This article will review the current, widely available methods of oxygen therapy in the market (notably hyperbaric oxygen therapies, microbubbles, and nanobubbles) and oval.bio’s triumvirate approach to oxygen therapy. Specifically, it will compare their safety, efficacy, cost and time of care, among other important variables.
There are several commercially available methods for oxygen therapies that are widely available. We will review their shortfalls below.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapies
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) utilizes a pressurized chamber in which a user lays in. The chamber is pressurized in such a way that the air that they breathe in has a very high concentration of oxygen. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is one of the more studied forms of oxygen therapy as it has been for many decades.
The use of HBOT has not been without sharp criticism over its risks and shortcomings, however. Many in the scientific community characterize HBOT’s methods as not only expensive, but also as generic and untargeted, which could lead to serious side effects .
These side effects, most commonly, include barotrauma of the ear, sinus damage, vision loss, and lung seizures .
Moreover, concerns have been raised about the fire safety of HBOT, as these pressurized, oxygen-rich chambers have been known to catch fire or even explode, causing harm to occupants and those in proximity. These risks have led the National Fire Protection Association to classify HBOT chambers as potential fire hazards .
From an efficacious standpoint, micro/nanobubble therapy outperforms HBOT in several aspects. Studies indicate that topically dissolved oxygen, in the form of micro/nanobubbles, penetrates the skin more rapidly and deeply than oxygen delivered in gas form. The authors suggest that this superiority stems from the fact that, for gaseous oxygen to be transferred and utilized by the body, it must undergo phase changes, and the body typically resists elements crossing phase boundaries within it .
Deeper Oxygen Penetration with Nanobubbles: Breaking the 700 μm Barrier
The dissolved oxygen delivered through the body went greater than 700 μm through the skin. Since microcirculation of blood occurs through plexuses (small blood vessels) as close as 400-500 μm from the skin’s surface , we know that this simple topically applied dissolved oxygen can penetrate the circulatory system, whereas gaseous oxygen through methods such as HBOT cannot. In fact, because of the effectiveness and size of our nanobubbles, we believe that oxygen applied through our triumvirate method can penetrate significantly deeper than 700 μm.
The table  below shows how much deeper dissolved oxygen in liquid form can penetrate than gaseous oxygen. The first two rows (closed-cell foam and alginate catalyst) are liquid forms of dissolved oxygen, similar to bubbles, which penetrate the skin much deeper and consequently, are able to easily reach the bloodstream.
Skin as a Vital Oxygen Absorber: Insights from Roe et al.
The skin’s well-established capacity for oxygen absorption is highlighted by Roe et al. They emphasize that oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in preterm infants are 5-6 times higher than in adults, underscoring the skin’s role in oxygen absorption from a young age when the lungs are not fully developed . Adult skin consumes up to 5 mL/min, suggesting that topical dissolved oxygen devices could potentially fulfill most of the skin’s physiological oxygen requirements.
The research also indicates that oxygen absorbed through the skin is not immediately available for biological use. In contrast, oxygen in micro/nanobubbles is promptly accessible for biological purposes upon skin absorption . However, microbubbles and nanobubbles differ significantly from a therapeutic standpoint, as we will explore shortly.
It’s worth noting that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) is time-consuming (requiring several hours per week for noticeable results) and more expensive than micro/nanobubble technology due to the infrastructure needed for HBOT.
Microbubbles are microscopic bubbles that have diameters in the range of 1 micrometer to 1,000 micrometers– or several orders of magnitude higher than a nanobubble. While microbubbles avoid many of the risks and costs associated with HBOT, they come with several inherent flaws in regards to their efficacy, especially when compared to nanobubbles.
Optimizing Oxygen Absorption: Nanobubbles vs. Microbubbles
Larger microbubbles decrease a given volume of water’s oxygen capacity, while 500X smaller nanobubbles significantly increase oxygen saturation in the same volume. This concept parallels filling a bottle with pebbles versus sand, where sand, akin to nanobubbles, allows for greater density in the same space.
Due to their large size, microbubbles experience strong upward forces out of the water. Consequently, they cannot remain in water for extended periods and tend to escape after a few days. In contrast, nanobubbles persist in water for several months.
These advantages signify that we can incorporate more nanobubbles into water than microbubbles, ensuring prolonged efficacy in water.
Nanobubbles are one aspect of our oxygen therapies treatment. They have the greatest efficacy of the therapies mentioned so far, and they can also avoid many of the pitfalls of HBOT (time, cost, risks).
At oval.bio, we’ve pioneered a total body oxygen saturation therapy using nanobubbles delivered through the digestive system and transcutaneously, along with high-purity oxygen breathed in through a mask. This approach delivers more oxygen to the user than ever achieved before.