Take a Cold Shower to Protect Against Colds and Flu This Winter

At first, it sounds crazy – can a cold shower really prevent colds and flu? But Dr. Alexa Fleckenstein, author of HEALTH 2 0: TAP INTO THE HEALING POWERS OF WATER TO FIGHT DISEASE, LOOK YOUNGER, AND FEEL YOUR BEST (McGraw-Hill 2007) says that a few seconds of cold water after your hot shower is scientifically proven to make you healthy – even if you’re in the cold water for less than 30 seconds a day.

Here are 6 ways that a short cold shower protects you from colds and flu:

1. A brief cold water shower will decrease your body’s “reaction time” to cold. The cold shower “teaches” the blood vessels in your skin to clamp down faster, so you are losing less warmth in draft or cold exposure. Especially, during the winter months while it’s cold outside, you’ll stay warmer, longer.

2. Gamma interferon and interleukin-4 are two important virus-fighting cytokines (immune system proteins) A new German study has shown that cold water exposure helps these two disease-fighters work better together, resulting in fewer viral colds.

3. A cold shower increases lymphocytes in the blood. Lymphocytes produce antibodies, which help fight germs.

4. A cold shower makes you breathe deeply. (A big gasp when the cold water hits the skin!) A deep breath opens closed or clogged alveoli (small air sacs in the lungs) which are then less prone to bronchitis and pneumonia. And deeper breathing means more oxygen for the whole body.

5. A cold shower increases blood flow in all organs, especially skin, heart and lungs. The pharynx/larynx ( organs of the throat) also benefit from the increased blood flow, and are better able to kill viruses.

6. And a cold shower lifts your mood. Depressed people get more colds – probably because depression lowers immunity. A brisk cold shower has been proven to lift the mood and lower stress, both of which jumpstart the immune response – which kills flu and cold germs!

Remember that cold water therapy works only if done regularly, and also needs a few weeks (about six) to work. Start with just your feet and hands in the cold water, and gradually work your way up to your whole body. It feels great!

IMPORTANT: Check with your doctor first. Contraindication include uncontrolled high blood pressure, and narrowing of the arteries.

91 Comments

Filed under children's health, cold shower health benefits, colds and flu, Health, Water

91 responses to “Take a Cold Shower to Protect Against Colds and Flu This Winter

  1. Pingback: Cold, Happy Half Bath « Own Your Health

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  4. Pingback: 8 Tips on Working Out in Below Freezing Temperatures

  5. Leon

    I prefer cold baths over cols showers because I can sit in the cold water and sponge over my whole body more effectively. It is also known to be good for asthma because it opens the lung airways. My doctor wants to look up information on cold baths/cold showers to prove how effective it is. I have been using cold water bathing since July 23, 2007. I have not been on medication for my asthma since Jan 22. I have not been in a pharmacy since Dec 31, ’07. This cold water treatment is very powerful and effective.

    Like

  6. Dear Leon,

    Cold shower or cold bath seems, in this case, more a question of taste.

    The easiest way for your physician to get information about cold water and health is in my book because, unfortunately, a lot of the literature is in German.

    But here is one article that gives an idea how the cold water might work on asthma, on the molecular level: http://rparticle.web-p.cisti.nrc.ca/rparticle/AbstractTemplateServlet?journal=cjpp&volume=76&year=&issue=&msno=y98-097&calyLang=eng

    I would be interested if you also made changes in your diet since last July? Avoiding all dairy because of its mucus-producing and inflammatory properties usually also reduces asthma and hay-fever symptoms.

    Did you note other effects of the cold water? Less colds? Better mood? Better sleep?

