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Can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Help You Overcome Severe Fatigue?

An image of a person inside hyperbaric oxygen chamberHyperbaric oxygen therapy is a therapy that allows a patient to breathe in almost 100% pure oxygen. It was traditionally used by scuba divers who develop decompression sickness after ascending from their dive too quickly and therefore experience a rapid decrease in water pressure. This rapid decrease in pressure prevents the extra nitrogen the diver had been inhaling from clearing from his/her blood in time. The nitrogen then separates from the blood and forms bubbles, which can lodge themselves in the joints and bones, causing extreme pain. Using hyperbaric oxygen therapy helps the diver to replace this nitrogen and avoid this painful outcome.

There is a risk of decompression sickness if you fly in an airplane that is not pressurized or lose pressure suddenly and hyperbaric oxygen therapy is useful again to help with this decompression.

Other conditions that can be treated through hyperbaric oxygen therapy include:

  • Anemia caused by blood loss
  • Gas gangrene
  • Skin grafts and flaps
  • Acute traumatic ischemia
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Air or gas embolism
  • Thermal burns
  • Severe infections, including in the brain and sinuses
  • Wounds that won’t heal, such as those experienced by some diabetics or those undergoing radiation therapy
  • Radiation injuries
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Arterial insufficiencies
  • Necrotizing soft tissue infections
  • Sudden hearing loss of unknown origin
  • Mucormycosis
  • Intracranial abscesses

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has also been tested in treating other conditions, such as asthma, cancer, autism, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, stroke, spinal cord injuries, depression, heart disease, sports injuries, migraines, and HIV/AIDS, among others. But till date, there is not enough evidence of its effectiveness for these conditions.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves the use of a hyperbaric chamber or tube that can be either flexible or rigid, and where 100% pure oxygen is administered at a pressure greater than atmospheric pressure, usually three times more than normal air pressure. This pressure aids in higher absorption rate of the oxygen by the body.

We believe that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be useful, as a supplemental therapy, for those with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and dysregulation of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response, but only in certain cases and if administered in a very individualized manner.

Within the NEM, which is your body’s global response to stress, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be especially helpful for the Inflammation and Detoxification circuits, two of the six circuits of organs and systems that work together to fight stress. Each NEM circuit is composed of three main components, and each component is linked with all the other components in the other circuits when there is a stress response.

Adrenal fatigue and the dysregulation of the NEM have the same root cause: chronic stress. This stress can be physical in nature, such as that which comes from leading an unhealthy lifestyle or getting recurring infections, or psychological, such as from ongoing work pressure or a mental health issue.

The Role of Oxygen in the Body

Before getting into how hyperbaric oxygen therapy can support AFS recovery and the balance of the Inflammation and Detoxification circuits of the NEM, we must first understand what is the role of oxygen in the body. We all know that it is essential to life, and that it helps give us the energy we need to live, but how exactly does it do that?

The process of respiration in human beings begins when oxygen from the air is taken in through the nose (or mouth), all the way to the alveoli, the tiny air sacs in the lungs. This initial phase is called ventilation. When air reaches the alveoli, that allow gas exchange, oxygen enters the bloodstream, and it is then carried through the pulmonary capillaries. This phase is called the pulmonary gas exchange, and it involves passive diffusion.

Once in the blood, the oxygen is carried into circulation from the pulmonary capillaries to the peripheral capillaries in the organs and tissues. The heart pumps the oxygenated blood out to the rest of the body, and brings back the deoxygenated blood so that it can get oxygenated again in the lungs, and the cycle continues.

Finally, in the peripheral gas exchange phase, the oxygen goes from the capillaries into the cells by passive diffusion through the cell wall. Once inside the cell, the mitochondria, which are the energy factories of the body, use the oxygen to metabolize nutrients and create ATP, the energy currency of life.

If any of these steps, or if any of the organs involved in these steps, is not functioning optimally, the level of oxygen in the blood and in the body can become low. This can be due to compromised lung capacity and health (from smoking or respiratory infections, for example), constricted capillaries, heart disease, anemia, or dysfunctional mitochondria. It can also be due to severe fatigue from AFS.

Normal blood oxygen levels are between 75 and 100 mm Hg, and anything below 60 mm Hg is considered low. In such cases, you may need to get supplemental oxygen, depending on your specific condition and needs. If your blood oxygen levels are too low, this may be designated as hypoxemia, and will require immediate attention.

Symptoms of hypoxemia or low blood oxygen include:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Slow heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Euphoria
  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • A feeling of restlessness
  • High blood pressure
  • Reduced coordination
  • Pain in the chest
  • Visual disturbances
  • Coughing
  • Sweating
  • Skin color changes, like turning blue or red

Hypoxemia, which is low levels of blood oxygen, can lead to hypoxia, which is low levels of oxygen in the tissues and cells. This is a very serious condition because when there’s not enough oxygen reaching the tissues and cells, every bodily function will be severely affected, making the argument stronger for the need for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. A lack of oxygen means that there will not be enough energy available to run all the body’s systems. This leads to fatigue of the body and the systems begin to slow down or shut down gradually one after another, starting with the ones that are not essential for immediate survival, such as the reproductive system.

