Hyperbaric Healing: Unleashing the Power of Oxygen to Revolutionize Holistic Medicine

by | May 31, 2023

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In this episode of The Modern Vital Podcast, Dessa Bingley – a specialist in hyperbaric oxygen therapy – and Dr. Ben discuss the myriad of benefits this unique treatment modality can offer. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a process where a patient breathes in pure oxygen in a pressurized room or tube, can stimulate the HIF1 oxygen sensing cell, leading to a cascade of biological responses that include collagen and fibrinogen production – crucial for wound healing and stem cell synthesis. Beyond wound healing, this therapy can increase endogenous stem cells eight-fold after 15-40 sessions, which the body can utilize to regenerate tissues, potentially even neurons, debunking the old belief that nerves don’t regenerate.

Dessa further highlights the evolving accessibility and affordability of hyperbaric therapy, making it a viable option not just for life-threatening conditions, but also for more common ailments like muscle strains, long COVID, and early-onset dementia. Additionally, the upsurge in research regarding hyperbaric therapy due to the COVID-19 pandemic has unearthed a trove of other potential benefits – including anti-inflammatory properties, bacterial, viral and microbial resistance, immune regulation, and stem cell support. Hyperbarics is an ideal adjunct to other complementary therapies, making any other treatment you’re undergoing more effective by enhancing the body’s resources.

The duo then delved into the lesser-known benefits of hyperbarics on biofilm disruption, where microbes like spirochetes often hide from the immune system. By breaking down these biofilms, hyperbarics can potentially enhance the efficacy of antibiotics and improve the quality of life of patients with conditions like Lyme and mold colonization. Dessa’s clinic – Be Well Holistic Health – emphasizes accessibility, offering affordable sessions and even providing a mini fleet of rental chambers for patients unable to leave their homes. As the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, investing in a home chamber could be a drop in the bucket with a massive return on the patient’s health and well-being. 

Listeners are encouraged to reach out with questions, suggestions, or feedback, and to join the next episode of The Modern Vital Podcast for more insights into health and well-being.

If you’re looking to dive deeper into understanding the intricacies of chronic disease and its impact on your overall well-being, consider checking out Dr. Reebs’ book, “The Serpent & The Butterfly: The Seven Laws of Healing.” In this book, he discusses thyroid health and much more to help you on your journey to optimal wellness. Click here to purchase your copy: https://www.drreebs.com/serpent-butterfly-book/

Additionally, if you’re interested in a supplement designed to directly support your digestion, we recommend trying Digest: Gentian & Skullcap Capsules. These capsules are formulated with natural ingredients that can help improve and support overall digestive health. To learn more and purchase, visit: https://www.drreebs.com/digest-gentian-skullcap-capsules/

Thank you for joining us on The Modern Vital Podcast. Your support means the world to us, and we hope you continue to find value in the information we provide. Please remember to subscribe, leave a review, and share our podcast with others who might benefit from this content. Until next time, stay informed and proactive in your pursuit of health and wellness!

Complete Transcript of Episode 12954550

Dr. Ben: On today’s episode of The Modern Vital Podcast, we’re going to talk about hyperbaric medicine, also known as HBOT or hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and I’m very excited to announce that today’s special guest is Dessa Bingley, a licensed acupuncturist practicing in Portland, Oregon, and Dessa’s specialties are neurological disorders and traumatic brain injury, or TBI. She also works with chronic infections such as Lyme disease, autoimmune disease, and Dessa is board-certified in functional hyperbaric medicine. She also founded and is the executive director of TeamWorks International, a non-profit integrative holistic neurology clinic. Welcome to the show, Dessa. 

Dessa: Thank you so much, Dr Reebs. It’s such an honor to be talking with you about hyperbarics today. I’m really excited for our listeners to learn more about this beautiful and powerful medicine. 

Dr. Ben: I’d love to just start with a little bit about how you found hyperbaric medicine. Tell us a little bit about your story. What led you to this path? 

Dessa: Oh my gosh, That’s a great question. Well, some years ago, interestingly, I was in a very serious motor vehicle accident and suffered a traumatic brain injury myself which was quite debilitating. I lost motor control of the left side of my body. Very significant memory loss, executive function, critical thinking loss was deemed totally and permanently disabled. At that time, and through crace and the powers that be that are looking out for us, a friend of mine actually had a hyperbaric chamber in their home and they were so gracious to offer me the care And over a number of months of regular use we started to see my capacity and function return. My neurologist at the time said this isn’t the kind of illness or injury that most people come back from, and I have come back from that to a place where I’m now again able to practice medicine and share the gift of this medicine with persons who have been potentially severely injured or disabled from injury or illness. This is my new path in life. 

