New Study Reaffirms: Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Should Be Standard Treatment for Veterans

HBOTSo why does the government keep blocking its use?

Research from health pioneer (and former ANH-USA board member) Dr. Paul G. Harch published in the Journal of Neurotrauma indicates that hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT, is able to dramatically help veterans with post-concussion syndrome (a form of traumatic brain injury) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Dr. Harch is an associate clinical professor of medicine at Louisiana State University in New Orleans.

Since January 2007, ANH-USA has been bringing attention to a project to have veterans treated with HBOT. In HBOT, the patient is put in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which saturates the tissues with twelve times more oxygen than can be absorbed by breathing. This greatly enhances the body’s own healing process.

Under normal circumstances, oxygen is transported throughout the body only by red blood cells. With HBOT, oxygen is dissolved into all of the body’s fluids, the plasma, the central nervous system fluids, the lymph, and the bone, and can be carried to areas where circulation is diminished or blocked. In this way, extra oxygen can reach all of the damaged tissues and the body can support its own healing process. The increased oxygen greatly enhances the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria, reduces swelling, and allows new blood vessels to grow more rapidly into the affected areas. It is a simple, non-invasive, and painless treatment.

According to Dr. Harch’s new study, even three years after the vets sustained brain injury, one month of HBOT was able to induce improvements in brain blood flow, cognition, symptoms, and quality of life, while the veterans experienced fewer suicidal thoughts.

Specifically, improvements were seen in 92% of vets experiencing short-term memory problems, 87% of those complaining of headaches, 93% of those with cognitive deficits, 75% with sleep disruption, and 93% with depression. There were also improvements in irritability, mood swings, impulsivity, balance, motor function, IQ, and blood flow in the brain, as well as the reduction in PTSD symptoms and suicidal thoughts. And there was a reduction in—or complete elimination of—psychoactive and narcotic prescription medication usage in 64% of those previously prescribed the medication.

One major problem is that the HBOT treatment is currently “off-label.” In other words, it is an FDA-approved treatment for some conditions—but not for traumatic brain injury (TBI) or PTSD. Because of this, the Department of Defense does not allow HBOT to be prescribed for its veterans—they say they don’t prescribe off-label medications and treatments for these diagnoses, and claim that they can only use HBOT after it has been approved by the FDA for this use.

This is a completely false and misleading statement! The Department of Defense often uses off-label antipsychotic drugs for treatment of TBI and PTSD. This should not surprise us. The FDA receives a large proportion of its budget from pharmaceutical manufacturers. And the government turns to drugs, often very inappropriate and damaging drugs, to treat damaged veterans without even considering alternatives.

Nearly 280,000 individuals received antipsychotic medication in 2007. Yet over 60% of them had no record of a diagnosis for which these drugs are approved. Antipsychotic drugs were prescribed off-label for PTSD (42% of the patients), minor depression (40%), major depression (23%), and anxiety disorder (20%)—with about 20% having more than one condition. About 20% of veterans diagnosed with PTSD—or nearly 87,000 patients—are prescribed an antipsychotic each year even though it is an off-label use.

TBI and PTSD severely and disproportionally affect military who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan—approximately 546,000 have TBI, post-concussion syndrome (PCS), and PTSD, and yet their treatment options are limited. HBOT is an effective and economical treatment for PCS and PTSD, without the very dangerous and negative side effects of antipsychotic medication.

The off-label use of HBOT is a huge freedom of choice issue in medicine. But even more important, if we really want to support our troops rather than just pay lip service, don’t we need to give them the safest, most economical, and most effective treatment for their traumatic brain injuries and PTSD?


  1. Perhaps HBOT works well because some of the vets are exposed to CO. Many of the chemicals (especially pesticides) emit carbon monoxide as they decompose. The heat in the middle east would speed up the decomposition and release more carbon monoxide. It is not called the great silent killer without reason.

    1. Listen, treating vets with anti-psychotic drugs is SO much more lucrative for Big pharma, and working hand in hand with the FDA, these two do what they can to keep HBOT off limits. Keep up the protest, keep on talking truth!

    2. Hyperbaric oxygen treatment would be found to cure so many diseases that big pharma would not be profitable if this were found out.

