Ice, Ice Baby: The History of Cryotherapy

With all the buzz surrounding cryotherapy in the fitness and wellness world, you’d think that cryotherapy was a modern invention and that humans have only just discovered the benefits of chilly, cold immersion therapy.

But the truth is, the application of cold and ice first came to us thousands of years ago when the Egyptians treated inflammation and injuries with isolated cold application. In fact, papyrus scrolls have been found documenting the application of ice on a number of patients — which inspired us to take a good long look at where the origins of cold as a whole body wellness routine began.

Interested in taking a journey down memory lane with us? Scroll through our infographic below, or jump down to read the timeline with all the historical details.


history of cryotherapy2500 B.C.: Egyptians walked like Egyptians — and also used cold temperatures to treat diseases and other ailments.

400 B.C.: Hippocrates, also known as the father of medicine, was an ancient Greek physician documented the benefits of cold exposure when applied to swelling, pain, and bleeding.

Napoleonic era: Ice was widely used as a cooling mechanism for amputation and anesthesia.

1845: Englishman Dr. James Arnott, also known as the father of modern cryosurgery, observed the local cold application on numerous conditions — from headaches to tumors — and reported back the benefits. His solution mixed crushed salt with ice for temperatures of -18° to – 24° C and was used to freeze skin, breast, and cervical cancer tumors.

1851: Arnott launched a cold therapy apparatus at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 with the intent to apply to acne and neuralgia, but the device failed to get cold enough for his purpose.

1899: Campbell White was the first person to use liquid gas in medicine. His air, at a chilling -195° C, was used to treat a diverse number of skin ailments. Using a gas flask as a liquid air sprayer, it was the first handheld cryosurgery device available.

1907: William A. Pusey, a Chicago-based physician, preferred the use of carbon dioxide snow at a temperature of -78.5° C, to treat a number of maladies.

1950: Liquid nitrogen breaks onto the scene at a whopping -196° C and begins being used in clinical practice. Herman V. Allington was at the forefront of this practice, using cotton swabs dipped in liquid nitrogen to treat various skin diseases.

1978: Dr. Yamauchi coins the term “whole body cryotherapy” and freezes his patient’s skin for pain management of rheumatoid arthritis. After experiencing positive results, he and his partner began developing cryotherapy chambers.

1980s: Nordic and Eastern European countries adopt cryotherapy, with Polish scientists adapting Yamaguchi’s approach to decrease recovery time and increase athletic performance. In May 2000, the Olympic rehabilitation center opened in Spala, Poland, featuring cryotherapy machines for training and injury rehabilitation.

2014: Impact Cryotherapy launches their cryotherapy machine — the only one manufactured in the U.S. — and brings innovation to the recovery process.

2018: Impact Cryotherapy forms Cryoshift Cryotherapy to deliver their one-of-a-kind machine, along with other alternative therapies, with an all-new wellness franchise.

Interested in learning even more about Impact Cryotherapy cryosaunas and their fitness and wellness possibilities? Check out our blog or get information on how to get started with your own cryotherapy business today.