For the Love of Cold… – My First Cryogenic Experiment

For the Love of Cold... - My First Cryogenic Experiment

Intro

About a week ago I was listening to a podcast of Tim Ferriss with Tony Robbins (direct link). In their discussion, Tony talked about his habits and at a certain point he mentioned cryotherapy.

That triggered an image into my mind from the movie The Demolition Man where Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes were frozen for 36 years in a cryo-penitentiary. Then, they were restored to life in the year 2032 where the action of the movie takes place.

Long story short, the cryotherapy used by Tony refers to going inside a cabin (like a tanning booth) and being exposed to liquid nitrogen which lowers the temperature inside to as low as -180 °C and sometimes even lower.

The total maximum exposure time for 1 session of cryotherapy is 3 minutes. More can and may lead to skin damage and frost bites of the extremities.

For the love of cold…

We know that the cryosauna reduces outer skin temp. to below 0°C values in less than a minute (core temperature remains mostly unchanged). The cryosauna mixes fresh air with vapors of liquid nitrogen to reach the low temperatures inside the cabin.

This, in turn, activates cold receptors in the skin which signal the hypothalamus and other regions inside the brain and switches-on anti-inflammatory and repair processes throughout the entire body.

Many athletes use cold-therapy for recovery after hard training sessions while others use it for faster recovery from injury. One thing to note is that cryosauna is not cheap and not widely available. A 3 minutes session in many U.S. facilities is $80-$100. One of the privileges of living in Romania is that I can get the same session for $20-$25.

Cryotherapy is known for, at least, 2-3 decades, but cryosaunas have only started emerging at the beginning of the 21st century. That’s probably why the higher price that’s being requested to use them.

Here’s an excerpt from an insightful paper on cryotherapy:

In the case of ill patients, cryotherapy is used in the following diseases:

– inflammatory musculoskeletal disease
– degenerative diseases and secondary degenerative changes in peripheral joints and the
spine
– joint disease of metabolic origin such as gout
– mixed connective tissue disease
– rheumatic and soft tissue disorders (polymyositis and dermatomyositis)
– periarticular, tendon and joint capsule inflammation
– some skin diseases involving joints: psoriatic arthritis
– autoimmune diseases
– post-traumatic changes or overload of joints and soft tissues
– chronic inflammation of the cervical spine
– discopathies
– osteoporosis
– muscle overload
– neurological disorders (spastic paresis, multiple sclerosis, radicular neuralgia)
– depression syndromes, vegetative neurosis

And from the same paper, the potential benefits of cryotherapy:

-overall improvement in well-being (relaxation, physical relaxation)
-analgesic effect
-neuromuscular effect (increase of muscle strength)
-profuse flow of blood
-increased systemic immunity
-increase in serum beta endorphins, norepinephrine, adrenaline, testosterone (especially
in men)
-antioxidant effect of cryostimulation

Hearing Tony talking very passionately about it made me become more interested, especially because I use Cold Thermogenesis (thanks Jack) as one of the interventions for a better-self. I will talk about the benefits and my research on CT in upcoming blogs and in a possible upcoming CT protocol. I also talk about my first cryogenic experiment in T-(Rx) – The Testosterone Protocol.

But until these are released, check Dr Jack Kruse’s series of CT.

I did a quick google search and I found out that there are ~6 centers for cryotherapy in Romania (my country) and one of them was just a couple of blocks away from me.

“I must be hell of a lucky bastard!”, I thought.

Flash-forward 2 days later and I was negotiating my first exposure time into the cryosauna (for privacy purposes I colored the operator’s face – Art is not my strong point).

For the Love of Cold... - My First Cryogenic Experiment - Negotiation

The protocol says that the first exposure has to gradually lower the temperature inside the booth and stop at -100°C. It should last for no more than 100 seconds.

Since I use CT for quite a while now and since I seem to have decent negotiation skills, I was able to stay in the cryosauna for 140 seconds at -130°C (on my own risk). That’s like jumping straight into session #2.

Next time I will stay at -180°C for 3 minutes. It’s gonna be crazy!

Before going into the cabin, they gave me insulated lady footwear 🙂

For the Love of Cold... - My First Cryogenic Experiment - Lady Footwear

I was instructed to keep my hands close together at chest level (like when you’re praying). Some people hold them outside the booth. When inside the cabin, I was told to constantly move (turn-around) and to try and hold my head high when I breathe.

For the Love of Cold... - My First Cryogenic Experiment - Praying

The procedure is not toxic because you know that air on earth usually contains at least 78% nitrogen. Besides, you can say “stop” at any time and the operator will shut-down the procedure. You can also get out of the cabin whenever you want because the cabin door is not sealed or locked in any way.

My thoughts and impressions

The lowest temperature ever recorded on earth was -94.7°C. My first cryotherapy session was at -130°C.

So, yes! It was an amazing and very unique experience.

My 15+ minutes ice baths cannot be compared with cryotherapy because they seem to elicit a different type of cold. The cold in the cryo-cabin is unimaginable. It appears to be more bearable in the beginning because it’s dryer. In terms of shivering thermogenesis, it only requires less than one minute to make you start shivering.

At about the same time the shivering emerges, your brain signals the release of catecholamines (adrenaline and noradrenaline) as well as other neuro-peptides which give you the “happy” feeling. I get the same effect in the winter when I do extremely cold 10-minute showers (out of the sudden I start laughing under the unbearable ice cold water).

