Welcome to Pushing The Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential, with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by lisatamati.com.
Lisa Tamati: Hey, everyone, I have an amazing guest for you this week on Pushing The Limits. I have Dr. Jason Sonners with me from New Jersey, New York, USA. He is a specialist in hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and is currently doing a lot of clinical research with us. And we go into the really deep dive into how hyperbaric oxygen therapy works, what it's about some of the new research on how it can be having different effects on new epigenetics and the changes in pressure and transcription factors. And oh my gosh, we go into a super, super deep dive.
Dr. Jason is also the author of Oxygen Under Pressure, a book that I really highly recommend that you guys go and get, and also has a YouTube channel called HBOT USA. hbotusa.com is his website and his YouTube channel under the same name, so make sure you go and check those out.
Before we head over to the interview with Dr. Jason. Just want to remind you about our epigenetics program, if you are wanting to understand your genetics and how to optimise your environment, then please check out what we do. Understanding what types of food to eat, what types of exercise, how you can influence your genes that you were given by your mum and dad, and what you can do to possibly influence it's like getting a user manual for your body.
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Well, hey, everyone, and welcome back to Pushing The Limits today. I'm super excited. I'm jumping out of my skin. I have Dr. Jason Sonners with me. Welcome to the show, Dr. Jason.
Jason Sonners: Thank you, Lisa. So happy to be here. Thanks for having me on.
Lisa: You have an amazing book that I'm in the middle of and you are deep into the hyperbaric space. So today's episode is all going to be around hyperbaric, also your approach to health because I think your backstory fascinated me and how you actually stumbled all into this. So can you give people a little background before we get into hyperbaric you know, who you are, where you’re situated and what you're doing?
Jason: Sure, yeah. So basically, I mean, long story short, so my background was exercise physiology. And that kind of brought me into obviously exercise and personal training and training myself and other people and, and then working towards, you know, strength and conditioning coaching. That kind of eventually got me into chiropractic, through my own actual some injuries and issues that I had in my life.
I started to understand that, you know, not only do we have to exercise properly, but you know, the framework of alignment and posture and all the pieces that kind of predispose the body to breaking down prematurely and you know, kind of where chiropractic fit the model of really trying to improve that story.
My wife and I were practicing in New Jersey for just a few years and I ended up herniating a disc in my lower back, I was putting a roof on my house and carrying shingles up and down a ladder, and you know, ended up with a really bad nerve damage to my right leg. And so my wife is also a chiropractor, so she was you know, she was treating me and my back pain got better pretty quickly. My background in exercise physiology, I have a background in nutrition so I'm eating the right things I'm trying to rehab my way out of it. My wife is treating me all the things that I knew to do. And I helped so many other people with herniated discs that I figured, you know, I should have no problem and yet 18 months later, I still had full drop foot.
Lisa: Oh, that's terrible.
Jason: Brutal and I was actually training, we were training for triathlon at the time. So, you know, I could barely even walk let alone you know, be training properly. So I kind of gave up on all of that I thought, you know, I was frustrated. But I thought, you know, even though I was helping a lot of people for whatever reason, I couldn't, you know, figure myself out. And I kept trying, but you know, ultimately to no avail.
I happened to be at a show or, you know, chiropractic conference. And they had, you know, lots of vendors of equipment, and one of the vendors happen to have a hyperbaric chamber. No clue what it was. It just looked cool like this…
Lisa: The thing in the background.
Jason: People were getting in and out of it. It's pressurising making noise and like, oh, it's cool. So, you know, they were doing sessions. So I did like a 30 minute session. And I got out I didn't think anything of it. And about 20 minutes later, I started getting pins and needles in my foot.
Jason: I hadn't felt my foot in like 18 months at that point. So I'm like, wow, why am I feeling that in my foot? Because of that thing? I, you know, what was that thing? I didn't even know what it was. I went back to talk to the guy and you know, explain the story. He's like, Oh, yeah, of course. That's what this thing does. And I'm like, Yeah, right. You just want me to buy one.
Jason: I'm from New York originally. I don't trust anybody. So you know. So, you know, so anyway, so he agrees to doing a handful of sessions. So I did like, maybe eight hours or so over the course of four days.
Jason: I had about 20% improvement in my foot. And I thought, you know, I don't really know what this thing is. But after all this time, it's the only thing that's ever helped. And so I did buy one, I brought it home treated myself and I had full resolution on that neuropathy. And so at that point, you know, I was obviously I was happy that I was getting better. And, you know, so, so grateful to have my leg back functioning. At the same time, though, I was so frustrated that I felt I've gotten so far through all my training.
Lisa: No one's told you about it.
Jason: No one's ever said that to me. You know, no one was like, Hey, did you ever think about you know, it was like a total accident. And at the same time, it was the only thing that actually helped. And so that's what really got me interested in trying to not only understand it better, but implement it in my clinic, and then help other people ultimately get access to it.
Lisa: Wow, that's a brilliant backstory, because you know, it, this is what I find with a lot of doctors in the medical space, you know, as well as chiropractic and things, but when they have a personal situation where everything that they've learned, and nothing's working, that's the time when people start to look outside the box. Because up until that point, you sort of think, well, I've got you know, I've got this.
Jason: I help people all the time.
Lisa: Yeah, yeah. And then all sudden, hang on a minute, this isn't working, why isn't it working? have come across a quite a number of times and hyperbaric in my opinion and my listeners know, my backstory, I had a mum with a massive aneurysm and massive brain damage. Age 74 never going to have any quality of life, no idea who she is what she is no control over any body functions.
My desperate search to help her I came across hyperbaric oxygen. And it was the cornerstone of her rehabilitation and it was not the only thing and this is what I like about you, too. You don't just go okay, well, that's it. Now we've got this and no, it was a multifaceted approach to rehabilitation. And I don't have a medical background. I'm a bloody athlete for, for crying out loud. But…
Jason: You get enough of your own injuries to start becoming a doctor.
