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Cryotherapy Research and History

The Greek words “Kryos” and “Therapeia” meaning ice cold and cure, respectively are the origin of the word Cryotherapy. The process was originally developed in 1978 in Japan by Dr. Toshiro Yamauchi to assist patients in the treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Studies conducted in Europe over the last two decades have established Whole Body Cryotherapy as a powerful treatment for inflammatory disorders like osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and other autoimmune and joint disorders. The treatments are also used to accelerate the production of collagen, to improve skin elasticity and texture, to reverse skin aging, and to reduce the appearance of cellulite.


Whole Body Cryotherapy started in 1978 in Japan by Dr. Toshiro Yamauchi who used it to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Then later, scientists in Poland began using the treatment as a physical therapy modality.


Not only was this an effective rheumatoid arthritis treatment, many other areas of the body showed improvements as well. Throughout Europe for the last three decades, researchers have been refining cryotherapy where extensive research and testing by the medical community has continued.


Whole Body Cryotherapy has been endorsed by many doctors and has been featured on the Dr. OZ Show ® and The Doctors ®. Professional, as well as collegiate athletes and Olympic teams are incorporating this technology into their training and rehabilitation programs as seen on ESPN ® and The Golf Channel ®.

Cryotherapy Clinical Studies, Medical Journals, and Media Links

Effects of whole-body cryotherapy duration on thermal and cardio-vascular response



Practitioners are vague when it comes to recommendations on the duration of a single session. Recommended exposure for cryo-chamber is 150 s, but no empirically based recommendations are available for a cryo-cabin. Therefore the aim of this study was to examine thermal and cardio-vascular responses after 90, 120, 150 and 180 s of WBC in a cryo-cabin…Our results indicate that practitioners and clinicians using cryo-cabin for WBC do not need to perform sessions longer than 150 s. We have shown that longer sessions do not substantially affect thermal and cardio-vascular response, but do increase thermal discomfort.

Improvement of Motor Skills



Research by Łuczak, carried out on a large group of athletes (300 people), was meant to find an optimal operating temperature during the whole-body cryostimulation for the improvement of motor skills. The effects of exposure were compared between two 10 minute whole-body cryostimulations (at -100°C, -130°C and -160°C) and physical efficiency, based on an assessment of agility, balance, speed and dynamic strength of abdominal muscles.The analysis of the results showed no effect of cryostimulation on the level of agility. Balance improved significantly in groups exposed to temperatures below -100°C, while no significant effects were observed for -100°C. Parameters evaluating speed and dynamic strength of abdominal muscles improved most after the application of -100°C. It was proposed that whole body cryotherapy exerts positive effects on human motor characteristics, although the lowest cryogenic temperatures should be used in only specific cases [Łuczak et al. 2006]. Subsequent studies showed that a series of 20 stimulations with an average temperature -130°C performed on martial arts competitors, resulted in an extended duration of exercise and lower subjective feeling of fatigue at increasing mean speed and angle of treadmill inclination during an exercise according to the Bruce protocol [Hagner et al. 2009]. A recent study on the effects of whole-body cryostimulation on aerobic and anaerobic capacities showed that three 10 minute sessions (average temperature -130°C) increased maximal anaerobic power in males but not in females, and did not influence aerobic capacity in either gender [Klimek et al. 2011]. There are also reports of improved exercise tolerance, expressed by a lower level of lactates, heart rate and increased threshold capacity during a rowing ergometer test by Olympic team athletes (rowers) after 23 cryostimulation sessions (3-minutes at a temperature of -150°C, 2 x day).

Translating whole-body cryotherapy into geriatric psychiatry – A proposed strategy for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease



Blazej Misiak, Andrzej Kiejna




Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which is the most common form of dementia, constitutes one of the leading causes of disability and mortality in aging societies. Currently recommended medications used in treating AD include cholinesterase inhibitors and the NMDA antagonist – memantine, but poorly counteract progression of the disease. According to current knowledge, the neuropathological process underlying the etiology of AD begins many years, if not decades, before the development of overt symptoms of dementia. Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is regarded as the first detectable manifestation of cognitive decline. Nowadays, there is a general consensus that vascular alterations, oxidative stress and inflammatory response contribute to the development of AD. Following these mechanisms and tracing the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects of cryostimulation, we postulate that whole-body cryotherapy (WBCT) might be utilized as a means of preventing AD. WBCT is a relatively safe and cost-effective procedure, which is widely applied in various medical specialties. Thus, there is an urgent necessity to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of WBCT in the prevention of AD in patients with MCI and healthy individuals.




