New IBD Treatment: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) involves breathing pure oxygen in a room where the air pressure is raised up to three times higher than normal air pressure. Under these conditions, your lungs can gather up to three times more oxygen than would be possible otherwise. This increased oxygen can stimulate the release of growth factors and stem cells to promote healing (Mayo
Clinic, 2014). HBOT has been used successfully for a variety medical issues including decompression sickness and serious infections.
After a systematic review of the studies involving HBOT, it was recently reported that HBOT may also be useful in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as reported in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. IBD encompasses two different autoimmune diseases: ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s Disease (CD). These two digestive disorders attack an individual in different ways but render similar symptoms and are, therefore, often researched together.
The authors of this recent report looked at 17 studies involving 613 patients with either UC or CD and whether or not HBOT was helpful in their treatment. What they found was that 100 percent of the UC patients responded with either partial or complete healing and 88 percent of the patients with CD showed improvement. During the 8,924 HBOT treatments considered, there were a total of nine adverse reactions, six of which were serious.
Your body’s tissues need an adequate supply of oxygen to function, and when tissue is injured, it requires even more oxygen to survive. An increase in blood oxygen temporarily restores normal levels of blood gases to promote healing. HBOT has already been used to treat a wide assortment of medical conditions and now some suspect it might be a relatively safe and effective treatment option for IBD patients.