Steve Best, MD is Board Certified in Psychiatry and completed a 2-year Fellowship in Neuropsychiatry. He specializes in treating disorders of the brain that harm emotional health, cognitive ability or everyday behavior. In this episode we discussed the many health benefits of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT); including anti-aging, treating lyme disease, increasing production of stem cells and more.
Connect with Steve Best, MD
Mike: Dr. Best, welcome to High Intensity Health Radio.
Dr. Best: Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Mike: Absolutely. So before we talk about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, I would love to learn what neuropsychiatry is and what sort of conditions you treat.
Dr. Best: Sure. It’s really the bridge between neurology and psychiatry. In the old days it was thought of as indicative of the illnesses like epilepsy, where it is obvious that there is a behavioral component and, of course, neurological one. What we are looking for are the fine non-course neurological aspects for behavioral or emotional issues. While stress can effect anyone, some people will develop a neurophysiological reaction that leaves them in illness state as a result of stress.
Mike: You said “course”, “non-course”. What does that mean? I have no idea.
Dr. Best: Course neurological illness would be say repeated concussions that leave a person with some kind of post-concussion syndrome or one head injury that left someone with a post-head injury or post-concussion syndrome. We know that the initial or index event was an obvious neurological insult, but then people are left with what are used to be considered psychiatric complaints, like malaise, fatigue, can’t concentrate, have lost their ability to feel motivation, even joy. At one point they were sent for therapies and behavioral therapies or psychiatric treatments of one sort or another. At this point, we know more. We know better.
Mike: So these would be some sort of mechanical injury that lead to some neural affective disorder, so to speak.
Dr. Best: So to speak. Within those components of cognition, affective control and conative or drive laden mentality, people can suffer a whole spectrum of symptoms. The back half of the brain is associated with reception of stimuli and then collation of stimuli into association cortex. That information is typically sent forward to the front 60% of the brain where we have action, either mental or physical. Somewhere in between all of that is where we have feeling. We’ve started to understand what feeling is. A great example would be the difference between a dog and a human. A dog can have a severe injury and after a few moments stops feeling the pain, although they have had the same illness. A human being would continue to feel the pain, to some extent. To the extent that the human continues to feel the pain, that means that their nervous system has just become treatment non-responsive or they have developed a chronic illness. That’s where subspecialists neuropsychiatrists, and so on, come in for treatment resistance.
06:45 Treatment Strategies:
Mike: And you’ve developed some of your own treatments. Do you want to talk about that and some of the innovative strategies that you’ve implemented?
Dr. Best: Yeah. We’ve looked at a lot of aspects of what causes the major afflictions. It looks like it is something like mood, so called physical or somatic pain, head injury and concussion, the dementias and conditions that used to be called stroke. There are a bunch of reasons that people can have stroke. But amongst those, in those 5 conditions, we can find the ramifications of most human suffering. I don’t mean spiritual suffering. That’s a different issue altogether, but in terms of what doctors might be directly addressing. We have gone from simple brain stimulation techniques to augmented ones like the combination therapy that is occurring right now in the back of the clinic. That’s used for things like mood, anxiety, or so called somatic pain syndromes, to looking at ways to alter head injury, concussion, stroke and dementia and that is with other kinds of interventions. Hyperbaric therapy is one intervention. There are some other ones that carry spinal application of TNF inhibitors, like Etanercept. That would be used for the dementias or for head injuries or stroke, amongst other uses. There have even been some experimental uses for OCD, schizophrenia, or depression. In addition, we’ve got ways of approaching physiological imbalance at a nutritional level. We are not only interested in so called pharmaceuticals, but in treating the body through its own means.
08:35 TNF Inhibitors:
Mike: Interesting. I’d like to back up and we’ll talk about what hyperbaric oxygen therapy is one of the strategies that you mentioned, but injecting anti-TNF alpha antibodies or blockers to reduce the inflammatory response to help depression and so forth? Do you want to dive into that? It’s pretty fascinating.
