I’m always searching for new and interesting ways to improve my quality of life with Meniere’s disease.
Usually that amounts to a lot of trial and error, self-experimentation, and failure.
But every once in a while, I stumble across something that truly grabs my attention and sets my mind running wild with possibilities.
I’ve only had a few of these moments over the years, but most of them ended up being responsible for some of my greatest health related breakthroughs.
And it’s happening again. I feel as though I’ve stumbled onto something truly wonderful.
For a while, I’ve been closely following the meteoric rise of a remarkable man named Wim Hof.
Wim is a Dutch adventurer and world record holder for incredible feats such as staying submerged in ice for 1 hour 52 minutes and 42 seconds, climbing Mt. Everest to 22,000 feet in nothing but shorts and a pair of shoes, and running marathons barefoot, wearing nothing but shorts, without water, in both temperatures below -4°F in Finland, and above 104°F, in the Namib Desert.
These acts of strength and endurance are mind boggling, but surprisingly, they’re not what drew my interest.
No, what so thoroughly captured my imagination with Wim is that he can influence his body and physiology in ways, that until recently were thought to be impossible.
Master of body and mind:
In an age of mystical quacks and charlatan healers, Wim has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to directly control his immune system response and autonomic nervous system in a research laboratory setting.
Just to give you an idea, researchers injected Wim with a bacterial endotoxin designed to induce a powerful immune response, one that should have made him violently ill for several hours. Fever, headaches, nausea, and vomiting were expected. Yet lying in the hospital bed, Wim was completely fine.
The researchers discovered that Wim was able to suppress the immune response by consciously raising his levels of adrenaline and other stress hormones at will.
This shouldn’t have been have been possible
But as incredible as this sounds, it gets better, because Wim isn’t just some outlier or freak medical mystery. In fact, when asked, he’s quick to say that there’s nothing special about him at all.
His techniques, known as the Wim Hof Method, are entirely teachable.
His students have scientifically demonstrated the same abilities, and after only a week or two of training.
As I said, he’s a remarkable man. And he’s now on a mission to teach his methods, spreading health, strength, and happiness to the world.
The Wim Hof Method is a 10-week online video course, and as of few days ago, I’m officially enrolled.
Learning to influence my immune system:
I first discovered Wim through an astounding documentary by Vice.com.
(Take the time to watch this – I can’t recommend it enough!)
It blew my mind and I immediately felt that it could benefit me . There seemed to be so much potential. And once he was on my radar, I started seeing him everywhere. He suddenly appeared on my YouTube feed and on many of my favorite podcasts. The world was starting to take notice of Wim Hof.
So, you’re probably wondering what it takes to achieve this level of control over the body – to be able to suppresses illness and inflammation while consciously controlling our immune response and nervous system?
Surprisingly, not much.
For all its potential, the Wim Hof Method is fairly simple, consisting of breathing techniques, easy physical exercises and stretching, progressive cold exposure (cold showers), and mental focus.
“Over time, we, as humans have developed a different attitude towards nature around us and we actually forgot one thing, “inner power.” This is the relationship by our physiological mechanisms to adapt and survive within our natural environment, which is direct and effective.
Because we wear clothes and control the temperatures at home and work, we have changed the stimulation on our body, thus the old mechanisms related to survive and function. As these deeper physiological layers are not stimulated anymore we have become alienated from them, and so our bodies have weakened and we are no longer in touch with this inner power. The inner power is a force accumulated by full awakened physiological processes. It also influences the very core of our DNA.” — Wim Hof, Wim Hof Method
Wim Hof Method, Chronic Illness, and Quality of Life:
So how can all this help someone with Meniere’s disease, or any other chronic illness for that matter?
I’m not entirely sure, but I intend to find out.
I am officially six days into the online course, and so far, I’m impressed. My initial results have been astonishing.
For starters, I’ve had a lot less fatigue over the past few days. I seem to have a solid surplus of mental energy, which is great, because fatigue has been an issue for me lately. My brain fog has lessened too. In fact, the breathing exercises seem to eradicate my brain fog in the moment. This alone is a huge success.
The calm focus and mental clarity that I experience after the daily exercises is profound.
I also haven’t had any major issues so far other than a minor headache, but there are a few things that I’m wary of and plan to monitor closely.
Despite my lingering worries, I feel better than I have in a while.
I’m coming off a difficult couple of weeks, yet my stress and anxiety levels are down, and my Meniere’s symptoms are in check.
I do, however, have a few concerns worth mentioning. For example, the breathing exercises are intense and seem to affect my ears in a strange way. I’ve yet to determine if this is actually a good thing or a bad thing, but immediately after I’m finished, my tinnitus is slightly louder for a few minutes, and my hearing feels very sensitive. It’s possible it’s simply increasing blood flow in and around my ears, but that’s just a guess. I’m looking into it.
The exercises also produce temporary feelings of lightheadedness and dizziness, though I expected it. According to Wim, everyone experiences these effects from the breathing exercises. It’s not an unintended side effect or consequence.
But the strange effects never last long, and I always feel great afterward. I just worry that some of it may be a symptom trigger for certain people.
At the end of the day, my gut instinct is that the benefits will far outweigh any potential risks. But I promise to let you know how it goes.
Over the following 10 weeks, I will be checking in to keep you posted and share my experiences.
Want to learn more?
Read Becoming the Iceman written by Wim’s Son