The pineal gland is still a somewhat mysterious organ at the center of the brain. It was dubbed the “seat of the soul” by 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes and is still viewed as the physiological structure corresponding to the “third eye” in some esoteric traditions.
In medicine, the pineal gland remains rather elusive to research due to its location, snugly nudged to the wall of the third ventricle in the middle of the brain. Its main and most well-researched function is the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that plays a critical role in regulating the circadian rhythm.
Tune in on this week’s episode where we will tickle your ears and open your third eyes!
- Why the pineal gland hasn’t yet revealed all of its secrets
- How breathwork might help you hack into your pineal gland
- Why ‘beauty sleep’ might be more than just a catchphrase
- The link between the pineal gland and the hallucinogenic compound DMT
Support us on patreon.com/scienceontherocks
Weitere Episoden von „Science On The Rocks“
Brain freeze: a conversation about the research from Detroit
54:30Wim Hof recently participated in a research study in Detroit while being exposed to cold water. The research has already been published in a peer-reviewed (i.e. "proper) scientific journal called NeuroImage. Dina had the pleasure to interview Otto Muzik and Vaibhav Diwadkar, the scientists who conducted the study (you can listen to this interview in SOTR Episode #11), but a number of listeners chimed in and told us that they felt a little overwhelmed by the scientific terms and explanations provided there. In the latest episode, Dina and Matthias share their conversation about the Detroit study where they address many of the questions they received in lay-man terms. What has actually been studied? What were the results and why were these findings so surprising? Which conclusions can we draw from the study, and which interpretations are too far-fetched? We hope you will enjoy this conversation as much as we did, and find it helpful in creating a well-rounded picture of this interesting new piece of research elucidating the health-boosting effects of the WHM. At the beginning of this episode, we also introduce the HUSO Sound Therapy System. Are you aware that sound can actually heal because specific frequencies are able to influence the function of your body cells? We always interested in techniques that can amplify the effects of the Wim Hof Method. When we heard Dave Asprey talk to Larry Doochin, the CEO, about the HUSO system on his podcast 'Bulletproof Radio' we figured that this might be a valuable tool to increase the benefits of the WHM. We got in touch with Larry Doochin who kindly sent us one HUSO system for testing at home. We tried HUSO for a couple of weeks, and are excited about the calming and relaxing effects of this specific sound therapy system. AND... it's an incredible experience when you listen to these sounds that are based on human voices while you are doing your breathing techniques! Want to give it a try? Go to thisishuso.com and enter MATTHIAS25 as a discount code to save 25$ on your order!
Meditation can really change your brain - Britta Hoelzel
36:50Britta Hölzel is a German neuroscientist and a mindfulness-based stress-reduction and yoga teacher. She conducts neuroimaging research to investigate the neural mechanisms of mindfulness practice. After five years as a research fellow at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Medical School, she is now associated with the Technical University in Munich. Britta talks about her research findings and which of them had surprised and impressed her the most. In the Wim Hof Method, meditation is beautifully integrated. There are various reports that people find it usually easier to mediate after they did their breathing session. After listening to this episode, you will understand your own ability to influence your body, for example how you might impact the structure of your brain by the things you do and the consequences you experience based on your decisions. Go to scienceontherocks.org for further information.
Hormesis – The biological concept that explains the Wim Hof Method
1:04:37When people first hear about the Wim Hof Method, they often wonder how it can possibly be healthy to repeatedly expose your body to ice water, hyperventilate and hold your breath. Turning to science, the research field of hormesis can readily provide answers to these legitimate questions. The concept of hormesis was developed more than a hundred years ago and research in this area has rapidly expanded over the last two decades. By definition, hormesis is a dose-response phenomenon characterized by low-dose stimulation and high-dose inhibition. Hormesis means that the administration of small doses of stress which in high doses would be very harmful to a specific live form can stimulate physiological processes that are beneficial in the long run. Now transfer the hormetic principle to the Wim Hof Method: immersing yourself in cold water for just the right amount of time, or challenging your body with periods of low oxygen during breath retentions for just the right amount of time, should have beneficial effects on your physiology! Edward Calabrese who has been dubbed a “Toxicology Rock Star”. He is a professor of Toxicology at University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences. He has an impressive resume, including over 600 scholarly articles and more than 10 books. He was awarded the Marie Curie Prize in 2009 for his work on hormesis. In the past 20 years, Calabrese has conceived and carried out hundreds of experiments to test and re-confirm his findings. His work is a reminder that it is easy to think we have attained vast amounts of understanding about the natural world, but in fact, there is so much more that we don’t know. Go to scienceontherocks.org for further information.
