Can plunging into an agonisingly cold ice bath REALLY ease your pain? Holby City's Rosie Marcel says it's all but banished the debilitating symptoms of her autoimmune condition…
by: Hani Kamal El-Din
Sitting in an ice bath for three minutes a day, five days a week, is an unconventional treatment that the no-nonsense Holby City character, Dr Jac Naylor, is unlikely to have endorsed.
But actress Rosie Marcel, who played the heart surgeon in the popular BBC drama for 16 years, is a devotee of the freezing dips to tackle the pain caused by her rare autoimmune condition.
‘When I get out of the ice bath my skin’s bright red. But then the endorphins and dopamine kick in – and I feel incredible.’
Rosie takes ice baths to ease the symptoms of Behcet’s disease, an agonising immune condition that causes painful red lumps all over the body.
Behcet’s syndrome, as it’s also known, is caused by an over-reaction of the immune system, thought to be due to a combination of genetic, immune and environmental factors. As well as swollen lumps, symptoms can include painful mouth and genital ulcers, stiff and painful joints, eye inflammation (resulting in red eyes and blurred vision) and hypersensitive skin.
Treatments include steroids, immunosuppressants and biologic drugs (made from human or animal proteins, which reduce inflammation), to ease symptoms.
In Rosie’s case it causes outbreaks of ‘painful hard, red lumps’ all over her legs, ‘ranging in size from a 5p piece to a tennis ball’ as well as ‘loads of mouth ulcers’.
First diagnosed with the condition in her 20s, she had been taking immuno- suppressants for nearly 20 years, but with side-effects such as an increased risk of infections (Rosie says she was constantly ill), she decided to try out ice baths after reading about the potential benefits on social media.