Reviewed by Dr Angelica L Dumapit and Physician Anita Pee on July 18, 2022
Should You Take Hot Or Cold Showers?
Published | 5 min read
Taking a cold shower every once and awhile is a good idea if you have dry skin. However, cold shower benefits expand far beyond skin health. Learn more here.
Taking a hot shower may feel good at the time. However, after reading about these amazing cold shower benefits, it may cause you to adjust your water temperature.
For example, did you know that cold showers may boost your immunity and metabolism? They may also improve your mood and lead to healthier skin and hair.
In this article, we’ll discuss the many cold shower benefits you need to know. Our Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician also provides safety precautions for those with underlying health conditions.
History Of Cold Showers Benefits
Cold water has been used in health and modern medicine for many years. Research shows that Hippocrates, often called the father of medicine, used cold water to treat his most serious diseases.
Today, most cold water treatments involve cold water immersion. However, plenty of studies on cold bathing and cold showering indicate similar beneficial results.
The most recent form of cold therapy (also called stimulation) is known as whole-body cryotherapy. It includes exposing yourself to very cold air (usually around -110°C to -140°C) in special chambers for two to three minutes.
This treatment was initially used for the treatment of rheumatic diseases but has since expanded to other areas of health.
What Are Some Cold Shower Benefits?
Are you looking for easy ways to boost your immunity, mood, and metabolic rate? If so, cold showers may help.
Fewer sick days
Taking cold showers may support a healthy immune system. One study found that subjects who took a cold shower were less likely to call in sick to work.
In fact, the study results showed a 29% reduction in sickness-related absence among the cold shower group.
Other cold shower benefits included improved quality of life, work productivity, anxiety, thermal sensation, and adverse reactions.
Taking cold showers may help alleviate symptoms of depression. According to one study, exposure to cold activates the sympathetic nervous system and increases blood levels of beta-endorphin and noradrenaline to increase the release of noradrenaline in the brain.
Also, thanks to a large number of cold receptors in the skin, cold showers send an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain. This could help explain the anti-depressive effect of cold showers.
Additionally, cold showers have a pain-relieving effect with no reported side effects or dependence concerns.
Increased metabolic rate
Can cold showers increase your metabolic rate to help you burn more calories? One study found that cold exposure increased metabolic rate approximately two-fold and activated brown fat.
Researchers concluded that the activation of brown fat (also known as good fat) could be used to increase metabolic rate and thus reduce body weight.
Should You Take Hot Or Cold Showers?
From a TCM perspective, taking a cold shower helps to invigorate Yang energy in the body. Over time, this helps the body adapt to coldness, making it less susceptible to external Cold pathogenic factors. Hence, you are less likely to get sick.
According to Physician Pee, “Hot and cold is a fundamental concept in TCM. It guides the usage of herbs according to their warming or cooling nature and for proper classification of hot and cold syndromes.”
Are hot showers bad for you?
Taking a hot shower does not typically cause any symptoms or discomfort except dry skin in people with skin conditions.
According to Physician Pee, “A hot water shower has its health benefits, such as improving blood circulation, promoting sweating to reduce body heat, and relieving muscle tension. Hot water showers, however, dry out the skin so people with skin conditions like eczema should avoid them.”
If you have dry skin due to hot showers, then adjusting the temperature of your shower water can help. There are also several herbs you can take to improve skin health, such as:
- Ginseng: Ginseng may help brighten the complexion and diminish signs of aging.
- Chinese wolfberries: Also known as Goji berries, wolfberries nourish Yin and improve Blood production to hydrate skin. They are also packed with antioxidants and boost collagen and elastin production.
- Cordyceps: Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom that revitalizes the complexion and strengthens the skin against environmental damage.
- Gingko Biloba: Gingko contains antioxidants to diminish the effects of free radical damage on the skin.
- Green tea: Packed with bioflavonoids and catechins, green tea may promote elasticity, improve tone, and restore skin at the cellular level. However, as a diuretic, be sure to drink adequate amounts of water with your green tea to avoid further drying of the skin.
For dry skin, it’s best to cleanse and moisturize with gentle skincare products that are free from irritating chemicals. Be sure to use the ‘soak and seal’ approach by cleansing and then moisturizing immediately after showering.
So, Hot Or Cold Shower: Which Is Best?
People who wish to build up their resistance to coldness can take cold showers. However, it is best to do so gradually and start out with just a few minutes of a cold shower until you get used to it.
However, Physician Pee cautions, “Cold showers are not suitable for everyone. People with weak body constitution, joint and body pain due to Coldness, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease should not take cold showers.”
- PLoS One. 2016. The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial.
- ClinicalTrials.gov. 2021. Feasibility and Effects of Taking Cold Showers: A Randomized Controlled Study.
- ScienceDirect. 2007. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression.
- PLoS One. 2014. Effect of Intermittent Cold Exposure on Brown Fat Activation, Obesity, and Energy Homeostasis in Mice – PMC (nih.gov).
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