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Hyperbaric Oxygen and Multiple Sclerosis

Published on October 18th, 2018 by Dr. Jennifer Nardella and Dr. Meghan Haggarty

Although multiple sclerosis is commonly referred to as an autoimmune disease, the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier can be the cause of the onset of the disease. Once the blood-brain barrier breaks down, the brain becomes inflamed and forms neural lesions. One of the reasons the blood brain barrier can be damaged is a lack of sufficient oxygen delivery to the brain. In fact, MS lesions are identical to the lesions seen in the brain of a patient who has suffered an injury from scuba diving.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Early studies of hyperbaric oxygen therapy showed that 12 of 17 patients treated with hyperbaric oxygen showed objective improvement. The patients were treated using 100% oxygen at 2.0 ATA daily for 20 days. However, at one-year follow-up these results had sustained only in 5 of the 12 patients. Further studies done by Oriani et al and Palotta et al, showed positive results in patients treated with ongoing interval treatments such as one treatment weekly. Prolonged treatments showed decreased progression of disease, and decreased frequency of relapses. These studies support the fact that a combination of early intensive treatment, with prolonged treatment may be optimal for the treatment of multiple sclerosis using hyperbaric oxygen.

In the United Kingdom hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been used to treat more than 15,000 patients with multiple sclerosis. These patients were provided with treatment that combines an initial series of daily hyperbaric treatments followed by prolonged weekly treatments. Seven hundred and three of these patients with MS receiving HBOT were studied. Of the 117 patients who had attended regularly and without interruption for 5 to 15 years, the Kurtzke value (KDS) had not increased by more than 1 point. 23% of the patients remaining in the study after 10 years had not deteriorated and symptoms in 7% of the patients had even improved.

The Nardella Clinic is the only hyperbaric center to treat Multiple Sclerosis in Calgary. Our naturopathic doctors have experience with helping patients to successfully manage their condition using hyperbaric medicine.