Mary was only 58 years old, yet her cognitive abilities had already declined to the point of someone many years older, and any hope for Mary regaining her memory or maintaining independence was slim.
So, with nothing to lose, two clinicians suggested a therapy that’s FDA-approved for various health conditions, but not for treating Alzheimer’s.
The results were dramatic.
After 66 days of treatment, Mary experienced better energy, mood, memory, concentration, conversation, sleep, appetite, ability to use a computer and solve crossword puzzles. These symptomatic improvements were backed up by healthier brain scans.
Now researchers who were behind a new clinical trial on the therapy that saved Mary’s memory say it has the ability to heal the brain and reverse aging.
This remarkable therapy, called hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), involves breathing pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tent-like tube. American physicians first used it to treat nerve disorders in 1891.
By the 1960s, HBOT became an established part of medical practice. Today it’s used mainly for decompression sickness (the bends), cardiovascular conditions, and wounds that won’t heal. However, it’s also FDA-approved for eleven other conditions.
Research shows HBOT is a powerful and safe way to fight infection as well as stimulate the release of growth factors and stem cells, which promote healing.
Real Hope for Recovering Memory
In 2018, Mary’s doctors published her case study, which demonstrated that HBOT enhances brain metabolism, or the way cells utilize energy. Good brain metabolism is vitally important to preserve the function of neurons and retain memory.
The improvements in brain metabolism ranged from 6.5 percent in some areas of the brain to an incredible 38 percent in others. They described this as “the largest improvement in brain metabolism of any therapy for Alzheimer’s disease.”
They went on to write that “this intervention has promise where no other real hope for recovery of dementia has ever existed before.”
That claim is not quite accurate – we’ve covered many other helpful therapies in these pages and in our video series Awakening from Alzheimer’s – but all the same their discovery is exciting.
The reason, they explained, is because HBOT targets all four of the pathological processes of Alzheimer’s. The therapy:
- improves the microcirculation and mitochondrial function, and increases the number of mitochondria (the little energy factories found in every cell)
- reduces the burden of brain plaques and tangles
- quenches destructive free radicals
- lowers inflammation.
A spokesperson for The Mayo Clinic, which was not involved in the study, said that a single case report is “not deemed sufficient grounds to recommend a therapy by our experts,” which is why I’m excited about the new study that takes things further.
Improves Blood Flow and Brain Function
A large research group from Shamir Medical Center in Israel, one of the world’s largest hyperbaric medicine centers, recruited 33 healthy people aged 65 or older to undergo MRI scans, take cognitive tests and spend two hours in a pressurized chamber five times a week for 12 weeks. Another 30 seniors acted as controls.
The research group’s extensive experience with HBOT for many conditions led it to develop a “stop-start” schedule to generate fluctuations in blood oxygen which, they claim, boosts its regenerative abilities. They used this protocol in the study.
At the end of the trial, researchers saw little change in the control group in either their MRI brain images or cognitive abilities. But they saw a significant difference in the HBOT group.
The MRI revealed increases in cerebral blood flow and better tissue function in areas associated with cognitive decline. The tests showed improvements in attention, information processing speed and executive function. What’s more, when the tests were repeated six months after the HBOT treatment ended, the HBOT group retained these cognitive improvements.
“It Reverses Aging”
Lead researcher ShaiEfrati could hardly contain his excitement. “It reverses aging. It improves cognitive function, and doesn’t just slow its decline,” Dr. Efrati said. “This is the first time, from what I know, that there is biological intervention that improves the biology of the brain in the normal aging population. The decline that comes with aging doesn’t need to be taken as given.”
Another member of the team, Dr. Amir Hadanny, added, “Over years of research, we have developed an advanced understanding of HBOT’s ability to restore brain function.
“In the past, we have demonstrated HBOT’s potential to improve or treat brain injuries such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and anoxic brain injury (due to sustained lack of oxygen supply) by increasing brain blood flow and metabolism.
“This landmark research could have a far-reaching impact on the way we view the aging process and the ability to treat its symptoms.”
Getting HBOT for Yourself or a Loved One
I’ve been excited about HBOT for a long time, 25 years at least, and I actually wrote a short book about it more than ten years ago. The main application I was interested in at the time was to help stroke victims recover lost functions such as speech or movement. No one had even thought of HBOT as a possible dementia treatment.
While the results from HBOT can be amazing for stroke patients, the treatment has never been accepted by the American medical establishment, and it’s hard to get, especially if the patient is disabled enough to be permanently hospitalized. Once you’re in the clutches of the conventional medical system the chance of getting any kind of alternative treatment dwindles to nothing.
I hope dementia patients have better luck than stroke patients at getting access to HBOT. At least if you’re just suffering from MCI (mild cognitive impairment) or early stage Alzheimer’s, you can still make your own choices and seek out HBOT. You can even buy a small home unit.
With the urgent need for effective treatments to tackle dementia, this study will hopefully encourage a larger trial in people with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s, one that will satisfy the “experts” in the U.S. who’ve been looking as usual to a pharmaceutical solution.
New Clinic Opens in the U.S.
In the meantime, Aviv Scientific, a company co-founded by Dr. Efrati, opened a clinic in the U.S. for the first time. In June of this year, Aviv Clinic opened its doors in the central Florida retirement community The Villages, located just south of Ocala.
Aviv Clinic offers an intensive 12-week protocol of HBOT sessions, enhanced by cognitive and physical training, and a personalized nutritional program. For additional information, visit their website at aviv-clinics.com
HBOT is also available through a number of alternative doctors and neurology centers located across the U.S. Now, 60 sessions over a 12-week period is intensive treatment, and I’m sure insurance won’t pay for it. HBOT is probably for people with deep pockets. I’m encouraged that the patients in the study retained the benefits for six months after the treatment ceased, making it a lot more worthwhile for those with the means.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6352566/ Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for Alzheimer’s
dementia with positron emission tomography imaging: a case report
- https://www.aging-us.com/article/103571 Cognitive enhancement of healthy older adults using
hyperbaric oxygen: a randomized controlled trial