What are the Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
With every breath we take, our lungs fill with a life-giving substance: oxygen. Oxygen, along with nitrogen and carbon dioxide, are among the main elements that contribute to life on this planet and the living things that call it home. For humans, oxygen is necessary for proper cellular function. It is also a main factor in the body’s ability to heal itself after a trauma or injury. What if it were possible to speed up recovery by delivering even more oxygen to injured cells than the body is able to provide naturally? Hyperbaric oxygen technology does just that, and more.
The body filters oxygen from the air we breathe through the lungs. Oxygen molecules are transported through the blood stream by binding to hemoglobin in red blood cells. Hemoglobin releases oxygen to penetrate other cells, ultimately leading to the production of energy, a process that occurs in each cell’s mitochondria. When the body has an adequate supply of oxygen, it can carry out all of its processes that require energy, including growth, cellular respiration, digestion, muscle contractions, and virtually anything else needed to keep the body alive – including healing.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
The body has a very sophisticated way of healing from an injury or trauma, with oxygen playing a central role. Typically, swelling is one of the first responses the body makes when an injury occurs. This inflammatory response allows more blood to rush to the site of injury to begin the healing process. Since blood carries oxygen (and white blood cells) and oxygen is crucial to the healing process, the more blood that can access the injured tissue, the better.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a technique that involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber, which allows the body to receive three times more oxygen than it can while breathing normally. This provides more circulating oxygen in the bloodstream and therefore more oxygen delivery to body tissues. A common treatment for an immediate injury is compression (for instance, an ankle sprain that is wrapped tightly) to help speed up the healing process. What if you could “wrap” the body with a certain amount of pressure and promote healing not only in an injured area, but systemically?
HBOT uses both of these concepts – oxygen saturation and compression – to approach healing and cellular optimization, as it delivers three times more oxygen at the cellular level than the blood delivers normally, all within a pressurized environment. HBOT was developed over 300 years ago as a treatment for decompression sickness after undersea diving. Nowadays, with the influx in research and technology, HBOT is also used quite successfully for injury healing.
“When beginning to understand the science behind hyperbaric oxygen and cellular injury, they begin to align quite nicely.” – Dr. Jay Stevens, founder of Essential Health
Why use Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Virtually every injury is amenable to hyperbaric oxygen. How? Oxygen is the key element (besides glucose) to create energy. When looking at any type of injury, a muscle strain, sprain, fracture, head trauma, or even surgical laceration, all of these include some type of injury at the cellular level, therefore all can benefit from oxygen delivery.
What we’ve come to accept is the body has a natural healing process – and that takes time. However, with HBOT, healing can be accelerated. For head injuries, we now know that oxygen under pressure is necessary for healing. Research has indicated better outcomes after traumatic brain injuries after using HBOT due to an increase in oxygen delivery to the brain that can help with swelling, tissue damage, and blood vessel damage associated with this type of injury.
HBOT can also treat tendon and ligament injuries exceptionally well. Muscle tissue is heavily supplied with blood. With more blood supply, more healing can take place. However, tendons and ligaments have less blood supply, which is why they typically take longer to rehabilitate fully. With HBOT, healing can be independent of blood supply. HBOT diffuses oxygen into tissue plasma at a higher concentration than oxygen found in the normal blood supply. Therefore, oxygen can be delivered to an area of the body, like a tendon or ligament, that normally does not have a large blood supply. This can signal anti-inflammation and improved energy production, which helps a ligament or tendon heal at a faster rate.
HBOT also has been shown to optimize cellular health and be a beneficial complement to fasting protocols due to its “hormetic” effect on cells. More on that later.
Where can I find a Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Chamber?
While the science behind HBOT has been around for centuries, it, unfortunately, lacks widespread awareness and accessibility to the average person. HBOT chambers are also extremely expensive to produce and purchase. Other hyperbaric devices have been created to treat altitude sickness, but these in combination with oxygen tanks have not been fully approved by the FDA and should not be used due to risk of fire or suffocation.
Essential Health – Cary, NC has recently acquired a state-of-the-art, fully approved, and safe HBOT chamber located in-office and is medically supervised for patient use. If you are curious whether HBOT could benefit your health, schedule a Meet & Greet with our Cary, NC team for more information.
Interested in learning more about HBOT? Listen to Dr. Stevens speak more about its benefits on the HBOT News Network at the links below: