This article will review the current, widely available methods of oxygen therapy in the market (notably hyperbaric oxygen therapy, 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 therapy that are widely available. We will review their shortfalls below.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
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 .
Additionally, concerns about HBOT have been raised regarding their fire safety as these pressurized oxygen rich chambers have been known to catch on fire or even explode causing death of the occupants and those nearby. These risks have led the National Fire Protection Association to classify HBOT chambers as potential fire hazards .
On an efficacious level, HBOT has been shown to have several disadvantages as compared to micro/nanobubble therapy. Studies have found that oxygen that was topically dissolved as micro/nanobubbles penetrated the skin faster and deeper than oxygen delivered via gas. The authors posit that the reasons behind this were because in order for gaseous oxygen to be transferred and used by the body, it must change phases, and usually the body resists elements crossing phase boundaries within it .
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.
The idea of skin being an absorber of oxygen is nothing new. Roe et. al. also examines the fact that oxygen and carbon dioxide in preterm infants is 5-6 times higher than that of adults , showing that our skin is built to absorb oxygen from a young age when our lungs are not fully developed. Moreover, adult skin consumes as much as 5 mL/min, and the researchers believe that topical dissolved oxygen devices can meet nearly the full physiological oxygen requirements of the skin.
Additionally, they found that oxygen absorbed via the skin was not capable of being used immediately by the body. The oxygen in micro/nanobubbles, in contrast, was available immediately upon absorption through the skin for biological uses . As we will soon see however, microbubbles and nanobubbles are far from the same, from a therapeutic perspective.
HBOT also takes a long time (several hours per week for any sort of results), and is more expensive relative to micro/nanobubble technology because of the infrastructure needed to facilitate 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.
Having larger microbubbles decreases the amount of oxygen a given volume of water can hold, whereas 500X smaller nanobubbles allow us to fill the same volume with significantly more oxygen. This concept is similar to filling a bottle with pebbles as opposed to sand. The sand, similar to the nanobubbles, allows for a much greater density in the same volume of space.
Because of their large size, microbubbles possess large buoyant (upward) forces out of the water. Consequently, microbubbles are unable to stay in water for long periods of time, and tend to escape water after just a few days, compared to nanobubbles, which stay in water for several months.
These two advantages essentially mean that we can fit more nanobubbles in water than microbubbles, and that they’ll stay in the water for long periods of time.
Nanobubbles are one aspect of our oxygen therapy 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).
We at oval.bio have developed a triumvirate total body oxygen saturation therapy that uses nanobubbles delivered through the digestive system, and transcutaneously in conjunction with high purity oxygen that is breathed in through a mask, to deliver more oxygen to the user than anyone has ever done before.