Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) might be the best kept secret in mainstream medicine. It’s typically reserved for such unfortunate happenings as carbon monoxide poisoning, treating divers with the “bends” (a.k.a. decompression sickness), and to accelerate wound healing. Alternative practitioners have been using it for a very long time to treat Lyme disease, brain injuries and chronic fatigue syndrome, among many other conditions.

As described by hyperbaric medicine expert Dr. Kenneth P. Stoller, “HBOT saturates the body’s tissues with oxygen using a pressure vessel.” The dynamics are simple: breathing pure oxygen while in a chamber with increased atmospheric pressure. Higher pressurization enhances oxygen circulation in the lungs, allowing blood and plasma to more effectively absorb and deliver oxygen to the body — exactly what COVID patients who appear headed for a ventilator need.

That “vessel” can be an individual (monoplace) see-through tube-like unit, containing a bed, or an entire HBOT room where patients look like deep-sea divers wearing sealed, clear helmets that deliver pure oxygen.

Despite the fact that an assortment of hospitals offer HBOT (mostly for wound care), including Southern Regional Medical Center in Riverdale, Ga., Hackensack, N.J. University Medical Center, Jefferson Health hospitals in the Philadelphia area and Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, there’s been very little discussion — at least in a public venue — of its use in treating COVID patients.

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