and you take a blood test and you realize that they’re not having a heart attack. They’re having a panic attack. And and the solution for that is a is a paper bag. You you rebreathe carbon because what they’ve done, they’ve blown off all their carbon dioxide so they get this tingling, and they they really disturbing symptoms. And you can actually do this artificially.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:20:18]:
I traveled for a while with Wim Hof, and I was I was giving it the the the science of the Wim Hof method lectures when he toured Australia. And, you know, we were getting big groups of people that all hyperventilate to the point of unit testing where their where their hands are clamp clamping up because they’ve blown off all their carbon dioxide. The calcium gets reabsorbed, and they can’t relax their muscles. So it can be quite disturbing. But, yeah, breathing into a paper bag during a panic attack is, you know, Nick sort of extreme method whereas, the 10 hacks to relax is sort of a milder version of that because you start to slow your breathing, control your breathing. But, yeah, the the doing breath work is is super powerful, because the breath is immediate. And, I mean, you can’t consciously control your heart rate. So heart rate variability is a really good indicator, but you can’t control it consciously or most, you know, non yo not super yogis can’t.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:21:13]:
I have met people that can’t. But in terms of the breath, that’s something we can control, and the breath is that connector between your autonomic nervous system and your central nervous system that you can control.

Nick Urban [00:21:25]:
On a similar note, have you heard of people, like, using a, like, hypercompensation strategy where they will actually, like, hyperventilate before they go into, say, an ice bath so that Cohen their body has to respond to a much greater stimulus. So they’d, like, hyperventilate Mind they do, like, plunge all the stops to really engage the parasympathetic afterward just to make it, like, a more a a larger hormetic response.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:21:50]:
Yeah. So, I I do that like I I when I teach, the Wim Hof breathing sort of, you know, the hyperventilation and breath cold. There’s some activities you can do when you’re a breath hold. So so usually the the practice goes, you know, you hyperventilate, you blow off all your carbon dioxide, so you’re starting to be really tingly. And that allows you to trick your body into holding your breath for much longer so you become hypoxic. And that hypoxia stimulates a lot of really powerful metabolic processes, which we can we can talk about. But but in that hypoxia, if you wanna extend the hypoxia so you basically hold your breath after hyperventilation, and you’ll find that you can most people can double their breath holding time quite comfortably just after hyperventilation. But at the end of that, breath hold, you start to become dysphoric.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:22:42]:
You have this uncomfortable feeling I need to breathing no. I wanna hold my breath. And when you get that feeling, what you can do is instead of instead of, you know, just releasing your breath and and breathing, you actually start to contract all your muscles, and you do a full body muscle contraction. So what you’re doing is you’re actually making more carbon dioxide. Because when you when you wanna breathe, it’s the it’s the carbon dioxide rise that actually gives you the trigger to breathe. It’s not the lack of oxygen. In fact, you can pass out because of lack of oxygen if that carbon dioxide hasn’t built up enough. And that’s why it’s dangerous to do this if you’re going underwater.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:23:15]:
You should not hyperventilate before you take a breath and go underwater because you can, pass that underwater URBAN people drown doing this. But if you’re if you’re comfortable, you know, you’re shooting comfortably, you’re lying comfortably, even if you did say you’re gonna come straight Nick. But when your carbon dioxide builds up and you’re becoming quite hypoxic, as as you’re saying, you can actually increase that, hypercapnia, increase the carbon dioxide in your blood by doing a full body contraction and squeezing all your muscles and and pushing really hard. And that Cohen you’ll get about 10 or 15 extra seconds of breath hold that you you know, you think you’re gonna break and that you can’t last anymore. Then you do that and you actually last longer. So you’re actually increasing the stress before you get the relaxation and that that that that relief. So that’s one example of that. Yeah.

Nick Urban [00:24:01]:
I didn’t realize that. Sometimes when I was in the sauna, I would do some Wim Hof breathing, and then I would do push ups at the very end. And I guess that’s probably doing something similar. I didn’t realize that that’s why and how it works, though.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:24:12]:
Well, so with with push ups Mind people can do the Cohen do this on retreats and and in in workshops and things where you get to be able to to, see how many push ups they can do comfortably. It might be, you know, some people might be 2, some people might be 20, some people might be Marc, and then you get them to hyperventilate. And then you get them to, do push ups again. And Cohen, they’ll do 50% more, and and they’ll do it while they’re holding their breath. So you’re going to hyperventilate, hold their breath, and then do push ups, and they’ll do 50% more. And that’s because you again, you’ve blown off the carbon dioxide. You’ve made your blood quite alkali. And usually, it’s the buildup of lactic acid that saves you the pain signal to stop doing that that, you know, the push ups or the Marc activities.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:24:55]:
But if you’ve already made your if you’re starting from a alkali position because you’ve blown off all your carbon dioxide and the carbonic acid’s been released, then you can actually do more push ups before you build up the lactic acid necessary to stop you. So, yeah, there’s another little trick you can do to extend that.

Nick Urban [00:25:10]:
Yeah. I’ve also been doing some research into a form of training called intermittent hypoxic training recently. And for the most part, it requires some pretty expensive gear if you actually wanna do it the way it’s done a lot of times in the research.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:25:23]:
Really? Ravelba Courtney was my PhD student who did the breathing, PhD. I think when we I think we published about 8 or 10 papers. She was quite prolific as a a PhD student, but, she put me onto that it was like 15 years ago Mind, at the time, I was training to go to Everest Base Camp. And so I actually used one of those machines in preparation for traveling to to going up to, Everest Base Camp. And, basically, it’s what it does, it it gives you hypoxic air. So and you can set the saves. So it gives you air at, you know, 4000 meters, 5000 meters, whatever, until your blood oxygen level goes to us you know, drops down to, you know, 90, 85, down down to 70. You can set the PO 2 that you wanna achieve, and then it takes you back up again.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:26:08]:
And it’s not just in the tolerating the the low oxygen, it’s in the change. So it’s having a low oxygen and then going back to normal Mind then having low oxygen again and going back to normal. So the fact that it’s intermittent, it’s not just hypoxic breathing. It’s intermission hypoxic training. And in fact, when you’re doing high altitude, Biohacking, you often do the same thing. So when I went to Everest Base Camp, we do a thing where we you you go you hike high and sleep low. So you’re thinking you’re going up all the time, but you go up a kilometer, you know, you go up a 1000 meters, then you walk down 500 meters in sleep. Then you go off a a 1000 meters, then you walk down 500 meters in sleep.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:26:45]:
And that helps you avoid altitude sickness because you’re adapting yourself to the the low oxygen when you hike up to a thou you know, a 1000 meters, a 1000 meters above where you were, and then you go down to 500 meters and sleep there and Cohen adjust. So that that intermittentness, and if in the adjustment that your body then adapts to that that stress that’s going on.

