News from the Wierd- Cryotherapy

Me, emerging from the cryo chamber!

Me, emerging from the cryo chamber!

Imagine stepping into a giant, wood-paneled freezer chilled to -275 degrees Fahrenheit, colder than your kitchen freezer (0 degrees F); colder than the top of Mount Everest (-76 degrees F), colder even than the lowest temperature ever found in nature on the ice fields of Antarctica (-129 degrees F) and staying in there for up to three minutes being chilled by liquid nitrogen, oh, did I forget to mention that the only thing that you will be wearing is a frostbite-protecting headband over your ears, gloves, knee socks, and a pair of clogs…would you do it?  Well, whole-body cryotherapy is the latest insider health-fitness-and-beauty craze to bubble up from Eastern Europe.  The cold-shock method was devised for medicinal purposes, but the benefits are now attracting the superhealthy sports elite who are harnessing it as a treatment for injuries as well as a performance enhancer (last year, German researchers tracked 50 Beijing-bound Olympians who underwent regular whole-body cryo treatments and found significant overall improvements).

The beauty by-product is the promise of rejuvenated skin and diminished cellulite.  The theory is that when the body is subjected to extreme drops in temperature, the brain is prompted to withdraw blood from the skin surface back into the body’s core, thus stimulating the nervous system to release hormones, including adrenaline, endorphins, serotonin, and testosterone.  Once the chill is over, blood is pumped vigorously back around the body, increasing the supply of nutrients and oxygen, a response that lasts up to two hours.  The attraction is the flood of endorphins.  People who have tried cryotherapy state that “my skin looks better.  My hair’s stopped falling out.” The hormone system is being stimulated.  Exposure to extreme cold has also been shown to stimulate the body into burning fat deposits.  As you leave the cryochamber, a sensation of internal cheerfulness rises through the body, like a runner’s high.  And the giddy underglow of freshness remains in the skin for up to 3 days, the face really does look fresher.  People can build up to going into the chamber three times a day (at $60 per session).

But does cryotherapy do anything measureable to the body?  Western science is still giving the cold-shoulder to cryotherapy and it has been met with a chilly response by hard-core academic medicine as well.  Currently, Cryo is in the same position that acupuncture was years ago.  So, should you try cryotherapy?  If you have the means, and if it feels good, do it!


Have a Beautiful Day!

Dr. Lisa

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