HBOT for Horses

Last monday there was an article in the New York Times on using alternative therapies for treating racehorses. Among the treatments discussed was hyperbaric oxygen for healing up muscles better and faster.

It’s nice that the benefits of
HBOT are getting some recognition. By delivering more oxygen to the tissues, it can speed wound healing and help bring damaged tissues back from the brink.
There’s more and more data on the benefits of using it and we’re finally starting to see
some research on the benefits of mild hyperbaric therapy (1.5 atmospheres pressure or less).

The HBOT that just won't stop

Alright, new there's even more stuff I've found on hyperbarics and I hate to keep it to myself. carries a variety of mountains of info on the utility of HBO, including this article (in PDF format) on HBO for multiple sclerosis. In fact, this page is a catalog of articles on using HBO in a variety of disorders.
AAHA (American Association for Hyperbaric Awareness) is seeking to advance the understanding of HBOT. Their website is worth a look (just be ready for the audio "Welcome!" when the page loads). The Hyperbaric Healing Institute has a few notes on using HBO for various disorders.

Even more on HBOT!

Would you believe I got an email last night about using hyperbaric oxygen in the military for al the brain injured veterans we're getting these days? It's from the American Association for Health Freedom, who are supporting the International Hyperbaric Medical Association in seeking funding for treatment for 400 veterans. In the background info for the campaign, they include this video of a 17 year old who suffered traumatic brain injury in a high speed motor vehicle accident. After he was discharged from a rehab canter for for failure to improve, he underwent 90 HBOT sessions and made remarkable improvements. An interesting thing to note in this video is that after the first 40 treatments he only makes minimal progression, but then things start improving more quickly.

More on Hyperbarics

Every time I read more on the utility of hyperbaric oxygen (HBOT), I'm more annoyed that it isn't being used more frequently to treat some of the things it's really good at: neurovascular diseases (MS, alzheimer's, etc.), ischemic conditions (stroke, heart attack, sickle cell exacerbations). In addition to the article I mentioned last november, I've come across a couple more: a journal article about the successes of HBOT (and the politics holding it back) and an article about the unrelenting attacks on a physician who is using it to successfully treat patients, as well as an article about the American Heart Association's demonstration that HBOT is an effective treatment for heart attack.
In fact, here's 13 benefits to the heart from HBOT (from that
last article, please see it for the references):
1. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy applied to the heart during critical loss of oxygen exerts a remarkable defibrillating effect so that tremulous, rapid, ineffectual contractions are prevented; total death of the heart muscle cells is avoided; and abnormal dilation of the blood vessels with subsequent complications is controlled.1
2. Using HBOT in conjunction with various drugs enhances the effectiveness of both the oxygen and the drugs.2,3,4,5
3. Combining HBOT with drugs completely arrests or considerably reduces angina attacks in patients otherwise resistant to prolonged drug treatment.6,7,8.9
4. Patients with cardiac pain from ischemic heart disease experience total relief, along with disappearance of dyspnea (difficulty breathing), when they receive HBOT.10,11
5. Administering HBOT lowered elevated blood cholesterol in all 220 patients cited in a study conducted by the Russian internist Dr. S.A. Borukhov and her colleagues.12
6. HBOT normalized electrocardiograms in all patients in that same Soviet study.13
7. For diminished muscular power of the heart, HBO exerts long-term normalizing effects for circulating blood through the body.14
8. HBOT exerts antiarrhythmic action on the heart.15,16,17
9. HBOT increases heart patients' tolerance to hard work and taking on physical loads.18,19
10. HBO taken at three atmospheres of pressure (a pressure rarely used in the United States) protects any individual's heart from damages due to lack of oxygen.20
11. One's entire heart conduction system functions better from receiving HBO treatment (even when prophylactically administered).21
12. Without taking drugs of any kind, breathing oxygen under pressure stabilizes impaired fat metabolism and improves liver function for someone with ischemic heart disease.22
13. Due to its characteristic of mollifying stress and distress, HBO has long-term and short-term protective effects for a person with a heart problem.23

Finally, I just came across a virtual font of articles on HBOT written by
Dr. R. A. Neubauer MD, including 2 articles specifically about the etiology of multiple sclerosis and the treatment of MS with HBOT (1, 2).

Hyperbaric Oxygen and the "noncovered conditions"

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is quite useful for a number of conditions, though the medicare laws have a curious and unusual statement about HBOT: a non-covered conditions list. Most therapies' entries in the medicare laws don't even list covered conditions, so why does this specifically name 22 conditions as being "non-covered"? This is especially interesting because the 22 conditions are all clearly effectively treated by HBOT.
The last issue of Hyperbaric Medicine Today has an interesting article about how this happened. You can go read it yourself at The article starts on page 7, you'll have to scroll down to it in the acrobat file yourself. Interesting reading.
If you'd like to read some information about HBOT by physicians who use it, try
here. You can read a (relatively) short bibliography of research on HBOT here.

Here is the medicaid list of noncovered conditions:
1. Cutaneous, decubitus, and stasis ulcers
2. Chronic peripheral vascular insufficiency
3. Anaerobic septicemia and infection other than clostridial
4. Skin burns (thermal)
5. Senility
6. Myocardial infarction
7. Cardiogenic shock
8. Sickle cell anemia
9. Acute thermal and chemical pulmonary damage, i.e., smoke inhalation with pulmonary insufficiency
10. Acute or chronic cerebral vascular insufficiency
11. Hepatic necrosis
12. Aerobic septicemia
13. Nonvascular causes of chronic brain syndrome (Pick's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Korsakoff's disease)
14. Tetanus
15. Systemic aerobic infection
16. Organ transplantation.
17. Organ storage.
18. Pulmonary emphysema
19. Exceptional blood loss anemia
20. Multiple Sclerosis
21. Arthritic Diseases
22. Acute cerebral edema

As the author of the "noncovered conditions" list points out, there is no law against using HBOT for these conditions, they are merely off-label uses for HBOT. There are also articles about using HBOT for
migraine and Lyme disease (which medicare presumably won't cover either, nor, by extension, would insurance companies). And since I have a special interest in MS, I dug up this page which is the beginning of a discussion on HBOT for MS.

Why do I take this interest in HBOT? I managed to get my hands on a modest chamber and have been looking into using it therapeutically.