    Water greetings!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

  7. Pingback: Celebrate World Water Day March 22 « Own Your Health

  8. sounds really good, i will try it for the next showers 😉

    greetings

    Bernhard
    http://leetsil.fh-forum.org

    Like

  9. Let me know how if there are any effects. I’ll bet there will be!
    Roanne

    Like

  10. Leon

    Now I changed my mind–I like the cold showers better because I can shower my whole body and it still have the same effect as the cold bath and I believe I can get more of the thereputic effect of it than the bath. My allergies are better under control and so is my asthma. I was taking cold showers when I stopped my asthma medication on Jan. 22, 2008. So I should keep on taking cold showers. Yes I do sleep better and my body is less susceptible to colds and flu. I ‘ve had neither of those.

    Like

  11. Leon

    Now I get it. The cold baths certainly helps me. So now I prefer cold baths over cold showers. I can clean my whole body and my breathing is better, I sleep better, and I am less sick. Prehaps never get sick. Even though I get this runny nose constantly, probably from the cold air.

    Like

  12. Leon

    Well let’s put it this way–I bathe in cold water. I love it. It is good for my health and is very therapeutic. Sometimes I take baths other times I shower. But they both have the same benefits.

    Like

  13. Rose

    Can we use this therapy on babies?

    Like

  14. Rose – I will ask Dr. Alexa Fleckenstein, my cold water expert, to reply to your question

    Like

  15. Dear Rose,

    Yes, you can apply cold water to babies.

    When my son was four months old, I started him. I filled his little pink tub with cold water, cradled the naked boy in my hands and very quickly dunked him in. It took a second or so.

    He took a deep gasp but never cried. He was so astonished about what had happened and so busy with thinking that he never had time to protest.

    Can’t remember when I stopped it – but certainly I would not force a protesting toddler under cold water.

    Now that our son is a young man, he follows the family tradition and ends each warm shower with a cold one. He became a healthy outdoors man.

    Tell us how your baby likes it!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

  16. Pingback: Cold Water for Babies? « Own Your Health

  17. Leon Darnell

    This cold water therapy works. Still not on medication for asthma and still have not ordered any from the pharmacy. Doctors beware! There is a new way of treating asthma, and meds are not it.

    Like

  18. Hi,
    it’s me again. As i posted a views months a go, i have tried the Cold Shower “project” and after a few weeks I am realy addicted to have a cold shock, after the shower.

    Thanks for the tips.

    Greetings from Austria
    Bernhard

    By the way, i have published a new photoblog for my Homepage wich is available in english and german: http://photoblog.fh-forum.org/?lang=en

    Like

  19. Leon Darnell

    The cold showers is the best thing I ever taken. Still no flus or colds and I do sleep better. The best medicine of everything out there.

    Like

  20. SAAD

    started to have cold shower last winter, and since I feel very fresh, even if temp is very low, after the shower may body feels like Radioactive fuel source.
    (Riyadh/KSA)

    Like

  21. Leon

    The cold baths is a matter of taste. The practice of running water in your bathtub, irrigating my nasal passages, and getting ready for my day is the best routine for me. Still the benefits of cold showers are the same as the cold baths–less colds better sleep, more energy, stronger immune system, stronger lymphatic system, and healthier skin.

    Like

  22. Jeremy

    I love the cold shower! I take two a day, but I make them quick. About five minutes is all I care for. It’s amazing how quickly you can adapt to the cold. I walk around in a short-sleeved t-shirt in below-freezing temperatures now. It’s true that it elevates your mood. I always feel compelled to sing in a cold shower! My latest blog post covers this topic as well:

    http://simplelivinghealthyeating.wordpress.com/2009/01/02/the-power-of-the-cold-shower/

    Like

  23. Dylan

    I have a question. Since I have no preference, should I take my full shower in the cold water, or just end it in a cold shower?

    Like

  24. Dylan,

    In European Natural Medicine we recommend that the cold exposure is only a few seconds (around 20 to 30) – unless you are overweight. People with a bit of padding can endure longer periods in the cold water (that is why the photos of winter swimmers usually show only chubby guys; the slim ones opted out…).

