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Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), a treatment once only used for decompression sickness by the diving community and for carbon monoxide poisoning, is now used to treat a variety of ailments, conditions, and diseases across the world. 

The Use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy in the U.S.

William S. Maxfield, M.D., calls it one of the best kept secrets in the medical industry.  “Those of us in the United States tend to think that we are the leaders in medical care,” he says. “However, this is clearly not true in the area of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).”

In the U.S., there are only 17 FDA-approved treated conditions for HBOT. However, in other countries including Russia and China, HBOT is used to treat as many as 74 conditions including stroke, PTSD, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury.

More people are also using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to fight cancer; manage ADD/ADHD, Autism, Alzheimer’s and Dementia; heal diabetic ulcers, burns, and chronic wounds; and combat arthritis, fibromyalgia, lyme disease, and chronic fatigue without the use of prescription drugs.

How Does Hyberbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) Work

Blog0815_HBOTHyberbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment where the patients breathe 95-100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber.  This process floods the body with oxygen through the blood stream.  In this pressurized environment, you can actually breathe up to three times more oxygen than what would be possible breathing 95% oxygen at normal air pressure. Basically, hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry.  The extra oxygen taken into the body is dissolved into the blood’s plasma and carried to the body’s tissue, organs, and brain.

Your body's tissue and organs need oxygen to function and when tissue is injured, they require even more oxygen to survive. Increasing tissue oxygen levels enhances the body’s natural healing process. With this increased oxygen, the body actually grows new blood vessels, stem cells, growth factors, and fibroblasts, (the cells involved in the natural healing process). 

Also oxygen is a potent antibacterial. Oxygen kills certain types of bacteria and infections. So, making the body an oxygen-rich environment can kill harmful bacteria and promote healing.  Some injuries and conditions can’t heal properly because blood flow is restricted to the damaged tissues. It is a common problem with crush injuries, chronic wounds, and skin grafts for example. Increasing blood circulation and the amount the oxygen the body can carry promotes healing with these types of injuries.

Not too long ago, doctors and scientists thought damaged brain tissue could not heal. However, recently doctors using HBOT have found that not only can brain tissue heal but it can also be restored to full function.    

Applications of HBOT

Maxfield, chief of radiology at Manatee Diagnostic Center, Bradenton, Florida said, “HBOT can bring stunning improvement to some patients [with brain damage and injuries]. For example, a severe stroke at age 31 left Valerie Greene without the ability to walk or talk. Today, with the help of HBOT, she communicates well and has left her wheelchair behind.”

Cancer care is another area where Maxfield and many other medical professionals have found success using hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat the complications of chemotherapy and radiation. “I had a patient who had “chemo brain,” cognitive symptoms resulting from chemotherapy,” says Maxfield. “The condition had caused the patient to be unable to work and she had been on disability for 6 years. However, with 20 hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments, the patient returned to work full-time.”  

You don’t have to wait for a medical condition to benefit from hyperbaric oxygen therapy.   People in good health and living an active lifestyle also can enjoy the benefits.  It promotes relaxation, increases stamina and endurance, strengthens heart and lungs, relieves muscle stiffness, reduces fatigue, improves sleeping problems, relieves the aches and pains of aging and also helps the body to return to a state of balance and well-being.

Athletes from runners and swimmers to professional sports players use hyperbaric oxygen therapy to improve reflexes, energy, and endurance as well as recover faster and reduce inflammation after a hard workout or event. 

Hyperbaric oxygen treatments help to reduce stress and depression while strengthening the immune system.  Being healthy is more than a lack of symptoms.  Being healthy is your body truly functioning at its peak of health and wellness.

Melissa Morton works with Fresh Start Hyperbaric LLC

Photo credit: Breathe by Alex Campos

Find out more about related services in the Washington area:

Oxygen Therapies, Brain Health

Shows:

Healing from Traumatic Brain Injury; Oxygen and Brain Injuries; All About the Brain