The science behind the Wim Hof Method

The science behind the Wim Hof Method

Hitherto, both the autonomic nervous system and innate immune system were regarded as systems that cannot be voluntarily influenced. The present study demonstrates that, through practicing techniques learned in a short-term training program, the sympathetic nervous system and immune system can indeed be voluntarily influenced. -Proceedings of the National Academy for Sciences

The Start of Scientific Research 

What Wim is capable of was long viewed as scientifically impossible. In 2007 the first scientific analysis was done at Feinstein Institute in New York. In 2011, the University Medical Center St. Radboud in Nijmegen really got the ball rolling. After running several tests they couldn’t but admit that Wim and others are able to voluntarily influence the Autonomic Nervous System. Something which up until then was thought impossible, through the Wim Hof Method. This groundbreaking finding, published in PNAS and Nature, established credibility and bred curiosity among academia. Increasingly, researchers across a wide range of disciplines have since taken an interest, and various promising studies are currently underway.

Generating Worldwide Scientific Interest

What Wim is capable of was considered to be scientifically impossible. We are continuously working with various research institutions to explore the potential of the Wim Hof Method. A timeline of the research done up to this point is detailed below.

Present - Ongoing Research

  • Motivation and Experiences of WHM Practioners RMIT University in Australia has conducted a survey study, exploring the motivation and experiences of Wim Hof Method practitioners worldwide. This will offer insight into 1) the positive impact of practicing the WHM on health & wellbeing and 2) any potential adverse effects, which in turn improves safety protocols. The data is currently being analyzed.
  • Inflammation & Pain In the Netherlands, Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen is completing a new study about the effects of the various components of the WHM on inflammation and pain.
  • Metabolic Activity Kenkodo Metabolomic Discoveries in Germany is working closely with Radboud UMC. They are analyzing blood samples that have been taken by Radboud UMC in previous studies. Using this data, they seek to deepen the understanding of the metabolic activity in blood cells when practicing the WHM. Its various parameters can provide new insight into shifts in metabolic rate.
  • Auto-immune Disease The Amsterdam Medical Centre (AMC) in the Netherlands is conducting a study into the effects of the WHM on inflammation and quality of life of people with Spondylitis.
  • Brain Activity Wayne State University in Michigan, USA, is measuring the effect of the WHM on brain activity. This research consists of 2 parts: 1. Effects of isolated cold exposure 2. Effects of cold exposure combined with WHM breathing exercises and mind-set



  • Article: The Influence of Concentration/meditation on Autonomic Nervous System Activity and the Innate Immune Response: A Case Study Authors: M. Kox, M. Hopman, P. Pickkers. et al. - Radboud University Medical Center Summary: This case-study research was conducted after Wim Hof claimed he could influence his autonomic nervous system and thereby his innate immune response. His inflammatory response was measured during an 80-minute full body ice immersion and practicing the Wim Hof Method concentration technique. In addition, an endotoxemia experiment was conducted to study Wim’s in vivo innate immune response. The results showed how the techniques of the Wim Hof Method seemed to evoke a controlled stress response. This response is characterized by sympathetic nervous system activation, which seems to attenuate the innate immune system. Here, Wim Hof proved he was able to influence his autonomic nervous system.


  • Study: Blood tests during meditation and breathing exercises Feinstein Institute led by Dr. K. Tracey