Nick Urban [00:27:08]:
Yeah. Exactly. There’s a pretty cool I think it’s a protein in the body called HIF Cohen alpha, and that is seems to be a lot of benefits outside of athletic training also for the brain and for the endothelial and the cardiovascular system, all that stuff?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:27:23]:
Well, there’s a whole lot of metabolic changes that happen with hypoxia. Hypoxia, I mean, really damaging. I mean, hypoxia can, you know, cause a heart attack or a stroke if if you have lack of blood flow. But that’s usually a lack of blood flow where the blood stopped and you’re not putting bathing getting rid of waste product. But if you’re generally hypoxic, you’re still removing the waste products. The blood’s still flowing. There’s just not a lot of oxygen there, and your body adapts to that in in different ways. And Mind it it actually releases stem cells.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:27:55]:
So stem cells are normally buried deep in our bone marrow, and they have a very slow metabolism. They don’t like oxygen. They have a very slow metabol but when when you’re hypoxic, those stem cells sort of wake up and start circulating Biohacking for things to do Mind, you know, looking for tissue they can replace. So, you know, being hypoxia, you actually get stem cell release. And that dysphoria, the, that discomfort you get with hypoxia actually releases a, chemical called dynorphin. And dynorphin, it’s similar to endorphin. Endorphin gets released when you’re in, you know, you’re running. You get the runner’s high.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:28:32]:
It gives you that sort of Peak, sort of high effect, but it’s your internal opioid. Well, dynorphin gets released when you’re uncomfortable, like at the end of a breath hold or when you’re hyperventilating bathing you really, you know, start to get a bit dizzy and and uncomfortable. But what dynorphin does, it increases the the number and the sensitivity of endorphin receptors. So by experiencing that that discomfort, you’re priming yourself to have more comfort later on because you’ve got you’re more sensitive to the endorphins that come later on. So by having that discomfort, Biohacking that pain, you actually increase your capacity for pleasure afterwards. And and that feeling you get so we and a lot of people who who do, say, the Wim Hof breathing, they’ll they’ll they’ll do the hyperventilation. They get really dizzy. They do the breath hold, and then they’ll do the recovery breath.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:29:22]:
But what what I love to emphasize is after that recovery breath, there’s this period, and it can last many minutes, where, you just go back into balance, and it’s quite euphoric. You get real peacefulness where you don’t really need to breathe much at all. So your your breath rate is is low. I’ve I’ve done this measuring my heart rate using a oximeter, and you can drop your resting heart rate by about 10 beats per minute below what was normally your minimal resting heart rate. So you can do this. I talked about it. Stillness being, you know, the key to to act activity. Well, after a a a bout of hyperventilation and then breath holding, you can get this incredible stillness.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:30:04]:
And and I really encourage people if they’re gonna do that to cultivate that. And that’s the reward for the discomfort of the hyperventilation or the discomfort of the breath hold. You get this new reward of the euphoria of that that stillness. That’s a really good time to start a meditation session. It’s also a really good time to make powerful decisions. So if you if you’ve got a lot of decisions you wanna make, you wanna do it when your mind, your body, your breath, and your gut are all on the same page. So what I like to do is if I’ve got decisions to make, you you sort of rationally think about all the pros and cons and, you know, you write down all the rational code, then you work out your gut feeling Mind how do you feel about it, and then you do an activity that brings your mind, body, and breath all together. And then the decision that the, answer of often just shows itself or reveals itself and becomes obvious, because you you’ve got your whole being is sort of sorting that problem out.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:30:58]:
It’s not just not second guessing yourself with just your Mind, and you’re not just going with a feeling. You can actually use your whole intelligence, your whole body’s intelligence to solve the problem. It’s a really really good to have a, a way into that or access that body intelligence at at a deep level. So CHEK and these practices can do that.

Nick Urban [00:31:17]:
I love that. My men’s group, we would do a couple rounds of Wim Hof together before we would drop into our session, and there’s a profound stillness and clarity and, like, connectedness that I would feel and everyone in the group would feel by the end of the session. And it’s almost addictive except for the fact that breath work takes work to actually get to that state.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:31:39]:
Yeah. It’s hard it’s hard Peak. You know? Just like getting into a cold shower and ice bath. No one really wants to get into an ice bath. But when you do it, well, I had another PhD student who’s, she’s bathing. Lauren URBAN. She she won the gold medal for taekwondo at the Sydney Olympics, and she’s in the Australian hot sports hall of fame. So she’s a super peak performer.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:31:59]:
And her PhD was interviewing people who had won multiple world championships. So they’ve been the world champion in their sport for multiple years just to be on her interview list. And she asked them, you know, what did what what what what do you attribute your success to? How do you stay at the top of the world in your in your sport for multiple years? And, I mean, she she published a whole PhD on this, and she’s published that. We’ve done a couple of academic papers on it. And some of the things that, came up, Mind was the most important. One of the things that that hadn’t been that well talked about in the literature was social Cohen, having a friendship group to appreciate you for who you are, not because you’re a winner or a loser or whatever. But the thing that the all the athletes did was ice bathing. And they said that they were introduced to ice bathing for recovery practices for training, but they kept on doing it for the mental health benefits that it gave them.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:32:53]:
And they said, you know, we didn’t water you know, no one wants to get into an ice bath. But when you’re doing when you’re in an ice bath, it brings you into the present moment. You’re not thinking about the competition or what happened yesterday or cursing yourself for not doing better. You’re just you’re creating a discipline of doing something that you didn’t wanna do and realizing you can do it. And they all continued, though, expecting to the mental health benefits. And and now we know that there’s there’s research on depression with, cold water swimming and and ice bathing, for example. But there there are mental health benefits that I think are quite underrated. A lot of people talk about ice bathing for the, you know, the physical benefits and and but the the mental health and and just the fact that you can force yourself to do something that you didn’t really wanna do and get a benefit from this, is a really great practice.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:33:39]:
So I’d encourage people to find something you don’t like to do and practice doing it.

