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Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) presents itself in the form of flares. The inflammation that results could range from mild to severe depending on the stage of the IBD. The occurrence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is quite high in individuals with wound-healing problems. One of the most common symptoms of IBD is increased urgency to release stool. The fecal urgency results since food ingested barely stays in the stomach. Other symptoms include fever, bloody diarrhea, urinary incontinence, increased abdominal pains, pelvic discomfort, and rectal bleeding in severe cases. Over time most antibiotics that have been used to treat IBD have proven ineffective as a result of mutations of the gut microbiome. Most individuals suffering from IBD resort to using anti-remission drugs for the bigger part of their lives. Also, the severity of the condition is quite high in individuals who are genetically predisposed.

How HBOT Works 

Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) boosts the immune system of the body including how it reacts to the gut microbiome. The key immune defense cells in the intestinal mucosa i.e. neutrophils unconventional T cells and macrophages, are triggered to react promptly to any form of invasion by intracellular organisms. Once the plasma and intestinal tissues undergo hyperoxygenation, it becomes difficult for the bacteria and fungi causing IBD to survive. Chronic pain associated with inflammation is reduced with the introduction of HBO. The inflammation is majorly caused by the relocation of pathogens that have bypassed the immune system from the lumen. Alterations along the mucosal layer are reversed as well. Intestinal permeability of the gastrointestinal tract is also controlled. The reactive oxygen species enhance the recovery of the intestinal mucosal lining. This also increases intestinal motility. It also blocks the growth of bacteria that aggravate the condition. Reduced intestinal tissue damage means that the patient can get back to their feeding habits as well. 

The reactive oxygen in HBO also aids in speeding up recovery by boosting the process of cleaning damaged cells. Resetting the immune system allows the tract to heal. The increased activity of various inflammatory mediators is credited for the reduced tissue damage; the latter include pro-inflammatory cytokines and neutrophils which respond quite well to high oxygen concentration in the cell confines. The fecal urgency is reduced as a result of healed rectal and gut lesions. Also, involving more cells in the repair process leads to boosts the overall immunity of the body. HBOT aids in the treatment of IBD by boosting neovascularization. Increased vascularization increases oxygen reaching the gastrointestinal tract thus getting rid of the bacteria causing inflammation which thrive in low-oxygen settings. In the long run, it leads to improved quality of life. Also, patients are saved from the agony of undergoing surgery to remove affected bits of their colon. 


McCurdy, J., Siw, K. C., Kandel, R., Larrigan, S., Rosenfeld, G., & Boet, S. (2021). The effectiveness and safety of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in various phenotypes of inflammatory bowel disease: Systematic review with meta-analysis. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 28(4), 611–621.  

Singh, A. K., Jha, D. K., Jena, A., Kumar-M, P., Sebastian, S., & Sharma, V. (2021). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in inflammatory bowel disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 34(3), 14–22.  





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