Would You Step Inside An Oxygen Chamber For Your Health?

I was a guinea pig for science as I went inside an oxygen chamber to see its effects on my health and wellness.

Updated
Digital Health
3 min read

VIDEO EDITOR: Puneet Bhatia

CAMERA: Sumit Badola, Shivkumar Maurya

Have you ever felt like it’s been ages since you inhaled fresh air?

Smog, pollution, smoke – our lives are infested with impure oxygen. I stumbled upon a treatment method where you can literally step into a chamber and breathe pure oxygen and rejuvenate yourself.

Delving deeper into ‘hyperbaric oxygen therapy’ or HBOT, I realised this treatment method could do a lot more than give you just clear air.

From treating pressure related issues like decompression sickness, being a wellness tool for your skin care, to claiming to help treat cancer, this was one therapy I knew I had to investigate.

So, I was a guinea pig for science as I went inside an oxygen chamber to see its effects on my health and wellness.

What is HBOT?

This form of alternative therapy is not new by a long strecth. In 1662, a British clergyman and physician known as Henshaw built the first hyperbaric chamber. It’s a well-established method to treat pressure related issues or wounds that won’t heal.

You sit inside a chamber and breathe 100% pure oxygen through a mask with an increased atmospheric pressure, about two to three times higher than normal, and that’s it.

Dr Sameer Kaul, surgical oncologist at Apollo Hospital tells me, “ HBOT is being used since time immemorial in alternative medicine.”

HBOT and Wellness

Speaking to FIT, Dr Aarushi Passi, consultant- aesthetic wellness and functional medicine expert at Daivam Wellness, told us,

“In pollution, cells start ageing prematurely. They also start degenerating. That is the reason our generation is facing certain health problems ahead of the time.So, better oxygenation gives you a better skin glow, great skin health and hair health and internal wellness as well. I really recommend it to people who have a fatigue concern.”

But Can it Cure Cancer?

One of the claims that some proponents of HBOT, such as Daivam Wellness, have made are that HBOT can “effectively treat ailments like cancer, AIDS/HIV, strokes, autism” and much more.

A screenshot of Daivam Wellness’ brochure
A screenshot of Daivam Wellness’ brochure
(Photo courtesy: Sumit Badola)
A screenshot of Daivam Wellness’ brochure
A screenshot of Daivam Wellness’ brochure
(Photo courtesy: Sumit Badola)

When asked, Daivam founder and medical director Dr Alok Chopra clarified,

“No, HBOT cannot definitely cure cancer and is not the single source of treatment for cancer. I don’t want to make any of our treatments fad treatments. We are working in conjunction with the mainstream medicine people when it’s needed. What HBOT does is help patient’s immune system, it helps them heal faster, get bigger muscles, more nourishment and most importantly, the dose of their chemotherapy comes down.”

It's dangerous to claim that cancer and other serious illnesses can be treated only with HBOT. Still, oxygen therapy and other alternative, holistic treatments are growing in relevance and do deserve serious consideration.

For some further clarity, according to Mayo Clinic, here are some of the issues HBOT can treat:

  • Anemia, severe
  • Brain abscess
  • Bubbles of air in your blood vessels (arterial gas embolism)
  • Burn
  • Decompression sickness
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Crushing injury
  • Deafness, sudden
  • Gangrene
  • Infection of skin or bone that causes tissue death
  • Non-healing wounds, such as a diabetic foot ulcer
  • Radiation injury
  • Skin graft or skin flap at risk of tissue death
  • Vision loss, sudden and painless

However, there is insufficient evidence that HBOT can treat these:

  • AIDS/HIV
  • Allergies
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Bell's palsy
  • Brain injury
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Cirrhosis
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Heart disease
  • Heatstroke
  • Hepatitis
  • Migraine
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Sports injury
  • Stroke

(This is part of an ongoing series on the weird and wonderful ways wellness and technology are moving forward. If you have any strange, interesting or alternative therapies and treatments you would like FIT to try, email us at FIT@thequint.com with the subject ‘Wellness Junkies’)

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