Nick Urban [00:33:44]:
I find it striking that the social connection and the mindset, like, those are pretty universal across all different health and longevity goals. It seems that those always matter. They’re on every list of, like, the experts and the highest performers. And initially, when you were first mentioning ice bathing, I was thinking that perhaps it’s just a selection bias because in order to make the highest levels, you need to train often. In order to train often, you have to recover and really recover like a pro because you are pro. And perhaps that they were just using the ice bath because it helps them with the recovery. But to hear that they actually used it initially for the recovery and they transitioned into using it more for the mindset or in Practitioner for the mindset benefits, Found that interesting.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:34:33]:
Well, that’s right. And and in fact, if you look at the research on ice bathing for recovery, it’s not clear cut. I mean, there’s been some con you know, it’s it’s not straightforward that, yeah, definitely ice bathing improves recovery, and and so many people who wanna grow muscles. So encourage not to ice bathe because you wanna have that inflammation to then, you know, have muscle hypertrophy. But in terms of the the mental health benefits, I don’t know. This is what the athlete’s feedback was, was that, you know, we love to do ice bathing because of the mental resilience it gave us, not so much the physical resilience.

Nick Urban [00:35:05]:
Well, doctor Mark, do you also like bathing for other reasons, such as, like, perhaps you add minerals to your your water?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:35:14]:
I’m a big hot spring aficionado, and then I’m I’m sort of really blessed because I I have a job. I’m the medical director of the Peninsula Hot Spring Group. And they have 5 hot springs in Australia. 1 in 1 in New Zealand, which I’m also co owner of, and, 4 in Australia that, and and I get to as part of my job, go around the world visiting hot springs, and every hot spring is different. They all have different minerals, you know, combinations, different temperatures. And often around hot springs, they have, you know, saunas and steam rooms and, you know, cold plunge and cold rooms and and other great experiences. So I’m URBAN a big fan of that. You know, CHEK I have a bath here at home, I I almost always Health, pretty much always put in magnesium salt and and often sometimes some essential oils and some other bath oils as well.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:35:59]:
So, yeah, I love I love to, have that alchemy of bathing as well. And and one of the great things about bathing, I mean, I’ve sort of made it part of my career. CHEK I can travel the world, go to visit hot springs. And, so I I’ve become friends with a lot of hot spring owner owners around the world. So all, you know, all the and wherever I go in the world I mean, there are hot springs in every continent and pretty much every country. So wherever you go in the world, you can go visit a hot spring. And because I’m in that industry, I’ve become friends for the owners, and it becomes a social thing. So, you know, you can you can I can bathe socially? And and I was just talking to Charles yesterday about, having my Nick birthday party and having a party at the hot springs.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:36:41]:
And what a great thing to, you know, saves bathing as a focus, but I can invite all my friends to to come and bathe with me. And and even even if they’re not your friends, I’ve noticed if I’m in a in a hot pool, in a hot spring, bathing with other people, the conversations you you have and that’s the personal connection you have bathing with other people is much more intimate than talking at a bar or at a restaurant or some other, social environment because you’re there with your Body. You know, you’re tolerating it. And and it can be, you know, just thermo neutral, so you’re totally relaxed. Mind in that relaxed environment, the social connectivity you saves, I or I feel that I have is more profound.

Nick Urban [00:37:20]:
Yeah. Like that. In the gym I go to back in Austin, Texas, the sauna is the the watering hole for great conversations obvious time limitation because when you’re in a 185 degree Fahrenheit temperature, a 190 degree, It can only last so long, and other people only last so long as well. I love the idea of a thermo neutral spring. They’re they don’t seem to be very be as common as the extremes.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:37:47]:
Well, that and that’s another thing that, you know, I’m on a bit of a mission to promote the benefits of stillness. So even, like do and similar with the with the breathing that I talked about where people do the the hyperventilation in the breath hold, they don’t spend as much time in the relaxation. The same with contrast bathing. People do the sauna and then the cold plunge, but it’s really important once you’ve done the the sauna and the cold plunge that you then spend time resting and coming back into balance. And that that for me is the joy. That’s the benefit of of the hot and the cold. Then you come back Mind you practice relaxing while you’re relaxed. And that that becomes super powerful.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:38:26]:
And it is much more, socially conducive because when when you’re or when if you’re in the sort of the steam room, you can start chatting. But once you start to really heat up, you wanna go inside. You you know, it’s an internal thing because you you know, that that 4th mindfulness makes you mindful of your Body, and it’s so much harder to chat to someone else when you’re just trying to survive and and build up your tolerance. But then you then after the Practitioner, when you’re in the thermo neutral environment, that’s when you can be totally relaxed and at peace and and really connect at at a again, I’ll say that you make better decisions when you’re in that state, but you also make better interpersonal connections because you’re projecting your more authentic self because you’re more coherent. Your your your whole body and mind are are more together. So you can actually be more of who you are, and then that gets accepted so you have a more of an intimate connection with other people.

