Plunging into Metabolic Resilience with Thomas Seager of ASU and Morozko Forge

February 8, 2024

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Dr. Thomas P Seager is an Associate Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University. He is the founder of a new concept called Self-Actual Engineering that emphasizes application of design principles for the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Motivation, rather than the bottom. Seager also co-founded the Morozko Forge ice bath company and is an expert in the use of ice baths for building metabolic and psychological resilience.

John Shegerian: Have you been enjoying our Impact podcast and our great guests, then please give us a thumbs up and leave a five-star review on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you consume your favorite podcasts. This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed Loops platform spans the arc of capital, from venture capital to private equity bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. For fine closed-loop partners, please go to

John: Welcome to another edition of The Impact Podcast. I’m John Shegerian, and I’m so honored and excited to have a wonderful gentleman with us today. He’s Tom Seager. He is the associate professor at Arizona State University in sustainability. We’re going to talk about that in a second. He is also the co-founder and the Chief Science Officer of Morozko Forge. Welcome to the Impact Podcast, Tom.

Tom Seager: Thank you for having me here, John.

John: Oh, it’s a true honor and I’m just going to do a little truth in advertising upfront. I am a proud owner of a Morozko Forge. It’s in my house in Fresno, California. I use it every morning, and literally I’ve been a healthy person my whole life. But this has even transformed me further and made my journey to wellness the best journey I’ve ever had and I give a lot of that credit to your great product of Morozko Forge.

Tom: It’s great to hear. I’m so glad.

John: I’m so glad to have you on because it’s rare when you get to use a product that you’re so excited about that you get to meet the co-founder and actually get to have a conversation with them.

Tom: I’m right here.

John: Happy you’re right here. Before we get talking about everything you’re doing at ASU and everything you’re doing at Morozko Forge, I’m so excited about, talk a little bit about the Tom Seager story. Where did you grow up and how’d you even get on this fascinating journey of sustainability and wellness?

Tom: So, John, you’re from Queens and even though you’re in California, there’s still a little bit of that, like we can bring out the little boy from Queens. I grew up in Pittsburgh. So Pittsburgh is different. It’s not exactly East Coast. It’s kind of the second city, and this is the seventies because I was born in 1966 and it was a hard decade for Pittsburgh. The only thing that cleaned up the city is they put all the steel mills out of work. So we had the Steelers, we had the pirates, but they used to call Pittsburgh hell with the lid off because of all the smoke and the pollution.

But it wasn’t the way that my parents approached it. It was my mom going to the air pollution board. She was very active politically. We were recycling when I was a little kid, long before recycling was a thing because my mom in particular had that environmental ethic about her. So when it was time for me to go to school, I knew I wanted to be an engineer. I picked the only program in the Northeast that was civil and environmental engineering. I wanted to go to Clarkson University because they had such a strong environmental program. It was out in the middle of Northern New York, it’s a hockey school, the woods all around. I went to Clarkson three times. That’s where I got my doctorate. By the time I had advanced to my doctorate, environmental engineering had transformed.

It was no longer about the air pollution and the water pollution and the hazardous waste. I mean, you and I would remember Love Canal and some of those huge environmental controversies. Then it became the ozone hole. The whole trajectory of my career has gotten away from pollution control, which frankly is kind of boring and it’s gotten into sustainability. It’s climate change, it’s material cycling, it’s the closed-loop economy, these much more complex and longer-term concerns. So that’s what I did. As I moved through my career and I learned more about lifecycle assessment, the environment, and sustainability, I met a lot of really creative people, and I got an invitation to a workshop at the National Science Foundation. A friend of mine, Rob Anex said, “I want to know everything that you can think of when it comes to resilience.”

I didn’t really know resilience, but Rob respected my opinion. We went to this workshop, mind blown. So Katrina happens. That’s a sustainability issue, but it’s not the kind of pollution-oriented. There’s plenty of environmental problems, but the real problem is how does our infrastructure responds to these disasters and these stressors. Where in our world is the adaptive capacity whether it’s 911 or whether it’s Katrina, or whether it’s Hurricane Rita, or the wildfires in California, I shifted from what you would call environmental efficiency into adaptive capacity. It’s about innovation. It’s about creativity.

It is about working with the resources that you have to provide the things that people need. This is the essence of civil engineering. It used to be civil engineering was all at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, shelter, food, clean water, basic things. But as you think about infrastructure, it’s moving up Maslow’s hierarchy, sense of belonging, sense of a community, self-esteem. All of these things now are infrastructure-related. So I’m getting into the Oroville Dam. We did a study. The largest evacuation in California history was ordered because the Oroville Dam was 45 minutes from collapse.

This is a huge reservoir. Tallest dam in the United States, but it didn’t collapse, and it didn’t collapse because of the ingenuity of two guys on the top of the dam who were in charge of the emergency generator running the spillway. They lost communication with headquarters. They saw what was going on with the command center there, and they said, I think we got to fire up the generator and we got to open up the spillway. They didn’t have any orders to do it. They just took it upon themselves while the command center was relocating and out of communication. Command center comes back online, and of course, they phone up the fire chief who’s running the emergency, and they say, well, chief we got to tell you that it wasn’t your orders, but we did this and this.

The chief said, “Is that why I’m seeing the level of the reservoir go down?” And they go, yeah. Chief says, good job. They didn’t have to evacuate anybody after all. This is what I was studying, and it’s called resilience. It was that study that convinced me, it is not in the concrete, it’s not in the steel, it’s not in the highways, it’s not in everything that I learned in my studies at Clarkson, it is in the people. It is in their creativity and in their confidence and in their communication and in their ingenuity, whether it’s persevering, bouncing back, or thinking through a problem in a different way. When we are under these extraordinary stressors, there are some people who will go into shock and collapse. There are other people where those stressors bring out their most creative, their bravest, and their boldest ideas. Not all of them work, but we have the courage to try them, see what’s working, and adapt our way through it.

That’s resilience. To be resilient in our infrastructure, in our society. We must have these resilient people. So everything for me changed. I stopped counting up carbon dioxide molecules. I stopped thinking about what is outside the human being and getting into what is inside the human being. What makes us resilient, what makes us creative, what makes us adaptive? And then the biggest crisis of them all comes along. It’s 2020. We’re going to shut down the economy. I’m talking to all my friends in Academia, well, the ones I used to have, because I lost quite a few friends in Academia, and they’re telling me, this is the big one. So I got to, I got to figure this stuff out.

Everything that we thought we knew about health is now under question. Because I was a skeptic from almost the very beginning. Not entirely, but almost the very beginning. I was worried. AJK, who’s on Twitter, you couldn’t find her, said, “No, Tom, I’ve been looking at data and I don’t think the lockdowns make any sense. I think Covid has been here for months. So we got to figure this out.” She showed me the data on influenza, like illness reports. We published an article together called The Curve is Already Flat. Of course, it got blacklisted, it got pulled down, censored, but it connected me with people that were thinking the way that I thought. So I got to meet Jay Bhattacharya, I got to meet Martin Kulldorff.

I got to meet these people who have real expertise in public health. They have real medical credentials. For us, it was all about how are we going to get through this disaster. What I’ve since learned is that we should be questioning everything we thought we knew about health. Here’s the one thing, you are in charge of yourself.

John: That’s right.

Tom: There’s nothing that matters but your n equals one. You can read the studies, you can get the advice from your doctor, and you can adore your doctor and have incredible respect for the hospitals that you’re going, and nothing matters but you, because you are not a statistic. You are a person. So this huge sea change in the way a lot of people are thinking about health is predicated on I’m in charge of me. I have to make my own decisions. We’re all talking to one another.

We’re all sharing stories and information. We’re not giving up our doctors, but we are thinking more critically about what our doctors are saying because we’re in charge of us. So this is sort of the arc of my life has gone away from the mathematics and the chemistry and the physics, and right into the psychology and the biology of who are we? What is our place in this world? Now I’m still teaching at ASU of course, but Morozko Forge and the ice baths are one of the tools that people really need.

It’s taken off because people are finding solutions in their homes, in the cold water that they didn’t know they needed. You are such a terrific example where you sort of exhaust the options that are available for you at the hospital. And you say, well, I don’t know. I’m going to give this a try. You start getting good results. You talk to other people about it, and you say, I’m going to stick with what works.

