By: Kyle Laws, Chiltonic General Manager

Lately, I have received many questions about my involvement in the cryotherapy business as well as the services we offer here in the San Diego area.  This is my attempt to respond to these questions. I will try to respond to all your questions on our blog page here at least monthly.

1. How did you become involved in the cryotherapy business?

I probably owe cryotherapy my life and I am not kidding.  To make a long story short, I was extremely overweight at one point in my life. I decided to get healthy and it required that I lose about 105 pounds.  The process required that I eat a balanced diet and do a lot of physical activity. There is really no shortcutting the process. Getting healthy by losing weight involves both nutrition and increased activity.  And with increased activity comes soreness and pain. Some days, it was difficult to get out of bed or be motivated to keep moving because of the soreness. So I had to find something to reduce the pain and discomfort from working out.  That is when I discovered cryotherapy and Chiltonic. I visited that place every day! The results were insane. I was able to recover from the soreness quickly and do the amount of work necessary to be more active and lose the weight.  But I also experienced other benefits like the endorphin rush they talk about after each session as well as a significant improvement in my depression. I became so impressed with the therapy that I decided to become one of the business owners and work there.  It is one of my missions in life to ensure that everyone is properly educated about cryotherapy because it helped to get me through one of the toughest and most unhealthy times of my life.

2. What is Chiltonic?

Chiltonic was the very first Cryotherapy center in the San Diego area. It was founded by local San Diego residents, Mark Meisenbach and Matthew Bergman in 2014. It offers various cryotherapy services including whole body cryotherapy, cryo massages, cryo facials as well as  cryo spot treatments.

Chiltonic currently hosts Proactive Health Labs, (pHLabs),  a public non-profit organisation, in its Encinitas location. This allows pHLabs to provide low cost health education and services to the San Diego area.

3. What is cryotherapy? 

The actual meaning of the word ‘cryotherapy’ is cold treatment.  Cryo means ‘cold’ and therapy means ‘treatment.’

4.     Is cryotherapy the same thing as using an ice pack to reduce swelling (like when I go to the dentist and get my wisdom tooth pulled)? 

Good question.  You will generally have swelling after you get dental implants or your wisdom tooth pulled.  Sometimes the swelling will last for days. Usually to minimize the swelling, the dentist will recommend that you go home and apply an ice pack to the cheek adjacent to the swollen area to reduce the swelling.  And yes, ice packs are considered a form of cold treatment or cryotherapy.

5.    I  am an athlete and I usually get into an ice bath to help me recover faster. Is that the type of cold therapy or cryotherapy that Chiltonic offers at its centers?     

Chiltonic does not use ice baths.  Chiltonic uses liquid nitrogen in a special sauna – sometimes referred to as a cryosauna or cryogenic chamber. These saunas ensure that the proper treatment conditions such as temperature conditions and humidity are maintained.. They are safe and painless because the cold temperatures caused by the liquid nitrogen only affects the outer layers of skin. The procedure is completely dry and does not make the skin wet like ice baths. This is what is referred to as Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC).

Ice baths are also not as comfortable as the cryosauna and the temperature of the ice bath does not get as cold.  And then there is the issue of convenience. Ice baths are usually prescribed for at least 10-15 minutes. Cryotherapy is usually only 2-3 minutes.

6.  Exactly how does whole body cryotherapy work? 

The theory behind whole body cryotherapy is that extremely cold (freezing) temperatures send signals to the brain which triggers an emergency or survival mode.  Some describe the process as the body being tricked into thinking that it is dying and goes into survival mode. When the body goes into survival mode, it protects the vital organs and functions like the heart. The blood flow is constricted or reduced to the outer layers like the skin in order to keep the innermost vital organs safe.  When the body is in this emergency survival mode, all the body’s resources are activated and its ability to self heal is enhanced because your blood is being enriched with additional nutrients, hormones, enzymes and oxygen which are needed to survive in emergencies. Once you leave the cold environment created by the cryotherapy and the body realizes it is not dying, the blood vessels open up (dilate) and the newly enriched blood is flushed back into the rest of the body.

7.  So  are there scientifically supported health benefits of cryotherapy?.

There are quite a few studies which support the health benefits of whole body cryotherapy.  Many of those studies are recent. Here are a few supported benefits:

  • Reduced oxidative stress in male patients with inflammatory arthritis of the large joints and spine

  • Balanced cortisol levels which may improve energy and mood

  • Reduction of depressive symptoms and improved functional status for multiple sclerosis patients

  • Increased energy levels

  • Improved pain

And there are other reported benefits which may not be entirely scientifically supported yet like  weight loss, cancer, dementia and anxiety. Some people experience a ‘high’ or endorphin boost after cryotherapy.

8.  How many cryotherapy sessions does Chiltonic recommend?

20 consecutive sessions is the minimum for effective evaluation according to the National Institutes of Health.  30 sessions should be optimal to allow optimal boost of the immune system.

Just remember that cryotherapy is most effective when it is used as a relatively continuous treatment. It will help even more if it is used in conjunction with some other program like physical therapy or sports rehabilitation. The number of sessions may also depend on how severe your condition is.

9. Can people get hurt in the cryo chamber or cryosauna?

When you are in the cryo chamber the entire body from the neck down is immersed in sub-zero temperatures – usually below negative 100 degrees Farenheit with the help of liquid nitrogen. Remember that extreme cold can cause frostbite which is an injury caused by freezing the skin as well as the tissues underneath the skin.

Frostbite is most common on the fingers and toes and will occur if proper protective devices are not worn in the cryo chamber.

At the risk of being technical, peripheral vasoconstriction is the body’s natural response to exposure to cold temperatures. It restricts the heat transfer from the vital or core organs to the environment through the skin. In other words, the body is trying to retain optimal heat and preserve the functioning of the critical/core organs like the heart and liver.  The skin is relatively less important to the body for survival at this point which is why the extremities are usually the first to get damaged or frostbitten.

To understand all this better – the opposite happens in warm temperatures.  Those same blood vessels which constrict in cold temperatures will usually widen or dilate in warmer temperatures and this increases the flow of blood to the skin surface.  This allows heat to leave the body in order to keep the body cooler. This is called vasodilation. So now you have learned two technical cryotherapy phrases – vasoconstriction and vasodilation.

So in order to protect the more temperature sensitive tissues such as hands and feet, all our clients here at Chiltonic wear dry socks, slippers, and gloves in the chamber.

You may have recently read the story about Raiders wide receiver, Anotonio Brown’s frostbite during a cryotherapy session. He did not protect his feet while undergoing the cryotherapy procedure and he experienced “extreme frostbite” in the chamber.

It is also important to wear dry socks and underwear in the chamber to prevent ice formation.

You should always be supervised when entering the machine and have your head out of the chamber.  Here at Chiltonic, we stress that the client have regular contact with the therapist while in the chamber to ensure they are tolerating the process safely.

10. Are there any health conditions which would affect your ability to do cryotherapy?

There are some legitimate medical warnings you should look out for. 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

  • Open wounds

  • Pregnancy

  • Blood vessel diseases

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of whole body cryotherapy. Next time we will discuss localized cryotherapy treatment which are usually used for acute injury scenarios like sprains, edema, post surgical pain etc. In the meantime, keep sending me your questions or visit us for an in-person demonstration.