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Can One Develop Extreme Cold Tolerance?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by townsend, Dec 23, 2016.

  1. townsend

    townsend

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    I recently read this article, and I thought it would be an interesting "talking point" for a CC thread. Even apart from Freeze Fest (a bad idea, IMO, that has only gotten worser!), I recall a thread discussing staying warm in wet/cold canyons. Specifically (IIRC), Tom had suggested that one could take a medication (was it niacin?), which caused dilation of the blood vessels. Whatever the case (and I prefer to stay in the agnostic camp for the meantime), at least there is a clearly proposed physiological mechanism in this case.

    Scott Carney has written a book, entitled What Doesn't Kill Us: How Freezing Water, Extreme Altitude and Environmental Conditioning Will Renew Our Lost Evolutiuonary Strength: https://www.amazon.com/What-Doesnt-Kill-Environmental-Conditioning/dp/1623366909/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1482539883&sr=1-1&keywords=scott carney
    which will be released on 1/3/2017.

    In the meantime, we can discuss his article, published in Men's Journal, linked here: http://www.mensjournal.com/health-f...xtreme-altitude-can-do-for-our-health-w455186

    Basically, by following a certain training program/exercise regime, one can gain mastery of their autonomic nervous system (which controls homeostatis), and rachet up their cold tolerance to an amazing degree. Surely this would be incredibly advantageous in canyoneering, and all outdoor activities where hypothermia is an ever present risk.

    My initial impression is that this claim is a spectacular (though common) case of pseudo-science, which all kind of possible (but irrelevant) "facts" are cited which, upon closer scrutiny, turn out to be entirely improbable and divorced from real-world experience. I am not claiming, necessarily, than Wim Hoff, the Dutch adventurer who runs the training camp in Poland, is a total charlatan. He may indeed have an extraordinarily high cold tolerance.

    But to bottle this claim, wrap it in pseudo-scientific lingo, and sell it to the public ("any one can do it"), reminds me of the snake oil peddled by charlatans in the wild West, who inevitably left town "before the chickens come home to roost".

    At any rate, let's thrash it around if you think it is plausible. I value your opinions much more than the headline grabbing stories featured in Men's Journal or Outside.
    Ram likes this.
  2. Ram

    Ram

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    The bad idea that caught on! Always the same dynamic. Those that come and try it, keep coming over and over again. Those that dis it and never pull the trigger.......well, I was gonna use the "just don't get it" card, but there are lots of good reasons not to come. Too far away, thin Texas blood (Although Zona folks are always on hand), the true moments of discomfort in the AM, maintaining primary relationships....but the excuse I respect most is not missing "Pow." If the skiing is good....well, I get that. It's OK really. When it got 70+ people per year for a few years there, it got "over the top." Fifty plus "souls" seems "just right."
    :):twothumbs::woot::p:thumbsup::tongue:;):rofl::rolleyes2::confused::moses::hungry::blush:
    :cold::cold::cold::cold::cold::cold::cold::cold::cold::cold::cold::cold:

    As for the thread you refer to, yes it was niacin. Here it is again for review
    http://canyoncollective.com/threads/cold-hands-cold-feet-this-helps.20200/#post-88150
    townsend likes this.
  3. Marlowe

    Marlowe

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    I hear doughnuts with ghost pepper sauce helps, might try that one!
    Tom Collins likes this.
  4. John Styrnol

    John Styrnol

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    Bourbon is the way to go.:D:twothumbs:
  5. townsend

    townsend

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    Thanks, guys, but can we have more serious discussion of the article cited? Thanks.
  6. digby

    digby

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    The answer to your question is unquestionably yes as shown by more than 50 yrs of study by the military/NASA/ and many others. Cold (and hypoxic) adaptation is probably the most important factor that we can "train" but age/ sex/race also play a role. However, temporary training as described in the article is transient and really has no long term effect and most studies show no actual changes in circulatory physiology- it's your perception of the pain induced by cold that allows longer exposure. Altitude training is a different matter inducing more red blood cells and changes in hemoglobin binding to increase O2 carrying capacity.
    The article is basically correct although not attributable to control of your autonomic nervous system (despite what some monks can do with their blood pressure).
    Best practice= don't get cold, don't get wet, use mechanical advantage to warm hands (forceful "flicking" with gravity) and lower body exercise. Buddies for conduction, and possibly ETOH only to numb your perception (JK).
    Ice is for climbing, snow is for skiing and canyons are for swimming IMO.
    townsend likes this.
  7. gajslk

    gajslk

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    Chronic exposure to cold causes many people to develop brown fat in which mitochondria produce heat instead of providing energy for the cell. I think it's better to wear enough insulation. Cold hardiness is a great back-up for when things go wrong.

    Gordon
  8. Mike Rogers

    Mike Rogers

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    A bit of a primer, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_adipose_tissue.

    Outside of the physiological, I do think folks can train themselves to accept more discomfort. This is not the same as resistance to hypothermia, but maybe it helps us push further than we would have previously (and maybe get us into more trouble if we don't exercise care!). I hypothesize that many canyoneers may already do this a bit more that the average couch potato, but I've got no empirical evidence to prove it.
  9. Marlowe

    Marlowe

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    townsend likes this.
  10. townsend

    townsend

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    One of the variables that comes to mind isn't merely differences in each us from the perspective of human physiology, but from that of human "morphology". For example, my wife is 5'5" and weighs about 105 lbs, and she has little cold tolerance. She has an obese friend (my use of that term is medically accurate -- I used to work as a PA-C in bariatric surgery), and my wife has told me on more than one occassion that this individual is always complaining about it being too hot, and my wife at the same time feels slightly chilled. In the same vein, they once had a woman on Sixty Minutes who could swim in freezing waters and, as I recall, she had plenty of insulation. I am assuming her name was Lynne Cox: if so, see here: http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/page/Lynne-Cox/lynne-cox-story

    My point is though we can all work on developing brown fat, we already have different starting points, in part due to body morphology. And there may well be differences psychologically as well. So we won't all achieve the same results. Seems obvious, but I'm aiming to explore why this would be the case. And can they measure the amount of brown fat in individuals, and do obese individuals start out with a higher percentage thereof?
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
  11. townsend

    townsend

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    I'm not sure about Jack Kruse, and others have raised the alarm:
    1) http://freetheanimal.com/2012/05/dr-jack-kruse-neurosurgeon-is-a-big-fucking-liar.html
    2) http://www.paleohacks.com/dr-jack-k...-suspended-by-neurosurgery-organization-15587

    Yes, the link to the AANS Neurosurgery site is a bum link, but I have worked for two neurosurgeons in my life, and I am, skeptical of Jack Kruse being a neurosurgeon. Not saying one can't develop cold tolerance, simply saying I don't trust anything he says, unless it can be checked out and confirmed. Lots of people call themselves Dr. X, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are an M.D. Please--let's not get distracted by paleo-diet debate.

    Perhaps a better source for this topic would be from Rhonda Patrick, who claims to have a Ph.D. in biomedical science. See her paper on cold-water immersion at: https://www.foundmyfitness.com/
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
    gajslk likes this.
  12. rick

    rick

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