Exercise With Oxygen Therapy or Training (EWOT) is the practice of breathing supplemental oxygen while exercising. This simple, inexpensive therapy improves the body's uptake and utilization of oxygen which declines with stress and aging. It is beneficial for healthy individuals who seek to slow the effects of aging and can also be an important adjunct therapy for persons with chronic health conditions including Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Syndromes.
EWOT, which was originally called Multi-Step Oxygen Therapy was developed by the German physicist and researcher Dr. Manfred von Ardenne in the 1970's. Von Ardenne (1907-1997) was one of the most accomplished scientists of the twentieth century. He took out approximately 600 patents in fields including electron microscopy, medical technology, nuclear technology, plasma physics, and radio and television technology; and was awarded numerous honors and prizes for his work.
EWOT improves the delivery of oxygen, the most important substance in life to the body. This is accomplished by breathing higher levels of oxygen during exercise which creates greater pressure to drive extra oxygen into the pulmonary capillaries and diffuse it through the capillary walls to the tissues. EWOT increases the amount of oxygen in the blood plasma (the portion of the blood outside of the red and white cells) allowing extra oxygen to be absorbed by the cells. A conventional doctor may argue that one cannot increase the amount of oxygen in the blood. This is because the amount of oxygen in the red blood cells as measured by an oxygen saturation test under most circumstances is around 97%. However extensive research in Germany by Von Ardenne and others showed that breathing oxygen while exercising can increase the amount of oxygen carried by the red blood cells and the blood plasma and is effective in the rehabilitation of many health conditions.
Oxygen levels in the blood plasma can be determined by measuring blood oxygen levels in the arteries or veins but there is still a lot unknown about various problems with getting adequate oxygen into the tissues and cell mitochondria. Majid Ali, MD, a pathologist who has done extensive analysis of the blood using a high resolution microscope believes that chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia are caused by depletion of oxygen at the cellular level resulting from a failure of enzymatic functions responsible for the body's uptake and utilization of oxygen. The factors that cause a decline in a person's ability to transfer oxygen to the cells include poor breathing, physical and mental overstrain, trauma, lack of exercise, toxic exposure, intoxications, infections, operations, and aging. It is interesting that these are exactly the same stressors that cause Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Syndromes. For more on this read my post "What Causes Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia" fibrofriends.typepad.com/fibro_friends/2010/08/what-causes-chronic-fatigue-and-fibromyalgia-syndromes.html .
Vigorous exercise will temporarily decrease a person's blood oxygen as blood is sent to muscles to provide oxygen where it is needed. This is one of the reasons why persons with Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia feel worse after exercising. Just keeping a body on continual supplemental oxygen over and above what it is capable of adapting to will result in permanent damage to the lungs. There is however a therapeutic window of oxygen supplementation in the range of 15-60 minutes a day which when accompanied by exercise and/or deep breathing is beneficial for healthy functioning. Due to the development of affordable home high flow oxygen generators or concentrators, EWOT is a therapy that is now available to most people. Oxygen generators utilize a process called pressure swing arm absorption which pulls air into the machine by means of a compressor, forces it through cylinders that contain zeolite, a mineral that absorbs nitrogen, and then into a tank that is fed to an outlet nozzle. The machines include a water bottle that moisturizes the oxygen before it is carried via a hose and a cannula that attaches to the nostrils. A refurbished oxygen concentrator/generator can be purchased form the Optimal Breathing Store at www.breathing.com/o2e2.htm .
The benefits of EWOT were brought to my attention by a chiropractor who uses it in the treatment of fibromyalgia patients and also by Mike White, the "Optimal Breathing Coach". I had personally experienced the importance of improving breathing through Oral Systemic Balance in my own recovery. My health improved with OSB and other modalities but I still felt that I was functioning at a less than optimal level. Perhaps this was due to an impaired ability of my cells to absorb oxygen resulting from the down regulation of enzymatic functions that occurs in persons with CFS and FMS. In other words even though I had an adequate air supply, the oxygen was not necessarily getting to my cells. I was willing to give EWOT a try and purchased a refurbished oxygen generator and accessories for around $500 from Mike White's Optimal Breathing Store this past summer. I started using the oxygen generator first with breathing exercises once or twice a day for 15-30 minutes. Then I gradually added simple yoga exercises, jumping on a Rebounder trampoline and using a stationery bike. I have to be careful with these activities as my muscles still have the tendency to over work or contract, which occurs in persons who have fibromyalgia. I bought a pulse oximeter to measure my oxygen blood levels. At first mild exercise caused a dip in my oxygen levels of several points after which I would lie down and rest while still breathing the oxygen. After doing EWOT for one month I am now able to exercise while keeping my oxygen levels at 99%, which is the desired goal. Overall I think that EWOT is moving me to the next level in my recovery and I plan to continue using it. Also just breathing some extra oxygen helps me recover more quickly when my body is stressed and over tired. I am convinced that improving the body's ability to access and utilize oxygen is critical in the treatment of both chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and I think that EWOT represents an important modality in the reversal of these syndromes.
Here's a picture of me doing EWOT using my oxygen generator and exercise trampoline.