Multiple Sclerosis

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Approval Status

No Clearance by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

No Approval by the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society (UHMS)

! Read the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) position paper on off-label hyperbaric treatment:
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Don't Be Misled, published 22 August 2013.

About Clearance and Approval


Definition and Causes

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an incurable disease of the central nervous system. “Sclerosis” refers to scarring of the white matter of the brain and spinal cord. MS usually strikes young adults and in time can render a person unable to write, speak, and walk. Some 400,000 Americans live with MS, and 200 more are diagnosed every week. About 80% of people with MS experience cycles of remission and relapse.

In multiple sclerosis the body’s own immune system attacks the lines of communication between nerve cells. But scientists don’t know the root cause of this mechanism. Research today focuses on infections, genetics, and environmental risks.

Evidence Index

FDA cleared, widely reimbursed
Strong body of evidence
Repeatedly favorable results
Early or mixed results
Unfavorable or no evidence
Strong evidence against HBOT

Treatment with Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

Use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) to treat multiple sclerosis patients aims to relieve symptoms and to prevent attacks and disabilities. Some clinicians use HBOT off-label to manage the side effects of drugs prescribed for MS and claim hyperbaric oxygen also reduces pain, modulates the immune system, increases energy, alleviates sleep dysfunction, and reduces cognitive impairment in patients with MS.

Evidence in the medical literature does not support claims supporting the use of HBOT in treating multiple sclerosis. A 2010 systematic review of published results from the most significant studies conducted up to that time concluded there is “…no clinically significant benefit from the administration of HBO(2)T.” [ CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 2010 ] Since that time there have been no published studies of HBOT treatment of multiple sclerosis and, as of mid-2015, none are planned despite multiple sclerosis being a very active area of medical research with hundreds of studes currently underway.

HyperbaricLink Commentary

Early research may have raised false hopes for sufferers of this disease and their caregivers. In some cases these hopes were undoubtedly strengthened by practitioners making overly optimistic claims about the benefits of HBOT in treating neurologic conditions.

Unfortunately, while the evidence may indicate some patients experience temporary palliative relief that could be associated with an analgesic effect of HBOT, there is no lasting benefit of any kind when using HBOT to treat multiple sclerosis. Because HBOT is costly and can produce side-effects and complications, patients should consider those risks when considering a treatment intended to provide temporary relief from pain and other symptoms.

Those seeking treatment for multiple sclerosis should beware of practitioners making bold claims for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Advertising a specific medical benefit from a treatment that has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for that purpose is a violation of US federal law. Never pay to participate in a clinical trial.

Patient Resources

HyperbaricLink recommends the following websites for anyone seeking authoritative information, patient advocacy, and community support for multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis Association of America

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America is a leading provider of resources for the MS patient community and a strong advocate for the Shared Management concept of healthcare. In Shared Management the patient and healthcare providers have a shared responsibility for working together and making joint decisions. is an internet information resource and online community for MS patients and their caregivers. A product of Health Union, adheres to the HONCode Code of Conduct for reliable healthcare information on the web.

National MS Society

The National MS Society is a premier support organization for sufferers of this disease and their caregivers. Their website provides comprehensive information on treatments for multiple sclerosis. There is also a significant section on research including the latest news and information on studies funded by the Society.

Clinical Resources

Start with the following resources to explore current research activities and the peer-reviewed medical literature on hyperbaric oxygen therapy for multiple sclerosis.

 Use the search buttons below to go directly to research on hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
US National Institutes of Health keeps the official list of human clinical trials currently enrolling, in progress, and recently completed. One may reasonably question the size and legitimacy of any study not listed here.



HBOEvidence uses computerized tools to appraise the key randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the hyperbaric medical literature. One may reasonably question the overall strength of HBOT evidence for any disease or condition not covered here.

Search HBOEvidence
US National Library of Medicine, US National Institutes of Health

PubMed keeps the official list of scientific papers published in reputable peer-reviewed medical journals. One may reasonably question the importance and legitimacy of any study not listed here.



News About Multiple Sclerosis and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy

US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis Information Page.
Retrieved 08 Nov 2010.
What Is Multiple Sclerosis?, National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Retrieved 10 May 2011.
Page Data
Updated: 08 Aug 2015 01:53 PM
Created: 24 Sep 2009 12:00 AM
By: About the authors »