Lisa: Well, you do start to become a doctor of your own life anyway. And you know, a deep dive into that I ended up opening a hyperbaric oxygen therapy clinic myself, had a huge success with my mum with it. My mom's now you know, 80 years old and perfectly healthy and another long story. We've been on a cancer journey. But she's also using hyperbaric for that.
We came back from this massive brain injury to full health again. And in an age we you're not really meant to go forward with your brain, you know. So I love hyperbaric and you're at the cutting edge of this stuff like you've been doing. What? First question, why the hell is this not in every single doctor's office and every single hospital and every single ICU around the world? Can you explain to me that?
Jason: We're working on that.
Lisa: We’re working on it somehow.
Jason: You know, ultimately, it's really initially it's political in that there is a hyperbaric there's a traditional hyperbaric world, let's say and, and a non traditional hyperbaric world. And in the traditional hyperbaric world, which is really, you know, I'd say hospital based and geared in the US, we talked about the 14 FDA approved…
Lisa: Yeah, yeah.
Jason: That’s the wound healing the gangrene the necrotising fasciitis, certain like burns, but it has to be greater than 20% of your body and anaemia, but it has to be life threatening and severe, you know, meanwhile, it's like, well, would it work if the burn was only 5% of your body? It doesn't work. Would it work if you just had moderate anaemia or does it have to be severe and you know, obviously, so, but it's all about the insurance game.
Really what happened in the in the traditional model is that they get many, I'll just say many, many hundreds of dollars per hour, where I live, it's couple $1,000 per hour per treatment. And so if you can collect $1,000, $1,500, $2,000 per hour, and then you have a patient who wants to pay you 100 bucks or 200 bucks, you're actually at least here, you're not allowed to do that you can't have two fee schedules, you can't charge insurance companies $2,000…
Jason: …when you charge patients $200. So it's kind of like you're either insurance based or you're not. And for all these years, it's really they've kept the amount of indications to, you know, has not grown in a decade or more.
Lisa: Yeah, same here.
Jason: They really just keep it sort of, you know, private that way. And that with that came, you know, it, you know, all the myths we talked about, well, don't you know that oxygen is dangerous? You can’t use oxygen. You'll kill people with oxygen, you know, meanwhile, I'm like, Wait, what are what are the alternatives here that we're talking about?
Jason: Let’s talk about the risk. Or, you know, well, there's not enough research to support that…
Jason: …or it doesn't actually work. Or, you know, and I'm not saying that those things aren't, you know, you could oxygen could be dangerous. You just need to know how to use just like anything else, you need to know how to use it, how to operate it properly, how to keep it within a safe means and make it effective.
Yeah, there hasn't been as much research, let's say on post stroke, as there is on wound care. But the mechanisms make sense. And we use medicine, off label…
Jason: …every single day, every doctor uses multiple medications off label on a regular basis. But for some reason, when it came to oxygen, even I mean, it's crazy, even for, let's say like typical wound healing, you need like four to six weeks of increasingly strong antibiotics, and then not actually respond to the antibiotics. And then you might get oxygen approved. It's going to probably work, but it takes that amount of effort and that amount of a delay.
Jason: The amount you're delaying a person’s care an extra six weeks. And I mean, you sure you understand this, but a non healing wound isn't because they're deficient in antibiotics and so if they get enough antibiotics, eventually it's going to heal. The healing capacity has something to do with the body regenerating. The antibiotic use has something to do with reducing the risk of infection while the body's healing but it's not like the antibiotics actually improve a healing response. It's just a political issue right now, at least most places, especially in the U.S., but there's been enough and this is always true in medicine, it's not like the doctors are going to be the one of the insurance companies aren't going to be the one that increase the access and awareness, it's patients. Patients become, avid—
Lisa: Like me, open a clinic.
Jason: I'm gonna find whatever I need to do, I'm gonna find it. And if enough people get fired up, it starts to drive a movement. And I think that's what you're seeing, that's what I've certainly what we're seeing here is that it's a movement driven by interest and awareness. People learning about “Wait, this seems like it makes sense. I know that oxygen is probably really important, I can only hold my breath for like, a couple minutes. And if I can get a little bit more oxygen, maybe I could heal a little bit faster to some extent, it's that simple.”
And, now all of a sudden, we see this development. So we've set up or we helped set up probably almost 30 clinics in the last year and a half alone.
Lisa: Gosh wow. Amazing.
Jason: Every month, it's like more and more. I teach with Dr Dituri also and so training organisation, International Board of Undersea Medicine, so I'm on their faculty, we train. We opened up the doors to starting to train more people. I think we trained about 175 different people last year alone. It's getting—not in every city, not every town, but yeah.
Lisa: Dr Joe was on this podcast for everyone listening, go and listen to that episode as well, because he's hilarious and he's a legend–absolute legend. It's just a grassroots movement, basically, isn't it one by one? Because let's go back then and now because— I mean, the medical system and the political system of hyperbaric but in every area, there's just yeah, let's not go there because it's a mess. And the reason I do this show is that I want people to take control of their own health journeys because they have to be understanding that they need to take control if they want to get the latest research and if they want to understand that there's a lot of influencing factors over what they decide to actually give you.
And you need to go and do your own research so that you don't get pushed into something you don't need or miss out on something, you do need. Hyperbaric, let's go and explain the mechanisms and tell me why, Jason, why is this such a panacea type of therapy? And this is something else that gets a lot of people, but how can it be good for that plus that plus that plus that plus that? Because we’re used to this, his pill for that, that therapy for that. This is a panacea, it's too good to be true.
Jason: And I think that gets us in trouble. Because when we talk about it that way, which most of us do, because it's like, “Oh, my God, it helped us.” There is not one thing that can do so many, help so many different conditions. But what I tell people, this might not sound fabulous, but like, it doesn't cure anything. It just helps with so many things. Virtually, every cell in your body, except for red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen, so they don't use oxygen. Every other cell in your body uses oxygen, as part of its mechanism for making energy.
