Since 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. He noticed that when the skin was exposed to the fast decrease in temperature, there was an immediate release of anti inflamatories and 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 a more 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 shock treatment throughout the world including the U.S. It is commonly found in health practices and professional sports training and rehab facilities.
A recently completed long term human study showed people who immersed themselves in extreme cold water, (at 40°F for 20 seconds) or performed WBC (for 2 minutes at -166°F), three times a week for 12 weeks, averaged an increase in plasma norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter and hormone with key inflammation reducing properties, between 200 to 300%.