John: That’s right. How long had you been teaching at ASU when you came up with that aha moment to start applying your engineering expertise towards developing the Morozko Forge?

Tom: I think that as an engineer, I’ve always been an innovator, but I don’t think it would’ve happened without Jason Stauffer. He was in my classes. He was an undergraduate teaching assistant for me. He’s got a very creative, innovative mind. Now. I had started taking cold showers, and I hated cold showers because they make me angry. Jason said the tap water in Phoenix is starting to get warmer. He said, well, have you ever tried an ice bath? No. He goes, have you ever heard about Vim Hoff?

No. He bought like 200 pounds of ice in a stock tank, and we’re doing this thing. I’m like, this is great. Cold showers are miserable, but put me up to my neck. Right? And I’m like, it’s almost relaxing. So I love that. The only problem is that in Phoenix it’s 115 degrees in Jason’s backyard. In the summertime, you buy 200 pounds of ice and it’s melted like 15 minutes later, and you feel like you got ripped off or something. So Jason and I were saying, well we’re engineers. We ought to be able to figure this out.

We kind of stumbled into it. It was something we knew we wanted. The dang thing is, John, it’s not easy. We are the only ice bath in America that makes ice because it’s easy to sort of go cold. But if you want ice, it’s a hard problem. I spent like 20 something thousand dollars to make one prototype, and it was the ugliest thing. I mean, it’s on Instagram. It was really rudimentary, but when we made ice, we invited a bunch of people over. We had a party about it. We all plunged together. We’re proud of ourselves. We want to show it off. One of the guys said I want to buy it. And right there, I had no idea what I was doing. I know how to put things together.

I know how to do equations. I don’t know how to run a business, but we put something up online on Etsy of all places. The lady who knits Christmas stockings and our little ice bat, somebody found it and somebody showed it to Ben Greenfield, and Ben said, I’ve been looking for one of these for years. He put us in his book Boundless. He didn’t even try it. He was put in the book because he heard about it from friends who had tried it. It was an incredible leap of faith and the next thing you know, people are saying, I want that too. We had to make it a business because we weren’t the only ones that wanted it. The world was like pulling it out of us. We made so many mistakes along the way.

John: But that’s the entrepreneur’s journey. What year was that first model put up on Etsy?

Tom: Oh, the very first sale we had was January 2019.

John: Wow.

John: I got a little picture, I had a framed for Jason, and I’m like, “Hey, this is sale number one.” We thought we would have a nice little backyard business or something. I mean, I’m a professor for goodness sake, but one of the classes that I teach, and I’ve taught it for 13 years, Engineering business practices. I’m supposed to know some things. Finance and depreciation and ethics and stuff like this. I had never really done an entrepreneurship, like a startup gig. It’s been a wild ride and so rewarding. I feel like I can’t ever go back.

John: I don’t see it going back. I mean, the science is in. This is not anecdotal evidence. This is not voodoo medicine. This is part of wellness 4.0, where the whole world is going in terms of how do we stay well instead of sick care, which we’re living in right now. This is actually healthcare. Part of a good healthcare wellness program includes cold immersion. I mean, when Huberman, Ferris, Rogan, Willick, and these people that are inundated with so much stuff, good and bad, all attest to it and actually then give the science behind it and give their own experiences, I think three out of those four are using it every day or every other day with tremendous results. It’s undeniable. This isn’t your opinion. This is just facts now, right?

Tom: We really stumbled into it. Back in those early days Jason’s wife, Adrian, you’ve seen her interviews.

John: Sure.

Tom: She suffered from Hashimoto’s. I forget how many prescription meds she was on. It was more than a dozen. She was metabolically a wreck. Well, she sees Jason and I doing these plunges, she hates the idea, but there we are. She’s got to try. Her husband’s doing it. Her first ice bath was eight seconds long. We have it on video. She popped out of there like Wile E. Coyote shot out of a cannon or something like that and then she kept doing it. Her Hashimoto’s entirely resolved.

This sounds like a miracle because they told her she was going to be on these drugs for the rest of her life. So I had to go to the library. You talk about the science, I’m like, well, this doesn’t make any sense. I got to do my Google searching and I’m the science mind and stuff. Well, it turns out Hashimoto’s is a thyroid disorder. The thyroid is in constant communication with your brown fat. Your brown fat makes more thyroid hormone than your thyroid does. So thyroid and brown fat, brown fat thyroid. Adrian grew up in Florida now she lives in Phoenix, and she hated the cold. She’s got no brown fat. Until she started getting into the ice bath, her brown fat was inactive. When she activated it, recruited new brown fat that stabilized her thyroid. So I’m getting this out of the journal article.

So we do a nice little thing on it, and I’m like, isn’t that amazing? Turns out she’s not the only one. There’s a physician here in Scottsdale, Courtney Hunt, she’s posted about the same thing. She suffered from Hashimoto’s. She used cold exposure. She used a ketogenic diet. She’s completely resolved. Hashimoto’s is a reversible disorder as far as the experience of the people who’ve been doing ice baths. So what is the science? It turns out that your body is evolutionarily designed for the cold. It expects cold water immersion. If you don’t give it, what is it expecting? No wonder you lapse into a state of disease and dysfunction.

There are a few things that your body really needs. It needs sleep. I mean, we’ve been sleeping for 300,000 years as a species. Okay, that makes sense. It needs a healthy diet. Periods of feast and periods of fasting. It makes total sense. It needs exercise. It needs exercise and rest. We all accept these things. But what we didn’t know is that your body needs cold and warm. So I get a lot of questions about this. Even though you’ve experienced terrific health benefits after the ice bath, people ask me no, but my ancestors are from the Caribbean, or My ancestors are from Equatorial Africa.

If you come from a warm climate, do you still need cold exposure? So I had to look into it. You remember where Vim Hoff takes his trainees. It takes him up Mount Kilimanjaro in t-shirts and shorts. Where’s Mount Kilimanjaro? It’s on the equator in East Africa. It turns out there are four active glaciers on the equator in East Africa. If you buy into this theory that homo sapiens emerge, because the oldest human fossils are in East Africa, that they emerged in the proximity to these glaciers, then you got to realize that during the ice age, our ancient ancestors were squeezed between the glacier and the ocean. Where do you think we got our food?

What do you think we were doing all day? We are aquatic species. We walk upright so that we can wade through the water. Our brains are so big because they’re fueled by shellfish and the Omega-3 fatty acids, the DHA, that we get out of the fin fish and all the foraging that we’re doing in the water. Somewhere in your ancient history, going back a quarter of a million years in the middle of some ice age, you have an ancestor who kept himself and his family alive by wading through the water, spearing fish, walking back up, and cooking them around the fire. To replicate that, you got to get into the ice bath, you got to get your red light or if you have a wood stove, that’s wonderful.

You got to recreate the conditions that your body is evolutionarily adapted to expect. It doesn’t matter if you’re African or Mexican or Norwegian. We all share these same evolutionary roots. We don’t adapt so fast to new circumstances. Just because we all drive cars and live in air-conditioned buildings now, doesn’t mean that our bodies are adapted to them. We have to reconnect with the natural seasons and the variability, the sunshine and the darkness, the hot and the cold that our bodies are begging us for, or we lapse into a state of disease.

John: It’s so true. Sort of like when you see a person and it’s love at first sight, I knew the first time I got in that ice bath and I got out of it that somehow something clicked. I had no idea about the evolutionary history that you just described so well, and I was only lightly familiar with Wim Hof, but it just clicked in my system and I said, this is what I got to be doing. I just felt it, and I’ll tell you, it gets better every day, it gets better every week, and I’ll tell you there’s really a lot to it. Talk a little bit about the science.

Why does Huberman believe it’s so good for the brain and because he’s a brain and ophthalmology guy? Why does Rogan, who’s a high-intensity sports guy, and Willick, who’s another high-intensity mental and physical person? What’s going on here in terms of other benefits that people are seeing that you learned about in your journey here now as the co-founder of Morozko Forge? By the way, if you’ve just joined us, we’ve got Tom Seager with us. He’s the co-founder and chief science officer at Morozko Forge. To find Tom and his great products, please go to

Tom: John, when we started Morozko Forge we named it after a metaphor because we wanted the fairytale in the story and we’re so stupid. We really should have called it like

John: A hundred percent.

