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Cryotherapy as a Treatment for Loss of Smell From Covid

Cryotherapy as a Treatment for Loss of Smell From Covid
Recent research suggests the extreme cold treatment could help restore sense of smell after Covid-19. (Credit: iStock)

With the health benefits of cryotherapy increasingly being investigated, recent research now suggests the extreme cold treatment could help restore sense of smell after Covid-19.

Bastien Bouchet, Founder of France-based cryotherapy center company Cryotera, has co-authored a recent study with Fabien Legrand, Lecturer in Psychology, University of Reims. He explained:

“We came across this by complete chance. Two of our clients, who happened to have had Covid, were undertaking whole body cryotherapy sessions for pain relief and realized that after two sessions each, they had partially regained their sense of smell.”

Reducing Inflammation

Bouchet and Legrand decided to carry out a formal study into the impact of cryotherapy on persistent anosmia or hyposmia (partial or total loss of smell). Since the start of the pandemic, many Covid-19 sufferers, especially those who contracted the Delta variant of the virus, have reported loss of both smell and taste. And for some people, this has never fully returned. Bouchet said:

“The 45 participants had all had Covid and were still experiencing a partial or total loss of smell for anything from one month to up to one and a half years afterwards. There was a control group of 15 people, who were given no treatment and then, of the 30 others, 15 people performed one cryotherapy session per day for two days in a row, while 15 others had one session per day for five days in a row. All sessions took place for three minutes, within a whole body cryotherapy machine.”

"Perhaps it is the anti-inflammatory effect of cryotherapy that would make it easier to regain the sense of smell." (Credit: Cryotera)
“Perhaps it is the anti-inflammatory effect of cryotherapy that would make it easier to regain the sense of smell.” (Credit: Cryotera)


Of the 30 people who undertook the cryotherapy sessions, 28 saw a 200% improvement in their sense of smell score, while just two experienced no effect. To date, the participants who did regain some of their sense of smell have retained it at that level. Bouchet explained:

“We believe Covid affects the sensory neurons and creates inflammation of the olfactory nervous system [the sensory system for smelling] and that whole-body cryotherapy treatments release anti-inflammatory hormones. So perhaps it is the anti-inflammatory effect of cryotherapy that would make it easier to regain the sense of smell.”

Other Long-Covid Benefits

Ian Saunders, CEO of UK-based CryoAction, said the research findings have opened up a potential avenue for exploration into whole body cryotherapy as a method of treatment for other long-term effects of the disease. He observed:

“As we all know, the effects of Long-Covid can be debilitating, with very little known about how to manage the symptoms. Perhaps cryotherapy is something that could be used to treat symptoms other than just the loss of sense of smell. And what is also important to note is the extremely short duration it took for participants of the study to feel the beneficial effects of the extreme cold therapy, where pharmaceutical, post-virus treatments can often take a long time to have any efficacy.”

"What is also important to note, is the extremely short duration it took for participants of the study to feel the beneficial effects of the extreme cold therapy, where pharmaceutical, post-virus treatments can often take a long time to have any efficacy." (Credit: CryoAction)
“What is also important to note is the extremely short duration it took for participants of the study to feel the beneficial effects of the extreme cold therapy, where pharmaceutical, post-virus treatments can often take a long time to have any efficacy.” (Credit: CryoAction)

According to him, many studies have explored the effects of whole body cryotherapy on health problems such as inflammation, fatigue, sleep quality, pain relief, depression, anxiety, immune system activation—and have shown extremely positive results. He added:

“The widespread benefits of whole body cryotherapy could, therefore, in theory be applied to other symptoms associated with Long-Covid. And further exploration and research into the topic, could well provide positive outcomes for many sufferers of Long-Covid.”

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