Community Health, Complimentary Therapy, Healthcare

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Diabetes / Obesity Hypothesis – Part one…

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Research/Trial Proposal

Obesity, Metabolic Disorders and Type 2 Diabetes.

Copyright Hayden Dunstan 2017 ©

HBOT Research Proposal – Obesity, Metabolic Disorders and Type 2 Diabetes.


To diabetics, the subject of obesity and insulin resistance is of great importance and relevance. The inability to lose weight despite substantive efforts to follow low carbohydrate diets, and fairly active lifestyles, comes as a great disappointment to many millions of diabetics. This becomes a further frustration when medical staff disbelieve these diabetic sufferers who appear to “absorb” weight from the atmosphere, perpetuating a failing metabolic cycle that just seems unbreakable.

This paper applies previous learning in diving, diving medicine, and physiology, hyperbaric oxygen, and diving and decompression theory, as well as food and nutrition related physiology, to the problem. Such application is hypothesised within established and known parameters of physiology as a non-medical person. A parallel is drawn between the known symptoms, underlying causes and effects of diabetes, and with that which is known by hyperbaric doctors, and referred to as a ‘negative side effect’, and an uncanny inverse relationship between the two, and also to the physiology taught to professional divers, diving supervisors and hyperbaric chamber technicians and operators.

It is hypothesised that it is this negative side effect, and its relationship to metabolic consideration in diving, that can effectively be applied to treat obesity in the very overweight, insulin resistance in diabetics and other metabolic disorders, and the retraining or reconditioning of insulin sensitivity at a cellular level. This potentially offers not only effective management of the above conditions but also a potential permanent reversal of intra cellular failures responsible for high hBa1c levels, and unmanageable weight gain and retention, as well as low insulin response and ultimately cell, tissue and organ damage.


This following hypothesis, which is supported, if not proven by current research, postulates that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can drastically increase insulin sensitivity while replacing those cells that have become ‘lazy’ in their response to insulin, with new stem cells that are then ‘programmed’ to a refreshed, renewed, and sustainable level of insulin sensitivity. The hypothesis further suggests that HBOT, as it is known to do, will increase VO2 rates and as a direct result promote optimised metabolic process in cell mitochondria, allowing the body to effectively manage sugar and fat by process of elevated gluconeogenesis combined with sustained, elevated insulin sensitivity, nullifying the need for drug therapy. The synergistic effect of the two approaches is theorised to manage uncontrollable obesity and insulin resistance and metabolic failures in one treatment regime and reverse the condition.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy – Stating the Obvious?

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is described as the medical administration of pure oxygen or enriched breathing gas mixes at higher than atmospheric (Normobaric) pressure. [1 – Heyboer 2017]

A well-established body of knowledge describes the process and mechanism as one functioning on the principals of pressure differentials and gas tension differentials, inward and outward gradients being determined by tissue gas tension measured against breathing gas tension and the differential between them expressed as a gradient. [2 – USN Diving Manual Revision 7 – 2017]

Inward gradients are evident in the presence of a lower tissue saturation or gas tension when compared with that of a given gas or gas mix. (Nitrogen, Carbon Dioxide, Carbon Monoxide, Oxygen, medical air and so on). Both inert and non-inert gasses are subject to gas to liquid interchange and solvency in the presence of a tension/pressure differential as described by Daltons law of partial pressure [3 – Oxford Reference – 2016] and Henry’s law [4 – Oxford Reference – 2016] as it pertains to Dalton’s Law stating that the amount of dissolved gas in a liquid is proportional to its partial pressure in the gas phase. The proportionality factor is called the Henry’s law constant.

Outward gradients are evident inversely and proportionately to inward gradients when the gas tension or pressure of a gas in a tissue is higher than that of the same gas in a breathing mix or gas.

In diving and decompression theory these are commonly referred to as in-gassing and out-gassing, and will continue in accordance with the above laws until equilibrium or saturation has been achieved or until factors change.

Tissues, (specifically the fluids contained therein), which then consequently have a lower gas tension than blood plasma will in-gas accordingly. The downstream knock on effect is that as plasma achieves a higher oxygen tension, a differential will then exist between plasma and cells (specifically intra cellular fluid). Intracellular fluid will then strive to achieve equilibrium in accordance with the above laws and the gas tension will rise allowing optimal and even ‘super charged’ cellular functions. This is observed as accelerated healing, accelerated vascularisation (vasculogenesis), decrease of inflammation, increased rate of cell mitosis and angiogenesis. [5 – Thom – 2011] [6 – Boykin et al – 2007]

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is the administration of pure oxygen at increased ambient pressure in a hyperbaric chamber. Commonly referred to as HBOT (HyperBaric Oxygen Therapy).

It is currently used for a wide array of ailments and conditions including problem wounds, [6 – Boykin et al – 2007] [7 – Van Neck et al – 2017] fibromyalgia, [8 – Efrati et al – 2015] Multiple sclerosis, [9 Oxygen and The Brain – The Journey of Our Lifetime – James – 2014] carbon monoxide poisoning,[10 – Weaver – 2014] radiotherapy injuries, [Moen et al – 2012] neural injury [9- James – 2014] [12 – Tel Aviv University – 2013} among others but not the extent that it should be in the opinion of many researchers. HBOT has applications far broader and far more beneficial than currently in use by the medical profession including obesity, type 2 diabetes reversal, cancer cell death, [11 – Moen et al – 2012] conditions of the macular and kidneys etc. Basically, anything requiring improved vascularisation and higher than normal oxygen saturation in blood plasma and consequently tissues, can benefit from HBOT as a primary or complimentary therapy, including even immune response in the treatment of HIV and other immune deficiency conditions.

While the mechanisms are a bit more complicated than presented above, the purpose of this article is to rather suggest that the very same mechanisms in play, can be directed to benefit individuals rather than be dismissed as side effects when employing HBOT in the few limited applications it is currently indicated for.

Below, accelerated healing and metabolism will be discussed, and at the risk of stating the obvious, highlight a link between metabolic function, exercise, the glucose cycle and volume of oxygen as it relates to basal metabolic rate. Also, how increased oxygen saturation can and does improve all these functions simultaneously along with greater adenosine triphosphate (ATP) function. These functions can, collectively, certainly benefit those suffering from metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes, morbid obesity and a general weight retention despite efforts, activity and diet regimes. Speculation will also be made on gene expression, and how it relates to cellular mitosis and the function of stem cells in this process.

There will also be discussion on less considered factors such as air pollution, oxygen transport and how that reduces metabolic function further and how it can be remedied using HBOT.

To be continued in Part 2.

© Copyright 2017


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