Since ancient Egyptians were first recorded to have used ice and snow to treat pain, injuries, and reduce inflammation as far back as 2500BC, cold exposure treatment, or Cryotherapy has been used for a variety of wellness purposes
During the 1970's in Japan, Dr. Yamuchi started what is now known as Whole Body Cryotherapy (WBC), for rheumatoid arthritis patients, noticing that when the skin was exposed to the fast decrease of temperature, there was an immediate release of endorphins, lessening the sensitivity to the pain felt during the movement of their joints. Over the next 10 years, his clinic treated over 2000 patients with rheumatic disease, reporting 80% returned to normal life with less pain.
In 1979 the method of WBC was presented by Dr. Yamuchi at the Rheumatology Congress in Germany and the use WBC chambers quickly spread. WBC is now an accepted cold exposure treatment all the world including the U.S. It is commonly found in health practices and used by professional sports training and rehab facilities.
A recently completed long term human study compared people that immersed themselves in extreme cold water, at 40°F for 20 seconds, to those that did WBC for 2 minutes at -166°F, three times a week for 12 weeks. It was found that in both cases, plasma norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter and hormone with key inflammation reducing properties, increased 200 to 300%.