Oxygen is required for life to thrive, and lack of oxygen leads to many forms of discomfort, diseases, and disorders. One such disorder is of the mitochondria, where the body cannot burn food and oxygen in sufficient quantity to produce energy.
Though Mitochondrial disorders are not a common trait, still one out of every 5000 Americans is diagnosed with some form of dysfunction in their mitochondria. The intervention of non-invasive HBOT therapy is highly effective in managing its symptoms.
Modern science and technology have come a long way to understand the importance of oxygen and have devised various methods, equipment, and techniques to use oxygen to their advantage. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is one such phenomenal discovery of medical science that has acknowledged and used oxygen to cure, treat and manage many medical conditions.
Here, we will discuss how HBOT therapy can help treat the symptoms of mitochondria and better manage the disease.
What are Mitochondria?
Mitochondria is an organelle (a small organized structure) found in every living cell of the body. These organelles are responsible for producing energy for the cell. Thus, mitochondria are the cell’s powerhouse and the source of energy supply for the whole body.
When the food we eat gets chemically broken down during digestion, it binds with oxygen. It is known as oxidation. Essentially, mitochondria produce energy within the cell when the food is oxidized.
What is Mitochondrial Dysfunction?
When these small structures or mitochondria do not function properly, the energy is not produced and released in sufficient amounts in the cells for the body to function normally. This condition is called Mitochondrial dysfunction.
In other words, when mitochondria cannot produce energy by burning out oxygen and food, they malfunction.
The result is that the body does not grow at the normal rate and oftentimes there is a delay in the physical body’s overall development. Mitochondrial disorders are generally hereditary and not completely curable at the moment. However, efforts of the researchers, doctors, and the medical fraternity have led to managing its symptoms quite well.
Though mitochondrial dysfunction is normally present at birth in a child, in rare circumstances, it can also be detected at later stages of life. It can affect the neurological cells of the brain, the musculoskeletal system, muscular tissues, and other vital organs such as the kidney, liver, eyes, etc. As a result, many forms of discomfort arise due to mitochondrial disorders.
Specialized therapy and treatments like hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT therapy have shown tremendous hope in improving the patient’s health and living conditions.
Understanding Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, or HBOT, involves breathing 100 percent pure oxygen at raised atmospheric pressure inside a specialized chamber, known as a hyperbaric chamber.
The extra flush of oxygen the body receives penetrates deep into the areas where oxygen is lacking. It helps the body cells to rejuvenate themselves since oxygen is one of the crucial ingredients of life force and energy.
HBOT Therapy and Mitochondrial Disorders
Let us find out how hyperbaric oxygen therapy works in cases of mitochondrial disorders.
Due to the increased air pressure inside the hyperbaric chamber, HBOT therapy increases the oxygen supply in the blood and tissues. There is up to a 20-fold increase in oxygen and its reach in the blood cells and body tissues.
The mitochondrion (singular of mitochondria) consumes the most oxygen that we breathe. It is also responsible for the production of ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species). An imbalance of ROS in the body can create oxidative stress or imbalance amongst the free radicals and antioxidants, which is a very vital component in the normal functioning of the body.
Due to HBOT, mitochondria are exposed to the accessibility of extra oxygen. It is observed that long-term treatment of HBOT therapy improves mitochondrial activity, improves the antioxidant defense mechanism, and reduces the ROS in the body. It helps the cell’s capacity to combat oxidative stress in the body and establish a balance between free radicals and antioxidants.
HBOT uses synergistic and complementary approaches in optimizing the oxygen reaches to mitochondria in the cells. This helps the cells and other tissues to readily get access to oxygen. The cells can now produce energy even if more oxygen is required to burn the food and oxygen released.
However, it is still not scientifically proven that HBOT therapy can cure mitochondrial disorders. What is evident though is that it helps in easing its symptoms and better managing them. It also helps other cells, disorders, and issues that might require oxygen to function properly. Since extra oxygen is available for every cell and organ of the body, the ones that need more oxygen can now function better without any stress.
Though mitochondrial disorders are not fully curable currently, patients have reported a significant benefit in better managing the symptoms with the help of HBOT therapy. Their energy levels have risen, and other complications have reduced.
Experts suggest further studies and extensive research on this area of treatment. The positive responses from patients have given hope for a better cure with hyperbaric oxygen therapy for mitochondrial dysfunctions and their resultant disorders.