Dr. Best: Yeah, absolutely. We know that there is something called illness behavior. If a person has the flu, just the regular old flu that has been running around Chicagoland for 5 months now, they will end up with illness behavior. It’s how you tell the difference between a cold and the flu. A cold makes somebody a little bit miserable. They’ve got the sniffles and so on. Typically, they can still go to work or school. The flu is something that they really ought to stay bed ridden for. They have true illness behavior. For a few days, their nervous system feels like its having a major depression. The difference between depression and flu is that once the flu has dissipated in 48 hours, the so called depressive symptoms lift. They disappear. For someone with depression, they don’t. They persist. We called it treatment resistance when there has been a failure to respond to 2 or 3 decent treatment attempts, say with the right medicines at that right doses. But it tells us about the interplay between so called emotional illness and obvious physical illness. When you are using these antibody-like treatments such as TNF inhibitors, we are blocking one specific chemical. It’s called tumor necrosis factor, but it’s not really directly associated with tumors or cancer. It hasn’t had anything specific about that name, so we try not to use the name, just simply its acronym.
Mike: Right. TNF, yeah.
Dr. Best: There are a bunch of them on the market. The one I use has been on the market the longest. It has the biggest safety record. We know how it’s distributed into the nervous system. It neutralizes inflammation. It neutralizes a pro-inflammatory cytokine called TNF, which appears to be responsible for the trigger of cytokine activations that make somebody get ever sicker. Let’s say that there’s a stroke. There’s the area of the brain that will be so to speak dead, and then there’s a penumbra around that region. The region of the penumbra can become ever less helpful to neurophysiologic function. So to speak, that tissue goes off line, although it remains capable of vitality. If we can interfere with inflammation and the degradation products that are keeping it sick, for instance, by neutralizing with a TNF inhibitor or with hyperbaric therapy and with a number of other interventions including certain kinds of magnetic brain stimulation, then we can bring those idling neurons back on line and alleviate the gross majority of ongoing annoying symptoms. People know that when they have a stroke that there will be some consequence. What they want is to return to work and life and not continue to be disabled.
Mike: That’s fascinating. If we want to talk about mechanism of action of a lot of the common antidepressant, anti-anxiety agents, it seems like they are really working on the neurotransmitter level, not so much inflammatory response. Is that right?
Dr. Best: That’s what they used to say. When I was in my psychiatric training, about 30 years ago, 25 years ago, the dogma was that schizophrenia was related to a dopamine hypothesis and that we should use dopamine blockades to interfere with what looked like an excess of dopamine and that should supposedly cure the symptoms of that severe illness. It was such a strong kind of dogma that I saw a fellow trainee be expelled from another program because he could not ethically endorse the dopamine hypothesis. He did that not from some extremist point of view, but because he had a degree in biochemistry. While we talk about chemicals such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and Prozac and its ilk, it may or may not have very much to do with how it helps. The reason I say that is that on further exploration, most of the major and effective psychiatric medications have important anti-inflammatory effects: lithium, Depakote, Lamictal, the antipsychotics, most of the antidepressants. At some point you have to wonder what is inflammation, what is simply a profusion abnormality or metabolic abnormality that looks like regional brain syndrome? In the old days, the dogma, once again, was that the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex was associated with depression. It turns out that’s a bystander. It was a strong dogma. It became doctrinal in western medicine, so in Europe and North America. What we are interested in is not simply altering monoamines, but the health of the tissue so that the tissue can create its own monoamines. Going back to the inflammation hypothesis, the pro-inflammatory cytokines that cascade, that typically begins with something like TNF activation and over secretion, will deplete the brain of its monoamines, serotonin, norepinephrine, and many other chemicals including acetylcholine. When those depletion phenomena set in, that’s when we call a person depressed. If you take my dog, I used to have a little dog in medical school and every once in a while he’d get into rat poison that people left out. We lived in a bad area and you needed to have rat poison out to control the vermin. Take him to the doctor, who happened to be a fellow medical student who had gone to veterinary school before medical school. Barry would say “Well, blah blah blah blah blah” and then on his paperwork in addition to anything else including obvious this obvious that, he’d say “A diagnosis of depression”. What he meant was that the dog was listless, so to speak, that illness behavior that you might otherwise call a human being with the flu. That depletion of monoamines can leave us incapable of regulating our own body’s function or a loss of homeostasis, both central nervous system function, but in addition, basic physiologic parameters: blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and secretions. There’s a strong interplay. It’s much more complex than the way I am graphing it. I liked to talk about it with people because I don’t want people to think that there is something strange about or unpredictable about why they got sick. It shouldn’t be a mystery. That’s one of the things that disgusts me the most is when it turns into black box and mystery.
