Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: 5 Myths & Misconceptions

If you have already perused our services page, you probably read about the helpful information on Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and began considering how you could benefit from this treatment. An evidenced-based form of medical treatment, HBOT has worldwide research to back up its claims to be able to:

  • Promote the growth of new blood vessels
  • Regenerate diseased or damaged tissue
  • Help the body fight infection
  • Stimulate nerve and brain cell recovery
  • Reduce fatigue from chronic conditions
  • Neutralize and detoxify toxic substances
  • Speed the recovery from surgical procedures including plastic and elective surgeries

HBOT is a revolutionary medical procedure that makes use of the body’s need for oxygen by distributing the oxygen straight to the various cells in the body. Because of its many claims of positive results, HBOT has been considered by some to be a “cure all” for many illnesses and diseases. However, there are some misconceptions that must be addressed.

Myth #1: It’s a miracle cure! Because HBOT is a bit difficult to explain, some will be quick to say what it does is miraculous. It is not. If you think back to what you read on the services page, during HBOT the client breathes 100% medical grade oxygen in a specially designed chamber under increased atmospheric pressure. The entire body is super-saturated with healing, life-giving oxygen. Blood oxygen levels increase 10 to 15 times higher than normal. Oxygen is infused into all other body fluids and tissues as well, including the brain, bone marrow, and lymph. It’s not a miracle; it’s science!

Myth #2: It’s a fad and doesn’t work! While many are in search of a miracle cure, there are those who are eager to dismiss science-backed information. Much of the talk about HBOT being ineffective is due to simply not understanding the procedure or speaking with a trained provider. Because the technique claims positive results for a variety of issues, some seek to dismiss it as invaluable and quackery. 

While many may attribute HBOT’s popularity to media coverage of celebrities such as Michael Jackson and Keanu Reeves, the use of a hyperbaric chamber dates back over 300 years. In fact, the apparatus was used before oxygen was “discovered” in 1775. In 1662 British physician, Hank Henshaw created a chamber that pumped ambient air. It was Henshaw that discovered that by reducing the chamber pressure, those suffering from chronic illnesses greatly benefited.  

Myth #3: HBOT is an effective way to treat cancer! Some have claimed that since cancer is resistant to treatment when the cells are starved of oxygen, then it makes sense that HBOT’s ability to deliver oxygen to the body would then kill the cancerous cell. Not true. Research shows that HBOT is effective in slowing down the growth of some cancers. Clinical studies have shown that currently there is no therapeutic benefit of HBOT in the treatment of cancer. Simply put, the science does not support the claim that HBOT cures cancer.

Some hoping to take advantage of those desperate for assistance have also made claims that HBOT treats Lyme disease, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, and COVID-19. Currently, there is no FDA approval for or medical proof supporting such claims. 

Myth #4: HBOT is an “off-label” treatment! While some of its uses are “investigational,” HBOT is in fact FDA approved for indicated illnesses and conditions such as decompression illnesses, non-healing wounds due to diabetes, chronic infections, and carbon monoxide poisoning just to name a few. Take a look here for more on that.

Myth #5: There are no risks regarding HBOT! Like there are with most medical treatments and procedures, HBOT comes with a few risks and is not recommended for everyone. Individuals who have recently had ear surgery or trauma, have had a cold, or have a lung condition are advised to seek other treatments. HBOT procedures conducted in approved facilities are relatively safe and have few complications. However, the potential risks include: 

  • Ear and sinus pain
  • Middle ear injuries that could include tympanic membrane rupture
  • Temporary changes in vision
  • Lung collapse (rare)

High concentrations of oxygen also pose the risk of fire, which is why it is important to follow the FDA recommendations and be treated at an accredited facility. Explosions and fires have occurred in chambers that were reviewed by the FDA or were located at unaccredited facilities.

Although difficult for most laypersons to explain or understand, HBOT is a proven and FDA-backed treatment that is here to stay. Allow Dr. Thompson the opportunity to discuss with you if you would benefit from this evidence-based method. 

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