Once it was oxygen facials that were used by the rich and famous to rejuvenate their complexions. Today, medical science has come much further, using oxygen therapy to deliver healing to the entire body. Whether your health challenge is illness or injury, from a virus or a pain condition to a burn or a sprain, a session in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber can assist you to increase vitality and wellness. In fact, this space-age treatment may become a new weapon in wellness artillery, speeding healing and rejuvenation.
What is hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber. Your blood carries this oxygen throughout your body. One of the benefits of this is that it helps fight bacteria and stimulate the release of substances called growth factors and stem cells, which promote healing. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can, however, have much wider applications and results.
How does it work?
We all know that our body’s tissues need an adequate supply of oxygen to function. But, typically, we only use around four to six percent of the oxygen that we breathe. When tissue is injured, or the body is under stress of an acute or chronic illness, it requires even more oxygen to survive. When you undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy you are exposed to increased levels of oxygen at a higher than normal atmospheric pressure. In fact, your body has access to 25 to 30 per cent oxygen. Simply by breathing as you do normally, in an enhanced environment, that oxygen diffuses into your body’s blood plasma, saturating cells and tissues and helping to repair damaged tissue, eliminate toxins and reduce the effects of injuries and illness.
What does a treatment involve?
Treatment takes place inside a specially designed chamber that uses purified air and additional oxygen from an oxygen concentrator to deliver oxygen directly to the body safely.
The chamber is pressurised (you feel a little like you do when you are descending in a plane) then you just breathe normally. The slightly increased pressure is a necessary part of treatment because it is this that forces the oxygen to dissolve into the body’s fluids and go where it is most needed. This may be in the plasma, the lymph, the synovial fluid or the cerebrospinal fluid, which may be hungry for a higher level of oxygen to achieve healing results.
What can it treat?
Oxygen is life. Without it our body would shut down. It’s not surprising then that hyperbaric oxygen therapy, that increases the amount of this life saving substance available to the body, can be used to improve post-surgery recovery, sporting injuries, burns and scarring, depression and anxiety, athletic strengthening, headaches and migraines, fatigue and stress, jetlag, cramps and digestive disorders.
It may also be of use in chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.
Oxygen also provides fuel for proper brain functioning so you feel sharper and more alert, helps fight off infection, improves metabolism so you burn more kilojoules, strengthens the heart and lungs, improves sleep, relieves tension by promoting deep relaxation and, of course, contributes to anti-aging.
These benefits come from increased uptake of oxygen – around 25 to 30 per cent is available to us in the chamber compared to between the four to six per cent of oxygen we breathe.
Is it safe?
Athletes have long used this type of treatment to reduce recovery time and heal injuries. It is a safe, drug-free therapy that can be used regularly without any danger of oxygen toxicity. Proponents for hyperbaric therapy include numerous doctors, health care providers and individuals for whom this therapy has been beneficial. You may notice that you experience slight fatigue during or after treatment but this is no cause for concern. It is simply a sign of the body detoxifying. The increased air pressure may also cause mild discomfort in the ears in some people. The recommended time in the hyperbaric chamber is usually one to two hours. However, depending on your personal health goal, longer periods of treatment can be safely undertaken. Best of all, you can return to activities as normal after a session.
60min cost $70 (package of 10 – $600)
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