Oxygen Bar Woo

Until now I’ve never looked closely at the claims made for oxygen bars – the establishments where you hand over a chunk of cash to breath near pure oxygen for twenty minutes. So I had l look here. The stupid, it hurts…

This is a direct quote from the site:

“Oxygen personnel are prohibited from making any specific claims as to the benefits of inhaling pure oxygen

“BENEFITS…”

Presumably this prohibition does not apply to their website designer as lots of claims of benefits indeed follow.

“Oxygen gives you energy! 90% of our energy comes from oxygen, and only 10% from food and water.”

Oxygen gives you energy by oxidising your food (you get zero energy from water) so 100% of your energy comes jointly from food and oxygen. The 90% from oxygen is meaningless gobbledygook.

“Oxygen is vital to your immune system, memory, thinking and sight”

Well, yes. In that if you are deprived of oxygen none of the above work due to you being dead. There is no reason to think that their function will be enhanced by taking on more oxygen than you have evolved to take.

“Promotes healing and counters aging”

Certain medical treatments require the use of hyperbaric oxygen but in these cases the oxygen is administered continuously, not in 20 minute whiffs. As for countering aging, normally such claims are made for anti-oxidants but if you flood your system with extra oxygen surely your anti-oxidants will be overwhelmed?

This is the best bit though:-

“FACTS_

“Less than two hundred years ago the earth’s atmosphere comprised of 40% oxygen; today we breathe only 21%

“Lack of oxygen in our universe is due to pollution, burning of fossil fuels and overall destruction of the ozone layer”

This is a prime example of the making-stuff-up school of woo. The atmosphere’s oxygen content has been pretty much the same as it is now for millions of years. The writer must have pulled that 40% from his arse. As for burning fossil fuels – in pre industrial tines the atmosphere was 275 parts per million (0.0275%) carbon dioxide. Burning of fossil fuels has increased this to 381 ppm (0.0381%) so if the current oxygen level is 21%, in pre-industrial times it was about 21.01%. Hardly a noticable difference.

An ozone molecule consists of 3 oxygen atoms (it is an allotrope of oxygen) so if the break-down of the ozone layer were to have any effect on the oxygen content of the atmosphere it would be to increase it. 

And as for blaming pollution for “Lack of oxygen in our universe” – I was not aware that industrialisation had expanded beyond the confines of our atmosphere.

This web-page is a classic example of what seems to be a very common woo technique – just string some sciency sounding terminology together any old how to bamboozle the scientifically uneducated.

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9 Responses to “Oxygen Bar Woo”

  1. Arthur Embleton Says:

    “This seems to be a very common woo technique – just string some sciency [sic] sounding terminology together any old how to bamboozle the scientifically uneducated.”

    True, but claiming that Oxygen has fallen from 40% to 21% in the space of 200 years is really pushing it. Oxygen is hardly a ‘sciency’ word; its chemical symbol is used as the name of a mobile phone company ffs. Maybe the % is the ‘sciency’ bit. I don’t know, but they really are not trying hard enough. If you look at the stuff that comes out of Homoeopathy and the like it is far more convincing.

  2. Steve Rolles Says:

    nice work JQH

    unanswerable really. I hope they read this and update the page. shameless idiocy.

  3. Ray Girvan Says:

    Or if we want a specific historical debunking of the 40% figure, check out the classic work of Lavoisier (late 1700s) who showed air to be 1/5 “oxygene” and 4/5 “azote”.

  4. ledge Says:

    I’ve come across that FACT about increased oxygen in the atmosphere before, so I did a bit of research (ahem, visited Wikipedia). Their article on the Earth’s atmosphere says “Between 200 and 250 million years ago, up to 35% of the atmosphere was oxygen ” (no references). Hey, what’s a factor of a million between friends?

  5. ledge Says:

    A better source for the above figure:
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg12717313.200-science-plant-material-may-have-controlled-oxygen-inatmosphere-.html

  6. jaycueaitch Says:

    Here is the text of an email I dashed off. On re-reading it’s a bit incoherent in parts, so if anybody else wishes to do so, their email contact is questions@oxynate.com

    “There are a number of inaccurate claims for oxygen therapy on your website:

    It is claimed that the atmosphere contained 40% oxygen 200 years ago. This is simply not true. Lavoisier measured the oxygen content of air and determined it to be one part in five oxygen.

    It is claimed that oxygen enhances various bodily functions such as memory and the immune system. There is no evidence to suggest that taking in more oxygen than we have evolved to cope with will enhance these functions.

    The claim that 90% of our energy comes from oxygen is meaningless gobbledygook. Our energy comes from our food being oxidised. So 100% of our energy comes from the chemical reactions of our food being oxidised. We get none from water, by the way.

    It is claimed that oxygen promotes healing. I am aware that some medical procedures use hyperbaric oxygen therapy but in those cases the oxygen is breathed continuously, not in 20 minute whiffs.

    It is claimed that “Cancer attacks every organ in the body except the heart because of its abnormal supply of oxygen”. I would have thought the organ in the body with the biggest supply of oxygen would be the lungs. Ever hear of lung cancer? The implications of the statement I have quoted is that oxygen use will prevent cancer. If there is any peer-reviewed evidence to supprt this, why not provide links to it? If there is not, it might perhaps be advisable to remove this statement as well as the other inaccurate statements.

    Yours sincerely

    John Hawcock

  7. symball Says:

    If you want to be pedantic about this, oxygen does not contribute to energy at all- it is used to mop up hydrogen atoms produced during aerobic respiration. hence you can produce energy for a short time using anaerobic respiration, but this is less efficient and produces toxic side products (lactic acid for mammals and yummy alcohol in yeast)

  8. draust Says:

    Goodness. To borrow a familiar phrase:

    “You couldn’t make it up!”

    …errm…

    Also – doncha just love how all things oxygen are GOOD at one end of Woo-ery, but BAAAAD

    (Evil Free radicals! Toxic Reactive oxygen species! Nooo! Hand me those antioxidant supplements quick!)

    …elsewhere in the Woo pantheon.

    (Ditto, incidentally for “relatives” of Oxy-Woo like ozone and hydrogen peroxide).

    I always find it rather telling that no Woo ever disproves any other Woo, even when the central ideas to two bits of Woo are mutually incompatible.

  9. bonzo Says:

    I was an air mechanic in the Fleet Air Arm during the fifties we found that climbing into the cockpit of a plane and having five minutes breathing oxygen
    seemed to help with a hangover!

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