March 26, 2018

Oxidation is a process in which there is loss of electrons, oxygen uptake or release of hydrogen. With oxidation the fats become stale, the rubber loses elasticity, the paper turns yellow, etc. These oxide-reduction reactions are important, since living beings obtain most of their free energy from them.

Oxygen can also be a source of disease through the uncontrolled production of oxygen free radicals (ROS) that damage macromolecules (lipids, proteins, carbohydrates and nucleic acids) and alter cellular processes (membrane functionality, production of enzymes, cellular respiration, gene induction, etc.).

Some of the diseases and degenerative processes produced by oxidation are:

1) Aging: may be the result of the activation of specific genes at a particular time in the cell cycle. The ROS theory of aging assumes that this results from the accumulation of organic lesions due to ROS.

2) Atherosclerosis: a close relationship has been demonstrated between ROS and low density lipoprotein (LDL) and it is known that its increase has a known direct predictive value in the appearance of atherosclerosis.

3) Cancer: tumor development is a highly complex process characterized by the presence of cellular necrosis of healthy tissue, uncontrolled growth of cancer cells, neovascularization of the affected area to ensure the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tumor, among many other phenomena. The oxygen free radicals could influence tumor development.

4) Senile cataract: the oxygen free radicals generated in the crystalline lens produces cross-linking, denaturation, degradation of its proteins and other effects, forming microscopic granules of complex composition by disordered clumping of molecules, which grow in size and quantity, initially producing the Tindall effect, and finally the total opacification of the lens.

5) Acute renal failure (ARF), chronic renal failure (CRF) and dialysis: tubular damage due to ischemia / reperfusion is, at least in part, caused by the increase in oxidative stress of the ARF.

6) Toxins that alter the redox state: the cellular damage induced by some toxic substances at the renal level is manifested by an increase in the markers of oxidative stress and a decrease in renal tubular metabolism (oxygen consumption and transport of different compounds) in relation to an alteration of the mitochondrial electron transfer chain that would produce a reduction in metabolic functions, all caused by an increase in ROS formation.

7) Diabetes: the autoxidation of sugars generates ROS species. At high glucose concentrations the production of ROS increases in the presence of transition metals. The increase in oxidative stress described in diabetics is not only related to the acceleration in the production of ROS, but also due to the decrease in antioxidants.

8) Arterial Hypertension: can be considered as a set of systemic results of lesions (vascular, parenchymal, etc.) produced by ROS.

9) Cirrhosis, liver failure and alcoholic liver disease: the alcohol-induced liver damage is related, at least in part, to an oxidative stress caused by the production of ROS and / or a decrease in antioxidants.

10) Other processes involved: muscular dystrophy, arthritis and inflammation, pulmonary emphysema, scleroderma, senile dementia, contact dermatitis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral ischemia, cardiomyopathies, heart failure, among others.

Why is hyperbaric treatment beneficial for reducing oxidative stress?                                    

Hyperbaric Oxygenation Treatment (HBOT) is a non-invasive method that involves supplying oxygen at high concentrations in a pressurized hyperbaric chamber to a minimum of 1.4 ATM atmospheres (higher than the normal ambient atmospheric pressure of 1 atmosphere).  The person is breathing 100% oxygen. This gas is transported to the blood, and manages to reach even damaged tissues.

Hyperbaric Oxygenation Treatment reduces the effects on damaged tissue, eliminates ischemia (which brings free radicals), reduces edema, moderates inflammation, improves immune function and activates the production of antioxidant enzymes to compensate for cellular oxidative stress.


J.I. Elejalde Guerra, 2001, Oxidative stress, diseases and antioxidant treatments, Internal Medicine Service of the Hospital of Navarra.

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