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Most people have heard of the use of extreme heat (a.k.a. hyperthermia) for boosting the immune system and even as a therapy for healing cancer. But can doing the opposite – submerging oneself in extreme cold – lead to healing as well? It’s time to look at cryotherapy and how it might help cancer patients.
Whole body cryotherapy: the “latest health fad?”
The use of cold to reduce the swelling of a twisted ankle or to provide pain relief for an aching back has been around for decades. The simplest version of this – a plain, old ice pack (or frozen bag of peas if you don’t have anything else) – is, in fact, a localized version of cryotherapy. The application of a very cold substance directly onto blood vessels will cause them to restrict, which in turn lowers inflammation, alleviates pain and boosts healing.
The practice of Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC), however, is a fairly new phenomenon – the industry is barely ten years old yet new centers (some staffed with medical professionals and some not) continue to pop up everywhere. Even celebrities are getting on the cryo band wagon, with the likes of Lebron James, Jennifer Aniston and Jessica Alba claiming that it does wonders for their energy level and pain.
With WBC, a person places themselves in a tank or small room and either liquid nitrogen or refrigerated cold air is pumped in around them. Sometimes the temp can get to minus 150 degrees Fahrenheit! You are only submerged in this subzero environment for 2 to 4 minutes, though. In most places, cryo participants wear gloves, hard-soled shoes and a face mask and are encouraged to move around continuously.
How WBC improves immune function by reducing inflammation
Whole body cryotherapy originated in the 1970’s with Japanese rheumatologist Toshima Yamauchi, who developed the procedure for his patients. Since then, studies have shown that WBC can improve the circulation in the skin as well as in the connective tissues, tendons, muscles and joints. Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, neurological and orthopedic disorders as well as some skin and lung diseases tend to benefit the most from whole body cryotherapy.
Researchers have also discovered that, if done in a professional environment where duration and temperature are carefully monitored, the procedure may in fact boost some functions of the immune system as well. A 2012 report published by the University of Milan School of Medicine found that there was an increase in anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin- 10) as well as a decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines with whole body cryotherapy use amongst athletes.
Best advice: Choose immune boosters that work best with YOUR body for cancer prevention
I think that whole body cryotherapy does provide some benefits for the immune system, and it definitely appears to help alleviate the pain that would come with rheumatic conditions such as arthritis.
If you are considering it for cancer prevention and or just basic immune enhancement, keep in mind that exposing your whole body to subfreezing temperatures will elevate certain stress hormones such as adrenaline (if only for a few minutes).
If you are young, fairly fit or already know that you do well with cold therapies in general, then WBC may be great choice for you. However, if you suffer from conditions such as hypothyroidism, perhaps other more gentle modalities for boosting the immune system, or a more milder form of cryotherapy such as hot-and-cold (or cold-plunge) hydrotherapy, may be a better choice for maintaining optimum health, vitality and cancer prevention.
Today, there are literally hundreds of immune-boosting healing modalities out there to choose from. This is great news if you’re on a healing path with breast cancer because the same modality that may not work for your friend may be just what you need.
If cryotherapy is something you wish to explore, make sure that you do so with a registered facility that has medical professionals on staff at all times.
About the author: Dr. Veronique Desaulniers (“Dr. V”) is a best-selling author and specialist in Chiropractic, Bio-Energetics, Meridian Stress Analysis, Homeopathy and Digital Thermography. After 30 years in active practice, she decided to “retire” and devote her time to sharing her personal, non-toxic Breast Cancer healing journey with others. Her years of experience and research have culminated in “The 7 Essentials™ “, a step-by-step coaching program that unravels the mystery of healing the body. Her website and personal healing journey have touched the lives of thousands of women around the globe. To get your F.R.E.E. 7-day mini e-course and to receive her weekly inspiring articles on the power of natural medicine – visit: BreastCancerConqueror.com