And there are a multitude of reasons: inflammation, old injuries, new injuries. Whatever kind of damage, we get inside of our bodies inside of ourselves, where all of a sudden, there's a certain area in your body that's not getting enough oxygen, and then that that tissue starts to down-regulate, and eventually become dormant or completely actually become necrotic and that tissue can actually die. And what people don't understand is right now, I'm at sea level, right now. If I put one of those pulse oximeters is on my finger, virtually, I'm 100% saturated right now. Which means that I'm literally getting as much oxygen into my body as I possibly can. And I'm 100% saturated, but that doesn't mean I have all the oxygen I might need to heal or all the oxygen I might need to fuel a certain system.
A good example would be, crush injuries or catastrophic injuries where you break muscle, ligament, tendon, bone, cartilage—literally you destroy a whole area. We can have a crush injury on my left arm and I could put—and you might say, “Well, with a crush injury, there's lots of hypoxia, because there's all this damage to the capillaries.” But if I put a pulse oximeter on my finger, I’m still 100% saturated. And so that means that I can have an area of hypoxia, but I'm still not able to get any more oxygen than I need. But gosh, if I could, wouldn't I push that oxygen into an area that was suffering? And really, unless we use something like a hyperbaric chamber, there's literally no other alternative to getting oxygen to that area.
Another way to look at it would be the body is constantly changing where blood is flowing. In other words, if we were going to sit here, and—well, we're sitting here to talk so we're thinking, and we're talking, so a lot of blood flow is going to our brain to our mouth, right? If we were going to do some complex physics we get even more blood flow going into our brain. And then if all of a sudden we ate a big meal, all the blood would leave our brain and go into our gut, because we need oxygen, and the fuel to start digestion. And all of a sudden, if there was a fire in this building, I had to run out all that blood would have to go to my legs, so I can get the oxygen working to my working muscles and get out of the building.
So again, at 100% saturation, which is the most amount of oxygen I could possibly have, I'm still always redirecting where the oxygen needs to go based on what tissues are working the hardest. And so that means that there's never really a surplus. And if there's never really a surplus, we don't have a reservoir of oxygen to tap into, and pull out and stick somewhere when we need to heal or regenerate. And TBI, or post-stroke or those crush injuries where you're getting all the oxygen you can have and you're still not going to heal properly. That's when dumping or I should say creating a reservoir of oxygen, really getting more oxygen absorption into our body could feed those tissues and that's really the special thing that it does.
Lisa: When the oxygen is under pressure, so you're under pressure under the equivalent of being x amount of metres underwater, so it feels like more pressure. And you feel it in your ears, you don't really feel it in anywhere else when you're actually in there. But this is compressing the oxygen molecule so they're actually smaller and they actually dissolve into the tissues and the plasma that's what's happening, isn't it? It can get through like the blood-brain barrier and places that a difficult crush injuries like you say all wounds that poor perfusion of blood.
Because a red blood cell is quite a big, fat juicy thing. And it can't fit into places where there's a damage or through the blood-brain barrier, there's a reason that's kept separate. But you when you do the hyperbaric, and you're under that pressure, correct me if I'm wrong, you're compressing the oxygen down, and you're getting it through into those areas. And then, are you—when you say you can store the oxygen, you don't mean that you're storing it for use for later on. It's just—
Jason: It's creating a reservoir, but that reservoir will be used in the next 10 hours or less basically.
Lisa: Okay, that Oh, wow.
Jason: But here's what the real—the easy way to understand I think is, when you go above sea level, you go hiking in a mountain, or for us, we go to Denver, it's a mile high, okay? It feels like it's harder to breathe when when you don’t have adaptation and the reason is not because there's less oxygen. Air is always 21% oxygen. It's that you lose pressure. And as you go away from sea level, and there's pressures lost, the force of pushing the oxygen into your circulation is also lost.
Lisa: Wow, I never thought about sort of was actually less oxygen.
Jason: Because there is less pressure the oxygen molecules spread out. So when you take a breath in, you don't get as many molecules—your breath, and you lose the driving force of it going into your circulation. At sea level, it's the exact amount of pressure we need to saturate at 100%, roughly. But as we go below sea level, all we're doing is we're increasing that pressure gradient, which means every time I breathe in, I'm getting more oxygen in my lungs, each breath. And that's increasing the force, the gradient, to get that oxygen into my circulation.
Now, normally, as quickly as oxygen goes into circulation, a red blood cell picks it up and carries it wherever it's gonna go. And so there's only so many red blood cells, and only so much oxygen we can get in. Now we're dissolving so much in hyperbaric we're dissolving so much more oxygen that, you know, yeah, we're filling those red blood cells, and they're carrying it, but we can, we're putting in far more oxygen than what the capacity for red blood cells is to carry and so it just stays in the liquid. And to your point, if you're inflamed if you have clogged arteries, broken blood vessels, damage to the microcirculation, especially things like TBI and stroke to the brain. Red blood cells can't get to that tissue because of that damage. But the liquid always can.
And now the liquid normally, right now the liquid portion, our blood has very little oxygen has about point three millilitres per 100 millilitres of blood. But we have 20 times more of that in hyperbaric conditions. And now because there's oxygen in the liquid, and the liquid can go everywhere, now we can get oxygen to that starving area and actually heal or wake it up or–
Lisa: Wow. And then let's talk about a little bit the mechanisms of action. Once that oxygen, that increased amount of oxygen is delivered to those places, we are attacking the inflammatory pathways, we're producing more stem cells. What's actually going on in from that perspective, and why is inflammation—and you put so beautifully in your book, which we'll link to in the show notes. Why is inflammation such a double-edged sword? Inflammation happens in so many instances, it's not just trauma, it's the chronic inflammation that we're talking about as well here. Can you just explain the mechanisms where, you know, the stem cells, the inflammation? What's it actually doing in there?
Jason: So I'd say there's, there's two ways I look at it. One is, there's a, there's a mechanical component to hyperbaric, where inside your cell is your mitochondria. And your mitochondria is the part of your cell, literally, that makes energy. So at the end of the day, all the food you eat turns into a thing called NAD. NAD has to get oxidised and oxygen is the mechanism by which we oxidise our fuel. Just like your engine, you put fuel in your engine that mixes it with oxygen, it creates a spark, an explosion that creates power. Our cells do the same thing, we bring fuel in, we oxidise it, and then that creates power for ourselves, we call that ATP inside of our cell.