    It also depends on where you live. If you live in Florida or Hawaii or such, stay in the cold as long as you want. You actually will have a harder time harvesting the benefits from your cold shower. We here in Boston are blessed, of course!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

  25. Gerald Mackenzie

    For over ten years I have had cold showers in the morning and can attest to being more flu resistant than anyone in my office. While every other worker gets hit, the most I suffer is a sore throat.
    I also do a few stretching exercises with the cold water blasting on me. I hold onto the top of the shower screen and stretch my spine. This releases stress at the beginning of the day. Which helps because I have a stressful job.
    I had a blood test and my white cell count was three times higher than average.
    When I tell others my theory I am met with derision. Glad I found this website, which confirms the long term benefits of an invigorating cold shower.
    Gerald, 43, Sydney Australia.

    Like

    • Gerald Mackenzie,

      That sounds so good! I like how you combine cold shower with exercise. I always try to fit some movement into my daily chores because I am bored stiff by gyms.

      Your high white blood cell count – that I really don’t understand. It depends very much on WHICH part of the white blood cells are high. If it is the overall count – it really should be lower in a healthy person. Can you check?

      All the best wishes to downunder!

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

  26. Leon

    I take contrast showers and I get more of the benefits than just hot or cold water alone. The benefits are more energy, less soreness, and a stronger immune sytem. I began practicing this on Aug. 28, 2009. Since then I have felt great. The contrast showers requires switching between hot and cold water. The effects of it are the body has more circulation and is more tolerable to stress and it boost the amount of lymphocytes and white blood cells in the body. I have never felt a better relief than trying this.

    Like

    • Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Dear Leon,

      It is true that alternating hot and cold showers are even more invigorating than following a hot shower with a simple cold one. But alternating showers are also more stressful for the body (because you repeat the same circle over and over). Which means, they are not for everybody.

      Good for you that you try new things!

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

  27. Anna

    Dr. Fleckenstein,
    What about pouring a bucket of cold water on a top of the head? Would this shock therapy help an asthmatic child?

    Like

    • Dear Anna,

      No, indeed, a bucket of cold water over the head could be harmful because some asthma gets worse with cold exposure.

      Daily cold showers and cold washes can improve lung function in the long time. But the child has the best chance for better breathing, if he/she leaves out inflammatory foods – mainly all dairy (ABSOLUTELY all dairy!), and also fried foods, artificial coloring and preservatives. The child needs a diet with lots of vegetables and fruit, and a little meat and fish. Watch out for food allergies.

      All the best for the child!

      Alexa Fleclenstein M.D.

      Like

      • Anna

        Thank you for such a prompt response. My son is actually very allergic to anything that contains dairy. We will try cold shower therapy, and hopefully, he will outgrow it in time.

        Like

  28. Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Dear Anna,

    If your son is so allergic, you might want to consider also ruling out a gluten problem. There are several tests – not always reliable. Best would be to leave out all gluten (wheat. barley, rye, oats) for a few months. Let him eat rice, beans and lentils instead.

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

  29. Nelson

    Hello,

    Everytime I try a cold shower I get sick. It is very strange for me that all this people have benefits of having a cold shower.
    After a few days of a cold shower I get the same symptoms as a cold and sometimes symptoms of pneumonia.
    I’m thin, don’t have much fat, I go to the gym more than 3 times a week, go for a run once a week and do other sport. There are some weeks that I do more training than others of course.
    I also take multivitamins, eat vegetables mostly in salads, and try to have good food everyday.

    Like

  30. Dear Nelson,

    The beneficial of a cold shower on the immune system sets in after about six weeks. If you take a cold shower here and there, it does not do you much good.

    If you are getting sick after every cold shower, the following come to my mind: chronic sinusitis, overly long exposure, underweight, or-exercising, too cold body or too cold environment afterward.

    Chronic sinusitis, and then letting cold water run over your scalp: Solution: Skip the scalp part.

