Effects of the whole-body cryotherapy on a total antioxidative status and activities of some antioxidative enzymes in blood of patients with multiple sclerosis-preliminary study as originally seen in The Journal Medical Investigation
I had been hearing some things about whole body cryotherapy being used with athletes and as a treatment at day spas. I was watching a little news blip about a professional football team that utilizes it daily after practice to decrease soreness, when their team MD popped up the screen saying that it had been shown as a good adjunct treatment for people with MS too. Naturally, my curiosity was piqued and I went searching. I found this short and sweet article from a Japanese journal.
In the article, they explain that MS is viewed as an inflammatory disease, but those nasty free radicals have also been pointed at as speeding up the demyelination process. (I’m beginning to wonder what horrible disease free radicals don’t play a role in!) The authors conclude then that treatment with antioxidants might decrease neurological symptoms in MS sufferers. They also state that cryotherapy as long been known to have neuroprotective properties (that’s news to me!) and so wanted to see what effect whole body cryotherapy had on total antioxidative status, which was calculated by tracking levels of several antioxidant enzymes in the blood.
They took 32 people with MS and 20 healthy subjects and checked their blood for those antioxidants and calculated their total antioxidative status baselines from those enzyme levels. Then they split the MS-ers into 2 groups– one with 10 daily rounds of whole body cryotherapy and exercise and one with exercise only. I really wish they would have said what the “exercise” entailed. In the discussion section, they mention another article’s conclusion that moderate exercise also has a neuroprotective effect, but the world will never know what “exercise” was prescribed here or how consistent the subjects were with said exercise. Because we all know the average Joe isn’t very consistent with exercise.
The first thing they found was that people with MS do have a lower total antioxidative status than healthy individuals. Then they also found that while the specific antioxidant enzymes they looked at may not have changed significantly, the total antioxidative status did in both groups. However, the total antioxidative status was greatly improved to levels slightly above healthy individuals in those receiving both exercise and whole body cryotherapy.
So my conclusion is that whole body cryotherapy may be an additional therapy you want to look into recommending for your MS patients. It’s a passive treatment that doesn’t hurt (some say it feels a little like pins and needles near the end of the session, but that it disappears upon completion), so people are more likely to be consistent with it. Which is going to be key. The neuroprotective effects are temporary. According to the folks at Kryolife (a company that provides whole body cryotherapy in NYC), you’ll need to start with 10 almost daily (1-2 days apart) sessions to kick start you. Then you can back off to 1-2 sessions/week to maintain. This treatment is pricey though at $90/session or there are monthly packages of 10 sessions at $550 or unlimited at $700 according to the Kyrolife website. And since it seems like a “boutique” treatment, I doubt an insurance will cover it. Although it never hurts to ask! All the devices I’ve seen are also standing units, so this treatment is limited to people that do not already have mobility restrictions, because I’m sure a walker would not be allowed in there. You would need to able to stand unassisted for 1.5-3 minutes at least, as that’s how long each treatment takes. But do keep this treatment in mind, as it may be just perfect for an MS patient you know!