Mike: So, if I heard you properly, the inflammatory response wipes out our neurotransmitters and we feel ill. Just by focusing on neurotransmitter based therapies, we may not get at the root cause of what’s happening and we may relapse, or someone may relapse. Is that potentially?
Dr. Best: I can go further than that. I’ll be a little stronger. You are being very kind. It’s the rare person who really gets better from a prescription of a psychiatric medicine. It’s rare enough that doctors talk about it. My friends across the country that I was trained with or that I’ve done research/collaboration with, we might talk about a remarkable case of say lithium so to speak curing a person of their illness, that it was a sudden and wondrous event. It’s really unusual. That’s because those medicines aren’t getting at the root causes in all those cases. I don’t mean that they shouldn’t be prescribed. I’m not suggesting that its fraudulence or unethical or unscientific, but that it’s just part of the story. The more that we can look at the big story, the more likely it is that we’ll help the person at a holistic level as an individual.
17:36 Reducing the Inflammatory Response:
Mike: In your 30 years of practicing medicine, obviously many people can induce the inflammatory response with just poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, environmental toxins, poor thoughts and thought patterns. How important is that, as a clinician for your patients to really implement this holistic lifestyle to reduce the inflammatory response from that level?
Dr. Best: Once again, it’s the rare person who simply gets better because I put them on the right nutritionals and the right internist to cure their blood pressure, or whatever, in the correct way. It goes way beyond that. Some doctors have taken to even creating their own boot camp kind of philosophy, where they try to get patients motivated into exercise, teaching how to meditate properly, meaning effectively and overall teaching a person how to care for their own carcass 24/7 instead of under the guidance of a coach of some sort, a doctor or a therapist or a chiropractic physician, whomever.
18:44 Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy:
Mike: Great. Okay. So let’s transition to hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Obviously this can be a tool that can accelerate this, if I’m not mistaken, reduction in the inflammatory response. Why is oxygen so good and what can it do for us?