Tom: Right? Anyway, we got attracted to the story. Google buried us and now it’s been years and we are the number one search engine return for four different misspellings of Morozko. Search for anything that sounds like Morozko. We will come up and we’ve earned that spot. So I’m just trying to help your readers out.

John: Tom, because at the end of the day, what really wins is substance over nonsense.

Tom: I hope so.

John: Substance over form. And you’ve got the goods. I’m a true testimony to that as are other people that I know that own your great product.

Tom: Yeah, you were asking me about the science?

John: Yeah, let’s talk about the brain science, the dopamine, and all the other great things that come out of the brown fat as you were starting to allude to. What are some of the other amazing benefits that come out from a regular ice plunge therapy practice?

Tom: The best sales pitch we have is actually getting you in the ice bath. It’s not like hyperbaric. You got to do hyperbaric twice a day and you got to do it for 22 days. You get in there, you take a nap, and you say, did anything happen? It’s not like red light where you know this is good for you and you’re like, is my testosterone going? You get in the ice bath and you know something is happening and when you get out, you feel euphoria. So I had to look into it. Huberman is he neuroscientist compared to me. I’m an engineer, but I had an experience, this was where the AJK up in Sedona, and we were so mad at each other.

We were dating at the time. We drove up there separately and we were having a big lover’s quarrel kind of thing. But she said she would do the photo shoot with me and we were going to do the Forge and my daughter is the videographer and stuff. So we get in together and it took like less than a minute because we got the whole video and we go like this and then we start goofing around and then we start smiling and then we start kissing in the ice bath. And it was like, we just fell in love.

What is going on? There are a whole a myriad of neurochemicals and hormones that are stimulated when you get into the cold. Dopamine is one of them. Dopamine is not exactly the lust hormone, but it’s that excitement, that reward hormone. In women cold stimulation boost their testosterone. They don’t even have to exercise. There’s only one study and so this is tentative, but it looks like they don’t even have to exercise afterward. Men, we got to exercise and it makes sense. Our testosterone is produced outside our body, but in women, it’s produced in the ovaries inside their body. So their bodies respond differently to cold immersion than we do.

What a lot of people don’t know is that testosterone is the number one sex hormone in women. They get their labs and they think they have more estrogen because estrogen is reported in a different unit than testosterone. You do the unit conversion, healthy women have three or four times as much testosterone in their blood than they have estrogen and testosterone is the lust hormone. So we’re getting some of this norepinephrine, we’re getting this dopamine, and that’s the excitement. We’re getting the testosterone and that’s the lust.

It goes further, it boosts your oxytocin. As you know, oxytocin is like that bonding hormone. So here’s what happened to us, we had no choice. We’re in there and for the camera, we’re staring in each other’s eyes, we’re holding hands, we’re breathing together. We couldn’t have avoided fallen in love because our brains are flooded with these neurotransmitters and they are the neurotransmitters of joy and attachment and love. We had a great time.

John: Gabby Reese, in one of her episodes because she has her own podcast, said, “Try to have a bad day when you get out of an ice bath.” She goes, “It’s nearly impossible.”

Tom: She is so right. There’s some good science about depression. This is coming out of the United Kingdom. Mike Tipton runs a cold lab, I forget which university, and he has documented case studies in which people with persistent, this is clinical depression, they’re not responding to medication, they’re almost desperate. He says, have you tried winter swimming? Because they have these clubs that go into the North Sea or something like that. Even though he has a lab that he dips people into a bath and he measures all kinds of stuff, they just go down to the beach with their friends in the middle of winter.

You can’t stay in a bad mood. Your body is incapable of doing it. It has resolved clinical depression in the case studies that he’s documented. You say, well, it’s the dopamine hit, but I think it’s more. Chris Palmer has a book, he’s a Harvard psychiatrist. He has a book called Brain Energy. It’s very clever. His thesis is that your brain, which uses about 20% of the metabolic energy in your body, isn’t right if your metabolism isn’t right. If you are starving your brain of the energy that it needs because you suffer from a metabolic disorder, it is no wonder that you’re in low mood. It is no wonder that you experience cognitive deficits.

Chris does not write about cold exposure. That’s more like Ben Bickman. You’ll see him in his ice barrel and see him talking about mitochondria. But Chris writes about ketosis and some other metabolic remedies. Cold exposure is great for stimulating ketosis. His theory is you fix your metabolism and it gives your brain the energy that it needs to do the really hard work of managing your mood. Because sometimes coach might say, shake it off or something. Sometimes you have, you get in this catastrophic thinking and it takes work to say, wait a second, that’s not really true. That’s not really what’s happening. No. There’s a future waiting for me over here.

I have to remember that I’m doing this. It’s called cognitive reframing. As the bad thoughts sort of take over, we have to activate our brain to reframe them, to change what it means to us, and create in our imagination a future to look forward to. Your brain needs energy to do that. So Chris’ theory is very powerful because he’s seen it play out in his patience. I got to get Chris in the ice bath. We follow each other on Twitter. I don’t really know him. I don’t spend a lot of time in Cambridge, Massachusetts. But I think if he experiences this, he’ll be like, just like you Tom, I get it now. It’s the number one sales pitch.

John: As I shared with you before we started taping today, last night, I was trying to greatly impress my little three-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter, Paulette. We were goofing around and we have a little ritual we do. So I was of course trying to Tom cruise it and went over the wall in front of her house. This time I was going to fall bad. So I hung onto the wall with my left arm, pulled it out, and dislocated my left shoulder. Got that plugged in last night from my nephew and then went to go see the dock at six this morning. But before I came into the office, I just was so excited to get into my Morozko.

I’ll tell you, I got in, within 30, 40 seconds, I was up to my neck and I told my son before we started taping today, he said, “ow was the Morozko this morning? How was the ice plunge?” I said, “Son, I could have stayed in it for an hour.” It was just heavenly to be into it up to my neck. It’s such a peaceful experience. It’s meditative and there’s so many things and when you get out of it, you just feel like a new person. Now, I shared with you that I shivered today a lot because I had barely slept last night.

As you and I know, every day you bring to the ice plunge yourself, whatever yourself is at that given moment. So the experience can vary a little bit given the context of your own mental and physical wellbeing at that time. But I knew I was going to have a tough day to overcome the pain and just make it through. I’ll tell you what, I shivered for about 45 minutes or so after I got out and I’ve been having one of the best days of the year so far. So, talk a little bit about the science behind shivering and the goodness behind shivering.

Tom: I’ll tell you what I learned about shivering. Peter Levine wrote a couple of books. I can’t remember whether it’s Waking the Tiger or one of his other books. But Peter Levine is a therapist psychologist who believes in the somatic, the embodiment of your emotions, that your emotions are held in your body, much like Bessel Van der Kolk in the Body Keeps the Score. Body

John: Keeps the score. Yeah,

Tom: Exactly. Levine predates that. But he talks about an experience that he had when he was run over by a car. He’s conscious, but he is laid out on the pavement. Some things are broken, he doesn’t really know. He’s trying to do a mental inventory. An off-duty EMT finds him and comes over. Now the EMT is taught to immobilize him for a good reason. You don’t know if there’s going to be some spinal cord damage or something like that. Levine remembers saying to him, back off because Levine knew that it is not stress that creates post-traumatic stress disorder. It is stress in combination with immobilization.

When you experience stress, it activates your fight or flight. When you’re able to run or to fight, you release the stress out of your nervous system through that motion. This is just your body doing everything that it’s supposed to do. It might not work out for you. You might get beat up. I don’t know, you might get eaten by a saber-tooth tiger or something, but the way that our body responds to fight or flight, everything gets all activated. If you immobilize the body, it’s kind of like, it never forgets. It remembers that stress response and it can stay on the edge of activation so that something will come trigger that stress response because It was never resolved. Levine told the EMT back off, and he began trembling. Now, if you are a hunter like Cam Haines or if you’ve ever hit a deer at night with your car, heaven forbid, you’ve probably seen the animals in the stress.

Sometimes it’s the last breath they take, but they begin trembling. It is the same effect. Their fight or flight has, all mammals have this, has been activated. That trembling releases all of that energy from the nervous system. And Levine wanted it. So he trembles on the pavement, they put him in the ambulance, he’s still conscious, and of course, the ambulance nurse is taking his vital signs. He says, so what’s my pulse? She says, well, I’m not really supposed to tell you. Levine tells a little fib. He’s like, well, I’m a doctor. It’s okay. You can tell me. He’s a psychologist. But she tells him, and his pulse is low, even though he’s in this extraordinarily beat-up state and a lot of pain. She reports his pulse reports, his blood pressure. He says, oh, thank God I won’t be getting PTSD.

