New research shows age-reversal but FDA is blocking the therapy. Action Alert!
New research suggests that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) could enhance cognitive performance in aging adults. This builds on other impressive clinical trials demonstrating the ability of HBOT to treat mild traumatic brain injuries. This shows incredible promise for HBOT to reverse the effects of aging and could help us reach a point where we treat aging like any other chronic disease that can be monitored and treated. FDA rules, however, all but ensure that HBOT will not be permitted to be used to reverse aging. This is emblematic of what is wrong with our healthcare system—we must fight to change it.
The study, a randomized controlled clinical trial conducted in Israel, found that at the end of a three-month study, participants receiving HBOT showed improvements in attention, cognitive processing speeds, and executive function.
Note too that the study found evidence that HBOT therapy was able to increase telomere length. Telomere length shortens with age, so the ability to lengthen telomeres represents age-reversal. (Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protects our chromosomes.) This is in addition to findings that HBOT can stop the aging of blood cells.
The problem is that it would take many years and millions and millions of dollars to get FDA approval for HBOT to treat cognitive decline. In fact, the FDA has only approved HBOT to treat a narrow list of thirteen relatively uncommon injuries. Without FDA approval, it’s unlikely that HBOT will become widely used for anti-aging, meaning these tanks are sitting unused in hospitals when they could be helping us reverse the effects of aging. (HBOT chambers can be purchased with a medical prescription, but home HBOT chambers are not as powerful as those used in hospital settings.)
Off-label use of HBOT for conditions not approved by the FDA might be possible on a very limited basis, but there are still significant roadblocks. For one, off-label use is considered outside the “practice of medicine,” which is subject to state law and state medical boards, which are notoriously hostile to complementary and alternative medicine. Doctors could expose themselves to considerable risk in using HBOT off-label for the purpose of reversing cognitive decline in healthy adults. Additionally, insurance companies will generally not cover the cost of treatments that are not FDA-approved.
ANH-USA has supported HBOT for some time. In 2008, we helped secure $1.5 million from the federal government to study the effectiveness of HBOT for veterans with traumatic brain injury and PTSD—research that has culminated in the recent publication of clinical trial results demonstrating HBOT’s effectiveness for these conditions.
HBOT isn’t the only effective treatment that is blocked from becoming more widely-used. We know vitamin D’s efficacy for the flu, for example, but because it is not FDA approved, FDA rules prevent us from learning about this cheap supplement’s ability to offer protection and treatment. The federal government in fact aggressively prevents the dissemination of even the most basic knowledge about the ability of natural medicines to heal us. This is completely unacceptable.
Action Alert! Sign our petition that seeks to reform a healthcare system that blocks access to natural treatments that generally cannot go through FDA approval. Please send your message immediately.