Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy. I first started doing Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy during the month that I spent at the Hope 4 Cancer Institute in Mexico. This therapy was part of my daily regimen while I was there, and I often looked forward to it as one of my favorite parts of the day.
When I came back home I was able to find clinics in my area where I could continue this therapy. However, due to cost restraints I could not continue with the daily Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy treatments. Instead, I switched to only going in for treatments for a few times a week for a period of time (what I like to think of as a “season,”) and then stopping completely for a while.
What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment in which you breathe 100% pure oxygen in a pressurized environment (i.e. from within a chamber in which atmospheric pressure is increased and controlled). HBOT is a noninvasive therapy that makes oxygen get absorbed and dissolved into your bloodstream more quickly. This increases oxygen levels to all of your body’s organs.
How does oxygen affect your body’s cells?
Your body’s normal, healthy cells require a constant supply of oxygen in order to survive. They use oxygen to produce cellular energy via the mitochondria, in a process called aerobic metabolism.
However, cancer cells have an altered metabolism and do not require oxygen. These cells use anaerobic processes to produce energy from both glucose and amino acid fermentation. What is most important if you have cancer is that environments with a high level of oxygen have been shown to be toxic to cancer cells. An environment that is rich in oxygen—such as what is created during Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy—slows cancer cells’ growth and can trigger their death.
How does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy work?
The increased pressure associated with HBOT causes the oxygen molecules to become smaller. This makes it easier for them to dissolve into and saturate your blood plasma, which in turn greatly increases oxygen delivery throughout your body. In fact, with this therapy your bloodstream can absorb up to 20 times more oxygen than it can under normal conditions.
This higher level of oxygen enhances your body’s innate ability to repair and regenerate. By increasing oxygen in the body, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy:
- Supports the function of normal cells, including enabling more oxygen to reach inflamed tissue
- Brings more oxygen to damaged organs and tissues, for faster healing and a shorter recovery time
- Creates an environment that has been shown to be toxic to the function of cancerous cells
What are the potential benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Over the past 50 years, thousands of clinical trials and case studies have demonstrated that HBOT can be successfully used as an adjunct therapy for treating a wide variety of chronic or acute medical conditions.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has been shown to help:
- Heal and regenerate damaged blood vessels, and promote the growth of new blood vessels (remember, blood vessels are responsible for bringing oxygen and nutrients to cells)
- Increase blood flow
- Help the body’s natural immune defenses fight infection and bacteria
- Reduce swelling around damaged areas of the body, such as the inflammation in tissue and bones that are next to the site where a patient is receiving radiation treatment
- Speed up healing
- Slow cancer growth
What are the common side effects of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Most patients do not experience symptoms and are able to return to work or get back to their day immediately. I personally have not experienced any side effects from this therapy.
Some patients experience ear popping, claustrophobia, mild sinus discomfort and/or brief-lasting short-sightedness.
In very rare cases, patients experience pulmonary oxygen toxicity, and very rarely this will induce seizures.
How do you get started with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
Under federal guidelines, the type of HBOT that uses 100% oxygen requires a doctor’s prescription to be administered. Many functional medicine practitioners offer this modality for their patients. If you wish to pursue Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, the best way to start is by contacting the functional medicine practitioners nearest you.
Another option is what is called “Mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy” (mHBOT). This therapy administers less oxygen (95%) at a lower level of pressure than the standard therapy. mHBOT does not require a prescription but still provides strong benefits.
In addition, while it certainly isn’t exactly the same as Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, as a more affordable option I purchased a machine called an Oxygen Concentrator. I have a mask that allows me to use this while I’m doing Rebounding therapy, which is like turning my Rebounding time into a double therapy!
What’s it like to get Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?
A typical HBOT session lasts for 30 to 90 minutes. The sessions I do each last for 60 minutes. During the session you simply lie down, breathe normally, and relax. It’s really quite relaxing and enjoyable – and hour of “me time” during which you can collect your thoughts, read a book, listen to something uplifting, watch a movie on your iPad, or just “be.”
When I was at the clinic in Mexico I was very intentional about scheduling my Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy sessions at the end of the day. I looked for to these treatments as a time when I could just relax and unwind from my day.
While I’m sure that the therapy had (and continues to have) an impact on my body, it’s nothing specific that I can point to. For me, just knowing that the cancer cells hate oxygen—the very thing that this therapy floods them with—is enough to make me happy!
What’s your experience?
Have you tried Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy? If so, what has been your experience with this therapy? Has it made you feel anything different in your healing process? Please share your experiences in the comments section below. I would really love to learn about your journey!