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Oxygen Therapy


Intravenous oxygen therapy (Oxyvenation) is currently used by about 850 doctors and heilpraktikers mainly in Germany. There are two reasons why intravenous oxygen therapy can be helpful. The first principle is based on hormesis: whereas large amounts of oxygen can be harmful, small amounts of oxygen administered intravenously strengthen the body's antioxidant mechanisms, protecting against oxidative stress. Oxyvenation also has an anti-inflammatory effect resulting from various mechanisms. 

The first recorded experiments on intravenous administration of oxygen were carried out on dogs in 1811 by Nysten, and many other authors have since described experiments on animals and humans. Modern oxyvenation was developed by the neurosurgeon Dr. H Regelsberger, who started experimentation with intravenous oxygen administration in 1946. 

Oxyvenation triggers a reaction in the body resulting in an increase in production of eosinophil leucocytes (eosinophilia), as well as activating other host defence mechanisms. The oxygen bubbles are opsonised (tagged for phagocytosis) by extracellular matrix substances such as fibronectin and fibrinogen. The eosinophil proliferation in the blood is concurrent with a decrease in eosinophils in the tissues, possibly due to inhibition of P-selectin and other cellular adhesion molecules. Pilot studies have shown that intravenous oxygen therapy results in a proliferation of regulatory T-cells. This is a similar mechanism to helminth therapy, where parasites are administered to patients to reduce allergies and autoimmune disease. 

Oxyvenation dramatically increases the hormone prostacyclin, which induces vasodilation as a parasympathetic response. Prostacyclin also has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherosclerotic, anti-fibrotic, anti-metastatic and diuretic effects. 

Anther substance that increases during oxyvenation is 15-lipoxygenase-1, an anti-inflammatory enzyme. Pro-inflammatory cytokines such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) are decreased following oxyvenation. Leukotriene synthesis is blocked from the arachidonic acid cascade.

Intravenous oxygen therapy is typically used with patients who are suffering from arterial circulatory disorders, chronic inflammatory diseases, allergies and autoimmune disease. It can be used as an adjunct to chemotherapy, as it reduces the side-effects of the medication.

Therapy consists of an initial series of treatments five times per week over 3-4 weeks, and follow-up treatments typically lasting two weeks after a rest period which depends on the severity of the disease, but usually one to two per year. Intravenous administration is limited to a maximum of 50ml oxygen insufflated at 1-2ml per minute. Rectal administration uses higher doses of oxygen at a faster flow rate. The treatment is carried out lying down. Oxygen is introduced via a cannula that is so thin that it is barely perceptible as it enters the skin. Initially treatment lasts 10 minutes, progressing up to 30 minutes. A short period of rest should be taken after the treatment to allow the oxygen to dissolve. 

Possible minor side-effects include the urge to cough and facial flushing during the treatment, temporary fatigue (typically only in dehydrated patients) and diuresis. 

Patients are advised not to use prostacyclin inhibitors such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication, high-dose steroids and antioxidants during a course of intravenous oxygen therapy, as these would reduce the efficacy of the treatment. 

Other substances have an oxidative effect similar to intravenous oxygen therapy, including curcumin, resveratrol, ginkgo biloba, L-carnitine, L-carnosine, α-lipoic acid, coenzyme q-10 and niacin. These substances can inhibit the production of antioxidant enzymes during oxyvenation, and should not be taken during a course of treatment, although use of these natural products before and after therapy is highly recommended where appropriate to enhance the hormetic effects of the treatment.

Natural substances that can support and increase the effectiveness of treatment include fish oil, selenium, D-ribose, and L-arginine, which can be taken during a course of oxyvenation if appropriate. 

References:
  • Kreutzer F. Intravenous Oxygen Therapy (IOT). Lingen, 2013. 
  • Regelsberger HS. [What is oxyvenation therapy?]. [Article in German]. Z Allgemeinmed. 1972 May 31;48(15):753-4. No abstract available
Oxvenation - intraenous oxygen therapy
Oxyvenation treatment

Oxven device
The Oxyven device