This evaluation critically examines a study published in NATURE that claims to investigate the Wim Hof Method (WHM). The study design raises significant concerns as it deviates from established protocols and fails to adhere to proper research practices. This research was done by solely consulting the Wim Hof Method book, that contains a group of protocols and tools for each of the Wim Hof Method pillars, interpreting it and designing a study based on the interpretation of the researchers of what the WHM is.
The only conclusion I can make is that it is a a) flawed study design with b) wrongly used protocols, and that:
THE WIM HOF METHOD HAS BEEN WRONGLY USED IN THIS STUDY TO COVER THE RESEARCH TOPIC.
First and foremost, the researchers did not use the correct WHM protocols, nor did they employ standardized protocols validated by previous WHM research. There was a lack of consultation regarding the accuracy of the WHM protocols, their teaching, and implementation. The researchers did not seek guidance from the institute responsible for designing specific protocols for various applications.
Furthermore, those explaining WHM exercises to subjects and ensuring proper implementation were not adequately trained in teaching WHM exercises. The cold exposure protocol deviated from both previous WHM research and the specified WHM 'cold shower' protocol. The mindset component, essential to WHM, was not taught according to the established three-step protocol by official instructors.
Critical flaws extend to participant preparation, with no confirmation that all subjects completed a minimum of three full rounds of WHM basic breathing.
The researchers demonstrated a lack of understanding of the diverse protocols associated with the WHM pillars and their specific combinations for different aims.
The study design, implementation, and oversight reveal an alarming level of error between establishing the right protocols, instructing them correctly, conducting them accurately, and ensuring proper implementation. This flawed approach undermines the validity of the entire study.
Several questions arise from these deficiencies, such as how the researchers arrived at incorrect cold immersion and cold shower protocols, and why they labeled it as WHM research when their protocols did not align with established WHM practices. The omission of various cold exposure types and the use of cold showers for research, without considering their difficulty in measurement, further highlight methodological shortcomings.
The study lacks reference to previous WHM studies, their parameters, effects, and relevant metrics, raising questions about the researchers' awareness of existing scientific literature. The failure to properly introduce the three components of WHM, elucidate the specific pillars, applications, and protocols, and justify the chosen methodology for the study's metrics further weakens its scientific merit.
Additionally, the training of experienced WHM practitioners, the design of protocols, and the basis for combining specific protocols for this study remain unclear. The researchers failed to justify why certain protocols were deemed THE WHM protocol for this research, especially when these protocols do not encompass the entirety of WHM tools and are inadequately suited for the study's objectives.
Ultimately, the study's credibility is compromised by a lack of adherence to established protocols, oversight in implementation, and a failure to incorporate essential elements of the WHM methodology.