When you can get more oxygen into the cell, you can burn a hotter, more powerful engine. You can burn more, create more ATP. The mechanical side of hyperbaric is more oxygen equals, ultimately more ATP production. Okay, so that's like part of the energy generation and that's like all the mechanical benefits. And that happens like immediately, as soon as you're in there, it's happening every session. That's part of like the short term benefits of hyperbaric. The long term benefits of hyperbaric are things like immune system upregulation, stem cell release, angiogenesis, rebuilding of the blood vessels that are all broken and damaged. Those are all the long term.
And the long term effects happen because of cell signalling. So when you're inside the chamber, you get all this extra oxygen. When you get out of the chamber, it starts to bubble out of your body. When you go back in, it fills it back up. And then when you get back out, it bubbles up. Just like a bottle of seltzer, when you open the seltzer, there's like. All this air is coming out, that happens inside of our body too. But it's not—when you get out. And when you get out and that oxygen is coming out. It's not leaving your body. It's leaving circulation. And it's literally feeding all of your cells.
Lisa: Why isn't that like the bends like my brain that goes like it? Hyperbaric was originally invented, for divers who have that problem, the gases coming out too quickly and expanding too quickly. So in this in this instance, because we're not going to extreme levels, is it not damaging in that respect, when it does—
Jason: The bends is all about nitrogen, and how much nitrogen you're getting. Depending on your setup with hyperbaric, you might be getting some nitrogen, you might be getting more oxygen. So ultimately, depending on how deep you go, and how quickly you come up, that determines is like how quickly those bubbles come out. Oxygen bubbles are not dangerous at all oxygen bubbles, it never caused the bends or any problems. Oxygen bubbles come up and are immediately metabolised by your cells. Nitrogen bubbles have nowhere to go. And nitrogen bubbles that come up, start to block blood vessels and start to choke out arteries and capillaries. And that's where the bends comes in.
Now, let's say the chamber behind you is not deep enough, historically, that we're concerned about what nitrogen load you're gonna get. In some cases, I don't know if you use enriched oxygen or not. But if you're using, if you're using enriched oxygen, every percentage of oxygen you're getting is a percent less than nitrogen you’re getting. So in most hyperbaric environments, you're getting a very, very—in most diving, scuba diving, you're getting enormous amounts of nitrogen, right? And most hyperbaric environments, you're getting almost no nitrogen. And so we're not quite as concerned with that. I still talk about bubbles, because it is gas.
Lisa: it's coming out.
Jason: But oxygen is a safe gas for that to happen to
Lisa: when I get out of the hyperbaric should I be doing it slowly? Or is there a reason to release it slowly, as opposed to just opening it in letting it all out?
Jason: You still want I mean, just from a comfort standpoint, coming up at like from that depth usually three to five-
Lisa: 1.5 atmospheres, for example. So because we were I was interested in your research when I read Dr Nikola’s story with you article and you said it's the change. And it's the getting out that also has these effects. Because from my research, my understanding, it was all about the time that you were in the hyperbaric where you're hyper oxygenating the body and that's when all the results were coming. But then—
Jason: On the mitochondrial side. It's all that. But I think and again, the research is young yet on this, but when you're getting out and the oxygen is starting to come out of circulation to interact, the body actually thinks it's becoming hypoxic. It's not actual hypoxia it's just relative hypoxia compared to the amount of oxygen you were just getting inside. And that seems to be a chemical stimulant. That's the thing that actually drives the stem cell, drives the angiogenesis growth factors. It's from increasing the oxygen having it come out, increasing the oxygen and having it come out that cycle of hyperoxygenation back to normal creates a very similar hypoxic type signalling. That seems to be the biggest driver for all of it.
Lisa: So that’s new research isn't that because when I research this years ago that wasn't knowing or not knowing and discussed it.
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When you get out, sometimes I get a sort of a, like, I'm quite exhausted when I get out what's going on there like because my mind has been like, I'm getting more oxygen, I should go and train after the hyperbaric like I've got more oxygen, I can probably run faster and that's not wrong.
Jason: Usually so if we're working with athletes, we will do shorter sessions like 20-minute 30-minute sessions sometimes as like a little boost. Because the longer you are in there, and I wouldn't say it's–if you had to run even after an hour or longer, you'd be fine. But it's such a it's the sympathetic, parasympathetic, nervous. Hyperbaric seems to really increase parasympathetic tone.
Lisa:Oh, that's good.
Jason: So like when you're stressed out, or when your body is stressed from training really hard. And you heal when you're in your parasympathetic. So that's why we heal well.
Jason: Okay, so when your parasympathetics start to get driven, you feel very relaxed, slow down. Yeah. You know, not ready to not feeling like you're wanting to go run 26 miles through the desert.
Lisa: Because it's what I've always liked, and some people seem to have almost a detox response to it. And other people are energised and ready to rumble when they get out. And I do mind at the end of the day, because I do find that the next hour or so I'm like struggling a little bit with my blood pressure as well. Is that a thing? Or is that-
Jason: It’s a parasympathetic thing. I do most of my most people, if you're doing longer sessions, most people get very relaxed. And I think doing it in the evening is great because it usually sets people up for a great night. Other people there are I'd say it's definitely the minority, maybe 30% of people get stimulated. In which case obviously at night wouldn't be the time to use it, in the morning would be better but-
Lisa: And that may be in the shorter sessions. If they were doing shorter, like you said, if it's a longer it's more likely to have that parasympathetic drive take over it. Now let's go into some of the ailments that it helps with. So that we like cover off some of the what, obviously stroke and aneurysms, brain damage concussions. From the medical what's accepted, it's gangrene, embolisms, carbon monoxide poisoning, what else can be beneficial for?
