So what exactly did happen?
What did I do to myself, scientifically? And is it actually going to bring me back to near-prepubescent youth and energy?
It's hard to say. Cryotherapy was invented in in the late 1970s in Japan to reduce pain and inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Over the next 20 years, advocates claimed it may improve myriad conditions, including asthma, Alzheimer's, anxiety, chronic pain, depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, migraines, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, and obesity.
If that sounds like a pretty broad list, it is, and there aren't enough concrete studies to back up that this is actually the case. Beyond that, the FDA study goes so far as to say that there are significant risks to cryotherapy, namely asphyxiation, especially when liquid nitrogen is used for cooling. I'm glad I read the FDA's advice AFTER doing the treatment.
Still, Dr. Daniela Winston, a physician with her own cryotherapy center, is a firm believer in the science behind it. "Your entire body is exposed to the cold, which causes constriction in the extremities as your body preserves its core. This releases endorphins and catecholamines into the bloodstream because your body is exposed to a stressful situation. Then your blood shoots back through your body causing vascular dilation, and all of those released substances are pushed through to your exterminates and to your brain. It's a wash of the lactic acid that accumulates in the muscles," she says.
"The FDA raises questions about asphyxiation," she continues, "but this is not correct because your head is out of the machine. Your head is above the liquid nitrogen cloud. In addition, no one is left alone in the room with the machine. It's a controlled environment."