Dr. Ben: Maybe we can dive a little bit into hyperbaric medicine. What exactly is it? I know a lot of people are becoming familiar with it, especially over these last few years. What is it exactly? 

Dessa: Hyperbarics. So hyper means increased and baric means pressure. So it’s a chamber or a small room that simulates a change in atmospheric pressure. And I like to think about it this way. Like if you go up in the mountains the air is thin, and the opposite would be true if you were to somehow have a way to be below sea level, which increases the physics of pressure, and in this very special environment, especially if you add extra oxygen to this pressurized environment, we are able to basically press significant amounts of oxygen deep into the tissue to do healing and regeneration. 

The first thing I would say about it is that it’s very safe and very effective. And for the last 50 years or so it’s been FDA approved. It is used in hospitals, I would say very well researched and documented medicine, literally thousands of studies demonstrating its safety and efficacy. It’s covered by insurance for 14 conditions that I would categorize as kind of like life and limb saving. It’s such a powerful medicine that in hospitals it’s used right now for life and limb saving conditions And I’m feeling really blessed to be bringing this medicine that has such a rich evidence-based history into the land of functional medicine, into the land of preventative medicine. So if this is a medicine that’s effective enough to save your life or limb, we should definitely be using it much earlier and much sooner. 

Dr. Ben: When the body is exposed to more oxygen you know, let’s say 94% oxygen as opposed to 21%, which I guess the air is 21%. And then we’ve got a pressurized chamber, or a bag, or a tent, or you know, basically this cigar shaped tube that we see in the soft chambers. What exactly happens? How does it work? How is it that just by being exposed to this oxygen, it’s going to go into my body and heal me in certain ways? 

Dessa: I would say the pathophysiology of illness and injury, like what’s at the root, is almost always wrong, is something to do with oxygen and circulation. And so if we can put your body in an environment that is going to deeply increase or supersaturate your tissues with oxygen and significantly increase your circulation, we’re going to see changes at that fundamental level of health. What happens in the chamber? Oxygen is bound to your red blood cells and then it travels through your vascular system right. And if you have damage to your vascular system from inflammation, from injury, from toxicity, those red blood cells may not be able to get everywhere in your body that they need to go. The other interesting thing about a red blood cell in terms of the size of cells in our body, they’re quite large And if you have damage, inflammation in your vascular system, sometimes those red blood cells literally can’t fit. And then we have hypoxic tissue or tissue that’s dying on the other side of that. And that’s one of the sort of most basic kinds of definitions of chronic illness in particular.

And so powerfully, what happens in the chamber is, we increase what’s called your, and I just love the name of this, your free-float oxygen. It’s the oxygen that’s in your body that’s not bound to a red blood cell. It’s like free agent oxygen that any cell in your tissue can say I have a need for this, I need healing and repair over here. We see a super saturation increase in that free float oxygen. So we’re no longer dependent on your blood vessels to get oxygen to your tissues, which is a little bit mind blowing, but that’s how it works. And then, because it’s a systemic treatment, every system in your body benefits and we can think of oxygen like a supplement, like a base nutrient. It’s what your cells need to do basic cellular metabolism and cellular respiration. So if we’re able to give every cell what it needs to do, it functions better, we’re going to increase the total vitality of your whole system. 

Dr. Ben: I mean we know that oxygen kind of drives oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria. What if I don’t have enough of those other things, but the hyperbaric chamber gets the oxygen to those cells that are deficient. Is it still going to jumpstart things a little bit?

Dessa: Absolutely. An analogy that I might use would be like an engine. We can use the analogy of a cell as an engine, and you see those muscle cars that have, you know, an external air intake on the hood, just looking, you know, really bad-ass. If you can get more oxygen into the engine, you’re going to have more power. And this is the same with a cell. If we increase your oxygen, the equivalent of that in a cell is ATP cellular energy. And so with hyperbarics we see about an eight-fold increase in your cells’ capacity to make cellular energy, which is going to mean that these cells are that much more effective in doing their cellular function and also that much more efficient. So, so much of what inflammation is in the body is from the byproduct of cellular waste and cell breakdown. So if we can make your cells more efficient, your total body’s toxic load is, by nature, going to go down. 