Jason: What we try to do, especially when we're teaching this stuff is because the research is growing, but it's not as deep as it is in some of these other conditions. If we look at the research of all the things that are very well accepted, and then we start to understand why is it working in those areas, then it could make sense that we actually take that and apply it to something of similar pathology as an example. It works great for necrotising fasciitis and gangrene. These are anaerobic infections, and the high pressure and the high oxygen seems to number one: reduce the activity of the microbe. It might also help to kill the microbe or helps break down the biofilms that a lot of anaerobic organisms seem to like hide themselves under.
Lisa: Hide themselves under.
Jason: Or it helps to, there's a synergy between hyperbaric and antibiotics. So if you did end up on antibiotics there's a, hyperbaric helps improve the strength of the capacity of an antibiotic to do its work. So there's an entire category of let's say, killing infection from an aerobic-anaerobic type of mechanism. There are other anaerobic infections that might work great like lime or certain moulds or you know, C. diff, or H. Pylori, these are common infections that people have that theoretically for the same reason that it helps with certain conditions that should help.
Now gangrene or necrotising fasciitis. You're literally about to lose your limb or your life in a matter of days. And so we have to be very aggressive with the hyperbaric in order to get that to work now. H. Pylori, you're not going to die. C diff, you're probably not going to die. But you could certainly use this still as a tool to help recovery. There's an entire category of infection that way. There's also another category of infection from the body uses the reactive oxygen species that sort of appalling features. And the white blood cells get more energised to actually fight infection too. Not only is it helping to kill the anaerobic infections, but you know, your white blood cells use reactive oxygen species to kill infections, especially bacteria, but especially viruses too. So it's a viral component, there's a whole anti—let's say anti-microbial or bacterial component for that.
And then the angiogenesis, anywhere that there's inflammation anywhere where there's damaged, old injuries, new injuries, but that's the strokes the TBIs is all the most of the neuropathy is diabetic neuropathy is something we understand really well, the damage to the circulation leads to nerve damage. And ultimately, the nerves are starving for oxygen. So when we start dumping oxygen into the system, we can heal diabetic neuropathy. Well, I had a neuropathy, too. It was from a disc herniation. And it helped. My stepdad had MS, that's a neuropathy, totally different mechanisms in disease, but similar in that it helps, you know, rebuild membranes and myelin but it also helps to feed the nerves.
Lisa: So neurons, ALS, Have you seen any research, around neurone disease and ALS or MS?
Jason: There's very little research on that.
Lisa: Does it make sense?
Jason: We use it in the office and in other offices that we consult with. And, a lot of these are certain conditions like let's say post-stroke, or TBI. If there was a singular event that caused damage, and it's not a continuing process when you heal, you heal, and you get to keep the benefits. If it's an ongoing process, like an ALS or an MS, you have to be very aggressive typically with that. And then if you get some good changes, but now you have to maintain some amount in your system because the disease itself is continuing.
And so there's got to be some sort of maintenance, whether it's daily, or a few times a week, whatever, it's different for everybody. But the way we think about it that way is to say when there's trauma and you have to heal, it's a series of treatments, you get the benefits, and then you keep them. If it's an immune disease or neurodegenerative disease that has this capacity to keep going. We can make a big dent in that we can help people a lot. And then we probably need some amount of maintenance on a regular basis just to help keep it at bay.
Lisa: It makes a whole lot of sense because you've still got that disease process probably going on where it's degenerating. On the immune system front, so improving the immune system, helping the white blood cells so as we get older our immune systems you know, since tend to go awry, we often have people with autoimmune diseases. From the reactive oxygen species, this is always something that I've always struggled to get my head around like reactive oxygen species generally we think of these as bad things, ping pong balls going around stealing electrons and damaging the cell and the mitochondria and so on.
But there is a place for reactive oxygen species in certain situations, like when you find a cancer, for example, you want to be shooting down the wrong the bad stuff. So does hyperbaric cause oxidative stress because this is an oxidative medicine along with say things like intravenous vitamin C and UBI and ozone therapy, there's all part of the oxidative family of medicines. Can you explain that to me a little bit so that we can understand the relationship there of of what when is reactive oxygen species good or oxidative stress good versus when it's not good?
Jason: And that's a great question. And that's something that usually keeps coming up because it—for the last 20 years, we've talked about you know, we're all dying because of oxidative stress. And there are things that cause oxidative stress but they also seem to help us so really, we're missing something. And so I think a couple things one, like everything else that needs to be in balance that's number one. Number two is there is an entire there's a whole side of cell signalling that occurs from reactive oxygen species that help promote cell turnover or help in stimulating your body's own—we have we could take antioxidants like supplements or eat certain foods right but our body has its own intrinsic ability to deal with free radicals its own antioxidant system.
Superoxide dismutase is a big part of that. And so, here's what it seems to be. And actually, Dominic D'Agostino wrote a great paper, him and Angela Poff on some of the reactive oxygen species with regard to hyperbaric and some of the signalling. So definitely check that out or if you, if you want, I'll send you a link to that.
Lisa: I'll stick it in the show notes.
Jason: And yeah, but in that paper, especially, they talk about all the benefits of reactive oxygen species from a hormonal signalling standpoint, neurotransmitter signalling standpoint, cell regeneration and repair standpoint. We need, we need a little bit of damage in order to cause some healing. That's literally all about right. It's all about enough damage to stimulate, improve and change, but not so much so that it pushes you too far in the lungs. What seems to be is this when you're oxidised by your outside environment, you're smoking, you're drinking, you're sleeping on your Wi-Fi router or phone, or whatever, all the things in our environment that oxidise us, it can strip us of all of our antioxidants, for sure.
And that would cause—the consequences of oxidation are things like cell membrane breaking down, nuclear membrane breaking down, mitochondrial membrane, breaking down DNA, epigenetic damage. I mean it's real, it causes a lot of issues cellular. So when we're being oxidised from our outside environment, it just, it destroys ourselves, definitely true. And taking, you know, your body tries to defend and then we might add some antioxidants, whatever. The oxidation that comes from hyperbaric comes from the increase in mitochondrial performance. So as your cells are making energy, and they do it, a byproduct of that is a little bit of superoxide, is what it's called.