    Overly long exposure: A cold shower is no winter swimming. The goal should be twenty to thirty seconds a day, not more. If you do longer (especially if you are thin), it might be too much – you’ll end up suppressing your immune system, instead of strengthening it).

    Underweight: You say you have very little fat. Since every single cell of your body protects itself with a membrane made out of fat, beeing too thin can be a problem. Try adding coconut oil, olive oil and nuts to your meals.

    Over-exercising: The same applies here. In Ayurvedic medicine, for instance, one is not allowed to walk more than two hours a day. Everything more will excite the body too much and suppress immune function. – For us here in the West, overdoing exercise is an alien concept – you can’t overdo a good thing, can you? Yes, you can The wisdom of other healing systems (Ayurvedic, Chinese, European) all call for moderation – even in the joy parts of our lives.

    Too cold body or too cold environment afterward: It is important that a cold shower is not done to a cold body – even if you only have cold feet. First warm yourself under a hot shower, then turn the handle to cold. – And make sure that your bathroom and bed are nice and warm, so that you are not getting cold then.

    Let us know if you can improve the outcome of the cold showers, Nelson. All the best wishes to you!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

  31. Nelson

    Hello Alexa,

    Thank you for your reply. I think I have sinusitis but not 100% sure. Two doctors found a deviated bone on my nose.
    But I’ll follow your words. Thank you for your advice.

    Regards,

    Nelson

    Like

    • Dear Nelson,

      Doctors always find “bones on your nose” – so they can operate. Just know that about 90 percent of the population have a deviated septum. It rarely is the cause for chronic sinusitis.

      Dairy usually is the culprit, as an inflammatory mucus-producing food. So leave it out. Avoid sugars (and sweeteners, too). Rinse your nose with saltwater at least twice a day (find how to do it on my website under “salt water nose rinse).

      That should do the trick. Let us know how you are doing!

      All the best!

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

  32. Noel Abbott

    Several additional comments from my reading, hearing and experience. Please “true up” anything not fully accurate:
    1) In taking a cold shower, place cold water into the mouth and hold it in the back of the throat during the 20 – 30 second interval. When done with cold shower, spit the water out and rinse mouth and throat again. This helps the water to feel less cold and the increased ventilation when the cold water hits removes toxins from the lungs.
    2) Try to get cold water onto the sides of the rib cage. I have heard that this is especially useful for the lungs and stimulates the body’s heat producing response.
    3) Another benefit of cold water on the skin is that because it is a major organ of elimination, the closing of the pores also forces out toxins.

    Like

  33. Erik

    I’ve been taking them since I was 17.I never even bothered with hot water-cold ones from the start.As well as the aforementioned,they simply make me feel more alive.Unfortunately I’d lived in Florida for the past fifteen years(I’m in my forties).Truly cold tap water’s unavailable,even in winter.I’ve always felt a marked difference.My skin’s still good for a smoker my age.However,I never feel as clean,alert, or vigorous here.When travelling I rush into a cold shower- first thing.It all comes back,gloriously.

    Like

    • Dear Erik,

      Good for you – you are describing exactly some of the benefits of cold water!

      Granted, the water is never as wonderful in Florida or California as in Maine or Minnesota, but this is the trick I use to get more out of a lukewarm shower: Don’t towel off! Linger for a few moments naked and let the air dry you. You could even do some exercises in your birthday suit until dry. This gives a greater stimulus to your immune system.

      I am not your mom – but I have to ask anyway, Erik: Any possibility to might give up smoking soon? The cold shower is already such a great step in the right direction of health …

      All the best!

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

  34. John

    I discovered cold showers via Kneipp on the internet this year.
    All through the Australian winter I had not a cold or cough. Now In the Oz spring I have a bad cold or “manflu” I took a clod shower yesterday and it seemed to make my cold worse.
    Should I take cold showers when I have a cold?
    I am a believer in cold showers as since I have been taking them me sinuses have been unblocked for the first time in my life.
    I usually take my shower when still lathered with sweat from my 5 mile jog on my treadmill.
    Should I or should I not take a shower now?

