Relieving the pain of cluster or migraine using oxygen is not a new idea. But there are various kinds of oxygen therapy, and we need a better understanding of just how well it works, what type of therapy works best, and whether or not this may be a practical treatment.
Michael Bennett and his team set out to review the studies that have been done on two different types of oxygen therapy. They discovered that there may indeed be some benefits.
The two types of therapy we’re talking about are hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and normobaric oxygen therapy (NBOT). The latter involves breathing pure oxygen at normal pressure, and the former ("hyper") breathing pure oxygen at a higher pressure. HBOT therapy requires putting the patient in a specially designed chamber.
So the researchers pulled together 9 small studies that included a total of 201 people.
The reviewers didn’t find the evidence very strong, but there does seem to be some evidence that HBOT may help people with migraine and possibly cluster during the attack, and NBOT may help people with cluster. From these studies there isn’t any evidence of relief from future attacks.
In the end, Bennett says,"We believe that hyperbaric oxygen is also a reasonable measure for migraineurs who have not responded to other measures to treat an acute attack. However, the poor availability of hyperbaric chambers makes this an option only in a minority of health facilities."
So at this point it’s the practicality that’s the problem. Most of us don’t have a HBOT chamber around the corner that we can hop into when we start into a migraine attack.
You can read the details in the official review: Normobaric and hyperbaric oxygen therapy for migraine and cluster headache
Have you ever tried any kind of oxygen therapy? How did it work for you? Leave a comment!