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Possible Cryotherapy Benefits for Improved Health

You've probably come across pictures of people lying in bathtubs full of ice or standing in cold tanks at freezing temperatures. This procedure, gaining popularity in recent years, is called cryotherapy.

What is cryotherapy

Cryotherapy literally means "cold therapy." It is a technique in which the whole body or parts of it are exposed for a short time to an extremely low temperature.

Localized cryotherapy is applied in different ways – by placing ice packs, ice massage, cooling sprays, ice baths, etc. on certain areas of the body. Proponents of this type of therapy claim that it works in the same way as when ice is used to relieve swelling.  [ref. 1] 

Whole-body cryotherapy is the immersion of the body in a special chamber with extremely cold air or a bath filled with water and ice for a few minutes. The benefits of cryotherapy are felt even from one session. But the most effective is the regular conduct of therapy.  [ref. 2] 

Cryotherapy of the whole body is not a medical treatment and you do not need to have a doctor's prescription for its conduction. Capsules and baths for cryotherapy are available in large spa, wellness and fitness centers, as well as in specialized medical centers.

In places that offer cryotherapy, there are special tanks or chambers that cool to extremely low temperatures - from -120 to -180 degrees Celsius. Most tanks are shoulder-high, with the head usually remaining outside the tank at room temperature. In full-body therapy, it is good to wear a protective coating on the hands, feet and ears to protect them from frostbite. The duration of therapy is from 2 to 4 minutes.

Benefits of Cryotherapy

Observations and studies to date show that cryotherapy can have a positive impact on:

Reducing migraine symptoms

Cryotherapy can help treat migraines by cooling and anesthetizing the nerves in the neck and cooling blood flowing through the intracranial arteries.  [ref. 3] 

Reduces arthritic pain

Studies have shown that whole-body cryotherapy significantly reduces pain in people with arthritis. [ref. 4] 

Losing weight and boosting metabolism

Cryotherapy alone will not lead to weight loss, but it can aid the process. Cold causes the body to work harder to stay warm and maintain its normal temperature. A few minutes of cold can significantly speed up metabolism and improve the body's response to cold. [ref. 5] 

Relieve inflammation

Inflammation is one of the ways the immune system fights infection. Sometimes the immune system becomes overreactive. The result is chronic inflammation, which has been linked to health problems such as cancer, diabetes, depression, dementia and arthritis. Some studies have shown that cryotherapy can reduce inflammation. This type of therapy is often used by athletes to treat and relieve pain from pinched nerves, chronic pain, or even serious trauma.

Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis and other skin diseases

Cryotherapy can improve antioxidant levels and reduce inflammation in Atopic Dermatitis, which is characterized by dry and irritating skin.

For depression and anxiety

The extremely low temperatures used in cryotherapy can trigger physiological and hormonal responses, such as the release of adrenaline, noradrenaline and endorphins. This can have a positive effect on people who experience anxiety and depression.  [ref. 6] 

Support in the treatment of low-risk tumors

Targeted or localized cryotherapy, which is used as a cancer treatment, is called "cryosurgery". It works by freezing cancer cells and destroying them. 

External tumors are usually treated by applying liquid nitrogen directly through a cotton swab or spray tool. After treatment, the frozen tissue turns into a scab and eventually heals. Patients with early-stage skin cancer, precancerous skin growths, and certain types of eye cancer may undergo this form of cryotherapy after referral by medical professionals.

Internal tumors are treated with a cryoprobe - a special tool that delivers liquid nitrogen to the tumor site through a small incision. During treatment, doctors monitor which cells are frozen by ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ensuring that healthy tissue in the treated area remains undamaged. Once cryotherapy is complete, the frozen cells are thawed and expelled naturally from the body. This type of destruction of cancer cells can be applied to: 

Prevention of dementia and Alzheimer's

Cryotherapy has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and may help fight the inflammatory and oxidative stress responses that occur in Alzheimer's disease. Research in this area is still small.  [ref. 7] 

Improve blood circulation

Improving blood circulation as an effect of cryotherapy is closely related to cell growth and optimal organ function. Increased circulation eliminates toxins from the body and, ultimately, detoxifies the blood and organs. 

Improving the functioning of the immune system

Research has shown that cryotherapy can increase the amount of white blood cells. This allows our bodies to identify and attack foreign objects known to cause disease.

Risks of whole-body cryotherapy

Exposure to extreme cold and low temperatures can cause serious injuries from frostbite or rashes. Even with cryotherapy in a controlled environment, extreme cold can worsen health problems and conditions such as:

The most common side effects of cryotherapy are numbness, redness and skin irritation. These side effects are almost always temporary.

If you apply cryotherapy at home in the form of an ice bath at home or a local application of ice to a certain area of the body, you should not exceed the time of 15-20 minutes. With topical application, the ice should be wrapped in a towel to prevent skin damage. 

And remember - cryotherapy should not be used longer than recommended. 

  1. What is cryotherapy

    • Benefits of Cryotherapy
      • Reducing migraine symptoms
      • Reduces arthritic pain
      • Losing weight and boosting metabolism
      • Relieve inflammation
      • Treatment of Atopic Dermatitis and other skin diseases
      • For depression and anxiety
      • Support in the treatment of low-risk tumors
      • Prevention of dementia and Alzheimer's
      • Improve blood circulation
      • Improving the functioning of the immune system

    • Risks of whole-body cryotherapy


    Cryotherapy is a procedure for the topical or general use of low temperatures in medical therapy. It works by reducing blood flow to a specific area, which can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain. Therapy apparently has more areas of application, including anxiety and depression, some forms of cancer, arthritic pain, and skin disease.


    1. The Effectiveness of the Whole Body Cryotherapy Strategies: A Comparison of Different Duration and Temperature on the Antioxidative Status in the Experimental Rat Model - PubMed
    2. [Whole-body cryotherapy in rehabilitation of patients with rheumatoid diseases--pilot study] - PubMed
    3. Impact of Whole Body Cryotherapy at −110 °C on Subjects with Arterial Hypertension - Archivum Immunologiae et Therapiae Experimentalis
    4. [Serial whole-body cryotherapy in the criostream for inflammatory rheumatic diseases. A pilot study] - PubMed
    5. P-12 The effects of the whole body cryotherapy on the body composition
    6. Page not available - PMCTwitterFacebookLinkedInGitHubSM-TwitterSM-FacebookSM-Youtube
    7. Cryotherapy: Physiological Considerations and Applications to Physical Therapy

    The author

    Bettina Tzvetkova has a Bachelor's degree in Marketing and a Master's degree in Entrepreneurship, a fan of healthy eating, power sports and cycling. Author of over 1500 scientifically based articles, product texts and advertising materials on health topics for Bulgarian and foreign websites.


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