The Holistic Sanctuary uses Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as part of our core family of therapies, in the treatment of Depression, PTSD, Anxiety, Addiction. Read more about our Method.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a medical treatment that employs the use of saturated oxygen at an elevated atmospheric pressure to enhance the natural healing process. At pressure twice or thrice the normal atmospheric pressure, HBOT is a reimbursed treatment for several medical conditions. It is proposed that the delivery of hyperbaric (high-pressure) pure oxygen not only boosts the body’s ability to recuperate quickly but also stimulates the cellular defences to actively fight infectious agents.
It is a well-established treatment modality for decompression sickness, that is a potential risk of scuba diving. HBOT is carried out in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber that can either be a Monoplace, i.e. can facilitate a single patient or a Multiplace, i.e. house two or more patients at the same time. Depending on the pathology, tolerability of the treatment, and the treatment responses, HBOT duration and frequency can vary from a few sessions to multiple sessions daily or weekly, for usually a period over 4-6 weeks. As this is a non-invasive treatment modality, it is a relatively painless and safe alternative to multiple invasive procedures that carry a high complication risk.
Under normal conditions, the majority of the oxygen inhaled enters the bloodstreams and binds to a protein called the haemoglobin. Only a small percentage of this oxygen dissolves in the blood itself. Under hypoxic conditions that are situations where blood cannot deliver adequate oxygen to tissues, such as brain injuries, the need for a measure which increases oxygenation of the blood is essentially therapeutic. HBOT comes handy in such a situation as it readily exposes the blood to high-pressure oxygen that readily dissolves in blood and improves cellular functions.
Similarly, for the natural process of wound healing to occur, a higher level of oxygen is required to fuel the increased metabolic demands. It is estimated that increasing the atmospheric pressure to 0.5-1.5 times can raise the oxygen levels in blood up to 700% to 1200%. At this concentration oxygen acts as a drug itself, accelerating the process of healing by stimulating the mitochondria, that are the energy stores of the cell.
The use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been frequently employed to treat the following medical conditions:Carbon monoxide poisoning,
The benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be appreciated due to the following reasons:
Any trauma or insult that damages the walls of the blood vessels leads to leakage of blood in tissue spaces resulting in swelling. Together these two deprive the cells of oxygenation, and the tissue starves to death. Introducing hyperbaric oxygen in this situation not only improves the oxygenation of tissue but also reduces the swelling thus preventing cell death. Hyperoxygentaion is also found to increase the rate of wound closure up to 70% in cases of chronic wounds.
HBOT can essentially decrease the risks of infection by detoxifying the body of harmful toxins produced by infectious agents. Alongside, as it also increases the oxygen concentration in the tissues, it helps them resist infection. Lastly, it strengthens the activity of leukocytes, that are the white blood cells to fight any developing infections or free radicals.
HBOT stimulates angiogenesis that is the formation of new blood vessels by encouraging the release of growth factors from existing cells. It also enhances the production of collagen that is essential for strengthening newly formed skin and blood vessels. HBOT is also found associated with recruiting the stem cells, which are special cells that have the potential to divide and replicate.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is generally a safe procedure if protocols are properly followed. Complications and side effects are rare and may include:
HBOT should, therefore, be avoided if the patient has an active or recent history of ear infections, ear surgery, fever, cold or lung pathologies.
With the progression of time, the use of Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has also been extended to manage mental illnesses. These include PTSD, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, anxiety and depression and attention problems, etc. for our purpose three of the most common psychiatric applications have been discussed below:
Alcohol and substance abuse is linked with suppression of neurotransmitters in the brain chronically. Therefore, when an individual suddenly stops using these addictive agents, the brain floods back with the previously suppressed neurotransmitters, resulting in, what is known as the withdrawal symptoms. The fear of withdrawal is one of the most important reasons why people with addiction have difficulty in detoxification. Similarly, long term substance abuse is associated with cellular damage in the brain due to poor-blood perfusion. These damaged cells further hinder the process of detoxification. Here, HBOT comes into play by effectively increasing the blood circulation in the brain and by adequately perfusing the damaged cells to accelerate the process of detoxification with as minimum withdrawal symptoms as possible. The increased oxygen absorption reduces the half-life of toxic substances in the brain, along with expediting the healing process.
