Posts tagged cryotherapy
Don’t Just Feel Good, Look Good Too!

By: Joy Stephenson-Laws, pH Labs Founder

Looks can be deceiving. You never want to judge the status of a person’s health by their appearance only. A woman with glowing skin who looks great in a two-piece swimsuit may not be healthy. She may have underlying health concerns such as digestive or cardiovascular issues. And another woman may appear to be a bit chubby but maintains a healthy weight without metabolic or other health issues.

Notwithstanding our desire to feel good, it is equally important for many of us to look good as well. Many of us desire fit bodies and, perhaps most of all, healthy-looking beautiful skin. Our skin, after all, is our bodies’ largest and fastest-growing organ. It is our body’s coat. So wouldn’t you want to have the best looking coat in town? I know I do!

But for many people over the age of 30, having great looking skin may be a challenge. The skin may start to sag and have wrinkles. Fat deposits may be unevenly distributed causing the skin to appear uneven. And this may all just be a natural part of aging. Usually, wrinkles and uneven and sagging skin from aging are not life-threatening health concerns. But it does not mean that we cannot be proactive about combatting the effects of our aging skin so that we look good while we enjoy our healthy lives.

We have already discussed how avoiding smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation (if you do drink), wearing sunscreen and protective sun gear, drinking plenty of water and eating a nutrient-rich diet with plenty of whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables are great ways to be proactive about delaying the aging of your skin.

But let’s explore some other proactive methods I recently became familiar with and from which I have obtained great results.

  • Cold Therapy

One form of cold therapy is Cryoskin. It is a non-invasive form of treatment which utilizes cold temperature to stimulate collagen production (we lose collagen as we age) and destroy fat cells (our bodies accumulate more fat as we age). Apparently, the cold temperature (which can be as cold as -8°), may prevent the formation of collagenase, an enzyme which plays a role in the breakdown of collagen.

Reportedly, cryoskin is a 34 minute treatment and is used for “slimming, cellulite reduction, and toning. It utilizes the science behind cryolipolysis. Cryolipolysis is used to destroy fat cells directly under the skin’s surface (subcutaneous fat cells) by freezing within the temperature range of +8 to -8 degrees C. The cold treatment causes apoptosis, or cell death, of subcutaneous fat tissues. The killed fat cells will drain through the lymphatic system and then flushed out through the kidneys and urine.”

According to a 2018 study in the Journal of Obesity, “local cooling of abdominal fatty tissue significantly reduced the measures of obesity, including waist circumference, body weight, BMI, and fat content.”

The primary observations were “that (i) repeat procedures at short timescales produce progressive losses of AT [adipose tissue], a finding inconsistent with “cryolipolysis” that is inferred to require weeks or longer between sequential treatments; (ii) blood profiling after the tissue cooling procedure gave no evidence of markers of inflammation or cell disruption; and (iii) calculated weight loss through thermogenesis alone was substantially consistent with estimates of heat extracted versus compensatory heat generation through enhanced tissue metabolism and thermogenesis.”

The study went on to conclude as follows:

“Our findings indicate that cold-induced thermogenesis (cryothermogenesis) rather than adipose tissue disruption is likely to underlie the observed reductions in measures of obesity following local tissue cooling.”

An earlier study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2015 also discussed the effect of focused cold therapy (FCT) on forehead wrinkles. This is basically a general term for a local application of low temperatures. The results showed that the subjects who received the treatment had at least a 1-point improvement in forehead line severity at 30 days after treatment, and 70% had at least a 2-point improvement. The procedure is non-invasive, non-toxic and did not appear to cause any adverse side effects.

There are also cryoskin facials, which are said to widen blood vessels and improve blood flow. Additional benefits of this facial may include increasing oxygen supply, boosting collagen production, reducing the look of wrinkles and pores and improving the skin’s elasticity (which we naturally lose with age).

Some celebrities, like Kim Kardashian, have shared their positive experiences with a good cryoskin facial. Whether you like Kim K or not, she does appear to have nice skin! My only experience with cryoskin facials have been positive as well. My face feels firmer and appears more sculpted. I also have no wrinkles.

  • Surgical body contouring

Clearly, it is a relief to know that we have non-invasive ways to make our skin look younger.  But for those who prefer surgery, there is surgical body contouring.

