Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Utopia Cancer Center offers Hyperbaric Oxygen in a comfortable upright chamber allowing the patient to stay in a seated position. This allows patients to feel less claustrophobic than with other chambers.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Pressurized air therapy has been around for over 350 years with over 70 years of published research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) that demonstrate considerable benefits with even slightly elevated atmospheric pressure treatment. There is also ongoing research into the benefits HBOT provides an epigenetic therapy.  These discoveries may lead to safe and effective treatment options for patients with a wide range of diseases.

What is Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is the use of 100 percent oxygen at a higher than atmospheric pressure. Most atmospheric air is comprised of roughly 21% oxygen concentration and, of course, oxygen is necessary for the production of cellular energy within the mitochondria of every cell. The use of pure 100% oxygen in a high pressure atmosphere (HBOT) has been shown to accelerate the healing process.

The hyperbaric chamber has pure oxygen administered at pressures 1.5 – 3 times the normal atmospheric pressure with treatment times of 30 minutes. Administering oxygen levels at higher pressures causes up to 20 times more oxygen to be absorbed by the blood and transferred to injured organs and tissues. This speeds tissue healing and recovery time in addition to providing other benefits to the patient.

Why is hyperbaric oxygen therapy beneficial?

Every cell in our body requires oxygen to survive and thrive. This is especially true when disease or trauma is present where tissue is suffering from oxygen starvation. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a medical treatment that allows for higher concentrations of oxygen to flow to these areas and, with repeated treatments, temporary extra high levels of oxygen benefit every cell.

What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy HBOT used to treat?

Most patients are familiar with the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat the bends, or decompression sickness, in deep sea divers. This is when nitrogen gas bubbles form in the blood when a diver returns to the surface too quickly. HBOT is also widely recognized as the therapy of choice in treating carbon monoxide poisoning. The additional benefits of this life-saving therapy are still being discovered every day.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been FDA approved for a variety of ailments including air or gas embolism, carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, thermal tissue burns, problematic wound healing, and anemia among others. It has also been shown to encourage new blood vessel formation and speeds of the healing of soft tissue damaged from radiation injury. There are also ongoing studies of HBOT as a gene therapy opening up endless other uses. Additionally, there are studies showing the efficacy of HBOT on cancer that will hopefully lead to the FDA including HBOT on this list.

How does hyperbaric oxygen therapy HBOT benefit patients diagnosed with cancer?

A German doctor named Otto Warburg was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1931 for his research proving that cancer cells use a form of non-oxygen metabolism to survive. Cancer cells are not like normal healthy cells. The way they metabolize and create energy for living and multiplication is unique and dangerous.

Warburg emphasized that you can’t make a cell ferment unless a lack of oxygen is involved. In 1955, two American scientists, R.A. Malmgren and C.C. Flanigan, confirmed Warburg’s findings. They found that oxygen deficiency is ALWAYS present when cancer develops.

Numerous studies have been conducted over the past 20 years showing HBOT as an effective treatment for various cancer sub-types [1] [2] [3] [4]. Moreover, studies have concluded HBOT can be an effective and safe therapy used in combination with other therapies [5] [6]

What is it like having hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Many patients describe hyperbaric oxygen therapy as very similar to the effects of flying. The start of the HBOT is a gradual increase in pressure similar to descending in an airplane. This pressure is equalized naturally for some people while others may need to equalize it manually through swallowing, yawning, or chewing until the ears “pop”. When the patient reaches the allotted duration for treatment, the pressure is slowly decreased until the patient reaches the normal atmospheric pressure.

What are the possible side effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

While side-effects of this treatment are uncommon, some patients have reported feeling mild cases, most of which resolve on their own once the treatment is completed. The most common side-effects include:

1. Sinus pain – this is due to increased pressure as described above. Any air-filled cavity in your body can feel the effects of a pressure change. Your therapist will discuss this with you prior to your treatment and instruct you on ear-clearing techniques.

2. Claustrophobia – this is the most common side-effect reported. It is also the most predictable. If you don’t generally feel claustrophobic in small spaces, you likely will not find the oxygen chamber claustrophobic.

3. Ear Pain – it is not unusual to feel pressure but it is not normal to have pain. This is why it is important to inform your therapist if you have a cold, flu, sinus or ear infection, or water trapped in the ear. If you experience even mild pain, you should inform the therapist who can decrease or halt the pressure change and help guide you with ear-clearing techniques.

4. Fatigue – while many patients report feeling energized following hyperbaric oxygen therapy, some feel drained and sleepy. This may be due to the hyperactivity of your mitochondria which are working very hard during your session.

What type of oxygen chamber is used at Utopia Cancer Center?

Utopia Cancer Center offers Hyperbaric Oxygen in a comfortable upright oxygen chamber allowing the patient to stay in a seated position. This allows patients to feel less claustrophobic than with other chambers. We also provide the patient with a two-way radio to communicate with the staff should they feel the need to terminate the session. Most importantly, the patient is capable of ending the session themselves from within the chamber should they need to for any reason.

How do I prepare for hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

It is important to not wear cosmetics, perfumes, hair preparations, wigs, jewelry or metal of any kind including glasses, belts or electronics in the chamber. Organic cotton clothing is recommended and a patient gown can be provided if necessary. We recommend bringing a book with you to help pass the time.

[1] Hyperbaric oxygen inhibits benign and malignant human mammary epithelial cell proliferation.

Granowitz EV, Tonomura N, Benson RM, Katz DM, Band V, Makari-Judson GP, Osborne BA, Anticancer Res. 2005 Nov-Dec; 25(6B):3833-42.

[3] Apoptosis of T-leukemia and B-myeloma cancer cells induced by hyperbaric oxygen increased phosphorylation of p38 MAPK.Chen YC, Chen SY, Ho PS, Lin CH, Cheng YY, Wang JK, Sytwu HK Leuk Res. 2007 Jun; 31(6):805-15.

[4] Effect of hyperbaric oxygen on the anticancer effect of artemisinin on molt-4 human leukemia cells. Ohgami Y, Elstad CA, Chung E, Shirachi DY, Quock RM, Lai HC, Anticancer Res. 2010 Nov; 30(11):4467-70.

[5] Daruwalla J, Christophi C. The effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on tumour growth in a mouse model of colorectal cancer liver metastases. Eur J Cancer. 2006;42:3304–3311. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2006.08.004.

[6] Evaluation of the effect of SMA-pirarubicin micelles on colorectal cancer liver metastases and of hyperbaric oxygen in CBA mice. Daruwalla J, Greish K, Nikfarjam M, Millar I, Malcontenti-Wilson C, Iyer AK, Christophi CJ Drug Target. 2007 Aug-Sep; 15(7-8):487-95.