What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a natural therapy involving the supply of near-pure oxygen under increased atmospheric pressure in a hyperbaric chamber. This creates an environment that allows your lungs to take in vastly greater volumes of oxygen. The extra oxygen saturates the red blood cells and is absorbed by the blood plasma, enabling much greater oxygen delivery to all tissues in the body.
Increasing our oxygen levels during hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the body’s natural restoration, rehabilitation, and rejuvenation abilities, by allowing for a greater rate of cell division to take place, providing numerous benefits for all kinds of ailments, disorders, and diseases. This is fundamental for tissue growth and regeneration, especially during the body’s recovery process after injury or surgery.
However, its restoration properties are not just for those looking for the health benefits but for individuals who are interested in anti-ageing therapies too, which HBOT is becoming increasingly popular for.
The process of hyperbaric oxygen therapy
During HBOT, oxygen is delivered via a mask, mouthpiece with nose clip, or hood whilst the individual is situated within a hyperbaric oxygen chamber.
The client takes their place comfortably inside the chamber as the oxygen supply begins. The door will then be closed and the process of pressurising the chamber will commence.
Pressure inside will exceed 1.0 ATA (atmosphere absolute), which is the typical atmospheric pressure recorded at sea level and is generally increased to a pressure typically ranging from 1.3 to 2.0 ATA. Treatment here at HybO2 can vary between 60 and 90 minutes at 2.0 ATA.
The therapy can take place in either a monoplace or a multiplace hyperbaric chamber. A monoplace chamber holds a single client whilst a multiplace chamber can host several who all breathe oxygen individually – chambers are never filled with high percentages of oxygen and are kept as close to normal air as possible for safety reasons. Here at HybO2 we only offer treatment in monoplace chambers.
When the session has been completed, the chamber is depressurised, the door will be opened, and clients can leave the chamber. After a period of rehydration, you are able to exit the clinic and go about your normal activities.
What happens to the body during therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen your blood can carry. The increase in available oxygen in hyper-oxygenated tissues throughout the body allows for greater production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which in turn increases the available energy released by cell respiration. This increase in the rate of cell respiration enables a greater rate of cell division which is fundamental to tissue growth and regeneration.
As a result, it helps the body fight bacteria and viruses, and even weaken cancer cells – none of which generally thrive in oxygen rich environments. HBOT is also known to stimulate the release of growth factors, increasing collagen and stem cell production by up to eight times greater than normal.
It is the accurate reproduction of healthy cell structures and DNA that determines the success and speed of tissue regeneration and healing. A high level of oxygen availability in the body’s cells is essential to this process.
The history of hyperbaric oxygen therapy
Whilst the method of using compressed air within a chamber dates back as far as 1662, it was not until two centuries later in 1861 that a hyperbaric chamber was used to treat decompression illness among the Hudson Tunnel workers who would work below sea level all day.
The use of hyperbaric chambers to treat decompression sickness generally disappeared until 1921, when Orval J. Cunningham observed that mortality rates from the Spanish flu were greater in higher-elevated areas. After observing some success in his patients suffering from the flu, a tragic accident occurred due to mechanical failure which halted his work.
Momentum around HBOT to treat various other medical conditions – not just decompression sickness – began to pick up speed from 1956 when it was discovered HBOT could be used as an aid in cardiopulmonary surgery. Then in 1961, it was reported that anaerobic infections were inhibited during hyperbaric treatment, which led to it being used to treat other medical conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning, wound healing, and various infections.