Cold Exposure Could Counter Autoimmunity

Cold plunges, ice baths and cold showers

Cold plunges, cold showers, cryotherapy and ice baths have become increasingly popular and with apparently good reason. Some of the reported benefits of cold therapy include better sleep, improved metabolism, and faster recovery from soreness.

New research shows that cold exposure reduced neuroinflammation; inflammation in the brain and spinal cord. This finding also suggests possible benefits for autoimmunity as neuroinflammation plays a role in autoimmunity.

The study looked at cold exposure in mice. Various immune responses in the mice were examined when they were exposed to temperatures around 10 degrees celsius (50 degrees fahrenheit).

The findings:

  • The cold exposure reduced activation of white blood cells in the body.
  • This reduction led to a decrease in the cells that promote neuroinflammation.
  • These changes appeared to help dampen autoimmunity in the mice.

The takeaway: Without getting into the complex science of this study (but if you want to, the link to the full study is at the bottom of this newsletter), these findings show that certain chemical reactions in the body that have to do with neuroinflammation and autoimmunity were modulated by cold exposure. The authors of the study stated that the findings “provide critical insights … and could lead to future preventive and therapeutic approaches for MS and other autoimmune diseases.” It is important to note that this study was done in animals. To truly unlock the potential for cold exposure and autoimmunity, human trials will be needed.

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