The Benefits of Oxygen

Woman Stretching Forest

We can live about 28 – 30 days without food, about 4 – 7 days without water but try to live without oxygen and you will only last about 6 – 8 minutes. It is that important!

A few years ago over the Christmas holidays, I was sitting at our dining room table visiting with friends while eating at the same time. Normally this is not a problem but someone was telling a funny story at the same time I was eating a baby carrot. I laughed and bam! The carrot lodged itself into my throat. I could not get a breath. My wife Natalie tried the Heimlich, her sister Kari tried next. 

It wasn’t working! Most likely because I was panicking and my whole body had tensed up which wouldn’t allow for the Heimlich to work. My brother-in-law, Chris, jumped in and he was able to overcome my tense muscle and dislodge the carrot. That first breath never felt so good!

Oxygen and Your Blood

Oxygen is necessary for every cell in our body to work. Without it, life is short.

We get our oxygen from breathing air in but there is more to it than just breathing. You need to be able to get that air from your lungs into your blood. This is one thing that some people with COVID have struggled with — getting the oxygen from their lungs into their blood. 

Once the oxygen is in the blood, we need to have a substance called hemoglobin to carry the oxygen around our body. If a person is anemic, they will have a difficult time doing this. 

Having anemia is a “deal breaker,” according to Dr. Rob Lindsey, a functional medicine doctor here at Valeo — meaning that many other health problems are trumped by anemia. It needs to be addressed. One of the biggest reasons it needs to be fixed is that the brain has a huge demand for oxygen.

Brain-Diagram

Oxygen Is Essential for Brain Activity, Energy, Alertness

The brain demands at least 20% of the body’s oxygen supply. When it doesn’t get this supply, it can lead to issues such as sleep apnea, poor concentration, forgetfulness, mood swings, restlessness, depressive thoughts, and low drive.

“Extra oxygen has been shown to enhance mental performance and memory recall in healthy active adults in several clinical studies,”  according to Dr. Andrew Scholey, division of psychology, University of Northumbria. (Ref. Pmid: 10604851 (pubmed – indexed for medline))

Every breath you take converts to energy. Human cells use nutrients from food and oxygen to create adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy source that fuels cell function. If your cells receive too little oxygen, they produce less energy. If your cells need more energy, they use more oxygen. That’s why your breathing rate increases when you exercise.

Unlike muscles, your brain cannot store energy. It needs a steady flow of nutrients and oxygen to function normally. Oxygen deficiency can decrease your alertness, memory, and judgment. Conditions that can reduce blood oxygen levels include:

  • Air pollution
  • Traveling to a higher elevation
  • Breathing stale air that has less than the normal 20 – 21% oxygen.

“Insufficient oxygen means insufficient biological energy that can result in anything from mild fatigue to life-threatening disease. The link between insufficient oxygen and disease has now been firmly established,” according to Dr. W. Spencer, Journal of the American Association of Physicians.

Fatigue has been reported by several studies as one of the most common symptoms experienced by people worldwide, according to “Boosting Your Energy,” a special health report from Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, 2006.

Other Benefits of Oxygen

Studies have shown that oxygen helps:

  • Stimulate brain activity
  • Increase memory capacity
  • Boost concentration
  • Develop stronger alertness
  • Raise energy levels
  • Improve strength
  • Build endurance
  • Detox your blood
  • Reduce stress
  • Calm anxiety
  • Alleviate tension headaches
  • Remedy irregular sleeping patterns
  • Help with cardiovascular activity
  • Prevent lactic acid build up
  • Strengthen the immune system

How Can I Get More Oxygen?

Health providers and exercise enthusiasts have figured out ways to deliver more oxygen to the cells from taking in pure oxygen, to using oxygen concentrators, to working out at altitude. A more recent approach to forcing more oxygen into the cells is hyperbaric chambers.

There are really two types of hyperbaric chambers. The one that most people are familiar with is the one used when a SCUBA diver comes up too quickly. This causes the blood to be too high in nitrogen. To push out that nitrogen the diver is put into a chamber to prevent the “bends.” While this is a great therapy for someone dealing with this condition, a mild form of hyperbaric is a better fit for someone dealing with health issues such as concussions, brain fog, etc.

Mild Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy (mild HBOT) involves breathing concentrated oxygen in a pressurized chamber. Because of the increased pressure, oxygen loads not only the red blood cells but the plasma as well, allowing the increased oxygen to deeply penetrate the body’s tissues. 

It boosts cell growth by delivering increased amounts of oxygen to blood, tissues, and organs. Increased oxygen accelerates bone, skin, and muscle regeneration, helps the body fight infections more effectively, and has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. In essence, hyperbaric oxygen therapy accelerates the healing process, strengthens and normalizes the immune system, and allows body functions to improve.

Over time the combination of increased oxygen and increased pressure allows tissues and organ function to change in ways that were not physiologically possible before the treatment.

Valeo offers mild HBOT in our Eden Prairie office. Contact us to learn more and book an appointment.

Hyperbaric Chamber Closeup

Medical Thoughts on Oxygen

“Extra oxygen enables you to recover more quickly from exertion. It allows someone to train and then exercise again.” — Dr. John Brewer, Head of Sports Science at Lilleshall Human Performance Centre: Health and Fitness, 1999

“Oxygen can clear your head, help eliminate toxins, and give you a mind high.” — Andy Davison, Exercise Physiologist, Cosmopolitan, 2000

“If you use oxygen for 20 minutes, muscles become loosened; headaches and stress seem to disappear. There is a renewed energy and a feeling of relaxation. I am confident oxygen works.” — Dr. Richard de Andrea, Sunday Herald

“Increases alertness, improves the body’s ability to burn fat and enhances physical performance.” — Howard Robbins, D.P.M, for The Journal

“Dr. Parris Kidd stated that ‘oxygen plays a pivotal role in the proper functioning of the immune system; i.e. resistance to disease, bacteria and viruses.’ Dr. Stephen Levine stated that ‘we can look at oxygen deficiency as the single greatest cause of disease.’ thus the development of a shortage of oxygen in the blood could very well be the starting point for the loss of the immune system and the beginning of feared health problems such as Cancer, Leukemia, AIDS, Candida, seizures, and nerve deterioration.” — B. Goulet, The Magic of Aerobic Oxygen — Focus on Nutrition

“In all serious disease states we find a concomitant low oxygen state…low oxygen in the body tissues is a sure indicator for disease… Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen in the tissues, is the fundamental cause for all degenerative disease.” — Dr. Stephen Levine, renowned molecular biologist, author, Oxygen Deficiency: A Concomitant to All Degenerative Illness

“I have MS and Fibro-Myalgia and have suffered with this debilitating condition for more than twelve years. I saw an oxygen bar at a health event and needed to sit down and by chance tried the oxygen. After this for four days I felt so active, had no pain, no fatigue, and no exhaustion and even managed to clean my house out. I made frequent trips in my car to the tip and charity shop of which I am normally unable do. I even went out for a meal and went shopping which I’ve never been able to do.” — Carol Mason, Patmoor, Staffordshire

Picture of Aaron Morland

Aaron Morland

Dr. Aaron Morland is a doctor of chiropractic who has spent more than 15 years helping thousands of people regain their health. He has special training in functional neurology and functional medicine, and is certified in the Institute of Functional Medicine's ReCODE protocol.