Now, that’s an anecdote. You go to the journal articles and you realize that people who come out of surgery, especially brain surgery, will often experience what’s called postoperative shivering. They used to believe that it was because a surgical hypothermia sets in. So they said, oh, we got to keep these patients warm. But they still experienced the postoperative shivering. It was especially true of children who had broken bones and had to be immobilized during their recovery. The shivering was not for thermogenesis, it was for release of the stress. That trauma that had been building up as a result of the operation, especially brain surgery, and the children who were immobilized because their limbs had to be set. When you shiver, it is like a nervous system reset.

So some people ask me, they say, well, Huberman says do this, or Susanna Solberg says, do this to really make your body warm up. All of it makes sense if you’re in there to lose weight or you’re in there to recruit brown fat or you’re in there for metabolic reasons. But gosh darn it, John I went in yesterday. It was a tough day. I started shivering. Like I was in there for 10 seconds. It wasn’t for thermogenesis, it was because I was so bound up in my anxieties. They had to have somewhere to go. So you get back to Jocko, you get back to Rogan. Rogan talks about it. You go to the gym and you work out your issues on the iron.

And it does, the exercise helps and everybody self-reports how they feel more relaxed and they have a good day after a workout. I work out my anxieties in my Morozko because sometimes I go in there like, bring that shiver on. I come out, of course, I feel great. I feel like Superman. And then I work out, and this is what Rogan discovered. I mean, cold therapy is as old as Hippocrates. Aristotle wrote about it. We’ve been using cold to take inflammation down, like treat injuries for forever.

But Rogan had David Goggins on his podcast in December. I remember this really well because I started to get a lot of messages. The messages we’re all like, Tom, you’re on Rogan. No. I’ve never been on Rogan. Rogan doesn’t want anything to do with me. He’s got much more famous people to have on his show. They’re like, that’s not what I meant. Rogan pulled up one of my Instagram posts and it said, “Do your cold before your exercise instead of after.” So Rogan’s kind of a creative guy and he likes trying new things. So he’s telling Goggins, that’s what I do now. I get up early in the morning and my underwear, I go outside in the winter in Texas, it’s like 45 degrees, and I get in the forge. Goggins is like, there is nothing that will make you question everything about your life like the cold water.

John: True.

Tom: Rogan go, yeah, it’s really hard, but I read this thing, how it’s better for your testosterone and there’s a sense of achievement that comes from it. So that’s what he’s adopted. The science goes really deep and as I’ve discovered it is more than the popular misconceptions. There’s some things that we learned from our high school football coach or something about cold or our baseball coach ice your arm or something like that. I’m not saying it’s bad, but the further I go into the science of cold exposure, the more I realize that not everything our high school football coach taught us about was right.

John: Right. Talk a little bit about… You mentioned women earlier, their testosterone level goes up. If men are exercising and keeping a healthy lifestyle, their testosterone levels go up also with cold exposure on a regular basis. Correct?

Tom: So this is almost embarrassing, but I think the reason that Rogan found my post is because Liver King got caught. If you’re on Instagram Liver King is very entertaining. I think if he’d probably said, “Hey, look, of course, I’m on steroids. What do you think?” people probably would’ve forgiven him because he’s got such a great sense of humor and he’s a lot of fun to follow. But Liver King got caught and Rogan had Derek more plates, more dates, and they’re talking about testosterone and stuff.

They’re doing the research. He said, “Wait a second. What is this 57-year-old fat guy who teaches engineering at ASU doing with testosterone numbers that are like 1100 nanograms per deciliter?” This was a total accident. I was healthy as far as my testosterone goes, but I didn’t get in there for testosterone. I got the full male blood panel. I checked all the boxes and it comes back and it’s telling me my cholesterol and my PSA came back high. That’s not unusual. When you’re in your fifties, your prostate-specific antigen often you have inflammation in your prostate. Mine came back seven. If it’s over four that’s supposed to be cautionary.

I got scared like crazy. I’m like, I know I’m supposed to go to the urologist, I know I’m supposed to have an exam, but he’s just going to say, you should have a biopsy. Mark Sisson has a great thread on Twitter about the sepsis that he got from his biopsy that almost killed him. I didn’t want any of that stuff. So I said, all right, I’m going to talk to some other guys. I talked to older guys, I talked to guys my age. I talked to younger guys and there was a series of horror stories about how they treat the prostate that convinced me I got to find another alternative. I said I’m going to do ice baths. I’m going to double down on that and ketosis, and I’m just going to measure this again. I’ll give myself a few months. Did that. I brought my PSA down to under one, which was enough. Now I’m relieved. I have no inflammation in my prostate. I probably never even had cancer, John. But you know how your brain starts playing with you?

John: We catastrophize everything.

Tom: Right. It’s human nature. So I forgive myself. But I was getting my testosterone measured and the lab report comes back and there’s like this big red exclamation mark out of range. You’re too high. I’m like, well, I guess I don’t mind. But now that I have my PSA under control, I’m going to go to my urologist and I’m going to get a big pat on the back. Right? He’s going to say, oh no, you’re fine. Because I still want the clear conscience. I go in there and he’s like, “Yes. I see. I want more tests.” I’m like, “More tests?” But I solved this. Look at this PSA and he goes, “I just want to check a couple of things.” Turns out he thought I was juicing.

He didn’t care about my PSA, he looked at my testosterone, he is about my age and he is like, there’s no freaking way. So he sent me back to the lab to get my luteinizing hormone checked. I didn’t know what luteinizing hormone was. Luteinizing hormone stimulates your gonads to make your testosterone. If your luteinizing hormone is low and your testosterone is high, then your doctor knows it’s not your gonads making it, you’re getting it from somewhere else. So my urologist’s like, “I want one more test.” It comes back, big red, exclamation mark, my luteinizing hormone off the charts. He knows I’m natural. But here’s the thing about doctors.

Did he say, “So Tom, what are you doing? He’s like, “No, okay. Fine. See you later.” Like no curiosity about this. Joe Rogan is more curious about my labs than my own urologist. So testosterone was in the news. Joe starts looking around and he found this thing, you don’t need to suffer a testosterone decline with age. Just because your doctor tells you that’s normal. I am not jacked and I barely work out. At 1100, I don’t feel abnormal. I just feel like a regular guy. So what this tells me is I’m 57, maybe I’m overgeneralizing but allow me the exaggeration. You can be healthy too. You don’t have to have this age-related decline if you’re going to take care of yourself in ways that will boost your testosterone. The key to that is do your ice bath, then do some exercise.

So I get all these questions, how much should I do? And these are all good questions. The answer is, we don’t really know. There’s some good studies on rugby players and coming out of Italy and out of Poland and Finland, places like this, but they’re all on healthy young men. They’re all on like these 25-year-old guys. So, what am I saying? Nobody pays to study 57-year-old men to see if we can boost their testosterone, I guess. But the reports that I’ve been getting back from people via social media, there’s a guy in Massachusetts and he says, I used to be on TRT and I saw your posts and I quit the TRT and I said, “I’m just going to go down to the pond, I’m going to go swim around in the summertime, and then I’m going to power walk home.

“That’s all he does. There’s no weights, no super strenuous stuff. He’s older than me, he’s up to 1200. He sent me his labs. It’s unbelievable. So there’s a guy in India, he was down around 450. He said, “I saw your Instagram post. I said, I’m going to give this a try.” I never even talked to this guy until he got himself up into the high seven hundreds. Sent me his labs and he said, “Professor Seager, I want you to know your thing works.” I’m like, this is fantastic. So this is totally uncontrolled, and every time I post it on Twitter, doctors come from all over the place and they say, “There is no randomized double-blind control study that says the thing that happened to you actually happened to you.” I’m like, I don’t care. The N equals one. You are one. He’s one, he’s one, and we’re up to 13 N equals one guys that have all done this. There’s no harm in it. So give it a shot.