Nick Urban [00:39:17]:
So say my gym doesn’t have a thermo neutral environment aside from perhaps the outside air, how would you recommend slowly integrating that rather than going from one extreme to the next and then quickly getting dressed and going about my day?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:39:29]:
So it is really challenging. So I’ve got friends who, you know, they’ll go down to the live near a Urban, and, you know, they go and swim in the river, you know, in cold in the middle of water, but they they don’t have that thermal neutral environment to relax afterwards. So and it might just be and and I’ve said to them, you know, just lie down in your Marc, or find somewhere to lie down, at the gym. I don’t know. Often locker rooms don’t have great relaxation environment, and gyms are they’re and and even hot springs, they’re they’re really strapped to space. So in Europe, they do it really well. You go European hot springs, and they’ve got lots of beds, and you see all these people just lying around sleeping. In Australia and pretty much America and other places, it’s not so much.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:40:12]:
But it it’s worth it’s really worth, once you’ve done extreme hot or extreme cold or and preferably, you’ve done both, to find somewhere where you can just totally relax and almost do a yoga nidra. Imagine going to a yoga class Mind you do the yoga stress, and after the last stretch, everyone just walks out and gets stress without doing the relaxation at the end. You sort of feel cheated because it’s the relaxation at the end of the yoga class that sort of anchors all the benefits. But and it’s the same with contrast bathing. It’s, you know and the general protocol would be to rinse, then do hot, cold, rest, and then repeat. And I like to do if I’m doing a proper session, I like to do 3 rounds. So so the first round is just breathing yourself. How do I feel today? You know, did I eat well last night? Did I sleep? And water is my tolerance today? Because your tolerance to heat or cold will change every day.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:41:03]:
So the first round, you’re sort of orienting yourself and seeing how how how you feel. The second round, you go deeper. Mind the third round, you go even, you know, much deeper again. So it is really beneficial to try and do 3 rounds if you can. But then to have that that rest at the end and finish on that rest is is where all all the the the benefit is for your body because that’s when you come back into homeostasis. So your your body can come back into plunge. So your stress hormones get released. Your blood pressure comes down, your breath rate comes down, the mental chatter in your mind gets dissipated.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:41:37]:
So then you you become more whole. And it’s a shame to deprive yourself of that. You’re you’re doing the pain without the benefit. So, yeah, whatever that means for you, whether it’s finding even somewhere in a waiting room. It can be in your car, because and often you do need a controlled environment. So, a lot of hot springs where they’re outside, you can’t just relax if it’s freezing cold outside or if it’s really you know, under the sun or something. So you need need a temperature controlled environment. And I would treat it like you would a yoga class.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:42:07]:
So you’ve done the the stretch one way with the heat. You’ve done the stretch the other way with the cold, and then you come back into the relaxation. But you don’t wanna deprive yourself of that relaxation.

Nick Urban [00:42:16]:
What’s the doctor Mark protocol? So you start with heat, then you go to cold, then you take a a like, how long is your break between the

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:42:25]:
So usually I rinse, and that’s and so, you know, when I when I teach this and there’s about a dozen therapists at the hot springs who who do this every day. They do 4 times a day. They run their sessions. So we talk about rinsing, which is getting rid of all your personal care products and and if if you use them, but also preparing your your body for sensation and realizing that you’re coming to a ritual space. So you’re rinsing, like, all your skin gets, wet water and touched, and you’re preparing yourself for a a a sort of ritual, space, then you do the heat. And the heat could be a hot pool. It could be a a sauna. It could be a steam room.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:43:04]:
So there’s different ways of heat. They’re not sometimes I’d like to mix. So we do 3 rounds. You might do 1 round in the hot hot pool at 42 degrees or 43. Podcast Peak, I was or week and a half, I was ago, I was in California, and at Urban Hot Springs here, they got a 45 degree centigrade pool, which is super hot. You know? You you just have to really breathe just to get in there. So you do the heat first, and then you do the the cold, and you you can mix it up with just cold air. So you might just be work walking around, and I do that often at home here in Melbourne in wintertime.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:43:36]:
You know, I’ll I’ll have a really hot bath. So I’ll hop it after 5 or 10 minutes. I have to get out, and then I go outside Mind I lie in a hammock. And, you know, in the cold air, it might be 5 or 10 degrees centigrade. But you can last probably 10, 15 minutes after your body’s heated up in the hammock. So you slowly cool Cohen, and then you get to the point where you’re a little bit shivery Mind, hey, it’s time to go back, and then you can hop back in the bath. So there there are different saves of of modulating your temperature, but it’s it’s really valuable to be able to do that. So, yeah, my protocol is rinse the hot, cold.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:44:11]:
The rest is really important, and if you can, to repeat.

Nick Urban [00:44:14]:
Funny you mentioned Harbin Hot Springs in California. That’s one of the few, like, public hot springs I’ve been to aside from, like, couple different deserts. But, yeah, I got a experience there Also, that one is very hot. Between the hot and the cold, or I I guess water the hot and cold, are you resting, like, 5 minutes or an hour? Like, how long do you get your body to come back to baseline?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:44:36]:
5 to 10 minutes is good. You can do it longer if you wanna do a meditation or if you wanna do something else. Similar to, you know, what you do at a yoga class, maybe 5 to 10 minutes of a of a deep relaxation. But you you really wanna get to the point where you’re you’re feeling really calm and collected and and at peace with yourself in the world. And and that’s such a beautiful feeling that why not prolong it? But I think, you know, anything less than 5 minutes, you’re probably not quite there.

Nick Urban [00:45:05]:
I know that, personally, I used to not like to sit around during my sauna sessions. So I would do some Mind training with blood flow restriction training or just body weight training, meditations, just something to, like, stack biohacks at the same time. Do you like to just focus on the sauna itself, or do you ever combine different modalities together? Oh, we

