Several Lyme warriors I have spoken to, including myself, have tried Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, also called HBOT for Lyme Disease. HBOT is a pressurized environment with high concentrations of oxygen. You probably have heard of hyperbaric chambers being used for when someone gets the Benz scuba diving. However, HBOT has been successful for some with Chronic Lyme. You can read more about Brynn Alexander’s success story here or Sam Perry’s story.
Lyme and co-factors are anaerobic like most bacteria. Anaerobic means it does not like oxygen. Therefore, HBOT provides the optimal oxygen-rich environment to kill the Lyme bacteria. The great thing about HBOT is that it can be combined with other therapies, including antibiotics which makes them more effective. In addition to killing the Lyme bacteria, it also aids in reducing symptoms from Chronic Lyme. The high dose of oxygen treatment may reduce joint and muscle pain, and chronic inflammation.
There are two types of hyperbaric chambers, soft and hard. You want to do the rigid enclosure as it offers 100 percent oxygen compared to the quiet section only provides 25 percent. The partition I went in was a transparent tube, and your entire body was enclosed. You can not have your cell phone or any watch inside. The facility I went to had a television and music to entertain you during your treatment. My dives were approximately 90 minutes. It was very relaxing, and I didn’t feel anything. However, if you are claustrophobic, you may have a difficult time. You need to go 10-30 times before you see improvements.
Because the treatment requires so many visits in a condensed period, it proves to be very costly and time-consuming. Some Chronic Lyme patients had attributed HBOT therapy to curing them when nothing else worked. HBOT facilities are hard to find as well, but you can try your local hospital.
I found this excellent summary of Lyme and HBOT Studies on the National Hyperbaric Treatment Center website.
Today, HBOT does not have FDA approval to treat Lyme disease, and doctors use it as an off-label course of treatment. While it may not yet have FDA approval, numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of HBOT in treating Lyme disease.
A paper published in 1998 by W.P. Fife, Ph.D., and R.A. Neubauer, MD, discussed HBOT and hyperbaric oxygen with Lyme disease.
They discovered fibroblasts (cells found in connective tissue) often protect the Borrelia bacteria from antibiotics, making traditional treatment options ineffective. Because HBOT delivers high oxygen levels under elevated pressure, the oxygen penetrates deep into the tissue and provides an oxygen-rich environment where the bacteria cannot survive. The study looked at 91 patients and treated them with HBOT while they maintained antibiotic therapy. At the end of the survey, 84.8 percent showed significant improvement in symptoms and positive diagnostic changes in SPECT scans (a nuclear imaging test that produces 3-D imaging of brain function).
A 2104 paper looked at a case report of a 31-year-old man that had undergone years of traditional antibiotic treatments. These courses of treatment produced minor symptom reduction while on the antibiotics, but symptoms would return. After years of unsuccessful treatments with antibiotics, the patient received 30 sessions of HBOT at 2.5 ATA, with each session lasting 1.5 hours. Following the first ten sessions, the patient’s loss of thinking ability and sleep disturbances disappeared. After 20 treatments, numbness in the extremities and periorbital twitching disappeared. With the full 30 treatments, joint pain and other musculoskeletal symptoms disappeared.