John: Anecdotally speaking, I find that after I do the cold immersion and I go to the gym and lift weights three to four days a week, my weightlifting session is 20 to 25% stronger, better, more focused, higher quality workout, post cold immersion, and it is just a joy to be in the gym. It’s not a grind anymore.

Tom: There is some great data on this. Andrew Huberman had Craig Heller, who’s a colleague at Stanford, a professor, and it was all about per cooling. So Heller’s thing is about cooling you off in the middle of your workout. Heller studied some of his own graduate students. They got a huge boost in peak muscle power output and in endurance. Now, we have some data on ice baths, pre-cooling rather than pre-cooling, so cooling before you start your workout.

It’s from the ARX headquarters in Austin. They have these great machines that measure everything. It’s a really innovative design. So they got an ice bath and people are getting into the Morozko and then getting into their constant displacement machines and getting data. I got an email from Mike Pullano out of ARX saying, “Tom, we’re seeing this 25% boost in leg press, 25% boost in shoulder press with the people who pre-cool, and I’ve got six weeks of these people and all of a sudden there’s this huge jump, what’s going on?” I said, “Well, according to Craig Heller, what’s going on is they’re getting this big cooling boost in their performance.” So I had to go a little deeper. You know that your mitochondria fuel your muscles.

The mitochondria convert glucose and fatty acids into ATP and ATP is used for almost everything in your body. Almost. Wound healing, exercise, growth, ATP is the key to everything in your body, in particular, your strenuous exercise. But mitochondria are damaged by use. They create what’s called reactive oxygen species. It’s ordinarily not a problem, but if you overuse the mitochondria, these reactive oxygen species will damage the DNA that the mitochondria rely on. Mitochondria have their own DNA outside the nucleus. Then the mitochondria need a rest so that they can do MitoBiogenesis, regenerate and come back stronger.

So overworking, overheating, doing too much, not good for your mitochondria, but a little bit stimulates mitochondria. Okay. So what’s happening when you exercise? Your mitochondria are working, they become fatigued. Fatigue is your body’s way of protecting your mitochondria from damage. Now, if you’re David Goggins you could do 5,000 pull-ups in a minute, in a day, or whatever the record is. He’s got this incredible willpower. I don’t have it. When I get fatigued, I’m like, God dang it. But keeping your muscles cool reduces the rate of reactive oxygen species generation in the mitochondria and it postpones that fatigue response.

If you’re looking to Boost Your Performance, you’re getting ready for the big game, you’re getting ready for the run or whatever your, your sport is, pre-cooling and per-cooling are going to allow you to get more out of your mitochondria without damaging. It’s no wonder you have a better workout. What’s the best thing for MitoBiogenesis for creating new mitochondria? Cold exposure. So you’re doing your mitochondria a favor by cooling them down before you do your workout. They’re repaying the favor by giving you more power and endurance.

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John: Let’s go back to the shivering. Tom, you talked about your shivering getting in, and sometimes I shiver when I’m in the ice plunge, but there’s many times when I get out of the Morozko when my shivering kicks in. What’s the technical term for when you shiver when you get out? Is that shivering just as good as when you’re in?

Tom: There are several mechanisms that your body has evolutionary adapted to defend your core temperature. Shivering is one of them because that thermogenesis in your muscles is going to generate heat, protect your core temperature from hypothermia. But another one is called vasoconstriction. That’s the pain that you feel in your toes and in your fingertips. There’s smooth muscle tissue that goes around your blood vessels and the smooth muscle tissue will contract and it will restrict the blood flow into your limbs. So there’s going to keep the blood in the core of your body and whatever isn’t cold.

So one of the weird things about getting in up to your neck is vasoconstriction shuts off the blood flow to your limbs and it puts more in your head because your head is out of the water. Joe Dituri, University of South Florida is the one who explained this to me because he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident. He’s a scientist who studies the brain. He didn’t even recognize his own student when he woke up in the hospital. The student is his attending position and he’s like, “But Professor Dituri, don’t you know who I am?” He was out of it because his brain was injured. So he said, “Here’s what I wanted to do, Tom. I wanted to get into the ice bath to force the blood up into my head and promote healing.” He does a lot of hyperbaric because it’s good for the brain, but he’s like, “I’m going to add cold so I can move the…”

Alright, so we understand vasoconstriction, but what happens as soon as you get out? Well, your limbs are starting to rewarm, the blood leaves your head, it’s leaving your core, it goes back into your limbs, and when it’s there, it cools down. Your skin temperature is already down, your epidermis and the little fat below is already down. As you re-inflate your blood vessels in your limbs, the blood gets cold. It has to come back to the heart, tt has to come back to the core, and it comes back cold. All of a sudden your body’s like, wait a second. We got to get some shivering going on. The core temperature is dropping. So it’s this combination of thermal defense mechanisms, not just the muscle shivering, not just the cold thermogenesis in your brown fat, but what happens after the ice bath, the redistribution of blood in your body.

It’s called after drop. I don’t know if that’s a scientific term. Scott Kearney’s the first one who taught me about it. I’m like, so that’s what you call that because I experience it too. I’ve been at this for long. I’m seriously cold-acclimated. Sometimes I’ll come out four minutes in my Morozco and I’m thinking, “Oh, I’m doing great.” 20 minutes later I’m chattering because my blood is redistributing. I’m experiencing after-drop. There’s some good science where they take people out of the cold water and they use a rectal thermometer to measure their core temperature. And they keep going down. Sometimes it’s 20 minutes, sometimes it’s 40 minutes even after they come out of the cold.

John: Why would I get in the Morozko or any ice bath immersion, do I get three hits? Everyone has their own style. I get in first and I get acclimated. So I’m 20, 30 seconds in, my breath work becomes great, then the next hit I get is when I put my arms in. That’s a whole different. Now I’m off to the races and I try to stay for seven minutes. At 6:45, I’ll flip around and I’ll go my whole head in and get a whole different hit. So what is this? Is there such thing as a best technique as head first and then sit there with your hands out, hands in? What have you learned via science and anecdotal evidence over the years as to is there a best technique or is it all good and it’s all contextualized to the person?

Tom: I can’t tell you there’s a best technique. I do it all different ways. Sometimes I’ll finish with a head dunk. What I never do, ever, is hold my breath underwater. So there are worse techniques but I don’t know that there’s a best technique. I never combine hyperventilation, like Vim Hoff’s breathing. [inaudible] will tell you to not do this, but you can find videos where people are doing it. Never combine hyperventilation with cold water immersion.

There’s something called shallow water blackout. People die. I would hate for that. So what happens when you first get in, there are two reflex responses. One is called the gasp reflex. You feel it. I’ve tried it. I’ve put like oil in my mouth to, you know, make sure that I’m not going to open my mouth and I still get that gas reflex because I go in at 34 degrees. The gas reflex, all mammals experience it. It is that activation of the nervous system. I say always go in feet first, never in face first, because there’s another reflex. It’s called the dive reflex. Every mammal has that as well. This is when you know your face is going in, your pulse will slow down, your metabolism will slow down. The dive reflex is about preparing your body to go get that lobster.

I don’t know what you’re eating today, you’re going to go get the sea anemone or whatever it is that’s going to be on the dinner plate. If you’ve got a dive, your body wants to prepare you for temporary oxygen deprivation. The problem is that the gas reflex revs everything up. The dive reflex takes everything down. Mike Tipton at this UK university, this is hypothetical, but he talks about the possibility of autonomic conflict where the gas reflex trying to take you up, the dive reflex trying to take you down, and it’s possible that your heart gets these mixed signals, skips a beat, it does some things it’s not supposed to do. Tipton’s worried about it.

There’s never been a documented case that he’s written about or that I’ve seen, but hypothetically, he says, just keep breathing. Take these things in order rather than going in face first. First thing, gasp reflex. You take control of your breathing. Now, you’re imagining what that head dunk is going to be like. You’re telling your body, this is what cold feels like. You’re bringing everything down. We have some good brainwave data on this. Your brain will involuntarily go into a deeper meditative state. I suck at meditation, but you put me in the forge and I’m like, oh, whether I want to or not. So those are the first two stages. Gasp first, dive reflex second. Then you say, “I put my hands and feet in and I don’t know what’s going on. Everything changes.” Well, of course, it changes.

