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Four Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

Updated on October 11, 2011

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not just for deep sea divers. We have all seen those compression chambers much loved of science fiction and heroic naval movies. The chisel jawed hero surfaces in a burst of slow motion spray, way too fast, from unimaginable depths and accompanied by improbably bold music. He gets to kiss the girl and sail off into the sunset, but presumably also gets into a hyperbaric chamber as soon as the cameras stop rolling. Or at least he gets to look at his stunt doubles through the plexi-glass portholes as they get hyperbaric oxygen therapy to avoid the 'bends'.

It was the drive to explore ever greater depths in our oceans that first led to the development of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Understanding the nature of our own atmosphere and the effects of changes in atmosphere upon the body has given us many insights into how the body works and how to treat it when it breaks down.

The 'bends' are what happens when the body is subjected to too rapid a change in atmospheric pressure nitrogen gas bubbles up in the bloodstream, breathing becomes difficult and cramp develops in the joints. Divers that spend long time periods at depth need to spend forty minutes in recompression for every hour under water. There are four main therapeutic benefits to be derived from Hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

1) Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is recompression. It is time spend in an oxygen rich atmosphere at two or three times the pressure of our normal atmosphere. Air embolism is also treated with time in a high pressure chamber. The high pressure is therapeutic in its own right. There are three other therapeutic aspects to hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

2) The process greatly increases the 'partial pressure of oxygen' in the tissues of the patient’s body. Inhaling pure oxygen under pressure is far more efficacious than taking oxygen via a face mask under normal atmospheric conditions, known as normobaric conditions. The air we breathe under normobaric conditions is twenty one percent oxygen and seventy eight percent nitrogen. 100% oxygen will enrich our blood by a lot and 100% oxygen under three times the pressure will work as a great catalyst to the healing process.

3) Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the oxygen carrying ability of the blood. The amount of oxygen attached to each molecule of hemoglobin is limited under normobaric conditions by the ability of our hemoglobin to hold on to it. Blood plasma carries very little oxygen. Under increased pressure and oxygen saturation this method of blood oxygenation can be very therapeutic because it really adds to blood plasma transporting ability. Oxygen in the blood and around the brain is an elemental (excuse the pun) force for well-being.

4) New proof is beginning to emerge that time spent in hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases the activity in our progenitor or stem cells. These cells are to be found in our bone marrow and rely on a nitric oxide mechanism to be triggered into growth. Such growth may well be the cause behind the healing of previously damaged organs and body tissue.


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    • janeenjesse@yahoo profile image

      Joanne Kathleen Farrell 

      7 years ago from Rensselaer NY

      I wish this therapy was avilable to people with Huntington's and other illnesses. I feel that it might be a way to help them. Thank you for explaining more about it.


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