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The Complete History of Cryotherapy: All The Facts

Introduction - Cryo 101

Cold therapy, or Cryotherapy, today, is the use of cold (or actually, a well below freezing) temperature, to treat a host of medical or other conditions such as pain, inflammation, skin conditions of multiple varieties, tumors, rheumatoid arthritis, athletic injuries and many other medical conditions and injuries.

Did You Know…

When it comes to its origins, however, there seems to be some confusion due to varying answers. The truth is, it was referenced several times in the oldest known medical and surgical text - known as the Edwin Smith papyrus - dating back to 3500 B.C., and found in Egypt.

If you are wondering about the history of Cryotherapy, you'll find all the facts here. There are many different names in history associated with Cryotherapy and its early origins and development that are worth mentioning, which we'll discuss.

In essence, the fact is, Cryotherapy or cold therapy has been used since the beginning of recorded medical history, by the Egyptians, in the most ancient medical text known to man - at least so far!

An Ancient Remedy

The Egyptians, apparently, used cold to treat injuries or any kind of trauma, pain and swelling. In fact, they are the earliest known civilization to reference this in written text. The papyrus found there dated back to 3500 years before Christ was said to have been born, thus long before we ever even developed our current calendar and began recording time in this way. Through these early references, we know that they even applied ice, way back then.

One of the other early ancient texts referencing the use of cold as a medical treatment was by the Greek physician Hippocrates and his groundbreaking work in medicine, who used cold to treat pain and inflammation back in 400 B.C. Moving forward in history, in 1050 A.D., there were apparently Anglo-Saxon monks who recorded using cold as a local anesthetic (yikes). Then, around the mid 1800s, Cryotherapy was found to have even more useful and therapeutic benefits.

Cryotherapy Pioneer

James Arnott

The 1800 - 1900 era represents a fantastical time of scientific and medical advancement. Dr. James Arnott was an English physician and pioneer of Cryotherapy, as he was instrumental in the history and development of its modern uses. He is also credited as the father of Cryosurgery today, which is the application of freezing cold temperature to destroy harmful or irregular tissue. In 1845, Arnott discovered that using cold treatment was quite the effective cryosurgical treatment for both neuralgia and migraine headaches. But he didn't stop there!

Arnott studied and recorded multiple other uses in his practice of using very cold or freezing temperatures for varying conditions, from 1819 to 1879. And at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, he showcased (and won a prize for) his use of extreme cold in a localized manner to destroy harmful tissue. He treated tumors from breast cancer, uterine cancers and different types of skin cancer, and he also advocated for Cryotherapy as a use for acne and other skin conditions.

Liquefied Gases

In 1877, 2 men, Cailletet of France and Pictet of Sweden, were experimenting with developing an expansion system for liquefying gases. James Dewar came along in 1892, inventing the first vacuum flask, facilitating the storage and handling of these liquefied gases and solving the remaining problem.

Next notable contributors to the development and history of modern Cryotherapy, are Campbell White and William Pusey. White was from New York, and the first doctor to use freezing cold medicinal liquid air by using different methods, such as a cotton swab, brass roller and even a spray, with positive results - aside from the awkward method of delivery - in 1889.

Carbon Dioxide

Pusey, in 1907, used solidified carbon dioxide, or what became known as carbon dioxide snow, and treated warts and different types of Lupus successfully. He preferred to use this gas, as it was used at the time for refrigeration and could be obtained much easier. Carbon dioxide was used primarily for cryogenic purposes, and was used widely by many physicians throughout the early 1900s.

Liquid Oxygen

In the 1920s, they began to use liquid oxygen clinically with good results. This was reported by 2 physicians, Irving and Turnacliff.

In dermatology, the freezing cold temperature of liquid oxygen is used for skin conditions such as lichen planus, warts and others. In 1948, 2 new physicians, Kile and Welsh, published a case study of over 1000 patients with various non cancerous conditions from hemangiomas to warts to Leukoplakia, with overall positive results. The problem was, the liquid oxygen was dangerous because it was combustible.

Liquid Nitrogen

Liquid nitrogen makes its entrance on the scene and becomes available shortly after World War II, setting the scene for the next medical advance. This form of Cryotherapy was put into clinical practice in 1950 by Dr. Ray Allington, who used a cotton swab dipped in liquid nitrogen to treat skin disorders and non neoplastic lesions. Liquid nitrogen became the preferred method for the freezing liquid air applications.

The Probe

It was Irving Cooper, a doctor, and Arnold Lee, an engineer, who invented the first cryosurgical probe, for the local applications used in cryosurgery, and the destruction of irregular tissue. This early cryosurgical device, amazingly, is the design from which all liquid nitrogen probe prototypes have been built, ever since.

WBC - Whole Body Cryotherapy

Winding down, we have a man named Setrag Zacarian. Zacarian invented a hand held, self pressurized device for these freezing cold applications in 1967, a huge development in dermatology.

This was preceded by a man named Douglas Torre, in 1965, who developed a liquid nitrogen spray that worked well. Yamaguchi, a renowned Japanese doctor specializing in helping rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, treated the disease with ice cold treatments in 1978, in a chamber, effectively inventing modern WBC - whole body Cryotherapy.

Modern Cryotherapy and NuWave Cryotherapy Skin and Light Spa

In the United States, over the past decade in particular, Cryotherapy in all its forms of ice cold therapy treatments have been increasing in popularity among millions of people who swear by its benefits:

  • Celebrities - love the overall youthful appearance and energy boost from WBC (whole body Cryotherapy) like we have here at NuWave Cryotherapy

  • Professional and amateur athletes alike - enjoy faster recovery and healing times, better stamina and endurance, ease of pain and swelling from any injury - using WBC treatments, available here at NuWave Cryotherapy

  • Health conscious individuals - enjoy overall mental improvement, improved energy, mood and cognitive clarity from multiple forms of Cryotherapy - visit our homepage for our list of extensive services here at NuWave

  • Those with weight issues who love Cryo T-Sculpting, also known as T-Shock or Cryoskin, and losing inches in just one treatment - offered here at NuWave Cryotherapy

  • Middle aged to older people who love the anti aging benefits of multiple cold treatments using different Cryotherapy techniques, especially Cryo facials (with safer electric Cryotherapy), offered right here at NuWave Cryotherapy Skin and Light Spa

  • Those with minor skin conditions or acne problems - love the clearer, fresher skin and rejuvenation from Cryo facials at NuWave

  • Anyone who wants to experience the myriad of benefits associated with this revolutionary treatment can make an appointment today at NuWave Cryotherapy Skin and Light Spa

We are dedicated to bringing our clients the very latest and best quality services available, at competitive rates. We hope you've enjoyed this complete historical review of Cryotherapy, and come visit our spa soon!



Here at Nuwave Cyrotherapy Spa we love to educate our guests and help them achieve their health & beauty goals! Have questions? Call us today at 719-596-4444. Also check out our post on cryotherapy for athletes.

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