Fact Sheet - Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC)
The word ”Cryotherapy” stems from the Greek words: “cryo” or cold, and ”therapeia” or cure. Hence, whole body cryotherapy (WBC) is being studied as a curative and overall beneficial treatment involving skin exposure to extremely low temperatures (below -130oC/ below -266oF). Since the cooling process affects no more than 5% of the body (i.e. the parts that safely endure the variations of temperature), the treatment generally is comfortably endured. These temperatures have potential medicinal and aesthetic benefits.
The extreme cold exposure is believed to cause the body to turn up its metabolic rate in order to produce heat. This effect lasts for 5-8 hours after the procedure, causing the body to ‘burn’ 500 – 800 calories. After several procedures, the increase in metabolic rate tends to last longer between treatments. Another ‘survival reaction’ to the extreme temperatures is the release of endorphins (hormones) that have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, and improve mood disorders. WBC has been studied for the successful treatment of medication resistant depressive disorders.
The outer skin is briefly frozen, which is believed to increase production of collagen in deeper layers of the skin, keeping skin looking young and vibrant. Skin vessels and capillaries undergo severe vasoconstriction (to prevent core temperature from dropping), followed by vasodilation after the procedure. Toxins and other stored deposits are flushed out of deeper layers of the skin and blood perfusion is improved after several treatments. The anti-inflammatory properties of WBC may ameliorate chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis.
The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of WBC can improve symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, as rheumatoid- and osteoarthritis. Athletes utilize WBC to speed recovery injury or exercise-induced muscle damage and to optimize key components of performance.