How Oxygen Helps Your Brain

The brain is the most important organ in the body, functioning as the control center of every process in the human body. In order to power a healthy brain there must be a constant supply of blood.

how oxygen helps the brainThis blood transports necessary nutrients and gases for energy production as well as growth and repair. One of the most vital necessities of the brain is oxygen. Due to its activity, the brain requires three times more oxygen than the muscles; if there is not enough oxygen in the blood, the brain will begin to shut down.

Read this to find out more about nutrients and how nutrients help with brain functions.

If blood flow cannot be increased, symptoms of cerebral hypoxia will begin to appear. This can cause difficulties with complex learning tasks and reduced short-term memory. If oxygen deprivation continues beyond this, cognitive disturbances and decreased motor control will result. The skin may appear bluish and heart rate increases.

If proper oxygen is not supplied soon after this point, the affected person may suffer fainting, long-term loss of consciousness, seizures, and will eventually go into a coma.

Of course, certain acute and chronic diseases and conditions such as pneumonia and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) can affect the transfer of oxygen into the blood.

To combat this problem, doctors can decide to perform oxygen therapy which can help decrease shortness of breath and fatigue, improve sleep in those with sleep-related breathing disorders, or increase the lifespan of some people who have COPD.

The therapeutic use of oxygen has been administered in hospitals for over 150 years, both as therapy treatment and, most commonly, by increasing the amount of oxygen delivered in inhaled air.

Advocates of oxygen therapy believe the extra oxygen can increase the body’s ability to destroy disease-causing cells. There are a few different kinds of oxygen therapy.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy involves the use of pressurized oxygen gas inside a sealed chamber which helps oxygen to access cellular tissues it could otherwise not reach. It is used in many life-threatening situations such as severe poisoning by cyanide or carbon monoxide.

It is also used by Hazmat professionals after handling toxic spills, burn victims and decompression sickness (or the “bends”). It is, however, the last line of defense in wound care centers due to it being a bit of a fire hazard and expensive. The average US hospital charges $1800 for 90 minutes of hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Oxygen is considered a medicine and must be prescribed. A doctor will write a prescription for when and how often the patient must wear their oxygen depending, of course, on which type of equipment is best suited to the patient’s lifestyle.

Depending on the reason that oxygen was prescribed, it may not be necessary for the patient to use supplemental oxygen for the rest of their lives.

Luckily, there is no such thing as becoming dependent on or addicted to supplemental oxygen. It can cause a few mild side effects, however, such as confusion or increased sleepiness due to the amount of oxygen received being too high.

Oxygen settings of four liters per minute or more can cause dryness leading to nosebleeds. This can be prevented by using ointments or by attaching a humidifier to the oxygen equipment.

Since oxygen therapy is so expensive and most often useful for diseases that aren’t covered by insurance, there are do-it-yourself ways to restore oxygen balance. First, increasing the amount of alkaline in your diet.

This means eating more vegetables such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, parsley and collard greens. Second, drinking enough water. Without adequate water, all bodily functions are diminished, including cellular respiration and the removal of toxins and metabolic wastes.


Third, proper breathing. Healthy breathing is slow, from the diaphragm, through the nose, and is quiet and light. Quick, gasping breaths, like you might have after running for a while, do not increase oxygenation. Fourth, actually taking up running, walking, hiking or bicycling will help.

From the standpoint of health and body oxygenation, you would be better off walking for fifteen minutes a day rather than spending an hour or more in the gym two to three times per week. Whatever you do, don’t take your brain or the importance of oxygen for granted.

About the author

Alex McManus