I know that cold exposure activates BAT (brown adipose tissue, which is present in humans too). This opens mitochondrial proton channels, protons enter the mitochondria and inhibit ATP synthesis. It basically uncouples (UCP1) the synthesis of ATP for energy production and shifts the metabolism to heat production, which is considered to yield fewer ROS (reactive oxygen species).

There are bold claims from companies selling cryo-cabin sessions which say that a 3 minute session will trigger the burn of extra 1,000 kcals. Most of them do not know the science behind it. But, after-all, they have to sell their stuff.

I personally believe it can increase the metabolic rate tremendously, especially if it involves shivering thermogenesis post session. I did not experience a lot of shivering thermogenesis afterwards. In fact, I immersed into an ice bath three hours after the cryo session 🙂

I’m really looking forward to the three minute session at -180°C.

No wonder they call the device “space cabin” (space background temperature is approx. -270°C or -455°F).

For the Love of Cold... - My First Cryogenic Experiment - Space Cabin

I suspect the next session will have a much stronger impact on me because when you are exposed to cold in the cabin every second seems to last like a decade.

Concluding thoughts…

I know that most people hate anything that has the word “cold” in it. It’s probably why most of us fail to step outside our comfort zones (more on it here, here, here, and here). Cold exposure is quite uncomfortable. I personally see its benefits and I’ve learned to love cold.

Tell me, what would personally make you step inside one of these space cabins at -100°C?

References

1. Leppäluoto, J., Pääkkönen, T., Korhonen, I., & Hassi, J. (2005). Pituitary and autonomic responses to cold exposures in man. Acta physiologica scandinavica, 184(4), 255-264.

2.  Jack Kruse – Epi-Paleo R(x) – The Prescription for Disease Reversal and Optimal Health

3. Janský, L. (1973). Non‐shivering thermogenesis and its thermoregulatory significance. Biological Reviews, 48(1), 85-132.

4. Lubkowska, A. (2012). Cryotherapy: Physiological Considerations and Applications to Physical Therapy. Physical Therapy Perspectives in the 21st Century–Challenges and Possibilities. Dr. Josette Bettany-Saltikov (Ed).

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Comments

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19 Responses to For the Love of Cold… – My First Cryogenic Experiment

  1. Thanks for sharing this Chris, very interesting stuff. I wasn’t aware that the practise of cryogenics/cryotherapy…. was actually so accessible.

    • Chris Chris says:

      Hey Brian, I would not say it’s accessible. I mean they are only ~6 centers here…I was lucky enough to have one nearby…But I assume it will become more accessible as time passes…
      Though, I’m not sure…people seem to hate cold exposure, so it may not be the best business to invest in 🙂

  2. Jan Koch says:

    Yes, I definitely would step into a space cabin. I’d be scared to death, but I would 😀

    I learned to pay close attention to your advice Chris, because they yielded in massive results for me in the past. CT is becoming a part of my showering routines slowly. My body tells me that he doesn’t like the cold water, but my head is getting stronger in overruling my body 😉

    I’m really looking forward to your Testosterone Protocol!

    Best,
    Jan

    • Chris Chris says:

      They are kind of safe Jan…I guess it’s more dangerous to cross the street than to enter into one of these babies…TRX is getting closer to the deadline…

      It’s gonna be in the review and editing process next week….pain in the ass, but I have to do my best to deliver as much value as possible!

  3. Brian says:

    I’d step into the cold for the woman of my dreams!

  4. Cara says:

    I was lucky enough to live by one of the centers in the us. I was doing Cryo therapy for about a year and worked my way up to 5 minutes sessions. It was a great experience, but I couldn’t afford it anymore. I still need more work, I have a lot of inflammation to deal with…

  5. D/C Russ says:

    Awesome man, thanks for sharing. Seems safe, I’d definitely give it a try.

    Wonder what would happen if you did it 3-4 times daily for a month.

    You’d either be dead or a superhero haha.

    Cheers m8

  6. Val says:

    Ha, I had written this off due to expense when I first read about it on Ray Cruse’s website, but a Groupon special (3 Tx’s for $89) just popped up.
    I may have to give it a try – anything to give my sluggish metabolism a boost!

    • Chris Chris says:

      Val, you could also take the cheaper way and do some longer ice baths, but that’s far more uncomfortable (until you get used to it) than a 3 minute criosauna. I still do ice-bath in the winter time…

  7. sarah says:

    Hey, how would you say cryo compares to ice baths for health/fat loss? Thanks 🙂

    • Chris Chris says:

      Sarah,the effects are probably the same. The cryo thing is expensive and not widely available. Plus, nothing can make you feel more miserable than shivering for hours ater a long ice bath (except an ice bath + wind exposure) and at the same time elicit so powerful effects on the human body. Hope this helps.

  8. Sebastian says:

    Hi there, how are you?

    Any link to that page with the cryo centres in Romania? Searched for it but couldn’t find something that specifically says ‘we have criotherapy here, price X’, just a hospital that only uses it for kidney damage.

    Cheers,
    Sebastian

    p.s. Salutari din Cluj 🙂

  9. Della says:

    My first whole body cryotherapy session could be described as a scene from a science fiction. 😀

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