THE SCIENCE OF HYPERBARIC OXYGEN
The Healing within
The air we breathe is approximately 21% Oxygen at sea level. Hyperbaric Oxygen works by increasing the saturation effect of dissolved Oxygen into the blood and surrounding tissue structures that have been deprived of vital Oxygen (hypoxic tissue). HBOT provides the body with greater opportunity for healing by increasing Oxygen concentration in the body by up to 15-20 fold.
This is very important given the fact that approximately 20 to 30 percent of the body’s consumption of Oxygen occurs within three to five percent of body mass – the brain and the spinal cord structures. These structures are extremely sensitive to Oxygen, which can result in dramatic effects when Oxygen is deficient or will benefit greatly through Hyperbaric Oxygenation. (Hooper 2005)
Hyperbaric Oxygenation Effects on Blood Flow
Prepared by Malcolm R Hooper - OXYMED Australia
Normal blood flow
There is 21% Oxygen in the air that we breathe, and our lungs transfer this Oxygen to our red blood cells (via haemoglobin). These Oxygen-filled red blood cells are carried around the body by the plasma (fluid), which travels through the blood vessels. The oxygen diffuses into the surrounding tissue ensuring that it is delivered to where it is needed most.
Restricted blood flow (ischemia) causes Hypoxia
When there is a restriction (occlusion) in blood flow due to surgery, illness, or injury, the red blood cells block the blood vessel and are unable to transfer Oxygen to the cells on the other side of the occlusion. This causes swelling and starves the area of oxygen, causing hypoxia (a lack of Oxygen); when this occurs the tissue begins to break down.
Cytokine Storm is triggered by Hypoxia - the over expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines inducing (apoptosis) programmed cellular degeneration (autoimmune illness).
Apoptosis modifies the expression of plasticity (the ability of the body to repair). Apoptotic bodies and altered DNA fragmentations are observed in the avascular ischemic region with increased inhibitory biochemical factors (proteins) released into the damaged parts of the body causing further deterioration.
Breathing 100% Oxygen under pressure causes the Oxygen to diffuse into the blood plasma. This Oxygen-rich plasma is able to travel past the restriction, diffusing up to 3 times further into the tissue. The pressurised environment helps to reduce swelling and discomfort, while providing the body with at least 10-15 times its normal supply of Oxygen to help repair tissue damaged by the original occlusion or subsequent hypoxic condition.
Hyperbaric Oxygenation (HBOT) directly increases the saturation effects of tissue Oxygenation - restoring blood supply to the compromised region by the development of new capillary networks (neovascularization) that may enable the body to better heal.
Stem Cell Mobilisation
HBOT mobilizes the body’s circulating stem cells. American Journal Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology (Nov 05)] reports a single 2-hour exposure to HBOT at 2 ATA doubles circulating CD34+ progenitor stem cells, and at approx. 40-hours of HBOT the circulating CD34+ cells increases eight fold (800%).
Undersea Hyperb Med 2014 May-Jun;41(3):247-52.
Therapeutic mechanisms of action for hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy are based on elevation of both the partial pressure of inspired O2 and of the hydrostatic pressure. This last mechanism contributes to a compression of all gas-filled spaces in the body (Boyle's Law) and is relevant to treat conditions where gas bubbles are present in the body and cause the disease (e.g., intravascular embolism; decompression sickness with intravascular or intra-tissue bubbles). However, the majority of patients treated with HBO2 do not suffer from bubble-induced injuries, but derive clinical improvements from the elevated O2 partial pressures.
High O2 partial pressures in various tissues increase the production of reactive O2 species (ROS) and also of reactive nitrogen species (RNS) because of hyperoxia. Most controlled studies have verified that the clinical efficacy from HBO2 derives from modulation of intracellular transduction cascades, leading to synthesis of growth factors and promoting wound healing and ameliorating post-ischemic and post-inflammatory injuries.