Sometimes, pills and medications just don't cut it for people with serious illnesses of both the mental or physical variety.
Depression, pain and inflammation are just a few of the ailments that plague millions of Americans every single day.
For those that are tired of medicating to get rid of their problems or feel like they have been ineffective, there are new alternative therapy treatments to testout.
Cryotherapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation and cupping are three techniques now availablein St. George where people can treat their bodies in an effort tofeel like their natural selvesagain.
Weston Ivison tries out the cryotherapy chamber at Cool It! Cryotherapy and Massage in St. George(Photo: Terell Wilkins/The Spectrum & Daily News)
Developed in Japan in 1978 as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritisand brought to the United States in the late 2000s, cryotherapy is a cooling treatment that involves exposing the body to extremely cold temperatures in order to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
"Liquid nitrogen is used and my machine will pull the liquid into it and then convert it to a gas and then we're just surrounding a person withthe gas." said Jody Wright, owner of St. George's sole cryotherapy location, Cool It! Cryotherapy.
Temperatures in the chamber are reduced anywhere from-200 to -250 degrees for up to threeminutes.
The nitrogen bursts are circulated around the chamber and directed away from the skin of the patient to prevent them from freezing but maintaining the temperature that gives cryo its therapeutic effects.
Ten-second nitrogen bursts with 20-30 seconds between them keep the ambient temperature withinrange of being helpful to the patient, according to Wright.
"If you've ever been in a cold-weather climate that's what it's like so imagine being in Cedar City standing out with a breeze almost totally naked and standing there for three minutes," Wright said. "It's not as extreme as jumping into an ice bath but it's still cold, you'll feel it."
Wright jumped on the cryotherapy wave early after it gained popularity in Dallas with a man named Mark Murdock.
Murdock, a Division II basketball coach for 17 years, tried the treatment in 2009 and liked it so much that he created a company called CryoUSA that does cryotherapyand has become a vendor for cryo chambers.
Murdock met Wright while in Las Vegas and invited him back to Dallas to try it out for himself.
"I got this guy on my phone, Mark Murdock, who was the guy that installed them for Tony Robbins and he was visiting Vegas on an expo sohe told me to come to Dallas and he said 'we will feed you lunch, we'll tell you all about cryo businesses and you can try everything at our facilities'," Wright said. "He and his buddy had heard about a Russian salon in Dallas that had this machine. He was a basketball coach so he tried it out, loved it and they ended up getting a machine and started working with the Dallas Mavericks."
The Mavericks were the first team to use cryotherapy consistently and their NBA championship in 2011 opened people's eyes to just how beneficial the treatment can be to physical performance.
Wright took his experience in Dallas back west to Southern Utah and opened Cool It! in 2015 in St. George.
Spectrum writer Jud Burkett stands in a cryotherapy machine Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo: Chris Caldwell / The Spectrum & Daily News)
He says he has plenty of clients with a wide range of ailments from local marathon runners to people who have had injuries and use cryotherapy to maintain their lifestyle.
"It's all relative so I have a guy that broke a bunch of bones from a work injury who comes in every day, I have a little older lady who has bad arthritis and she comes in every day that she can," Wright said. "I have athletes who will come in when they're in heavy training mode to recover too so some people just do it consistently and some less often, it depends on how they feel individually."
Wright says that he does hear from cryotherapy skeptics but stays firm in his beliefthat henever forces anyone to trustthe science behind it. All he asks is that people try it out for themselves and decide on their own whether it works for them.
"I'm not going to try and convince anybody because usually people are convinced one way or another," Wright said."I just say that I'm not making medical claims and I have people that do it just because it makes them feel good and sharpens the senses."
A close look at the transcranial magnetic stimulation machine at TMS Success that helps patients treat depression and a few other mental conditions.(Photo: Terell Wilkins/The Spectrum & Daily News)
One of the newer forms of alternative treatment comes in the form of transcranial magnetic stimulation or TMS.
"We use a magnet to help stimulate people's neurotransmission processes andthose processes are where we as humans produce chemicals that make us feel good like dopamine and serotonin," Janis Hatch, who works at TMS Success, said. "When we are depressed, we don't produce these naturally so usually a person would take anti-depressant medications and those medications work but only because they're supplying with the chemicals that it's lacking."
Anti-depressant medications bring the necessary chemicals to curb depression for a short time,but they don't do anything to help teach the brainhow to produce those chemicals themselves.
