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Cryotherapy: Freeze your way to better health?

NEW YORK –– If you think it’s cold outside now, how about enduring temperatures that are hundreds of degrees below zero — by choice?

As CBS New York reports, more and more people are venturing to into the “frozen zone” for health and beauty.

“Everyone’s looking for the fountain of youth. Everyone’s looking for that thing that’s going to make them feel better,” spa-goer Heidi Krupp told CBS2’s Kristine Johnson.

And what makes Krupp feel better is stepping into a chamber where the temperature is an unbelievable minus 141 degrees Celsius. That’s 228 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

The treatment is known as whole body cryotherapy, a new health trend popping up across the country. It is two to three intense minutes of exposure to freezing nitrogen gas.

The extreme temperatures shock the system and is said to stimulate the immune system. In addition to saying it makes you look younger, Krupp said it’s a rush that lasts for hours — even days.

“I am addicted,” she said.

“The temperatures are ranging from minus 184 degrees Fahrenheit — I know it sounds scary — to minus 264 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Joanna Fryben, CEO of the Kryolife cryotherapy center in New York City.

Fryben said the treatment was developed in Europe to treat pain related to fibromyalgia, arthritis and other ailments.

“Depression, anxiety, insomnia, and the patients who are treated with who body cryotherapy — they actually also reported an alleviation of these symptoms,” she said. However, there’s been little scientific research on the subject to back up any of those claims.

Extreme cold is known to be effective for pain relief. Sports teams like the Knicks are using it to help athletes with post-game recovery, Johnson reported.

So, Johnson herself gave it a try.

“Is it normal to be this nervous? My heart is really beating,” she said before stepping into the chamber.

Her first impression: it was cold. Really, really cold.

“I feel like there’s ice cubes all down my legs,” Johnson said.

Yet Johnson said the exhilaration was undeniable.

“If you need that burst of energy, you really get it — like right away,” she said.

But pain management specialist Dr. Houman Danesh warns there are precautions that must be taken.

“For example, if you have high blood pressure, if you have poor circulation in your fingers, if you have asthma, if you have blood clots anywhere, if you’re pregnant — it’s not something you should do,” Danesh said.

But Krupp is a true believer and says the health and even beauty benefits work for her.

“It helps me stay youthful, young, it also actually almost lets you lose a little bit of weight. It just is like a great lift for you. It’s amazing,” she said.

As for the costs, a single treatment is $90, and a series of treatments is less expensive, but not covered by insurance.

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