If you’re like a lot of folks you may have heard of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), but you aren’t sure what it is, or what it can do for you. If that’s the case you’re in luck, because today I’m going to provide a simple explanation of what HBOT is.
But before I get started I’d like to make it clear what HBOT isn’t. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy isn’t a miracle cure-all for everything under the sun.
HBOT is a relatively new procedure, and while there is a lot to be excited about, we still have a lot to learn too.
As with any new technology or therapy, it’s important to have a realistic point of view about HBOT’s benefits.4
Oxygen is necessary for healing
As the name suggests, HBOT is an oxygen-based therapy. A pressurized hyperbaric chamber is used to bump up the oxygen levels in your blood.
HBOT is used to treat decompression sickness in divers and by some athletes to help recover faster when they’re injured.1 Tim Tebow, Hines Ward, tennis star Novak Djokovic and UFC fighter Urijah Faber all reportedly use HBOT for this purpose.2,3
Oxygen is necessary for healing. When an injury occurs, the area around the wound becomes inflamed. This reduces the amount of oxygen available to the area for healing. When an injury is serious, the damage may be greater than the body’s ability to heal
HBOT helps the healing response by enriching the blood with oxygen and allowing for a steady flow of oxygen-rich blood to reach the wound.
Let’s take a closer look at how it works…
Here’s how hyperbaric oxygen therapy works
An HBOT session begins you enter a large glass structure or metal structure with glass windows which is the hyperbaric chamber.
Once inside, a technician slowly increases the pressure as oxygen pumps into the chamber at levels 1.5 – 3 times higher than normal atmospheric air pressure.
Your lungs get filled with higher than normal levels of oxygen and that oxygen gets absorbed into your blood. Because the chamber is pressurized it could cause you some minor discomfort or your ears may pop.
Conditions that could benefit from oxygen therapy
As I mentioned earlier hyperbaric oxygen therapy isn’t a miracle cure.
Unfortunately there are a lot of folks out that want you to think it is and as a result there are some pretty ridiculous claims circulating out there.
The truth is, no matter how helpful HBOT is it will not turn you into a superhero. However using a hyperbaric chamber to increase your blood oxygen levels does have a number of proven uses.
Even the FDA agrees the following thirteen conditions may benefit from the use of hyperbaric chambers.5,6
|1. Air or gas embolism|
|2. Bone infection|
|3. Brain or sinus infections|
|5. Carbon monoxide poisoning|
|6. Decompression sickness|
|7. Gas gangrene|
|8. Necrotizing soft tissue infection|
|9. Skin graft|
|10. Thermal burns|
|11. Brain abscesses|
|12. Radiation injuries|
We can’t survive without oxygen
It goes without saying that we need oxygen to survive. After all we can go three weeks without food, and three days without water. But we can only make it through three minutes without oxygen.
Your body requires oxygen to make the energy that powers your brain and muscles. It turns genes on and off. It encourages waste removal. Oxygen stimulates blood vessel growth to heal wounds. If your cells become deprived of oxygen they shut down and begin to die.7 Your body simply won’t function without it.
Air is made up of more than just oxygen, of course.6 Some gases, like nitrogen, make up a large portion of the atmosphere and cause humans no harm. Other gases, like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, can interfere with oxygen absorption.
Although it’s important you make sure to get enough oxygen, HBOT isn’t the only way to bump up your oxygen levels. High-intensity workouts and deep breathing exercises are both great ways to increase your blood oxygen levels. For guided instruction, consider yoga or T’ai Chi classes that feature deep breathing as part of their exercise.
Here is a deep breathing exercise to get you started…
1. Barata P, Cervaens M, Resende R, Camacho Ó, Marques F. Hyperbaric Oxygen Effects on Sports Injuries. Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease.2011;3(2):111-121.
2. Cavaiola, Matthew, M.D. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Boosts Athletic Performance! Phoenix AntiAging Clinic. Phoenix AntiAging Clinic, 22 Feb. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
3. Ask the Doc: What Is HBO Therapy, and Can It Help MMA Fighters Heal Faster?MMAjunkie. USA Today Sports, 08 Oct. 2009. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
4. Dauwe PB, Pulikkottil BJ, Lavery L, Stuzin JM, Rohrich RJ. Does hyperbaric oxygen therapy work in facilitating acute wound healing: a systematic review. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2014 Feb;133(2):208e-15e.
5. United States of America. Department of Health and Human Services. Food and Drug Administration. 510(k) NOTIFICATION SUMMARY (Per 21 CFR 807.92). 20 May 2002. Print.
6. Hadjiliadis, Denis, MD. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30 Aug. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
7. Stamati K, Mudera V, Cheema U. Evolution of oxygen utilization in multicellular organisms and implications for cell signalling in tissue engineering. Journal of Tissue Engineering. 2011;2(1):2041731411432365.
8. Seidel, Dian. NOAA – Air Resources Laboratory – FAQ – How Much Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide Is There in the Air We Breathe? NOAA, 23 Sept. 2008. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
Dr. Edward F. Group III has his Naturopathic Doctorate, Clinical Herbalist, Holistic Health Practitioner, Clinical Nutritionist certifications, and is a Diplomate of the American Clinical Board of Nutrition and the American Board of Functional Medicine. He founded Global Healing Center Inc. in 1998 which has earned recognition as one of the largest alternative, natural and organic health resources on the Internet.
A dynamic author and speaker, Dr. Group focuses solely on spreading the message of health and wellness to the global community with the philosophy of full body cleansing, most importantly colon cleansing, consuming pure clean organic food, water, air, exercise and nutritional supplementation. Visit GlobalHealingCenter.com to learn more about living green and healthy!
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