Dr. Best: Oxygen’s great and obviously we need it. We don’t do very well if we are deprived of it for more than a few seconds. Hyperbaric means that we are taking somebody and pressurizing them to some extent. This would be equivalent to diving under the surface of the water, the lake or the ocean, to somewhere as deep as 33- 35 feet. You can go deeper. That would be done for other purposes, maybe for deep sea divers or for research purposes. At a clinical level, what we need is to get people to around 25 to 33 feet. That increase in pressure and the application of oxygen, when we’re using hyperbaric oxygen therapy, is to reduce edema through the pressure, and that improves circulation and perfusion, reduces mechanical pressure on the regions that are afflicted. The oxygen itself gradually within a few minutes at about 15 minutes will be able to wash all of the extra nitrogen that’s in our ordinary breathing air. We can get it out of the body and leave a person bathed simply in oxygen at a gaseous level or a dissolved gaseous level. That helps to improve a number of functions. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, which may be counter intuitive. People have thought about oxidative stress as if it was caused by oxygen, because it is the same letters in the word. Oxidative stress is something else. It can occur from too little or too much oxygen. There is something called oxygen toxicity. You may have heard about that effecting people when they are born prematurely. What we want to do is get the pressure under control, get oxygenation issues and perfusion under control, that improves stem cell activity to a remarkable degree, something like 5 to 10 times as many stem cells will end up becoming active in the human and other mammals. Aside from that, when we teach a person and we teach their physiology to want more oxygen, to not become accustomed to inadequate oxygenation and perfusion, we’ll see revascularization and improved function of tissue. Not only do the tissues want more oxygen, but then they call for vascularization at a miniature level, things like capillaries. That stimulates the growth of important tissue. You know that from its on-label use as, for instance, improving the recovery or even the salvage of a limb that has become gangrenous. It’s also used on-label for things like the sudden loss of hearing or vision. We can improve the function of other organs. Research collaborator, a friend of mine named Ray Kwah who is a professor of pharmacology has used hyperbaric oxygen to treat different kinds of pain syndromes, including neuropathic pain syndromes. This isn’t approved or on-label, but this is grounded in science and hundreds and even thousands of scientific articles and lots of research and clinical experience.
22:32 Improving Tissue Function:
Dr. Best: In addition to treating pain, we can also improve the function of other tissues. One of the most exciting opportunities is to improve liver function. A number of people have been able to go from being liver transplant recipient category to being able to give liver tissue to another impaired person. So taking someone off the transplant list at the medical school and now they have become healthy enough that a portion of their liver could be transplanted into someone else in donation.
Mike: That’s amazing.
Dr. Best: It is amazing. But we have seen it over and over and over. We don’t quite understand it. We know that it has to do with the basic physiological mechanisms of hyperbaric oxygen therapy, but there is more work to be done. That’s why we have the research protocols that we are trying to put in place as we open our clinic and we’ll be able to measure some of the phenomena and come up with a kind of a pilot understanding of outcomes.
23:40 HBOT and the Inflammatory Response:
Mike: Interesting, so you hit on two things that I would love to explore more and in my work in metabolic stress, if you will, in the context of obesity, we know hypoxia is a huge signaling event that triggers the inflammatory response. By infusing more oxygen in deep parts of our body, like you mentioned, the brain and the liver, we can actually unfold this hypoxia and flip around the inflammatory response. Have you?
Dr. Best: That’s one of the strongest uses for hyperbaric is to reduce inflammation. As I was saying, I think that perfusion abnormalities in the brain are the same as inflammation abnormalities in the brain. The areas that look hyperperfused or hypermetabolic appear also to have too much inflammatory response present. We’d like to reduce that. It might take an epileptic person who is stuck in a treatment non-responsive state, there are a number of ways to approach that. Here’s the perfect example that fits right in with looking at metabolism. One of the best ways to treat treatment-resistant epilepsy is with a ketogenic diet. In the old days, that amounted to forcing the child to drink something like pure oil as their nutrition. It’s disgusting. It was done because that’s all there was to do and that was the best that could be done and it worked. They had studies that went to 2 and 5 and even more years post treatment. It could be obnoxious. They’ve come up with a nutritional level with what are called modified ketogenic diets. You’d think that giving people more oils or more proteins and more oils would cause them to become heavier, and what do we see? Exactly the opposite. While I’m not a fan of certain fad diets, I’m not going to name them, because I think that they’re often done in an unsupervised way, to be possibly dangerous. The reality is that treating us at a nutritional level and tricking the body back into the right kind of homeostatic state instead of a stuck or sick state, with nutrition based therapies, mechanical therapies, with strange gas delivery systems is often all it takes. Take a step backward and you think “Okay, there are clinics across the world that are specializing in something called treatment resistance.” And then you wonder, what is the applicability, what is the need for that? Forty percent of the American population has a chronic pain syndrome. That isn’t my number. That’s numbers from the United States government and its epidemiologic studies. That’s from something called the Institute of Medicine. Around 20% of America has some kind of important mood disorder. It might be mostly anxiety or mostly depression or manic depression, but it is within the context of what we call mood. Around half of those people are treatment resistant. They try everything. They’ve tried medicines. They’ve tried electroconvulsive therapy. They’ve tried brain stimulations of other sorts and they don’t get better. They don’t get better because their brain is stuck in a sick non-responsive sleep-like state. The whole concept of our brain is to get it activated. We want to get the brain activated and we do that by unsticking it or the body from its slow sleep-like stuck state. We do that nutritionally. You can do that by improving perfusion, or sometimes with brain stimulation. The combination therapy can do that in a remarkable way.
