There Could Be a New Drug-Free Treatment for Alzheimer’s Soon, According to Study

Updated: Jan. 08, 2018

Could something as simple as concentrated oxygen help ease the symptoms and slow the progress of Alzheimer's?

Close up picture of elderly hands with young caretaker's handsOcskay Mark/ShutterstockAlzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases. There’s not a lot you can do to prevent it or treat it, though eating this could increase your risk. Now, a promising new study from Tel Aviv University suggests that hyperbaric oxygen treatments may improve symptoms experienced by patients with Alzheimer’s.

What is hyperbaric oxygen treatments?

Used for conditions as varied as autism, lupus, and sports injuries, the therapy involves breathing in pure oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber in which air pressure is increased to twice that of normal air. According to the study researchers, “the added oxygen stimulates the release of growth factors and stem cells, which themselves promote healing.”

For the study, scientists built a custom-made hyperbaric oxygen chamber for mice bred to develop Alzheimer’s. Over the course of 14 days, the researchers gave the mice hyperbaric oxygen treatment for an hour each day. At the end of the two weeks, the analysis of the mice suggested that the treatment had alleviated some of the damage and symptoms of Alzheimer’s compared to mice who didn’t get the treatment. The treated mice had 40 percent less of the brain plaque associated with the disease; inflammation in the brain had dropped by a similar percentage.

Although the study was performed on mice, the treatment shows promise for human application. Lead researcher, Uri Ashery, PhD, of Tel Aviv University’s Sagol School of Neuroscience and the Faculty of Life Sciences, told that, “We have now shown for the first time that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can actually improve the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and correct behavioral deficits associated with the disease.”

Testing in humans is next, say the researchers. In the meantime, bear in mind the everyday habits that reduce the risk of dementia.