neurological conditions treated by HBOT

Treating Migraines with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Migraines are no longer considered a vascular condition, but are now understood to be a neurological disorder that has been defined as a “disorder of sensory processing,” by Goadsby et al, within our brain. Although we often feel throbbing pain in our blood vessels as part of a migraine, but rather the neurological signaling that is misinterpreting our vascular constrictions/dilation is the source of the pain, specifically due to abnormal signaling within the trigeminal nerve that resides in our brain stem. This causes a cascade of effects such as abnormal reactions in our brain that create sensitivity to light (photophobia), sensitivity to sound (phonophobia), cortical spreading depression, headache pain, and then the “migraine hangover” (post-dromal phase). Patients may be misdiagnosed as having sinus related causes of head pressure when in fact, it is due to the trigeminal nerve dysfunction.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may be helpful due to its ability to improve brain tissue function by:

  • providing abundant levels of plasma-rich oxygen to our brain tissue for healing
  • reducing neuro-inflammation throughout our brain and body
  • stimulating release of growth factors such as trophic factor to enhance neuroplasticity for the repair and regeneration of brain cells and their connections (synapses)
  • stimulating growth of new blood vessels to supply the brain with greater circulation and oxygen to promote brain repair and regeneration by releasing greater amounts of vascular endothelial growth factor
  • balancing our fight or flight and relaxation and digestion systems by strengthening the health of our autonomic nervous system, which impacts blood flow within our brain that may lead to cardiovascular changes, dizziness, headaches, slow processing, memory changes, temperature changes, easily stressed or overwhelmed, and many other symptoms
  • increasing stem cell production for healing
  • improving detoxification
  • enhancing cerebrospinal fluid flow


The World Health Organization ranks migraines as the most disabling, debilitating neurological disorder when taking into account its length of disruption over the lifetime of the individuals who experience them. The burden on individuals and society is enormous. As we discover more about migraines it becomes more evidently clear that treating the brain and restoring proper neurological connections through neuroplasticity is more impactful to the source of migraines. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is an incredibly powerful took when treating the neurological disorders related to the brain. This new approach to migraine care is allowing many individuals to regain a healthier, more comfortable lifestyle where they experience fewer migraines, less severe when they do occur, and more controllable through medications once we can reduce the payload of dysfunction on the brain. Other treatments such as through functional neurology, chiropractic care, physical therapy, naturopathy, pharmaceuticals, massage therapy, and acupuncture should be considered. It is our contention, among many other hyperbaric practitioners that combining hyperbaric oxygen therapy with other treatments often yields better results among individuals who suffer with migraines.


What common symptoms may be improved through hyperbaric oxygen therapy?

Migraines can cause a wide range of symptoms, but common symptoms include:

  • pain at the base of the skull
  • pain around one or both eyes
  • pain in the forehead or temple region
  • pain that starts in the neck or base of skull and wraps around to the front of the head
  • pain in the upper back
  • aura
  • alterations in sleep, hunger, thirst, mood, and emotions prior to headache phase
  • worse around menstrual cycle
  • head pressure
  • brain fog
  • dizziness
  • light-headedness
  • vertigo
  • vision changes
  • imbalance
  • focus deficits
  • concentration issues
  • mood and emotional changes


How can hyperbaric oxygen therapy help with Migraines?

Through improving brain function by providing abundant oxygen levels within our plasm, releasing growth hormones, lowering inflammation of the trigeminovascular system, and balancing our autonomic nervous system, we can improve proper signaling along the brain stem that will hopefully reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines. Co-treatment with other providers is highly recommended when receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy as it has been shown to improve outcomes.


Other benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is a quickly evolving science and the full benefits are continually being discovered. HBOT increases the amount of oxygen in our bloodstream and increases circulation to deliver abundant amounts of oxygen to the brain, supersaturating our tissue with energy needed for healing, growth, and repair. This creates a healthier environment for our brain to work and control our autonomic nervous system. Because of this, the benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be found in all parts of the body and in a wide range of ways. Some benefits can include:

  • Faster healing from trauma
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Increased stem cell release
  • Improved brain health
  • Detoxification
  • Improved autonomic nervous system function
  • …and many more

Learn more about the many benefits of HBOT and how it works.

Supporting Research

  • According to recent studies, the current understanding of the pathophysiology behind migraines with aura combined with the increasing evidence supporting the anti-inflammatory and anti-vasodilatory effects of HBO, suggests that our patients’ relief could be related to HBOT decreasing the inflammatory response that leads to the activation of the trigeminovascular pathway.
  • A study by Myers et al. demonstrated a significant reduction (P < 0.05) in migraine relief in patients undergoing HBOT versus those who underwent normobaric oxygen therapy.
  • Wilson et al. showed a significant decrease in subjective pain in those who underwent HBOT versus the control group of females with migraine with aura.
  • Other studies by Eftedal et al. showed insignificant prophylactic measures against migraines with the use of HBO.
  • Bennet and his team showed that three of the trials they conducted showed that hyperbaric therapy was six times more likely to relieve migraine pain than a sham treatment and was effective within 40 to 45 minutes.
  • ‘We report a 23-year-old female with an 11-year history of migraines with aura who has received inadequate pharmacological treatment for her migraines since she began having them. Migraines have led her to significant loss of function. The patient underwent treatment at 1.5 absolute atmospheres in a hyperbaric chamber Monday through Friday for 1 hour each day for a total of 40 sessions but reported missing a few sessions over the 8-week period. No more than 1 session during a given week was missed and the patient received no other treatments for her migraines throughout this time period. By her 24thtreatment, the patient had only experienced a single migraine with aura but without debilitating pain. The patient stated she had never had a migraine with such little intensity prior to initiation of hyperbaric treatment and did not have to take any days off from work or school. Follow-up at the end of her 40-day treatment period revealed a highly-satisfied patient who had only experienced the single episode of a mild migraine during the entire course of treatment.’ (1)
  • HBOT remains among the safest therapies used today.


  1. Matera DV, Smith B, Lam B. Revisiting the expanded use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for treatment of resistant migraines. Med Gas Res. 2019 Oct-Dec;9(4):238-240. doi: 10.4103/2045-9912.273963. PMID: 31898611; PMCID: PMC7802418.
  2. Myers DE, Myers RA. A preliminary report on hyperbaric oxygen in the relief of migraine headache. Headache. 1995;35:197–199.
  3. Wilson JR, Foresman BH, Gamber RG, Wright T. Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of migraine with aura. Headache. 1998;38:112–115.
  4. Bennett MH, French C, Schnabel A, Wasiak J, Kranke P, Weibel S. Normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for the treatment and prevention of migraine and cluster headache. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015:CD005219.
  5. Heyboer M 3rd, Sharma D, Santiago W, McCulloch N. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Side Effects Defined and Quantified. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2017 Jun 1;6(6):210-224. doi: 10.1089/wound.2016.0718. PMID: 28616361; PMCID: PMC5467109.

Contact Us

Ready to discuss how hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help you heal, rebuild and restore health?

Contact Us
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Inside the Chamber

Contact Us

Ready to discuss how hyperbaric oxygen therapy can help you heal, rebuild and restore health?

Contact Us