And so what seems to be is when your body is creating it, that is the stimulus to increase your own SOD and your own glutathione. So if you do it, just like exercise. You shouldn't run 26 miles, if you've never even ran a mile, you would build up to that, and you would cause stress, It will cause stress, heal and get stronger and be able to do that. So especially for people who are very oxidative, we fragile, let's say expose them to small amounts of hyperbaric build up their tolerance for it, get there. SOD and glutathione, systems up-regulate, expose them to a little bit more, get it more up-regulated, expose them to more and over time, not only will they tolerate hyperbaric, but they'll also start to be able to tolerate their environment better because they'll have a greater capacity internally to deal with the oxidation in their life in the outside world that they have less control.
Lisa: Wow, it makes so much sense to me now, like because it's always been this battle. And so Definitely dealing with mom with cancer in the last eight months, and doing the research of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in conjunction with a ketogenic diet and off label drug combinations and metabolic approach to cancer in its entirety. And but trying to understand the role, because with something like cancer, you don't put glutathione in the mix, because that can upregulate the things we don't want. So it's a very—it's almost turned for me everything on its head, because everything that I knew was healthy for me, as a person that hasn't got cancer or an issue with cancer, versus someone who has got cancer is very different. So different supplements in the mix different protocols in the mix. And then every cancer is different and you need, you know, personalised thing.
But there's a massive amount of research now around cancer and hyperbaric, which is really fantastic. And Dom's actually been at the sort of the cutting edge of that sort of research in conjunction with a ketogenic diet, which I have my mum personally on a regime of a very strict keto diet, exogenous ketones, offload with drug combinations, daily, hyperbaric intravenous vitamin C, ozone. In 12 weeks, we got rid of the— she was said to be terminal, we should be gone by Christmas last Christmas. Now we don't have any tumours she's looking bloody good. I want to touch a word because it can always change and the metabolism, cancer is a tricky beast, and it can always change. But that combo of things that seems to work for her. And so I'm very, very excited by this whole realm of research and so on.
Basically when someone is starting out and if they are fragile, if they're elderly, if they've got some major thing, you start off with a smaller dose, you work them right up to being able to deal that's what you do. Yeah. And obviously, everybody needs a personalised protocol made for them and their specific things. came actually people come to you as over teleconsults and things nowadays, if they are listening to this, and they're in New Zealand, or Australia or somewhere?
Jason: We work with clinics all over the world, we work with patients all over the world.
Lisa: Fantastic. Because you can often get access to a hyperbaric in your town, but you can't get access to Dr. Jason like, someone who has this degree of knowledge around all the nuances of developing a protocol, which would be hugely beneficial, I think, for people.
Jason: I mean, the tool is amazing. The application of the tool is where, I think it's, there are places or times where people just sort of whether it's hyperbaric or other things on, it's like, “Oh, it's interesting, I'm healthy, there's nothing I'm really working on. I just have some sense that this might be good for me. So I choose to periodically put it in part as part of my life.” Hyperbaric is not something that's likely to cause any problems for people. And it's generally very healthy and used in some amount is relatively is considered relatively safe. When you're dealing like what you're describing in terms of someone's got some pretty serious health concerns. And, you know, they're mixing and matching a lot of different therapies together. That's where our protocols start to become really, really critical. We're not over oxidising, or we're putting the right pieces at the right time. Or maybe they're doing some traditional therapies along with non-traditional therapy. That's the kind of stuff that's where the details become, I think.
Lisa: The devils in the detail and that's where you developing a protocol personally with someone like yourself would be would be super valuable. Not just chucking yourself at biohacker stars, which I do on myself. In your book, you talked a little bit about molecular hydrogen, this was something new to me. Can you explain why molecular hydrogen in combination with hyperbaric, what was going on there? What does that do?
Jason: So, the quick summary of that would be a couple of things. One is the molecular hydrogen is technically not an antioxidant, but it has antioxidant-like capacity, and it will tend to not over because you could just like you could be over oxidised, you could get too many antioxidants, You don't quelch the whole system, we were just talking about oxidation is important. So molecular hydrogen has a way to reduce excessive oxidation without completely putting out the whole fire, so to speak. And so, I like to use it in open times where we want to have some effect, but I don't really want to, I don't want to blanket the whole oxidative capacity of the chamber.
But also the whole—when you get back into—when we were talking about the engine, the combustion of the engine. The byproducts of combustion are carbon dioxide and water. And ultimately, so you take gasoline, you mix it with oxygen and makes power in the engine, and then out the exhaust should be carbon dioxide and water. But as we know, there's other chemicals like carbon monoxide that comes out of a car. That's because the engine doesn't burn everything completely so it's called incomplete combustion. Your body is the same way you're bringing in fuel, you're oxidising, that's making the power the energy, sometimes we get incomplete combustion in ourselves and that becomes superoxide. That's the free radical we were talking about earlier.
The efficiency of the mitochondria, how well the mitochondria can make energy, ATP will also help determine how much superoxide is released. And so oxygen plays a big role in that but at the end of the day, your cells waste products are also carbon dioxide and water. And so inside the mitochondria, you're going to actually take excessive oxygen and you're going to mix it with some excessive hydrogen. And that's going to help make more water so that you're not getting as much free radical production. So it helps to deal with some of that and hydrogen, long story that hydrogen is ultimately one of the main mechanisms for ATP production in itself. It helps to create more energy in the mitochondria especially mixed with oxygen and then it helps reduce I think, the free radical load by turning more of the free radical oxygen, the superoxide, into water so that it's a safer waste product to get out of your body.
Lisa: Gosh, okay, that's some deep science there. Yeah, I might listen to that two or three times before it but I'm—
Jason: I’m going to draw a picture for you.
