What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

The Importance Of Oxygen

Before we get into hyperbaric oxygen therapy let’s first discuss the importance of oxygen. What does your body need most? Oxygen, often called the giver of life, plays a vital role in maintaining life. Because oxygen produces the energy that our bodies need to function, only by constantly breathing in fresh oxygen can we stay alive. 21 percent of every breath we take is a new supply of oxygen entering our bodies.

When oxygen enters our lungs, it is absorbed by our red blood cells. The red blood cells then transport the oxygen to all of the cells in our body. Our body utilizes the oxygen to grow, repair itself, and defend against diseases and the destruction they bring. Oxygen is the fuel our cells use to metabolize glucose and thus create energy for the body to function.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

“Hyper” means increased and “baric” relates to pressure. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is essentially oxygen that is delivered under pressure. A hyperbaric oxygen chamber is a sealed chamber into which oxygen is pumped under a controlled amount of pressure. The special conditions allow you to breathe up to more than four times the normal amount of oxygen, which greatly increases the oxygenation of your organs, tissues, and body fluids.

Breathing 100 percent pure oxygen outside the hyperbaric chamber does not significantly increase your cells’ oxygen uptake. However, when a patient is in the hyperbaric chamber, the increased pressure causes bodily fluids like the plasma in your blood to absorb much larger quantities of oxygen, notably increasing oxygen uptake by the cells, tissues, glands, organs, and brain. The body utilizes this rich source of oxygen to sustain all its vital functions.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Benefits

There are a lot of benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

  • Facilitates the growth of new blood vessels, enabling the transport of additional blood
  • Results in an eight-fold increase in the number of stem cells circulating throughout the body
  • Assists in healing by restoring tissue oxygen levels to normal when they are reduced due to illness or injury
  • Augments the body’s natural defense mechanisms to help fight infections and kill bacteria
  • Helps reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Neutralizes toxins in the brain
  • Scavenges free radicals and promotes internal cleansing of debris
  • Helps impaired organs to function better

What Illnesses Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treat?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been around since the 1600s and is still currently used by conventional and alternative medicine practitioners. However, alternative medicine doctors use this therapy to treat many more conditions than what conventional medicine uses it to treat.

Conventional medicine utilizes hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat the conditions listed below.

  • Decompression sickness
  • Serious infections
  • Air bubbles in blood vessels
  • Wounds that won’t heal as a result of diabetes or radiation injury
  • Anemia
  • Burns
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Sudden deafness
  • Skin graft
  • Radiation injury
  • Brain abscess
  • Sudden and painless vision loss
  • Gangrene
  • Crushing injury

Alternative medicine goes a step further and utilizes hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat the conditions listed above PLUS the following conditions.

  • Allergies
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Brain injury
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Cirrhosis
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Heart disease
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Sports injury
  • Stroke

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy For Cancer

According to research, using hyperbaric oxygen therapy for cancer may be beneficial. Although the benefits are still being researched studies have shown that when used alongside other cancer treatments patients can receive the following benefits.

Reduced cancer growth

One way hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be effective in fighting cancer is causing a reduction in hypoxia. Hypoxia is a low-oxygen condition that is common in cancerous tumors. This condition involves enhanced cell survival, angiogenesis, glycolytic metabolism, and metastasis. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy cures hypoxia by enhancing the amount of dissolved oxygen in the plasma and thereby increasing O2 delivery to the tissue.

Improved delivery of chemotherapy drugs to the tumor

Hypoxia can also create chemotherapeutic resistance where cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy drugs and grow instead of shrink during chemo. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment helps overcome chemotherapeutic resistance by increasing both tumor perfusion and cellular sensitivity.

Allows the Body To Heal Itself Through Stem Cells:

Stem cells are cells that are capable of changing their nature to become part of many different organs and tissues. In response to injury, these cells move from the bone marrow to the injured sites, where they differentiate into cells that assist in the healing process. A study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases stem cells in a patient’s body eight-fold.

Reduce Inflammation:

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can significantly reduce inflammation in the body. C- reactive protein (CRP), which measures the overall inflammatory response of the body and is a common marker for cancer is lower in patients that receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Replenishes Damaged Tissue From Radiation:

According to Dr. Farris Gulli of the Hyperbaric Medicine Center at Michigan’s Beaumont Health System, between 5 and 15 percent of cancer patients experience complications when undergoing radiation. Many of these complications come from damage to blood vessels which feed healthy cells. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Cancer can stimulate the body to repair these damaged tissues.

Increases Effectiveness of Traditional Cancer Therapies

Some patients choose to use our alternative therapies to support their traditional cancer therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is perfect for this in fact, a 2013 Japanese study discovered that hyperbaric oxygen therapy greatly enhanced the effectiveness of conventional treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. And a study in 2009 & 2007 found that cancer patients that engage in hyperbaric oxygen therapy in addition to their conventional treatments had longer survival times and dealt with fewer side effects.

Meet The Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Doctor:

Joseph Shaw Jones, M.D.

Medical Director, Cancer Program
Board Certified Internal Medicine

Joseph Shaw Jones, M.D., is the medical director for Gentle Wellness Center’s alternative cancer treatment program, which includes infusion services and the IPT (insulin potentiation therapy) program. He also oversees the hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber and provides general internal medicine services at Gentle Wellness Center.

A native of North Carolina, Dr. Jones graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1984 where he was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He subsequently completed his Internal Medicine residency and Gastroenterology fellowship at Wake Forest University Medical Center, and practiced as a clinical gastroenterologist for 10 years. Dr. Jones remains board eligible in the discipline. He is also a member of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM) and the European Academy for IPT.

Among the services Dr. Jones provides at Gentle Wellness:

  • Cancer treatment (low-dose chemotherapy)
  • Chelation therapy
  • General internal medicine
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT)

Dr. Jones seeks the best combination of conventional therapies and alternative medicine in a truly integrative fashion. He recognizes that time spent talking with his patients and family members, explaining the sometimes complex health issues that are present, is time well spent. He is an advocate of a patient’s right to decide what goes in to their bodies, and believes that a well-informed patient supported by a caring practitioner can make better choices in their medical care.