"You're giving the brain dopamine and serotonin but you're not teaching it how to create them on it's own," Hatch said. "It's like the story of taking a man to fish versus teaching him how to fish for himself."
According to Hatch,transcranial magnetic stimulation does not just solve briefly solve depression, it brings your brain the knowledge of how to produce the chemicals to keepit away effectively.
The transcranial magnetic stimulation machine at TMS Success in St. George.(Photo: Terell Wilkins/The Spectrum & Daily News)
The magnet on the machine consists of pulses that, when put on a person's scalp, taps on their head to stimulate the brain.
The treatment takes place over a six-week period where patients come in Monday through Fridayfor 18minutes a day.
"Usually people will just squeeze it in, either in their lunch breakor after work but we do whatever time is best for them during the day," Hatch said. "They come in and we just strap them up to the chair and it's nice because they can be on their phone to listen to music or podcasts or whatever they want so it goes bysuper fast."
The magnetitself has two bumps that tapthe left side of the head and pulse over 3,000 times in the 18-minute treatment session, a feeling that Hatch says is uncomfortable at first but not painful.
"People on their very first day will tell me it is uncomfortable because it's new but by about the third day, you get used to it and it doesn't ever really hurt at all," Hatch said. "It goes pretty fast but there's no pain involved it's just awkward at first."
Most insurance providers docover the cost of the treatment, which is important because that price tag is not cheap.
"It's good that insurance companies do cover this treatment because it is prettyexpensive, it costs $10,000," Hatch said. "That's for six weeks so it is kind of steep but insurance does pay forit if you meet the criteria. As in, you're diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder and things like that."
TMS Success is one of two locations in St. George where people can get TMS treatment for their depression and has been around for about a year now.
Though it is a relatively new treatment, Hatch says its effects are undeniable in the patients she has gotten to observe.
"What is great about TMS treatment is that a year after people finish their treatment, their success rate is higher sothey have better results a year later than they had even at the end of the six week mark," Hatch said. "Their brains just kept working and working and itstarted developing those healthy chemicals on it's own."
A look at the cups and suctions used in different cupping techniques at Synergy Massage & Personal Fitness in St. George.(Photo: Terell Wilkins/The Spectrum & Daily News)
Made popular in the mainstream by Michael Phelps using the technique during the 2016Olympics before his meets, cupping is a massage technique that involves using tiny cups and suction to utilize negative energy.
"With cupping, the difference between a massage and cupping is that with a massage there is positive pressure so someone is pushing down and massaging but with cupping, there is a negative pressure so it pulls things up and out of your skin," saidJacque Heaton of Synergy Massage and Personal Fitness in St. George.
Heaton likens cupping therapy to sucking out all of the toxins in your skin and bringing them to the surface so they can be cleaned out.
"When you take chicken skin away and you see that white fiber material underneath, that's in our bodies and it basically acts like fiber optics so it goes in all different directions," said Jacque Heaton of Synergy Massage and Personal Fitness in St. George. "Well when that gets tangled up, then communication from the brain to other parts of the body slows down or stops. So your brain is like this fabulous communication systemand our bodies are meant to heal themselves, but when you get these clogs, that's where inflammation and pain comes in."
Instead of force being applied to iron out all the kinks in our bodies in a traditional massage, cupping straightens it out through suction and leaves the dark circles suction marks that Heaton calls "cup kisses" behind for about a week or so.
"We do have people that will say negative things or they think it's broken capillaries but it's not broken capillaries, it's just bringing things up to the surface so your body can get rid of it," Heaton said."We have found out through cupping that actually just that negative pressure does the job so we just use suction and there's no heat to it."
United States swimmer Michael Phelps swimming with dark circles on his shoulders as a result of his cupping therapy during the 2016 summer Olympic Games.(Photo: David Eulitt/Kansas City Star)
In the same way that the Dallas Mavericks put cryotherapy on the map, Michael Phelps did it for cupping.
The dark circles seen on his body while he swam his way to five gold medals led to general curiosity and an increased belief that the practice of cupping does have its benefits.
"I just tell people they need to come experience it and see. Expect that it's going to leave rings and they're going to have some cup kisses but just come and try it and see because it really is positive," Heaton said."Especially if you like massages already, you'll find a definite benefit to cupping."
Follow reporter Terell Wilkins on Twitter,@SpeedyVeritas, call himat 252-367-8463or email himat email@example.com.
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