Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Candida: What Research Says?

Candida Albicans

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has gained attention as a potential treatment for Candida overgrowth. This article explores the research surrounding the use of HBOT in combating Candida and its effectiveness.

Stay tuned to discover what the research says about the relationship between hyperbaric oxygen therapy and Candida.

What is Candida?

Candida is a type of yeast that’s naturally present in the human body, particularly in the mouth, throat, and digestive tract. Under normal circumstances, it doesn’t cause any harm.

However, when the balance of bacteria in the body is disrupted or the immune system is weakened, Candida can overgrow and lead to infections, such as oral thrush or vaginal yeast infections.

How Candida Affects Humans?

Candida overgrowth can lead to several health problems, including:

  • Digestive issues: Candida is typically found in the intestines. When it overproduces, it can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to digestive issues.
  • Fatigue: Candidiasis is often accompanied by nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamin B6, essential fatty acids, and magnesium. These deficiencies can cause fatigue.
  • Joint pain: In some cases, an overgrowth of Candida can lead to joint pain
  • Oral thrush: Candidiasis that develops in the mouth or throat is called “thrush”. It can cause white, bumpy patches on the tongue, inner cheeks, gums, tonsils, or throat. The lesions can be painful and may bleed slightly when scraped.

How is Candida Usually Treated?

Typically, doctors prescribe antifungal medications to treat Candida infections. These medications work by targeting the fungus and inhibiting its growth.

The most commonly prescribed antifungal medication for Candida is fluconazole. It’s effective in treating both superficial and systemic Candida infections.

However, in some cases, antifungal medications may not be sufficient to clear the infection completely. This can occur when the Candida becomes resistant to the medication or when the infection is severe.

In such situations, doctors may consider combining different antifungal medications or using alternative treatment options like HBOT.

It’s important to note that the choice of treatment depends on various factors, including the severity of the infection, the patient’s overall health, and any underlying medical conditions.

How Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Treats Candida? How it works?

Recent studies have shown that hyperbaric oxygen treatment can effectively inhibit the growth of Candida infections by creating an oxygen-rich environment that’s unfavorable for the fungus to thrive. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy works by exposing the patient to increased atmospheric pressure inside a special chamber, allowing them to breathe in pure oxygen at higher concentrations.

The increased pressure helps dissolve more oxygen into the bloodstream, promoting oxygen delivery to tissues and cells throughout the body. This oxygen-rich environment is detrimental to the survival of Candida, as the fungus is anaerobic and thrives in low-oxygen conditions.

By providing high levels of oxygen, hyperbaric oxygen therapy creates an inhospitable environment for Candida, hindering its growth and promoting the body’s ability to fight off the infection.

Related: 5 Best Hard Shell Hyperbaric Chambers For Sale

What Research Says About HBOT and Candida?

Research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and Candida albicans has shown promising results. Several studies have investigated the combined effects of HBOT and antifungal agents on the growth of Candida albicans and have found that HBOT can enhance the effectiveness of these medications.

Let’s check what research says about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and Candida.

*Links open in a new windows and lead to the original studies.

1. Combined effects of hyperbaric oxygen and antifungal agents on the growth of Candida albicans

In a study published back in 1987, in the journal “Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine,” researchers investigated the impact of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) and antifungal agents on Candida albicans. They were curious about how changes in oxygen levels and pressure might affect the growth and survival of this fungus, which can cause infections in humans.

The researchers conducted experiments where they exposed Candida albicans to different levels of oxygen and pressure. They found that changes in pressure alone didn’t seem to have much of an effect on the fungus. However, they did discover something interesting when it came to oxygen levels.

At higher oxygen levels (specifically, at 900 mm Hg and 1800 mm Hg of oxygen), they noticed that the fungus’s growth was inhibited at 900 mm Hg, and it was actually killed at 1800 mm Hg. This suggests that high levels of oxygen can be harmful to Candida albicans.

To dig deeper, they also tested various antifungal medications like amphotericin B, nystatin, clotrimazole, miconazole, ketoconazole, and 5-fluorocytosine at different oxygen levels. They found that at 900 mm Hg of oxygen, most of these drugs worked as expected in inhibiting the fungus. However, ketoconazole didn’t work well at all at this oxygen level. This hinted that hyperbaric oxygen might somehow protect the fungus from the effects of ketoconazole.

