A growing number of studies are focusing on the mitochondria and its relationship to many disorders The possibility exists that some autistic symptoms may occur if these organelles are dysfunctional or fewer in number than the number found in children without autism.
HBOT may have the potential to activate dysfunctional mitochondria and/or to activate "dormant/idling cells" thereby allowing more "mitochondrial product" to be appreciated by the body.
Recent studies have demonstrated that children with autism frequently have neuro-inflammatory and gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions occurring.
A recent study documented impaired production and abnormal ratios of porphyrins in children with autism.
Because porphyrin is involved in the production of functional heme/hemoglobin, and because this appears to be disordered in autism, the impaired delivery of oxygen to cells will be improved when HBOT bypasses hemoglobin-dependent oxygenation.
The small amount of increased oxygen that is needed by the cells to improve their function does not necessarily require new blood vessel formation to be accomplished because with HBOT free oxygen molecules are dissolved directly into the cerebrospinal fluid Therefore these cells are no longer dependent on increased oxygen delivery from increased blood vessel formation that secondarily delivers a greater oxygen load because it carries more hemoglobin.
At times it may actually be the sudden removal of higher than normal oxygen concentrations that the body has adapted to rather than the higher levels of oxygen itself that may stimulate angioneogenesis There are reports that the new vessel formation in the retinas of premature infants who were on high doses of oxygen was stimulated by the rapid removal of oxygen and not from the oxygen itself.
Children with autism have difficulty handling viral infections, most likely due to immune dysfunction.
It has been postulated many times that children with autism have a chronic low grade viral gastroenteritis and viral encephalitits. I speculate that one of the primary reasons HBOT works so well for so many children whose abnormal stools improve once they start HBOT is because the chronic, low-grade, smoldering live viral load harbored in the intestinal mucosa (Wakefield/Krigsman hypothesis) does poorly when surrounded by higher oxygen concentrations.
Children with autism have been shown to have increased oxidative stress and less reduced (active) glutathione HBOT, especially when using pressures less than 2.0 atmospheres, can up-regulate these antioxidant enzymes and afford antioxidant protection against oxidative stress.
Mitochondria are the energy producing organelles of the body.
Efrain Olszewer has pre- and post-angiograms documenting collateral circulation beginning as early as ten to twenty hours after initiating hyperbaric therapy for cerebral vascular disease and peripheral arteriosclerosis at pressures lower than 1.3 ATA It is known that one of the problems children with autism have is decreased blood flow to the brain (cerebral hypoperfusion).
Therefore is has been speculated that angioneogenesis is the way that HBOT helps autism However, though angioneogenesis may be one mechanism by which children with autism are helped by HBOT, angioneogenesis may not be the primary mechanism by which HBOT works The amount of cerebral hypoperfusion in autistics compared to controls is about 8%, so a small increase in oxygen delivery may be all that is needed to overcome this deficit and show clinical benefit.
Many children with autism have increased amounts of abnormal bacteria and yeast in their gastrointestinal tracts These same children have shown clinical improvements when this overgrowth phenomenon is treated with antibiotics, either by natural agents or pharmaceuticals.