Homeostasis during exposure to environmental extremes - Marc Cohen
1:04:17Professor Marc Cohen is one of Australia’s pioneers in integrative and holistic medicine. He is a registered GP with degrees in physiology and psychological medicine, as well as PhDs in Chinese medicine and biomedical engineering. I had the pleasure and opportunity to speak with him for “Science on the Rocks” about his work and his perspective on the science behind the Wim Hof Method. Marc Cohen’s very impressive scientific work includes the investigation of lifestyle interventions, such as Yoga, breathing techniques, herbal medicine, and hot (sauna) and ice-cold bathing. Or, as he put it, “to investigate homeostasis during exposure to environmental extremes”. In the podcast, I was able to ask him about his view on topics such as hormesis (which will be one of our main topics on the podcast in the next weeks), mountain sickness, the main differences between sauna and ice immersions, why people with Raynaulds’ syndrome which is a medical condition showing spasm of arteries that itself causes episodes of reduced blood flow, have to be careful when going into the cold, the Bohr effect, a metabolite called dynorphin, and what mechanisms of the WHM might turn on stem cells in your body (which is an extraordinary process). One of the things that I found highly interesting and which increased my understanding of the WHM breathing technique was Marc’s explanation of the five phases of breathing. First, during the conscious hyperventilation, you increase your ph-level and your oxygen saturation while carbon dioxide decreases. Then you have an anaerobic phase during the breath retention. Here, lactate rises and the pH level is slowly decreasing. And because hemoglobin’s oxygen binding affinity is inversely related both to acidity and to the concentration of carbon dioxide, it tends to keep oxygen much tighter in its structure during low carbon dioxide levels in this phase. You could measure this with an oximeter and notice that the oxygen saturation will stay as high as 100% for about a minute before carbon dioxide is increasing again. Then, still in the retention phase, you come to the point when oxygen finally is released from hemoglobin (aerobic metabolism) and when you will realize that the urge to breathe again is getting stronger and stronger due to higher carbon dioxide in the blood. The fourth phase is the action of the recovery breath when everything returns back to its physiological balance. Marc considers the last phase as subjectively very peaceful when you don’t actively do anything and your body has to cope with this single inhale. Your pulse rate drops significantly below your resting pulse rate. Interestingly, the psychological experiences are mainly dysphoric during the transition from the hyperventilation to the breath-hold and also when you feel the need to breathe at the end of your retention phase but are euphoric during the last phase when you hold your breath again for 20 seconds. So, going from one extreme to the other, you can find your balance. And what is totally striking is that - from a physiological perspective - you might need these phases of dysphoria and discomfort in order to experience euphoria later on much stronger because the stuff which is associated with dysphoria which is called dynorphin can increase the number and sensitivity of endorphin receptors. Endorphin’s principal function is to inhibit the transmission of pain signals; it may also produce a feeling of euphoria very similar to that produced by other opioids. As you may have guessed, I’m really eager to interview Marc after the Kilimanjaro expedition again! Please go to scienceontherocks.org to receive additional information and the show notes. We will also provide Marc’s lecture in which he presents the five phases of the breathing technique (26:00 minutes into the lecture) and a lot more background info about the physiological aspects of the breathing technique.