  2. Seems to me Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy should be made available to anyone who wants it. Who couldn’t benefit from it? My fiance has impaired circulation and blockages in his heart and throughout his circulatory system. He’s had a number of heart attacks and strokes. HBOT would be of tremendous benefit, but he’s not able to receive it, because it’s only used for wound care for people with gangrene, diabetic ulcers and such. If the chamber is operated by someone who is certified in it’s use, why can’t it be available as a therapy to anyone, much like acupuncture or colon irrigation? Those procedures are even more invasive, and yet anyone who wants them can get them!

    1. I agree absolutely with you. Why on earth can’t people with other afflictions be given HBOT? We need to petition our medical community for this crucial treatment for those with physical problems other than wounds.

    2. It is available if you live somewhere that a Holistic dr practices and has it to treat his patients. I have this treatment done for a problem I had in my brain and it has helped so much. The cost is also helpful to me because I do not have insurance. Look in your website to find a doctor who practices this in your area.

    3. Why can’t your fiance use HBOT? Are you saying the only medical care you will use is what the insurance industry sanctions? Treatments are about $70 a session – get them. Seems his life depends on it.

    4. I worked for a while for a family where the dad was a doctor and the kids were supposedly autistic. They owned a small personal HBOT chamber (looked awfully claustrophobic to me) that both the mother and the kids had used, along with other natural therapies. Their symptoms were almost unnoticeable. So the therapy could theoretically be home-administered if one could purchase one of those, but I’m sure they’re expensive and might need prescription for the oxygen tank.

    5. Jan, your fiance might benefit from External Counter Pulsation- check it out, it causes collateral vessels to form, it is non invasive and painless, helps angina in a few treatments. It is also not covered by insurance, but is available
      in many places at Heart and Vascular cardiologist offices. Good luck.
      The idea of refusing this benign treatment while fattening up the drug copmpanies and not helping our veterans and others in need of the therapy is maddening. Our medical system is co-opted by the pharmaceutical companies.

    6. If you do do a Google search on Hyperbaric Oxygen you will get all kinds of info on it, from going to Alternative doctors for treatment to buying your own chamber for about $5,000.

    7. HBOT is available to everyone that wants it. You just need to locate a free standing clinic in your area. AVerage cost per treatment of 1 and a half hour is from $150-$200 and one usually needs any where from 10-30 dive to see major improvements, however the price is small for when it comes to ones health. View this link for local free standing clinics that treat Internationally treated diagnosis(off label).

    8. This is to clarify a misunderstanding in one of the comments regarding the availability of colon irrigation by anyone who wants it. The statement is somewhat misleading. Class II Colon hydrotherapy units are FDA approved ONLY with a doctor’s prescription and under the direct supervision of an MD solely prior to colonoscopy or colon surgery. The Class I FDA colon irrigation systems are “gravity-fed” units and are thus technically considered “enemas” by the FDA, and do not require a prescription or supervision by a MD. Certification as a colon hydrotherapist requires 100 hundred of supervised training, advanced training in anatomy, psyiology, and nutrition, plus 25 hours operations training, a minimum of 25 supervised sessions, and appx 7 hours of exams, all of which must be at a nationally approved school. Advanced levels require 100, 500, and 1000 colon cleanse sessions and further exams. While anyone can choose to have colon irrigation, it would be prudent to be sure that the person administering it has at least the minimum qualifications noted above. I do agree with the writer that HBOD should be available to anyone who desires to use it — it is a wonderful support for the entire body — so long as the person administering it is both knowledgeable and properly trained and certified.

  3. HBOT is a wonderful option for many illnesses and conditions including autism, stroke, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia (what I use it for) etc. etc. My husband had a “bleeding” stroke 16 months ago while lifting weights, at the age of 57. He was in intensive care for two weeks. One of his doctors was an “old retired navy doctor” who told us “off the record” to get him into HBOT. Along with massage therapy with someone who understands the needs of a stroke patient, the HBOT brought him around. He was back to work in SIX MONTHS!!!!!! They had told us he likely would never be able to do property inspections again.

