Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is a treatment that can be utilized to treat many medical ailments. Studies have been conducted on HBOT and its potential benefits in relation to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease. There’s lots of optimism since early findings point toward a boost in brain metabolism.

Alzheimer’s Disease And Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

An estimated that around six million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. As per the National Institute of Health (NIH), “Alzheimer’s disease is an irreparable, progressive brain disease that gradually destroys thinking and memory skills, and, ultimately the capacity to complete the simplest tasks.” Additionally, it is reported that the NIH has currently ranked Alzheimer’s disease as the 6th most fatal cause of deaths in the US and a cure for the disease is still to be found. What, then, can Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy do to help?

HBOT introduces oxygen-rich blood to the lungs through pressure—this increase in oxygen aids in healing damaged tissues. HBOT is a great treatment to treat wounds and is especially efficient in decreasing inflammation. We already know that HBOT has positive results when it comes to treatment of wounds and in the treatment of brain trauma injury however, how does it work for Alzheimer’s?

The Data

Doctors Paul Harch and Edward Fogarty joined forces to present one of the very first PET scan-documented studies of a boost in brain metabolism in the Alzheimer’s disease patient being treated using HBOT. The study was carried out on a female aged 58 who was suffering from five years of decline in cognitive function. The decline accelerated faster, as Alzheimer’s was diagnosed.

The patient was then treated with an average number of HBOT treatments. They were performed five times every week for 66 days. Each treatment took 50 minutes, and was comprised of the 1.15 atmosphere of absolute pressure (ATA). Following 21 sessions, patients began to notice an increase in levels of energy and activity as well as improved mood as well as the ability to carry out daily tasks. After 40 treatments the patient continued to experience an increase in memory and concentration, improved sleep, and appetite was in a position to use computers. Also, she reported more positive days than bad with less anxiety and less disorientation. Physical improvements like the tandem gait, tremors along with fine motor skills were also enhanced.

The results were astounding and one month post-HBOT treatment resulted in a 38 percent improvement in brain functioning. Doctor Harch stated that “HBOT for this patient could be the first therapy not just to stop but also temporarily slow the progression of Alzheimer’s diseases.” The study also included PET scan imaging that allows one to quickly see the improvement of brain functioning.

Positive Improvements, But Not A Proven Long Term Solution So Far

The short-term positive changes are very encouraging. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by four primary process that are discovered and HBOT addresses each of these processes. It accomplishes this by altering mitochondrial dysfunction; microcirculation, and biogenesis. In addition, oxidative stress is reduced and inflammation is decreased.

At this point, which is a relatively late stage, though HBOT has produced some promising outcomes in the above case study, it’s not an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease at this time. After two months of treatment the patient had the recurrence of her symptoms. She was treated over the next 20 months, receiving another 56 HBOT treatments, along with medication. In the course of treatment, she saw her symptoms regaining stability temporarily.

If further studies discover similar results that will demonstrate that people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can experience some temporary relief from the symptoms. The good thing is that these cases are just the beginning of the series of 11 HBOT treated patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, more favorable outcomes are likely to follow as results suggest the possibility of treating Alzheimer’s disease over the long term through HBOT and pharmaceutical therapy. 

“We have discovered for the first time that HBOT induces degradation and clearance of pre-existing amyloid plaques – treatment, and stops the appearance of newly formed plaques – prevention,” explains corresponding author Uri Ashery in a press statement.

Below you will find updated sources to this article. So far, not too many studies looking at long term results but short term results have showed promise. 

https://www.lsuhsc.edu/newsroom/HBOT Showed Improvement in Alzheimer’s Disease.html#:~:text=HBOT targets all four of,oxidative stress; and reducing inflammation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9241400/