Cryotherapy or “cold therapy” is a type of health treatment that involves exposing either the whole body or a portion of it to extremely cold temperatures for several minutes. Its origins date back to the ancient Egyptians, who believed it to be an effective cure for pain and inflammation, but it wasn’t until the 1800s, when James Arnott suggested it be used as part of mainstream medical practice, that a complete understanding of cryotherapy’s benefits really took root. Take a look at what cryotherapy really does to the body and the top cryotherapy benefits people are after:
What Happens During Cryotherapy?
In many instances, cryotherapy is a whole-body experience where a person enters a chamber that becomes filled with very cold air. Research indicates that a sudden drop in temperature triggers a natural bodily response that releases chemicals and sends blood to the core of the body (via vasoconstriction) in an attempt to maintain an optimal core body temperature. In addition, valuable oxygen, as well as other chemicals and hormones, are also released, rushing to areas needing further support and working to eliminate toxins, reduce inflammation, initiate cellular repair and dull pain.
Here at the Institute of Natural Health, patients receiving cryotherapy stand in a cryo-chamber that leaves the head exposed and drops the temperature to under negative 200°F for three minutes using blasts of liquid nitrogen. Upon completion of the cold exposure, patients often report multiple cryotherapy benefits.
The Five Top Cryotherapy Benefits People are After
In short, cryotherapy stimulates the body to heal itself, resulting in a variety of advantageous effects such as:
- Weight Loss
Cooling the skin increases a person’s metabolism as the body attempts to warm itself up. This revved-up metabolism helps the body burn more calories, thus potentially allowing patients to lose weight with repeated cryotherapy sessions.
- Improved Skin Appearance
Extreme temperatures disrupt existing collagen stores within the body, causing the body to create more collagen in an attempt to replace them. Increased collagen production has been shown to strengthen skin and improve its hydration and elasticity, thereby keeping skin supple and diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Reduction of Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is the cause of many diseases; it’s also a frequent contributor to pain. Thus, the reduction and/or elimination of inflammation is one of the top benefits of cryotherapy that people report after treatment. As mentioned, when the body is exposed to cold temperatures it naturally prompts the release of anti-inflammatory chemicals that fight swelling and speed cellular regeneration. Think about the ice pack you place on swollen parts of the body after an injury. Cryotherapy offers similar results, providing conditions that foster faster healing and reduced pain for many chronic diseases, as well as many acute conditions.
- Mood Enhancement
Many studies (like this one) indicate that cryotherapy can be used to improve mood disorders since cold therapy causes the body to release hormones (such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, and endorphins) that have been shown to positively affect a person’s perception of depression and anxiety.
- Cellular Regeneration
Finally, a lot of people (especially athletes) use cryotherapy as a recovery tool, depending on it after training or strenuous workouts to help their bodies heal microscopic tears in their muscles. The cold not only numbs muscle and nerve pain, allowing people to get back to exercising more quickly so that their bodies are continuously being strengthened, it actually encourages cellular renewal by rerouting blood (and nutrients need for repair) to areas in stress.
Want to Learn More?
These are just a few of the top cryotherapy benefits people are after when they come to The Institute of Natural Health. To learn more about what cryotherapy can do for your own specific issue(s), please contact us today.