Parkinson's and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Category: Newsletter

Dr. Dennis Godby, ND, Sacramento Naturopathic Medical Center

Being diagnosed with Parkinson’s and living with this neurological condition can be devastating, however, a safe and extremely effective treatment, hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), can potentially provide a renewed sense of hope. 

Parkinson’s is caused by the degeneration of neurons in the brain area that makes dopamine, a neurotransmitter that affects movement. As dopamine declines, the characteristic tremors, balance, speech, and motor problems develop. The common Parkinson’s treatment are drugs that mimic dopamine, and while these drugs can improve symptoms, disease progression is not halted, and side effects mount with long‐term use. 

Julian Whitaker, MD, of Whitaker Wellness’ primary approach to treating Parkinson’s has been two fold: using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and the antioxidant glutathione, synergistically. Whitaker has found that Parkinson’s patients have “dangerously low levels of the antioxidant glutathione in the affected area of the brain,” and boosting glutathione not only guards against further damage, but it also enhances the function of surviving neurons. 

Patients at Whitaker Wellness are also treated with HBOT which is highly beneficial for stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain injuries and Parkinson’s, and a wide variety of other medical conditions. HBOT floods the brain with oxygen, slowing neuronal degeneration, mobilizes rejuvenating stem cells, and enhances angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels that nurture damaged areas). He says “glutathione and HBOT are a powerful 1-2 punch.”

The symptoms of Parkinson’s can vary in type and severity. Often HBOT has been discovered effective by “accident” as in the case where a patient with diabetes used HBOT for a foot ulcer but found that the treatment also greatly improved his Parkinson’s symptoms. After 50 years of HBOT treatment, one thing is certain, hyperbaric oxygen will not worsen Parkinson’s. HBOT has been shown to be anti‐inflammatory in many conditions. For example, a patient with advanced Parkinson’s who is confined to a wheelchair may be able to get up and walk across the room after a series of HBOT. 

In an Italian study, 55 of 63 patients showed significant improvement after HBOT, a therapy which is beginning to be widely used in neurodegenerative conditions, especially movement disorders. More and more research is being published on the benefits of HBOT and Parkinson’s. 

Approximately 40-60% of Parkinson’s patients also experience mood disorders. HBOT has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety.

Taking a very different approach in the treatment of Parkinson’s, Borromei et al. in 1996 demonstrated  that HBOT appeared to be effective in improving many of the behavioral and motor deficits observed in Parkinson’s patients. 

During the treatment period, a patient voluntarily reduced his Sinemet Parkinson’s drug doses until he was completely off the drug after 3‐4 weeks of HBOT therapy, which was an unexpected result. He has continued to remain off of Sinemet therapy and avoid complications or adverse side effects such as myopia. 

HBOT is safe, effective, and might be a potential therapeutic modality in treating patients suffering from Parkinson’s without causing drug side effects such as dyskinesia (involuntary muscle movements). 

Visit Dr. Dennis Godby, ND in the Wellness Village at where he has been a member since February 2022.

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Indian Wells, CA 92210

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Updated: August 16, 2017