FDA warns public about 'cool trend' whole body cryotherapy

Whole body cryotherapy is a growing trend amongst those brave enough to tackle the coldest (briefly) livable temperatures — if you've ever taken an ice bath, gone on a polar bear swim, or spent a few minutes running around in an ice chamber, you'll probably be familiar with the general idea. Whole body cryotherapy is popping up at spas and wellness centers across the nation promising to help treat a whole host of ailments, including serious conditions like MS and Alzheimer's disease. Finally, the FDA has stepped in with a word of caution.

Cryotherapy, if you're not familiar, is presented as a type of therapeutic activity in which someone super cools a region of their body. In the case of whole body cryotherapy, the principle is applied to the entire body — those who undergo it get into a chamber of some sort with temperatures -100F or colder. The 'treatment' usually lasts for two to four minutes.

While claims about healing benefits have not been confirmed (and in certain cases, are highly dubious), the FDA says there is a real risk to those who undergo whole body cryotherapy treatment, including possible asphyxiation, damage to the eyes, burns from the cold, and frostbite.

The FDA says that it has not approved cryotherapy as a treatment for anything medical related, and so users should exercise caution when approaching the therapy as a way to heal their ailments. For everyone else, though, cryotherapy chambers can be an adventurous oddity; if you're thinking about trying one out just for the experience, be sure to note the potential hazards before doing so.