cryotherapy benefit

The Science Behind Cryotherapy: How It Affects The Body

Can exposure to minus 200 degrees make you feel better? And what about those polar bear swimmers who boast about feeling amazing after diving into a frozen lake? Freezing temperatures shock the system, but they can do much more. And this idea has been taken from clinical settings to common practice with cryotherapy. With the development of cryotherapy chambers to induce cold temperatures more efficiently, people have been studying the effects on the body and how this treatment can benefit health. One benefit of cryotherapy is its effect on the skin. Another cryotherapy benefit is its effect on weight. The popularity in recent years is mainly due to the process becoming more accessible and well-known for its positive impact. Like how you ice an injury or how athletes may take an ice bath, cryotherapy cools off the entire body and provides a more comprehensive array of benefits.

Cryotherapy has become a much more common technique in treating various ailments. It began as a possible treatment option for rheumatoid arthritis and has since grown into a way to reduce wrinkles, heal from sports injuries, boost metabolism, and more. But since its initial development in the 1970s, how much have we learned about cryotherapy, and how much can it impact your health? 

Cryotherapy Defined

Cryotherapy is a medical treatment involving exposing the body to freezing temperatures for a short period of time. The most common form of cryotherapy is whole-body cryotherapy (WBC), which involves standing in a chamber cooled to temperatures between minus 100 and minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit. The process typically lasts for two to four minutes.

During the cryotherapy session, the individual will typically wear minimal clothing, such as shorts and a tank top, and may wear special socks and gloves to protect the hands and feet. They will then enter the cryotherapy chamber, where the temperature will be lowered to the desired level. The individual will stand in the chamber for the session duration, which typically lasts between 2 and 3 minutes.

Cryotherapy is non-invasive and painless; most people do not experience adverse side effects. Some people may feel slight tingling or numbness in their skin due to cold temperatures, but this is generally not harmful. After the session, the individual may feel invigorated and refreshed and may experience reduced pain and inflammation.

The Science

Since cryotherapy began as a possible treatment option, it has been studied in clinical conditions to determine how it impacts the body. Many studies continue to fully explore what cryotherapy offers and what it can be used for. 

Cryotherapy has been shown to produce a significant physiological response in the body, one of the most notable of which is the release of norepinephrine into the bloodstream. Recent research has found that individuals who underwent whole-body cryotherapy, with a temperature of -110°C for 2 minutes, three times a week for 12 weeks, experienced a significant increase in norepinephrine levels in their blood. This powerful hormone and neurotransmitter play a crucial role in cognitive functions such as focus and mood. It also has positive effects on metabolism, pain, and inflammation and causes constriction of blood vessels.

Cryotherapy is often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain conditions. Cold temperatures reduce inflammation and pain by constricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the affected areas. The low temperatures may also help reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time after exercise.

Cryotherapy can also be used as a cosmetic treatment to help reduce the appearance of cellulite and improve the overall appearance of the skin. Cold temperatures could also tighten the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It also can be used as a weight loss aid, as cold temperatures may help to boost metabolism and burn calories.

Cryotherapy is generally considered safe when performed by trained professionals. Still, it should be avoided by people with certain medical conditions, such as cold urticaria, Raynaud’s disease, and certain heart and lung conditions.

Cryotherapy Benefits 

As mentioned above, cryotherapy has many benefits and can help the body in numerous ways. It is used by people looking to improve how they feel and look. It can help treat a medical condition or help someone recover after an intense workout. One of the main positive impacts is the boost in norepinephrine, which is connected to metabolism, brain function, and inflammation. 

Cryotherapy Benefit: Metabolism

Our bodies have two kinds of fat, which can impact weight and health. Cryotherapy can help boost metabolism by increasing the production of brown fat in the body. Brown fat is a type of fat that is metabolically active and generates heat by burning calories. Cold exposure, such as during a cryotherapy session, can stimulate brown fat production, leading to increased calorie burning and improved metabolic health.

Cryotherapy also has beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system and cholesterol levels. Studies on healthy adults have shown that cryotherapy can improve triglyceride and LDL “Bad” Cholesterol levels. 

Along with norepinephrine, the cold increases cell mitochondria production, contributing to higher energy and faster recovery. This can lead to more endurance and the likelihood of getting out and being active. While cryotherapy will not immediately cause someone to shed unwanted weight, it can help boost the ability to exercise and work it off easier. 

Cryotherapy Benefit: Inflammation 

Cryotherapy is an effective tool in reducing inflammation in the body. One of the main ways it does this is through vasoconstriction and the release of heat-shock proteins. During a cryotherapy session, the cold causes the blood vessels to constrict, which reduces blood flow to the skin’s surface. This process can decrease the flow of inflammatory cells and molecules to the affected area, which helps minimize inflammation and pain.

The sudden cold temperatures can also lower inflammation by activating the immune system. Cold exposure can stimulate the production of white blood cells, which fight off infection and inflammation in the body.

Additionally, cryotherapy reduces oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress is a condition where there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to neutralize them. This imbalance can cause cell damage and inflammation. Cold exposure can help to lower oxidative stress by activating antioxidant systems in the body, which can help to neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation.

Cryotherapy Benefit: Brain Function

Increased norepinephrine, caused by cryotherapy, has been shown to improve cognitive performance and boost energy levels and mood. This is why athletes and other high-performance individuals often use cryotherapy sessions to help improve focus, attention, and overall cognitive function.

Additionally, cryotherapy has been found to positively affect sleep quality, an essential factor for overall cognitive function. Cold exposure has been shown to increase melatonin production, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. This improves sleep quality, which in turn enhances mental function, memory, and overall brain health.

A Little Cold Goes A Long Way

Cryotherapy appointments generally only last a few minutes in the cold. And while the temperatures may be intimidating, the benefits tend to outweigh the chills. It can treat specific conditions and provide the body with overall health benefits like a boosted immune system and improved brain function. 

Many of the benefits coincide with one another. Inflammation has been linked to several cognitive disorders and brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and depression, so lowering it helps keep you healthy internally and externally. It can also improve mood and help the body regain energy. 

While more studies should be completed on cryotherapy’s ability to treat specific disorders,  it can currently be used more broadly. While the procedure is generally safe and simple, it is important to go to a trusted facility and speak with a trained professional about the benefits and risks. 
This non-invasive procedure can be performed in many facilities, including at CORR, focusing on healing and rejuvenation. CORR utilizes the latest therapeutic technologies to help you look and feel your best. If you are recovering from an injury or looking for ways to optimize your health, CORR can help. Reach out today to learn more and see all that CORR has to offer.