Dr Oz Recomends Cryotherapy
“It’s a sensible thing to try if you’re having a lot of pain.” – Dr. Oz
Cryotherapy: An Old Technology Revolutionized
Cryotherapy is the use of very low temperatures for therapeutic purposes. The most basic form of cryotherapy is an ice pack. For decades, doting mothers have used cold compresses and ice packs to deliver a rudimentary form of cryotherapy. They knew that coldness applied to the skin reduces pain, swelling, and inflammation. Indeed, cold is a natural anti-inflammatory.
It turns out that exposing skin, muscles, joints, and fat and connective tissue to cold temperatures provokes many healthful biological reactions. Athletic trainers routinely use immersion cryotherapy, aka an ice bath, to help elite athletes recover more quickly after sports. While an ice bath certainly cools the body, it only lowers body surface temperatures to around the freezing point of water (32°F). Many of the benefits of cryotherapy, however, emerge at temperatures much lower than ice.
Modern cryotherapy uses super-cooled gas to rapidly cool the skin and external tissues. Instead of being immersed in water (which can be painful), clients of modern cryotherapy step into a cryosauna. Liquid nitrogen gently blankets the client’s body creating local air temperatures between -190°F to -260°F. At these temperatures, a process called cryostimulation takes place. Cryostimulation induces a physiological reaction, which is how the benefits of whole body cryotherapy are realized.
The Benefits of Whole Body Cryotherapy
Clients who have experienced whole body cryotherapy treatment report that they have*:
- Increased energy
- Less muscle achiness and pain
- Less joint pain
- Faster muscle recovery after workouts and sports
- Enhanced muscle performance
- Firmer skin
- Clearer skin
- Less cellulite and skin wrinkling
- Faster weight loss
- Improved mood (less depression, less anxiety)
- Fewer infections (e.g. common cold, flu)
* These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The products and services described are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Who May Benefit From Whole Body Cryotherapy?
Whole body cryotherapy is used for three major purposes:
- Ports Medicine
- Increased energy
- Post-workout recovery
- Chronic muscle tension and cramping
- Muscle overload and strain
- Joint overuse
- Tendon overuse
- Improved athletic performance
- Improved tissue oxygenation
- Increased hemoglobin concentrations (improved oxygen delivery to tissues)
- Increased myoglobin concentrations (increased oxygen capacity of muscles)
- Enhanced muscle motor unit activation (better muscle performance)
- Aesthetic / Cosmetic treatment
- Weight loss
- Wrinkles and loose, sagging skin
- Sun-damaged skin
- Physical and Mental Health
- Inflammatory diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis)
- Soft tissue disease (e.g. polymyositis, dermatomyositis)
- Metabolic joint diseases (e.g. gout)
- Degenerative joint disease (e.g. osteoarthritis)
- Degenerative disc disease
- Mixed connective tissue disorders
- Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Multiple sclerosis
- Depressive symptoms
- Anxiety disorders
How Does Whole Body Cryotherapy Work?
Whole body cryotherapy works through a process called cryostimulation. When the skin and tissues just beneath the skin are subjected to very low temperatures—less than -100°C/-148°F—the tissues go through a predictable set of biological steps.
Once a person is enveloped in super-cooled air, the tissues of the body give up their heat almost instantaneously. In order to conserve heat, the blood vessels near the surface of the body constrict reflexively. Inflammatory cells in the tissue are slow to a crawl, placing them into a state of nearly suspended animation. The same thing happens to nerve cells, which is why cold therapy helps relieve musculoskeletal pain.
If a person were exposed to this cold air for a long time, the skin would become damaged (i.e. frostbite would occur). In whole body cryotherapy, however, the skin is only exposed to this cold air for 1.5 to 3 minutes. During the warming phase, an equally predictable biological response occurs.
Once the person returns to room temperature air after whole body cryotherapy, blood vessel constriction reverses. In fact, the blood vessels dilate. This is called the rebound effect. Metabolic activity in the area increases, but that activity is productive, not harmful. In other words, the rebound effect provokes a healthy immune response and muscle relaxation rather than inflammation and stiffness. There is also a potent anti-oxidant effect and free radical scavenging effect. The pain relief from whole body cryotherapy can last several hours or more after treatment.
Your cryotherapy experience
Your cryotherapy experience starts when you walk into the cryosauna. The top of the cylinder is open, so you can see the surrounding room and operator during treatment. Once you are ready, very cold nitrogen gas fills the cryosauna, rapidly lowering the temperature around your body. After a predetermined amount of time (1 to 3 minutes), the active cooling session ends. You leave the cryosauna for a brief warm up period. The room air will be warm enough, by comparison, to signal the body that the recovery period has begun. Many clients proceed directly to some form of light exercise to complete the re-warming process.
Is cryotherapy painful?
No. Unlike an ice bath, exposure to the cold gas in a cryosauna is invigorating, not painful. The cooled nitrogen is dry and not moving. Surprisingly, there is a minimal cold sensation considered how very cold the treatment is (-190°F to -260°F).
Is cryotherapy safe?
Yes, in people without contraindications to cryotherapy, the treatments are safe. The entire treatment process is actively monitored by a trained attendant and there are safety mechanisms built into the cryosauna for added protection. Also, you can stop the treatment at any time for any reason.
Who can use cryotherapy?
Whole body cryotherapy is generally regarded as safe and is well tolerated. People who are in relatively good health and do not have any contraindications to cryotherapy can undergo treatments.
Who should not use cryotherapy?
The contraindications to whole body cryotherapy are cold intolerance, blood or blood clotting disorders, pregnancy, Raynaud disease, open sores, cancer that is not in remission, or advanced heart disease (i.e. severe coronary artery disease, severe heart valve disease, congestive heart failure). People with any of these conditions should not undergo cryotherapy treatments without medical clearance.
Will I have to undress?
You will have to remove most of your clothing and any jewelry or accessories. Private areas, hands, and feet are covered with cotton or similar natural fabric (think gloves, slippers, and underwear).
How long is a single cryotherapy treatment?
A single session lasts between 1.5 and 3 minutes. If it is a client’s first visit, we recommend a brief session lasting only 1 minute. On subsequent visits, clients are encouraged to spend at least 2 and ideally 3 minutes in the cryosauna for each treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
Most of the benefits of whole body cryotherapy and cryostimulation take place during a single visit. Indeed, the muscle recovery benefit occurs immediately after treatment. Increased muscle performance may require a minimum of five sessions. Skin toning and firming effects generally take 6 to 10 sessions. Studies have shown that immune boosting effects make take 10 to 20 sessions for a lasting effect.
How often can I have a cryotherapy session?
We recommend no more than two sessions per day with a minimum of six hours between treatments.
Is cryotherapy the same as cryosurgery?
No. Cryosurgery is the use of very cold liquids and gases to destroy unwanted tissue. For example, warts can be “frozen off” with cryosurgery. While some professionals refer to cryosurgery as a form of cryotherapy, whole body cryotherapy is a completely different treatment with different goals and different effects