Mike: That’s fascinating.
27:45 Activating the Whole Person:
Dr. Best: It works best, by the way, when we can actually get people activated both emotionally, interpersonally, physically and intellectually, hopefully at some spiritual basis, whatever their bent is, because that engages the brain as a whole as it is recovering and teaches the brain, so to speak, to stay online or in an activated state, instead of in a persistent default mode.
Mike: So it’s more than Prozac.
Dr. Best: It’s much more than Prozac.
Mike: Very comprehensive. We recently did a podcast with Jeffery Fine, who is a gastroenterologist and he treats a lot of non-alcoholic fatty liver. We are seeing with all of the rise in diabetes, prediabetes and metabolic syndrome, a lot of liver issues. If we go back to that last segment where you were talking about how using hyperbaric oxygen therapy can actually regenerate liver tissue. I think there is a huge need for that. A lot of people are running around with fatty liver and hepatitis and so forth. That’s another group that may be neurologically okay. They may have a good mood, but they have these metabolic issues, so they could benefit as well.
Dr. Best: They definitely can benefit. What’s really important about that group of people is that is when you really talk to them, they’ll talk about how they are suffering. We get mixed up often as we question people or interrogate them or do our clinical interviews about what the person is saying, what they mean and what are they really talking about. When you think about resilience, a person could be remarkably stoic but suffering horribly. We should still help them with their suffering. It’s hard to do that. You have to be real delicate. You don’t want to tread where one ought not. You don’t want to intrude, but as human beings there are ways to try and lift other human beings up so that we can take the burden off of the carcass. The less burden on the carcass, which is what we look like physically, then the better the neurological system will function.
29:58 The Hyperbaric Chamber:
Mike: Great.people are probably wondering what this major contraption is right behind you. So why don’t you describe what this chamber is?
Dr. Best: Sure. This is my new baby. It took a couple of years to make and install and it’s a hyperbaric chamber. It’s very modern one. What that means in a bunch of ways is that it’s more durable. It’s easier to maintain. It’s also much safer. It’s easier to run and it’s safer in case of any kind of adverse events. It’s easier to do depressurized or to keep control of emergencies that might occur. Because it’s gigantic, we can have in an emergency, 6 people in there. We can treat 5 at a time. That’s helpful for a bunch of reasons. It’s also helpful if we have to treat small people or people who are otherwise not in good control of themselves. In the old days hyperbaric might be performed in a monoplace of some shape, but essentially, as confining as what a coffin might be and people of the wrong shape and size might not like that and people who need an attendant like a small person or unwitting person who needs an attendant can’t be treated that way. We have people situated. They’re sitting in a sofa-like setting. They can amuse themselves with an I-pad, so they can do their work from the I-pad. They can communicate with the world with their I-pad. At that point it’s no longer a torture or a bore. In fact, we can do neuro biofeedback training within the chamber.
31:36 What is HBOT Like?
Mike: That’s amazing. Now what’s the typical protocol? Everyone’s individual and unique, but is it an hour? What’s the atmospheric pressure? Talk about some of the nitty grittys so people get an idea.