When they increased the oxygen level to 1800 mm Hg and combined it with amphotericin B, they saw that the drug’s effectiveness increased. This means that higher oxygen levels enhanced the drug’s ability to inhibit and kill the fungus.

Related: 8 Best Soft Shell Hyperbaric Chamber For Sale

2. The Role Of Hyperbaric Therapy in The Growth Of Candida Albicans

In a study published in 2013 in the “Indonesian Journal of Tropical and Infectious Disease,” researchers looked into how Candida albicans, actually infects our bodies.

The goal of their research was to understand how Candida albicans manages to make us sick. They knew that this fungus can stick to our cells, change its shape from a round yeast form to a long, thread-like form called filaments, form layers of slime on surfaces (biofilms), and avoid our immune system.

To figure this out, they first focused on how well Candida albicans sticks to our cells, which is a crucial step in causing an infection. They found that when the fungus changes into its filament form, it becomes really good at getting through our protective layers and infecting our tissues. This shape shift is a key part of its infection strategy.

Now, here’s where hyperbaric oxygen comes into the picture.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves breathing in pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. The researchers wondered if exposing Candida albicans to high-pressure oxygen environments might affect its ability to cause infections.

Surprisingly, they discovered that the fungus had a hard time surviving and growing under the conditions of high-pressure oxygen that are safe for humans.

This suggested that hyperbaric oxygen therapy could potentially be used as a treatment to fight Candida albicans infections in people.

3. Hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of invasive fungal infections: a single-center experience

In another study published in the Israeli Medical Association Journal in 2007, researchers explored a potential treatment approach for deadly fungal infections caused by Mucorales or Aspergillus fungi. These infections are particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems.

To tackle these infections effectively, doctors typically use a combination of treatments. One of the treatments they investigated in this study was hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy.

Here’s what they did:

  1. They looked at the medical records of 14 patients who had these fungal infections over a 12-year period.
  2. Most of these patients had compromised immune systems either because of certain medications they were taking or because of their underlying medical conditions.
  3. As part of their treatment plan, 13 out of the 14 patients had surgery to remove infected tissue, and all of them were also receiving antifungal medications.
  4. They used hyperbaric oxygen therapy alongside these treatments. HBO involves patients breathing in pure oxygen in a pressurized chamber.
  5. The number of HBO sessions each patient received ranged from 1 to 44.

So, what did they find?

Out of the 14 patients, 7 survived the fungal infection, which is a positive outcome. Importantly, none of the patients experienced any complications or harm from the hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

In conclusion, the study suggested that hyperbaric oxygen therapy could be a valuable addition to the treatment of these severe fungal infections, especially in patients with weakened immune systems.

4. Efficacy of hyperbaric oxygen therapy in bacterial biofilm eradication

A newer study published in 2008, in the Journal of Wound Care, aimed to find out if hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) could help treat chronic wounds by targeting bacterial biofilms. Chronic wounds are stubborn wounds that are hard to heal and often require various treatments like cleaning out dead tissue, reducing pressure on the wound, and using antibiotics.

Here’s what they did:

  1. They first wanted to see if HBOT could kill bacterial biofilms. Biofilms are communities of bacteria that stick together and can be especially tough to eliminate.
  2. In the lab, they grew these bacterial biofilms and then exposed them to HBOT for different periods of time (30, 60, and 90 minutes). They then checked how many bacteria survived using a special technique called propidium monoazide-polymerase chain reaction (PMA-PCR).
  3. They also looked at real patients with chronic wounds. They compared how long it took for wounds to heal in patients who received HBOT as part of their treatment to those who didn’t.

What did they find?

In the lab, they noticed that HBOT did reduce the number of bacteria in the biofilms, but the effect was not massive.

In the real patients, those who got HBOT had wounds that healed a bit faster, by about a week, compared to those who didn’t receive HBOT.

Interestingly, they also noticed that in the chronic wounds of patients who got intermittent HBOT treatments, different types of bacteria (anaerobic bacteria) and fungi started to grow.

