The Science Behind Cold And Heat Therapy And How To Do It For Maximum Benefit

Episode 700 1h 27m


Cold-water immersion and heat therapy are among the biggest wellness trends of the past few years, but they have a long-standing tradition of being practiced around the world.

Today on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I’m excited to sit down with Dr. Susanna Søberg to discuss the benefits of cold and heat therapy and how they have the potential to activate our longevity pathways and increase our healthspan. Susanna and I talk about what happens in the body during cold-water immersion and its many physical benefits, from strengthening our immune system and lowering inflammation to boosting metabolism and activating brown fat, improving circulation, and stimulating the vagus nerve, which activates your body’s deep relaxation response.

We also talk about some of the mental health benefits and the effects on cognitive performance that cold therapy provides. Susanna shares the best way to get over the mental hurdles of cold immersion, along with techniques for how to breathe before and while in cold water. We also talk about cold showers vs. cold-water immersion and whether or not cold showers offer the same benefits as winter swimming or cold plunges.

We also discuss the benefits of heat therapy. Susanna explains how it helps to increase the production of heat shock proteins and improve cardiovascular fitness, heart rate variability (a measure of the health of your autonomic nervous system and stress resiliency), insulin sensitivity, and blood sugar and blood pressure levels, among so many other benefits.

We talk about the importance of the thermal interchange between hot and cold and why it’s important to end in the cold when doing contrast therapy. Susanna shares best practices for both hot and cold-therapy, including the minimum time threshold—or the sweet spot—for cold and heat exposure to optimize its physical and mental health benefits. I hope you’ll tune in to this fascinating conversation.


This episode is brought to you by Rupa Health, Cozy Earth, BiOptimizers, and InsideTracker. The Doctor’s Farmacy podcast works with a select group of sponsors to allow for ongoing production and allow it to be zero-cost to anyone who wishes to listen to and watch the podcast.

Topics Covered

  • How hot and cold therapy increases health and longevity


  • The physiological effects of cold therapy


  • The cognitive and mental health benefits of cold therapy


  • How cold therapy activates brown fat


  • Cold therapy for pain reduction


  • Cold therapy best practices


  • Is hot and cold therapy better in tandem?


  • The physiological effects of hot therapy


  • How much time should you spend in the sauna?


  • Benefits of infrared saunas and hot baths


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Resources Mentioned

Host & Guests


Automatically generated. Please forgive any typos or errors in the following transcript. It was generated by a third party and has not been subsequently reviewed by our team.

Coming up on this episode of The Doctor's Farmacy.

Susanna Soeberg:
You can go into something this simple, cold water. You will have an increased focus, increased drive, which will give you motivation for the rest of the day to pursue whatever you want to do. And you get a more positive angle to your life even, because you also increase oxytocin, which is also a stress hormone, it's also what we call the love hormone.

Dr. Mark Hyman:
Welcome to The Doctor's Farmacy. I'm Dr. Mark Hyman. That's Farmacy with an F, a place for conversations that matter. And if you've ever heard about hot and cold therapy, the benefits of saunas, cold plunges, you're a little confused about what it is,..

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Ep. 700 - The Science Behind Cold And Heat Therapy And How To Do It For Maximum Benefit