The use of cold to aid sore or injured muscles dates back to ancient Greece. Ice baths are commonly used by pro athletes and recommended by the Arthritis Foundation for joint pain relief. But the new whole body cryotherapy (WBC) that’s being marketed as a cure-all spa treatment is as similar to an ice bath as a superheated geyser is to a warm shower.

Whole body cryotherapy has been promoted to help a number of conditions, from Asthma and Anxiety to Migraines and even weight loss. But NONE of those claims have been proven.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has never cleared or approved any WBC device as being safe and effective, much less for treating diseases or conditions like Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, stress or chronic pain.

The temperature of a typical ice bath is 59°F and often, only the injured body part is soaking (for 10 to 20 minutes). In cryotherapy, the entire body is exposed to temperatures ranging from -200 to -300°F (yes, those are below 0 temperatures) for two to four minutes. Some machines are designed for a single person to use with everything except their head in the cryo chamber. Other chambers hold a group of people at once exposing their whole bodies including their heads.

The FDA is issuing consumer warnings about cryotherapy because there are many potential risks to being in such extreme temperatures including frostbite, burns and eye injuries. Also, the vapors used to cool the tanks could lead to suffocation.

If you are still not convinced to avoid cryotherapy, talk it over with your doctor.

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