Dr. Ben: Right, and we know that when we have hypoxia, which you know is a lack of oxygen obviously for those who don’t know the term hypoxia, then waste products build up in the cell, stuff can’t get out and that just drives oxidative stress and just wreaks havoc and basically pours gasoline on the fire that’s already going and makes everything worse. And so I guess this oxygen that goes in there could also help with waste products getting them out as well, right, and kind of lower toxicity in the cell as well?

Dessa: Yes, absolutely. So, one of the sort of mechanisms or the ways that that it works is by…one might think, oh, i don’t want to oxidize my tissues, that’s going to increase oxidation, that’s going to increase free radicals, which is one of the things that I hear sometimes. One of the most interesting things about the body is when you increase the levels of oxygen, the body’s response to that is an equal and opposite increase in what’s called superoxide dismutase, which is your body’s natural free radical fighting power. We see a super raise in that superoxide dismutase, which is, in effect, directly, directly anti-inflammatory. 

Dr. Ben: Do we also see an increase in glutathione with BOT? Or is that sort of to be determined? 

Dessa: That you would see in an indirect way, and this I would come back to or, moreover, share one of my favorite benefits of hyperbaric, which is a profound increase in stem cells, and this, if I’m going to kind of go deep into what facilitates that increase in stem cells, it has to do with creating what’s called a relative hypoxia. 

So what we’re going to do is super saturate your tissues with oxygen, literally hundreds of times more than normal, and then bring you down a little bit to still way more than normal and then bring it up again and then bring it down to just less than the super amount that your body was registering. 

And this relative hypoxia, the going up and down and up and down kind of pumping of the system, stimulates a HIF1 oxygen sensing cell which sends a cascade of sirtuins and cytokines through the system, and one of the products of that is an increase in collagen and fibrinogen, which is what we’re going to use for wound healing and repair or any kind of stem cell synthesis. So the studies are showing right now around about, you know, after between 15 and 40 sessions, we see about an eight-fold increase in endogenous stem cells, and these are baby cells that your body gets to decide what to do with. Am I going to lay down some new liver tissue, new kidney tissue, or a precursor for serotonin and dopamine, or a precursor for glutathione? So that’s a long way to get around to. Does hyperbaric increase glutathione? Potentially, the answer is yes. 

Dr. Ben: And then we’re also able to regenerate neurons as well from those stem cells. Is that right? 

Dessa: Yes, Yes, it’s hyperbaric, it is angiogenic and neurogenic, meaning it facilitates growth of new baby blood vessels and new neurons. I mean, I remember when I was in med school, we used to think that nerves didn’t really regenerate. And now we have the studies that show that when you create the right environment and you fuel the cells with the resources that they need to do that healing and regeneration, that they will, your body will regrow its micro capillaries but it will regrow baby blood vessels and it will regrow nerves in a hyperbaric environment, absolutely. 

Dr. Ben: So for somebody who wants to get started, I mean, would you recommend they go and try it out for maybe a few sessions, or how do you approach that? I mean, I know obviously there’s direct application for musculoskeletal injuries, brain injuries, different hypoxic conditions we see at work wonders for. But what about just kind of the regular person who maybe has a chronic nagging muscle strain or something in their back and they want to try out hyperbaric chamber? Would you recommend that? 

Dessa: I would. It’s my opinion that hyperbarics is kind of the holy grail of holistic medicine of our generation. Our clinic has just a huge emphasis on accessibility, making this care accessible, making this care affordable, doing the education to say actually, you know, if I have a meniscus tear or a herniated disc or suffering from long COVID or early onset dementia, that hyperbarics is a valid option for me. It’s no longer reserved for, you know, hospital grade life and limb saving type conditions. 

