Our immune systems are beautifully complicated. They’ve evolved through our entire evolutionary history to be as robust as possible in the war against bacteria, viruses, and other forms of pathogens. When our immune system comes into contact with a pathogen it triggers an inflammatory response. An alarm to excite and draw in more immune cells, to ramp production of useful proteins and to fight off the invader. For the most part this makes inflammation useful. It helps coordinate and rid our bodies of unwanted guests effectively. Now let’s say one day the immune system gets confused: “Jeez I don’t understand what this stuff is?” “Hey Clancy, get over here!” “Hey what’s up?” “Look at this? What do you think this is?” “Aww Mikey that looks like a pile of garbage to me.” “Get rid of it. ASAP, Pronto, Right now.” “Wait, you sure? It kinda looks like the stuff we use for bones and cartilage and stuff” “I mean, It would be a really bad idea, you know?” ”I don’t care Mikey, I’m just doing my job. You dump all that that right now!” “Hmm, ok I guess your right…” “Ok fellas, let’s get to it!” [Whisper] This is what causes Arthritis. This is known as an autoimmune disease. It’s when the immune system confuses something natural in the body as an invader. Then attacks and attempts to destroy it. In the case of Rheumatoid Arthritis the immune system attacks joints. This causes inflammation around those perfectly useful joints, mobilizing and activating more immune cells. Causing more harm. It is why in most cases of autoimmune disease, the medication and aim is to suppress this unwanted activation of the immune system. Diabetes, MS, Psoriasis are all forms of autoimmune disease, the list, it goes on! This is where the Wim Hof Method comes in. Someone suffering from chronic inflammation can use the method to manage this unwanted inflammation and suppress an overactive immune system. This was conclusively shown with the radboud study, But! Even more recently, with a new study attempting to integrate the Wim Hof Method as an add-on therapy for people already suffering from an autoimmune disease. Axial spondyloarthritis. Ok so we need more background on this: “Ok time to bring in the bones” “No, not those bones..” “Yeah. there we go, thank you.” This is your spine. It’s very useful for lots of things, Like standing. And not dying. This is your pelvis, it’s very useful for lots of things, like sitting. And also not dying (again). Axial Spondyloarthritis affects the spine and these joints here. The sacroiliac joints. When the immune system attacks these areas it produces inflammation. This study had Wim Hof teach his method as a management therapy to participants with this autoimmune disease. To help them manage their inflammation and pain and to measure its effectiveness. But how to measure the effectiveness of the Wim Hof Method? It would have to be an observable improvement in inflammation. But then… How do we measure inflammation? With blood. Harmless, easy to hold, medically standard samples of blood. Now imagine a rack of blood samples: To the naked eye it looks like: BLOOD Our eyes are useless! So throw them in the garbage. Instead we need special equipment to see what the blood is made from. With this we will be able to detect the many proteins and cells floating in the blood. Some of these proteins are clear signs of inflammation. Proteins such as C-reactive protein and Calprotectin. C-reactive protein is a beautiful pentagonal looking protein excreted by the liver when the immune system is inflamed. Which makes it a reliable biomarker when measuring inflammation. Especially in the case of axial spondyloarthritis. The more C-reactive protein, the more inflammation, typically. We also have Calprotectin. It doesn’t have a nice shape like a pentagon and looks more like someone dropped a bowl of spaghetti. But still, it is a useful bowl of spaghetti when measuring inflammation. Using a sample of blood and finding all these proteins can help us accurately estimate the inflammation a person could be experiencing. We take for instance C-reactive protein and observe how many milligrams is present per liter of blood. If that number rises we can clearly see that there is more inflammation. But the study is aimed to lower these proteins. To provide an alternative to people already suffering from axial spondyloarthritis to manage their inflammation and pain. The question is: Did it work? For 8 weeks a participant would perform the method mostly by themselves sometimes in groups. Undertaking a regiment of cold showers, the WHM breathing and meditation. A sample of blood was collected before the training and then compared to a sample taken after the training, on the 8th week. And the result was… well… It was powerful! C-reactive protein was significantly lower. And this was very important because it was the primary inflammatory indicator used by the study. Calprotectin was also lower. These inflammatory markers were successfully lowered! Along side this, a series of questionnaires and surveys were tracking the progress of the participants. 2 specifically for their axial spondyloarthritis and a few for general health and quality of life. The great news is, that they all showed improvement. So both the bio markers of inflammation like CRP and caprotectin reduced and the general reported health of the participants improved! This is wonderful news! This was all done in comparison to a control group that did not commit to the method. All of their scores remained basically the same. To wrap up… This study was unique in that it gave people already suffering from a mild form of axial spondyloarthritis the ability to manage it. Manage it using the method with real measurable results. There’s obviously something poetic here to be said about being in control and not letting the disease control you. Taking your life in your own hands to the best of your ability, despite its shortcomings. And turning it into something beautiful. For yourself, and for others. Happy, strong, and Healthy. Thanks for listening We’ll see you next time.