The Center for Disease Control and Prevention collaborated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and National Center for Health Statistics to publish the “Health, United States, 2016” study. The research was a comprehensive report about the health status of the nation to the President and Congress of the United States, in 2017.
The study, after evaluating data collected between 2011 and 2014, concluded that 48.9 percent of US citizens used at least one prescription drug in the past 30 days, with 23.1 percent using three or more drugs and 11.9 percent using five or more drugs in the past one month.
It is an open secret that OTC (Over-the-Counter) drug use in the United States is at an all-time high with the nation leading in pharmaceutical drug production through its ever-growing empire, worth $392 billion. While such enormous growth clearly indicates the advancement and breakthroughs taking place each day, it is making the mankind overly dependent on artificial drugs for curing and treating health conditions, which can be countered organically otherwise.
Continued use of artificial drugs negatively affects our health in the long-term, which is why many are now looking for alternative treatment therapies for neurological as well as physical health issues.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) was first used by Behnke and Shaw in the 1930s to treat deep sea divers diagnosed with decompression sickness. Since then, this therapeutic discourse has been used by many as an alternative to surgical medical procedures and use of OTC drugs.
The air that we breathe in contains more or less 21 percent oxygen. However, in a hyperbaric chamber used in the HBOT, pure oxygen is filled inside the sealed compartment under an increased air pressure for the patient to breathe in. The combination of 100 percent unadulterated oxygen and higher air pressure enables all body fluids to absorb the inhaled air and deliver it to the damaged tissues, where blood circulation is impaired.
Currently, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved the application of hyperbaric chamber for 13 ailments. However, the success stories of HBOT go beyond the approved applications and are is being used by many to treat non-approved neurological conditions, such as autism, traumatic brain injury, autism, cerebral palsy, and PTSD, simultaneously.
ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term for a range of neurological and developmental ailments which hamper the individual’s social, communicative, and behavioral developments. The most serious condition among all ailments, falling under ASD, is Autism.
The application of hyperbaric chamber for the treatment of Autism is yet to receive FDA approval. However, that has not affected the increasing popularity of this therapy in the autistic community.
For the uninitiated, individuals diagnosed with ASD exhibit a set of physical abnormalities, namely, high levels of oxidative stress, cerebral hypoperfusion, neuroinflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction, which further aggravates the health condition, if left untreated. Over the years, scientific research stated that the application of hyperbaric therapy has brought about a marked improvement in these health conditions leading to significant development in communication and behavior.
Children born with cerebral palsy experience some kind of brain trauma either during the birth or before birth. Traumatic brain injuries, on the other hand, can be a result of a physical accident experience by an individual. Nevertheless, in both the instances the brain cells expire either due to the deficiency of oxygen or trauma. This leads to blood plasma leakage around the brain tissue surrounding the affected region causing impaired blood flow and swelling of the area.
The normal brain cells in the area surrounding the damaged tissues go dormant due to the swelling and stop functioning in the absence of adequate amount of oxygen. HBO therapy, under higher air pressure, increases the amount of pure oxygen absorbed into the blood plasma and other body fluids., to be delivered to the affected area and the regions surrounding it. The pure oxygen helps in preventing blood plasma leakage, reduces the swelling, and restores blood flow to the dormant cells. Physicians claim that the supply of pure oxygen enhances the dormant healing capabilities of these unaffected cells to treat the injured tissues in the brain.
Athletes sustain several injuries while playing on the field or during their rigorous training schedules. To gain active recovery and to treat these injuries faster than traditional healing methods, many world-renowned sports personalities resort to HBOT therapy. Tennis star Rafael Nadal, golfer Tiger Woods, swimmer Michael Phelps, basketball player LeBron James, and many others have publicly acknowledged of using hyperbaric chamber. HBOT for athletes helps in wound healing, active recovery, TBI and concussion treatment, compartment syndrome treatment, performance boost, cartilage damage treatment, ligament injury, muscle strains, and increasing mental focus.
Similar to oxygen, carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas. However, the properties of both the gases are poles apart. While oxygen helps us live, inhaling carbon monoxide in large amount can lead to poisoning and eventually death. Carbon monoxide gas pairs with the hemoglobin in the blood, preventing it from carrying oxygen to the tissues and cells. Pure oxygen administered under increased air pressure inside the hyperbaric chamber enters deep into the blood plasma, effectively countering the toxicity of carbon monoxide.
Air or gas embolism is one of the many FDA approved ailments using hyperbaric chamber for treatment. As a matter of fact, HBOT has been considered a primary treatment for this health condition for decades. Air or gas embolism takes place when air bubbles enter veins or arteries, improperly, obstructing blood flow and causing extensive internal injuries. The increased air pressure inside the hyperbaric chamber helps in reducing the size of the air bubbles, enabling them to dissolve in the blood plasma.
While the application of hyperbaric chamber still awaits approval from FDA for the treatment of some health conditions, it cannot be denied that HBOT has significantly improved the quality of life of many individuals. However, it is best to choose the treatment only after consulting a doctor to determine the number, duration, and other specifics of the HBOT sessions. Hopefully, this article has provided you with adequate information to make an informed decision about this novel treatment modality.