Although Whole Body Cryotherapy is not a medical treatment, the impact to the body at the Biochemical Level, which is basically the physical level, is the most understandable from the standpoint of modern medicine. Almost all treatments and effects of modern medicine on the human body are on this level.
When inside the cryo-cabin, where ambient temperature is usually around -170˚C (-274˚F), the human body is rapidly exposed to extremely low temperatures and the skin’s surface is quickly cooled to almost (32˚F) for a short period of time (2.5 to 3 minutes). When the skin surface temperature reaches freezing for even a few moments, cold sensors in the skin send a very strong signal to the brain that the organism’s life might be in danger. In an innate response to protect the body from the critically low temperatures that could lead to hypothermia and death, the brain gives orders to all peripheral parts of the body to constrict the muscles and tissues in order to send blood to the core of the body to surround the key organs.
Why does this happen? Because unless the temperature in the body’s core at or very near to 98.6 F, the result could quickly or eventually cause death. So upon receipt of signals from the skin’s cold sensors of the freezing temperatures in the cryo-cabin, the brain center has a clear warning that maintaining the necessary core body temperature will be impossible if blood circulation in the outer layers of the skin is allowed to continue. Therefore, the body’s survival resources are mobilized, and blood is sent into the body’s core to begin circulating in an “internal cycle” to protect the vital organs. One immediate effect is that arterial blood pressure increases by about 10 points as a result of the peripheral tissues constricting. For example, if the systolic pressure (upper number) was 130 points (or millimeters of mercury) before the treatment, it may reach 135-140 afterwards for a short time.
But much more is happening as the blood circulates within the "internal cycle”. It is also being enriched with oxygen and additional enzymes and nutrients. It has been shown that several successive treatments will even lead to an increase in hemoglobin count. The blood becomes enriched in accordance with the body’s best capabilities, as all resources and reserves are activated to ensure the functions of life while the body does its best to survive under the perceived critical conditions of extreme cold.
What else is happening at this time? As the internal organs are surrounded and nourished by the enriched blood, all crucial life processes are accelerated. In other words, during Whole Body Cryotherapy, the body not only works to maintain the temperature of the core organs but works to bolster low performing or impaired functioning of the organs so that the body can recover from the effects of the extreme cold. Since the body perceives the extreme cold as an extreme threat, the body is kicked into “survival mode” were the body is mobilized for self-defense and seeks to address any deficiencies in functioning of the core organs. This results in benefits and improvement to the core organ functions produced from the the strong, rich blood flow effects to the core organs.
An additional side effect of Whole Body Cryotherapy is that the extreme cold stimulates the body’s removal of dead cells through the lymph system which helps rejuvenate the body.
After 2.5 to 3 minutes of Whole Body Cryotherapy, when a person steps out of the Cryo-cabin into the warmer air, signals to the brain indicate the change in temperatur , and the peripheral tissues then relax and dilate, including blood vessels, muscles and skin tissues - as opposed to the constriction that occurred in the beginning of the treatment when the skin surface temperature was rapidly cooled to nearly 32˚F.
What is happening at this point? Blood is now released from the ” internal cycle” under the temporary higher blood pressure resulting from the Whole Body Cryotherapy, and flows back out to the peripheral tissues, filling all the remote extremities of the body from which it was withheld during the low temperatures. When this enriched blood reaches peripheral tissues, they are enhanced in the same beneficial way as the internal organs during the treatment. In fact, this beneficial process continues in the body for 6 to 8 hours after the treatment.
In summary, the enriched blood produced from the Whole Body Cryotherapy creates favorable conditions for internal organ regeneration, expelling of toxins from subcutaneous tissues, the cell renewal process, replacement of damaged cells and elimination of dead cells from peripheral tissues – i.e. rejuvenation of the body and skin at the cellular level.
While these processes are initiated by brief exposure of the skin surface to extremely low temperatures, it is important to understand that tissue is not actually frozen during the procedure. Only the illusion of a severe cold impact is created when very cold air temporarily touches the skin where the body’s cold sensors are located. This is one of the essential differences between Whole Body Cryotherapy and the Ice Bath or Cold Plunge. This is very important to understand so more detail is needed.
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