This article is based on a true story that needs to be told to illustrate the hypocrisy of the pharmaceutical industry and fed by it conventional medicine. Its purpose is to encourage holistic wellness locations, providing cryotherapy, oxygen, light, float, massage or other holistic treatments to be bolder in marketing messaging and to use the powerful mental trigger of a “common enemy”.
It’s proven that “People will do anything for those who encourage their dreams, justify their failures, allay their fears, confirm their suspicions, and help them throw rocks at their enemies." (this Blair Warren’s quote is a GREAT guide to craft marketing messages that truly work).
Some businesses, especially the ones in nutrition, use these 5 principles extremely successfully, as they openly oppose and contrast the health-damaging offerings of the fast food industry:
Wellness industry, including many cryotherapy locations, is still busy marketing treatments rather than their effects and positive impact on client’s well-being. Thus, money gets left on the table, as many prospects in need of the services for health reasons haven’t even heard of these niche practices, plus, they are taught to trust ads and to self-medicate, unless in serious need for help.
When people can't survive on over-the-counter remedies anymore, the “ask your doctor about…” messages step in – people are made to believe that the drug X, Y, or Z that often costs tens of thousands of dollars per year is exactly what they need to live a better life.
At the same time, if somebody asks their physician about cryotherapy or some other treatment that non-medical wellness centers are offering, the recommendation very likely is NOT to trust it, as it’s “not FDA approved”. The doctors will never preach that the most sustainable way is to tap into the body’s natural abilities and to help strengthen and use them.
For these reasons, I wanted to step aside from the numerous success stories of holistic treatments helping, and address the two points:
People need to be educated to change their perspective. They are already tired of being stuck to their medications and overpaying for them, while never actually getting better; so, just a little more effort could turn things around for them AND for your holistic wellness business.
The story I wanted to tell comes from a family friend, now one of the directors at 23andMe.
He earned a PhD in Genetics from UC Davis and became a biotech professional because he always wanted to work on cures. After completing the graduate studies, Erik spent years working on medical research and developing biological drugs for conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, liver fibrosis and metabolic disorders.
When we first met, he was a Chief Science Officer at a Southern California based company, heading a pre-clinical development of an antagonist antibody for rheumatoid arthritis. He was very proud of the progress his team was making, as the results were excellent – their biological drug was preventing rheumatoid arthritis from developing by helping the body stop fighting its own cells as enemies.
Then, the company Erik was working for changed ownership. At one of the first meetings with the new management where he was presenting his team’s research, he was told straight into his face that the company was NOT looking for cures; so, his findings would not be turned into a marketable product.
This was the end of Erik’s career as a CSO. He decided to leave and soon after joined the emerging personal genomics and biotechnology company 23andMe. Now, he is working on using people’s own genome to predict their potential health problems and to help prevent them from developing.
For people like you who own holistic wellness businesses it’s time to stop putting “reduced muscle soreness” forward and to turn towards revealing the much more substantial powers of cryotherapy in strengthening the body and fighting unwanted inflammation – the true cause behind so many disorders.
Neither the providers nor the users should be discouraged by the fact that cryotherapy is not FDA approved. It only has one implication – the marketing message must not contain direct medical claims.
As whole body cryotherapy has been growing in popularity, numerous skeptical articles have also been popping up, referring to lack of FDA approval and “anecdotal evidence” of recovery. When you read them side by side, it’s apparent that the arguments against, even from doctors-experts, are as little grounded and as superficial as many arguments for that they are criticizing. Statements that cryotherapy is not safe or could not be recommended BECAUSE it has not been approved by FDA do not pass a litmus test. As a matter of fact, neither is the infrared sauna we like using for detoxification of the body, the fish oil supplements, the “daily multi”, the protein shakes, the appetite suppressants for weight loss purposes, nor many other widely used products or procedures. At the same time, many drugs that have been approved by FDA cause addiction or can have serious, even life-threatening side effects.
While it is true that there IS lack of serious clinical evidence that could be presented to defend particular health benefits of cryo, it’s also understandable why such evidence does not exist. Cryocabins were not created to heal or cure, in the first place; so, there has been no pressure to prove they heal or cure. The empiric evidence of people feeling better, sleeping sounder, and getting off pain medications as a result of using cryo has been piling up, instead, and the word of mouth has largely contributed to more and more people trying it.
Let’s just separate apples from oranges in this argument.
FDA is a Food and Drug Administration. The Agency’s Statute determines what products it regulates, approves and monitors, and there are many categories that are completely outside the FDA radar. A cryocabin was never meant to be a medical device; so, it neither can nor needs to be FDA approved, it’s simply not under FDA regulation. In fact, several manufacturers of cryotherapy devices have made FDA confirm it – if you see a reference to 513 (g), it means exactly that.
To explain, section 513(g) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act provides means for device manufacturers to obtain information about the Food and Drug Administration’s VIEWS regarding the classification of a device. If you see 513 (g) mentioned in the context of cryotherapy, all it means is that the respective manufacturer has submitted a written request to the Secretary and received a confirmation that their device, cryosauna or cryochamber, does not classify as medical and, consequently, is not subject to 510(k) regulations. FDA 513g is NOT an indication of superiority or conformance, it’s just another proof that FDA approval is NOT NECESSARY.
For this reason, the lack of FDA approval does not make the treatment shady or unsafe. It neither discredits the treatment nor questions its applications, it simply means that NO MEDICAL CLAIMS SHALL BE MADE with regards to cryotherapy treatments.
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