A few months ago, a friend of mine reported that she had taken up daily hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatments (HBOT) to help her recover from recent surgery.
“I don’t know what it is, but my doctor recommended I do it to heal faster.”
As a wellness warrior, I immediately took to the internet to get a deeper look into what this Hyperbaric Chamber of Secrets could possibly entail. Was it witchcraft? Was it a submarine? Was it fringe? Was it new? Smaller than a sauna, and much stranger looking, I needed to know more.
To my surprise, my Google search yielded over six million results in less than one second. When I brought it up to my editor, she mentioned that a few wellness aficionados she knew had installed hyperbaric chambers at home. It turns out that high-performing celebs like Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James and even Justin Bieber reportedly use them too.
In study after study, I quickly discovered that HBOT has been used as a healing modality for centuries. Dr. Jonathan Leary, Founder and CEO of Remedy Place, explained to me that during HBOT, you are increasing the concentration gradient between the air in the atmosphere and the air in your lungs. As the pressure brings you below sea level, this helps push more and more oxygen into your body. The increase of oxygen saturation helps to expedite your body’s healing processes.
With science on my side, I knew I had to try HBOT for myself.
How Does Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Work?
In recent years, many wellness centers have begun offering HBOT as a facet to one’s biohacking or health regimen. In my research, I also discovered a hyperbaric chamber that’s bigger than some NYC apartments — a real find for those who break a sweat just thinking about climbing into small spaces. More on that below.
Not all hyperbaric chambers are used for the same purpose:
Medical-grade chambers, also known as “Hard Chambers” or “High-Pressure Chambers,” are FDA-approved devices that can be found in hospitals or treatment centers, used to treat open wounds, broken bones, infections, embolisms, carbon monoxide poisoning, and a whole lot more. In recent years, HBOT has gained a ton of traction with Covid long-haulers, showing significant improvement with brain fog, trouble breathing, and fatigue with just 10 sessions. These chambers deliver 100 percent oxygen, reaching atmospheric pressures equal to 33 feet or greater below sea level. Did your ears just pop? Mine did!
Mild-pressure chambers, also known as “Soft Chambers,” on the other hand, are more commonly used as wellness devices for less intensive treatments. Originally developed as a temporary, portable treatment for divers and mountain climbers in the throes of decompression syndrome and altitude sickness, mild chambers leverage condensed air (about 24 percent of pure oxygen) and a lower atmospheric pressure.
When I asked Dr. Leary how people are using mild pressure chambers in the wellness space, he said, “I started using them with my patients post-injury/trauma and with my athletes that wanted to recover faster from their training. I have seen huge success with both use cases! With so many people experiencing increased stress, which ends up harming the body’s healing process, I’ve also seen HBOT work as an effective decompression tool for my patients to calm them down and feel rejuvenated!”
Benefits of Hyperbaric Therapy May Include:
+ Decreased inflammation
+ Increased energy levels
+ Boosted immunity
+ Optimized sleep
+ Enhanced cognitive function
+ Improved skin health and reduction in fine lines and wrinkles
+ Quicker recovery
+ Stimulated release of growth factors
+ Enhanced healing of wounds, infections
If you have any lung disease or ear complications, definitely chat with a doctor first since HBOT can tax your middle ear with all of the pressure changes. Here’s how it felt when I got filled with (not hot) air.
My Time In The Hyperbaric Chamber…
Since L.A. is the mecca of all things wellness, finding a good place to try HBOT was not a heavy lift. There are many hyperbaric chamber options in medical facilities like plastic surgeons’ offices and hospitals like UCLA, but a growing number of health and wellness centers are now offering HBOT too…
Remedy Place | My first HBOT experience was with Remedy Place. Walking into their West Hollywood location was like walking into an Ex Machina-inspired wellness nightclub for the rich, famous, and heavily optimized. Known as a social wellness club, I was thrilled to be in the mix at RP, and I didn’t even have to kiss any bouncers to get in (you should never have to do that!).
The Remedy Place team had thoughtfully curated a plan—a wellness stack, if you will—so as to boost the efficacy of the HBOT treatment. My wellness stack included:
Step 01 | Infrared Sauna: I began with an hour-long, private infrared sauna session to promote blood flow, detoxification, lymphatic drainage, and muscle recovery.
Step 02 | Pre-Cold Plunge Breathing Exercise: I was shepherded to a dark, sexy, velour room, where I listened to an 11-minute Wim Hof-esque breathing exercise, guided by Dr. Leary himself to help my body prepare for the very cold plunging ahead of me. It was also going to help my lungs activate for a deeper HBOT session later. Let me tell you, I was almost high from such intense belly breathing.