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:45:32]:
talk about extending the stay, you know, like with the with when you’re breath holding, you we talk about extending the stay, you know, like with the Cohen you’re breath holding, you can contract your body and extend your breath hold. When you’re in a sauna, when you’re really hot Mind you think you’re gonna you have to get out because it’s unbearable. I get ice water. And there’s different ways to practice it. But the easiest way is to get get a a plastic bottle with a some ice water, and if you got an, you know, ice bath, you just grab a bottle full of ice water with a with a nail hole in the bottom of the bottle. So you get a very, very fine stream of ice water that you can put on your head, on the back of your Nick you get the shiver giggles. It makes you you know, saves you that whole or or you put the ice water on your feet. And what that does, when you’re feeling really, really hot, but suddenly you’ve got this ice water dripping down the back of your neck and on your head or on your feet, and suddenly that ice water feels just delightful.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:46:22]:
It brings your sensations back into your body, and it cools you down so you can actually stay Mind the heat longer. No another thing to do in sauna and and not I think with an infrared sauna, you can’t do that because you can’t use water inside an infrared sauna, which is one of the bathing the drawbacks of infrared, because I loved using cold water in a sauna. But the the other thing you can do in a sauna, especially if you’re using steam, but even without steam, is to get a fan Mind, like a Chinese fan and move the air around. Mind, you know, in Europe, they do. They, you know, they use towels, and they waft the air around as a whole performance. But when you start moving steam around, you get conduction because the the air is touching your body and and bathing the heat in or out, But then you get convection as well. And that increases either hot or cold. So the Health the heat in the cold is carried by water.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:47:12]:
So it’s the if you’re in a dry sauna, you can tolerate much much hotter than if you’re in a steam sauna or if there’s humidity there. So when you put steam in, it reduces your tolerance. And then if you move that steam around, that, really Podcast you. So and and I do this with other Peak, and I I like to do it myself. So you breath steam, and then you’ll fan yourself, and you can really blast yourself and and be the hottest you’ve ever felt. Because when you got steamed, you’re being a push on your Body. So that’s really forcing heat into your body with conduction and convection. But similarly in an ice bath, if you move the water around an ice bath, it’s much colder than if you’re still in an ice breath.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:47:51]:
And it’s for the same reason because the water is transferring heat from conduction and convection. So taking a fan into a sauna or a, a bottle of ice water into a sauna, Using essential oils in a sauna is also great. There’s a whole lot of, you know, amazing essential oils that help with our mucolytics, you know, to break up mucus, that enhance the immune system, that just enhance your experience Mind the smell and the scent. So that yeah. A lot of the sort of stacking things, and and, yeah, you you can increase as many I mean, humming in a both humming’s breath. They’re actually in an ice breath. Or humming because that you get the prolonged expiration. It stops you hyperventilating.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:48:32]:
So instead of, you go, and you force people to it, and it naturally relaxes you or It naturally relaxes you. At the peninsula hot springs, there’s a hamam. There’s a, you know, a steam, a steam room, like a traditional Turkish one with a dome. Mind when you in there, the whole room vibrates. And that’s a great thing. So using sound, you know, sound or accent, you you, you’re ex you you know, to increase your experience, but it’s also you get this incredible, resonance that happens. And you can actually join other people doing that. And We’ve we’ve had amazing humming sessions there where you get the incredible vocal harmonics that happen, just by really soft humming will be amplified in the room so it feel it fills the whole room.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:49:14]:
So there’s there’s some really great little tricks like that that I that I love to sort of discover and play with and and share with with with your audience, but also with my friends and and and and the the wider public.

Nick Urban [00:49:26]:
Absolutely. Yeah. I’m thinking about the ways you could create, like, a different style of contrast here too. You could have a sauna with the sound, the light, the the sense from essential oils, and then you can go from that and contrast it with, like, a sensory deprivation chamber or something like that. And I’m sure that would have all kinds of different effects than, let’s say, a cold bath after

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:49:45]:
Wellness temperature deprivation is when you wanna do the relaxation. That’s that’s that’s thermo neutral Mind things like that yoga nidra space. I’ve got I’ve got a a another good friend of mine who makes, these bee meditation hubs, which is like a little, yoga nidra space built on top of beehives. And there’s slits in the floor where you could where the pheromones from the beehive come into where your into your space. And bees can’t get to you, but the pheromones can and they show the honey can and the buzzing can. So you’re literally lying on top of these beehives, hearing the the bee humming, and you you actually get the like, the humming is a drone that actually has the ambiance and a a modulation to it. And it it just it’s just comforting to your nervous system, and we don’t know what the pheromones do. There there’s actually you know, I think in Romania, there’s, a it’s a registered medical treatment for lung disease where you actually breathe the pheromones out of the beehive.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:50:40]:
And and apparently that that’s not that great for the bees. If you’re sucking they have like a tube and they suck the air from the beehive and just bring that. And then you’re stripping the beehive of their pheromones. The bees don’t know what’s going on because they need their pheromones to control their whole social activity. But if you’re in the room with them and it just swits in the floor, you’re not taking the pheromones away from them. You’re just circulating around in your room. And that that’s really powerful to, have that deep relaxation as a Cohen with nature. And and similar Podcast bathing, you know, shuriniku, which is, you know, being out in nature where you’re actually exchanging DNA and and resonance with the trees and the plants and the fungi and the soil and all of that.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:51:20]:
It stress enhances your experience. So in nature, there’s still a lot we have to learn about this, a lot we don’t understand, but you can experience it directly. And you don’t need to fully understand it to experience it.

