Cold therapy has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress as well as improving mood and general brain function. The brain releases norepinephrine during cold stress, which is shown to reduce depression and anxiety. Heart rate and heart rate variability are linked to reductions in stress as well, with reductions in heart rate and heart rate variability occurring with cold therapy. Mood and brain function improve through stimulation of the parasympathetic nervous system.
Physiological effects are likely mediated by stimulation of the Vagus nerve and modulation of hormones. This includes weight loss by stimulating growth of brown fat and lowering white fat. Brown fat, often referred to as “good” fat, increases energy burning and is responsible for body thermoregulation.
In part through stimulation of the Vagus nerve complex, cold therapy reduces inflammatory responses throughout the body and thus stimulates the body to heal as well as increasing positive immune response for fighting disease and infection. This beneficial response may be what reduces symptoms and inflammatory markers present in blood from autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.
- Pain Management
- Cold therapy reduces pain by desensitizing nerves and reducing swelling.
- Depression and Anxiety
- Mood and Brain Function
- Heart Rate Variability