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Can High-pressure Oxygen be Used to Treat Autism?

Chang Weili, Deputy Chief Physician in the Department of Psychiatry/Psychology at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, a Grade 3A hospital nationally ranked 19th:

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be used to treat autism, but it is an auxiliary treatment measure. Therefore, it is important for parents to engage in verbal and physical communication with their children, involve them in meaningful activities, and offer praise when they display strengths. Building the child's self-confidence can also help improve their symptoms.

Lin Yongqiang, Chief Physician in the Department of Psychiatry/Psychology at the People's Hospital of Guangdong Province, a Grade 3A hospital nationally ranked 34:

Hyperbaric oxygen machine may be effective for treating autism. It is often used as an adjunctive therapy for autistic patients. This treatment can potentially lead to improvements in sleep, diet, and the severity of autism symptoms. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be considered as part of the rehabilitation process for autism. Autistic patients should maintain a positive mindset, and communicate effectively with family and friends, and some may benefit from medications like methylphenidate and risperidone.

Mechanisms of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy for Autism:

Because the exact pathophysiology of autism is not fully understood, it is challenging to provide a precise mechanism for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. However, its effects may be related to several factors:

  • Hyperbaric oxygen can rapidly improve tissue hypoxia, promoting brain tissue growth and development. Before the age of 7-8, children's brain development is incomplete, and hyperbaric oxygen can facilitate the development of nerve cells and repair damaged tissues, thus aiding in the recovery of brain function.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen can inhibit the growth of anaerobic bacteria. Some autistic children have imbalances in their gut microbiota, leading to functional disturbances, constipation, and toxin retention. Hyperbaric oxygen can stimulate bowel movement and help address gut dysbiosis.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen has a significant therapeutic effect on viral infections. For instance, some theories suggest a connection between viral infections and autism. Hyperbaric oxygen can inhibit viral replication, alleviate cellular edema caused by infections, and rapidly restore cellular function.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen can suppress allergic reactions, mainly by acting on mast cells. Many autistic children have food allergies that are challenging to treat with conventional antiallergic medications.

  • Hyperbaric oxygen can boost metabolism and enhance the immune system. If autism is associated with elevated heavy metal levels in the body, dietary patterns may not differ significantly from those of typical children. The problem may lie in metabolic disturbances related to heavy metals. Metabolism relies on enzymes and oxygen, and hyperbaric oxygen can accelerate substance metabolism and promote the elimination of heavy metals.

Neurological research has led Western physicians and scientists to conclude that one essential factor in autism treatment could be providing sufficient oxygenation to brain cells through the use of hyperbaric chambers. Many psychiatrists and psychologists encourage access to hyperbaric chambers, as they can stimulate your child's neurological development. Hyperbaric chambers promote neuroconductivity in various parts of the brain by nourishing nerve cells.

Dr. James Neubreder, who has cared for 5,000 autistic children and devoted 75,000 hours to therapy, claims that hyperbaric oxygen therapy is one of the most valuable tools for treating autism. Among these patients, 80% of parents have reported positive changes in their children, confirming the effectiveness of this treatment.

Hyperbaric treatment is typically used with autistic children because they respond well to this type of therapy. It's important to note that we are not discussing a cure, but rather improvement in the behavior and certain characteristics of autistic children and their parents, thereby enhancing their quality of life. In the United States, it has been confirmed that 40 hours of hyperbaric chamber treatment can improve the functionality of young patients, including enhanced communication with the environment, increased engagement, commitment, and concentration, reduced depression and fear, improved visual contact, a better understanding of language, and absorption of new concepts and vocabulary, significantly increased appetite, and improved bowel function.

The spectacular results of hyperbaric treatment are attributed to the fact that each session oxygenates the brain, leading to increased density. Moreover, it eliminates a significant amount of toxins contributing to the development of diseases. Stem cell production increases nearly tenfold, oxidative stress is significantly reduced, mitochondrial production is significantly increased, a large number of bacteria and yeast are eliminated, and inflammation is reduced. Hyperbaric treatment is not only used for treating autism but also offers an opportunity to improve the quality of life and behavior of patients with Asperger's syndrome or ADHD. So far, there is no other treatment that can significantly stimulate the nervous system.

A 2009 American clinical trial (double-blind trial) clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of HBOT in treating autism. 

This study involved 62 autistic children aged 2 to 7 years. Testing was conducted at six centers in the United States, and children were randomly assigned to one of two groups:

  • Breathing 24% oxygen at 1.3 ATA (30% higher than atmospheric pressure).

  • Breathing room air at a slightly elevated pressure of 1.03 ATA (3% higher than atmospheric pressure).

Treatment lasted for 40 hours in both groups. In the first group of children, significant improvements were observed in overall sensory awareness, language, social interaction, and visual contact. High or very high improvements were reported by doctors in 30% of the first group, compared to only 8% in the control group. Overall improvement was observed in 80% of the first group and 38% of the second group.

Dr. Dan Rossignol, the head of the research team and the International Child Development Resource Center, pointed out that oxygen therapy for treating autism is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Initially skeptical of this approach, he began researching the use of hyperbaric therapy to treat autism when it helped his two autistic sons. Rossignol emphasized that it's not about finding a universal medication for autism but about improving the quality of life and behavior of patients and their families.

Professor Philip James, an expert in hyperbaric oxygen therapy machine, added that oxygen, through this treatment method, not only controls inflammatory responses but also affects tissue regeneration and gene function. It's important to note that there are contraindications, and not everyone can undergo treatment in a hyperbaric chamber.

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