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Natural Awakenings Tampa Florida

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

by Dr. Rodney Soto

Oxygen, the element in air and water, is needed by every living organism. Without oxygen, our tissues die within minutes. A diminished supply of oxygen causes multiple symptoms with marked reduction in all bodily functions. This condition is known as hypoxia or under-oxygenation of tissues.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is the therapeutic use of oxygen for conditions in which organ tissues have been damaged due to oxygen deprivation. We normally breathe oxygen at regular atmospheric pressure (0.9 ATM) at sea level. During HBOT, higher pressures are used in order to deliver oxygen deeply into the tissues (1.3 to 3.0 ATMs).

“Hyper” means increased and “baric” means pressure. That is exactly what HBOT accomplishes. When oxygen is under pressure, it becomes a potent healing tool and promotes tissue repair, regeneration and changes at the cellular level, including stimulation of the DNA. It provides the body with extra oxygen at higher pressures, making it possible for oxygen to reach inflamed tissue and support optimal cellular and organ functionality. HBOT’s applications range from healing wounds to repairing damaged brain tissue. It has also been found to have profound effects in the reversal of many diseases of aging.

The common denominator of many disease states is the presence of low oxygen in the tissues and the development of secondary injury due to an inflammatory reaction because of trauma, toxin or infection. By delivering higher oxygen at higher pressure, HBOT treats the secondary damage and restores the function of the affected tissues. HBOT treatment is a holistic therapy that benefits the whole person as the oxygen is delivered to every cell and organ in the body.

HBOT has been in use since the early 1900s and later implemented by the military to treat deep sea divers who suffered from decompression illness. Since then, over 10,000 clinical trials and case studies have been completed for numerous other health-related applications with the vast majority of results reporting resounding success.

While the current covered indications by government or commercial insurances for HBOT are limited to diabetic wound healing, carbon monoxide intoxication, acute limb ischemia, gas embolism and some severe bone infections, the benefits of HBOT go far beyond these familiar uses. HBOT has multiple benefits, including but not limited to powerful anti-inflammatory effects; speeding up tissue healing; anti-microbial; enhanced brain repair; promoting new blood vessel growth; normalizing immune function; and increasing stem cell proliferation.

HBOT is performed inside a hyperbaric chamber for an hour a day. Each hour session is referred to as a “dive”. Best responses are obtained with completion of about 30 to 40 treatments due to its cumulative effect resulting in permanent tissue changes. Most chambers available for clinical use are mono-place and accommodate one patient at a time. There are basically two chamber types. Hard shell chambers can be regulated to achieve higher atmospheric pressures between 1.3 to 3.0 ATMs, while soft chambers can only reach 1.3 ATMs. Your physician will prescribe the right therapeutic pressure according to your condition.

A therapeutic intervention, non-invasive and safe with virtually no side effects, HBOT has one possible short-term discomfort—ear pain or sinus pressure—similar to what is experienced when ascending or descending in an airplane. This can be helped by performing chewing or swallowing movements.

Today, HBOT is being more utilized by holistic and natural practitioners for many other indications. It has become apparent that the use of pressurized oxygen has a wide range of beneficial effects for several chronic illnesses. For the diagnoses mentioned below, generally referred to as “off-label” diagnoses, reimbursement is not usually provided by most insurance carriers and patients incur the cost as an out-of-pocket expense. Similar to many other non-covered holistic treatment modalities, the benefits of HBOT can be viewed as an investment in your health that cannot be obtained with the traditional approach.

HBOT is not a cure-all for human illness; it must be utilized in the right context and timing and guided by a knowledgeable practitioner. Neither is it a therapy given in isolation. Ideally, the patient must undergo a thorough evaluation and testing prior to its implementation. It does not replace other treatments for a specific condition but rather complements them and adds healing power to other therapies.

The following are conditions in which HBOT can be very helpful:

Alzheimer’s disease

Multiple sclerosis

Parkinson’s disease

Lyme disease


Traumatic brain injury

Autism spectrum disorders


Diabetes and cardiac disease

Joint replacement, arthritis and bone remodeling


Birth injuries and cerebral palsy

In conclusion, HBOT is an innovative, safe and effective intervention for many chronic medical conditions. It can enhance the effect of other healing treatments and result in significant clinical improvement.

LifeWorks Wellness Center is pleased to announce the addition of HBOT to their list of services on offer. LifeWorks is located at 301 Turner St., Clearwater. For more information, call 727-466-6789 or visit 

Dr. Rodney Soto has his practice at LifeWorks, and is board certified in Neurology and Holistic Medicine by the American Board of Holistic and Integrative Medicine and a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine and board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine.