The Benefits of Cryotherapy: Why You Should Consider this Wellness Treatment

Cryotherapy is a treatment that exposes the body to extremely cold temperatures and is a minimally intrusive treatment used to treat many diseases. I have loved cryotherapy since I was an undergraduate and it’s one of my favorite ways to get myself “out of a rut.”

There are many uses for cryotherapy. Let’s take a look:

Migraine Symptoms

In one study, patients reported less pain during a headache after undergoing cryotherapy. Another study suggests that it could reduce the activity of neuropeptides. These substances are known to cause headaches and migraines.

Cryotherapy is also an alternative treatment for chronic migraine or cluster headaches. It’s thought to reduce the frequency of these types of headaches.

woman holding pink water lily flowers
Oleksandr Pidvalnyi

Nerve Pain & Chronic Pain Relief

Cryotherapy can be used to treat sports injuries such as sprains, strains, and tendonitis and can also be used to treat postoperative wounds and reduce swelling. In addition, doctors use cryotherapy to treat chronic pain, including fibromyalgia, arthritis, and neuropathy.

A recent study in Australia looked into how Cryotherapy could treat arthritis. Researchers wanted to see whether localized cryotherapy could reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.

They recruited 40 participants with osteoarthritis of the knee. Each participant received either three treatments over six weeks or four treatments over 12 weeks, where ice packs were applied to the affected area for 20 minutes.

The results showed that both groups experienced significant improvements in pain levels and mobility. However, there was no difference between the number of sessions required to achieve similar outcomes.

The findings suggest that localized cryotherapy is viable for people with arthritis.

Mood Disorders

Cryotherapy sometimes involves immersing yourself in extremely cold water. While it sounds crazy, many people swear by the practice.

A recent study looked into the effects of whole-body cryotherapy (WBC), including how it could help treat mood disorders. Researchers administered WBC sessions to subjects over three weeks and found that the treatment significantly impacted participants’ brain function.

The researchers found that the sessions increased levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, hormones associated with feelings of well-being. They also discovered that the sessions increased oxytocin, a hormone associated with trust, affection, and bonding. These findings suggest that WBC may benefit those suffering from anxiety and depression.

Low-Risk Tumors

Cryotherapy is one of many emerging technologies being investigated for cancer treatment. Cryotherapy involves cooling the body to -140 degrees Fahrenheit (-78 degrees Celsius), which causes water molecules to form large ice crystals around the tumor. This process creates a physical barrier that prevents the further growth of the tumor.

While cryotherapy is still being prepared for prime time, researchers are already experimenting with improving technology. For example, the National Cancer Institute recently launched a $2 million project to develop a device that could treat a tumor without damaging nearby healthy tissue. Researchers hope that such devices could eventually become part of standard treatments.

Cryotherapy works well for skin cancers because it destroys abnormal cells while minimizing damage to healthy tissues. Cryotherapy is also commonly used to destroy prostate gland tissue that causes benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In addition, cryotherapy is sometimes used for treating blood vessels that feed solid tumors such as breast cancer.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

Preliminary studies show that whole-body cryo­therapy may effectively prevent Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.

One study found that people who underwent whole-body cryotherapy had less brain shrinkage over three months compared to those who did not undergo treatment. Another study found that people who received whole-body cryotherapy experienced decreased cognitive decline and improved memory function.

Skin Conditions

Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a common chronic inflammatory condition of the outermost layer of the epidermis. Dry and red scaly patches characterize it.

It affects up to 20% of children and 3–5% of adults worldwide. Several treatment options include topical steroids, retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, and vitamin D analogs.

In addition, there are oral treatments such as cyclosporine, methotrexate, and azathioprine. However, none of these therapies are effective against severe forms of AD.

Cryotherapy is another option that has been used successfully to treat mild to moderate cases of AD. Its mechanism of action involves the induction of apoptosis in immune cells. A recent study showed that cryotherapy improves clinical signs of AD and reduces serum IgE levels.

Another study demonstrated that cryotherapy improved patients’ quality of life from AD. Furthermore, it decreased the number of eosinophils infiltrating the dermis. These findings suggest that cryotherapy could be a complementary therapy for managing AD.

Weight Loss

Research published in 2012 showed that people who underwent cryotherapy lost 8 pounds of body fat within three months. In another study, researchers discovered that subjects subjected to cryotherapy burned up to 50% more calories during exercise than those who weren’t.

The mechanism behind why this happens is still being studied, but scientists believe that exposing the body to extreme cold temperatures causes the body to burn up to 30% more calories. However, this effect isn’t permanent; once the body returns to normal temperatures, the calorie burning stops.

In addition to helping you lose weight, cryotherapy could help you maintain a healthy weight. For example, a 2011 study found that people who underwent cryosurgery experienced no negative side effects, such as muscle weakness or soreness.

Immune System Support

Cryotherapy can increase white blood cell circulation and helps guard against bacteria and viruses, along with helping to rid toxins and waste products.


Because cryotherapy increases your blood circulation and reduces impurities, you may find that your complexion glows and appears more radiant and youthful. In addition, a recent study published in Dermatology Online Journal showed that people who underwent cryotherapy had better skin elasticity than those who didn’t receive it.


In conclusion, If you want to improve your health or treat certain conditions, consider speaking with your healthcare provider about adding cryotherapy to your wellness plan.


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