Whole body cryotherapy (fibromyalgia, arthritis, MS …): FDA opinion

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There is no evidence that whole-body cryotherapy is effective for some health conditions, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported in June 2016. And this “treatment” carries risks.

On the basis of claims made in many promotions for cryotherapy spas, consumers may erroneously believe that the FDA has authorized or approved these devices as safe and effective for treating multiple medical conditions, says Aron Yustein, a physician at the FDA. ”  That’s not the case.  ”

”  No whole body cryotherapy device has been approved or approved by the FDA to support these claims.  ”

”  Despite this, the results of a quick search on the Internet show a host of sites touting the benefits of whole body cryotherapy for a number of serious diseases and conditions,  including:

  • asthma
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • anxiety
  • chronic pain
  • the Depression
  • fibromyalgia
  • insomnia
  • migraines
  • multiple sclerosis
  • osteoarthritis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • weight loss

”  Those who sell these devices and the facilities that exploit them can also claim that whole-body cryotherapy can improve blood circulation, speed up metabolism, improve recovery and pain after athletes’ workouts, and relieve pain.” articular and corporal.  ”

”  Given the growing consumer interest in whole body cryotherapy, the FDA has informally reviewed the available medical literature on this subject,  ” Yustein says. ”  We found very little information about the safety or effectiveness in treating the conditions for which it is promoted.  ”

What is whole body cryotherapy?

Cryotherapy may include the use of products such as ice packs on a localized part of the body, such as the lower back. Complete body cryotherapy involves exposing the body to vapors that reach ultra-low temperatures ranging from -200 to -300 degrees Fahrenheit (-128 C to -184 C). People are locked in relatively confined spaces, usually for 2 to 4 minutes, in one of two ways:

  • A person stands alone in an individual sized cylinder that is open at the top. The torso and legs are enclosed in the apparatus and exposed to cold temperatures while the head remains above the chamber at room temperature.
  • Several people sit or stand in a totally closed room for two to four minutes. The whole body, including the head, is exposed to freezing temperatures generated by liquid nitrogen. Some cryotherapy devices work by cooling the air in a circuit.

What happens physiologically? What are the effects of such temperatures on blood pressure, heart rate and metabolism?

”  We just do not know  ,” says FDA scientist Anna Ghambaryan. At present, there is not enough public information to help us answer these questions.

However, even if the healing benefits of cryotherapy remain unconfirmed, the potential risks are obvious, she notes.

Potential hazards include asphyxiation, especially when liquid nitrogen is used for cooling, she says. The addition of nitrogen vapors decreases the amount of oxygen present in the room and can lead to hypoxia, or oxygen deficiency, which could lead to unconsciousness. In addition, users are at risk for frostbite, burns and eye injuries caused by extreme temperatures.

It should be noted that studies of whole-body cryotherapy often have the shortcoming of not having a comparison group receiving placebo treatment as part of a double-blind protocol. They are also conducted with a small number of participants, which gives them a low statistical power (unrepresentative results). Finally, they are also often at high risk of conflict-of-interest bias. Caution


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