It’s getting cold out, but you can always get colder!
There are some treatments that, when first emerging, may seem odd. How did they come up with that? How do we know it works? That’s surely just a fad.
A few months go by, then a couple years, and they’re still sticking around. They start to catch some momentum, you overhear someone talking about it at your coffee shop, or an instagram influencer you follow gives a call out for a treatment. After a while, it’s in the public eye. Everyone’s heard about it, even if they haven’t tried it out before.
With the winter months fast approaching, it might seem a bit silly at first blush to consider cryotherapy. Cryotherapy in this weather? Aren’t we cold enough?
Well, pour yourself another cup of tea, because we’re about to get even colder.
Cryotherapy is most popularly used for pain relief and recovery due to its significant analgesic effects. Many patients who regularly use cryotherapy do so for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Preliminary studies indicate significant improvement in pain management and suggest efficacy as a recovery technique following exercise.
The benefits aren’t limited to just injuries or general pain – cryo may also offer relief for those with chronic pain too! A significant temporary reduction in pain was seen in sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis following the application of cold therapy.
Evidence suggests that exposure to extremely cold temperatures, such as those used in cryo treatments, can help transform the type of fat our bodies form, from white fat to brown fat.
Brown fat, known as brown adipose tissue, is believed to be more similar to muscle than like white fat, and is unique in that it is ‘activated’ in response to cold temperatures. Brown fat activates in your body to produce heat to maintain body temperature, burning up regular white fat as a fuel source in the process!
Cryotherapy may be an effective adjunct treatment in depressive disorders, according to research! In a study conducted into patients with depressive and anxiety disorders, those who regularly used whole body cryotherapy in joint with traditional depressive treatments showed larger decreases on the Hamilton Depression rating scale (HDRS-17) compared to those who did not receive cryo treatments. Depressive symptoms were shown to be reduced by at least 50 percent.
Furthermore, exposure to cold temperatures is known to activate the sympathetic nervous system, as well as increase the blood level of beta-endorphin and noradrelaline in the brain. It also boosts norepinephrine and dopamine production, a couple of your feel-good neurotransmitters to improve mood and feelings of wellbeing.
Targeted cryotherapy is being explored for use in treating migraine headaches. A study utilizing frozen wraps at the onset of a migraine with the goal of cooling the carotid arteries in the neck showed a reduction in pain in participants.