Breathing exercises to reduce Covid damage – extreme athlete Wim Hof (2/2)
In the previous program, we talked to a unique athlete whose extraordinary endurance to cold brought about his nickname ‘The Iceman’. We continue talking to extreme athlete Wim Hof.
The text of the interview has been edited for clarity.
Sophie Shevardnadze: Let's talk a bit about your breathing method once again. Is there a danger of asphyxiation during these intense breathing sessions?
Wim Hof: No, there is none; if you go controlled, you follow the app, then you are very able to maintain control. Know that this breathing exercise has shown itself in the university to bring down inflammation, which is a disease... inflammatory markers, which cause inflammation, which is a disease, it brings it down, it makes the immune system work better. It brings the inflammation down and it ignites, activates the specific immune system. That means an injury will be dealt with directly at the beginning instead of that it goes into this system,and the immune system is yet not really awake, then suddenly ‘alarm, alarm!’ – fever, headaches, this and that. It doesn't need to happen. We are able with these breathing techniques, if you do them controlled, you will have the greatest effectivity. These breathing techniques are powerful. So in any case, when powerful things come, you have to learn to deal with them. But they are of great, great benefit.
SS: Can you show me the simplest breathing exercise with which I can start?
SS: Go ahead.
WH: So if you do 10 breaths like this [inhales deeply].
SS: Okay. Through your mouth, so 10 breaths like that.
WH: It can be through the nose or through the mouth, it doesn't matter: but fully in – letting go. You will be able to... Just try to do it with me. And we will stay for 40 seconds without air in the lungs. Let's do this. Then a whole set of things happen. I will explain later. But first, we do it. Okay. 10 breaths fully in [inhales deeply]. Let it go [exhales].
[Sophie takes ten deep breaths together with Wim].
After the exhalation stop, close your mouth. No need for breathing now. You're perfectly okay. What we did is blowing off the carbon dioxide – that’s what makes the body acidic. We made it very alkaline now. That's why you're able to stay without breathing. And what happens is that in the primitive part of our brain, the brainstem – you are not breathing – so it says, ‘Oh, she’s not breathing! Oh, danger, danger!’ But there is no danger. But now the adrenal axis... Okay, fully in [Sophie inhales] and hold, squeeze a little bit to your head. Three, two, one, let it go. [Sophie exhales]. Well done, you did about 50 seconds.
SS: Oh my God, so many things going on with me right now. First of all, like, my lung area is literally burning.
SS: And I feel like... I've never taken LSD, but this is probably what it feels like.
WH: That's high on your own supply.
SS: This is crazy. How many times a day should I do that?
WH: If you do this four rounds in the morning, you're really fully alkaline. For the rest of the day, your blood is cleansed.
SS: I'm gonna do this.
WH: Yes. It's good for anybody, anybody can do this. And when you feel anxiety, or fear, or depressed, you do this, it's going to go away.
SS: Oh my god, that was crazy.
SS: But I have to say like a lot of people who try your breathing method report very psychedelic effects and I can see why now that I've done this. Where do these come from, scientifically speaking?
WH: It comes from the DMT. When you’re doing this breathing technique, and then take a full inhale and then squeeze a little bit, the cerebral spinal fluid goes very alkaline, to the brainstem. And in the brainstem, there is the dream state, which is Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). It's like in a dream, you see visions, you see things three-dimension, you feel completely different. It's what happens. This is very good to deal with trauma, all trauma for military people with PTSD, for housewives who have anxiety, for people with psychic problems who have fears and psychosis or anything, you need DMT. And this is the way to get it without LSD to do it by yourself.
SS: Okay, so you climbed Kilimanjaro half-naked, and forget about the cold. Tell me, how did you manage to do this breathing exercise which aims to enrich your body with oxygen in places where people need to breathe from air tanks because there's not enough oxygen?
WH: Exactly. The last thing you now did in this breathing technique, was taking it in. That's exactly what I did. And with that I brought through squeezing to my head, I brought the cerebral spinal fluid together being alkaline into my head. What happens when you go into the mountains too fast, there is less concentration of oxygen and that makes our blood acidic. And that creates oedema, that creates headaches, that creates acute mountain sickness. And now we are able just by doing this 10 times, and while you go and climb and you get a headache, you are able to change the biochemistry in the brain caused by the lack of oxygen outside. Now you're able to bring back cerebral spinal fluid fully alkaline. And then the headache is gone. The acute mountain sickness is gone and it's great. You were able to go on.
SS: For an experiment, you once injected yourself with E. coli toxin that usually makes people really sick.
SS: And bacteria had no effect on you whatsoever, which obviously proves the effectiveness of your method on the immune system. Now you're saying it can also be effective against Covid?
WH: Oh, yes.
SS: Have you thought about injecting yourself with the coronavirus deliberately to see if your technique works against it?
WH: I think I had Covid.
SS: You think or you know?
