Because oxygen fuels the body to keep you on track . . .
Every cell in the body needs oxygen to complete the metabolic processes that give us life and energy. Oxygen gives the athlete stamina, helps the injured heal, and protects us from environmental toxins. If the body’s intake of oxygen is insufficient, for whatever reason, then the body will be thrown out of balance.
It is well recognised that when our levels of oxygen are reduced, our body’s ability to repair and protect cells is severely impaired. Operating on reduced levels of oxygen encourages bacteria, fungus, viruses, microbes and pathogens to flourish. And when deprived of more than 60% oxygen, an ideal environment is created for damaged cells to mutate and cause even more diabolical damage to our systems. All of these harmful agents, as well as toxins, simply cannot exist in an oxygen rich environment.
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy raises the levels of oxygen in the body’s blood plasma. Increased oxygen in the plasma leads to higher amounts of oxygen being delivered to the body’s tissues, organs and brain. The brain – which is only two percent of our total weight – uses more than twenty percent of the body’s oxygen. Only ten percent of our energy comes from the food we eat, while the remaining ninety percent comes from oxygen.
Under pressure, additional oxygen is dissolved into the blood plasma and enters the tissues directly. Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy promotes relaxation, stimulates the body’s healing processes, increases stamina and endurance and also helps the body to return to a state of balance and wellbeing.
For the more technically minded: Gas under pressure diffuses into a liquid. When the body is subjected to increased pressure, the fluids, tissues and cells are able to absorb much more oxygen than we would normally breathe in. (For the really technical stuff google Henry’s law.)
So how does this work?
Blood is made up of three main components; white blood cells that fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen and plasma, the fluid that carries both kinds of cells throughout the body. Under normal circumstances, the red cells carry the majority of oxygen while the plasma carries about 3% of oxygen. Since mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy forces oxygen into the body fluids under pressure, more oxygen is dissolved into the plasma greatly increasing the oxygen levels. The fluids then carry the extra oxygen throughout the body to enhance the body’s natural healing process.
How much more oxygen will be available as a result of hyperbaric therapy?
We actually only use between 4 and 6% of the oxygen we breathe. During treatment around 24 – 30% oxygen is available to us. In effect, under pressure the body can absorb almost ten times more oxygen than normal.
Treatment takes place inside a specially designed inflatable chamber that uses filtered ambient (atmospheric) air with additional oxygen from an oxygen concentrator to deliver oxygen to the body safely. The chamber inflates quickly and there is enough room to recline or to lie down comfortably. After inflation, the chamber will pressurise – a feeling similar to descending in an aircraft. Once at full pressure, you just breathe normally.
Sessions usually last an hour, however you can use the chamber for much longer without any adverse effects. After each session you can carry on with your day as normal – there are no restrictions.
A session in the chamber and the high level of oxygen promote a deep sense of relaxation. Your heart rate and blood pressure will settle as the pressure increases. One hour in this oxygen rich environment is equivalent to four hours of quality sleep. Whilst in the chamber, you can listen to your favourite music, meditate, read a book, and simply relax while breathing in the benefits.
Are there any side effects?
Not at all, it is completely comfortable and safe. Mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy has many healing and therapeutic benefits. The chamber can be utilised without the danger of oxygen toxicity. And as it is completely safe, can be combined with most other therapies without the side effects associated with some treatments.
However, you may need to equalise the pressure in your ears. Rapid changes in air pressure is equalised across the eardrum by a normally functioning Eustachian tube. A healthy tube opens frequently and widely enough to equalise these changes. As the chamber pressurises, the air pressure increases and the change pushes the eardrum inward (retraction) which is what causes the sensation of “ears popping”. This is normal and can be alleviated by yawning, chewing gum or holding the nose and blowing.
If you experience any pain, this could be a sign that you may have blocked Eustachian tubes (a symptom of a cold or perhaps a previously undetected condition) and pressurisation should be slowed or stopped immediately.