  4. I appreciated this article very much…very timely…and I feel much the same way about the use
    of EFT – Emotional Freedom Techniques – for combat troops with PTSD. EFT is one of the most
    effective treatments for PTSD, and yet it is not well known. I recommend the documetary entitled
    Operation: Emotional Freedon – The Answer by Eric Huurree to learn more about it. Recently I viewed this film and it made me weep. We need to get this remarkable healing technique to the people who need it…ASAP!!
    Thank you.

  5. Well, what does anyone expect from the pharma-owned government and military.
    Even more to the point, ANH should be promoting the use of homeopathy before promoting hyperbaric oxygen.
    The reason? – homeopathic treatment of TBI and PTSD costs about 5% comparatively and is likely as much or more effective.
    A randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, NIH-funded trial conducted by faculty at Harvard Medical School in 1999 found homeopathy highly effective for treating TBI.
    Now, this is only a single study of moderate size, but it is very well-designed and demonstrated clinically significant results. Further, homeopathic treatment is very inexpensive and has the lowest risk of harm of any therapy that exists (other than possibly Reiki or such). It is a complete travesty that NIH will not put up a small amount to fund a follow up study.
    Effective homeopathic treatment by a medically trained homeopath (such as an MD or ND) costs approximately $1,500 per year.
    The bill put forth in Congress to fund hyperbaric treatment of vets would have cost $30,000 per person ($1.5M for 50 people). This same amount of money would cover 1,000 people using homeopathy.
    My point: hyperbaric is great, homeopathy is even better – both should be utilized.

    1. Thank you for bringing this study to our attention. I agree lower cost treatments should be implemented first, it also seems a better argument in these lean times. Both seem promising, start with implementing the least expensive.
      I also agree with another comment below, most medical establishments don’t seem to be sincere about helping people really heal, they just want to get them through the system. The whole medical system (including the FDA) needs to be more concerned with “Causes not Conditions” (as Dr. Mark Hyman says), healing not just treating.

  6. Would Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy be helpfuf to Vietnam vets exposed tp Agent Orange and have been diagnosed with COPD?
    Thank you,

  7. This represents well how we are taking care of our poor veterans in 2011. Many more are coming since the wars keep starting country after country after country!
    The biggest obsticle for vetereans today is the current Washington Administration and the corrupt FDA. You would think they would find it a piority, to take very good care of veterans. Treating them in this manner, makes me wonder, who do they think will go to fight all their wars in the future, if this is the care they can expect to receive when they finally return back to the States.
    Maybe the FDA should take care of what is already on their plate and stop looking for other ways to intrude into people’s lives. They aren’t doing very well since Big Pharma is paying out billions in fines for drugs that ARE NOT SAFE. In Fact, I give the FDA an F in keeping the American people protected and safe.
    WHAT DO THEY DO AT THE FDA ANYWAY? Let’s get rid of them also!

  8. Common sense solution for PTSD and PCS without synthetic drugs that can cause more damage than good.

  9. Don’t forget the widows of those who didn’t return. We are also suffering…for the rest of our lives. Hyperbaric is a great therapy that we should all have access to for many conditions. Please sign me on for it. I have also had numerous concussions and was disgnosed with Lyme many yrs. ago.

  10. We gave cheated our vets out of the best help known for decades. It is time we gave back
    to the few of our country who have stepped up to the challange of protecting us.
    PLEASE make this available to our vets. Head injuries are a life blurring tragedy and vets deserve
    an opportunity to repair and have a normal life.
    They stepped up to the plate. Now you must step up to the plate and allow them a chance at
    life once again. J.Mole RN

  11. Hbot is quite effective and safe . Please support thIs freedom of choice and reduce the long-term medical costs. From a user and benefit or of Hbot !!!!!

  12. As a proponent of HBOT who has experienced it’s benefits (although probably not as hight amount as PTSD and TBI patients) at Hippocrates Health Institute, it is fair to offer that such did no harm or adversely effect my person. I believe it benefited my health beingness as all those red cells began jumping around like jumping beans! . It is my understanding that the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical was granted a $2 million some years ago to research HBOT. I further observe that it is our understanding the HBOT is being used adjacent to dental care for Cancer patients in VA medical facilities. Question is a no brainer. Sadly our medical treatment delivery is based on profit. Pharmaceutical Cartel and Medical Mafia have fear of change that will take away their power along with greed as a factor as well to keep blocking and dilatory tactics. So it is no surprise to natural health advocates.