Nick Urban [00:51:32]:
Well, doctor Mark, I wanna do a follow-up code, if you’re willing, on more of these futuristic ancient medicines because I had never heard of Bioharmony, and I’m sure there’s lots of those types of things that you come across in your research. But I wanna continue down the contrast therapy rabbit hole we went down and talk more about that in this one because we already are running out of time. But when it comes to contrast therapy, whether it’s the hot, the cold, or the still afterward, what are the big mistakes you see people making?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:52:04]:
So the biggest one is they don’t they don’t respect the stillness. They do the hot or the cold, and then they just go on with their life and get dressed and continue rather than really anchoring that benefit. So that that’s probably the biggest one. The other one is social pressure, but, you know, I did these big events with Brim Hoff, and you get all the alpha males and the alpha females, all the firefighters, the martial artists, and they’re, you know, they they they really they wanna push themselves really hard. But I bathing it’s it’s not that great to to push yourself really hard and go hard immediately. You wanna ease yourself into it. So you you wanna orient yourself and and feel comfortable at every stage, not just, you know, suffer through it and and tolerate it. After I’d sort of worked it was about 2016 when I was traveling with Wim Hof doing that.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:52:52]:
I did another tour in Australia, and it was with, Therese Kirsch who’s Miranda Kirsch’s mom and she had this organic skincare range and we did this wellness tour around Australia. And the audience there was totally different. It was, like, 40 to 70 year old women. They weren’t the alpha type, and we got we but we did breathing and ice bathing with them. And for them, the hardest thing was actually not the ice bathing. It was actually being comfortable seeing bathing with other with by their peers. It was like this social thing that was that was challenging for them. But, one of the things I I sort of came up with was is a way to ease yourself into hot and cold bathing that’s gentle.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:53:33]:
Because, you know, sermons and and ice baths are quite stress, and, there’s a whole it’s it’s not really a poem, but it’s a it’s a little song and dance routine that I came up with. I call it the cold water hokey pokey. It’s something you can do at home in your own shower. And it starts just have a, you know, normal hot shower, and that’s comfortable. At the end of your hot shower, you turn the heat up. So you make yourself a little bit prickly hot and flushed. So you’re actually getting you know, you’re quite hot. And at that point and the hardest thing in in any hot any Podcast, bathing, the hardest thing is the decision to do it.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:54:07]:
So once you’re really hot, you you make the decision. You turn the hot water off and the cold water on, but you just wet your left foot. And that’s okay because your body’s really hot, and you just wet your left foot. I I can tolerate the cold in my left foot, and then you do your leg. Then you do your right foot and your leg Mind your left hand and arm and your other hand and arm. And then you keep breathing calmly and smile to yourself because that’s what it’s all about, you know, being relaxed in that stress. And what that first round has done is you push the hot the hot blood in your arms and legs. You push that into your core because you’ve basically constricted your your limbs.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:54:40]:
So there you’re so you’re still feeling quite water. And then you take a big breath in, and as you’re breathing out slowly, as you’re sighing, you put your left side in. Mind, normally, when the water would hit your your neck, that’s where the blood vessels are quite close to the surface. Normally, you you gasp. But if you’re already sighing like that, then you feel the cold, but you don’t get the gasp, and you don’t get the emotional reaction. So you put your left side in as you saw your right side in, your front side in, and you turn yourself around. You keep breathing calmly and smile to yourself because that’s what it’s all about. And then take another deep breath, and as you saw, you put your whole head in.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:55:18]:
Mind, you know, move your head around, you know, stand still, get a drenching, slowly turn yourself around, Continue breathing calmly. Smile to yourself because that’s what it’s all about. And then you do do the hokey Peak. You go, oh, hokey pokey. You put the water on your kidneys. Go, oh, hokey pokey, put the water on your groin. And, oh, hokey pokey, put the water on your armpits. And by that time, what you’ve done, you’ve braced your whole body for the cold.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:55:41]:
And, you’ll find yourself standing under the cold water, and you’ll be breathing relaxed, and you’re feeling calm. And at that point, you can turn the water off and and get out. And it takes about a minute. And at that point, you’ve, you know, spent about a minute. You’ve started your day singing and dancing, and you feel really alive and invigorated after the cold shower. But even even that can be too much for Peak. So you can just start the first round. Just do the first verse.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:56:05]:
Just your arms and legs for a few days, and then you work up to the Mind verse and the 3rd verse. So I I I think people going straight into it without any practice and then traumatizing themselves, I think that’s a that’s an issue. So you wanna be gentle with yourself. You wanna be able to tolerate it. You wanna stay in control all the way. And and there are people who have I mean, most people have unresolved trauma. And that’s just if you’re a human being, you’ve probably got unresolved trauma. And some people, that’s really serious.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:56:31]:
So you you you you wanna be gentle with yourself. You don’t wanna, you know, beat up on yourself or force yourself. And I think that’s a mistake that people make. Thinking of, I can’t tolerate. I’m weak. But it’s just, it’s like you wouldn’t you wouldn’t force someone to do the split straight away. You’d get them to gradually, you know, loosen their hips and then water up and stretch Mind and over maybe months, you know, loosen up their their joints so they can, you know, do a wide, split. It’s the same with contrast bathing.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:56:58]:
You don’t wanna stress everybody’s different. Even you’re different at different peptides, in different days, and and how you feel. So you wanna respect that and take it easy, and and guide yourself. But you do wanna push yourself to the limit, but realizing your limits will plunge, and you don’t wanna exceed those limits. Because just like if you if you exceed those limits when you’re stretching, you’re gonna hurt yourself Mind you reduce your flexibility rather than increase it.

Nick Urban [00:57:25]:
Yeah. That’s a a great tip. I see it a lot is the Practitioner. How many minutes did you do? At what temperature? It’s like, well, it’s not always about who did longer at the colder temperature.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:57:33]:
Yeah. And with Beth Hardy, I I did 3 minutes. I did 4 minutes. So it’s it’s not about the I mean, it’s nice to have an idea of the time just to orient yourself how you’re feeling today. And, oh, wow. I’m feeling really good, or this is not well, I can only hold it to, you know, 3 minutes to water that is. But it the numbers Marc important for feeling that you get. And often people, you know because often people say, how long shall I be in the sauna? You know? And, you know, how long do I stay in the ice bath? Well, it’s not about the time.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:57:59]:
And even with the sauna, it depends on the humidity. It depends on the temperature. It depends on how you feel, All all of those things. So it’s really that orienting yourself to the internal feeling that you’re generating, when you’re under stress. So that’s, yeah, that’s the key.

Nick Urban [00:58:14]:
I think I’m gonna try that. I’m gonna take your idea of multiple rounds. The first one as an orientation Mind then the stillness between and after each round. And then also you’ve alluded to the difference between infrared and traditional saunas. The explanation of what they what they are is a bit long for the final minutes of the podcast, but do you have a preference between traditional and infrared?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:58:37]:
I mean, I have both. I I’m lucky I’ve got 2 saunas here at home, but I prefer I prefer the traditional sauna. 1, because it’s up near my swimming pool, and it’s it’s more convenient to jump in the pool and and hot tub and shower. But, I love the traditional sauna because you can play with the stress, and you can play with water. So I love having the steam, and you can put essential oils on the rocks and and create steam, and you move the steam around with the sand. And you can also put the ice water over you in the traditional sauna. So for me, that’s a strong preference. But it it really whatever makes you sweat, it it’s the sweating.

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:59:11]:
It’s the feeling that you get that’s a benefit. How you get there is actually less important. I just like the traditional because it’s you know, I I like playing with toys, so with fans and water and oils and stuff. So that’s more available, I think, in the Practitioner shonda infrared sorta.

Nick Urban [00:59:26]:
We also talked a lot about water. And do you use, like, reverse osmosis to filter your water before you bathe in it and or consume it, including in the shower? Or do you use bathing else?

