HBOT (Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy) is used primarily in the management of gas gangrene, necrotizing fasciitis, diabetic foot infections, refractory osteomyelitis, neurosurgical infections and fungal infections (Cimsit, 2009). Treatment is effective because of oxygen’s antibiotic properties.
Oxygen can be used as an antibiotic, it’s just dose dependent. This is due to free radicals. You’ve been sold that free radicals are all bad. Not so.
Free oxygen radicals are used by the immune system to travel through the body and degrade bacteria. HBOT boosts the bactericidal tendencies of oxygen by greatly increasing the amount of oxygen in the tissues and fluids of the body (Cimsit, 2009).
Free radicals are atoms, molecules, or ions with an unpaired electron that are looking to hook up with another molecule with an unpaired electron. These compounds are highly reactive and play an important role in several functions in your body. They are well-known for their involvement in white blood cells engulfing and destroying intruders, like bacteria, in the body.
The most commonly used free radicals in the body are superoxide and hydroxyl radicals. Superoxide is sent out by the immune system to kill invaders in what is called an oxygen-dependent killing mechanism. The cells that send this out possess the enzyme superoxide dismutase, which neutralizes the superoxide, so it does not harm the cell (YOU) it wishes to protect.
I re-iterate, the body never does stupid stuff. Everything is intelligent, it’s just dose-dependent. Free radicals are essential to killing off unwanted infections. Plus you have defenses to make sure those free radicals don’t do more damage than necessary. It’s like doing a controlled burn in a large field.
Hydroxyl (OH) radicals are used much in the same way. These are released for specific types of bacteria but cannot be neutralized with an enzyme. For this reason, the body uses them sparingly as cells can only be protected from the free radical by use of antioxidants.
Killing Chronic Infections
What does gangrene have in common with Lyme’s, C. diff, and H. pylori? None of them like oxygen. They thrive in a low and no oxygen environment. They are anaerobic.
This is why and how HBOT can be a tool in your arsenal against these chronic infections. With increased oxygen, the immune system has a higher capacity for creating and using free radicals to kill, steal, and destroy the non-welcomed AND you are creating an oxygen rich environment to choke out those little buggers.