  13. It is form of rationing. They are not going to use an expensive treatment no matter how much good it would do and therefore save money in the long run. Government does not think like that nor do they care to do the best. They use off-label psych drugs to pass the person on through the system, not that it is helping at all. No one will ever look at an alternative that may even cure. That is too much trouble for them to do besides that doesn’t keep the drug companies in business.

  14. Whenever your discussing treatment of military people, there is always a shortage. Whether it be in knowledge or treatment. Due to this fact, I waited at least two years to have my appendix removed. They found it during my last year in the Air Force and I had already heard the nightmare stories from many other former service members. On top of that, they couldn’t even locate my appendix with the ultra – sound. It took six different “surgeons” before one of them located it, and then he wasn’t sure. It has been my experience that, in the military medical facilities, they only do a much as is necessary to get the soldier going again. Or what is needed for them to do their assigned duties, other than that is not a priority. I really thought that after Vietnam, they stopped this type of treatment mentality, but it has improved only slightly.

  15. Oxygen therapy works and has been proven, but as big pharma controls the FDA it will not be aproved.
    I have used oxygen therapy & have proved to myself that it removes tumors & inhances ones health. I stlil use it as a preventitave health measure.

  16. We fight wars for freedom, the FDA takes them away…there are many cures for cancer, the FDA won’t allow them….natural cures are available to cure illnesses, but the FDA says we have to be on drugs the rest of our lives to supress the symtems. Can’t anyone see what a corrupt form of government this is? Isn’t anyone overseeing this nest of vipers or are they an entity on their own? Wouldn’t it be great if us Americans could use scientifically, proven methods of healing instead of a lifetime of expensive drugs? The healthcare bill in this country would plummet!

  17. I believe HBOT kills pathogens and leaves beneficial bacteria alone. So, HBOT is an expensive way to do intestinal yeast cleansing and probably helps heal leaky gut syndrome. Emotional stress is one way to irritate the intestines and kill beneficial bacteria so that yeast overpopulates the intestines. This causes protein deficiency and/or inflammation. These are the root causes of all symptoms and diseases and they start in the digestive tract according to pharmaceutical medicine. But the intestinal flora aren’t treated by pharmaceuticals, only by holistic health. Mainly because the big money is in REFILLS.
    There are many books about this, some concerning autism. I did yeast cleansing for my autistic son (plus a heavy metal detox with iodine therapy) and it cleared up about 95 percent of his symptoms. He’s now a little shy and still has very minor sensory issues. I wonder if HBOT would clear up the rest of his symptoms, but I’m not sure if that is worth the expense.
    Anyway, I think HBOT therapy for our vets would be EXCELLENT!

  18. To clear up one misconception: the FDA doesn’t approve or disapprove indications for HBOT. Medicare decided there were 13 indications that had enough scientific data to show that it was effective. Insurance companies followed their lead. In Europe, there’s 86 approved indications. The reason there isn’t a lot of well documented studies is because there’s no drug involved other than oxygen, so no pharmaceutical company will make a profit on HBOT. And studies are expensive. In addition to Dr. Harch’s ongoing study, the USAF is doing one currently in San Antonio, but not using Dr. Harch’s protocol unfortunately. No results have been forthcoming as yet. Medicare is dragging its feet because if HBO is proven effective for brain injury, they’ll be on the hook for everyone in the country that suffers a stroke. No one I’ve talked to at the VA has any idea of what HBOT is, let alone what it does for TBI and PTSD, but I’ll keep trying to spread the word.

  19. Vets return extremely toxic from vaccines, munitions, MREs and depleted uranium. For the Govt. to actually heal these expendables would be to admit to that which is a carefully guarded secret.
    HBOT, Vitamin C and a host of other corrections for bodies with beat-down biochemistry are “forbidden” because thay actually work and might detract from our profitable pharma industry, second only to the business of war itself. Wake up people!
    Oxygen penetration and re-energizing cells can be assisted in a number of ways beyond HBOT and is central to health/healing. Physicians and health conscious individuals must understand these hidden principles if they wish to survive the ongoing genocide of pharma-geddon.
    A simple protocol is available that works on diseases across the board. GO TO; for real solutions you won’t see in the corporate media or be used by conventional medicine.
    Information is the name of the game, know the simple truth!