Dr. Best: It depends on the illness and the condition of…people have to be suitable for dive. It’s similar to the kind of physical exam that you might have before you took a scuba diving class. Here in an outpatient setting, we are treating the illnesses that aren’t hospital based. We are not going to be treating things like gangrene on a very frequent basis. It’s used for emergent situations, say its carbon monoxide poisoning where really we are going to rapidly pressurize a person, for other illnesses, chronic conditions. These are particularly frail people. We might start at a lower amount of pressurization, say 1.5 atmospheres, which is just a few feet below the surface of the water when we are swimming and then gradually build them up in the same way that you might build up the dose or intensity of massage or medication or nutritional supplementation. There are some experimental approaches that we can use. We wouldn’t use them in everyday therapy where we can actually mix gases and not only use oxygen, but a blend of other inert gasses in addition to active agents like oxygen itself.
Mike: Interesting. How would this chamber differ from some of the home units? My wife’s a chiropractor. She used to have one of these. I think it’s called the Vespa or Vessa. I think it gets up to 1 atmosphere. You just kind of sit in it and it’s almost like a balloon silica type structure.
Dr. Best: Yeah, it’s a misnomer. Those aren’t hyperbaric oxygen therapy devices. The ones that are legitimate are well constructed and were devised and are supposed to be used for things like altitude sickness. It’s really a way to deliver atmospheric amounts of oxygen to a person. It’s a way to get ordinary amounts or sea level amounts of oxygen into a person who might develop sickness while mountain climbing. They are collapsible, which means that they are not durable. They can’t be pressurized properly, so you can’t actually provide true hyperbaric pressurization. There’s no way for an attendant to be involved. If the person becomes disoriented or destructive, which can occur when people are ill they do odd things. Then you don’t have that safety barrier. There are explosion risks. They are often misused, misapplied and represented a distinct risk to the people in or around it.
Mike: I’ll be honest, I used to go in there on Sunday’s and read. This was when my wife had a practice in Denver Colorado and I would get claustrophobic in there because it’s really small and I tried to keep my cool but, I don’t have a lot of anxiety and things of that sort, but I could see how if someone did, that would pretty traumatic. This is a very big unit. Someone can be accompanied with a friend or one of your assistants.
Dr. Best: Easily.
Dr. Best: It’s the difference between being boxed into a therapeutic device or sitting on a sofa. That’s five feet across. It’s the same amount of room as you need on a spacious living room sofa and the cushions are just about as nice.
35:26 HBOT and Lyme Disease:
Mike: It’s a no brainer. So let’s talk about some other advanced conditions that this may help. A lot of people in the mid-west in particular are suffering from Lyme disease. We’ve talked about before how HBOT, hyperbaric oxygen therapy can benefit them. How does that work?
Dr. Best: In addition to the applications and mechanisms that I’ve described, oxygen has an important antimicrobial effect, so it’s bacteriacidal. It can kill things that don’t like to be exposed to oxygen. Lyme is an example. There are a whole bunch of examples. What causes gangrene or within tetanus or C-diff, which that gastrointestinal infection. Typically those are organisms that don’t want to be exposed to the high amounts of oxygen. That itself can create a bit of a hazard. Let’s say someone has infection of some sort or overpopulation of microorganisms that are oxygen sensitive, you can actually cause such a die off that Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction can occur. That’s called a Herx reaction in most of the lay world. We were reading about it in our pathology textbook all those years ago in the second year of medical school. It’s a horrible feeling. It’s not simply a rash. It’s an intense discomfort within the body. There are few ways to treat it. We have those ways here on site. So it’s not really going to interfere with anyone’s therapy or treatment. It won’t interfere with their ability to progress.
37:14 Infrared Sauna:
Mike: The Herxheimer, you have some infrared saunas right in the adjacent room here. Do you want to talk about how that would work? So if someone who is killing off these pathogenic microbes or organisms, how would the sauna or the heat help with that?
