The molecule structure in our logo is the molecular structure of norepinephrine, and so it seems very fitting and appropriate to make the first Cryoworks blog post about Norepinephrine. I am sure a lot of the people who have already been into Cryoworks have heard me talk about Norepinephrine. “Norepinephrine this and norepinephrine that.” It essentially plays a key role in most of the main benefits derived from cryotherapy, and it’s the physiological start button, or first ingredient that starts the chain reaction of physiological responses that the body experiences from exposure to cold. It all starts with norepinephrine, and without it we wouldn’t be experiencing any of the awesome benefits that cryotherapy can provide, including reduce inflammation and pain, speed up metabolism, improve mental alertness, improve mood, and even possibly slowing down neurodegeneration, thus why I wanted to integrate it into our logo.
What is Norepinephrine? It’s both a neurotransmitter and a hormone from the catecholamine family. It’s function, or purpose is to trigger the body and brain for action when exposed to danger or stress. Or in other words, it triggers our fight or flight response. And that’s right, extreme cold is enough of a stress and potential danger to trigger this response. This fight or flight response increases the amount of oxygen to the brain and makes us think more clearly and gives us that mental sharpness that we experience from cryotherapy.
Norepinephrine decreases something called tumor necrosis factor alpha or TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha increases inflammation in the body. It has also been associated with just about every human disease ranging from type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, and even cancer. So a big boost of norepinephrine can significantly reduce TNF-alpha which in turn reduces inflammation in the body and helps prevent disease.
There is a protein in our body called UCP1 which actually breaks the bond of mitochondria in our body that is actually storing energy that comes from the food we eat. When the bond of mitochondria gets broken, it then tries to reform the bond and in doing so, pulls energy from stored fat. This process is called fat oxidation and it produces heat as a byproduct. Norepinephrine actually increases UCP1 which increases our metabolism. So by increasing the UCP1, our bodies then can produce more mitochondria in adipose fat tissue. This is were BAT (brown adipose-fat tissue) comes from. The fat oxidation process actually browns the white fat tissue which isn’t as metabolically active. To simplify what all this means, we can actually increase our brown adipose fat tissue, which causes us to burn more fat in our body. Again, this is all happening from the increase of norepinephrine produced by the exposure to extreme cold.
So how much norepinephrine are we generating during a cryotherapy session? A study was done that compared a group of people who immersed themselves in cold water at 40ºF for 20 seconds to a group who did whole body cryotherapy for two minutes at -166ºF three times a week for 12 weeks. The study found that in both groups plasma norepinephrine increased 200-300%. In addition to that, the amount of norepinephrine release didn’t ever reduce from continued sessions. So each session was providing the same amount of norepinephrine each time.
Norepinephrine is the first link in a chain of reactions that provide all the amazing benefits of cryotherapy. Some of those benefits generate even more additional “side affect benefits”, but it’s all originally happening from the initial dramatic release of norepinephrine. Without that signifcant production of norepinephrine we wouldn’t be able to experience the benifits of reduced inflammation, reduced pain, increased mental alertness, improved mood, increased metabolism, or even the prevention of much more serious diseases associeted with inflammation.