  20. Support HR 396 & NDAA Section 731, the TBI Treatment Act
    Hello all: It’s time. I’m asking your help in the name of veterans and active duty suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This will extend the work done by Dr. Harch and speed payments for clinics which treat brain injury in veterans and active duty.
    Legislation is in front of the Congress that will get help to the brain-injured. Decide for yourself if the issue is one that would cause you to write to your Representatives and Senators to request that they help sponsor and vote for HR 396 & NDAA Section 731, the TBI Treatment Act.
    Go to this site to learn more and to get simple instructions about how to write:
    Many thanks in the name of the wounded. There is much information about our work within the Web site under Videos and Essential Reading.
    Once you’ve written, PLEASE write to your extended lists and social networks to urge their action, too. As you can read in the attached peer-reviewed article, Dr Harch and the Team have compiled scientific evidence that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is both safe and effective. The web site has testimonials from a dozen of the more than 100 wounded warriors we have treated in the past several years……….. almost all of them pro bono. It is time for the military to step up and pay for the treatments and even more scientific evidence that can save billions of dollars and restore a huge number of the wounded to productive lives. Read their stories.
    Start now. Please. We’re really close. Thanks.
    And read Dr. Harch’s peer-reviewed article at:

  21. I had checked a few years ago and Hyperbaric Oxygen units could be purchased for under $5000. There are Portable models that some people take with them when they travel.

  22. Thank you for this important issue.
    How many times must we view an “official” response to a problem that is at odds with reason, scientific evidence, medical efficacy, common sense and HUMANITY?
    If it is not clear that our “government” is FREQUENTLY acting in opposition to the interests of the people it purportedly “serves” by now it may never may be.
    IMO it is hideously immoral to foist useless murderous foreign wars upon our youth and then to refuse to treat their hideous life long injuries.
    It is time to call out these clowns.

    1. Like when obama said they new the risk and shouldn’t be whining when they get hurt and expect us to pay for their medical care. It was their choice.

  23. My Uncle was a POW during World War II. He died last year and it was only on his death bed that he revealed many of the traumas of his ordeal. He had suffered in silence for many years and suffered with severe depression. It is important that these guys get the correct treatment to hell with the cost.

  24. Dear Sherry Moore (12/06/11) Your letter was very informative. I’m passing it on to a friend who is 9 and has autism. His mother listens to all good advice. My question to you: After you have done all this really helpful treatment for your child and he is “95%” well, why would you put a price tag on the final HBOT treatment when it isn’t that much more money? I’m sure he’d appreciate the other available 5% of his mind if he could do the choosing. Please reconsider.

  25. I am a disabled veteran who has several health problems (chronic fatigue is one of the biggest problems actually due to my autoimmune diseases) and I totally agree that the Armed Forces are NOT set up for this kind of therapy. They don’t really want to treat or heal anyone except for drugs. It’s a shame really so this would probably be utilized in VA hospitals but good luck getting in there to see a provider, that’s if they don’t switch that provider on you a thousand times per month.
    My point is, homeopathic is a good alternative but my insurance won’t cover it. I can’t pay a doc or nurse $400/hr to see him/her several times per year. As I said and others pointed out….big pharma rules this nation! They control the vaccines that are killing and injuring the troops too…
    But hey, from the words of Hillary Clinton, “What difference does it make?” To me, it’s a BIG difference because I see friends and family suffering from their time spent in the military and they get no help when they get out.
    I know when Jessica Lynch fell into the hole many years ago, they saved her leg from the HBOT chamber. It works wonders! I think pro football players us it regularly too if I’m not mistaken to heal from their games….
    I am sure if more doctors used it, the cost would come down ,not to mention the cases of chronic illnesses. Just saying!

  26. Im not surprised the FDA wont approve this. I dont have PTSD or any condition and Ive used this
    wonderful treatment with excellent results. My energy level is up, I sleep like I haven’t in years and I feel fantastic! It works! The Big Pharma have a lot to lose if this get prescribed to clients who really need it.

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