Dr. Craig Heller: Using Temperature for Performance, Brain & Body Health

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In this episode, Dr. Huberman is joined by Dr. Craig Heller, Professor of Biology at Stanford University and a world expert on the science of temperature regulation. They discuss how the body and brain maintain temperature under different conditions and how almost everyone uses the wrong approach to cool off or heat up. Dr. Heller teaches us the best ways and, in doing so, explains how to offset hyperthermia and hypothermia. He also explains how we can use the precise timing and location of cooling on our body to greatly enhance endurance and weight training performance. He describes how cooling technology discovered and engineered in his laboratory has led to a tripling of anaerobic (weight training) performance and allowed endurance athletes to run further and faster and eliminate delayed onset muscle soreness. Dr. Heller explains how heat impairs muscular and mental performance and how to cool the brain to reduce inflammation and enhance sleep and cognition. Dr. Huberman and Dr. Heller discuss how anyone can apply these principles for themselves, even their dogs! Their conversation includes both many practical tools and mechanistic science.


  • 00:00:00 Introducing Dr. Craig Heller, Physiology & Performance
  • 00:02:00 Sponsors: Roka, Inside Tracker, Athletic Greens
  • 00:06:45 Cold Showers, Ice Baths, Cryotherapy
  • 00:10:45 Boundary Layers
  • 00:11:55 Cooling Before Aerobic Activity to Enhance Performance
  • 00:14:45 Anaerobic Activity Locally Increases Muscle Heat
  • 00:16:45 Temperature Gates Our Energy Use
  • 00:19:00 Local Versus Systemic Fatigue: Heat Is Why We Fail
  • 00:22:10 Cooling Off: Most Methods are Counterproductive
  • 00:26:43 Exercise-Induced Brain Fog
  • 00:27:45 Hyperthermia
  • 00:31:50 Best Body Sites for Cooling: Palms, Foot Pads, Upper Face
  • 00:38:00 Cooling Your Brain via The Upper Face; Concussion
  • 00:41:25 Extraordinary (Tripling!) Performance by Cooling the Palms
  • 00:45:35 Enhancing Recovery, Eliminating Soreness w/Intra-workout Cooling
  • 00:50:00 Multiple Sclerosis: Heat Sensitivity & Amelioration with Cooling
  • 00:51:00 Enhancing Endurance with Proper Cooling
  • 00:53:00 Cool Mitt, Ice-Cold Is Too Cold, 3 Minutes Cooling
  • 00:58:20 How You Can Use Palmer Cooling to Enhance Performance
  • 01:01:15 Radiation, Convection, Heat-Transfer, Role of Surface Area
  • 01:04:40 Hypothermia Story, Ideal Re-Heating Strategy
  • 01:11:40 Paw-lmer Cooling for Dog Health & Performance
  • 01:12:45 Warming Up, & Varying Temperature Around the Body
  • 01:17:35 Cooling-Enhanced Performance Is Permanent
  • 01:19:55 Anabolic Steroids versus Palmer Cooling
  • 01:24:00 Female Athletic Performance
  • 01:25:18 Shivering & Cold, Metabolism
  • 01:26:55 Studies of Bears & Hibernation, Brown Fat
  • 01:31:10 Brown Fat Distribution & Activation In Humans
  • 01:34:18 Brain Freeze, Ice Headache: Blood Pressure, Headache
  • 01:37:50 Fidgeters, Non-Exercise Induced Thermogenesis
  • 01:39:44 How Pre-Workout Drinks, & Caffeine May Inhibit Performance
  • 01:43:42 Sleep, Cold, Warm Baths, Screens, & Socks
  • 01:48:44 Synthesis
  • 01:49:30 Supporting the Podcast & Scientific Research