The benefits of cryotherapy stem from reducing the surface temperature of the skin to 4°C in order to increase blood circulation throughout the body and reduce inflammation.
Detailed benefits are as follows:
Pain relief and muscle healing
Cryotherapy can help with muscle pain, as well as some joint and muscle disorders, such as arthritis. It may also promote faster healing of athletic injuries.
Doctors have long recommended using ice packs on injured and painful muscles. Doing so may increase blood circulation after the ice pack is removed, promoting healing and pain relief.
Cryotherapy providers have suggested it can help with weight loss, but studies may suggest otherwise.
Cryotherapy alone will not cause weight loss, but it could support the process. In theory, being cold forces the body to work harder to stay warm.
Some cryotherapy providers claim that a few minutes of cold can increase metabolism all day. Eventually, they claim, people no longer feel cold because their metabolism has adjusted and increased in response to the cold temperature.
Inflammation is one way the immune system fights infection. Sometimes the immune system becomes overly reactive. The result is chronic inflammation, which is linked to health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, depression, dementia, and arthritis.
As such, reducing inflammation could also improve overall health and reduce the risk of numerous chronic ailments.
If cryotherapy reduces inflammation, it could also reduce the risk of developing dementia.
A 2012 paper puts forward the possibility of cryotherapy being able to reduce the inflammation and oxidative stress associated with dementia, mild cognitive impairment, and other age-related forms of cognitive decline.
Preventing and treating cancer
Because whole body cryotherapy might reduce inflammation, it is possible it could also lower the risk of developing cancer.
So far, there is no evidence that cryotherapy can treat cancer once the disease has developed. However, medical cryotherapy is a well-established treatment for certain forms of cancer.
A doctor might use cryotherapy to freeze off cancer cells on the skin or cervix and occasionally to remove other cancers.
Reducing anxiety and depression
Research findings that cryotherapy may reduce inflammation suggest that it could treat mental health conditions linked to inflammation. Some preliminary research on cryotherapy and mental health also supports this claim.
Improving symptoms of eczema
The chronic inflammatory skin condition known as eczema can cause intensely itchy patches of dry skin. A small 2008 study of people with eczema had participants stop using eczema medications. They then tried cryotherapy. Many of them saw improvements in their eczema symptoms, though some complained of frostbite on small areas of the skin.
Treating Migraine Headaches
Targeted cryotherapy that focuses on the neck may help prevent migraine headaches. In a 2013 study, researchers applied cryotherapy to the necks of people who had migraines. The treatment reduced but did not eliminate their pain.