To understand the value of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), you need to understand a little about medical biology.
Most people know that oxygen is carried to tissues and organs by major blood vessels. But the actual introduction of oxygen into the tissues — along with removal of carbon dioxide — takes place in what are referred to as microvessels: arterioles and, primarily, capillaries.
With many diseases, certain tissues and organs have poor microvascular blood flow. Hence those tissues are deficient of oxygen and nutrients.
For example, in cases of kidney disease, various parts of the kidneys suffer impaired microcirculation.
We see the same thing in heart disease, liver disorders, neurological disorders, and a host of other medical conditions — especially diabetes.
When the delivery of oxygen is impaired, a condition called hypoxia (low oxygen) develops. When that happens, tissues begin to release various chemicals (inflammatory cytokines and chemokines) that trigger inflammation.
This process further impairs microcirculation and, as a result of a vicious circle, the condition grows progressively worse.
We see this in diabetic kidney disease. Eventually, the kidneys fail completely and the person requires a transplant.
This same process occurs with neurological diseases, and is actually much worse in inflammatory neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis. In these cases, some parts of the brain have worse microcirculation than others; this accounts for the different diseases that occur.
In addition, hypoxia-induced inflammation activates special immune cells in the brain called microglia. When that happens, there is a buildup of two braindestructive compounds — inflammatory cytokines and excitotoxins. The interaction of these two compounds leads to an extremely destructive process called immunoexcitotoxicity.
Aging itself can also lead to progressive impairment of microcirculation in various organs and tissues, causing a multitude of medical problems such as kidney failure, liver impairment, impaired lung function, poor memory, heart failure, and eventually rapid decline in the functioning of all major organs.
Keep in mind the strong link between inflammation and poor microcirculation. As we age, our bodies become progressively more inflamed. This means they are becoming progressively more hypoxic (oxygen deficient).
Hypoxia causes a buildup of free radicals and lipid peroxidation products that further damage cells, tissues, and organs. It also further impairs microcirculation. This cascade of events can result in a rapid decline in health.
This is where HBOT can be beneficial. By introducing high concentrations (80 percent to 100 percent) of oxygen at increased barometric pressure, oxygen can be forced into parts of the body suffering from impaired microcirculation. This corrects hypoxia and eliminates the harmful chemicals (cytokines, chemokines, and excitotoxins) triggered by hypoxia.
Better yet, it has been shown that HBOT treatments increase microcirculation not just during treatments, but permanently.
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