The Benefits and Risks of Cryotherapy
Ready for another bio hack? A growing number of people are turning to cryotherapy to help improve their health. This rising trend does not have a long history of scientific data to back up the exact benefits and risks, but there are some very strong perceived benefits of this new treatment trend (as well as some very low perceived risks)!
Keep reading to learn more…
What is Cryotherapy?
Cryotherapy is used to describe any treatment that exposes your entire body, or one targeted area of the body, to freezing or near freezing temperatures for several minutes. Whole-body cryotherapy is rising in popularity as cryo-saunas become increasingly popular in medical spas, gyms, and therapy organizations. The science behind cryotherapy is pretty simple and is the same science that provides the recommendation to put on ice on an injury – cold temperatures help reduce inflammation and helps to improve circulation. Cryotherapy can be used as a singular session, but it is thought that the treatment is most effective when used regularly.
Benefits of Cryotherapy
There are many perceived benefits of cryotherapy ranging from muscle recovery and treatment of mood disorders. Cryotherapy is also thought to activate collagen production in your body which will provide more youthful looking skin. Cryotherapy can also help to provide relief for chronic pain and reduce arthritis pain. Medical spas and therapy groups across the map are advertising cryotherapy for (but not limited to) the following ailments:
- Pain relief
- Muscle recovery
- Weight loss
- Preventing dementia and cancer
- Reducing anxiety and depression
- Migraine treatment
- Improving skin elasticity
- Decreasing stress
Cryotherapy works to alleviate pain by numbing irritated nerves and using freezing temperatures to treat mental health works by signaling the body to release hormones as a physiological response to the cold environment. Cryotherapy also is thought to combat inflammatory and oxidative stress responses to reduce anxiety in the body and mind. Again, many of the claims about cryotherapy have not been studied enough to show true long-term outcomes, but the small-scale studies and responses of individuals using cryo-saunas have shown these outcomes to be true. However, like many treatments, there are a few risks people should be aware of before trying this new biohack.
Risks and Side Effects of Cryotherapy
Before you try any new treatments, you should discuss your health with your primary care doctor. Cryotherapy can be especially dangerous if you have a history of stroke, high blood pressure, if you are pregnant, prone to seizures, or experience claustrophobia. To reduce your risks, make sure you are using a cryo-sauna under the supervision of a professional. Also, do not exceed the allotted time you are given for exposure, and never fall asleep while utilizing cryotherapy.
The most common side effect of cryotherapy is tingling or undesired numbness (although this is usually temporary). It is also essential to remember that cryotherapy research is still in early stages and some benefits may be a placebo effect to the outcomes. If you are sensitive to extreme cold, cryotherapy may also feel more like retribution than therapy to you.