Multiple Sclerosis and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
First of all, it must be understood that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. You probably already know there is no cure. The usefulness of hyperbaric therapy is to stabilize the patient's condition and improve their quality of life. Many people suffering from MS report improvements in their overall symptoms and their functional abilities after hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Patients have reported improvements in their ataxia, numbness in their fingers and hands, balance, visual fields, concentration, pain, weakness, and dizziness. It has been shown that very often, improvement can be achieved in bladder-bowel disorders.
Hyperbaric therapy produces vasoconstriction, which causes the dilated leaky blood vessels in MS to constrict back towards a more normal size. Hyperbaric therapy also reduces the internal swelling, due to fluid gathering, which can lead to nerve cells dying. Drugs can force vasoconstriction, but they typically also reduce the amount of available oxygen tissues receive when blood flow is reduced.
Oxygen is essential to all tissues of the body and especially to injured tissues which require oxygen to support and improve the healing process. Recent research at the University of Dundee, Scotland, has shown that with the inflammation that is typical of Multiple Sclerosis, the transportion of oxygen is severely limited by tissue swelling. They have discovered a severe lack of oxygen in the affected areas during a "MS flair". Then, when oxygen is needed most to reduce swelling and help prevent scarring or plaque formation, it cannot reach the tissues in sufficient quantity.
Over the past two decades, international medical research has demonstrated that Hyperbaric Oxygen can play an extremely effective role in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis. In many European countries, HBOT is now considered an integral part of the MS treatment program. In Britain alone, over 10,000 MS patients have received hyperbaric oxygen therapy from the more-than 60 MS National Therapy Centres dedicated to treating MS there.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy should begin as soon as practical and preferably before irreversible lesions have become established. This does not mean that patients with long-term MS will not benefit; but it does mean that time is a factor.
Even though in the trials some of the patients had advanced Multiple Sclerosis, the results are still very impressive.
In a recent publication in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine entitled, "Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, a Randomized, Placebo Controlled, Double-blind Study," researchers demonstrated significant objective improvements in 70% of patients treated. One year after treatment ended, 88% of those patients who benefited from hyperbaric oxygen therapy, maintained their improvements.