Hyperbaric oxygen treatment ( HBOT) simply means providing oxygen at greater than atmospheric pressure. Oxygen, it must be remembered, is a primary healer. Oxygen is required by every cell in the body for survival and providing an oxygen rich environment, will allow the body to heal itself and reduce areas of inflammation.
During treatment in a hyperbaric chamber, breathing in 100% oxygen, the blood stream become hyper saturated with oxygen allowing all tissues access to this life giving gas. Exposure at 3atm of pressure increases the amount of dissolved oxygen in the plasma from 0.32% to 6.8% by volume. This oxygenation of plasma alone is great enough to sustain life even with extremely low haemoglobin levels. For anyone refusing blood transfusions, for moral or religious reasons, ie Jehovah’s Witness’s or for those situations when blood is unavailable, hyperbaric oxygen treatment can indeed be life saving.
Autism and inflammation
A number of studies have linked autism to allergy and inflammation of the gut. Numerous theories abound as to the rising number of children diagnosed as falling within the autistic spectrum. This is a political “hot potato”, since Dr Wakefield’s 1998 study published in the Lancet, made a possible link to autism with the MMR vaccine. What we do know is, inflammation of the bowel is often present in autism. The most recent study looking at this issue was undertaken by Dr Dan Rossignol and Colleagues in 2009. (known as the Rossignol Study)
Sixty two children with autism with ages between 2 and 7 years were randomly assigned to 40 hourly treatments of either 1:3atm and 24% oxygen (the “treatment group”) or 1.03atm and 21% oxygen (the “control group”)
Children from the treatment group showed significant improvements in overall functioning, receptive language, social interaction, eye contact and sensory or cognitive awareness. For parents this was an exceptional breakthrough. As Dr Rossignol stated, “ we’re certainly not talking about a cure, we’re talking about improvements in behaviour, improving certain functions and quality of life”. Dr Rossignol has reviewed recent studies showing that autism is characterised by both gastrointestinal inflammation and neuroinflammation, both conditions respond favourably to oxygen treatment. Inflammation within the bowel interrupts the normal process’s of digestion and immune activity.
Professor Philip James, honorary medical director at A Breath for Life Children’s Charity, stated the study demonstrated that “oxygen was the controller of inflammation”. Further studies looking at the use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in autism are presently taking place by Dr Wakefield in America.
All children with autism have overgrowths of abnormal bacteria in their gut. HBOT has been shown to decrease the amount of abnormal bacteria in addition to killing off invasive virus colonies. The role of HBOT on bacterial host defence has been well documented particularly the increase in white cell activity.