Lisa: The superoxide dismutase and all of that sort of stuff I'm sort of getting but so that was a fascinating thing for me to learn as well. Can we just touch briefly on the C 19, the elephant in the room that's been with us and destroying our world for the last couple of years without getting, you know, political but and understanding that research is ongoing, and so on so forth, all the caveats that go along with when you talk about anything in relation to that. But are you seeing a benefit with hyperbaric and how can we think about the mechanism with which that could be functioning and working for people?
Jason: You sure you don't want to get political? In the early COVID days, there was a huge interest amongst like-minded, let's say, people in good positions in health care that I—we were out on phone calls with like Ireland and England and Scotland, and we put the US andwhere people were really trying to figure this out, right? What is this COVID? And why are people like what's with this oxygen saturation dropping? I'm 10 minutes from New York City, we had so many people going on ventilators, and at six, they ended up dying. And it and you hear all these stories about people that were they were breathing, it wasn't like, they couldn't breathe, but they were they couldn't get their saturations and oxygen saturations up. And the ventilator helps you breathe, not necessarily gas exchange. And that's not what we needed, we didn't need as much help on the breathing, we needed help with gas exchange. And that's a very different phenomenon than what we've seen with other diseases in our history.
And so people who do hyperbaric understood that, when you're in the chamber, it has no effect on your breathing, it doesn't help you breathe better, it doesn't impact your breathing negatively or positively. But the pressure gradient actually helps gas exchange. And so it seemed pretty obvious to people who were in the field that wait, all we need to do is get their saturations up, if we put them in chambers, we can we can get gas exchange to occur and that gas exchange should help these people. And there were different attempts in different places, a couple in the US, couple across the country, the world that I saw. And then, it just it seemed like it became about other things. And then ultimately, it also seemed like the intensity of the infection started to dwindle.
It wasn't as many people dying as quickly as it appeared in the beginning early days, like in New York and on the west coast in the US. And so that conversation just sort of like dwindled, as many things do. There were people definitely doing it and seeing a tremendous benefit. What I would say now is that it doesn't seem like in the acute phase, it's so necessary. What we are seeing is a tremendous amount of you know, post-COVID continuing to not have good saturations continuing to not ever get back into the being able to get up the stairs without breathing hard or some neurologic issues brain fog and tinnitus, hearing loss and other fallout from the infection and hyperbaric seems to also be helping—those to do
Lisa: Does this have to do with the biofilms and the certain colonies of viral particles still being within the body and camouflaged by that biofilm we were talking about earlier or I mean.
Jason: Viruses tend not to have that same issue the way like a lot of bacteria do. But viruses in general have to be quarantined in the body. Once every virus you've ever had you'll always have. They live sort of contained, so to speak, and as long as our immune system to kind of keep things, you know, in quarantine, that way we can typically live with these viruses in our body without actually expressing. For most people, the whole idea of this novel, novel coronavirus, it's this new type of infection. It's taken a lot longer for people's immune systems to really get that under control properly. There's a lot of reasons I'm sure why that's true, which we won't get into right now.
But there are some factors that use this in order to control that, and express itself but also seems like other infections like Epstein Barr or other dormant infections are starting to wake up again. Because, again, the immune system is so depleted. And so hyperbaric helps to refuel that immune system, get our immune system operating at a much higher level. And then you know, in many cases that helps to get the infections under control.
Lisa: A lot of these viruses are having long term effects that we think because we think of for the layperson, mostly, I think if I could speak for everybody on the planet, thinks of a virus as you have it you get shingles, you get Epstein Barr you you go through the process, and then it's gone. But actually it's in the body forever, as you mentioned. And I know with my mom's cancer, it's an EBV, Epstein Barr Virus cancer. And that was a bit of an eye-opener for me, it was like, “Oh, so you mean that those cold sores and stuff that I've had since I was a kid is actually possibly gonna lead to bad things down the line if I don't get on top of it?”
And if I don't stick, keep my immune system ramped up, and we're seeing actually in some of the research that's coming out of people who've had COVID, or we've even had the vaccinations, in some cases are getting shingles, and herpes viruses, reactivation, among other thousands of other things. But that these things can have a sort of a doubling up effect, if you look at the immune system is not at full power, which is not after you've had—
Jason: Most of— just being honest, right? Most people walking the planet, are not starting this process. If you're starting at 80%, or 75%, or 60%, and then your cat, and you have some of these historical viruses that a lot of people do, that's not such a big deal. And then all of a sudden, no, you get you sort of, you know, really hit hard with something brand new that completely wipes, whatever amount of immune system you have left, we're leaving the door open for these new expressions of old viruses, or these new expressions have other health issues that are have the capacity to now show up because what was protecting you, you know, the immune system is just so depleted. Rebuilding that, but I think hyperbaric certainly a big part of that. Yeah, there's
Lisa: a lot of strategies. And I'm really excited about things like peptides and all that sort of stuff as well. But so as a general rule, though, if you're thinking about hyperbaric does have the ability to perhaps in some cases, improve your immune system. And as you get older, of course, everybody's struggling with an immune system that's deteriorating over time and it's one of the reasons why we get a lot of these things and age as we get older, so it's a good longevity and anti ageing thing as well, isn't that so? They're wanting—
Jason: the study that came out like two years ago, they were looking at the immune system, and they were looking at senescence, which is improperly, basically all cells that are just not replicating and functioning normally but not dying either. And they cause a lot of chaos inside of our body. This study, they looked at senescence cells, and then they looked at telomeres, telomeres of your DNA that protect your DNA from oxidative stress. And in that study, they showed pretty significant decreases in immune system senescence. So it means waking up those old cells and make that organ and they, they, they measured about a 20% increase in telomere length. If you could wake up senescent cells and protect the DNA from oxidative stress amongst all the other things that we've talked about so far. I mean, yeah, from-
Lisa: and does it increase autophagy is it —
Jason: It basically it stimulates the cell in a way that says, either I need you functioning, normal, or get out of here. And we'll replace you with the stem cells that are upregulating from right. Now, when you start combining things like hyperbaric with other autophagy-related, now you're fasting and you're doing keto at you're in a five day fast, I don't know if you do that kind of stuff. But like, whatever it is, now you're driving autophagy now you're driving stem cells, and you mix other modalities that also drive autophagy and drive stem, so you can get a real-
Lisa: Super synergistic effect. And there's, I'm into all of that I haven't done a five day yet can't discipline myself that long, but there will be intermittent fasting,
Jason: We'll do that together.
