A breath of fresh air

By | Science & Technology
Ruth Hughes treated at The oxygen clinic using hyperbaric oxygen therapy.Credit@theoxygenclinic.co.uk

Evidence of the beneficial effects of using a hyperbaric chamber have been shown by the relief gained by a cancer patient undergoing concurrent chemotherapy. The chamber delivers 100% oxygen to the body and may treat a range of conditions.

Oxygen, a vital molecule to all life on Earth may be particularly important to human beings. Most human proteins, fats and water require oxygen molecules to function and its main role aims to provide the necessary energy and respiration to cells which may be compromised if the oxygen supply is reduced or impeded. Being absorbed through the membranes of the lungs the molecule may be an essential element in the survival of cells in the body.

Hyperbaric chambers commonly used to treat divers with the bends may also be used to deliver oxygen therapy and have been shown to be efficacious in the recovery from many conditions. The treatment involves placing an individual into a pressurised enclosed chamber which then delivers the pure oxygen to individuals inside. The majority of the conditions treated by the chamber involve lesions to the cardiovascular system and oxygen effectively heals these.

After hearing of the benefits of using the hyperbaric chamber for the alleviation of cancer and chemotherapy Ruth Hughes decided to undergo the treatment. One of many cancer patients referred for chemotherapy and radiotherapy Ruth was diagnosed with breast cancer where common treatments like hormone therapy were ineffective, therefore doctors advised Ruth to take this treatment path (in combination with oxygen therapy).

A hyperbaric chamber used at The oxygen clinic.Credit@theoxygenclinic.co.uk

A hyperbaric chamber used at The oxygen clinic.Credit@theoxygenclinic.co.uk

Like many, Ruth finds the treatment challenging with many side effects including physical and psychological effects. Due to this she also has a reduction in the ability to sleep and began taking sleeping pills to improve this.

With reduced oxygen (hypoxia) accepted to be a causative factor in cancer development with changes to the functioning of cells and genetic mutation, the decision to treat it with improved oxygen concentration seems plausible. Hyperbaric oxygen may be used to overcome hypoxia, although an initial ambiguity about whether increasing oxygen has benefits for cancer have been largely validated by review studies.

Oxygen concentration is additionally important in radiation counteraction and it improves chemotherapy effectiveness. In Ruth’s case, the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for breast cancer has also been demonstrated with an additional benefit of prompting cancerous cells to undergo apoptosis. Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment where certain chemicals are introduced to the body intravenously aiming to impede cancer cells dividing so proliferation may be curtailed. Although side effects exist, the treatment is effective in dealing with cancerous cells, veins in Ruth’s right arm appeared to be affected by the treatment and also her ability to use her fingertips.

Ruth expected the hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to help oxygenise her body and relieve some of the effects from the chemotherapy, in particular the emerging inflammation. In practice HBOT helped Ruth to have improved mental clarity, higher energy levels and an improved quality of sleep, periods had returned and the adverse reaction experienced in Ruth’s arm improved after one session allowing greater mobility. A considerable improvement in the side effects from chemotherapy has made the recovery much easier; Ruth said, “Initially I was seeking HBOT to help oxygenise my body and reduce inflammation. I was far from expecting improvements. I [may] only imagine what wonderful transformations are going on inside my body.”

A recent scan showed the signs of cancer in Ruth’s lymph nodes and breasts have retreated. The HBOT may have alleviated many of the effects of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and the effects of cancer for Ruth, contributing to a speedier recovery. Due to the possible effects on the functioning of the cancerous cells the results may add further validation to the effectiveness of the therapy and Ruth’s case may add to existing knowledge on how HBOT may assist in individual treatment plans.

How does oxygen repair the body and improve the health?

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