That’s the vasoconstriction. These are the most vulnerable parts of your body. You put your whole body in and it has taken the blood and it said, okay, this part is warm. We can store blood. As soon as you put it in, your body’s like, John, what are you doing? I put a lot of blood in there and now I got to get it out. So you’re shocking your vasculature. No wonder that you experience sort of another stage of adaptive response. And then the head dunk, just keep exhaling while you’re doing it. I did seven minutes this morning, and part of it was I kind of wanted to get ready for this podcast early this afternoon.

I did a head dunk and I was in one of my most relaxed states. I don’t think I’ve ever really been more than 11 seconds underwater, but I’m just breathing slow. Usually, I feel abject panic. I could be three years old and afraid I’m drowning even though I got a life preserver on and a snorkel and my mom is holding me. But you know that feeling sometimes when we get, as kids, when we’re learning to swim. That usually happens to me when I do it. Today I was like, this is great. I could stay in here. I had a wonderful experience. I try not to put the cold on the top of my head. This is back from the cold shower days.

If I cold shower on my chest, everything like clavicles down, I’m okay. But as soon as I let the cold on the top of my head, I’m miserable and wretched. Just because it gives me bad memories, I go in but I try and keep my head up. I breathe out and I come out. That final stage that did not happen for me today, but typically happens is the panic stage. And then I come up and I feel like I’ve cheated death. I’m alive. I’m grateful to be alive. Sometimes I stay in a little longer. Sometimes I’m like, “All right, I’m going to get out. I’m going to get my steel mace. I’m going to get my kettlebells or my barbell or something like that.” I feel like Superman.

John: That’s awesome. For our listeners and viewers who just joined us, we’ve got Tom Seager. He is the co-founder and chief science officer of Morozko Forged. To find Tom and his colleagues then check out the Morozko Forge options that you have. Please go to Tom, brown fat. Everybody doesn’t want to be fat. Why is brown fat good fat? And what benefits does building up our brown fat using regular cold immersion practice do for us?

Tom: Babies are born with brown fat. They don’t have a lot of muscle. So for thermogenesis, all they have is brown fat. You never have more brown fat at any time in your life when you’re born. Babies are really good at defending their own body temperature if they get cold by activating their brown fat. As parents, we’re bundling our babies up and we’re putting the little heat. We’re like, “Oh, it’s 65 degrees.” We’re putting them in the car seat.

You got a granddaughter. When I was a dad of young children, I got to admit I was a little paranoid about them being cold. If I had to do it over again, I’d be like, what the hell? They’re fine. When you think about when you were a kid, you are going outside. You remember all those winter storms we had in 1977, and it was snowing like crazy, and school, it seemed like it was canceled for a week. You’re going to go out and you’re going to go sledding and stuff, and you can hear your mom’s voice.

She said, “Oh, put on a jacket.” Mom, I’m not cold. Kids know when they’re cold. They know when to come in. They’re going to ask Mom for the hot cocoa or whatever. The point is that they have way more brown fat than grownups do. It used to be that physicians thought everybody grows out of it, that adults just don’t have any brown fat. Well, this is the late seventies, a new screening technique for cancer. There’s an imaging technique called PET, it’s invented, and by the eighties, they started installing it everywhere. PET works by scanning the body and tracking glucose. So they inject you with a little radio-isotope glucose. It’s a tracer. They can notice it with the PET.

They know that cancer cells live off of glucose. So they will take up the glucose out of your bloodstream, and that will create an image on the PET scan that allows the doctors to identify the tumor. Tumors are not symmetrical, but they started seeing these spots on the PET scans. They had no idea what they were, but they were symmetrical, and they only saw it in the cold examination rooms. Because the PET machine uses a lot of power. It generates a lot of heat. These rooms have to be air-conditioned. Sometimes they’re just too cold. So people go in there and it took like some Swedish researcher years of like who knows what these spots are?

What are these scans? What’s showing up? This Swedish researcher goes, “Hang on, I think that’s brown fat.” He ran an experiment and he said, “We’re going to do this in the cold exam room We’re going to do it in the warm exam room.” They’re like, “Hey, look at this. I just found brown fat.” That set off a cascade of new research using PET scans, thermal tomography. It’s now infrared. You can detect brown fat. Susanna Solberg’s work is all based upon PET scannings in people. We now have brown-fat scientists. It’s all been in the last 10 to 12 years that we’re saying, “Oh my gosh, this brown fat is amazing.” Brown fat is an essential organ. It is not a nice to have. If you don’t have brown fat, then there is something in your metabolism that isn’t right. I’m going to tell you why.

We think brown fat is for thermogenesis and it is, but it is also a secretory organ That is, it makes hormones like thyroid hormones. It makes neurotransmitters, it makes something called FGF21, Fibroblast Growth Factor 21, which is a neuroprotective hormone. Brown fat protects your body against the cold in a multitude of ways, not just by producing heat. If you don’t get cold, you do lose all your brown fat. Fortunately, we can get it back. Brown fat is also the number one way for improving your insulin sensitivity. Alright, so what do I mean by that? This is coming straight out of Ben Bickman’s book, Why We Get Sick, which is a terrific book because you get in there and realize that every single leading cause of death in the United States from chronic illness is associated with insulin resistance. Insulin sensitivity is the opposite of insulin resistance. People with more brown fat have more insulin sensitivity.

It means they’re metabolically more healthy, they age slower, and they are less susceptible to some of the chronic diseases that are usually associated with aging like Alzheimer’s, cancer, Rheumatoid arthritis. All these things that we used to think, well, I’m just getting old. I guess that’s the way it is at my age. Doesn’t have to be like that. It’s probably a gradual degradation of the metabolism that is causing what you think of as the diseases of aging. When you get yourself cold, you recruit brown fat. The principle difference between brown and white is white has very few mitochondria in it. Brown fat is packed with thousands of mitochondria and they’re there for really good reasons. So you’re going to recruit brown fat. You’re going to make new mitochondria, you are going to reverse.

Let me be careful before the FDA shows up at my door. When you take care of your mitochondria, you take care of your metabolism. When you take care of your metabolism, you slow the rate, the progression, and the risks of all these chronic diseases associated with aging. So, John, you can tell what I want to say is you reverse your age. People are going to comment on here and they say that’s not possible. But the fact is, Patrick Porter at BrainTap will measure your energetic age. This is not DNA methylation.

This is not telomere length. He’s measuring the electromagnetic field that your body creates. He puts these electrodes on me. He does like the EEG, I’m not really sure what it is, and he says, “Well, congratulations, Tom. You’re 32 years old.” When you take care of your metabolism, you slow the rate at which you age. Energetic age, which is what he’s measuring, that is younger means your metabolism are more vital and your mitochondria are healthier. So that’s what I really mean to say is that in an older age, you can feel more energy, you can feel more vital, you can recapture that brown fat condition that you didn’t have since you were in your late teens.

John: Unbelievable.

Tom: It is.

John: Did you say by the time we get to 40, most of us basically it’s out? It’s gone.

Tom: Yeah. Sloan Kettering Institute, these cancer institutes, they got all these records of these PET scans and they went through them all after the Swedes were like, “Hey, there’s brown fat on there.” People were like, what? There is? They went back and they said 95% of the people on those scans had zero brown fat. It’s because they’re not cold. Think about it. You live in New York and you bundle up, you go from the subway, you spend like two seconds in between the cab and the building. Arizona, you say well, Arizona gets so much sunshine people must have great vitamin D. No, they don’t because we live indoors.

It’s so hot outside in Arizona that nobody goes out when the sun is out and we wind up with vitamin D deficiency. The point is that our sheltered comfortable lives are disconnecting us from the environment. I kind of get it. My parents were born in the Depression. When they grew up, they moved to Pittsburgh. You don’t want to breathe that air. You don’t want to be in connection with the environment. The water is filthy. The air is disgusting. The environment was so polluted when my parents grew up that their ethic was you stay inside. It’s cleaner in here. But by the time I got to be a young man, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act.

Outside is where we belong, John. If we don’t get enough of that outside, we get sick. Not that I ever argued with my dad about it because he grew up at a different time. To his generation, the smoke stack meant there were jobs. My parents were environmentally ethical. But if you grew up in the Depression and you grew up in World War II, there were certain compromises that people were willing to make. I’m not willing to make them. I want to get myself out into the woods, get myself out into the sunshine.

