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The oxygen effect

by Contributor 28 April 2022

Natalia Ramsden of SOFOS Associates details the cognitive improvements that can be achieved with hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Breath in, breathe out. Seems simple. Breathing is the responsibility of the autonomic nervous system which regulates a number of body processes. The system works automatically, doing what it needs without us even being aware. In recent years, modern health advocates have paid particular attention to breathing or breathwork with the emergence of breathing coaches creating business for themselves by teaching people how to breathe properly. Associated with benefits such as a stress and anxiety reduction as well as cognitive improvements, it is certainly an easy and accessible way to optimise. However, for those truly dedicated to enhancing their cognitive function and keen to leverage the most innovative sciences, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is becoming the air of choice.

HBOT essentially involves feeding the body extra oxygen. The air we breathe is made up of nitrogen and oxygen, with oxygen accounting for only 21%. HBOT is a therapy in which individuals inhale pure oxygen in a pressurised chamber. The pressure causes the oxygen to be absorbed into the blood plasma, driving even more oxygen into circulation throughout your body. Chambers can vary in size and quality and the technology is still improving. Some chambers are now large enough that some of my recent clients have held meetings in them with two or three people in the chamber together - imagine a very large pod!

Admittedly, the research is still emerging as its application as an enhancement approach is relatively new. Some of the benefits reported are reduced inflammation, increased ATP production (linked to energy production) and enhanced cell-repair. Already well established as a treatment for Alzeihmer’s Disease and other clinical conditions, it has become increasingly popular amongst elite athletes and now CEOs and executives wanting to sharpen their minds. Research carried out at the University of Northumbria’s Human Cognitive Neuroscience department revealed that mental performance can be greatly improved by inhaling pure oxygen.

A 2020 paper by Prof Efrati of Tel Aviv University demonstrated cognitive improvements in subjects. According to the report, the main areas of cognitive improvement were attention, information processing speed and executive function, in addition to the global cognitive function, all of which typically decline with age. Moreover, there was a significant correlation between the cognitive changes and improved cerebral blood flow in specific brain locations.

HBOT is a core feature for many clients of SOFOS Associates, many of whom come from the finance world, who report greater mental acuity and improved focus. A recent client tried HBOT for the first time. An incredibly successful executive, he came to us with reports of mental fatigue, exhaustion and high levels of stress. He explained that whilst he knew he was intelligent and capable, he was starting to feel that it took him longer to process information. For example he would be sat in a board meeting and by the time he had fully understood the problem at hand, the conversation had moved on. This was something he desperately wanted to address. We included HBOT in his carefully curated enhancement program. When his program came to a close, our client shared that despite an incredibly stressful period in the business (due to global events) he felt sharper and clearer in his thinking than he had for a long time. He also noted greater resilience and higher levels of energy.

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