Dr. Marc Cohen [00:59:38]:
Not reverse osmosis. And in fact, you know, I I ended up creating a whole company around, water Optimization. Because as a doctor, I was telling people, you know, water is, you know, is a it’s the operating system of your consciousness. You need to change your water. Well, you need to have filtered water. And people would say to me, know, so what waterfall dish should I get? And I’d say, well, it’s really complicated. And they’d say, well, you’ve got a medical degree and 2 PhDs. If you can’t work it out, how are we supposed to work it out? So I actually did a whole lot of research on this.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:00:06]:
I went to different water conferences. I actually spoke at the, the International Conference on the Physics, Chemistry and Biology of Water in 2016 in Bulgaria, which is George Pollack who has the 4th phase of water. He’s got an amazing video on the 4th phase of water. People haven’t watched that. And I went down the water rabbit hole and realized it’s really important to to bathe in beautiful water. You know, it’s my little recipe for wellness stuff with bathe in beautiful water. And it’s probably more important to bathe in chlorine free water than it is to drink chlorine free water. And they actually did some research on this in the late 19 nineties.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:00:38]:
It’s on PubMed if people wanna look it up. But what they did is they got people to drink, chlorinated water, and they measured the the disinfection byproducts Cohen, ethylene and, trihalomethanes and things in their blood. And when you drink pollinator water, it doesn’t appear in your blood because your liver filters it out. So it’s it’s actually it gives your liver a a high impact as I saw it breath for your liver, but it doesn’t appear in your blood. Then they got people to to have a bath in chlorinated water, but they were wearing a wetsuit so the water couldn’t touch their skin. So they were just breathing the bath air. And they saw this huge spike in in all these disinfection byproducts because the they they they’re volatile, and they code in through your plunge, and they bypass your liver and go straight into your blood. Then they did the same thing where they breath fresh air, but the water was touching their skin.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:01:27]:
And again, the water the disinfection byproducts went straight through your skin into your bloodstream, bypassing the liver, and you got this huge spike in disinfection byproducts. So it’s really important to bathe in in chlorine free water. And the other thing is that people don’t realize or that I think we’re starting to realize is your skin has, over 2,000,000 little, sweat glands and and sebaceous glands and hairs where the skin dips down and goes back up. And at the base of those little clefts is there’s oils that your skin secretes, and those oils protect your skin from, UV radiation. They protect your skin from drying out. So it protects you from wrinkles and aging. They also feed good bacteria that protect you from bad bacteria. And when you’re bathing chlorinated water, you’re oxidising those oils, and you’re stripping away the good bacteria from your skin.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:02:19]:
So you’re actually removing this protective layer that your body has evolved to have, and you’re making yourself more susceptible to sun damage, to wrinkles, to aging, and to infections. So when you start to bathe in beautiful water, in water that’s not chlorinated, that’s that’s filtered, it takes probably, you know, 2 or 3 weeks just like it would in your gut microbiome. Your biome changes. Your skin changes. It becomes the oils start to change, and your skin starts to feel better. So it’s a it’s a really powerful bathing. But, reverse osmosis, you can’t get the flow water to bathe in it because it’s quite a slow process. It wastes a lot of water.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:02:59]:
It wastes a lot of energy, and you don’t wanna drink reverse osmosis water either because minerals are good for you. And drinking reverse osmosis strips the strip the, the minerals out of your body. So, I I ended up finding this Russian technology, which is a combination of activated carbon with this code polymer that’s silver impregnated that forces the water to go into vortexes. So it it, naturally alkalinizes the water, and it converts the calcium crystals from calcite, which is these brick shaped, molecules of the calcium, and they form scale into aragonite, which is like a diamond shape that that flow over each other. So it stops scale buildup on your in your water you know, your heater, your your water heater Mind your kettles and and even on your glassware or on your shower screen, but also in your body Mind on your hair and on your skin so you don’t get this, mineral buildup. So bathing, filtered water, so chlorine free water, is really important. If you can’t afford a filter no. I said, like, I I I like to sell people stuff, but I tell them how to do it themselves for free.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:04:05]:
Well, if you if you don’t have a whole house water filter, if you if you fill up your bath really, really hot, put the fan on and wait 15 minutes. A lot of those volatile compound compounds will outgas. The fan will take them away, and then you can have a relatively chlorine free bath, you know, without having a filter. So that’s sort of you know, so when I go to hotel hotels and travel around, you know, I love bay I don’t wanna you know, bathing not optional. You know? Bathing’s compulsory, but, you don’t wanna bathing in poison. And, yeah, chlorine is poison. So yeah.

Nick Urban [01:04:38]:
I’m in India, and I don’t have the ability to install a whole house filter of any kind. I’m stuck with what they have. Do you recommend any, like, point of use shower filters, like, something you just screw on?

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:04:49]:
Yeah. So there’s some quality air filters. I I don’t actually sell them. There’s a lot of them on the market. So the KVF shower filter is like a a shower rose that you can get that will remove most of the chlorine. And that’s that’s so worth having. And especially if you’ve got eczema, dandruff, dry skin, you know, any sort of skin condition or even if you’re prone to sunburn. Because without that, you you say you’re stripping away your natural protection from the sun and from the from the wind and from the from the elements.