Oxygen and Adrenal Fatigue

An image of an older woman checking her blood oxygen levelTo further establish the ways in which hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help, we need to look further into the effect of oxygen deprivation. As you can imagine, low levels of oxygen in the blood or in the tissues and cells is a huge stressor on the body, not to mention that whatever caused oxygen levels to drop, whether it’s an injury, a chronic illness, or a severe infection, is probably also a huge stressor on the body.

What happens when your body senses your oxygen levels are too low is that it launches a stress response. Your adrenal glands, which are part of the Hormone circuit of the NEM, are usually the first to respond when stress is present in the body, and they do so through the hormone cascade called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

The hypothalamus in the brain receives the information that there is a lack of oxygen in the blood and tissues, and signals to the pituitary gland to release a hormone called ACTH. This hormone stimulates the adrenal glands into producing stress hormones, most prominently cortisol.

Cortisol is responsible for functions such as regulating blood sugar and blood pressure levels, maintaining the activity of the heart and blood vessels, suppressing the immune system, and neutralizing inflammation.

Other adrenal hormones that help with stress response include adrenaline and norepinephrine, with each one playing a role in preparing your body to deal with the stressor.

Chronic hypoxia puts excessive stress on the body. The prolonged lack of oxygen leads to the overworking of the adrenal glands and this eventually starts showing symptoms of adrenal fatigue. In the beginning stages of AFS, the symptoms begin to appear because cortisol levels in the blood remains very high in order to meet the growing demand due to stress. With time, the adrenals become exhausted and they are no longer able to secrete cortisol at that rate. This leads to a drop in the output of cortisol which in turn causes the symptoms of more advanced stages of AFS.

Symptoms of AFS include fatigue, weight gain, insomnia, brain fog, PMS, infertility, loss of libido, hair loss, dry skin, hypoglycemia, heart palpitations, an inability to handle stress, anxiety, mild depression, frequent colds and flus, food and drug sensitivities, salt and sugar cravings, and slowed healing.

Low oxygen level is a stressor that can manifest AFS symptoms and hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be a useful way to reduce that. Interestingly, it has been found that the relationship between AFS and hypoxia is bi-directional, meaning that the stress of hypoxia can trigger adrenal fatigue, but also adrenal fatigue can lead to lower levels of oxygen in the body.

Adrenal fatigue is marked by progressively worse states of fatigue. There may be numerous causes for this fatigue including the body’s inability to cope with stress, depletion of energy and reduced nutrient stores. A sedentary lifestyle and poor diet may cause anemia, decreased circulation and reduced mitochondrial function, all of which leads to low oxygen levels in the blood.

This hypoxia leads to adrenal fatigue, the more severe hypoxia is, the worse is the intensity of adrenal fatigue.

Supporting the NEM with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Although all six circuits of the NEM will be affected by changes in oxygen levels in the body, we’ll pay particular attention to the Inflammation and Detoxification circuits, as they can be really helped with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

The Inflammation circuit of the NEM is composed of the gut, the microbiome, and the immune cells, and it is involved in the natural and necessary immune response of the body. It helps get rid of dead and damaged cells, making way for new healthy cells to take their place. It also helps get rid of the original insult that killed or damaged the cells in the first place, such as a pathogen or toxin.

In order for the Inflammation circuit to effectively rid the body of these damaged cells and also, pathogens or toxins that caused the injury, it needs the Detoxification circuit to run properly. The latter can then eliminate these unwanted substances in a timely fashion. The Detoxification circuit is composed of the liver, the immune cells, and the interstitium, and to a lesser extent, the lungs and kidneys as well.

A weak immune system cannot fight the pathogens properly and get rid of all the toxins from the bloodstream. As a result, the low levels of inflammation that was caused by a pathogen or a foreign particle continues to remain in the area. This leads to a state of chronic inflammation which over time can essentially can wreak havoc on the body. Chronic low-grade inflammation has been associated with issues such as depression, anxiety, joint pain, skin problems, and also adrenal fatigue.

A strong immune response requires a lot of energy, good circulation that will fight an inflammation effectively. If the oxygen level is very low, it is likely that the immune response will weaken over time. The immune system gradually becomes very slow to get rid of the pathogen or toxin that is causing the inflammation. As a result, the body will not be able to resist a powerful acute inflammation. Instead it will lead to a low-grade inflammation that stays around longer than it should.

One way to improve your immune health and rebalance your Inflammation circuit is to increase oxygen levels in your body, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be one of the fastest and most efficient ways to do that.

Strong adrenals are needed for detoxification. If the adrenals are weak, the system fails to decongest and detox at a faster rate. The toxins and metabolic byproducts re-enters the circulation in order to be removed, adding more stress, even if this is temporary. This may eventually cause an adrenal crash and a worsening of AFS symptoms.