Dr. Best: The best we understand is that the heat and especially the sweating that the heat can provoke, allow us to push toxins out through our skin. That’s a detoxification procedure of its own. It’s done in other countries for all kinds of conditions. In northern Europe, infrared treatments, sauna and so on is used to warm the body in order to carry that heat for the rest of the day. People in northern Europe might keep their homes at 55, 58, 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which for a typical American would be substandard. They’d be approaching what the health department would sue a landlord over. But there they are able to do it because they know how to manage the cold and the environment. They use the saunas and so on.
38:18 Oxygen is a Drug:
Dr. Best: In addition to the antimicrobial aspects in Lyme disease, you want to remember that people with chronic conditions are by definition going to become gradually debilitated, ever more frail. To the extent that we can improve a person’s health, help them to become stronger and feel stronger, their body will be able to fight illnesses of its own accord. If we can use oxygen to assist, then we should. The FDA considers oxygen to be a drug. It can only be administered by prescription. Even those oxygen tanks that some people carry with them to the grocery store using a nasal cannula, have to be prescribed by a medical provider. It’s a drug, as far as the government is concerned and it has the benefits and the risks associated with any other drug and it should be approached with great care. But when used properly, it can revitalize a person.
39:31 HBOT and Gut Bacteria
Mike: Now, as you were talking in that last part about Lyme disease, you hit on the fact that a lot of these microbes pathogenic or what have you are anaerobic. Right now the gut is so popular. We are hearing about small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and imbalanced gut microbes. Is it possible that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can provide enough oxygen to the lumen of the gut that it may kill some of these pathogens inside the GI tract?
Dr. Best: Well, it doesn’t actually need to be through the lumen. It happens because as we push nitrogen out, and push oxygen in through all the tissues, all the tissues end up with enormous amounts of saturation, 15 or more times what they are accustomed to. It’s like over-concentrating your Kool-Aide. At some point there’s too much. The Kool-Aide particulate will fall to the bottom of the jar. It’s the same thing with oxygen. As long we sit within some safety parameters, we can slightly over-treat and get what we want. Not all bacteria, not all yeast, not even all virus is bad for us. It’s really important. When I was doing some research a few months ago to write a landing page about Lyme disease, I found an ancient reference in, I think it was, the Journal of the American Medical Association, about a similar infective agent, the one that causes syphilis. The physician in that article was describing that you don’t find syphilis simply in afflicted tissue, maybe the joints or the brain or in the genitalia. It’s distributed throughout the tissue. When we talk about bacteria, we’ve been trained to think that they are on our skin and if we wash our skin properly, and if we wash our hands after we wipe our bum, that we are going to be able to avoid all of those bacteria or bad organisms. It’s not true. The organisms are actually part of us. They are in us. They are within our tissues. They are not simply on internal surfaces like the lumen of the gut or the respiratory tree. They are actually in the tissue itself mixed in with human tissue. That can make it difficult to treat them both with antimicrobial agents, penicillin and so on. That’s where they talk about tissue penetration, but also with oxygen. So if we are going to use hyperbaric oxygen therapy, we should use it properly and not in a substandard or ineffective fashion.
42:26 Other Benefits of HBOT
Mike: Absolutely. We talked about Lyme disease, liver issues, neurologic issues. What are some of the other approved and then maybe the off label uses of hyperbaric oxygen therapy?
