It sounds like a form of torture, or perhaps, a few moments of madness.

Submerging your body in to freezing subzero waters, for minutes at a time, all in a bid to treat a string of diseases and conditions, and to perhaps live a little longer.

Used by US Navy Seals and professional athletes, the method sounds far from tempting, but it's quickly gaining popularity. And that's in part because of Dutchman Wim 'Iceman' Hof, which hundreds of people around the world are travelling to West Poland to experience.

Followers: Hundreds of people from around the world are travelling to experience the method. Photo / Supplied
Followers: Hundreds of people from around the world are travelling to experience the method. Photo / Supplied

The therapy, known as the 'Wim Hof Method', is based on various breathing exercises while exposing the body to extraordinarily cold temperatures.

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And according to news.com.au it appears people from all walks of life are travlleing from around the world to share this icy experience.

Mr Hof, was just 17 when he first had a dip in freezing water. But instead of feeling the chill and running for the closest warm towel, he said it gave him a rush and a feeling he'd never experienced before.

"The cold … made my brain made my mind … shut up and just feel," he told journalist Steve Pennells.

"The cold is merciless but righteous. From there, I knew this is what I'm looking for. This is a great feeling. Afterwards, I felt a rush going through me. All these endorphins. And serotonins … like, natural drugs."

Now at 59, Mr Hof has spent his adult life preaching the icy method to dedicated followers around the world, as well as earning 26 various records for submerging himself in freezing waters.

Hong Kong: Hof holds 26 records for submerging himself in freezing water. Photo / Supplied
Hong Kong: Hof holds 26 records for submerging himself in freezing water. Photo / Supplied

Mr Hof says his therapy involves a three-pronged combination of breathing, cold exposure and meditation, and that the calming effects could work as a cure for depression and anxiety, to inflammation and perhaps even cancer.

"Over time, we as humans have developed a different attitude towards nature and we've forgotten about our inner power," Hof explains on his website, according to Business Insider. "This is the ability of our body to adapt to extreme temperature and survive within our natural environment."

Hof: First thing to master is breathing. Photo / Supplied
Hof: First thing to master is breathing. Photo / Supplied

The 'Iceman' says for the past few decades he's been called everything from "crazy" to a "fraud", but says since catching the attention of scientists in Amsterdam, there's now hope his theories could hold some merit.

"At Wim's insistence, they [scientists] injected him with a toxin that should have given him a fever," Sunday Night journalist Steve Pennells said, adding Mr Hof volunteered himself to science to prove his therapy had health benefits.

"His unique approach to health meant he could control his immune system, which up until then, they believed to be physically impossible."

The Iceman method: Used by US Navy Seals and professional athletes, is now gaining popularity. Photo / SUpplied
The Iceman method: Used by US Navy Seals and professional athletes, is now gaining popularity. Photo / SUpplied

Speaking to Mr Hof's response to the toxin injection, Professor Peter Pickkers — an expert in Experimental Intensive Care Medicine — said he was surprised by the results.

"We compared his [Hof] response to over 100 healthy volunteers that participated in previous trials," Mr Pickkers said.

"What we found is because his pro-inflammation was much less … it seemed that he was able, by this technique, to suppress his immune system.

The test was repeated with volunteers and those who used Mr Hof's techniques had much milder symptoms.

Professor Pickkers said the study meant there could be evidence to prove "it is possible to influence a persons immune system willingly".

Cult of the Iceman: Hof has a huge and dedicated following. Photo / Supplied
Cult of the Iceman: Hof has a huge and dedicated following. Photo / Supplied

"That's really, really new," he added.

Mr Hof says the first thing to master in his technique is getting the breathing right.

The technique takes practice and involves completing a series of about 30 active, deep breaths in, followed by passive breaths out. The best way to start, he explained, is laying down flat. The process enables the participant to take in more and more oxygen with each breath and being able to inhale deeper and deeper.

Mr Hof says the process is calming and when combined with subzero exposure, can assist with increased metabolism, improved sleep, sharpen focus, reduce inflammation.

The "disciples of the Iceman" claim the remarkable results are what keep them coming back to areas such as West Poland, and submerging their bodies in to the freezing waters.

However, it doesn't get any easier.

"It feels so good," one of Mr Hof's followers said.

"You get a clear mind and it just feels good in your body. You feel warm, actually."