A Tel Aviv University-led research study reportedly found that oxygen therapy can dramatically reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was so successful that half of those who underwent the therapy were no longer deemed to have PTSD at the conclusion of the treatment regimen.
The study was “based on use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers by 18 IDF veterans with post-trauma,” The Times of Israel reported. “Hyperbaric oxygen is not currently used for any significant PTSD treatments, and the scientists who conducted the study say it could open a new avenue to help people battling the disorder.”
“We’ve started in this research to treat PTSD in a way that seeks to effect on actual physical changes in the brain,” Dr. Keren Doenyas-Barak, part of the team behind the study, told The Times of Israel. “This approach doesn’t rely on psychological tools. It’s biological, not psychological, so it represents something fresh.”
The report said that Doenyas-Barak indicated that the test subjects showed significant improvement in both reported symptoms that are used to diagnose the illness and in brain scans.
“According to the diagnostic scale, by the end of the therapy course, half of those treated were no longer considered to have PTSD,” the report added. “The therapy is thought to work by increasing the plasticity of the brain, which enables wounds in the brain tissue to heal.”
The Jerusalem Post reported:
The patients for the study were men ages 25-60 with combat-associated PTSD that had lasted for at least four years. They arrived at the study through referrals by their psychiatrist or psychotherapist or applied after seeing advertisements that were posted in social media groups. They were then filtered according to requirements posed in a questionnaire until the researchers had a group that fit their requirements.
After being selected, the patients were put through a series of examinations and then split randomly into treatment and control groups. The patients in the treatment group continued with their therapy from before the study and were given 60 daily sessions of HBOT five days a week. The patients in the control group continued with their therapy but did not undergo HBOT.
After three months, the patients underwent a series of tests to determine whether they had improved. The HBOT group showed significant improvements over the control group in multiple tests.
“Today we understand that treatment-resistant PTSD is caused by a biological wound in brain tissues, which obstructs attempts at psychological and psychiatric treatments,” Professor Shai Efrati, who participated in leading the research, said. “With the new HBOT protocols, we can activate mechanisms that repair the wounded brain tissue. The treatment induces reactivation and proliferation of stem cells, as well as generation of new blood vessels and increased brain activity, ultimately restoring the functionality of the wounded tissues. Our study paves the way to a better understanding of the connection between mind and body.”