What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?
HBOT involves breathing pure (100%) oxygen in a pressurized chamber, administered at pressures greater than 1 atm (typically 1.5 to 3 atm).
How does it work?
Breathing pressurized oxygen saturates the blood with oxygen which can be carried to tissues throughout the body. This oxygen transport is independent of haemoglobin and thus can be delivered into areas where red blood cells cannot fit. So, it is particularly good for boosting oxygen levels in parts of the body with poor or compromised blood supply, as well as in areas of the brain that have been damaged as a result of oxygen deprivation. HBOT is a way to deliver high oxygen to various tissues, especially those tissues that have become hypoxic due to injury or even tumour growth. It has been shown that increasing the atmospheric pressure by one-half will raise plasma oxygen levels by 700%. Oxygen stimulates processes like cell production and growth, and is critical for healing damaged tissue. Sessions normally last for 60-90 minutes and to get the real benefits from treatment that are mentioned below, it seems to take 20-40 sessions. Dr David Jockers said that 20 sessions of HBOT improves the function of stem cells by eightfold.
For one, we require oxygen to survive at a cellular level. Oxygen is a key player in the electron transport chain (aka the pathway generating the bulk of our cellular energy in the form of ATP). As a therapy, injured tissues require higher levels of oxygen than normal to survive and produce new tissue. Oxygen stimulates the release of growth factors to promote wound healing as well as offering protection against infection and bacteria.
Our bodies rely on the constant supply of oxygen intake to survive. Our atmosphere is approximately 21% oxygen. This element is required by every cell in the human body to produce cellular energy via the mitochondria. High flow oxygen therapy can deliver 100% oxygen in a pressurized atmosphere and results in extraordinary healing benefits.
When oxygen is administered at high pressure rates, up to 20 times more oxygen can be absorbed by the bloodstream. This oxygen is transported to damaged organs and tissue which speeds up both healing and recovery time.
improve nerve growth and repair
decrease inflammation and oxidation
increase circulation and oxygenation
improve cell signalling and function
relieve scarring and debris
elevate the bodies natural immune defences to fight infection and bacteria
reduce swelling that may occur around damaged areas
HBOT uses and applications
There are at least 14 FDA approved applications for HBOT which include diabetic wound healing, decompression sickness (aka “the Bends”), carbon monoxide poisoning, and radiation necrosis. This is a short list of applications, but a wide range of off-label uses have begun gaining more attention. Off-label application of HBOT include traumatic brain injury (TBI), anaemia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and as an adjuvant to cancer therapy.
Personally, and more specific to us at the gym, I find it is most beneficial to help heal quicker from concussions and injuries, particularly broken bones and injury to tissues that don’t normally get much blood supply to them like tendons. It can help heal broken bones twice as fast. I used this for my hand when I got three screws put in it and found it to be true. The same goes for concussions. I have had over 30 in my life and in 2009 was in a really bad way, forgetting things mid-sentence, not being able to retain information, struggling to sleep, suffering from mood swings, and some other problems. By using the hyperbaric chamber in conjunction with a low carb/ketogenic style diet, replenishing some nutrient deficiencies, and taking specific brain nutrients, I am now much better than I was even before that period.
HBOT has also been shown to help with certain cancers and there is plenty of research to show that a combination of a ketogenic diet and hyperbaric oxygen can help in some forms of cancer. I find this useful to know as it is important to do everything we can to prevent cancer and it is also another adjunctive therapy for people who may have cancer.
What are the risks of HBOT?
The risks of using HBOT are quite low. Some people experience claustrophobia or mild pain in their ears, sinuses, or joints. The most serious risks can include oxygen poisoning and damage to the ears and lungs.
Power up your brain – Dr David Perlmutter
The better brain book – Dr David Perlmutter
The concussion repair manual – Dr Dan Engle