What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)?
HBOT involves breathing pure oxygen at higher than atmospheric pressures in an enclosed chamber. This process will assist all body tissues, cells, fluids to absorb more oxygen, even those with blockages or reduced flow. The increased level of oxygen restores and stimulates the function of damaged tissues and organs to include the liver and brain.
How will Breathing More Oxygen Help?
The air we breathe normally provides enough oxygen for normal body metabolism and tissue repair after injury. Increasing the pressure in the chamber and using 100% oxygen will dramatically increase the volume of oxygen being dissolved into the bloodstream. Our bodies will normally carry 0.3 milliliters of oxygen in every 100 milliliters of blood. In the hyperbaric chamber set at 2 atmospheres and 100% oxygen, your blood can carry 3.0 milliliters of oxygen per 100 milliliters of blood—that is 10X the volume! When tissues become damaged the capillaries are also damaged and cause difficulty for oxygen to diffuse into the tissue. By raising the oxygen concentration and atmospheric pressure, we can get adequate levels of oxygen to those tissues and let the body begin its repair process.
How Does It Work?
In addition to increasing the volume of oxygen reaching the cells not normally getting adequate oxygen, it also greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to fight bacteria. In the case of Lyme Disease, those “bugs” cannot survive in an oxygen rich environment, therefore die. It will also reduce swelling, and allow new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into affected areas. There has been extensive study conducted providing evidence that the increased volumes of oxygen will result in tissue regeneration at a far greater rate than if left to heal at normal room air.
It Looks Small!! What if I am Claustrophobic?
We are all Claustrophobic to some extent so if you feel some slight apprehension, don’t worry, this is normal. The chamber operator is always there to offer reassurance and answer any questions. Just sit back, enjoy a movie of your choice, and enjoy your HBOT experience.
Functional Medicine Matrix
In functional medicine we don’t think so much about the diagnosis as we do why do YOU have that diagnosis. As such we have what we call the functional medicine matrix. This matrix consists of seven specific physiologic functions. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy positively impacts all of these areas.
As one example, from the communication node of the functional medicine matrix, hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases nitric oxide.
- Nitric oxide improves blood flow by relaxing smooth muscles around arterial walls.
- Nitric oxide reduces high blood pressure.
- Nitric oxide improves kidney function.
- Nitric oxide also inhibits inflammation in blood vessels, an important cause of heart disease.
- Nitric oxide improves the release of growth hormones, digestive enzymes and adrenal hormones.
Additionally, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown to release your own stem cells. Stem cells have the remarkable potential to develop into many different cell types in the body. In many tissues they serve as a sort of internal repair system, to replenish other cells. When a stem cell divides, each new cell has the potential to remain a stem cell or become another type of cell with a more specialized function, such as a muscle cell, a red blood cell or a brain cell. Given their unique regenerative abilities, stem cells offer new potentials for treating diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and many other chronic degenerative diseases. Research on adult stem cells has generated a great deal of excitement. Scientists have found adult stem cells in many more tissues than they once thought possible.
There are several specific diagnoses that hyperbaric oxygen has received FDA clearance to treat. The FDA considers hyperbaric oxygen therapy a drug and so regulates it with specific indications. However, hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used “off label” for many other conditions as well.
According to the textbook “Hyperbaric Medicine Practice” Second Edition Revised published by Best Publishing Company, there are 17 approved indications for hyperbaric medicine. They are:
- Decompression Sickness
- Gas embolism
- Carbon Monoxide & Cyanide Poisoning
- Gas Gangrene
- Selected Aerobic & Anaerobic Soft Tissue Infections
- Sternal Wound Infection
- Intracranial Abscess
- Certain Fungal Disease
- Radiation Injury to Tissue
- Pelvic Radiation Necrosis & Radiation Cystitis
- Exceptional Blood Loss Anemia
- Crush injury, compartment syndrome, and other acute traumatic ischemias
- Ischemic Reperfusion
- Compromised Skin Grafts & Flaps
- Enhanced Healing of Select Problematic Wounds
- Adjunctive Therapy & Thermal Burn