Sitting in a cold tank could seem a strange road to health. But the trend, which goes by the name of cryotherapy, is becoming increasingly common.
People, like self-described “ Iceman ”Wim Hof, believe that severe cold can improve mental and physical health and even prolong life. And what does the science say?
Study on cryotherapy is as recent as is the trend for the treatment. So doctors do not completely appreciate all the possible benefits and risks of the procedure.
In this article , we look at some of the potential benefits to be had from cryotherapy healing, as well as other details a person might need to know before they consider it.
Important facts about cryotherapy:
- Cryotherapy is any treatment that involves the use of freezing or near-freezing temperatures.
- Because cryotherapy is new, some potential benefits are not yet proven.
- Cryotherapy might be a safe alternative treatment and preventative for many ailments.
- Cryotherapy can be unpleasant, particularly for people who are unaccustomed to the cold.
Safety and what to expect
The most common method of cryotherapy includes sitting for 3-5 minutes in a cryotherapy booth.
Many individuals undergo cryotherapy facials, which only add cold to the face. Others use a cryotherapy wand, such as a painful joint, to treat particular areas.
The word cryotherapy is used by most individuals to refer to whole-body cryotherapy.
This is in a spa or similar place for non-medical care.
However, doctors use cryotherapy as well. For example, to freeze off warts or cancerous cells, very cold temperatures can be used.
While unpleasant to begin with, with each session, cryotherapy tends to get easier, as the body adjusts to the low temperature.
Generally speaking, it is healthy, but before attempting cryotherapy, it is important to talk to a doctor.
Cryotherapy should not be attempted by pregnant women, infants, people with extreme high blood pressure, and people with heart problems.
It can be fatal to have a cryotherapy operation for more than a couple of minutes.
During cryotherapy, a person must never sleep, and they should time each session to ensure that it is not longer than the prescribed timeframe.
Eventually, research could undermine other purported advantages of cryotherapy. Preliminary studies , however , indicate that cryotherapy can offer the following advantages:
1. Pain relief and muscle healing
Muscle pain, as well as certain joint and muscle problems, such as arthritis, can be helped by cryotherapy. It can also facilitate the healing of athletic injuries more rapidly.
The use of ice packs on injured and painful muscles has long been advised by physicians. Doing so will improve blood circulation, facilitating healing and pain relief after the ice pack is removed.
A 2000 study found that cryotherapy provided immediate relief from rheumatoid arthritis pain. The research showed that the harmful effects of physical exercise could be minimized by cryotherapy with ice packs. Less pain was also recorded by individuals who used cryotherapy.
The benefits of cryotherapy for relieving muscle pain and speeding healing are also confirmed by another 2017 study. The study found, however, that cold water immersion was more successful than cryotherapy for the entire body.
Not all research support cryotherapy ‘s function in the healing of muscles. A 2015 Cochrane Review looked at four cryotherapy trials for muscle pain relief and found no major advantages.
2. Weight Loss
Weight loss would not be triggered by cryotherapy alone, but it could help the process. Being cold, in principle, causes the body to work harder to remain warm.
Some suppliers of cryotherapy say that a few minutes of cold will increase the metabolism during the day. Eventually, they say, since their metabolism has changed and increased in reaction to the cold weather, people no longer feel cold.
After 10 sessions of cryotherapy, a small 2016 study showed no major changes in body composition.
Because cryotherapy helps with muscle pain, it may make it easier after an injury to get back to a workout routine. This possible advantage of weight loss is limited to persons who, because of discomfort, do not or will not exercise.
3. Reduced inflammation
One way that the immune system battles infection is inflammation. The immune system becomes excessively aggressive often. Chronic inflammation, which is associated with health issues such as cancer, diabetes , depression, dementia, and arthritis, is the result.
As such, inflammation reduction could also improve overall health and reduce the risk of numerous chronic diseases.
Some studies show that inflammation can be decreased by cryotherapy. Nevertheless, most research has been done on rats, so further research is required on individuals to validate the results.
4. Preventing dementia
It may also reduce the risk of developing dementia if cryotherapy decreases inflammation.
A 2012 paper proposes the possibility of cryotherapy being able to alleviate dementia-related inflammation and oxidative stress, moderate cognitive impairment, and other types of cognitive loss associated with age.
5. Preventing and treating cancer
Since whole body cryotherapy can reduce inflammation, it is likely that the risk of developing cancer may also be reduced.
So far, there is no proof that, after the disease has developed, cryotherapy can treat cancer. However, for some types of cancer, medical cryotherapy is a very well-established procedure.
Cryotherapy may be used by a doctor to freeze cancer cells on the skin or cervix and to kill other cancers sometimes.
6. Reducing depression and anxiety
Research findings that cryotherapy could decrease inflammation indicate that it may treat inflammation-related mental health conditions. This argument is also backed by some preliminary studies on cryotherapy and mental health.
A small 2008 study showed that cryotherapy decreased symptoms by at least 50 percent in a third of people with depression or anxiety. There has been a much greater decrease than in individuals that have not undergone cryotherapy.
7. Improving symptoms of eczema
The chronic inflammatory skin condition known as eczema can cause dry skin patches that are extremely itchy. A small 2008 study of individuals with eczema had participants avoid using drugs for eczema. They tried cryotherapy afterward. Many of them saw changes in their symptoms of eczema, while some complained of frostbite on tiny skin areas.
8. Treating Migraine Headaches
Targeted, neck-focused cryotherapy can help prevent migraine headaches. Researchers applied cryotherapy to the necks of individuals who had migraines in a 2013 report. The therapy minimized their suffering but did not remove it.
Anecdotal evidence indicates that cryotherapy may help with a number of problems, including slowing or reversing skin aging, fat loss support, chronic disease prevention, and others.
However, until further studies can support these claims, it is difficult to reliably assess how successful cryotherapy is as a treatment.