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New Year, New Research: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Women’s Health

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is revolutionizing the world of functional medicine, especially for women's health. Originally used for treating carbon monoxide poisoning and gas embolism, HBOT is now gaining recognition for its wide-ranging health benefits. This therapy tailors unique protocols to a woman's changing healthcare needs throughout her life, utilizing oxygen's natural healing properties.

In an HBOT session, patients breathe in 100% oxygen in a pressurized chamber, a process known as "hyperoxia." This increases oxygen transport in the blood, allowing tissues to absorb up to 15 times, or 1200%,  more oxygen than normal. This oxygen-rich blood nourishes tissues, stimulates new blood vessel growth, reduces inflammation and swelling, fights infection, and enhances collagen production.

HBOT has shown promise in various areas, particularly in women's health. It's being explored for hormonal balance, reproductive health, and weight management. The FDA approves HBOT for several conditions, but its potential extends beyond treating chronic wounds, burns, and other trauma-related issues.

Dr. Renie Guilloid, director of the Hyperbaric Medicine Program at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, emphasizes that HBOT's healing properties depend on the treatment's specifics and the patient's needs. It aids in developing new blood vessels, improving microcirculation, enhancing stem cell activity, increasing collagen production, and reducing fibrosis in tissues affected by radiation or multiple surgeries.

HBOT is particularly relevant for women's health for a variety of reasons. It supports fertility, cognitive function, hormonal balance, and healthy aging. Research indicates that HBOT can slow aging processes, prevent age-related diseases, and enhance longevity by improving angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels), reducing inflammation, and boosting antioxidant defenses.

A study in Redox Biology found that HBOT suppresses cellular aging and regulates stem cell function, crucial for aging. Another review in Frontiers in Aging highlighted HBOT's benefits for cerebromicrovascular pathologies (blood flow to the brain) and cognitive decline.

HBOT also significantly alleviates perimenopausal symptoms like insomnia and night sweats and improves ovarian function. A 2022 trial in Frontiers in Surgery showed that HBOT enhances ovarian reserve function post-surgery, improving key markers like AMH, E2, and follicle count.

Furthermore, HBOT has been effective in fertility treatments, improving endometrial thickness, oxygenation, and vascularization, leading to better embryo implantation rates. A study in Reproductive Science reported improved oocyte quality in aged mice, suggesting its potential in treating aging-related fertility issues.

In metabolic health, a study demonstrated HBOT's role in reducing elevated cholesterol and promoting weight loss in rats. HBOT enhances fat metabolism and suppresses inflammation related to obesity.

HBOT is emerging as a versatile, drug-free therapy for various stages of a woman's life. While more research is needed to fully understand its long-term safety and optimal treatment plans, the current evidence is promising, making HBOT an exciting new avenue in functional medicine for women.

This article was written by Yuliya Semenovych, Founder of Elixir Health and Wellness, and published in the January 2024 issue of Natural Awakening magazine.

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