Cryotherapy Is an Extremely Cold Waste of Time, FDA Says

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Photo: Jacob Ammentorp Lund

Cryotherapy is a spa treatment that involves paying good money to stand in a nitrogen-emitting cauldron for three minutes, in hopes that the subzero temperatures will reduce inflammation, smooth wrinkles, boost immunity, and burn hundreds of calories.

Well, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration isn’t buying it: It explains in a new consumer update that whole-body cryotherapy, or WBC, hasn’t been proven to do any of these things.

The update says that, “despite claims by many spas and wellness centers to the contrary, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not have evidence that WBC effectively treats diseases or conditions like Alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, stress, anxiety, or chronic pain.” The FDA is concerned that people will believe that it has approved cryotherapy as safe and effective for these conditions, when it’s done no such thing.

Not only are the alleged benefits unproven, but there are associated risks, like getting frostbite, passing out, or worse.

In October, a 24-year-old woman was found dead in a cryotherapy chamber at a medical spa she managed. She may have lost consciousness after reaching for her dropped cell phone. Her death prompted the state of Nevada to issue safety recommendations for using and operating the tanks, but they don’t amount to law.