Can We Take Oxygen As A Supplement?

By Trevor Chetcuti on 18 Sep 2014
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Can We Take Oxygen As A Supplement

Photo: James Heilman, Wikicommons

Oxygen is the most crucial substance to our health. Every one of our cells is dependent on it for survival and function.

In fact, we know sleep apnoea is associated with many development and age-related conditions.

While it is always important to solve issues with low oxygen (hypoxia), sometimes adding oxygen to our system can be of great benefit.

Our ability to carry oxygen is very much influenced by atmospheric pressure. As we climb in altitude, our ability to harness the benefits of oxygen decreases, leading to fatigue and, if high enough, altitude sickness. 

“We can think of hyperbaric therapy as an oxygen supplement for our system.”

Our body compensates and adapts to this by creating more red blood cells. This phenomenon is used by many athletes to improve their oxygen carrying capabilities prior to competition and is commonly referred to as high altitude training.

Likewise, increasing the pressure on our body tends to increase the uptake of oxygen. This excites cells and encourages their growth and healing. This process is known as hyperbaric therapy.

Hyperbaric therapy has been used around the world for many years to reduce inflammation, improve recovery from athletic training and competition, to help kill off infection and, most importantly, to assist in the recovery of neurological repair. 

The Forms Of Hyperbaric Therapy

There are two forms of hyperbaric therapy that are currently available in Australia. High pressure hyperbarics (HBOT) are most often used in hospital settings to encourage bone and wound healing. This is usually performed in a hard metal chamber. 

The other form is known as Mild Hyperbaric Therapy (MHBOT). Mild hyperbaric therapy still involves increasing the pressure; however, these pressures are much lower (1.3-1.5ATA) and as such have less risk involved. It has also been suggested that the genes in some cells respond better to the lower MHBOT pressures.

There has been a lot of research about hyperbaric therapy over the last couple of decades. While endurance athletes have been using it for recovery since the early ‘80s, knowledge regarding hyperbaric therapy is still rapidly growing.

“Hyperbaric therapy has been used around the world for many years to reduce inflammation, improve recovery from athletic training and competition…”

Without a doubt, the most amazing research has been on neurological conditions such as stroke, sudden sensorineural hearing loss, autism and neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson ’s disease and MS. But research into conditions such as fractures, wound healing, anxiety and many other disorders show interesting results. 

To oversimplify, we can think of hyperbaric therapy as an oxygen supplement for our system. However, like any other supplement, dosage is important and hyperbaric therapy needs to be carefully utilised.

Correcting hypoxia is always the best solution to low oxygen levels. But when things go wrong, hyperbaric therapy can speed up healing and aid in recovery.

About the Author

Dr Trevor has a passion for helping people that goes beyond what most people expect. He has a knack for getting to issues quickly and an amazing knowledge for all things health and wellbeing. With extensive study in areas such as Physiology, Nutrition, Supplementation, Applied Kinesiology, Neuro Emotional Technique and Chiropractic, Dr Trevor's skills at working with a wide range of health and performance issues have become widely respected.

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