    Like

    • John,

      Probably not, especially if you have a bad cold with fever. With a cold, a hot bath (perhaps with some Vick Vaporup or eucalyptus) is usually better than a cold shower. After the bath, make sure you don’t get chilly. Wrap yourself up warm, go to bed and get some extra sleep.

      Elderberry juice and hot teas (linden, elderberry flowers, sage – they all are good) in that situation. And if your nose is stuffed, Andrographis paniculata gives very good results (as drops or pills, at least three times a day).

      A cold showers stimulates the immune system and works as prevention. Once you have a cold, heal first. Then, if you feel better, return to your cold showers.

      Get better!

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

  35. John

    Doctor,
    Too late. I took my cold shower and do feel better. Its bedtime here in OZ I’ll find out in the morning when I awake.
    I’ll try the elderberry juice and I am a big tea drinker.
    Cheers

    Like

  36. I started taking a 30 second cold rinse after my regular warm shower in June of 2009 and now go 2 minutes with the cold rinse. I am generally in excellent health but in the past have always managed to get one cold per winter season. Since starting the cold rinse regimen I have not had a cold or other bacterial or viral illness.

    Like

    • Dear Mike Shafer,

      That is exactly what happens with cold showers – thank you for telling us!

      It is actually not necessary to go for two minutes – 20 to 30 seconds usually are the goal. But who am I to interfere if you are having fun?!

      Alexa Fleckenstein.

      Like

  37. cindy

    i have really bad asthma… if i sit in a cold shower will it help me a little bit….

    Like

  38. The high humidity in the shower helps your breathing. But that is not going to the root cause of asthma. If you have bad asthma, the first thing you should do is to eliminate all dairy from your food. And better all sugar, too. Dairy and sugar are highly inflammatory foods that keep your lungs in an “asthma mode” – and then any tiny trigger like smoke, smog, dust, mold, throws you into another attack.

    It will be difficult in the beginning without cheese, yogurt, butter, milk, and so on. But within short time, you likely feel much better. I myself had bad asthma about twenty years ago – I never could go anywhere with my assortment of inhalers. Now I haven’t seen an inhaler in ages …

    The hard part is to find new foods. Think fresh (vegetable, herbs, fruit). Think rice and beans. Think sardines.

    Good luck with it!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

  39. Pingback: IDIOTBOMB » Cold showers and depression

  40. irtizaali

    This is a news for me. Now I am really thinking in why our older generations had a better health than us. They never had geezers or machines to make water warm to take baths but they were more stronger than us.

    Dr Alexa! Can I ask any personal questions in private? how to contact you?

    Like

    • europeannaturalmedicine

      irtizaali,
      On my own blog (just google Alexa Fleckenstein blog) you will find a contact address. – Right you are: People used to be healthier! Our children will be the first generation who will be unhealthier than their parents AND poorer, too.

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

      • Nelson

        Older generations were stronger because at birth only the strongest would suvervive, there was no tecnology or medicine to help weak babies to survive. Also people were stronger for many other factors, like old lifestyle (no stress) and diet. It is a narrow thinking saying it was all because of cold showers.

        Like

  41. europeannaturalmedicine

    Dear Nelson,

    I never said that cold water is the only reason why former generations were healthier. You are right in pointing out some of the other factors. One big factor was that people worked physically in farming or manufacturing, and often walked many miles every day because of limited transportation.

    Water is only one of the Five Health Essentials. The others are: movement, fresh foods, herbs and balance.

