Recently the Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is getting a lot of hype all around the world. It is not a new technology and has been around for several decades. However, in few recent years this therapeutic method has been re-emerging with an entirely new (yet not officially approved) options of its practical application, attracting interest from different scientific communities and patients alike.
The promise to stop and even reverse the process of aging is the main driver behind this trend. Several studies have noted positive results associated with the therapeutic use of the hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), listing it as a measure that could be used to heal chronic wounds, promote overall tissue repair, and even increase telomere length. One of the latest studies – the one that we have also mentioned on our website – also concluded that HBOT could be effectively used not only to stop or prevent but even reverse the underlying biological mechanisms of Alzheimer's form of dementia.
Until now, an effective mode of treatment of Alzheimer's dementia has constantly eluded very large efforts aimed at controlling build-ups of Tau proteins in the brain or research seeking to deal with proper compositions of gut microbiome. So can this aging-related disease be treated in a way as simple as just changing ambient atmospheric pressure and manipulating proportions of oxygen delivered to a patient?
Naturally, the conclusions of this latest research have sparked lots of heated debates. Some large science research bodies, including SENS Research Foundation, have officially warned to not mis-interpret claims about “age reversal” that are currently circulating in the media. Their point is that the actual findings of this particular research team were much more limited than it is often portrayed by the news journalists. SENS Research Foundation questions the inadequate patient sample size and their selection criteria, possible lab errors, and also (potentially) incorrect statistical assumptions and weak overall scientific experiment design, all of which could have become a source of scientific bias.
For now, it is difficult to provide a conclusive answer. In the first place, we should clearly note that the hyperbaric oxygen therapy is not an “aging reversal”, “anti-aging”, or “rejuvenation” therapy. Many news resources may have mis-interpreted the use and effect of this technology, at least to some degree.
The authors of the latest study seem to have left quite much space for such speculations, because the statements they present are sometimes contradictory. For example, last year they have stated that the same HBOT therapy works at the basic cellular-molecular level. In a later announcement they note that the cellular mechanisms of aging were not improved, but instead the HBOT therapy was just “triggering regenerative capabilities that our body already has”, through a temporary improvement of the function of the brain and blood vessels that inevitably become damaged because of normal aging processes.
That means that it is possible to avoid (at least partially) the appearance of cognitive decline which predominantly manifests in later age, and the hyperbaric oxygen therapy could be one of possible measures to achieve this objective. It is crucially important to note that the HBOT therapy does not change the chronological age on the basic cellular level, and that the claims of this latest study from the TAU scientists should be verified in detail.
We are probably still very far from curing aging at its biological roots. Although it is very nice to see that the research and discussions related to practical applications in the field of anti-aging science are gaining more traction.