Neuroimaging Wim Hofs' brain - Otto Muzik and Vaibhav Diwadkar
1:00:10Prof. Otto Muzik and Prof. Vaibhav Diwadkar, two neuroscientists working at Wayne State University’s School of Medicine in Detroit/Michigan, are experts in investigating the correlates of thermoregulation in the human brain and body. Then one day, their Ph.D. students told them about this crazy Dutch guy who seems to have almost superhuman capacities withstanding the cold – and it became pretty clear that they had to invite Wim to their lab to study his brain. Wim Hof underwent functional MRI and PET scans while he was exposed to mild hypothermia wearing a special cold suit. The results of these experiments were very surprising... Here, you will get a sneak preview of these findings that have not been published yet. Listen to the interview, in which Dina was given the chance to ask the neuroscientists about what results were so unexpected and what exactly the set-up of this neuroimaging study was. More info scienceontherocks.org Support us on patreon.com/scienceontherocks
Disturb the comfort - Kiki Bosch
1:29:44Kiki Bosch is a dutch ice-water free diver. In this episode, she shares her story. She speaks about her experience as an ice freediver, about her role as an ambassador of nature and a body awareness coach and upcoming WHM instructor. What makes this episode unique and extraordinary is that Kiki and Dina discuss their own experiences of sexual abuse and how the cold as a force of nature that can support overcoming trauma. More info scienceontherocks.org Support us on patreon.com/scienceontherocks
Rebirthing - Alakh Analda
1:15:00Alakh Analda is a practitioner Trainer and the founder and director of Zentium International, Rebirthing Breathwork Mastery. She was initiated as a Yoga Swami in 1976, and since 1987 she is a Breathwork Mastery practitioner. She has been facilitating Rebirthing Breathwork mostly from a Sydney base. Besides long-term private breathwork practice, she has facilitated many hundreds of Groups, Weekends and Six Day Workshops in all parts of Australia, and also overseas, in Rebirthing Breathwork with Chakras, Meditation and Yoga and Kriya Yoga training. Many of you might have experienced profound changes due to the breathing technique of the Wim Hof Method, but in this episode, we will dive deep into a technique based on fully conscious connected breathing – Rebirthing. Dan Brule who has taught breathwork to people like Tony Robbins or Mark Divine has written in his book "Just Breathe: Mastering Breathwork for Success in Life, Love, Business, and Beyond": "This is by far one of the most powerful breathing practices on the planet today." In this interview, Alakh talks about her insights and stories of the effects of rebirthing, the nine years she had lived in India, and shares her experiences and thoughts about breathing techniques and sexuality. More info scienceontherocks.org Support us on patreon.com/scienceontherocks
Comparing Buteyko and Wim Hof - Wilfried Ehrmann
28:38Wilfried Ehrmann is an exceptionally experienced breathwork therapist, Co-Founder of the IBF (International Breathwork Foundation) and a prolific writer about therapeutic breathwork. In this episode, we talk about the breathing techniques used in the Buteyko Method vs. those in the Wim Hof Method which are quite opposite at first sight regarding breathing style and mindset. In the WHM you breathe a lot, in the Buteyko Method, you breathe very little. We go into questions of where each method comes from, how they affect physiology, whether there are people for whom the WHM might not be advisable, and how prolonged phases of intense breathing (e.g. forms of conscious connected breathing) can help you tap into your subconscious and heal from emotional stress and trauma. Listen in on Wilfried’s profound knowledge about breathwork, and learn more about this magic key that helps you unlock your truest and deepest potential! More info scienceontherocks.org Support us on patreon.com/scienceontherocks
Investigating the Iceman - Matthijs Kox
38:08A few years ago, Wim approached a Nijmegen-based research team at Radboud Medical Center and challenged them to scientifically investigate his purported ability to influence his autonomic nervous system – a skill commonly deemed impossible by the medical community. The first two studies were conducted by Dutch physicians Dr. Matthijs Kox and Prof. Peter Pickkers who work on studying the human immune response, mainly in ICU patients, to help reduce the mortality of critically ill patients. They were able to publish their work in high-ranking scientific journals and continue to investigate the effects the WHM has in various patient groups. Enjoy this week’s episode where we bring you a fascinating, rich, and highly articulate interview with Matthijs Kox, the man who investigated the Iceman! More info scienceontherocks.org Support us on patreon.com/scienceontherocks
Mysterious and singular - the Pineal Gland
20:46The pineal gland is still a somewhat mysterious organ at the center of the brain. It was dubbed the “seat of the soul” by 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes and is still viewed as the physiological structure corresponding to the “third eye” in some esoteric traditions. In medicine, the pineal gland remains rather elusive to research due to its location, snugly nudged to the wall of the third ventricle in the middle of the brain. Its main and most well-researched function is the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that plays a critical role in regulating the circadian rhythm. Tune in on this week’s episode where we will tickle your ears and open your third eyes! Why the pineal gland hasn’t yet revealed all of its secrets How breathwork might help you hack into your pineal gland Why ‘beauty sleep’ might be more than just a catchphrase The link between the pineal gland and the hallucinogenic compound DMT More info scienceontherocks.org Support us on patreon.com/scienceontherocks