Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is an increasingly popular medical treatment that offers a wide range of potential benefits. While it is most commonly associated with treating wound healing and helping divers recover from decompression sickness, HBOT has also been shown to be effective in treating conditions like autism, cerebral palsy, and Alzheimer’s disease.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the potential benefits of HBOT and how this unique therapy can help improve your health.
What is HBOT?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, is a treatment that delivers pure oxygen to a patient in a pressurized room or chamber. The increased pressure allows the oxygen to permeate tissues and organs that are normally beyond the reach of blood circulation.
HBOT was originally developed to treat divers who were suffering from decompression sickness, also known as “the bends.” However, research has shown that HBOT can be beneficial for many other conditions and diseases as well such as stroke, brain injury, coma, gas gangrene, and necrotizing fasciitis.
Benefits of HBOT
There are a number of potential benefits associated with HBOT, including:
1. Regenerate tissue
The extra oxygen in your body can facilitate the body’s ability to produce new tissue and new blood vessels. This is helpful for both people with injuries and damaged areas as well as helping people who are facing the effects of the ageing process.
HBOT is well known in hospitals and wound care centres to enhance skin collagen and tissue regeneration. There are 2 physiological effects that happen to help this.
- Fibroblast activation – Fibroblasts are the cells that are responsible for producing and placing collagen down in your skin, HBOT stimulates this production helping the body to heal wounds faster.
- Stem cell mobilization – HBOT stimulates the bone marrow to produce more stem cells, these stem cells are then circulated around the body in the bloodstream to where they are required to support the body and the more that the body has the faster and more efficiently the body can recover.
New Blood Vessels
Another amazing benefit of hyperbaric therapy is to help the body create new blood vessels. The new blood vessels will help to keep your full circulatory system working efficiently helping you recover from disease and illness, and passing nutrients around the body to help damaged and old areas repair. HBOT helps the body create new blood vessels in the following mechanisms
- Angiogenesis – This is the normal process that the body goes through when it recognises that it is required to repair and produce new capillaries and blood vessels in the body. The trigger for the body to do this is low oxygen signalling called “hypoxic signalling”. The addition of hyperbaric oxygen therapy supports the body’s ability to grow new blood vessels in areas where there is poor circulation limiting oxygen to areas of the body.
- Vasculogenesis – This is when the body builds blood vessels basically from scratch (‘De Novo’ in medical terms). HBOT does this by stimulating the body’s bone marrow to grow new stem cells, that produce blood vessel cells. These are then sent to areas that have usually had severe damage such as a crush injury on a knee when a motorcyclist’s motorbike lands on them during an accident. Due to the severity of the damage, the body recognises that it is more efficient to build new blood vessels from scratch. In some trials, an 800% increase in stem cell mobilization has been seen.
2. Improve energy levels and improve tissue function
The human body is made up of over 65% oxygen and is extremely energetic requiring a constant flow of oxygen to the body to ensure it can generate enough cellular energy (called ATP) for all of its metabolic needs.
Oxygen has a direct correlation to the amount of cellular energy you can release the more oxygen you have the more energy you can release.
HBOT Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy provides the body with an extra-large dose of oxygen in one go allowing the body to utilise the extra oxygen to facilitate the additional production of ATP within our metabolically active cells.
As we get older our arteries will naturally harden and narrow causing the volume of oxygen to decrease as we age. This decrease in oxygen has consequences, both in lower energy levels generally as well as the reduction in speed of healing and recovering from illness and injury.
In addition to this, the body often will increase the number of sites where energy can be produced (mitochondria) allowing it to increase the mitochondrial biogenesis and thus further the production of cells to generate ATP.
3. Reduce inflammation and Swelling
When you injure yourself with an acute body tissue injury the body’s natural response is for the blood vessels to become leaky so that white blood cells can transfer through to fight infection and clean up any body debris caused by the injury.
When this happens the fluid in the blood also makes its way into the tissue causing swelling which in turn impedes the oxygen trying to get to the damaged area of tissue. Post HBOT the high oxygen concentration levels in the blood cause the blood vessels heading to the damaged area to restrict. This means swelling is reduced and the damaged area will have high levels of oxygen and can therefore repair faster.
One of the key beneficial effects noted from HBOT is that it reduces both inflammation as well as associated markers with inflammation. Long-term inflammation and inflammation markers have been shown to detrimentally damage tissues in the body.
HBOT has been shown to reduce both Acute and Chronic Inflammation. This is because Oxygenation of your blood in a high-pressure environment reduces inflammatory markers such as C-Reactive Protein (CRP) and IL6. By reducing inflammation the body is able to heal and repair faster and more efficiently.
Overall, HBOT has a number of benefits for the body, including improving energy levels, reducing inflammation and swelling, and promoting faster healing and recovery from illness or injury. Whether you are looking to improve your overall health, reduce symptoms of chronic disease, or recover more quickly from an injury or illness, HBOT may be right for you.