Lots of questions about my experience treating my patients with low pressure hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
I have only been using this treatment for a few weeks. I have started all of my patients at a pressure of 1.3 ATA, breathing 100% oxygen. All patients have experienced Herxheimer reactions, of varying degrees. I am not yet seeing much clinical change in my sickest patients (who have completed two weeks). This is not surprising; but I hope to hear good things after a month or more. I am hearing good things from moderately ill patients already, and this is very exciting. Of course I cannot rule out the placebo effect. Some patients have reported significant improvements after only 4-10 treatments. Improvements include: rapid wound healing (not a surprise), less joint pain, more energy, less brain fog, less headaches and a greater overall sense of well-being. Changes in function ability have also been reported. One patient reports a tremendous increase in energy and endurance.
A couple of patients have had rather severe Herxheimer reactions characterized by severe fatigue. In these cases I have lowered the frequency of therapy.
My sense so far is that HBOT is like many other treatments: results are variable and treatment programs need to be adjusted.
I suspect that therapy is going to be prolonged for most patients. I think a 3 day per week schedule will help but may take longer. Perhaps more time in the chamber will help.
A lot of benefits have been described for low pressure HBOT. Currently I am using 1.3 atmospheric pressure which equates with swimming about 11 feet underwater. I have supplemental valves which will allow me to raise the pressure to 1.5 ATA, equal to swimming 18 feet underwater. I will try different pressures with patients to see what works best. 1.5 ATA is the upper limit of what is generally considered low pressure.
There is an argument that low pressure is better than high. A primary mode of action of HBOT is the generation of reactive oxygen species. These compounds are oxidants, not anti-oxidants. At lower levels they reduce inflammation, kill bacteria and promote improved functioning of the immune system. It is possible that excessive amounts of these compounds may have a toxic effect. (I do not know if this is true; I have only read about it).
Does low pressure HBOT work? I think so. Maybe I said this before. All elite athletes own and use HBOT units, finding better recovery from work outs with a lot less muscle pain. I hear some athletes even sleep in them; but the consensus is that this is likely not a good idea. Home chambers do not exceed 1.3 pressures based on current FDA allowances (which is being challenged).