Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy is a medical treatment that uses the administration of 100 percent oxygen at a controlled pressure (greater than sea level) for a prescribed amount of time – usually 60 to 90 minutes.
The air we normally breathe contains 21 percent oxygen, 78 percent nitrogen and one percent carbon dioxide and all other gases. Increasing the pressure of the air we breathe through the administration of HBO therapy dramatically increases the number of oxygen molecules entering the bloodstream, up to 2,000 percent. This increase in oxygen under controlled pressure means that oxygen can reach bone and tissue normally not accessible to red blood cells, which carry oxygen through the body.
HBO therapy affects the body in other ways. For example, it enhances the function of white blood cells, which fight infection. This has a positive effect on the immune system. Also, HBO therapy has a positive effect on peripheral blood vessels and causes the formation of new capillaries, which are tiny, thin-walled blood vessels. Such formations effectively increase blood flow to the hands and feet.
HBO therapy is approved by the American Medical Association and the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of many conditions, including burns, diabetic ulcers and carbon monoxide poisoning.