History of HBOT
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is not as new as you may think, with origins as far back as the 17th Century.
The first documented use of hyperbaric therapy came even before the discovery of oxygen. In 1662, a British clergyman called Nathaniel Henshaw used a system of organ bellows to change the atmospheric pressure in a sealed chamber called a domicilium.
Despite lacking any scientific basis for his theories, Henshaw believed that the treatment could aid pulmonary and digestive conditions. However, he was only providing increased and decreased air pressure without increasing oxygen concentration, because oxygen was not discovered as a chemical element until 1774 by Joseph Priestley in our very own county of Wiltshire!
In the 1830’s, there was a rebirth of interest in hyperbaric medicine in France. In 1834 French physician, Junod, built a hyperbaric chamber to treat pulmonary afflictions using pressures of 2-4 ATA. He reported increased circulation to the internal organs, improvements in cerebral blood flow, and production of feelings of wellbeing.
In 1837 another French physician, Pravaz, built the largest hyperbaric chamber of the time, seating up to 12 people. It was used to treat patients with pulmonary conditions including tuberculosis, laryngitis, tracheitis and pertussis, as well unrelated conditions such as cholera, conjunctivitis, deafness, menorrhagia, and rickets.
By the early 1900s, developments in diving and hyperbaric medicine began to overlap, with Naval and deep sea diving research aiding progression in medical areas. As the use of oxygen therapy continued, physicians pushed forward with research into its use in a wider range of medical treatments.
Today it is used to relieve symptoms associated with a range of life-limiting conditions including MS, cancer, stroke, diabetes, fibromyalgia and, increasingly, long COVID. It can also help to aid recovery from infections, wounds, broken bones and sports injuries.