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

    • Nelson

      Hi Alexa,

      I totally agree with you. I was commenting on Irtizaai’s comment.
      And I already stated in this blog before, cold showers won’t work for me and probably for many other people. I have neck pain now just because of cold air and the same will happen if I get a cold shower. Also, I have dry skin and other rashes after living in UK, whenever I go back to Portugal my skin gets so much better just after 3 days and I blame the cold for that. Some people are not meant to work well with any kind of cold and I think that does not mean we are less healthy than the rest (hopefully).
      I just started on sauna for the first time last week (3 sessions now) and it may be just a phase, but I think my skin is getting better. No, I’m not taking cold shower after sauna and I do not intend to do it at the moment at least.

      Like

      • europeannaturalmedicine

        Dear Nelson, I have no idea if the cold makes all the difference – or not. It could also be the better food in Portugal. Or a less abrasive laundry detergent. Or healthier milk products. – Too many confounding factors!

        But a splash of cold water in your face? I don’t think it would hurt you! And from there, I would experiment further.

        But I would use virgin coconut oil on your skin – works wonders!

        Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

        Like

  42. Hello there! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a captcha
    plugin for my comment form? I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!

    Like

    • europeannaturalmedicine

      vintage baby shower,

      There you get me! I could answer about every medical question you could come up with. But in your case, I don’t have the faintest idea what you are talking about!

      Somebody else to the rescue??

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

  43. I’m curious to find out what blog platform you are working with? I’m experiencing
    some minor security issues with my latest site and I would like to find something more safe.
    Do you have any solutions?

    Like

  44. zep

    Wow, sounds kind of extreme, I have had to take a few cold showers at the gym when the hot water was down. It’s quite a shock on the old body. My thoughts are that this is not a good thing to do if you have a cold or flu.

    Like

  45. europeannaturalmedicine

    zep,

    Yours is a good observation: It is NOT a good idea to start with a cold shower when one is acutely ill. A sick body cannot handle the cold stress, and it takes indeed about six months of a daily cold shower before the protection against colds will become measurable.

    Thank you for pointing this out (it is mentioned in our water book – but we can’t bring all the details on this website).

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

  46. Benard Sadia

    Sounds true considering that those who take bath in warm water feel cold immediately after bath

    Like

  47. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed!
    Extremely helpful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot.
    I was looking for this particular info for a very long time.

    Thank you and good luck.

    Like

    • Dear out of the box tv show,

      There seem to be some glitches in the system, indeed: I got your post from July TODAY! Doesn’t make sense at all.

      Anyway, thank you for your nice comment! The longer I do medicine, the more I am impressed with traditional knowledge, really – we have so much to learn – things we definitely didn’t learn in medical school!

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

  48. After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me
    when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment.
    There has to be an easy method you are able to remove
    me from that service? Thanks a lot!

    Like

    • So sorry about this! It appears to be a WordPress anomaly. I will write to their support people to find out what to do. In the meantime is there a way you can “unsubscribe” personally from the blog?

      Like

  49. Appreciating the commitment you put into your blog and in depth information you offer.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that
    isn’t the same old rehashed material. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and
    I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    Like

    • Thank you! I haven’t posted about healing modalities in awhile but this is inspiring me to do so. I’m researching reflexology now and will be writing about it soon. Thanks again for your interest!

      Like

    • Thank you! Starting with myself, I am interested in natural health, and I have put about everything I know into my new book “The Diabetes Cure” (available only directly from Rodale’s, the publisher). Of course, I am already working on the next book – about Superbugs, and what we can do with herbs and natural means.

      Thank you so much for your encouragement!

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

  50. i thought cold things strengthens virus

    Like

  51. i thought cold things strengthens virus.

    Like

  52. Mike

    Hello, I am 44 yo healthy male, 188 cm / 80 kg. I started taking cold showers 6 months ago and am regularly spending 3 minutes under full cold shower after washing and rinsing with warm water. Although the subjective feeling is great, I have since developed increased sensitivity to cold, which has become real intolerance to cold in autumn months. My hands and feet are constanly cold and warm up only in the afternoon. I also feel light trembling of my jaws. Finally, on the first day of winter cold outside, I caught a bad cold. Suspended cold showers and on 5th day I feel no more cold hands or feet and no sensitivity to cold. I would like to continue with cold showers but are they really for me?

