Part 1: Mainstream Medicine Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Mainstream or Alternative? Part 1

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Western Medicine has a common ancestor in Hypocrites, and the ethics of the Hippocratic oath still underpins much of modern medical practice, though interestingly the phrase most often attributed to him “First do no harm” is of doubtful authenticity. There are numerous medical traditions that predate and have existed alongside the Western tradition, most notable the Chinese and Indian traditions. The empirical nature of the western tradition has long excluded these other schools, though there is a move in the west towards a more inclusive holistic approach has re-emerged in the Western consciousness as a reaction to Western Medicine.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is firmly rooted in Western engineering and medicine but has been constantly marginalised as a specialist treatment for divers and tunnellers with decompression illness. It is in many ways the parallel awareness of the eastern traditions and the emphasis on breathing and wellness found in Chinese medicine and yoga that have brought HBOT into the public consciousness; that and a global respiratory pandemic.

In the USA and UK doctors are taught little about HBOT in medical school. About 20 medical schools in the US (less than 15 percent), have actual hyperbaric oxygen facilities, in Britain the availability is even less. If doctors don’t know about a therapy, they won’t prescribe it. Without prescription, there is little incentive for more hyperbaric treatment facilities. Therefore, there exists very few hyperbaric chambers, compared with the potential need. The majority of chambers that are available are dedicated to diving accidents and are not available for other medical conditions, and generally belong to diving companies. Those in the public arena are often located in hospitals that restrict HBOT to a small number of medical conditions reimbursed by private insurance.

Outside of diving medicine HBOT is often seen as a complementary therapy.

To be continued….

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