With its tremendous health benefits and healing advantages, HBOT has been used for patients with non-healing wounds, fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy, dementia, chronic illnesses, inflammatory bowel disease, plastic surgery recovery, chronic inflammation, and much more.
It’s a non-invasive and innovative treatment that is virtually painless and has an abundance of health benefits. If you’ve read our previous blogs, you’ll know all about its amazing properties and how it helps the body heal from so many conditions.
In this blog, we talk about the relationship between hyperbaric oxygen therapy and lyme disease.
Lyme disease is a vector-borne disease that is very common in the United States. According to the CDC, more than 300,000 Americans contract the disease each year. Lyme disease is brought about by Borrelia burgdorferi or Borrelia mayonii bacterium. Humans get the disease when it is transmitted through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks, commonly known as deer ticks.
Symptoms of Lyme disease include headache, fever, fatigue, body ache, neck stiffness, swollen lymph nodes, chills, headache, and a skin rash known as erythema migrans. When left untreated, infection from lyme disease can spread to the joints, nervous system, and heart.
Most Lyme disease cases can be successfully treated with a few weeks of antibiotics. To prevent Lyme disease, it’s important to avoid areas where deer ticks live, such as grassy, bushy, wooded areas.
If you must go to these areas, make sure to use an insect repellent with 20% concentration or higher of DEET, wear shoes and long pants as well as long-sleeved shirts, gloves and hats, stick to trails avoiding long grass, constantly check your clothing, body, and pets for ticks, and in the event of a bite, immediately remove the tick with tweezers. There is no immunity for lyme disease, and it is possible to get it more than once.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy makes use of a hyperbaric chamber, which provides patients with 100% oxygenation in a pressurized environment. When we breathe normally, our body usually receives 96% to 98% oxygenation, which provides our cells with oxygen to produce energy for all our basic bodily functions.
Oxygen is responsible for our body’s circulation, producing heat, oxidizing food, and providing energy for our cells to function normally. In the pressurized environment of the hyperbaric chamber, hyperbaric oxygen therapy provides up to five times oxygenation than regular breathing. This means that oxygen flows into our lungs and into our blood cells.
Due to the pressure of the hyperbaric chamber, oxygen always flows into our plasma which effectively triggers circulation and blood flow, boosts immunity, lessens inflammation, speeds up healing, and allows our cells to properly heal damaged organs and tissues in the body. It also helps treat carbon monoxide poisoning, various infections, and gangrene.
Basically, hyperbaric oxygen therapy aids in healing areas in the body that are starved of oxygen.
While there has not been a tremendous amount of research done on hyperbaric oxygen therapy as it relates to lyme disease, it is actually in the top three conditions we see in patients.
The results that we see in the office are very significant for these patients. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a unique but effective treatment for lyme disease. This is because the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is anaerobic, meaning it cannot survive in oxygen-rich environments.
This bacteria can sometimes be resistant to certain antibiotic treatments, but will not endure oxygen-rich environments. With hyperbaric oxygen therapy providing high doses of oxygen in pressurized environments, the additional oxygenation effectively neutralizes bacteria that causes diseases such as Lyme disease.
Traditional treatment is usually a dose of antibiotics, but some physicians have started to add hyperbaric oxygen therapy as part of treatment to effectively cure Lyme disease in patients.
Another benefit of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for Lyme disease is that it can manage symptoms that may still be present even when the infection is gone. In cases like these, hyperbaric oxygen therapy usually relieves these symptoms when nothing else does.
Symptoms like inflammation, nerve damage, and muscle pain tend to return to normal when treated with HBOT.
As previously mentioned, there have not been many studies conducted in relation to hyperbaric oxygen and Lyme disease, however, we will discuss two particular studies on the topic.
The first is a 2014 paper that reviewed the case of a 31 year old male suffering from Lyme disease and had gone through years of traditional antibiotic treatment. Over the course of the treatment, the antibiotics brought about minor symptom reduction, but found that symptoms would keep returning.
After years of unsuccessful antibiotic treatment, the patient underwent 30 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen at 2.5 atmosphere. Each session lasted 1.5 hours. The patient’s sleep disturbances and loss of thinking ability drastically improved and disappeared after 10 sessions. Periorbital twitching and numbness in the extremities disappeared after 20 treatments. Musculoskeletal symptoms and joint pain disappeared as he completed 30 treatments of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Another paper conducted in 1998 observed the connection between hyperbaric oxygen therapy and Lyme disease.
It was discovered that the fibroblasts (cells found in connective tissues) can often protect the Borrelia bacteria from antibiotic treatments, making these traditional treatments somehow ineffective.
Since hyperbaric oxygen therapy provides higher levels of oxygen under pressure in the hyperbaric chamber, oxygen is able to penetrate the tissue, where bacteria are unable to survive in high-oxygen environments.
This study had a sample size of 91 patients treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy while also undergoing antibiotic therapy with a total of 1,995 HBOT treatments. At the end of the research study, 84.8% of patients showed significant improvement in Lyme disease symptoms. They also showed significant positive diagnostic results in SPECT scans.
Both these studies show that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is an effective form of treatment for Lyme disease, especially in the event that antibiotic treatment is unable to diminish symptoms completely.