FDA says: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Not a Cure-All

Consumer update from the FDA

No, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has not been clinically proven to cure or be effective in the treatment of cancer, autism, or diabetes. But do a quick search on the Internet, and you’ll see all kinds of claims for these and other diseases for which the device has not been cleared or approved by FDA.

HBOT involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared hyperbaric chambers for certain medical uses, such as treating decompression sickness suffered by divers.

HBOT has not, however, been proven to be the kind of universal treatment it has been touted to be on some Internet sites. FDA is concerned that some claims made by treatment centers using HBOT may give consumers a wrong impression that could ultimately endanger their health.

“Patients may incorrectly believe that these devices have been proven safe and effective for uses not cleared by FDA, which may cause them to delay or forgo proven medical therapies,” says Nayan Patel, a biomedical engineer in FDA’s Anesthesiology Devices Branch. “In doing so, they may experience a lack of improvement and/or worsening of their existing condition(s).”

Patients may be unaware that the safety and effectiveness of HBOT has not been established for these diseases and conditions, including:

AIDS/HIV
Alzheimer’s Disease
Asthma
Bell’s Palsy
Brain Injury
Cerebral Palsy
Depression
Heart Disease
Hepatitis
Migraine
Multiple Sclerosis
Parkinson’s Disease
Spinal Cord Injury
Sport’s Injury
Stroke
Patel says that FDA has received 27 complaints from consumers and health care professionals over the past three years about treatment centers promoting the hyperbaric chamber for uses not cleared by the agency.

There are however some recognised uses of Hyperbaric oxygen

Thirteen uses of a hyperbaric chamber for HBOT have been cleared by FDA. They include treatment of air or gas embolism (dangerous “bubbles” in the bloodstream that obstruct circulation), carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness (often known by divers as “the bends”), and thermal burns (caused by heat or fire).

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