News & Opinion | June 19, 2018 5:00 am

The Next Breakthrough Wonder Treatment: Cryotherapy?

Brief exposure in a chamber 250 degrees below zero can help with joint pain, insomnia, and depression.

Cryotherapy
Antwain Coward, left, administers to his cryotherapy device for customer Meredith Santora, right, at his shop in the Mount Vernon area on September, 21, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Cryotherapy might just be the next new wonder treatment. People have claimed it helps with pain and inflammation, as well as insomnia, anxiety, and depression, all in less than three minute doses. It is supposed to enrich your blood with oxygen, nutrients and enzymes, stimulate your skin’s receptors to activate the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems and increase your range of motion because your enriched blood flows into your peripheral tissue.

So what does cryotherapy involve? Standing in a chamber where the ambient temperatures ranging from -184 to -256° Fahrenheit, according to GQ. These deep freeze temperatures make it a risky treatment for many patients, however. You are not supposed to try cryotherapy if you have “unmanaged hypertension, deep vein thrombosis, acute or recent myocardial infarctions, uncontrolled seizures, fever, Raynaud’s syndrome, cold allergies, acute kidney and urinary tract diseases, open wounds or ulcers, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or are being treated for cancer.”

Still, the effects can be transformational. Lamar Dawson writes that he “didn’t recognize himself” after his first session. He had suffered from knee pain that was greatly helped by cryotherapy. Likewise, he met older woman in the waiting room one day who said she and her friend could barely lift their legs because of inflammation and arthritis, but cryotherapy revitalized them like nothing else had before.