HBOT, therefore, has been acknowledged as a safe and effective measure, with a strong propensity to treat the etiology of the disease of addiction, by The 21st Century Cures Act passed in 2016. An animal model study conducted at Washington State University also found HBOT to ease the withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction. The researchers proposed the therapy to be able to activate the internal opioid systems, which in turn should alleviate opioid withdrawal. The pre-treated animal group with HBOT demonstrated far fewer withdrawal symptoms than the untreated group.
Human trials have also concluded positive findings in terms of antihypoxic detoxifying and bioenergetic effects of hyperbaric oxygen. A study followed 340 patients with complaints of substance abuse in two groups, with one on medicinal therapy and others on both medicinal and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It was observed that participants with exposure to hyperbaric oxygenation demonstrated more favorable results in terms of reduced treatment duration needed, with the development of fewer complications.
Recent advances have shown that the injury to the brain tissue caused by addiction has similarities to the insult to the brain caused by traumatic brain injury (TBI). HBOT, thus, holds superiority over other modalities used to tackle addiction due to its ability to heal deep areas of the brain otherwise inaccessible. This painless, convenient measure treats the root cause of the addiction at a cellular level, thus, promising an improved quality of life in addicts.
The United States National Comorbidity Survey recently estimated the lifetime prevalence of PTSD among adult Americans to be 6.8%. It is of concern as the treatment modality still consists of off-label use of FDA black-box labeled psychoactive medications, counseling, and stimulative and adaptive strategies. No single course is effective in managing Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), was first introduced in military subjects suffering from PTSD in 2009. Since then, multiple pieces of research have been put forward that supports the use of HBOT in the treatment of PTSD.
A study published in 2011, reported the safe application of a 29-day treatment course of 1.5 ATA HBOT to 16 United States servicemen with priorly diagnosed PTSD. Significant improvements were noted at the end of treatment in terms of symptoms, physical exam findings, cognitive testing, and quality-of-life measurements, with concomitant improvements on brain imaging. These results were also accompanied by a significant reduction or elimination of the need for psychoactive and narcotic prescription medication in 64% of subjects that were priorly on them.
The use of hyperbaric oxygen to manage mental illnesses, especially depression in the post-stroke patient has been studied in depth. A study published in 2015 followed 90 patients suffering from depression secondary to stroke. The subjects were divided into three groups: with group one receiving fluoxetine ( an antidepressant), group two receiving HBOT, and group three receiving a combination of fluoxetine and HBOT together. All patients received routine rehabilitation therapy along with the treatment, and regular assessment was carried out with the help of the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAMD) at various intervals. At the end of the trial, it was that the total effective rate of combined hyperbaric oxygen therapy was higher than other routine anti-post-stroke depression treatments.
The Holistic Sanctuary uses hyperbaric chambers to treat various chronic brain diseases, including drug addiction, alcoholism, PTSD, depression, anxiety and trauma. The use of hyperbaric chamber therapy in healing and wellness centers proves to be imperative. An increase of oxygen in the human body also helps improve athletic performance, many athletes seek hyperbaric chamber therapy for endurance, injury recovery, and pain relief. The therapy also has rejuvenating and anti-aging properties. Oxygen stimulates collagen production and skin elasticity, it can eliminate toxins which repairs damaged skin, furthermore it is commonly used post cosmetic treatment to speed up recovery, help with bruising, swelling and scarring. Oxygen also promotes general health and wellness, increases energy, boosts the immune system, relieves pain and stress, helps regulate sleeping patterns, improves mental functions, has restoring, relaxing and rejuvenating effects. Hyperbaric chamber therapy allows the body to regenerate cells and increase blood flow, so it can heal naturally and completely.
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