Lisa: Oh, it's hard, it's hard. But this fasting and understanding, you know, upregulating autophagy and getting rid of senescence cells and some of the senolytics agents that are coming on the market now. In combination on I love the synergy effect that this will have. And this is why I'm so excite with the keto diet, diet and taking exogenous ketones, and in hopping in the hyperbaric and now I'm gonna probably add molecular hydrogen after I've done a bit more research into the mix and in depth, at least for myself, because I'm relentless sort of biohacker experimenter. Don't do this at home people.
But do your own research, this is not medical advice. But the synergy of all these things makes me excited for you know, the fact that we're going to be able to live decades longer with a bit of life of better health and healthspan. Not just lifespan, and, and if we can do this before major shit happens, that would be fantastic. Okay, so I'm very keen for people to, like, invest in a hyperbaric chamber. They're not cheap, but I'd rather have a hyperbaric chamber than a flash car. That's for me. Like if I'm deciding between, do I invest in something long term to have a hyperbaric at home, perhaps, or get access to one through a clinic, or have a nice car, I'd choose the hyperbaric any day because it's life-saving in some cases, and it's certainly life improving in most cases.
Dr. Jason, you've got a book out. Can you unmute? Have you got a copy? Do you want to show why this is audio and video. You don't have—
Jason: I’m sorry I'm not good at that stuff.
Lisa: The marketing side of it is an admission. What's the name of your book where people can find the book and—
Jason: Oxygen Under Pressure and it's on Amazon, you guys could order that way. We're writing actually, Joe and I are in the process of writing a book together. More of a textbook for people like actually practising hyperbaric medicine a little bit more, but, but it's gonna have a lot of great details and the protocols and all that kind of stuff that we use, are working on that. I do a lot of education. So even, we have HBOT USA is my main company. So we have a YouTube channel, also HBOT USA.
Lisa: Go an subscribe.
Jason: We’ve got 125 we're gonna put out another 100 videos in the next six months.
Someone's out there. Just, you know, it's hyperbaric good for this hyperbaric good for that. They're mostly somewhere between four and eight minutes long. And I'm just trying to like, answer the questions I get every day in short segments so that people could really learn a lot more about this tool and how it works. And just trying to dispel all the myths, all the things that have gotten in hyperbaric’s way from really becoming what we know that you and I know that it could be, you know, it's because people don't understand it properly. And so we're really working hard to try to eliminate as many of those myths and misconceptions so that ultimately people, can see through that and start to understand how to-
Lisa: Well, I'll be subscribing right now, because I didn't realise you have that as well. And so everyone, go and subscribe on the YouTube channel, start listening to Dr Joe Dituri and Dr Jason Sonners on this, hyperbaric, get the book, read it, visit your website, so hbotusa.com. HBOT meaning hyperbaric oxygen therapy for those who don't know, hbotusa.com. Is there anything that you'd like to add? Is there anything that's exciting new in the research currently, that's perhaps not fully baked yet, but that you're really excited about at the moment or anything else you want to —
Jason: I think the next big question. The overwhelming majority of research has been done at the higher pressures. But, I've been using lower pressure hyperbarics as long as I've been doing hyperbaric so, you know, we do what we've always done a mix. And clinically, people who use hyperbaric see benefits at all pressures at different times for different things. But we've never had great research comparing those. And so there is a study coming out from the University of Wisconsin in about a month or two. That was like a soft chamber study, specifically on stem cells testing, I can't reveal what it says yet, but it's pretty epic.
The research that I'm doing for my PhD right now is actually to compare soft chamber and hard chamber like lower pressures, and higher pressures, and we're looking at the cytokines, the inflammation, we're looking at the methylation, epigenetics, we're looking at telomere length. And so we're actually we're looking at cognitive function. So we're actually all of these pieces, and we're just doing, you know, lower pressure settings, higher pressure settings, putting people through to see, you know, which pressures cause which changes at what period of time, so we can really start to understand and get those protocols even more specific. So that's literally all that'll be in the next like six, eight months.
Lisa: Wow, that's massive, because the whole epigenetic expression that changes over time, and this is why people like go and they have one, like when I had a clinic, I've sold it now. But when our clinic has had, you know, people would come in and then have 1-2-3 sessions and go it’s not working and leave and I'm like, oh it takes a lot longer than that for the real juice of the results to come out. And understanding because with, we only have mild hyperbaric chambers, we need the research around the mild because most people are only going to get access to the mild, they're not going to get access to the hard ones. We can’t do three ATA, it's just not going to be doable for most people. So far more research around the lower, you know, 1.3, 1.5 atmospheres would be so beneficial.
And what you said about understanding the epigenetic changes. In your book just briefly before I let you go, you were talking about it some — because I'm into epigenetics in a big way — into general intergenerational toxicity. I was just like, wow, oh, that's, that's a new word for me, then you know that that whole understanding that what you do is going to affect the next generation and the next generation. So that's a whole nother that's probably another hour's conversation.
Jason: It's important because just because you love epigenetics, I want to talk about this real quick and sort of hyperbaric, we're not really. But we've always, especially with fertility, we've always focused on sort of the mom, right? Yeah, like what's going on with like egg quality, and all these different things. The cellular epigenetics gets wiped out twice in our life that gets wiped out, when, let's say for you, when your egg is first made, and then it'll get wiped out one more time when that egg gets fertilised. Well, and for men, it gets wiped out when the sperm is first produced, and then it gets wiped out again when the egg is fertilised. And what's interesting is, is that a woman's egg a woman is born with all the actual eggs. And in a lot of ways, the epigenome around that cell reflects what life was like when you were born.
A man, his epigenome, of sperm cells are created every 15 minutes every day