Now this is more invasive and requires anesthesia. It is usually recommended for people who have a lot of excess skin from dramatic weight loss. So it’s not necessarily an anti-aging method, however, having excess skin, whether you are younger or older, can make you look older than you actually are. For a full explanation of what it entails, watch this video here.

The good news is the recovery is only around two weeks, and the results are life-long if you lead a healthy lifestyle. Read here on how to recover faster after surgery.

So there are many things you can do to look good while you enjoy your healthy life. But, as always, consult a competent healthcare professional before you try surgical interventions. It’s not all about looks, but the truth is: when we look good, we feel good.

And we want you feeling your best while you enjoy your healthy life!

(You can recieve cryoskin and cryotherapy services here). 

Enjoy your healthy life!

LeBron James May Heat Up the Courts, But When He Recovers He Chills Out. Seriously!

By: Joy Stephenson-Laws, pH Labs Founder

LeBron James is one of the fittest male athletes in the world. He is also regarded by most people as the best or greatest basketball player of all time.

He has played in the NBA for about 15 consecutive seasons and is only one of a few players to reach 8 NBA finals and win 3 NBA championships. In January of 2018, at the age of 33, he surpassed Kobe Bryant, another remarkable player, to become the youngest player to accumulate 30,000 career points.

To put the accomplishments of LeBron in context, one has to first understand what playing basketball does to the body. Basketball is an extremely physical sport that involves jumping, shoving, running and sudden stops. Muscle related injuries as well as ankle and knee swelling, pain, sprains and strains are extremely common. In other words, inflammation is pretty common. So to maintain his competitive edge, LeBron spends about $1.5M per year to maintain his body. Yes, 1.5M! His professional success, afterall, depends on his healthy and fit body.

Some people say professional sports are a “young man’s game.” And there are reports which say that the average professional athlete’s career is over by age 33. LeBron James is 34. So in the world of basketball, he’s no spring chicken!

And one way LeBron maintains his competitive edge and accelerates muscle recovery is through the regular use of whole-body cryotherapy (also called WBC).

You may be familiar with athletes taking ice baths to reduce swelling and tissue breakdown and increase circulation for a more speedy recovery after a grueling workout, practice or game. Usually these ice baths last anywhere from 6-8 minutes. So I guess you could say whole-body cryotherapy, where the participant stands in a chamber filled with dry ice in sub-zero temperatures (usually below negative 200 degrees fahrenheit), is taking the concept of the ice bath to a whole other level!

Reportedly, whole-body cryotherapy “speeds up injury recovery, relieves pain and soreness, reduces lactic acid, helps inflammation, decreases spasms, releases endorphins and improves range of motion (since it loosens muscles that were tight or sore, which is a common issue for NBA players as they go through a rigorous 82-game season).”

And there are recent scientific reports by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which conclude that “ the majority of evidence supports effectiveness of WBC in relieving symptomatology of the whole set of inflammatory conditions that could affect an athlete.”

There are also many tennis players players who use cryotherapy to aid in their recovery process.

“Professional tennis players experienced an intensified inflammatory response after the completed tournament season, which may lead to overreaching. Applying whole-body cryostimulation in conjunction with moderate-intensity training was more effective for the recovery process than the training itself,” according to one report.

One source reports that the "treatment is replacing the ice bath therapy that the players were using after a match. '(Rafael) Nadal, (Novak) Djokovic, Feliciano Lopez and (Grigor) Dimitrov [all very famous tennis players] are the ones who like the therapy the most. Nadal comes every day.”(Nadal is currently ranked number 2 in men’s single tennis).

There is also a 2018 study which concluded that whole-body cryotherapy (WBC) treatment after exercise increased energy intake in athletes after “3 min of WBC treatment after high-intensity exercise.”

“From a practical viewpoint, the use of WBC is recommended as a novel post-exercise treatment because it has been shown to attenuate exercise-induced muscle damage and promote recovery of muscle function. Therefore, increased energy intake following WBC treatment may assist physical recovery in addition to the anti-inflammatory effect of the WBC.” (emphasis added).

Almost all of the available studies about cryotherapy “agree on general benefits induced by the treatment including improved pain, mood, and quality of life (QoL),” reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

(Note too that there are other studies which highlight the effectiveness of cryotherapy with  athletes).

