The Lyme Center

Hyperbaric oxygen in Lyme disease

Hyperbaric oxygen is the therapy that creates one of the most hostile environments for Borrelia survival during therapy, acting synergistically with antibiotics and other integrative therapies used in the treatment of Lyme disease.
Hyperbaric oxygen has a bactericidal and bacteriostatic action, which is mainly manifested against anaerobic and microaerobic microorganisms, such as Borreliosis.

This fact is the first explanation of the significant effects of hyperbaric oxygen in Lyme therapy observed experimentally. However, the bactericidal and bacteriostatic action of hyperbaric therapy targets several mechanisms, such as the production of reactive oxygen species that have a strong antibacterial effect. However, suppose hyperbaric oxygen is administered at low pressures, below 1.5 atmospheres. In that case, it can favor the growth of certain types of bacteria, so under these conditions, it is not indicated in Lyme disease therapy.

Effects of Hyperbaric
Oxygen in Lyme

  • Acts synergistically with antibiotics

    depending on their nature. It enhances angiogenesis (the multiplication of blood vessels in the body), favouring the action of antibiotics in tissues and organs that are normally less vascularised.

  • Helps to penetrate the bacterial cell wall

    Studies show that antibiotics can be more easily incorporated in the presence of increased oxygen tension, which is greatly increased in hyperbaric therapy.

  • Regulates the effects of host defense mechanisms

    In particular, the antimicrobial effects of polymorphonuclear leukocytes, impaired as a result of tissue hypoxia.

  • Improves neuroplasticity

    And significantly restores abnormal brain activity corresponding to the pain-inducing areas of fibromyalgia.

  • Protects against autoimmune reaction

    Induced by the presence of Borreliosis.

Hyperbaric oxygen in Lyme disease

Is there
a bactericidal effect
of Hyperbaric Oxygen?

The Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction seen, in most cases in Lyme disease, about three days after the onset of hyperbaric therapy is the best evidence of this effect. Clinical experience shows that the specific symptoms of this reaction - headaches, myalgia, chills, and low fever - can last from a few days to several weeks with hyperbaric therapy.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials to date show that hyperbaric oxygen has positive effects in most cases.

In a six-year pilot study at Texas A&M University, 37 of 38 people treated with hyperbaric oxygen showed a significant improvement in symptoms three weeks after the end of treatment. Positive effects of this therapy were recorded in 70% of people even after six years. In another study conducted at the same university, 85% of the 91 patients serologically diagnosed as positive following hyperbaric oxygen administration showed "significant improvement, decrease or elimination of symptoms. All but one patient experienced Herxheimer reactions within five days of starting therapy. Most subjects showed improvement of symptoms after eight months".

In most studies, therapy consisted of one or two sessions of hyperbaric oxygen daily, at a pressure greater than 2.36 atmospheres, for one hour, five days a week, totaling between 30 and 60 sessions.