Aging. It’s kind of a dirty word. If we are lucky, we get to grow older. And as many older people will tell you— it’s a heck of a lot better than the alternative.
But it’s still a pretty grisly process. Every biological process slows down—we are more susceptible to infection, our bones become brittle, we get shorter, fatter, our thought processes slow down. Cosmetically, our skin wrinkles, loosens, pigments and pales. Many of these changes are hormonally linked—for women, we stop producing estrogen. It cuts off abruptly and precipitously and that’s that. For men (and women), serum testosterone and IGF-1 growth hormone levels decline leading to a drop in energy, muscle mass and yes….sex drive.
Both women and men are rightfully concerned with the cosmetic and sexual symptoms of aging. But these hormonal changes related to aging also have serious implications for lifespan. Research indicates that aging involves an imbalance between catabolic hormones like cortisol and thyroid hormones (which remain stable during the aging process) and the anabolic hormones (testosterone, IGF-1 and DHEAS) that decline with age. Research now shows that these hormonal ratios actually affect lifespan: deficiencies in multiple anabolic hormones (testosterone, IGF-1 and DHEAS) have been shown to predict health status and longevity in older persons. Basically—lower testosterone, IGF-1 and DHEAS levels may be predictive of shorter lifespan.
Effective hormonal interventions do exist for female hormones such as estrogen. Testosterone is a little more tricky because supplementation actually suppresses the body’s natural production. That’s right— testosterone supplementation causes your body to stop producing it. This is not what we wanted at all!! We want to retain our natural ability to produce testosterone for as long as possible.
Faced with this quandary, what can aging men and women do to maintain their hormonal levels? The best scenario, the holy grail, for halting and reversing the symptoms of aging is to stimulate your body’s own anabolic hormonal production….but how do you do that?
Here is where scientists are looking toward a biological process called hormesis. Hormesis refers to an adaptive response in our bodies to stressors. The idea is that exposure to a mild stressor creates resistance to subsequent, otherwise harmful conditions of increased stress. A good example of hormesis is vaccinations: expose the body to a minute amount of an infectious substance and the immune system upregulates, becomes stronger and fights it off handily. In the face of future exposures to this pathogen (and potentially many others), your immune system is unfazed—you are safe and sound because your immune system has been trained to fend it off. Scientists now recognize the power of this upregulation in response to mild stressors as also playing a role in longevity and the aging process: longevity is now associated with greater resistance to a range of stressors.
So what does this mean in terms of aging? It means that we should be perpetually mildly stressing ourselves. Yes. That’s right. We should be exposing our bodies (and minds) to short-term, mild stressors like exercise, sudoku, fasting and temperature change.. Thermal stress induces the beneficial stress-response (i.e. upregulation of all of our biological systems) in the form of hormesis. Thermal stress in the form of cryotherapy is especially beneficial because it is conducted in a very controlled, safe environment—it is time limited to 3 minutes and occurs in the absence of moisture so there is no risk of frost-bite. If you are looking to provoke hormesis, cryotherapy is an incredibly safe, effective and efficient form.
So what are the benefits of this brief, controlled exposure to extreme cold that upregulates all of our biological processes? It’s actually a 3-pronged equation: hormesis causes stress resistance; stress resistance increases life span; therefore hormesis increases life span. Viola!! Cryotherapy increases life span!!
Ok ok…so we are pretty excited: cryotherapy, according to the theory of hormesis, is going to increase our lifespan. This is great news!! But what about the quality of that lifespan? Can cryotherapy also make us healthier and happier during our longer lives? Yes indeedy….
The application of low-dose stimulation in the form of cold temperature (cryotherapy) creates an adaptive response biologically—and more specifically, it’s been shown to upregulate the endocrine/hormonal system. What’s that mean? It means that cryotherapy stimulates the natural production of our anabolic hormones such as testosterone, IGF-1 and DHEAS. And that my friends…is the holy grail of aging. If you can keep your anabolic hormone levels constant throughout your lifespan you will enjoy aging a whole lot more.
Maintaining these hormonal levels (and ratios with hormones such as cortisol and thyroid) will not only make you live longer and more beautifully—they will protect you from metabolic diseases such as diabetes, hormonal dysregulation and other age-related pathologies. Not only that—cryotherapy has been shown to increase anti-oxidant levels which are neuroprotective—so not only will you live longer and look better—your brain will continue to work, your memory and focus will be razor sharp and you will retain your charming sense of humor! (insert smiley emoji here).
For all of the technical mumbo jumbo that has been spewed forth, I think the concepts are pretty straightforward. Aging involves the down-regulation of all of our biological processes, including a down-tick in our anabolic hormones. True anti-aging efforts involves pumping up those hormones endogenously (in our own bodies)—not simply supplementing them. Cryotherapy acts as a mild (but safe) stressor which upregulates all of our biological systems, including our hormones. Our lifespans will be longer and our quality of life will be better. Sounds good to me!
ChillRx Cryotherapy in Westfield, New Jersey exists to help men and women age gracefully and beautifully. Our sole mission is to make you healthier and happier, from the inside out! Please visit our website for more information on our treatment programs for aging, weight loss and chronic pain reduction. We are also franchised! Join the ChillRx Cryotherapy brand and bring health, fitness and beauty to your community!
- J Cell Commun Signal. 2014 Dec;8(4):369-84. doi: 10.1007/s12079-014-0253-7. Epub 2014 Nov 9. Sex hormonal regulation and hormesis in aging and longevity: role of vitagenes. Calabrese V1, Scapagnini G, Davinelli S, Koverech G, Koverech A, De Pasquale C, Salinaro AT, Scuto M, Calabrese EJ, Genazzani AR.
- J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2014 Apr-Jun;28(2):291-300. Salivary steroid hormone response to whole-body cryotherapy in elite rugby players. Grasso D1, Lanteri P1, Di Bernardo C1, Mauri C2, Porcelli S3, Colombini A1, Zani V4, Bonomi FG4, Melegati G2, Banfi G1, Lombardi G1.