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The Effect of Whole Body Cryotherapy on Inflammation

Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC) has become increasingly popular in sports medicine and popular culture. Many professional athletes and celebrities use WBC to “enhance recovery after injuries and to counteract inflammatory symptoms resulting from overuse or pathology”.

Whole Body Cryotherapy Induces Anti-Inflammatory Effects

A study of 69 physically active male subjects (including 10 professional rugby players and 39 healthy individuals) that were treated with 30 cryo sessions lasting 2 and a half minutes each, resulted in several new findings [1].

One of the notable findings was that WBC induces anti-inflammatory effects. Findings show that WBC stimulates the anti-inflammatory response while also noting that the fitness capacity of each individual affects the inflammatory response to WBC in non-athletes (the physical condition of participants had a direct effect on the magnitude of the benefits received).

The study also calls for further investigations to focus on establishing, whether reduced inflammation has a beneficial effect on athletes’ performance if training was to be combined with cold therapy.

1. Banfi G, Lombardi G, Colombini A, Melegati G. Whole-body cryotherapy in athletes. Sports Med. 2010;40:509–517. doi: 10.2165/11531940-000000000-00000. [PubMed]

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Study Suggests that Cryotherapy Decreases Symptoms of Depression

According to a study done on 23 participants (37 to 70 years old), whole body cryotherapy can be used to treat anxiety and depression [1].

In this research study, participants were treated to 10 whole body cryotherapy procedures, each session lasting 2 minutes and 40 seconds at temperatures of -150°C or -238°F for a total test duration of 2 weeks.

The participants were selected randomly from a larger group of depressed day hospital patients. Both study groups were able to continue taking their medications. The 21 Item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) was used to measure their symptoms at the beginning and the end.

Results show that almost every single participant’s HDRS score along with the overall score for all patients were significantly lowered after the treatments of Whole Body Cryotherapy. The study then concludes that cryotherapy indeed has a considerably positive affect on relieving patients suffering from depression from the symptoms of depression.

1. Rymaszewska J, Tulczynski A, Zagrobelny Z, Kiejna A, Hadrys T. Influence of whole body cryotherapy on depressive symptoms—preliminary report. Acta Neuropsychiatrica. 2003;15(3):122–128. [PubMed]