WH: No, I’m never sick but not this February but before, the last year in February, I really had Covid. I know it now because I've never had this but in one day it was gone. I just began to do the breathing. Now, what is responsible for the damaging factor of Covid is interleukin which is an inflammatory marker, – interleukin #1, #6, #8 and #17, – that is responsible for Covid damaging factor. And we showed in 2014, to bring those interleukins down within 15 minutes through the breathing. This is all in the university study and it's been published in the best of papers of the world. So the solution has always been there. Now, what happens with Covid is that if you wait too long, it's like when the fire starts, you're able to extinguish it. But if it goes on if the house is completely on fire, what can you extinguish? Then it's too late. But then they also did a study in New York, with people who were terminally sick of Covid and going to die. They exposed them to controlled hypothermia, just a couple of degrees, and they recovered.
SS: Theoretically speaking, do you think there's a threshold in temperatures which a trained human like yourself cannot go below?
WH: I don't. Maybe, yes. I will lose consciousness at a certain moment. But it's much further than normal people. And I got my limits, like anybody else. Oh, I don't know. Because if I stayed for two hours in icy water, and I'm still okay, the limits are far away. The thing is, we have a possible control over our mood and inflammation, which is my message to the world, which can be trained by going into the cold and into the breathing, which is able to tackle all these problems we now face in our modern society. So that should be investigated. And I think the power which we can accumulate is far more than we now are able to understand within our bodies, and my message to the people is of love. It's like health, happiness, and strength is for everybody now a choice. I showed it in science and now I just simply bring it to the people. It is simple, guys. All of you, you don't need to be depressed. You don't need to have diseases, we can tackle it. Mother Nature gave it all to us. And where are the limits? Far away!
SS: Well, you said that the cold and your way of dealing with it helped you cope with the loss of your wife. How is building up cold resistance beneficial to one's mental state?
WH: Emotionally, I was a wreck. Emotionally, I was in the deepest darkness possible. And I lost my wife who jumped from eight stories down. The whole psychiatry said they injected her, gave her pills and this. They had no control. They had no control. And the terror in her head was just too much. Just before jumping down, she gave kisses to the children. And then she decided because this was like a disease in the brain. And so there I was. It's like you lose the love of your life, the mother of your children, and you have little money like I had, very little money and four children. So the only way I could stop the emotional agony, which goes on all day long, is inside, and the world doesn't give a s***, you just have to go on, the world doesn't know. So you’ve got to deal with that. That was by going into icy cold water because then you just survive. And that gave me just that opening to not be in that emotional agony. And that made me able to learn to control my emotions. And that made me able to get a hold of myself, which was very needed to bring up four kids alone.
SS: Just to tap a little deeper into the subject, is it really the actual cold exercises that help you grieve or just having something to do having a victory to chase, an obstacle to overcome and that can take your mind off the tragedy, do you know what I mean?
WH: Yes, of course. And it does, that is also part of it because you are the one who's going to do it. So you’ve got to overcome whatever state you are in, and you’ve got to go into the water and be prepared at the moment, make yourself strong, instead of being an emotional wreck. Yes, I did that. And anything that is able to do that is okay because your mental attitude changes, you become stronger, instead of being tied to the emotions, you go for something else, your mind is going, not investing into the emotional pain, which is bigger and bigger and keeps on going. No, you stop at a moment you go for something else. And the cold water, I have to say, to me it proved to be the best.
SS: Your method actually may offer a very good contribution to longevity. But if we talk about cheating death completely, have you ever heard about cryonics? I mean, the body of a dead person is preserved in liquid nitrogen until the technology is in place, sometime in the future, distant future, to bring this person back to life. Since freezing temperatures is not something you would be afraid of, would you go for something like that?
WH: No, I don't need to. You know what I want? I want to live eternally. I want the soul. I want to know why I'm here, bring love to the world, bring happiness to the world, bring happiness to my kids, and change the world. And you know, you know what, Sophie, which is, by the way, ‘love for knowing’ – Sophie, Sophia, it's love for knowledge, it's good. Yeah, it is wisdom, exactly. What I want to bring into the world is the soul and now I reach more than 100 million people, but in two years (and I'm a very targeted man!), I will reach billions of people. And in that way, I bring people back to their autonomy within themselves to become happy and strong and healthy. And in that way, I will change the world. Not me as ‘ego’ but as ‘we go’, get back to their mother nature, the power of love, which is happiness, strength and health. If we can guarantee those things to our children and ourselves, we are no longer the slaves or something out there. It's all in here. That is my message. And we are going to succeed especially with the help of people like yourself.
SS: Dear Wim, I just want to say that I wish you all the best in that endeavour because I'm the 101th million person that is in your team from now on.
WH: Thank you, Sophie.
SS: Thanks a lot for this talk. It's been great. Thank you.
WH: All the love to your baby!
SS: Absolutely, he’s waiting for me right now.