And, interestingly, I’ll just share part of what’s brought this to the forefront in these last, even three to five years. The amount of research we have around hyperbarics has just gone off the charts because it’s effective for acute and long COVID. And you know, with the pandemic, thinking what is the solution for COVID, the amount of research into hyperbarics just went off the charts. And because of that research we’re not only understanding that it’s effective or acute and long COVID, but really having a much deeper understanding of mechanisms of action and pathophysiology. What happens when you really do put a human under pressure. What are the other benefits that we see along with that? So the vasoconstriction decreases inflammation, increased mitochondrial growth, it being anti bacterial, anti-viral, antimicrobial, supporting immune regulation, supporting stem cells. So if any of these things sound like things that would support your being or your body or a family member, absolutely raise your hand and say I want to learn more about hyperbarics. 

It’s also a beautiful medicine to stack with other complementary medicines. Stack it with ozone therapy, stack it with acupuncture and chiropractic naturopathy, homeopathy, because hyperbarics is going to catalyze whatever else you’re doing. It’s going to make whatever other therapy you’re doing more effective, because we’re increasing the resource of your body to do whatever medicine you’re already doing. 

Dr. Ben: I know you and I have talked a little bit about how it modulates the microbiome and I mean you just touched on that a little bit, but I know there are only maybe a couple studies out there on this in particular. It doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of research yet. But that’s just a fascinating area of how HBOT affects the biofilm, where things like spirochetes can sequester and hide from the immune system. Can you talk a little bit about that, about how what we know right now about how hyperbarics affects that? 

Dessa: As a biofilm breaker. Absolutely, I think a lot of what we’re seeing is this in a sort of clinical application, noticing that it is synergistic with antibiotics, or it allows the antibiotics to then be able to penetrate when there would be circumstances when they would be otherwise ineffective, which would lead us clinically to conclude that this is breaking down biofilms. And I know from my clinical experience working with patients with Lyme, with colonized mold, that we’re able to actually see some changes in quality of life when we have added hyperbarics. 

Dr. Ben: I’m wondering if you could just give a couple of practical tips. I mean, I know you’re one of the leading experts in hyperbarics here in the Pacific Northwest. Maybe give people a couple of practical tips they can take home with them, like how would they, how would you recommend they go and find a chamber? 

Dessa: Well, you know, shout out to Be Well Holistic Health, which is the clinic here in Portland that I have a beautiful team supporting. Our website is bewellandheal.com. In addition to studio sessions that we offer on a sliding scale, again with a commitment to accessibility, we also have a cute little mini fleet of rental chambers where we’re able to get chambers into the homes of people that are maybe struggling with agility, mobility, suffering from chronic fatigue, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s. Where traveling  is just not an option. That’s something that we’re able to do and, being a non-profit, I’ve been able to negotiate some pretty substantial discounts for patients that are not in a position to buy a chamber. 

And I will say, you know, historically hyperbarics has been this like far off reaching thing. Oh, I wish I could do that. I’ll never be able to afford it, and times are changing. with this medicine, the chambers are becoming more accessible and more affordable. You can get a home chamber anywhere between maybe seven and about 25 thousand dollars, which, if you’re suffering from chronic illness or injury, that’s kind of can be a drop in the bucket with what health care costs in in our day and age, for the the bang for your buck that you’re going to get in terms of systemically creating an environment for your body to heal from the inside out. 

Dr. Ben: Well, thanks so much for joining us, Dessa, how can people reach out to you? I know you’ve got Bewell Holistic Health Clinic. What’s the best way to reach out to you? 

Email is great. My email is bewellportland@gmail.com and our clinic does I would say, a pretty good job at being diversely accessible. You can actually text our clinic. You can text us at 5032174457. And once a month I do a free information session that is over Zoom, where you can ask me personal questions. You can get a better understanding of what’s really happening with hyperbaric. You can decide if this is a medicine for you or someone that you know, on that call, and that is free. It’s the second Monday of every month. 

Dr. Ben: Well, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us. 

Dessa: Thank you for having me, Dr. Reebs, and a shout out to you and the beautiful work that you’re doing. It’s been an honor to work alongside of you and witness the growth of the medicine that you’re offering. 

Dr. Ben: 

And that concludes today’s episode of The Modern Vital Podcast. We would love to hear from you. We value your feedback. If you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out to me at ben@modernvital.com. Also, please leave us a review if you enjoyed this episode. We look forward to having you join us next week for an exciting episode of The Modern Vital Podcast.


About Me

Dr. Ben Reebs, ND, is an award-winning, naturopathic physician with a focus in environmental medicine, which looks at how environmental factors can cause chronic disease. He specializes in chronic infections, autoimmune disease, and digestive health.

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