Nick Urban [01:05:17]:
And that’s even before we’re using abrasive chemicals and detergents and all that kind of stuff on our skin. That’s just from the water itself.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:05:24]:
Absolutely. And and then it gets even worse when you’re talking about your gut because, I mean, the Practitioner our skin, we’re only we’re only just understanding the the skin microbiome is not as well as understood as the gut microbiome, and the gut microbiome is still being worked out. I was talking to a, a company, Microba, that do microbiome analysis. And Let’s say for every Nick people they analyze, they find a brand new bacteria that’s never been documented before. So we’re we’re still just understanding what’s going on with the gut microbiome. It’s super complex. But then you think most people, you know, they had antibiotics. They have, there’s glyphosate on pretty much breathing, you know, to in a state, but most most of the world now, which which attacks bacterial, pathways, chlorine in our water.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:06:10]:
And the other thing is we don’t eat living foods anymore. Most of the most of the foods people eat, are fermented foods. So things like bread and cheese and wine and beer and tea and coffee and chocolate, they’re all fermented, but they’re not alive. Whereas, you look at our ancestors, the most cuisines, there would be something living on your plunge, a little bit of kimchi or sauerkraut or yogurt or kefir or kombucha or something that’s got probiotic activity that’s alive. And we miss out on that in the modern world. And it’s so easy to to bring back into your life. And so one of the companies I’ve created is called Extremely Alive, and we make living probiotic kombucha minerals, and we infuse them with herbs. But people can make kombucha themselves.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:06:58]:
And in fact, the the vinegars we sell are a probiotic, and if you just fed that green tea, sweet tea, you could actually make kombucha from it because it’s it’s actually a living culture. But to to make kombucha at home yourself is super easy. And most people don’t realize it. They they think, oh, it spoils. It goes off. I I I neglect it. If you neglect your kombucha for 6 months or so or even the 3, 6 months, it’ll turn to vinegar. And that vinegar’s super Cohen, and it’s probiotic.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:07:25]:
So you can actually use that. And, we might have to have a whole another episode because one of the one of the most powerful ancient medicines are called oxymols, and oxymols are acid honeys. So it’s mixing vinegar with honey, and, that’s what Hippocrates prescribed. Hippocrates he said, let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. But what he was talking about was vinegar and honey as they’re both foods and medicines. And, in ancient Persia, there were 1200 recipes for oxygen. So the vinegar and honey combinations were the base for all their medicine. And, again, this is something you can do at home.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:08:00]:
Make make some kombucha, ignore it for 6 months, or turn to vinegar. Go to your local beekeeper, get some raw natural honey Mind precious honey, mix that with your vinegar, and you’ve got this incredible base. I mean, that itself is super medicinal, but then that can be you I mean, Cohen, but you get salad dressing. Right? But you can make it more Cohen, and it becomes like a kombucha syrup concentrate. You can actually add a whole lot of other herbs to it. And I actually really like adding a bitter herb to it because you got the the the sourness of the vinegar and the sweetness of the honey. So you add a bitter herb like andrograthus or dandelion or coffee or cacao. So you got the bitter, salty, sour, and sweet, and the salty comes from the the vinegar as well a bit.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:08:40]:
So you got this blending of flavors. You know, in India, they have, shamanprush. Don’t know if you’ve you’ve seen shamanprash, which is like Indian health jam. And the I think the recipe for shamanprash is, like, 3000 years old or Marc, and it has, like, 58 different herbs in it. Mind amla was the main one, which is the high vitamin c. Her but it’s also ghee. But it’s basically ghee and honey mixed with all the different herbs. It’s like an Indian health gem.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:09:06]:
It’s it’s but it’s sweet and salty and spicy and sour and bitter all at the Cohen. So blends all the different 5 5 flavors. So it’s it’s a really if you’re in India, go go and get some shell and fresh and try it. It’s it’s amazing.

Nick Urban [01:09:19]:
Yeah. Absolutely. Well, doctor Mark, I have a lot of things earmarked for our next conversation. If you’re willing to come back on, I’d love to host you again. This has been a blast. I can’t believe it’s already been over an hour. But if people wanna connect with you, if they want to follow your work, to check out some of your products and companies? How do they find you on the Internet?

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:09:39]:
So I’ve got a website, which is just Marc, code m a r c dot c o. But doctormark.co is my website. Most of my products, more my academic papers Mind, other bathing, and a lot of my poetry is there. And, Facebook and LinkedIn are the main 2. I don’t really do Instagram. I’ve got a I’ve got a a a account, but I don’t really use it. So Facebook and Nick LinkedIn and my website are the main 2. They can contact me through the website if if people want to.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:10:07]:
Mind, I think it’s right. There’s there’s Cohen poem that I that I I’d love to end with, and it’s a poem that, I came up in the in the start of the pandemic where I was thinking, well, the things you can do at home that have research evidence that they improve immunity and reduce anxiety, but that they’ve all but they also can be done at home with no cost, training, or equipment. Mind I started writing this list of all these intimate activities that people do in lockdown and, came up with 50 Practitioner. And, as I put them together, it turned into a poem. So for this poem, I I I talk about it. This is a way you can go from tired to chilled and fulfilled or from stressed and depressed to joyfully blessed. So I call this poem the world of wellness. So the world of wellness.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:10:54]:
Hold someone’s Mind, saves into their eyes. Go barefoot in nature, bask in sunrise. Choose a dance partner and go find your grooves. Do Tai CHEK or yoga, mindfully saves. Share a massage. Enjoy healing touch. Focus on one thing Mind don’t think too much. Make time for a hobby.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:11:18]:
Play chess. Fly a kite. Make use of your hands. Draw paint, sew, or write. Help someone in need. Donate to a cause. Play games. Meditate.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:11:33]:
Read stuff from bookstores. Turn off your screens Mind get a good sleep. Declutter, spark joy, and love what you keep. Dig around in a garden, pick up a guitar, flip into a bathtub, sauna, or spa, care for a pet, take up a sport, Go on vacation Mind make your home a resort. Lie in a hammock. Relieve pent up stress. Relax and do nothing, and then do even less. Laugh out loud, share a joke, give someone a code, say a prayer, chant a mantra, and follow your bliss.

Nick Urban [01:12:23]:
Beautiful. That is such a great way to end. And, again, I wanna print Cohen of these both of these out so far, the ones you’ve shared, And I’m looking forward to exploring some more of your health poetry because lots of different actionable things we can all do there that don’t involve any crazy supplements or other therapies or Practitioner. Just very simple natural practices.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:12:47]:
So if you look up wellness poems on my website, they’re all there, and if you can download them, share them, plunge. I think the more the more they get distributed, the better the world will have. So thank thank you for giving me the platform to share share my work. Yeah. I’m really, really happy to do that. Thank you.

Nick Urban [01:13:05]:
Yeah. Thanks Thanks for joining the podcast today, and until next time. I’m Nick Urban here with doctor Mark Cohen signing out from mindbodypeak.com. Have a great week Mind be an outlier. I hope that this has been helpful for you. If you enjoyed it, subscribe and hit the thumbs up. I love knowing who’s in the 1% committed to reaching their full potential. Comment 1% below so that I know who you are.

Dr. Marc Cohen [01:13:30]:
For all

Nick Urban [01:13:30]:
the resources and links, meet me on my website at mindbodypeak.com. I appreciate you and look forward to connecting with you.

Connect with Dr. Marc Cohen @ Extreme Wellness

This Podcast Is Brought to You By

Nick Urban is a Biohacker, Data Scientist, Athlete, Founder of Outliyr, and the Host of the Mind Body Peak Performance Podcast. He is a Certified CHEK Practitioner, a Personal Trainer, and a Performance Health Coach. Nick is driven by curiosity which has led him to study ancient medical systems (Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hermetic Principles, German New Medicine, etc), and modern science.

Nick Urban

Music by Luke Hall

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