Medical Hypotheses. 3/2012

The influence of whole body cryotherapy on mental health



J Rymaszewska, D Biay, Z Zagrobelny, A Kiejna ł




The paper presents a little known issue about the influence of Whole Body Cryotherapy on mental health. Observations of patients’ behavior after passing the cryogenic chamber leads to an interesting hypothesis. Short exposition to extreme cold has doubtless a profitable influence on man’s frame of mind. Immediately after passing the cryogenic chamber, apart from the well-known analgetic effect, we detect changes in patients’ mental state such as improvement of mood, deep relaxation, freshening up, consolation, euphoria. This unusual state lasts for a long time after ending the cycle of cryotherapy. Different mechanisms of this effect are considered. New possibilities of this method have been presented. Durability of such an advantageous phenomenon are investigated in our research center in Wrocław.




Psychiatria Polska. 34(4):649-53. ISSN: 0033-2674

Beneficial effects of the Whole-Body Cryotherapy on sport haemolysis



Banfi Giuseppe, Melegati Gianluca, Barassi Alessandra, Gianvico Melzi d’Eril




Sport’s anemia is a common risk for athletes. The principal source of an accelerated turnover of the erythrocytes in sportsmen is the intravascular hemolysis. This phenomenon is induced by mechanical breakage for impact of feet and muscular contractions, but also by osmotic changes causing membrane fragility, typically evident after exercise, when free radicals are increased. Whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) covers a wide range of therapeutic applications and consists of briefly exposing the body to extremely cold air. In sports medicine, WBC is used to improve recovery from muscle injury; however, empirical studies on its application to this area are lacking. Design and Methods. We recruited ten rugby players of the Italian National Team. In these athletes we measured hematological parameters, before including mean sphered cell volume (MSCV) by means of Coulter LH750, besides of haptoglobin, and after WBC. The subjects underwent five sessions on alternate days once daily for one week. During the study period, the training workload was the same as that of the previous weeks.




We observed in the athletes increase of haptoglobin and an increase of MSCV after the treatment period.




WBC reduces sports haemolysis, as judged from MSCV and haptoglobin data, supported from other haematological values, as well as the absence of mean corpuscolar volume and reticulocytes increase. The treatment is useful to prevent the physiological impairments derived from sport haemolysis.




Journal of Human Sport and Exercise. 01/01/2009;

Whole-body cryotherapy in rehabilitation of patients with rheumatoid diseases



D Metzger, C Zwingmann, W Protz, W H Jäckel




Cryotherapy as a whole-body cold therapy (with cold air cooled by addition of nitrogen blown on the patients in an open cabin) for treatment of inflammatory rheumatic diseases already started in Bad Säckingen in 1986. In 1996, a new cold chamber (this time a closed chamber without any addition of nitrogen) based on compressor technology was introduced. The aim of our study was to test whether significant pain relief could be achieved by means of this cold therapy. Furthermore, we were interested in the practicability and acceptance of this new technique. Wellbeing during the treatment application and pain level were assessed using verbal and numerical rating scales. The sample consisted of 120 consecutive patients (75% women, age: 30-67 yrs, M = 52.6 yrs). These patients were suffering from primary fibromyalgia (40.7%), rheumatoid arthritis (17.3%), chronic low back pain (16.4%), ankylosing spondylitis (10.9%), osteoarthritis (9.1%), secondary fibromyalgia (3.6%) and other autoimmune diseases (1.8%) (mean duration of symptoms: 4 yrs). The patients were treated 2.5 minutes on average in the main chamber (mean temperature: -105 degrees C). The patients’ statements concerning their pain level were analyzed by means of analyses of variance with repeated measures and paired-sample t-tests.




The pain level after application of the cold therapy decreases significantly. The pain reduction lasts about 90 minutes. The initial pain level decreases during the whole time of treatment, no significant improvement, though, can be shown from the middle to the end of the four-weeks treatment. According to the results of our study, there is evidence that the whole-body cold therapy generates important short-term effects and somewhat weaker effects over the treatment period as a whole. Short-term pain reduction facilitates intensive application of physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy. The treatment procedure is practicable, and all in all well tolerated. From the patients’ point of view, whole-body cold therapy is an essential part of the rehabilitation program.




Die Rehabilitation. 01/05/2000; 39(2):93-100. ISSN: 0034-3536