Reportedly, Stephen Curry, Karl-Anthony Towns, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Harrison Barnes, Vince Carter, Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russell, Tobias Harris, Stanley Johnson, Dahntay Jones and JaVale McGee (just to name a few) are also cryotherapy fans.

It’s been said that basketball player Shawn Marion sings at the top of his lungs while he’s in the cryo chamber, in order to distract himself from the extremely cold temperature!

And don’t forget The Dallas Mavericks. They partially attribute their 2011 NBA Championship win to cryotherapy despite having a roster of older players

The number of sessions are also important for WBC to be effective.  

“Twenty consecutive sessions should be a minimum for effectiveness evaluation; 30 sessions should be the optimum, because a complete hematological and immunological recovery after the initial response is possible,” according to the NIH.

Precautions with Cryotherapy?

It is important to watch out for frostbite, which reportedly happened to gold medal sprinter Justin Gatlin when he did cryotherapy. He made the mistake of going into the chamber with wet socks. Never go into the chamber with a sweaty body or wearing wet clothing.

If you are claustrophobic or have a pacemaker or any existing health issues such as a history of stroke, high blood pressure, seizures, infections or are pregnant, it is highly advised that you consult a competent healthcare professional before you try cryotherapy.

However, all these “undeniable risks for the users can be rendered negligible if all the procedures are conducted following precise rules under supervision of highly-skilled personnel. If these procedures are carefully followed, WBC is absolutely safe,” according to the NIH.

Clearly there is a significant amount of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of cryotherapy as a recovery tool for athletes. And let’s face it, if it works for one of the world’s fittest athlete, it might be a good idea to be aware of and educate yourself about this procedure and determine whether it is something that you should consider as part of your routine to be proactive about your health.

Enjoy your healthy life!

Cryotherapy : All Hype or All Right?

By: Joy Stephenson-Laws, pH Labs Founder

From cryo-facials to cryosurgery, to whole body cryotherapy (WBC) sessions for pain and injury, the world of cryogenics and cryotechnology is a quickly expanding trend that has both medical professionals and athletic elites frozen at attention.  

There are different applications of cryotechnology in the medical field. The most common is cryotherapy, and is used to decrease swelling throughout the entire body, especially in those who overexert themselves athletically. A close second to that is cryosurgical procedures. This delivers a targeted cryo-blast of liquid nitrogen to burn off precancerous or cancerous tissue.

Existing on the outer rim of all this frozen fanfare is cryonics. The idea of cryonics, or cryostasis, was first introduced in 1947. Cryonics is the practice or technique of deep-freezing the bodies of people who have just died, in the hope that scientific advancements may allow them to be revived in the future. While the idea of cryonics may have been presented in the late 40s, the technology and science wasn’t there to bring it to fruition until decades later.  

Today, cryonics and cryopreservation still evoke a sense of sci-fi skepticism. But there are those who remain loyal to the pursuit of using cryotechnology as a means to halt the aging process and skew the universal laws of existence.

Cryotherapy, in a more primitive sense, has been around for centuries. “The ancient Egyptians, and later Hippocrates, were always aware of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of cold. “

‘Cryo-’ means ‘cold’ and using a cold compress to treat injuries is still the go-to method for muscle tears, inflammation, surgical swelling, bumps and bruises. In fact, one of the first things people run for after a fall is an ice pack. Now take that same concept, but envelope the entire body in sub-zero temperatures (usually below negative 200 degrees farenheit) with the help of liquid nitrogen, and you’ve got whole body cryotherapy.

Whole body cryotherapy is usually performed in a special chamber - a cryogenic chamber.  This ensures that appropriate treatment conditions such as temperature and humidity are maintained. The patient must always have regular contact with the therapist while in the chamber. (In my case, I obtained my treatments from Chiltonic and my neck and head were completely  visible and above the chamber. As a result, I was able to have a continuous dialogue with the therapist). Some chambers may maintain visibility using glass doors and a speaker.

The treatment is reported to be extremely safe despite the very low temperatures. “The nitrogen being used to cool the single-person cryosauna is the same nitrogen that makes up the air we breathe (actually 78% of it). In order to protect the more temperature sensitive tissues such as hands and feet, patients wear dry socks, slippers, and gloves. . .During each session the body releases endorphins, which are hormones that make a person feel good and energetic.”