    Like

    • Dear Mike, from your description I cannot tell if you have that cold problem where the fingertips turn whitish and become painful. If you have that problem, you should avoid cold water and cold exposure generally.

      But it also may be that you are just overdoing the cold shower. The goal is actually twenty to thirty seconds utmost. How it works, those few seconds give a stimulus to your immune system to get stronger. If you do it longer, you weaken your immune system. When you get out of the shower, latest after a minute you should be feeling warm. your long cold showers seem to deplete your energy – they are doing exactly the opposite of what the goal is.

      A cold shower is not a competition. Like everything else, it should be used in moderation.

      Let us know if less exposure makes you better.

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

      • Mike

        Thank you so much, Doctor. I do not get the cold problem with fingertips which you described. I actually feel warm and OK right after the shower, the chills come after 30 minutes or so. However, I will follow your advice and cut down my cold water exposure time. It’s a shame because I was aiming at reaching five full minutes as many guys do without problems.

        Like

      • Dear Mike, women shouldn’t compare their beauty with other women’s beauty, and men shouldn’t look to other guys’ macho ways. Listen to what your body wants to tell you – and you will be happy and healthy!

        Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

        Like

      • Mike

        Dear Dr. Fleckenstein, as promised, I am reporting back after two months of taking a “modified approach” according to your advice. I reset my cold water exposure back to 30 seconds and began extending it by 5 seconds every month (a snail’s progress or “gradualism”) so I am now at 40 seconds of full cold water (12 degrees Celsius now in winter months) after warm shower. Side-effects which I had described in my original post are now gone, but so is the thrill and the vigour afterwards. I am much less prone to catching colds but I still continue to pick up every flu that becomes popular in town (albeit in a very mild form, without fever and never lasting more than a day). The shorter exposure to cold water also did not make me less sensitive to cold temperature as some people have reported.
        So, your advice did work and I wish to thank you. I am now aiming for a full minute in 5-second monthly steps and intend to stop there.

        Like

  53. F Swapnil

    Dr.if I take cold shower of 2°c temp that too in winter?I HV habit of having cold showers but not so low temp.

    Like

    • F Swapnil, For some reason, I only got your letter today – that is a huge delay. Sorry!

      If the temperature is that low, make sure you really only stay in the water for only a few seconds. And probably better for mist people not to dunk the head and scalp. If you feel it is too cold, you can wash yourself down with a cold washcloth in the tub or in front of the sink.

      And how did you experience it last winter: Did you do it? And how did you feel afterwards? If you are warm a nd snugly a few minutes later, cold water is fine.

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

      Like

  54. Max Real

    I never thought cold water showers had so much benefits on the physiology apart from the psychological edge like an aura of freshness and a shock of vitality. However even warm/hot showers in warm environments can sometimes get my mucus too thin and I get a bit throaty and chesty on occasions, resulting in excess drooling and slobbering and even slavering when I go outside. This is getting kind of common I find.
    My father who was in the army use to take regular cold showers especially during drills, and was addicted to it after he completed his term and even to recent times, though his own father, as he tells me, kept warning him not to.
    Now he has mild arthritis/rheumatism in his neck and back as well as in his right hand, however he is 70 now so its expected I guess, especially the fact he doesn’t stop (but he definitely doesn’t feel under the weather half as much as I do, and our diets are very similar and as natural and variatous as possible). Well now its almost spring and the weathers getting better here in London, so I suppose its best the time now to take a blast of the cold stuff. 23 seconds I figured.

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    • Dear Max Real, It seems that you and your father are doing all right with the cold shower. I wonder if you’re being all “mucosy” might improve when you rinse your nose with salt water – a quarter of a tea spoon to a glass of lukewarm water. Stir, lick (it should be as salty as the ocean) and pour a bit into your hollow palm. Sniff if up. Feels like you are drowning in the ocean – but you will survive. Spit out the salty gue that comes down in the back of your nose. Do it several times a day if needed. If you have high blood pressure make very sure not to swallow the salty stuff that comes down but rinse your mouth with clear water.

