Wim Hof, from the Netherlands, has baffled the world of science for decades
Wim Hof has baffled the world of science for decades with his bizarre ability to withstand freezing cold temperatures.
But now scientists believe they've figured out why 'The Iceman' has yet to enter a state of hypothermia - which can kill in minutes.
And they claim his Wim Hof Method, simply concentrating hard on keeping warm, could work as a painkiller and mood booster.
In the first ever trial of the Dutch man's bizarre talent, the 57-year-old and 20 other adults were exposed to 15°C (59°F) water.
Body temperatures drop dangerously low in such scenarios, but tests showed the heat of his skin did not deviate once.
Striking brain scans revealed a region of his brain that controls pain is significantly more active than that of the participants.
During the experiment, Hof's periaqueductal gray matter spiked both times he was exposed to the cold water in a special full-body suit.
In contrast, an analysis of the control group - who were affected by the cold water - showed no such spike in the brain region.
Wayne State University researchers, led by Professor Otto Muzik, pointed to Hof's own method as the reason why he can withstand the cold.
Professor Muzik said: 'The willful regulation of skin temperature... is an unusual occurrence and may explain his resistance to frostbite.'
Hof, from Sittard, puts his capabilities down to his self-developed set of breathing and meditation techniques, called the Wim Hof Method.
But before now, his strange talent had baffled scientists, as they scratched their heads trying to understand how it was physically possible.
Hof holds 21 Guinness World Records, scooping one for spending nearly two hours in an ice bath. Adults are recommended to spend no more than 10 minutes in one.
A chart shows the differences in skin temperature between Hof and the participants. The red, closed circles show Hof while he is performing his own method. The red, open circles show Hof when he is in a 'passive' state and the blue circles show the participants in a 'passive state'
During the experiment, Hof's periaqueductal gray matter spiked both times he was exposed to the cold water in a special full-body suit (blue line shows the other participants)
Researchers expected Hof to show brain activity changes in a region called the anterior insula, which regulates temperature (Hof's line is red, the participants' average is blue)
When the human body is exposed to extreme cold, our core temperature drops, causing the body to