There is also no need to take a shower before or after treatment because the procedure is  completely dry and does not make the skin wet.

The theory behind cryotherapy is that freezing temperature experienced by your body sends signals to the brain which in turn triggers an emergency or survival mode. This causes the body to constrict the blood flow in the outer layers and send the blood supply to the innermost vital organs. While in this “emergency survival mode,”  all the body’s resources are activated. The body’s ability to self heal is enhanced because your blood being enriched with additional oxygen, hormones, enzymes and nutrients - all of which are needed to survive under the extreme emergency created by the cryotherapy. Once you leave the cold environment, the newly enriched and less-toxic blood is flushed back into the rest of the body.

Cryotherapy for Injury, Inflammation, Stress & Glam?

There is no dispute that cryotherapy is taking Hollywood and the rest of the country by storm. It has garnered a loyal fanbase as a futuristic way to wake up cells and reduce inflammation. As the list of pro athletes, actors and Instagram stars continue to join the cryo-bandwagon, the demand for all things ‘cryo’ grows.

According to Grand View Research, cryotherapy is expected to grow to a $5.6 billion global industry by 2024, up from $2.5 billion in 2016.

If you take the word of health and wellness spas that tout whole body cryotherapy as a way to tighten skin and minimize inflammation, it seems cryotherapy may have some more alluring takeaways such as the following:

  • Quick recovery from sports related injuries

  • Relief from chronic pain caused by ailments like rheumatoid arthritis

  • Improve and treat fibromyalgia

  • Improve overall performance in athletes

  • Weight loss

  • Improve stress, mood and reduce anxiety

Given these extraordinary claims and the snowballing of support, in 2016, the FDA pumped the brakes on this blizzardy craze. “If you decide to try WBC, know that the FDA has not cleared or approved any of these devices for medical treatment of any specific medical conditions.”

However, more recent studies and analysis since the 2016 FDA report provide some credible support for various health benefits of WBC.

And when you have a cryo-client list that includes Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Kate Moss, Jessica Alba and basketball stars Kobe and Lebron, it is hard to stop the avalanche of laymen wanting to reap the supposed benefits.

Just like the temperature, the prices are plummeting too. In most major cities, cryotherapy sessions can be purchased in bundles of 3 for a cool $99, or try it once for a mere $45. With prices this low, and promises that range from weight loss to pain relief, it is easy to see why cryotherapy is all the rage right now.

So Does Whole Body Cryotherapy Actually Work?

That’s the billion dollar question. Does WBC really deliver what it claims? In short, yes. While a few  reports have found no significant evidence that whole body cryotherapy is beneficial in the long term there have been studies conducted more recently that have shown positive results.

There is evidence that WBC decreases inflammation in professional athletes when they are recovering from sports related injuries. One study reported results as recently as 2018 and found that whole body cryotherapy may help decrease oxidative stress in male patients who had inflammatory arthritis of the spine and large joints.

WBC may also increase the levels of norepinephrine which in turn balances the levels of cortisol levels in the body. This may have the effect of improving your energy and mood.

Additional controlled studies need to be carried out, and further knowledge needs to be accumulated to confidently claim that WBC is beneficial for the general public. Right now, if all cryotherapy procedures are supervised and performed by a trained professional, the risks are minimal. If whole body cryotherapy is administered under strict guidelines, it is absolutely safe for the majority of people.

As far as celebrity cryo-facials go, the claim that they increase collagen production and tighten sagging skin, is yet another promise that currently falls short of credible evidence. While patients have said they noticed increased energy levels and a feeling of euphoria after a session, according to   Dr. Aaron Farberg, that is purely anecdotal.

WBC Words of Warning  

There are some legitimate medical warnings that potential cryo-junkies should look out for. Because sudden bursts of sub-zero temperatures haven’t been closely studied, it could have adverse effects on patients with pre-existing conditions such as:

  • Unchecked high blood pressure

  • Heart and lung disease

  • Poor circulation - exposure to extreme cold can make this much worse

  • Allergies that are triggered by cold

  • Patients who have had bouts of neuropathy

Finally, you should note that unlike many European countries where cryotherapy treatments are covered by medical insurance policies, in the United States, whole body cryotherapy is considered “a non-medical wellness modality, and health insurances do not offer reimbursements for the service.”

Enjoy your healthy life!