Dr. Best: The approved ones, there is a list that’s easily available and it includes the obvious ones: carbon monoxide poisoning, people who get the bends or decompression sickness, for whatever reason, whether they are working in tunnels, working to dig pits, or working below the surface of the water. Sometimes, a different or inverse form of decompression sickness can occur in people who are flying at high altitudes. Beyond all of those so called approved in the United States uses, there are approved uses in other civilized countries. In particular when you go to countries which don’t like pills, if you go to the Islamic world or if you go to far Asia, where they are not so much into pharmaceuticals, they’ll use hyperbaric oxygen therapy for things that aren’t currently approved by Medicare in the United States, but are still considered to be absolutely legitimate medical uses. Beyond that, there are the experimental ones. Some people think that it can be used for Lyme and some people think it can be used to help cause recovery from stroke or brain injury, even in that highly controversial use, for autism. I am not sure it treats autism itself, but I now that it can treat the co-morbidities that are often present within autism, both the metabolic or even epileptic abnormalities that occur as team members along with the autistic behavior. You’ve got to be careful. In fact, the FDA sent an advisory about the treatment of autism around a year ago to everyone in the country that it could penetrate, meaning consumers and providers, warning about bizarre treatments and inappropriate use of treatments. That lead a lot of families to wonder were they using the right treatment. If their child was being chelated, if they read the advisory, they might think that chelation was illegitimate. If they read the rest of the advisory, they’d see that when proper testing and poisoning is found, that chelation is an appropriate intervention. It’s the same thing with hyperbaric. If there is a reason to treat, then I think we should consider it as part of our, not the sole application, but part of our armamentarium.
Mike: Yeah, really good. What about this anti-aging thing that’s really big right now. People are really more into, whether it’s bio-identical hormones, growth hormones, resveratrol, all these things, but you hit on the fact that, I think you can increase your stem cell production by 5 fold.
Dr. Best: Five to 10 fold.
Mike: So just maintaining health and longevity, would you think that HBOT would be beneficial for folks that want to keep mentally sharp, cognitively sharp and look good?
Dr. Best: Absolutely, and in particular, if we can combine it with provoking agents, anything we can do to provoke plasticity of tissue. Neuroplasticity for the brain, but any form of plasticity, if we can get that tissue metabolized and detoxified as best we can, for instance with things like hyperbaric oxygen, I think it has a place. I do worry about the people who think that they are simply going to buy a nice machine, put it in their basement, run it on their own from inside and avoid aging. I don’t know it can avoid aging. I think it can help keep us from getting ill. So it won’t turn a 90 year old person into a 60 year old person, but it might get a 90 year old person or 50 year old person to function the way they ought to, the way they were intended to function. That’s really the motto around here in this clinic, to restore function as it was intended to be.
46:44 Contact Dr. Best:
Mike: If folks are interested in learning more about this, how can they contact you and maybe get a session if they would like?
Dr. Best: If people are interested in learning about any of the things we do, they can simply hit the websites, send us some emails. We respond pretty quickly. If I don’t respond within a couple of hours, it means, either Gmail had it’s once every six month burp, which does happen, or I’m dead. So shoot us an email and let us know how we can be of assistance. As a referral clinic, sometimes what we do is help people to find the right providers close to them. Not everyone can fly to suburban Chicago and do whatever they’re going to do. But if we can be of assistance, get somebody connected with the right provider in their own community, we’d love to do that too.
Mike: How many sessions would someone, where do you start seeing the benefit? Obviously, probably after the first session, but in an ideal world, how many sessions would…?
Dr. Best: We know that it takes around 3 weeks for stem cell mobilization to become robust, so we try to treat each day for 20 or 21 days in a row. Depending on the nature of the condition, the person might be treated once or twice a day for somewhere between 60 and 100 minutes. People might have a dive that lasts 75 minutes, meaning pressurizing, treating, depressurizing. It takes 75 minutes in total. It can go slightly longer for other reasons. We don’t tell people to skip their heart medicines on weekends and we don’t tell them to skip their antineoplastics on weekends, we don’t tell them to skip their diabetes or asthma remedies on weekends and we don’t do the same thing in here. If we are going to treat, we are going to treat. If somebody needs 7 day treatment, that’s what they are going to get. This clinic, The Hyperbaric Centers of Chicago is set up for 7 day a week treatment.
Mike: Awesome. Fantastic. Dr. Best, thanks for being on the show. Appreciate that.
Dr. Best: Thank you.