It goes without saying that oxygen is vital for life! But oxygen therapy is quickly becoming a sought-after biohack to support optimal health and longevity. Let's see what all the fuss is about...
What is oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing 100% pure oxygen in a pressured environment. This usually takes place within an individual chamber or shared larger chamber which can provide oxygen therapy to multiple people at once.
Oxygen chambers look a little like submarine pods, which you walk into or climb inside. The oxygen supply is then delivered by an oxygen mask or cannula, with sessions usually lasting an hour or two.
Breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised environment has been shown to have a number of health benefits, to be beneficial for athletes and also to be an effective adjuvant therapy for some health conditions.
Conventionally, oxygen therapy has been utilised by medical professionals in healthcare environments to treat certain conditions.
However, in recent years the benefits of oxygen therapy have been shown to have the potential to help healthy individuals thrive - rather than just survive.
How does Oxygen Therapy work?
Oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber. The atmospheric pressure in the chamber is raised to three times higher than the oxygen we'd breathe from normal air. For clinical reasons, the pressure must be greater than sea level when breathing 100% pure oxygen.
As oxygen is directly proportional to its partial pressure, hyperbaric conditions greatly increase the oxygen available in the body. Under pressure, oxygen is dissolved in larger quantities in the blood plasma itself - not just the red blood cells as with usual pressure oxygen. This means that a higher amount of oxygen is transported to the tissues which can benefit from it.
Increasing the atmospheric pressure three times has been shown to increase plasma oxygen concentration from 3ml/L to over 60ml/L. This allows oxygen to be readily supplied to tissues throughout the body - rather than having to prioritise only certain organs and tissues.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Uses in Medicine
Medical use of oxygen therapy evolved from the use of oxygen to treat decompression illness in deep sea diving. It has been used medically since around the 1950s.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used in conventional medicine to treat a variety of conditions by providing a surplus of oxygen that can promote healing.
Conventional medical uses of oxygen therapy include the treatment of:
- Gas gangrene
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
- Decompression sickness ("the bends")
- Wound healing e.g. Diabetic and none-healing wounds
- Bone infection
- Soft tissue infection
- Athletes & post-workout recovery
There are many theories and evolving theories to explain how oxygen therapy works in relation to wound healing and treating chronic conditions.
Generally, it is known that white blood cells - a key player in our immune system - do not function well without oxygen, so increasing the oxygen available to them can enhance immune function.
Delivering higher levels of oxygen to tissues reduces the risk of infection, promotes wound healing and can potentially help non-healing wounds to heal.
The Benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Biohacking
Given the profound evidence supporting the use of oxygen therapy in the medical world, it makes sense that it can also help to support optimal wellness in healthy individuals too. Here are some of the main health benefits of using oxygen therapy as part of your healthy lifestyle.
- Strengthens the immune system
Perhaps one of the most well-known uses for hyperbaric oxygen therapy is to enhance immune function.
Hypoxia - or low oxygen states in the body - result in lower levels of function, repair and regeneration. This ultimately impairs the immune system and directly leads to increased risk of disease.
On the other hand, studies have shown that Hyperoxia (excess oxygen supply) can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of immune function.
Oxygen therapy which creates Hyperoxia in the body has been found to improve cellular optimisation - minimising cellular damage and promoting cellular regeneration.
Increasing the oxygen available to organs, tissues and cells enhances the function of red blood cells and white blood cells, as well as increasing the production of stem cells. Research has shown that this can improve immune function by disabling toxins and pathogens in the body and strengthening resistance to infection.
For this reason, HBOT could be a good idea for anyone who suffers from reduced immune function or who has an autoimmune condition.
- Promotes longevity
Needless to say, anything which enhances immune function is likely to contribute to improved longevity.
Oxygen therapy can help to improve longevity not just by reducing the risk of disease, but also by improving oxygen efficiency in older adults. Research has shown that the efficiency of oxygen uptake declines as we age. Oxygen therapy can be a useful way to deliver higher concentrations of oxygen to organs and tissues in older people when lung efficiency is not its best.
Amazingly, one study has also shown that HBOT can reverse two biological processes associated with ageing: shortening of telomeres (which protect DNA) and the accumulation of old and malfunctioning cells in the body. When treated with HBOT, scientists found that participants' cells actually grew younger (that's right!) as the oxygen therapy progressed.
- Lowers inflammation
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy down regulates your pro-inflammatory cytokines and up-regulates your anti-inflammatory defences. This essentially forces oxygen into tissues which normal circulation could not achieve - directly lowering inflammation and allowing tissues to heal.
It is for this reason that HBOT is often used for elite athletes and in sports recovery. Oxygen therapy increases blood flow and nutrient delivery to swollen and inflamed tissues, helping to repair muscle damage and prevent injury.
Of course, inflammation is an underlying root cause of many diseases and medical conditions - so paired with its immune enhancing impact, oxygen therapy can have a huge benefit on overall health and wellness.
- Optimise energy production
Energy in cells is produced by mitochondria, which break down food molecules and turn them into adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
ATP is the energy currency of cells which is used to fuel all cellular processes.
Just like a fire needs oxygen to burn, our mitochondria need oxygen to make ATP. In fact, as every cell in the body needs energy, every one of them also needs oxygen.
Research has shown that breathing 100% oxygen under pressure allows 1200% more oxygen to enter your circulatory system directly into your plasma, helping to optimise cellular energy production.
- Skin health & collagen synthesis
HBOT encourages the formation of collagen and skin cells, helping to rejuvenate and repair skin.
Studies have also shown that oxygen therapy can be an effective treatment for autoimmune skin conditions such as psoriasis. As it helps to empower the immune system and reduce inflammation, it can be a great root-cause solution and far more effective than cosmetic and topical treatments.
It should also be noted that oxygen therapy is incredible for wound healing, which can significantly reduce scarring of the skin. It can be a vital treatment for visible wounds such as those on the face, helping to prevent scarring and maintain nerve function.
How to Enjoy Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy at Home
As well as within wellness clinics and medical environments, portable oxygen chambers can be used at home. This is useful because research has shown that maximum benefits of oxygen therapy can be gained with consistent use over time.
Whilst conditions such as carbon monoxide poisoning can be treated with just a few sessions, supporting optimal health and longevity with oxygen therapy in healthy individuals could take upwards of 50 sessions.
So having an oxygen chamber at home is the easiest and most convenient way to get the most out of your oxygen therapy. Buying or renting an oxygen chamber can also be a more cost-effective way to benefit from this treatment.
It should always be noted that oxygen increases the risk of combustion and fire. As with any treatment, you should always consult with a medical professional before starting - particularly if you are using your own equipment at home.
Oxygen therapy gives the body an opportunity to elevate our innate use of oxygen to both heal and remain healthy. There's no denying the exciting potential for non-invasive oxygen therapy to become more widely available, helping to promote optimal health and wellness.
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.