HBOT: How Does It Work?
Everyone knows we need oxygen for our survival. It is a critical nutrient for our cells in order to function and produce energy.
So what is the difference between the air you and I we breathe, using medical grade green tank oxygen and using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)?
The air we breathe is 21% oxygen. The rest is primarily Nitrogen. As we breathe air in, our body is able to take the oxygen (our body’s fuel source) from the air, dissolve it through our lungs and then carry it though our whole circulatory system (using red blood cells) to oxygenate every single cell we have (about 10 trillion). Once the oxygen has left the red blood cells, they picks up carbon dioxide (our cells waste product) and carries that back to our lungs for removal during an exhale. It’s a pretty amazing process actually!
If you have ever been in the hospital or perhaps at your annual physical, the doctor has put that little instrument on your finger that measures your pulse and oxygen saturation. If you are relatively healthy – especially without lung or other breathing issues (COPD) – you would be about 98-100% saturated with oxygen. This means your red blood cells are currently maxed out and carrying as much oxygen as they possibly can. If there is some type of lung condition, that number will drop into the low 90s and possibly into the 80s. This would mean the lungs were not pulling enough oxygen out of the air in order to fill those red blood cells with oxygen. In those cases, medical grade green tank oxygen can be a miracle. Now instead of breathing 21% oxygen from the air, we can breathe 100% oxygen from a tank (or oxygen concentrator machine) and increase how much oxygen we can use to fill those red blood cells. In many cases, this is sufficient enough to help many COPD-type patients.
Becoming more than 100% Saturated
In certain cases, a patient may already be 100% saturated with oxygen (because there is NO pulmonary/lung disease), but one of the following conditions is present:
There is a blockage somewhere preventing the oxygen from getting where it needs it to go (TBI, neuropathy, stroke, trauma, excessive swelling). These patients cannot bring anymore oxygen in (they are 100% saturated, but, they cannot get oxygen to the area in need due to some other issue,trauma or condition.
These patients really need a much higher amount of free floating oxygen (more than 100% saturation) in order to help heal from a certain condition (fibromyalgia, dementia, Lyme, CP, MS, ALS, etc ). If the body had access to this “extra” oxygen, it would have more of what it needs to further promote healing and reduce inflammation and toxicity.
In these cases, HBOT is the necessary tool to administer the proper type and amount of oxygen. Simply put, HBOT does not rely on the red blood cell system carrying oxygen for the body. It will fill those cells, but even more, due to the pressure inside the chamber, it will dissolve “extra” oxygen into the plasma of the blood and directly into our tissues. In this case, we are able to effectively be 110-140% saturated, delivering 10-40% more oxygen to tissues that have literally been starving for more oxygen.
Most importantly it meets my standard of “safety to effectiveness” ratio. HBOT is one of the safest healthcare modalities that exists and yet is enormously effective in helping to heal from a large variety of conditions. Risk to benefit ratio is very clearly high benefit, low risk! It is a shame that HBOT is not on the front line of therapies for some of the above conditions.