TREND: Extreme Wellness

Ice is Hot

More and more people are embracing extreme ice as a way to recover from injuries, reduce inflammation, and even strengthen the immune system. The 2017 Global Wellness Summit featured a wealth of experts and “explorers” on the cutting-edge of the ways humans are hacking their way to better brains, bodies and overall wellbeing.

Cryotherapy (controlled exposure to extreme cold temperatures) is becoming mainstream in the US and the UK with spas and specialized clinics offering exposure to subzero temperatures via walk-in cold chambers. Though there’s no hard evidence on the efficacy of ice-cold treatments, many believe that whole body cryotherapy helps control inflammation and aid in muscle recovery. However, there is also the suggestion that the relief felt from submerging in ice-cold temperatures is actually a “placebo.”

Extreme ice (and hot-cold contrast) experiences require some mind over matter. And the awe-inspiring power of the mind is clearly evident in Stanford University’s Alia Crum’s work on the power of the placebo effect. Dr. Crum, who spoke at the 2017 Summit, explains that your mind can “fake” your body into recovery even when the meds aren’t real. Crum dives deep into what other researchers have discovered: the placebo effect could be our most powerful path to health and wellness. Instead of treating placebos as proof that drugs don’t work, Crum says we should consider creating “new wellness models that unpack the placebo effect.”

Arguably, there’s no one who has embraced the power of extreme freezing as wholeheartedly as the inspirational author and athlete, Wim Hof (who spoke at the 2017 Summit). Hof personifies “mind over matter,” showing how we can learn to control our bodies, including our immune system and the automatic nervous system. Medical researchers have measured the effects of his mind control techniques and, today, the Wim Hof Method has a large number of followers/devotees all around the world.

Forecasting The Future

Cold (and more extreme hot-cold experiences) will only get hotter. It’s fascinating how, in the last few years, there has been an explosion of interest in the wellness philosophies of the world’s happiest nations (countries such as Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark, etc.)—whether it’s Danish hygge or Swedish lagom. The happiest nations are overwhelmingly cold nations that make practices like sauna bathing followed by icy plunges part of “everyday” wellness.

Interest in Nordic/Scandi/Northern European wellness looks to rise. They’re becoming very hot tourism and wellness tourism destinations, and so many new wellness destinations are innovating more hot and icy experiences—whether the reimagined Peninsula Hot Springs’ (AU) “fire and ice” bathing experiences or the new Arctic Baths in Swedish Lapland.

And these, and other spa and wellness travel trends, will be a hot topic at the 2018 Global Wellness Summit.

This is an excerpt from the TRENDIUM, a bi-weekly communication exploring the wellness trends identified in the 2018 Global Wellness Trends Report.
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