Dr. Rhonda Patrick on Cold Shocking and Cryotherapy | Joe Rogan Experience

Cold Shocking; Cryotherapy; Cold Water Immersion

(Episode 672) 19:30 – Cold shocking and the effects on rebuilding lost synapses. Cold shock proteins and specifically RBM3, have shown to regenerate synapses as it sits on the dendritic spine of the neuron and make more proteins which regrow the synapse. They were able to show this in mice. If they exposed the mice to cold shocking twice, the RBM3 proteins were expressed for 6 weeks in their brain. When mice predisposed to alzheimer’s were given two cold shocks, the symptoms of alzheimer’s were delayed and their lifespans were extended.

(Episode 672) 25:50 – Cryotherapy. If you do cryotherapy after strenuous activity, you can prevent tissue damage. It has also been shown that doing cryo before a strenuous activity can increase performance, this has been shown in kayakers. Cryotherapy also mitigates the strong inflammatory immunity response, which typically comes from very strenuous activity. Whether cryotherapy will help an individual depends on a few things, particularly the activity and the type of athlete.


(Episode 672) 30:05 – During cold water immersion (being immersed in shoulder-high cold water for 20 seconds) or cryotherapy, you release norepinephrine at a 2-3 fold increased level above normal. Even after 12 weeks, the body still releases at this increased rate. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter in the brain associated with prolonged focus, attention, vigilance, and energy. It also acts as a signaling molecule, where it has been shown to decrease the induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines (part of the immune response that causes damage to cells as a byproduct). Quick note regarding the brain’s immune response: Dr. Patrick says that our brain’s immune reaction is akin to a nuclear bomb used to kill a cockroach – there is a lot more damage done than is necessary.

Weight loss

(Episode 672) 42:20 – The norepinephrine ramps up metabolism by signaling to the mitochondria that the body needs energy. Norepinephrine activates uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) which tricks the mechanism the mitochondria use to determine if the body needs energy into thinking that the body needs more energy (this mechanism involves an electric gradient). This is the body’s way of making heat when cold. People actually lose weight when they do this cold shocking often. Dr. Patrick says that the individual should be immersed in cold water for a period of 20 minutes or so.

(Episode 672) 2:20:21 – Cold therapy after injury. These therapies have been shown to help patients suffering from brain injury. Dr. Patrick is not very confident in a solid answer, which is understandable because an answer depends on many things. However, in the instance of an overactive immune response, cold therapy can be beneficial as it reduces the inflammatory response.

(Episode 773) 2:10:39 – Cryotherapy. Cryotherapy inhibits the enzyme that break down collagen, known as collagenase. It helps with arthritis and keeps the skin in good condition. Cold exposure in general has been shown to increase norepinephrine 2 fold. Norepinephrine, in addition to learning benefits and feeling good, is a potent anti-inflammatory as it inhibits the production of TNF alpha, which is a signaling molecule to your immune cells indicating an infection. When signaled, the immune system responds with an increase in hypochlorite which causes tissue damage and pain. Norepinephrine quiets this down. It has been shown that 10 days of cryotherapy (one session per day) in a row increases the expression of glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase by 68%. These enzymes work with the glutathione we produce and take in to provide a number of benefits [more on glutathione in other summaries].

Weight loss; Norepinephrine; Brown Fat

(Episode 773) 2:22:09 – Norepinephrine activated pathway. Norepinephrine activates a pathway in cells that cause the ramping up of metabolism. This can be observed when the body is exposed to a cold environment. Dr. Patrick recalls that when she first used the cryotherapy machine, she was shivering. The second time around, she didn’t shiver. What happens is the process of non-shivering thermogenesis. Norepinephrine causes the mitochondria in the adipose tissue to become active. This happens because norepinephrine increases the expression of a gene known as UCP1. UCP1 can cause the electrical charge of the outside and the inside of the mitochondria to uncouple (typically the mitochondria is negative on the inside and positive on the outside) and this scrambling of charges signals to the body that it must ramp up energy and mitochondria production in fat cells (brown fat). An increase of mitochondria in the fat can lead to fat reduction, this is sometimes a desired byproduct of cold exposure. This also leads to the less shivering when exposed to cold. Exposure to ten days (6 hours a day) of 50 degree air can increase the mitochondria in men’s fat by 38%.

(Episode 773) 2:26:09 – The point at which stress becomes beneficial. You need some of the bad stuff to get the good stuff. Dr. Patrick uses exercise as an example. Inflammation occurs during exercise and an hour after. After that one hour point, the benefits begin.

(Episode 773) 2:29:50 – Ice, water or air immersion in cold exposure. Water or ice is much better at extracting heat from the body. 20 seconds exposure to 40 degree C water is comparable to 2 minutes at the standard cryochamber temperature (-180F). Dr. Patrick recommends waiting one hour after strength training. 


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