To help with relieving the symptoms of AFS, and prevent adrenal crash, you can take the help of hyperbaric oxygen therapy. In this therapy, oxygen is supplied to the blood under high pressure. This helps the body to get rid of toxins and metabolic byproducts that had accumulated in the liver cells. This hyperbaric oxygen therapy also helps the body remove excess fluids from the swollen areas that happened as a result of chronic inflammation.

Other Benefits and Precautions of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

An image of men sitting in a row wearing masks with air tubesIncreasing the level of oxygen in your blood and tissues can help has many benefits. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy increases oxygenation by mitochondria in the cells, and in turn increases their energy production. This increased release of energy alleviates fatigue. Also, the production of new mitochondria rises, which means there is an even greater supply of energy. Overall, this means less fatigue and lethargy, and more energy and activity.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can also help increase the production of collagen for the skin, the production of serotonin, and the production of stem cells in certain parts of the brain.

Another very interesting effect of the increase in oxygen levels is that antioxidants in the system are upregulated, and the body can fight free radicals and oxidative stress more efficiently. Closely linked to that is the increased ability to fight cancer, even though studies are needed to further ascertain that.

And lastly, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help rebalance the gut microbiome, allowing the good bacteria to flourish and suppressing the bad bacteria and yeast in the gut. This can have a huge influence on every other system in the body, including the Inflammation circuit of the NEM. Given that the gut and microbiome are responsible for so many key functions, from producing neurotransmitters, strong immunity and hormone balance, hyperbaric oxygen therapy has huge benefits.

It is however important to be careful when using any therapy, natural or not, because the effectiveness of the therapy will depend on your health condition and individual needs. Even something like increasing the oxygen levels in your system can cause harm if not done correctly.

In hyperbaric oxygen therapy, the process of taking in a lot of oxygen through a hyperbaric chamber should be carried out by an experienced professional. It can be dangerous if it is not operated properly. Not following the exact procedure may cause oxygen poisoning, which can lead to lung failure, fluid in the lungs, and seizures.

You should take precautions before hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This therapy is not recommended if you have a cold or flu, if your body is in a very weak state, if you have very advanced AFS, if your lungs are damaged or if you have a history of seizures. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, is also not recommended for those who have problems in the ears or had ear surgery recently. Also, please check with the professional if you are claustrophobic and prone to panic attacks and anxiety (which can also be a symptom of advanced AFS).

The best way to ensure you are safe and you get the treatment that suits you is to find a provider that is well-versed not only in the treatment itself, but also in your particular condition.

If you realize that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not right for you, then there are other ways to increase the oxygenation in your body. Doing breathing exercises and gentle forms of yoga that synchronizes the breath with the body are helpful ways to increase oxygen levels.

A healthy diet and lifestyle changes can also help you to deal with inflammation, AFS, fatigue, and lowered immunity. Inflammation often begins in the gut, so if you focus on eating an anti-inflammatory diet, drinking plenty of water, then chances are that you may not need any therapy like hyperbaric oxygen therapy. With adrenal fatigue, and fatigue in general, getting lots of rest and sleep while making your diet and lifestyle changes is crucial.

Leading a healthy lifestyle will naturally boost your immunity, but there are many supplements and herbs that can help you boost your immunity as well. With the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider and nutritionist, you can be on the road to recovery without needing hyperbaric oxygen therapy or any other highly technical process.


An image of an older man shaking hands with a hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapistHyperbaric oxygen therapy is traditionally used for decompression sickness. But because it can deliver 100% pure oxygen to the body in a relatively short amount of time, it is increasingly being used for other health issues, including wound healing, dealing with severe infections, and anemia caused by excessive blood loss.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can also be helpful for those recovering from adrenal fatigue, as well as those who want to rebalance their NEM, specifically their Inflammation and Detoxification circuits. It can help boost immunity, increase energy levels, and detoxify the system – all of which are very useful for the recovery process.

But, as with any type of therapy, there is a time and place for it. If you are very weak and your AFS is quite advanced, you will need to take extra care with any kind of treatment including hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Even though the hyperbaric oxygen therapy uses oxygen, which is a natural substance to the human body, this therapy can be risky and dangerous. If not carried out properly, it can cause lung damage and oxygen poisoning. It is vital that you find a practitioner licensed by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society and that the practitioner is well-versed with your condition before undergoing hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

And now that you know about this therapy, do you feel it would be useful for you or do you prefer to find another method to increase oxygenation in your body? Don't miss out on transforming your health with Dr. Lam's Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Program, a comprehensive course packed with supplement education, curated lists of foods to eat, targeted exercises, and much more. Say goodbye to constant exhaustion and reclaim your energy and vitality by following expert guidance. Act now and take the first step toward a healthier, more balanced life—enroll today!

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Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been traditionally used for decompression sickness. But nowadays, many people have found it very helpful in treating other conditions, and also in boosting their immune systems, reducing inflammation, and decreasing fatigue. Could it be useful for you too?

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