18 Extraordinary Health Benefits of Cryotherapy

18 Extraordinary Health Benefits of Cryotherapy

The History of Cold Water and Cold Air Therapies

Although the health benefits of cryotherapy are reemerging, cryotherapy treatments – and it’s distant relatives – have a long history of use in medicine. As far back as 460 BC, the Greek physician Hippocrates was the first figure in medical history to document the benefits of hydrotherapy, or using water to trigger healing and/or general wellness. By the 19th century, Benedictine monks were using nearby springs for therapeutic use, and throughout the ages since, cold and hot water therapies have been used by the medical community for healing ailments, athletic performance recovery, and overall health and wellness.

Cold Water Submersion (Cold Plunge) vs. Cryotherapy

Cold therapies, whether in an air chamber or a submersion tank, use the application of extreme cold to activate the body’s natural healing powers. Cold water submersion (or cold plunge) is the practice of entering an ice bath, typically for 15 to 20 minutes at 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Whole-body cryotherapy is the practice of entering a temperature-controlled room at -155 to -184 degrees Fahrenheit, typically only for three minutes. 

So What’s the Science?

Today, there is a lot of science behind cold therapies (wet and dry). These therapies allow your body to access and release naturally-occurring biochemicals that are active in reducing pain and inflammation, speeding metabolism, and detoxifying the body and blood of harmful toxins. 

In a nutshell, here’s what’s happening: your body goes into a state of ‘cold shock,’ dropping the skin temperature around core nerve ending neurons. This triggers two reactions in your brain: one that releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) in vast amounts very quickly, and one that releases norepinephrine (anti-inflammatory protein) in the brain at approximately three times the normal rate. That’s the brain sending survival signals to your body. This also triggers the constriction of your vascular and muscular systems to begin transporting blood, nutrients, and resources from your extremities to core organs. Additionally, blood detox and enrichment begin in preparation for the ‘survival’ period. 

The Health Benefits of Cryotherapy

The resulting health benefits of cryotherapy are increasingly well-documented in the medical community, so let’s dive into the range of outcomes you may experience. 

1.  Improved overall health and wellness. Medical studies are showing whole body cryotherapy eases a wide range of chronic medical conditions from osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia to auto-immune deficiencies, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, dermatitis, and more. Patients also report:

  • Improved sleep
  • More energy
  • Pain and inflammation relief
  • Accelerated weight loss
  • Improved circulation
  • Faster surgical recovery
  • Improved mood and reduced anxiety

2. Skin and beauty enhancement. The cold environment activates deep layer skin receptors telling the body to increase the production of collagen. The resulting collagen production helps with:

  • Firmer, tighter skin
  • Diminished appearance of cellulite, varicose and spider veins
  • Increased weight loss and caloric burn
  • Reduced blemishes
  • Stronger, fuller hair and nails

3. Improved athletic and sports performance. After a cryo session, higher concentrations of oxygen and nutrients in the body help muscles, ligaments, and tendons better absorb and utilize them. That, in turn, boosts metabolic activity. So for the athlete, both performance and recovery are improved including:

  • Improved overall athletic performance
  • Improved joint function
  • Faster recovery time
  • Increased energy
  • Reduced inflammation and muscle soreness
  • Reduced tendonitis and shin splints

    Who Should NOT Use Cryotherapy?

    Anyone who’s pregnant or has a heart condition should not use cold water submersion or cryotherapy as the risks simply outweigh the benefits. If you’re unsure if it’s right for you, check with your medical practitioner.

    How to Find the Right Cryotherapy Center

    No. It’s not just a simple Google search that includes keywords and your zip code. Finding the right cryotherapy center requires a little deeper dive. Here are some keys to finding a quality center to help on your cryo-journey, so don’t be shy and make sure you ask about the following:

    What kind of equipment do you have?
    Tip: look for facilities that offer whole body cryotherapy

    Does your customer service team measure skin temperature?
    Tip: look for facilities that measure your skin temperature before and after therapy to ensure you are getting the right effects 

    Is the cryo chamber located in a private area?
    Tip: You’ll be stripping down almost naked. Ensure the cryo chamber is located in a private area of the facility.

    Is It Working? Track It and See.

    It’s not uncommon for cryotherapy patients to feel immediate benefits after only one session, but often optimal results are found after just a few sessions. A recommended frequency is 2 to 3 times per week until the goals are met. We recommend tracking your sessions so you can see if other areas of your health are improving.

    The Heads Up app allows you to track your cryo sessions alongside all other vital health metrics including:

    • Heart rate variability
    • Sleep
    • Blood pressure
    • Inflammation (hs-crp)
    • ….and many more

    track cryotherapy sessions

    TRY HEADS UP FREE FOR 30 DAYS TO TRACK YOUR CRYOTHERAPY SESSIONS

    Try Heads Up Free for 30 Days

    Still want more info? Check out these useful resources.