I want the cleanest water I can get. I want to get into the ocean, and I want that to be clean too. People aren’t getting enough cold because they are protecting themselves from an environment that they belong in. So who were the 5% of the people who had brown fat? Lumberjacks, traffic cops, garbage collection men from Finland, and these people who are outdoors all the time. You might think, well, that’s not good. The guy on the garbage truck or the lumberjack, he’s breathing all those fumes and stuff.

No, he’s healthier than you because he’s in an environment that is giving him a healthy amount of stress, and his body is responding in this hormetic adaptive way to keep him strong. Now, because these were all cancer patients, it’s not indicative of the whole population, but since then, people have been looking for brown fat all over the place. That was the whole basis of Susanna Solberg’s study. She wasn’t looking at sick people. She was looking at winter swimmers, people who are on purpose jumping in the fjords of Denmark to try and keep themselves cold. What she discovered was most of these people who get an average of 11 minutes a week, plenty of brown fat. Didn’t really matter how they broke it up. It only takes 10 or 11 minutes a week in the ice bath or the cold plunge or the ocean or whatever to keep yourself cold. It doesn’t take a lot.

John: So Huberman has quoted that study Soderberg study.

Tom: He loves that study.

John: Yeah. He loves it. That’s the mantra. Like you just said, you don’t need to be doing this 30 minutes a day or 23 minutes a day. This is not a competition. You get 11 minutes a week, you’ve hit the bare minimum to get the maximum benefit.

Tom: It might actually be less than 11. I mean, we don’t really know. She did a survey. She asked the study participants, “How often do you winter swim? How long do you stay in there?” And people gave all different kinds of answers. She averaged it out and said, “Hey, on average these people with brown fat are doing 11 minutes a week.” It might be less. We don’t know because nobody has systematically investigated the minimum effective dose.

John: Tom, I know they’ve talked about it publicly, so I don’t feel bad bringing it up. But I mean, Rogan has Morozko Forge in his house.

Tom: Yeah.

John: And Greenfield has one at h house.

Tom: Yeah.

John: These are people that, again, are inundated with all sorts of nonsensical, opportunistic, wellness tools, ideas, vitamins, God knows what, and they’ve chosen your product. Let’s talk a little bit about that. I mean, it’s arguable to say that Rogan in his own way, and even Ben Greenfield, the advent and rise of podcasts, and especially the Pleeding Podcasts, has created a whole different democratization of information than you and I grew up with.

You and I grew up with CBS, NBC, ABC, Three Great Iconic Channels, PBS, and Local. That was pretty much what we had. Eventually, that spread out to some cable opportunities, wonderful brands like HBO, CNN, et cetera. But arguably, Rogan is as powerful, if not more powerful, and has more credibility than many of these wonderful brands that we all grew up with because of the trust breach that’s happened in the last four or five years.

Tom: Well said.

John: So talk a little bit about, I want actionable items in terms of action steps now going forward.

Tom: Hang on, there’s a caveat. I mean, you gave a long list of famous people and it’s true. Rogan, Greenfield sort of being the most [inaudible]. But not everybody uses Morozko. Rogan was teasing Huberman about it. He says he’s got one, but he won’t get in it because it’s too cold. When you talk about guys like Rogan and Greenfield, they’re the extremists. I mean, didn’t Greenfield, like put electrodes on his nuts or something and inject stem cells into his penis? Like they do crazy stuff, right?

John: Yeah. But remember what Jobs said, it’s the crazy ones that we all call crazy until we call them geniuses.

Tom: Jobs. Had a good point.

John: He had a good point. They’re out on the cutting edge for a reason, and they’re open to trying things. Eventually, they want the best.

Tom: You got it.

John: And yeah, Huberman has another one. He is talked about it and good for him. I mean, he’s a brilliant guy.

Tom: Agreed.

John: He brings so much clarity to difficult subject matters. It’s just wonderful as my son says to me.

Tom: Huberman is doing for podcasts. What Carl Sagan did for science in the 19th century. You remember that day where we’re in like elementary school and they wheel in the big TV and we’re all like, “Eh, it’s going to be movie day.” And then we watched Carl Sagan teach us about cosmology or physics or something like that. Well, Carl Sagan’s passed on. It’s Huberman doing the social media thing that is now communicating the real science to the public in a way that they’re so hungry for. None of them are in elementary school. You and I still want that experience and I really admire what he’s doing. Of course, I wish I could get him in the cold. I want him in a Morozko.

John: Yeah. But as you just said, he’s made science fun and now ubiquitous because the rise of his podcast has been breathtaking. He’s one of the top five in the world now, I think.

Tom: You’re asking for actionable items, right?

John: I did a compare and contrast, which I spoke with you about off the air. Talk a little bit about what our listeners and viewers who now are maybe interested in trying and getting into this practice. There’s a lot of ice baths out there now. It’s become a big business. You were early. You were very early. Talk about what they should be looking for when they buy an ice bath and why is the Morozko Forge different than most of your competitors.

Tom: I was saying that Joe and Ben Greenfield are the extremes. But Ben actually doesn’t plunge that cold. He knows that you don’t have to be 34 degrees. I like it, Joe likes it, and on Instagram, having the ice floating in there, it’s great for Joe, but Ben won’t go that cold. There is something else that is wicked important to Ben, and it is electrical grounding. We designed the forge so that the tub is grounded, the electrical system is grounded, and the water is grounded. When Ben got his forge, the first thing he’s doing is he’s testing the electrical grounding.

So he has Brian Hoyer from Shielded Healing come out and Brian is the expert and he’s testing all the EMF and he puts his electrode in the water and he says, “Ben, the forge is 20 times more effective for grounding your body than walking in the barefoot grass.” Now, grounding is huge, and none of the ice plunge, cold plunge, whatever the hell they are, companies are going to talk about grounding because when you get one of those beautiful, sleek, acrylic tubs, you can’t ground it. When you get a plastic molded and you hook it up to a chiller and stuff, the water’s not grounded. Now you can get other benefits. Certainly, you can get the temperature, you can activate the metabolism. But Greenfield is ahead of its time. Grounding reduces your blood viscosity.

I mean, I learned about this in grad school. There’s something called zeta potential, and it’s an electric field around your red blood cells. When the zeta potential is off, your red blood cells will aggregate. They will form little clumps. If those little clumps aggregate, you get a clot. When you discharge the static buildup in your body, and the forge is fantastic for this, you discharge it, the viscosity of your blood goes down, clotting goes down, and the risk of heart attack, stroke, deep vein thrombosis goes down. Greenfield was looking for grounding. He didn’t necessarily need the coldest one, but we were the only one at the time. So that’s what he got.

What do you look for? Temperature. How cold do you want it? Does the equipment that you’re looking at get that cold grounding? Is it electrically grounded for your safety? And is the water grounded for your health? Then the third one is water quality. I got my doctorate in environmental engineering, and I spent six months in my kitchen working out the filtration system for the Forge. Most of the ozone generators that are on the market don’t work at all.

I’m buying all these ozone generators off of Amazon and I’m getting them from China, and they’re all built for hot tubs. Most of them are cosmetic because at the temperature of a hot tub, the ozone breaks down so fast, it doesn’t really do you any good. The Chinese know that it doesn’t really do anything, but make you feel good about your hot tub or something like that. There were two companies that actually produced the ozone that we needed, and we went with the best one at the time.

So when you read about ozone and there’s some articles out there, “Oh, it doesn’t really work.” It’s true. You need to have cold and you need to have the right ozone component. We’re an ice bath, we got the best ozone generator that I could find, it works great. You need to know how to use the equipment to measure oxidative reduction potential in order to design this stuff, right? Most people don’t. I’m not saying it’s hard, but I learned it in grad school. I got my Nernst equations and everything.

So our ozone system keeps the water disinfected. If the equipment manufacturer that you are considering says you only need to add chlorine every week or something like that and you only need to change the water every three days, it’s because their filtration disinfection system just doesn’t work. A lot of them don’t work because they’re buying parts from China, installing them in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions assuming that they work without doing the testing. So I should wrap up. I’m a crappy salesman, John, but this is my best pitch, right?

John: No, you are not. This is really good stuff.

Tom: Good. It’s temperature, grounding, and water quality. Those are the three big things. Everybody else gets the do you like the looks? Is it the right size?

John: Well, let’s go back to something you said about an hour ago. Ice. Yours makes ice.

