What is Oxygen therapy?
Oxygen therapy is a health and wellbeing treatment approach which uses oxygen in different concentrations and modes of delivery. Oxygen therapies help the body adapt in a way that improves its functioning be that for health, performance or recovery. There are a number of different approaches that fall into this category and many thousands of studies in the scientific literature stating the effects and health benefits of this therapeutic approach.
Oxygen is one of the essential elements the body needs in order to sustain life, health and bodily regeneration after injury or illness.
Many people who seek out oxygen therapies live normal, active lives. In many cases, the oxygen therapy helps make activity easier, increases stamina, and decreases shortness of breath. For other people, oxygen therapies offer significant health benefits and in some cases oxygen therapy can increase life expectancy. For many it will increase quality of life and health into old age, so it is useful as part of an anti ageing approach.
Supplemental Oxygen Therapy
Good for people who suffer with longer term low blood oxygen saturation. This can be caused by condition such as COPD, asthma, lung disease, lung trauma and symptoms of COVID. This therapy helps increase levels immediately in the short term but isn’t causing an adaptation in the body beyond the supplementation.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy delivers pure oxygen (approx 96%) in a pressurised room or chamber. Air pressure in hyperbaric chambers is increased to three or four times the normal air pressure levels. The pressure increases the amount of oxygen delivered to the body’s tissue via blood and haemoglobin. This type of oxygen therapy is often used to treat acute health conditions, unhealing wounds, serious infections, physical injury, or bubbles of air in your blood vessels. Hyperbaric therapy is also used by professional sports teams and athletes to aid with injury rehabilitation and reduce recovery time to expedite the return to sport.
Generally it is recommended to have hyperbaric treatment on consecutive days with five days on and two days off per week, with at least an hour in the chamber. This pattern continues for 20-30 sessions and often longer so it is a considerable commitment of time.
Intermittent Hypoxic Training – IHT (altitude training)
This approach uses short bursts of low oxygen air (9-16%) with bursts of either normoxia/ sea level oxygen (21%) or hyperoxia (36%). This in effect, is alternating cycles of stress or demand on the body with recovery, so that the body exercises and recovers while relaxing in a chair. These cycles help the body adapt to become more efficient and to increase its capacity to handle stress and be resilient.
This adaptation increases cell renewal for greater ATP production, so that the body becomes more energised, increases cardiovascular output and blood transportation within the body and brain which prompts increased oxygenation and oxygen efficiency as well as boosting nervous system balance and immune function. Some of the benefits are similar to hyperbaric oxygen but via a different mechanism but hyperbaric oxygen won’t make you fitter.
IHT can be carried out 2-3 times per week or if in good physical fitness then it can be done daily. 10 sessions is recommended
This approach is good for boosting physiological performance, aids with recovery time and for handling all types of stress in body and mind.
Here at BodyMindBrain, we use Intermittent Hypoxic Training because of its wide ranging wellbeing and physical performance benefits. In particular it helps eradicate the habit of hyperventilation that many people unknowingly have. For anyone who has lived with sustained stress, especially when originating in childhood, it is likely that your body has adapted in order to attempt generating more energy to cope with these circumstances. The way in which the body does this is to raise respiration rate in an attempt to deliver more oxygen around the body but as a consequence develops a long term change in breathing habits. Silent over breathing (hyperventiliation) can be subtle and unnoticed but it can significantly maintain stress and anxiety levels until breathing is retrained and the body’s biochemical imbalances are corrected. If you yawn or sigh a lot or breath though your mouth, these are all symptoms of over breathing. IHT helps change this pattern.