Body in Ice Cube

After finding an article in a beauty magazine about cryospas, I was stunned and thought it sounded like something out of a Saturday Night Live skit or a Woody Allen futuristic movie, but it’s the real thing and these spas are popping up all over the country.

Cryotherapy first originated in Japan in the 1970’s for treating sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis (who obviously didn’t suffer from Raynaud’s!).  The treatment more recently caught on with pro athletes and is now entering the mainstream, promising everything from increased energy, relief from joint soreness, strain and inflammation, reduced stress and fatique, weight loss, clearer, firmer and fresher skin, faster workout, neural and cardiovascular recovery, and more.  In the old days, they called this snake oil…

What is cryotherapy?  You stand naked in a freezer chamber that covers you up to your neck.  Liquid nitrogen is released at temperatures of 200 degrees below zero, and you stay in the chamber for anywhere from 90 seconds to five minutes.  Are you shivering yet?

An article in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram describes the medical benefits:  “Your body reacts to the cold by pulling the blood away from your extremities and into your core. Your vessels constrict, causing a boost of nutrients and oxygen into your vital organs. Your metabolism revs up to keep your core temperature from dropping, which also results in calorie burning.”  That’s got to be the darndest description of a Raynaud’s attack ever written!

We have seen articles suggesting exposure to cold can promote weight loss, and we’ve questioned in earlier blog posts whether or not Raynaud’s sufferers’ metabolisms run faster becaues of our attacks (Brown Fat: Key to Obesity and Warmth? and Can Temperature Training Make Us Warmer and Slimmer?).  It appears exposure to temperatures cold enough to be uncomfortable promotes the production of brown fat in our bodies and brown fat helps us burn fat, so this may, in fact, be true, but we’ve yet to see a link between Raynaud’s attacks and weight loss.  This news on cyrotherapy lends support to the hypothesis.  But imagine millions of people subjecting themselves to the equivalent of the worst Raynaud’s attack you can imagine – submerged at 200 degress below zero – for health and beauty benefits, it’s just unreal!

Here are links to a couple of the articles we found.  You might want to wrap up under a warm blanket before reading them.

Why I Froze Myself for Beauty

Cryotherapy clinics promise a big chill with benefits

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