Health January 12, 2023

Wellness Treatments

Ancient and Alternative Remedies for a Quicker Recovery

Across the country, the wellness market is booming. In Silicon Valley, techies swoon over touchless spas, and New Yorkers download stress-tracking apps to help curb anxiety. Online companies like Goop promote “8 Crystals for Better Energy,” and popular meal delivery kits come complete with nutritional supplements, probiotics, detox tinctures and teas.

Against the backdrop of COVID-19’s evolution from a global pandemic into an endemic disease, this increasing consumer focus on wellness makes sense. Yet, according to The New York Times, the defining feeling of 2021 was “blah,” with many people turning to new therapies and treatments to fend off this growing apathy.

In our 5B bubble, we are no strangers to the quest for peak wellness. Such an active and high-performing—and, dare I say, discerning—population demands access to the latest and greatest wellness treatments and therapies. And the Wood River Valley does not disappoint. Here, we highlight some of the work local practitioners do to keep you happy and healthy and performing at your peak.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Our body’s tissues need oxygen to function. The air we breathe is just 21% oxygen. hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing 100% (pure) oxygen while in a hyperbaric chamber. The air pressure inside is raised to a higher level than normal air pressure.

“Hyper” means “increased,” and “baric” refers to air pressure. Providing oxygen in a pressurized environment allows 10 to 15 times more oxygen delivered than at sea level (baseline atmospheric pressure). Because HBOT dissolves more oxygen gas molecules into smaller volumes throughout all of the body’s fluids (e.g., blood, plasma, lymphatic fluid, and cerebrospinal fluid), it floods areas where circulation is poor due to injury or inflammation. The result is “cleaning out” metabolic wastes and repairing damaged tissue at faster rates.

HBOT has also been known to strengthen the immune system response by kicking white blood cells into high gear and minimizing bacterial and fungal growth. It also promotes the formation of new collagen fibers and connective tissue. In addition, it increases the number of stem cells circulating in a patient’s body, which is crucial to injury repair.

Recently, HBOT has been gaining traction in recovering post-coronavirus or long COVID syndrome. And recent studies out of Israel show HBOT is currently the only treatment that can increase telomere length by 19 to 30 percent. (Telomere length
is considered the Holy Grail in the
anti-aging industry.)

Hyperbarics of Sun Valley, located in Hailey, opened in 2012 as the only free-standing facility in Idaho using FDA-approved medical equipment. “In today’s medicine, symptom relief seems to be the focus of treatment rather than the condition,” says Phil Rainey, owner of Hyperbarics of Sun Valley. “With HBOT, we work to treat the root cause, which ultimately results in symptom relief and is more durable. Many professional athletes use hyperbaric oxygen therapy for recovery. HBOT can increase your oxygen saturation by as much as 1500% during treatment.”

Cupping Massage

The Spa at the Sun Valley Lodge has recently seen an uptick in the number of massage requests for cupping, which is specially designed cups to create suction to the skin to stimulate circulation. Lymphatic flow relieves pain, releases tense muscles, and increases relaxation and well-being.

Cupping therapy, while very trendy now, has been practiced for centuries by cultures ranging from the ancient Egyptians to the Greeks, Chinese and Tibetans.

Cupping therapy might be trendy now, but it’s not new. One of the oldest medical texts to mention cupping therapy is Eber’s papyrus (1550 B.C.) from ancient Egypt. However, cupping is a part of many ancient healing systems, including Chinese, Unani, traditional Korean, and Tibetan. The Greek physician, Hippocrates, often referred to as the “father” of medicine, composed descriptions of cupping techniques. These days, cupping therapy is usually found as a treatment offered by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Proponents believe that suction helps facilitate the flow of “qi,” or life force,
in the body.

Many believe that cupping helps balance yin and yang, or the negative and positive, within the body. Restoring balance between these two extremes is thought to help with the body’s resistance to pathogens as well as its ability to increase blood flow and reduce pain.

Peptide Therapy

Peptides are the building blocks of proteins and are composed of amino acids that work to regulate a variety of biological functions and processes. These naturally occurring peptides act as signaling molecules within the body and instruct other cells and molecules on what functions to perform. There are over 7,000 known peptides within the human body. Still, the production of peptides can vary significantly by individual. As we age, the number and quality of peptides within the body may decline.

Since peptides are naturally found throughout the body, it is no surprise that when disordered, they can create ripple effects across multiple systems, affecting other bodily functions. Peptide therapy refers to restoring the number of peptides to stimulate cellular regrowth systems within the body as a treatment option for specific conditions.

