Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: A Promising Alternative for AutismSep 29, 2023 05:09PM ● By Dr. Roger Hunter
There is currently no cure for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). As such, many physicians are looking to hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) as a treatment that is showing great promise. It targets the source of the condition by treating damage and inflammation in the brain. As a result, parents and children are seeing positive results. For people with autism, HBOT has shown improvement in behavior, memory, social interaction, language and verbalization, cognitive function, reduction in repetitive behavior, increased eye contact, improved sleep patterns and motor skills, and a decrease in gastrointestinal complications.
HBOT is a safe non-invasive, painless therapy where the patient breaths 100 percent oxygen under pressure. The treatments last 90 minutes, five days per week. Usually, a parent will be in the chamber with the child. It reduces the inflammation in the body but especially the brain, stimulating an 800 percent increase in the body’s production of stem cells.
HBOT addresses mitochondrial dysfunction commonly associated with ASD, increases the production of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase to reduce oxidative stress, and stimulates the immune system.
The cause of ASD is unknown but is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors that affect the brain ranging from increased inflammation to a surplus of synapses, or connections, between brain cells. Research has shown that in non-ASD brains, the number of synapses decreases by 50 percent by late childhood versus 16 percent in ASD brains. HBOT has proven to be a very potent anti-inflammatory and promotes neuroplasticity in the brain.
Studies show that the blood flow in the ASD brain is increased in some areas and decreased in other areas versus the non-ASD brain.
Research shows that in people with ASD, the connections established across brain regions stay connected for a much longer period than non-ASD brains. These connection times are very short in non-ASD brains but may last up to 20 seconds in an ASD brain. There is an association between the connection time and ASD severity. This may be the limiting factor in allowing the ASD brain to shift from one stimulus to another, causing a sensory overload to lights, pain, sounds, tastes, and smells.
Previous research has shown that microglial cells, which are the immune cells of the nerves in the brain responsible for fighting infection, are always activated, resulting in constant inflammation in the brain. Dr. Shai Efrati and his group published a research article in 2022 that studied autism in an animal model which reported that HBOT reduces inflammation and improves blood and oxygen supply to the brain, thus improving brain function.
The gastrointestinal system is another area that is often affected by a correlation between incidence and severity of ASD symptoms. This is associated with high levels of inflammation and an overgrowth of certain harmful bacterial and fungal organisms. HBOT helps reestablish healthy gut flora, reduce the associated inflammation and heal the intestinal lining.
Dr. Roger Hunter is the owner of Nirvana Hyperbaric Institute, located at 146 Medical Park Rd., Ste. 110, in Mooresville. For more information or a free consultation, call 704-471-4100 or visit NirvanaHBO.com.
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