How hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help you

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

By Dr. James Fambro, Northshore LIVING WELL Magazine

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is breathing oxygen while under increased atmospheric pressure. HBOT is a treatment that can be traced back to the 1600s to a British clergyman named Henshaw. Later, a French surgeon by the name of Fontaine built a pressurized mobile operating room in 1879. Here the U.S., an anesthesiologist by the name of Orville Cunningham built and ran a six-story “Steel Ball Hospital” in 1928.  That hospital was shut down in 1930 because there was a lack of scientific evidence that such treatment alleviated disease. Had they had today’s scientific equipment and technology then, that hospital would still be open, and many other hospitals would have followed suit!

When someone breathes oxygen under pressure, not only does the oxygen hook up with a hemoglobin molecule in red blood cells (the “traditional” way oxygen is delivered to tissues), it also dissolves into the plasma, which is the fluid that bathes the blood cells.  When that plasma circulates near an injured tissue such as a bruised muscle, sprained tendon, or a surgical wound, the oxygen in the plasma dissolves further into the damaged area more readily than the oxygen bound to the red blood cell.

When HBOT was first used, higher pressures of two to four atmospheres or ATA (an atmosphere is a measurement of pressure) and 100% oxygen were used. The world of hyperbaric medicine is learning that lower pressures (1.3 – 1.5 ATA) and less oxygen (often 21% to 40%) seem to have an excellent effect on multiple systems of our bodies.  In particular, lower pressure appears to be more beneficial for the injured brain than higher pressure. This lower pressure HBOT is commonly known as Mild HBOT or MHBOT.

SPECT scans (Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography), which show brain blood flow, before and after 40 sessions of MHBOT have shown dramatic improvements in brain blood flow that is sustained over time. MHBOT has also shown to positively impact natural killer cell (a type of white blood cell) function and thus, immune function. It has also been found to be of benefit in inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, as well as multiple sclerosis. MHBOT has been shown to increase glutathione (a very important antioxidant) and superoxide dismutase, an important enzyme that deactivates superoxides, the most common kind of free radical in the body.

Most professional athletes use MHBOT as part of their training routine. Noted athletes include: Dirk Nowitzki and Charlie Ward of the NBA; John Smoltz, Ken Griffey Jr., J.D. Drew, and Todd Helton of MLB; as well as Ray Lewis, Jeremy Shockey, Matt Forte, Terrell Owens, Tim Tebow, AJ Hawk, Brett Favre, and Hines Ward of the NFL. These athletes have attested to the benefits of MHBOT when it comes to wound healing, and overall mental and physical conditioning.

HBOT has been used with promising results for patients with genetic diseases, such as Down syndrome, and mitochondrial diseases, such as lipofuscinosis. It has also successfully halted progression of, and reversed certain forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s.

In 2007, it was shown that HBOT causes the release of stem cells from the bone marrow into our circulation. With the recent explosion of interest in anti-aging medicine, HBOT is sure to be a big hit in the future.

Dr. James Fambro is bringing to the Northshore some of the latest health techniques and technologies available anywhere in the world. For more information, contact Dr. James Fambro at 985-288-5162 or through e-mail at His office is located at 315 Robert Blvd, Suite A Slidell, LA 70458.