Cryotherapy sounds like technology lifted straight out of a science fiction movie: you subject your body to extremely cold temperatures (we’re looking at least -230 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes) in order to treat health and beauty issues.
But it’s not fiction, it’s very much a fact. In fact, it’s a very popular trend. Many professional athletes and Hollywood stars get Cryotherapy treatments. Kobe Bryant, Le Bron James, Daniel Craig, Mandy Moore, Alicia Keys, and Jennifer Aniston have all admitted to it in interviews or even posted Instagram pics of themselves about to get “iced”. It follows that in celebrity packed areas like NYC, these cold therapy centers are packed and trendy. Local search data (from Google Keyword Planner) reveals that over 3000 people a month search for Cryotherapy in New York City.
WHAT CAN CRYOTHERAPY TREAT?
- Muscle and joint pain and injury. One of the first uses of Cryotherapy was to treat arthritis (think of it as a very advanced application of the concept of applying an icebag when you feel sore). Now it is also used to help athlete recover faster from injury or recover from practice. In fact, one medical journal said that cold therapy could relieve the side effects of intense training.
- Weight loss. Some people believe that these human freeze treatment can increase metabolism and promote weight loss. That’s certainly one reason why celebs get these sessions! Unfortunately, there is only anecdotal evidence as there is no research that proves this claim.
- Treats chronic inflammation. This is one of the biggest factors behind cancer, diabetes, arthritis and even dementia. The cold helps reduce inflammation and help lower your risk for these conditions. This is also anecdotal since no studies have been done.
- Cancer prevention and treatment. There is some research being done now on how Cryotherapy can prevent the development of cancer cells or slow down cancer’s progress. In fact, some doctors use a form of Cryotherapy to freeze cancer cells or remove cancerous growth.
- Control anxiety. One study found that people with anxiety disorders have higher levels of inflammation. When Cryotherapy was done on a small sample, their anxiety symptoms dropped by 50%. However, this study was not repeated. However, some people do use Cryotherapy to help relax. (It gives a whole new definition to the word ‘Chill.’)
- Migraine treatment. Targeted Cryotherapy on the neck area has found to help reduce the intensity of migraines. It won’t make the migraines stop or go away, but it does ease the discomfort.
SHOULD YOU GET CRYOTHERAPY?
Cold based treatments have become such a huge wellness trend in New York that many spas have added it to their list of available treatments. There’s nothing wrong with trying it out, especially if you get it done at a reputable place with the right equipment and a staff with the proper training and background.
However, it’s important to weigh the benefits with the risks. The FDA has not approved Cryotherapy, but like many other alternative treatments it has rejected, there is tons of evidence that it really works. Any treatments that don’t support the major drug companies are often thrown under the rug by the FDA. We recommend you try it for yourself as every person reacts to differently to external stimulants. As the Sociologists teach, Drug- Set- Setting. There are also some possible risks to whole body cryotherapy especially if it is improperly done. These risks include frostbite or potential eye injuries. Cryotherapy chambers that uses liquid nitrogen can also be more dangerous since the compound lowers oxygen levels in the room.
If you’re interested in cold therapy be sure to get it from a clinic that has a proven track record of safety. If you are getting it for health reasons, do not discontinue other treatment or medication – just think of it as supplementary – and get your doctor’s approval.