Step 03 | Cold Plunge: My “Cold Plunge Coach” (let’s call him) sat with me for SIX MINUTES as I was neck-deep in a 39-degree cold plunge. Even though I stopped feeling my fingers and toes, I was eu-phor-ic and pain free upon exiting.
Step 04 | NAD+ Injection: NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide), which is sensational for mitochondrial health, has been touted for its powerful longevity and anti-aging benefits. Dr. Leary loves to infuse the body with nutrients (IV or injection) before hyperbaric because HBOT helps aid the transportation of those nutrients for more efficacy.
Step 05 | HBOT: Finally, the time had come. I was transported to a room with two capsule-like contraptions (also known as monoplace chambers) that were on the ground. “Are you sure you want me to get in there?” I asked their manager. After I was settled, I was told to expect some ear popping—similar to what you’d experience at elevation on a plane. I had the option to either lie in complete darkness for an hour-long air-nap, or watch my current show on an iPad (yes, you can totally bring a computer and do work in there if you’re trying to combine work and wellness).
As a restless Virgo, I opted to watch Emergency NYC during my therapy so I could cry and optimize, optimize and cry, which I think was good for my breathing exercises!
The hour flew by, and before I knew it, I was waiting for the air pressure to release before being helped out of the capsule chamber. I felt energized, any muscle soreness I had had from my days’ workouts prior had diminished, the whites of my eyes were shockingly white. I wondered how I could transform my life to become a daily member of Remedy’s very cool club.
Oxynergy2 longevity spa | My second hyperbaric experience was with Oxynergy2 in Beverly Hills. What drew me to this space was the state-of-the-art equipment founders Michele and Cloe Bohbot have filled the space with. Everything is a notch above what I’ve seen so far in the wellness space. That’s because their practices and therapies are focused on the medical nature of one’s health and recovery.
Michele created a highly curated afternoon of wellness to help showcase the benefits of her next-level hyperbaric machine. Here was my wellness stack:
Step 01 | Massage Chair: For 20 minutes, I was swallowed by a full-body massage chair (not the ones you sit in at the nail salon) with an ice cold jade mask on my eyes. Every inch of my body was lymphatically massaged, compressed, decompressed, and released to get things moving and optimize the coming therapy.
Step 02 | Infrared Pod: For the next 20 minutes, I was cocooned in Oxynergy2’s infrared and red light pod, which I have certainly never seen before. Michele believes that starting with the therapy bed (heated or unheated) is ideal to target the circulatory system while reducing inflammation and tightening the skin. “Doing this service before HBOT will help increase blood flow and allow the capillaries of the lungs to accept more oxygen.”
In a short amount of time, I felt like all of the ATP in my body had been activated, and I even got a good sweat. Michele let me know that the pod is so powerful, she once saw a man sweat out metal. I gotta go back.
I was gracefully led into what can only be described as a Hyperbaric Office. Unlike the ground-level chamber that most people are familiar with, Oxynergy2’s multi-place chamber is ideal for the claustrophobic type, who can NOT be in a confined space for any length of time.
For 30 minutes, I was able to sit upright comfortably in my Hyperbaric Office chair, facing a large-screen TV, with oxygen tubes up my nose, thanks to Michele. While my first HBOT experience was enclosed in darkness, the multi-place chamber was super light-filled, as if I was on a flight simulation with endless leg room and no checked baggage (emotional or otherwise).
Similar to my first experience, the only discomfort came from needing to pop my ears at the very beginning, but Michele was extremely mindful to adjust the pressure so as to maintain optimal comfort.
Michele recommends that the most ideal stack for anyone interested in HBOT would be to start with an infrared session, 15 minutes of exercise to increase your cardiovascular system, followed by 90 minutes inside the chamber. Guests can also follow up with their Compression Lymphatic Drainage Therapy to spread the oxygenated red blood cells around the body for the ultimate detox. Lastly, she suggests replenishing the body with clean fluids, electrolytes, and natural vitamins with their IV Vitamin Drip Therapy. “All of this can be done in three-and-a-half hours, and it will be the best spa day you’ve ever invested in.”
Still not sure? Have more questions about hyperbaric treatments? Let us know in the comments below. For a limited time, TCM Readers can get 50% off their first HBOT session at Oxynergy2. Simply mention or show this article upon booking!