At the LAB in Ketchum, founded in 2021, peptide therapy continues to be a favorite with wellness-conscious folks in the community because its benefits are vast. It has been found to:

  • Accelerate healing processes
  • Boost hormone levels
  • Build muscle mass
  • Decrease joint and muscle pain
  • Enhance cognitive function and memory
  • Help reverse symptoms of sexual dysfunction
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Increase levels of energy, stamina and strength
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Promote healthy immune function
  • Reduce signs of aging
  • Stimulate hair growth
  • Improve IBS and leaky gut

Peptides are typically administered directly into the bloodstream through subcutaneous injections but may also be applied as topical creams, nasal sprays or oral forms. It should be noted that peptides are not hormone therapy but can be used alongside hormone therapy.

CrYoSkin Therapy

Originally developed in France, CryoSkin & Cryotoning is an umbrella term for the process of body sculpting and toning to smooth, lift and firm skin, as well as for the elimination of fat cells through the concentrated application of cold and heat. Think of it as a more technical version of hot-sauna-to-cold-plunge therapy or the ice bath therapy used for post-race or workout recovery by professional athletes and sports teams. CryoSkin treatment works through an initial short hot sequence that creates a dilation of the fat cells, making them more receptive to the following cold phase, which starts with a rapid drop in temperature—a thermal shock—that causes the crystallization of fat cells in a process known as “apoptosis” (or, programmed cell death, which is a process that occurs naturally in the body all the time). The final sequence uses hot temperatures, again, to reactivate the metabolism and encourage the drainage of the organic waste. The waste resulting from the dead fat cells is disposed of via the lymphatic system within two to three weeks.

“The treatment is gaining popularity because it is non-invasive, painless, uses no suction cups and is gentle to the skin,” says Toni Thomas of Cryoskin Salon of Sun Valley. “It only takes about 25-40 minutes and the results are immediate,” adds Thomas, “but still continue to improve over a couple of weeks as the body eliminates fat cells through the lymph system.”

There are three unique modalities that can be applied using this high-tech hot-cold freezing process, all with slightly different results:  CryoSlimming® helps stimulate the natural process of releasing fat cells through the lymphatic system through alternating hot and cold temperatures, while CryoToning® and CryoFacial® use cold temperatures to increase blood flow and oxygen, which helps to smooth, lift and firm the skin, reducing the appearance of imperfections and stimulating the production of collagen and elastin. All use the same wand-like instrument to glide over target problem areas, with no skin penetration  or painful suction, and all also engage the lymphatic system, helping to stimulate lymphatic drainage of the body area being targeted—whether thighs, glutes, abdomen, flanks, arms, upper back, neck/décolleté, chest or face. The lymphatic system has three main interrelated systems in the body which include removal of excess fluids from the body’s tissue, production of immune cells, and absorption of fatty acids and transportation of fat—so targeting this system helps the body use its own normal body processes for renewal and fat removal.

Microcurrent Therapy

Your entire body is electrical. Every second, a small cluster of cells in the heart produces an electrical pulse that keeps the organ beating. With each beat, the heart pumps blood that travels throughout the body, keeping you alive. Cells use charged atoms and molecules to generate electrical signals that power vital processes in the body, including digestion, circulation, movement and brain function.

Injuries and illness can disrupt these electrical frequencies, making it harder for your body to heal. But you can return these frequencies back to normal and support your body’s natural electrical circuitry with the help of something called microcurrent therapy.

Microcurrent therapy sends low-level electrical currents into your skin nearly identical to the body’s own natural electrical frequencies. Running a current over your body adds more electrons to your system, helping you make energy more quickly and stimulating tissue and cellular repair. Microcurrent therapy treats many things, including injuries and chronic conditions. But, in addition to its role in treating injuries and pain, microcurrent has also shown powerful improvements in sleep, energy, ability to focus, mood, collagen production and even food cravings with patients.

Terry Potts at NMT Potts in Hailey has been in healthcare for 30 years and calls microcurrent one of his favorite tools for increasing circulation and decreasing inflammation in his patients. “Microcurrent is great for maintaining gut health because it can kill gut parasites, but it’s also great for things like long-haul coronavirus sufferers because we can access the vagus nerve where the virus has lodged itself and help eradicate the virus there, getting them out of that fight-or-flight mode.”

Another application for microcurrent that’s popular is its use in addressing mental health issues like PTSD, ADHD and generalized anxiety.

Wellness necessitates good self-stewardship and seeking help from available treatments when an imbalance arises. Wellness is important because it shapes nearly every aspect of everyday life. It not only allows you to engage in the activities you love, but when viewed holistically, it also encourages mental and spiritual well-being.

Although the primary focus is often optimal health, true wellness—and the steps we take to achieve it—is a personalized approach to living every day in a way that allows you to realize your full and glorious potential.

This article appears in the Winter 2022 Issue of Sun Valley Magazine.