Startups Test Freezing Therapy
Can freezing the body—making it very, very cold for a short period of time—promote healing? It may not be surprising that Minneapolis, Minnesota, where enthusiasts jump into lakes through holes in the ice, is the home of a trend called: “whole-body cryotherapy.” Though the treatment has advocates, Ben Bartenstein, a writer for Pioneer Press Health called it “more commercial than charitable.”
The therapy dates back to the 1800s in Japan. In 1978, Dr. Toshima Yamauchi created a whole-body cryosauna which a Polish company developed into a commercial product. It became popular in Poland where doctors believed that the cryosauna relieved pain and boosted the performance of Olympic athletes.
Brandon Johnson, a former pro-basketball player, is the owner of The Locker, a cryotherapy spa in Minneapolis. He acquired his equipment from Juka, a Polish company that sells the machine to health clubs. Johnson told Bartenstein, “The biggest thing is its natural. It forces the body into a healing state that you cannot go into in any other place without a downside."
Many in the medical community say the therapy's purported health benefits are inconclusive. Polish researchers have suggested that whole-body cryotherapy could be useful as a short-term treatment for anxiety disorders and a French team found the therapy to be effective in reducing muscle inflammation.
A well-known supporter of the treatment is famed sports medicine doctor James Andrews, M.D., who operated on Michael Jordan, Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson. Andrews is presently chairman of an Atlanta-based cryotherapy startup and plans to research the efficacy of cryosaunas compared with traditional rehab.