Does hypersleep ring a bell? All those movie astronauts who are quiescently frozen so that they can survive long journeys through space?
Although the whole-body cryotherapy chamber at iCRYO does resemble a hypersleep chamber, it is not the same kind of chamber. It is not designed to prepare you for the journey to Jabba’s palace. It is designed to help you with a host of health complaints, swelling and inflammation being the two most common.
There are people who believe that it also helps with weight loss, arthritis, stress, and depression.
The FDA does not currently support any of these claims.
When I drove up to iCRYO to give whole-body cryotherapy a try, what I saw were a lot of giant photos of Indiana athletes.
I am not an Indiana athlete. I am not an athlete in any state, territory, realm, or dimension.
Athletes use whole-body cryotherapy to recover from athleticism. At best, I was a skeptic who wanted to use whole-body cryotherapy to recover from skepticism.
I had done some research beforehand and here was my understanding of the whole-body cryotherapy process and result: The subject strips down to his underwear and dons shorts, mittens, socks, and earmuffs.
The subject exposes most of his body so that his body can be exposed to temperatures that would be considered a bit nippy on the surface of Mars.
He enters the chamber, and the chamber is flooded with vaporized liquid nitrogen.The subject’s brain, thinking some calamity has befallen the subject, shifts the body into survival mode. Blood is sent to the core where it becomes the best blood it can be.
After the three-minute session, the fortified blood goes to where it can do the most good.
That’s a simplified explanation, but I am a simple man.
I read an article that said the brain is essentially tricked into responding in this way. This alarmed me a little because every time I had ever tried to trick my brain before, it had sought revenge.
As I was filling out the necessary paperwork (and liability waivers) at iCRYO’s front desk, I felt a little guilty about not having some injury I needed to assuage.
I thought about rubbing my shoulder and telling the desk clerk, “I just want to be able to throw a football again.”
But I hadn’t been able to throw a football before. My shoulder wasn’t the problem. Cryotherapy isn’t the solution.
Stepping into the cold
My first minute inside the chamber was a true test of my resolve. Now, I am no wimp where cold is concerned. I am a native Buffalonian who tends to take the garbage out in shorts in the dead of winter.
But I knew it was going to get at least 50 degrees cooler than the coolest recorded temperature in Antarctica. And Antarctician scientists are smart enough not to go outside semi-nude. They’d rather fight a shape-shifting alien than do that.
I am not nearly that smart. Even though my brain was telling me to get out of there, I forced myself to stand there for the requisite three minutes.
The song I had picked as the soundtrack for my session, The Commodores’ “Brick House,” was somewhat reassuring. But the music I heard in my head at times was not: Jerry Goldsmith’s “Ave Satani” from The Omen.
Afterward, an iCRYO employee told me the temperature in the chamber had sunk to 178 degrees below zero and the skin temperature on my leg had gone from 88 degrees to 48 degrees.
Some longtime whole-body cryotherapy customers endure a temp of 300 below zero.
How did I feel afterward?
But I wondered if this is same sort of reaction that people who crave extreme experiences (and spell them “Xtreme Xperiences”) have. You feel good because you fought your fear and lived to tell the tale.
Is there a placebo effect involved here? Maybe. But I am OK with that. It has been especially difficult in 2020 to achieve the placebo effect.
Until scientists devise a drug that can trigger the placebo effect, we will have to find other means.
I will visit iCRYO again.