Hyperbaric oxygen and inflammation – Jane Dean explains how it can also be used to treat allergy and, maybe, even autism
Allergy as an inflammatory process
Allergy is also an inflammatory process but remains less well recognised by orthodox medicine. Regardless of the type of hypersensitivity reaction involved, the symptoms of allergy result from the release of inflammatory mediators (1). The release of these specialised mediators produce symptoms familiar to many, which include, stuffy nose, skin reactions and itching, red eyes, breathing problems and tissue swelling. Each inflammatory mediator has its own special effect. (2) The gut is the control centre for inflammation.
Inflammation is only part of the defence mechanism the body employs in an attempt to heal itself. White blood cells are produced in abundance, and require fuel, in the form of saturated fat and cholesterol, both for cell formation and repair. Oxygen is required to support white blood cells in the inflammatory process, so in this respect oxygen acts as an anti inflammatory treatment.(3)
Inflammation which is left unrecognised and untreated becomes chronic, that is, the body has insufficient energy to muster all immune defences. Chronic inflammation always causes damage to the affected tissue as in joints and bowel. Inflammation is made worse by stress as histamine will be produced as a stress response.
The inflammation that follows allergic reactions is very similar to that provoked by infection, although the balance of immune cells and inflammatory mediators is slightly different.
We also know that for the body to produce a fully functioning immune system specific nutrients are required in the right quantities. Vitamin D has received much attention in recent years, known as the sunshine vitamin as it requires sunlight to synthesise under the skin. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with inflammation. (4)
We have seen how essential fatty acids are required by white blood cells and help to protect us from inflammation. A diet low in dense animal fats and high in chemically altered vegetable oils, will tip the balance of anti inflammatory omega fats causing a high omega 6:3 ratio which, uncorrected, will be pro-inflammatory. (5)
The use of Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment for Inflammation
Hyperbaric oxygen treatment ( HBOT) simply means providing oxygen at greater than atmospheric pressure. Oxygen, it must be remembered, is a primary healer. Oxygen is required by every cell in the body for survival and providing an oxygen rich environment, will allow the body to heal itself and reduce areas of inflammation.
Autism and inflammation
A number of studies have linked autism to allergy and inflammation of the gut.(6) Numerous theories abound as to the rising number of children diagnosed as falling within the autistic spectrum. This is a political “hot potato”, since Dr Wakefield’s 1998 study published in the Lancet, made a possible link to autism with the MMR vaccine. What we do know is, inflammation of the bowel is often present in autism. The most recent study looking at this issue was undertaken by Dr Dan Rossignol and Colleagues in 2009. (known as the Rossignol Study)(7)
Children from the treatment group showed significant improvements in overall functioning, receptive language, social interaction, eye contact and sensory or cognitive awareness. For parents this was an exceptional breakthrough. As Dr Rossignol stated, “ we’re certainly not talking about a cure, we’re talking about improvements in behaviour, improving certain functions and quality of life”. Dr Rossignol has reviewed recent studies showing that autism is characterised by both gastrointestinal inflammation and neuroinflammation, both conditions respond favourably to oxygen treatment. Inflammation within the bowel interrupts the normal process’s of digestion and immune activity.
All children with autism have overgrowths of abnormal bacteria in their gut. HBOT has been shown to decrease the amount of abnormal bacteria in addition to killing off invasive virus colonies. The role of HBOT on bacterial host defence has been well documented particularly the increase in white cell activity. For those doctors who say there is no scientific evidence supporting the use of HBOT in inflammatory conditions, should contact Professor Philip James and his team via email:- firstname.lastname@example.org.
First published in April 2011