      All the best!

      Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

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  55. F Swapnil, The answer to your question is provided by your body (because not every body is the same!: Does the very cold shower leave you refreshed but cold and shivering for a while? I

    f you stay cold, shorten your exposure. If you are fine – fine!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

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  56. Milan

    Dear Dr. Fleckenstein,

    after several months of taking 30-second cold showers, I began feeling lightheadedness, hyperesthesia on one side of face and scalp, light nystagmus as well as ptosis on the same side of head. The neurologist said these were not connected to cold showers and ordered MRI of head. The exam found nothing unusual and he said I was free to go. Meanwhile, I stopped cold showers for a month and all the above symptoms completely disappeared. I should also mention pain in shoulder which came with cold showers and went away when I sopped. Could cold showers really be harmful to me and what do you suggest me to do? Otherwise, cold showers felt really great and invigorating.
    Thank you in advance.

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  57. Dear Milan, Like your neurologist I don’t really believe that the cold showers are giving you your symptoms. Did you also get a chest x-ray? That would be the next thing I would order for you.

    Tell this to your doctor, and let us know how you are faring!

    Be well!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

    • Milan

      Thank you for your reply. I had previously my pulmo et cor x-ray and it is OK. It is strange that all symptoms that I mention come with cold showers and go away about a week after I stop…

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      • Milan

        Dear Dr. Fleckenstein,
        I have experimented for a week with cold showers but avoiding head and neck and it works, no more negative symptoms I described above. My question is: are cold showers as efficient when omitting head and neck?
        Thank you.

        Like

    • Milan

      Dear Dr. Fleckenstein,
      I have experimented for a week with cold showers but avoiding head and neck and it works, no more negative symptoms I described above. My question is: are cold showers as efficient when omitting head and neck?
      Thank you.

      Like

      • Dear Milan, Most people actually don’t do that well with cold water on their scalp (I don’t); they experience sinus problems mostly. Likely not new sinus problems, but the cold aggravates an existing condition. Therefore it usually is recommenced to leave the head out of the cold stream.

        I wonder if your symptoms could be related to a chronic sinus condition. Try leaving out inflammatory foods (mostly dairy products, and artificial ingredients), and see if you get better.

        All the best!

        Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

        Like

  58. Hardik Gaglani

    Respected Sir,
    I’m from India.
    Kindly clarify this:
    I love taking cold showers 365 days a year twice daily even if sometimes I’m having fever or flu.
    I feel lot more fresh than ever after cold showers than hot showers.
    My concern is, is it okay to continue or shall I drop it off?
    Thank you.

    Like

  59. Carl

    how do you view swimming in the summer and briefly dipping for a few minutes in the winter months in the sea as opposed to (or in addition to) cold showering? I swam in the sea in about 15, down to 11 celsius, but then dropped off when the weather got too bad, but then quickly got a chest infection! I wonder – if I had continued the cold water treatment, I would not have become ill!

    Like

  60. Dear Carl,

    In winter, it is enough for dipping just a few seconds into cold water. Lucky you that you have the ocean at hand! Anything longer than about 20 to 30 seconds will only weaken your immune system – just the opposite of what you want to achieve.

    A few years ago, in California, I had the same experience as you had this winter: Swimming became impossible below about 15 degrees Celsius (roughly 60 degrees Fahrenheit).

    Since I don’t have the ocean nearby, I do cold washings and short cold showers all year round. Cold water strengthens your immune system. But healthy food and exercise and enough sleep are other pillars of health.

    Be well!

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D.

    Like

  61. That piece was a wake-up signal for me. I say I’ve heard about that like thousand times however this time is different somehow.
    Thanks a lots for posting this.

    Like

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