In conclusion, this study suggests that HBOT can help kill some bacteria in biofilms, and it might help chronic wounds heal a bit faster. However, it also revealed that the bacteria in these wounds can adapt to the treatment, and more research is needed to fully understand how HBOT works and its potential benefits for treating not only chronic wounds but other infections caused by bacterial biofilms as well.

Related: Top 7 Affordable Hyperbaric Chambers of 2023 Suitable for Home Use

5. Improving antibiotic treatment of bacterial biofilm by hyperbaric oxygen therapy: Not just hot air

In a review article by Danish researchers, published in the Medical Journal “Biofilm,” they focus on a big problem in modern medicine: infections caused by bacteria and fungi that form stubborn communities called biofilms. These biofilms are tough to treat with antibiotics.

The researchers wanted to find a new way to make antibiotics work better against these biofilms. They noticed that one reason these infections are hard to treat is because the bacteria inside the biofilms can go into a kind of hibernation where they become resistant to antibiotics.

They came up with a strategy to wake up these dormant bacteria by giving them more oxygen. They believed that if they could increase the oxygen levels, the bacteria would become vulnerable to antibiotics again.

In their review, they discuss the idea of using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to pump more oxygen into the infected area, which could make antibiotics more effective. They also look at whether this approach is safe for patients and if it might lead to antibiotic resistance.

In the end, they suggest that by increasing oxygen in the treatment of infections with biofilms, it could potentially help a lot of patients who struggle with these difficult-to-treat infections.

Related: 11 Best Hyperbaric Oxygen Chambers For Clinics, Hospitals and Wellness Centers

6. The Effect of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy to the Amount of Lymphocytes in Oral Candidiasis Immunosuppressed Model

In another article, this time published in 2018 in the medical journal “Denta,” researchers were interested in a common problem: oral candidiasis, which is an infection in the mouth caused by Candida albicans. This condition is more likely to happen when a person’s immune system is weakened.

Here’s what they wanted to find out:

  1. When our immune system detects the presence of Candida albicans, it activates immune cells called lymphocytes to fight off the infection.
  2. They wondered if giving hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) could help boost the immune response against this fungal infection in the mouth.

So, what did they do in their study?

They used rats for their experiments. They divided the rats into three groups:

  • K-: These were healthy rats.
  • K+: These rats had oral candidiasis, and their immune systems were intentionally weakened using a medication called dexamethasone.
  • P1: These rats also had oral candidiasis and were given hyperbaric oxygen therapy for five days along with the same immune-weakening medication as the K+ group.

The researchers then looked at the number of lymphocytes in each group to see if HBOT had any effect.

Their analysis showed that there was a significant difference in the number of lymphocytes among the groups. In simple terms, this means that the rats who received hyperbaric oxygen therapy (group P1) had a different and potentially stronger immune response compared to the rats with oral candidiasis but no HBOT (group K+).

In conclusion, the study suggests that hyperbaric oxygen therapy might help improve the immune response against oral candidiasis, especially in cases where the immune system is weakened.

7. Relapsing Vulvovaginal Candidiasis: Treatment with Oxygen Therapy and Hyaluronic Acid

Relapsing vulvovaginal candidiasis can be effectively treated with a combination of high concentration oxygen and hyaluronic acid, according to a recent study published in the Open Access Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences.

The study involved 45 women with relapsing candidiasis who received oxygen/hyaluronic acid therapy treatment once a week for five weeks. The effectiveness, tolerability, and side effects of the treatment were monitored remotely by physicians.

The results showed a significant reduction in symptoms, with the mean scores for pain and dryness decreasing from 2,660 and 2,622 to 1,311 and 0.77, respectively.

SymptomMean Score (at first visit)Mean Score (at last visit)

Vaginal pH and swab tests also confirmed the absence of candidiasis after the treatment.

In the follow-up, the percentage of patients with only one relapse decreased from 4.44% to 8.8% at three and six months, respectively.