    Knowledge is power, so here are a few more helpful resources to check out before you take the ‘plunge’ into the world of cryotherapy and cold water submersion:

    Whittling Down Waist Size Using the Glucose Ketone Index with Keto-Mojo and Heads Up Health

    Whittling Down Waist Size Using the Glucose Ketone Index with Keto-Mojo and Heads Up Health

    The real power in using Heads Up Health with Keto-Mojo is being able to track and correlate biomarkers you care about, such as the GKI (Glucose Ketone Index) with other major health metrics, like body measurements.

    The leader in consumer software for personal health data analytics, Heads Up Health allows you to see your progress over weeks, month, years — all in one place. When used together with Keto-Mojo, the leader in affordable, accurate blood glucose and ketone testing meters, they’re a powerful force for helping you get into ketosis, maintain keto-adaptation, and see the big picture of your metabolic health and body composition.

    For example, our Social Media Manager, and avid Heads Up Health user, Lily Chien-Davis, correlated her GKI with her waist circumference measurements, whittling down her waist size while staying keto-adapted.

    In the graph above, Lily shares how she used Keto-Mojo to track her glucose and ketones over the past 12 months, uploading those results to Heads Up Health where we automatically calculate the glucose-ketone index (GKI), a powerful biomarker for tracking your metabolic health. 

    The graph speaks for itself as Lily slashed over five inches off her waist circumference!

    Lily first discovered the glucose ketones index as a biomarker when her husband was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. They used a therapeutic ketogenic diet as an adjunct to conventional treatment, consulting with Miriam Kalamian [1] and following the advice of cancer researcher, author [2] and inventor of the GKI, Thomas N Seyfried and his advice to keep the glucose ketone index low, “tracking the ratio of blood glucose to ketones as a single value”, in an effort to blast the tumors near her husband’s aorta. [3]

    As they both carefully monitored his glucose ketone index and watched his tumors rapidly shrink, she began eating keto too, surprised, as someone diagnosed with pre-diabetes, to watch her own HbA1c go down, from 5.9% to 5.2%. In 2016, she discovered Heads Up Health while listening to keto podcasts (i.e., Jimmy Moore, Ketovangelist, 2 Keto Dudes). Both she and her husband immediately signed up, excited to track their glucose, ketones, and GKI alongside their medical records and body composition data, such as weight and waist size.

    Since then, Lily has never looked back.

    Instead of using a scale to track her weight every day, which can be maddening because weight loss is never linear, she tracks her GKI alongside her waist circumference and weight once a month using our measurements feature. In the beginning she also tracked her macros, but now relies solely on eating an intuitive keto-paleo and sometimes carnivore diet, preferring to track her GKI regularly, using the graphing feature in Heads Up Health’s Analyzer to reflect on her progress, helping her stay motivated.

    Here’s Lily’s before/after photos and you can see how great she looks. Most importantly, she FEELS awesome, both mentally and physically.
    “Tracking with Keto-Mojo and Heads Up Health helped me to stay in ketosis and keto-adapted for over a year, giving me accountability and motivation to keep keto-ing on. Although I’m not completely where I’d like to be just yet, I’m free of all prescription meds, happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. My husband is now almost 4 years in remission and we recently sold our house to move into, travel and worldschool our kid in a RV, a dream we hatched up during long days of chemo infusions. People say keto is restrictive, that it’s a fad diet, but because I’ve used it for mental and physical health, it’s just a way of life for me now. The rest — feeling younger, more energy to actually want to exercise, mental clarity, and better body composition — is just icing on the cake!” – Lily Chien-Davis
    It takes a lot of courage to share this information so please give Lily a shout-out on Instagram (@hellbentonbliss). We love you Lily!

    Ready to get started? Enter your first set of baseline measurements, get yourself into nutritional ketosis and track your success!

    We’ve included a little video tutorial below to help you get started.

    Questions? Hit us up!

    Keto on!

    Dave Korsunsky | Founder  
    VIDEO: Gimme that Mojo! Tracking the GKI and Your Waist Circumference
    [1] Miriam Kalamian [2] Cancer as a Metabolic Disease by Thomas N. Seyfried, PhD [2] The glucose ketone index calculator: a simple tool to monitor therapeutic efficacy for metabolic management of brain cancer  
    Insulin Load – Beyond “Counting Carbs”

    Insulin Load – Beyond “Counting Carbs”

    This is a guest post on insulin load by Michael Alward

    Insulin Load – An Introduction

    When I first adopted a low carb eating plan, I remember countless questions on low carb support groups as to how to count the carbs / net carbs of various processed food products (on this particular day, it happened to be a protein bar by Quest Nutrition).

    Insulin load – calculating carbs from a Quest Nutrition protein bar.

    Insulin load – calculating carbs from a Quest Nutrition protein bar.

    The answers ranged from 21g of carbs (from a Type 1 Diabetic who tested his real-time insulin response), to “only 3g net carbs” (21g carbs – 17g fibre – 1g erythritol as provided by Quest).  Very confusing, and not terribly helpful… (more…)