Oxygen is the giver of life. It’s more important than food and water. It powers each cell in your body, allowing your tissues and organs to function as they should. You can survive for a short time without water and even longer without food, but without oxygen, you would last just a few minutes at most.
As you breathe, oxygen naturally gets absorbed into the lungs, where it gets transferred to red blood cells. Your red blood cells then transport that oxygen to all of the cells through the farthest reaches of your body, bringing back carbon dioxide as a byproduct. You breathe out the carbon dioxide, and the process happens all over again.
Problems arise when certain health conditions prevent you and your cells from getting the proper oxygen that you need. Some health conditions may even thrive in low-oxygen environments. Oxygen therapy is one way to treat these conditions, making sure that your cells get the right balance of oxygen at all times. What is oxygen therapy, and what is it used for? Read on to find out.
Understanding Oxygen Therapy
Oxygen therapy is a broad term for medical treatments that involve delivering more oxygen into your body, either via breathing masks and tubes or injection treatments. The aim is to increase the amount of oxygen in your system, which equates to more oxygen in your cells.
Your body is normally good at balancing your oxygen levels, which is why you normally should not fall ill from working out or moving to a higher altitude. However, certain medical conditions can cause your blood oxygen levels to go too low, even when you are at rest. This can eventually cause damage to your body and contribute to shortness of breath, tiredness, and confusion.
Low oxygen may also be a factor in the spread of cancer. Some studies suggest that tumor cells have an advantage in low-oxygen environments. This may allow them to invade nearby tissues and spread much easier through the body.
What is Oxygen Therapy Used For?
Oxygen therapy has a wide range of applications. It is primarily used for conditions that cause low blood oxygen or hypoxemia, including:
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Sleep apnea
- Cystic fibrosis
- Late-stage heart failure
- Lung conditions
- Severe asthma attacks
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
- pulmonary hypertension
Oxygen therapies may also be used to reduce cancer symptoms and shrink tumors. As mentioned, studies suggest that tumors may actually thrive in oxygen-starved environments. This gives them an extra edge that allows them to metastasize and proliferate.
Oxygen therapy may also be used for broader health purposes. Oxygen therapy may contribute to reduced inflammation by activating certain anti-inflammatory pathways. This may help to reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and general joint pains. Providing more oxygen may also support healing by promoting blood flow, which allows for more oxygen and nutrients throughout the body.
Types of Oxygen Therapy
There are many different types of oxygen therapy. Each is based on your personal needs and the specific health condition that you are trying to treat. The general concept of supplying your body with more oxygen is the same, but the methods of administration are different for each form. There are plenty of oxygen therapy benefits you can get depending on the type of treatment you choose.
The most common form of oxygen therapy, supplemental oxygen gives you extra oxygen along with the air that you normally breathe in. This form of treatment is only available as a prescription. Some people may need supplemental oxygen long-term, while others may only need it for a short term. It can also be administered at home or in a hospital, or in other health care settings.
The process can use different devices to give you oxygen. This includes tanks containing oxygen in liquid or gas form, as well as oxygen concentrators, which pulls oxygen from the air. You then breathe in the oxygen via a mask, a tent, or a cannula (tubes connecting to your nose). You breathe in the oxygen along with the air around you, allowing for extra oxygenation in your lungs and cells.
Different types of a portable oxygen tank and oxygen concentrators are available for those that need long-term treatment. These make it easier to move around while still receiving therapy. However, patients who use oxygen tanks should take proper precautions. Pure oxygen is highly flammable. Make sure the tank is upright and secure at all times.
What is ozone therapy? It is a form of oxygen therapy for cancer. It is designed to kill cancer cells and reduce cancer symptoms. “Ozone” can sound intimidating, but it’s simply a compound comprised of three oxygen molecules. While ozone therapy comes in a few different forms, all these forms focus on delivering ozone into your body to theoretically increase blood oxygen levels.
The three main forms of ozone therapy are ozone UVB therapy, ozone autohemotherapy, and ozone rectal insufflations. Ozone UVB therapy starts with a doctor removing some of your blood. The blood is exposed to ultraviolet light, which causes cells in the blood to oxidize, creating ozone in the process. The blood is then reinjected into the patient, thereby increasing the concentration of oxygen in the blood.
Ozone autohemotherapy is a similar process. A patient’s blood is removed, but instead of being exposed to a UV light, the blood is injected with ozone directly. The blood is then reinjected back into the patient.
Ozone rectal insufflations are a more direct approach. The process involves inserting ozone directly into the rectum. The rectal walls are thin and porous, which also makes them highly absorbent. This also means that the rectal walls can easily and efficiently absorb ozone.
Ozone therapy may be effective on its own, but studies also suggest that ozone therapy may be an effective adjuvant during chemotherapy and radiation therapy. This may help the effectiveness of those treatments and potentially reduce the reappearance of tumors and cancer cells.
Benefits of Oxygen Therapy
Oxygen is a natural gas that your body needs in balanced doses. This also generally means that oxygen therapy is a relatively safe form of treatment with few or minor side effects.
In all of its forms, oxygen therapy is a non-invasive process. It doesn’t require a surgical procedure, incisions, or anesthetic, which reduces any risks that come with going through a surgery. That also means no downtime or recovery periods.
Oxygen therapy may play an important role in your health while promoting your overall healing process. If you think oxygen therapy is right for you, consult your doctor to determine the best treatment option for your condition and specific needs.
Written By: Dr. David Alvarez
Dr. David Alvarez is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Xochicalco and Certified by the American Heart Association (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support).
Dr. Alvarez has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista as an Assistant Medical Director at the Immunity Therapy Center for over 6 years. He provides daily on site patient care and participates on the medical board on research and development of patient treatment plans and programs. Dr. Alvarez is a knowledgeable and compassionate Doctor committed to helping patients get to where they want to be health wise through a more holistic and comprehensive approach.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.