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“Hyper” means increased and “baric” relates to pressure. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) thus refers to intermittent treatment of the entire body with 100% oxygen at greater than normal atmospheric pressures.
While undergoing HBOT, pressure is increased up to two times (2 ATA) in 100% oxygen. This increased pressure, combined with an increase in oxygen to 100 percent, dissolves oxygen in the blood plasma and in all body cells, tissues and fluids at up to 10 times normal concentration-high enough to sustain life with no blood at all (from 20% to 100% oxygen is an increase of 5 times, from 1 ATA to 2 ATA can double this to a 10-fold increase).
The delivery of 100% oxygen under pressure (1.5 to 3 ATA) within the hyperbaric chamber provides up to 20 times normal oxygen to all tissues within the body.This oxygen super saturation is in marked contrast to breathing room air.
Inside the hyperbaric chamber, oxygen molecules are compressed and become more soluble, obeying the scientific principles of Boyle’s Universal Gas Law. This phenomenon allows oxygen to effortlessly cross cell membranes and enter all of the body’s fluid systems, including plasma, synovial, lymphatic, interstitial (between cells) and cerebrospinal fluids. Normally, only the red blood cells are capable of transporting oxygen throughout the body. Now, all body fluids combine to provide alternate transport routes for extra oxygen and cumulatively can provide up to 20 times normal O2.
Aids in Killing Bacteria: Conditions created within the hyperbaric oxygen chamber are not favorable for the viability of bacteria, fungi and viruses – organisms that cannot survive in an oxygen rich environment. Extra oxygen is provided to the white blood cells (leukocytes) which become supercharged in the battle against bacteria responsible for causing infection and illness.
The Formation of New Blood Vessels: Hyperbaric Oxygen stimulates the body to grow new capillaries (angiogenesis), essentially building a new collateral circulatory system to serve injured and healthy tissues alike. The resulting neovascularization is extremely helpful for reaching tissues and organs that have restricted blood flow (ischemic areas) as well as areas of the body that are lacking or compromised in available oxygen (hypoxic areas).
A Surge of Antioxidant Capabilities: Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) is an important enzyme found in human cells that inactivates superoxide’s, the most common free radicals in the body, responsible for destruction of cells. Hyperbaric Oxygen stimulates SOD production thereby helping the body to rid itself of the byproducts of inflammation and damaging free radicals.
Hyperbaric Oxygen has been proven to create a synergistic effect when administered in conjunction with certain antibiotics. Synergy can be understood as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently. Administration of HBOT biomechanically potentiates the effectiveness of antibiotic therapy. The capabilities of sulfanomides are increased up to ten fold when HBOT is added. Increased oxygen levels from HBOT alone also act as antibiotics by impairing bacterial metabolism.
Faster regeneration of bone is derived by hyperbaric oxygen’s ability to stimulate and increase production of specialized cells (osteoblasts and osteoclasts) responsible for bone repair and formation.
These essential building blocks of connective-tissue, tendon and skin matrix (fibroblasts and collagen) provide the structural framework throughout the body and play a critical role in wound healing. Fibroblast and collagen reproduction and growth are aided by the added availability of increased oxygen provided during hyperbaric conditions.
Inflammation, one of the most common mechanisms of disease and injury, is caused by biochemical byproducts that are manufactured by the body’s natural immune response. Hyperbaric oxygen markedly decreases inflammation by stimulating the body’s own anti-inflammatory defenses. This may be the single most important function of HBOT. HBOT has only lately begun to gain recognition for treatment of chronic degenerative health problems related to atherosclerosis, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, diabetic ulcers, wound healing, cerebral palsy, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, and many other disorders. Wherever blood flow and oxygen delivery to vital organs is reduced, function and healing can potentially be aided with HBOT. For example, when the brain is injured by stroke, CP, or trauma, HBO may wake up stunned parts of the brain to restore function.