The study concluded that the combined oxygen therapy with hyaluronic acid provided therapeutic benefits and a lower reinfection rate compared to historical data. The treatment was well-tolerated and had no adverse effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) works to treat infections by increasing the amount of oxygen in the body’s tissues. When a person receives HBOT, they breathe in 100% pure oxygen while inside a special chamber that is pressurized to two to three times the normal atmospheric pressure. This high-pressure environment allows the lungs to take in more oxygen than they would at normal pressure, and the increased oxygen is then carried throughout the body by the bloodstream.

The increased oxygen levels in the body have several beneficial effects that can help fight infections. First, oxygen is essential for the body’s immune system to function properly, and HBOT can help boost the immune system’s ability to fight off infections. Second, many bacteria and fungi that cause infections are anaerobic, meaning they cannot survive in high-oxygen environments. By exposing the body to high levels of oxygen, HBOT can help kill these anaerobic pathogens.

Additionally, HBOT can help promote healing of infected tissues by increasing blood flow and oxygen delivery to the affected area. This increased blood flow can also help deliver more white blood cells and other immune cells to the site of infection, further aiding in the body’s ability to fight off the infection.

Candida infections are typically not deadly in healthy individuals. However, in individuals with weakened immune systems, such as those with severe illnesses, undergoing chemotherapy, or taking immune-suppressing medications, Candida can become opportunistic and cause more serious infections. These infections can be severe and, in rare cases, life-threatening.

Candida infections are caused by a type of yeast called Candida, which naturally exists in and on the human body. These infections occur when there is an overgrowth of Candida, leading to various health issues. Here are common ways people can get Candida infections:

Weakened Immune System: People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or taking immune-suppressing medications, are more susceptible to Candida infections.

  • Antibiotic Use: Taking antibiotics can disrupt the balance of microorganisms in the body, allowing Candida to multiply and cause infections.
  • Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can create an environment where Candida thrives, increasing the risk of infections.
  • Poor Hygiene: Inadequate personal hygiene can contribute to Candida infections, particularly in warm and moist areas like the genitals.
  • Diet: A diet high in sugar and processed foods can promote Candida overgrowth.
  • Age: Infants and elderly individuals are more susceptible to certain types of Candida infections.
  • Medical Procedures: Invasive medical procedures or the use of catheters can introduce Candida into the body.

Killing Candida naturally can involve several strategies, but it’s important to note that the effectiveness of these methods may vary from person to person, and severe infections may require medical treatment. Here are some natural approaches to help manage Candida:

  1. Probiotics: Consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt or taking probiotic supplements can help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria, which can inhibit Candida growth.
  2. Dietary Changes: Adopting a low-sugar, low-carb diet can help starve Candida. Avoid sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol.
  3. Antifungal Foods: Incorporate antifungal foods into your diet, such as garlic, coconut oil, and oregano oil, as these have natural antifungal properties.
  4. Herbal Supplements: Some herbs, like berberine, grapefruit seed extract, and pau d’arco, have been suggested to have antifungal properties. Consult with a healthcare provider before using herbal supplements.
  5. Proper Hygiene: Maintaining good personal hygiene, especially in areas prone to Candida infections (e.g., genitals), can help prevent and manage infections.
  6. Stress Reduction: High stress levels can weaken the immune system and contribute to Candida overgrowth. Stress-reduction techniques, like meditation or yoga, can be helpful.
  7. Apple Cider Vinegar: Some people find relief by adding a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to their diet, as it may have antifungal properties.
  8. Tea Tree Oil: When diluted, tea tree oil can be applied topically to areas affected by Candida, such as skin or nails.
  9. Boric Acid: Used as a suppository, boric acid may be effective against vaginal yeast infections, but it should be used with caution and under medical guidance.
  10. Lifestyle Changes: Addressing underlying health issues, such as uncontrolled diabetes or immune system problems, can help prevent recurring Candida infections.


In summary, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) looks like it could be helpful in treating Candida infections. It seems to slow down the growth of Candida albicans.

While we still need more research to figure out the best ways to use HBOT for Candida infections, it could be a good addition to the treatments we have now.

This is especially important for cases where Candida is hard to treat with regular medications. As we learn more, HBOT might become an important tool for dealing with Candida and other stubborn fungal infections.

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