Tom: Well, at the time we made it, it was the only one in the world. There’s only two other companies. There’s one in the United Kingdom, they’re friends of mine. They called us up. They said, “Hey, we want to make ice would you mind helping us out? We thought, here’s kind of a strategic competitive situation.

So we got on the phone. They got a great sense of humor. They’re really clever. So we shipped them a unit and we said, “Yeah, take it apart. You guys are really smart and you can probably think of things that we should be doing.” They gave us a bullet point, like 36 points. We think you should fix these things. So we did. They make ice. They’re called Brass Monkey, which is really fun. You know, we got Rogan on our podcast. They got Russell Brand on theirs. I haven’t sold an ice bath in the United Kingdom since they went into business.

But it’s good to have friends in business. The other one is down in Australia and it’s Odin. This guy, you can tell, I’ve seen one of his units, he has labored over it. It’s the same thing that we did. He like invented everything from scratch. He has got some other problems that I shouldn’t bring up. But man, I kind of want to have like the ice bath making. I wish I could have a beer with these guys and we could just talk about, “You remember when there were no companies that made ice and now there’s three companies that made it, and isn’t that cool?”

It’s a lot easier to just buy a chiller unit, plug it into a tub, and you can get down to 40 degrees or so and you’re fine. But that doesn’t work for me. If I don’t look down at the water and see the ice, I don’t get scared. I don’t get that anticipatory anxiety is what Viktor Frankl called it. And then when I go in, I want to feel the ice moving around. I want it on my shoulders. I want to hear it clinking up because that’s how I got started. That’s the experience that I wanted to have when me and Jason invented it.

John: So now it’s become clear, Tom, not only are you passionate as an entrepreneur about what you do, but because also you bring your civil engineering legacy to the table. You’ve truly designed and built the only full American-made ice bath machine, best of the breed. God forbid, a part breaks because things happen. Things break in this world. It’s easy to access a replacement part. Comparatively speaking, when I spoke to some of your competitors, when I was looking on my own to buy a Morozko or ice ice bath plunge machine, yours was the only one that the parts are right here and if something goes down, it’s quick to fix.

Tom: It’s because they’re all made two miles from my apartment in Phoenix, Arizona. We really got to redesign that website. We say made in the USA and that’s true. I’m going to change it. It’s made in Phoenix. There are people, real people in a real community, and there’s a city here. The USA is huge, but it’s made right there.

We invented it in the backyard, we grew too big, and so I rented a warehouse. I get up and I drive two miles down the road and I see the 36 guys that work for me now. It used to be me and Jason with the saws and the sanding and stuff. We’ve put people to work when COVID was at its most scary and the bars were all shut and the bartenders came to us and they said, what am I going to do? I said, “Can you sand?” They said, “I think I can figure it out.” I said, “Well, can you paint?”

They said, “I think I can figure it out.” I said, “Can you slaughter?” And they said, “No.” I’ll teach you. We put these people to work and then the economy blew up. We had to give everybody raises. In and out burgers paying $22 an hour, right? So I got to pay my guys more than that. They’re still here because they’ve been here since 2019. So there’s something happening here that I don’t ever want to let go of.

John: Well, they’re part of something that’s bigger than themselves. Talk a little bit about the future. You’re four years into this, you’re at the right time in the right place, and you’re the right person. You are an engineer. You’ve got the education cred and the street cred. You live it. You not only talk to talk, but you walk the walk. I see your Morozko out on your balcony of your condo there.

Tom: That’s right.

John: It’s right there. It makes me happy just looking at it. So talk a little bit about your dreams, as you go to bed at night or wake up in the morning, what do you really think? What’s your dream for Morozko Forge?

Tom: It gets a little personal.

John: You’re 57. You’re young. Buffett’s 93. He’s still the best investor in the world and he’s 93. Charlie Munger’s partner’s a hundred, or he’s going to be a hundred next year. These guys are still the best at what they do. In the whole spectrum of things, we’re still young. What are you going to do? What’s the goals here with Morozko Forge?

Tom: This is tough because I’m a teacher. My father was a teacher. It’s in my blood. I used to kid around with AJ. I’m like, “Look, I could go bankrupt doing Morozko Forge. I’ll be living in a van down by the river, but I am going to have a whiteboard.” I feel like I was born to teach, but something happened at Covid.

Universities kicked me out of the classroom. We had to teach on Zoom. It was really frustrating. I was vocal on social media to the point where there were complaints sent in to ASU about things that I had posted, not related to my teaching, but related to Covid. In particular, the response. I was anti-lockdown, never in favor of the vaccine. It was very critical of our policy responses, and it got me in a lot of trouble. NPR did a hit piece on me. I was in the San Francisco Chronicle in the newest World’s report. I mean, just everybody, it seemed for one week. Andy Warhol talks about 15 seconds of fame.

I had like my 15 minutes of being the most vilified anti lockdown professor in America. It put me at odds with my administration. So I have these annual performance reviews, and I’m meeting with my department chair and he’s really like, Tom, what are you doing? Why aren’t you writing proposals and getting research money out of the National Science Foundation and the NIH? You’re really good at this. You could do this. We could promote you to full professor. If you say, “Oh, I was wrong, and I’m going to get back to like, doing all the stuff that everybody says I should be doing,” we could put you up for promotion.

John, it’s never going to happen. I will be a lifetime associate Professor. Maybe Huberman will be, I don’t know. We’ll be associates together or something like that because I’m not going to do the things that the university says I have to do. This is what I told my department chair. There was no such thing as environmental engineering. I said, until Dr. John Snow invented it, there was a cholera epidemic in London, and you know this story as well as I do, John Snow put up a map.

He called it the ghost map because he put a pin in the map of London where everybody died of cholera and all the pins collected around this one well. John said, take the handle off the well and people stopped dying because the well was contaminated with cholera. It was the water that was killing people. As a result in the city of London, they said, “Oh, we better go upstream on the Thames. We’ll draw the water out before people poop in it, and then we’ll treat it and then we’ll pump it into the city.” The doctors save lives one person at a time. Environmental engineers save lives millions of people at a time by providing clean water, clean air, good infrastructure.

My department chair is listening to this and I go, I’m going old school because it’s no longer these infectious diseases like cholera. It’s no longer hazardous waste. It’s no longer dirty air that is killing people. What is killing people is metabolism. What is killing people is chronic illness. We have a mental health crisis in this country, and it’s related to metabolism and our disconnection from the environment. I’m staying an environmental engineer. It is my duty to create the infrastructure and the technologies that people need to stay healthy just like it has always been. It’s just that the challenges are different.

He kind of wrote that down and he said, “Are you going to write a national science? How are you going to turn that into a proposal to get more money out of the federal government?” I’m not. I’m teaching my classes and I’m feeling really good about that. But you can tell I’m at this juncture in my career where I got to decide, is my mission going to be what I’m trained to do, write more journal art? I’ve been cited 8,000 times. I’m successful as a faculty member. And I’m starting to think, John, I don’t care. I’d rather lead my department in podcasts than in journal articles at this point. I’m watching Huberman closely because I think he is reinventing what it means to be a scientist with like a professional sense of obligation to the public. I want to do it like that.

John: You know what I call that? That’s servant science. You can be a servant scientist. That’s I think a greater calling because I think it’s wonderful to affect and impress these young brains that you’re working with, these young folks at ASU. But we’re talking about your opportunity is the world now with the right marketing and growth of your company, which is unlimited, the blue sky on your kind of company, sciences there. This is not anyone’s opinion, yours nor mine. This is science-backed.

Tom: I agree.

John: I think the opportunity is as much as you want it to be with Morozko Forge. Tom, I want you to keep coming on this show, sharing more stories, science, anecdotes, just storytelling because storytelling is the most powerful way of persuasion. I want you to know that this is a great place for you to come, a safe place for you to come to continue to share the Morozko Forge story. I’m unbelievably grateful to you and your partners. I wish you continued great health and success. For our listeners and viewers to find Tom or to buy or compare and contrast the Morozko Forge versus the other ice baths that are out there, please go to You can find Tom there and you can find his great products there. Tom, not only am I grateful for all the time you spent with us today and all the wisdom you share with our listeners and viewers, but I do thank you for making the world a better place.

Tom: It’s a pleasure to hang out with you, John. I’d love to come out and get to know you better. This has been great. It’s terrific being here.

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