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The Power of Healing with Oxygen – Part 2 of an Interview with Shannon Kenitz

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

Doctors told Shannon Kenitz to try to make her child Grace comfortable in what would have been her final days, but Shannon wasn’t going to let a serious disease end her daughter’s life. Through Hyperbaric Oxygen treatments, not only did Grace survive, but she regained her sight, learned to walk, and got control over motor functions. Grace went from being written off as another tragic disease to attending prom and walking in her graduation.

 

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Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome back. Tana and I are here with Shannon Kenitz Our hearts are weeping, but open ...

Tana Amen: Oh amazing story.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... And we are going to talk about hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which is actually something I learned about from Dr. Euceler . And Dr. Euceler is a nuclear medicine doctor in L.A. and both he and I have been doing brain spect imaging for close to 30 years and he's like, "Look at these scans before and after!" Because spect measures blood flow and activity in the brain. And you'd see damaged scans, I mean terribly damaged scans with low overall blood flow and then they were better. And sometimes they were better after the first session ...

Shannon Kenitz: That's amazing!

Dr Daniel Amen: ... Of hyperbaric oxygen. And I'm like, healing with oxygen now ... There are no side effects. What a thought, right?

And we always believe here at Amen Clinics, first do no harm. First do no harm. And so I started sending people, and Paul Kariya is one of the Anaheim Ducks, the hockey ... He had headaches every day for twelve years and had eight concussions. And after just a couple of hyperbaric sessions, the headaches went away. And then he started sleeping better. And I'm like, "Okay I'm impressed." And then I did a study with Paul Harch on soldiers who came back from Iraq and Afghanistan who had blast injuries. And we saw even after the first session increased blood flow to their brain improvements and mood. So I've been an advocate for a long time. But it literally saved your daughter's life.

Shannon Kenitz: Yeah, it did. I mean she wouldn't be here today without the hyperbaric therapy. And she loves her chamber. So everyday after school she goes right into [crosstalk 00:02:11] her chamber, yeah. So she definitely knows it makes her feel better. I live in Wisconsin so during the wintertime I make sure she goes in everyday so that she doesn't catch colds and flus and things like that and so ... Yeah. It is definitely the thing that saved her life so that I can then get her into other types of therapies and do nutrition with her and so forth and get her better on all the other areas, but hyperbarics is what saved her.

Tana Amen: So I remember when I first met you and you were telling me that you used hyperbaric oxygen for brain patients for brain issues I was like, what? I had not heard of that, even though I was a neurosurgical ICU nurse. We used it for trauma ... For trauma to the skin, for skin diseases, for traumas to help them heal. And I thought, well that makes so much sense, that's logical. But we had never used it for that reason.

Dr Daniel Amen: Right, and it's approved by Medicare for 14 wound healing indications. And if you have a traumatic brain injury, hello! That's a wound. Or if you have a stroke ...

Shannon Kenitz: It sort of seems logical.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... But yet the government and most insurances companies actually don't cover it for wounds to the brain, which how crazy is that? I mean we'll give you six, seven, eight, ten medications ...

Shannon Kenitz: Which have side effects.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... And we won't start with the simple things first. So you are the executive director of the International Hyperbarics Association because you're so passionate about this. So is there any science? People are like, "Oh, there's no science behind that."

Shannon Kenitz: Yeah, there's actually a lot of science behind it. And there are a lot more studies that have been happening, especially in the areas of pediatrics. There's been autism studies done. There has been several palsy studies done. And there definitely is the science behind it. I think that the thing I run into when I have gone and worked with the FDA or I've gone and tried to get different indications covered and done that through the IHA is that because it's so simple. I think it's because we all need oxygen. I mean, we can go without food for so long, we can go without drinking water for so long ...

Tana Amen: For a few minutes without air.

Shannon Kenitz: ... Right. So it's really one of those things ... And because it seems to help so many things, that then automatically the medical establishment jumps to conclusion that ... The biggest thing they say it's "snake oil." Well you know ...

Dr Daniel Amen: ... Or placebo effect.

Shannon Kenitz: ... Or placebo effect, you know. Right.

Dr Daniel Amen: Yeah placebo does some boost blood flow to the brain.

Shannon Kenitz: And so I mean ... I think that ... I think we're getting somewhere. I definitely think with the studies that are out there now, other countries are picking up. There's a study that was just done in Thailand. They just took ten children that had autism and they did ten sessions of 1.3 and after those ten sessions, they saw ...

Dr Daniel Amen: So for people who don't know, 1.3 is atmospheres where the level of pressure ... So one is sea-level, and the lower you go under the water, the more pressure. And so 1.3 is about ten feet under the water? That kind of pressure. If you go to 1.5 it's like 16 feet under the water and so ... Breathing oxygen under pressure has been shown to be healing.

Now many people think, "Well you have to have a hard chamber." And when you went to Florida, in [Doctor Newbarrow's 00:05:41] clinic, he had a hard chamber. Was he using 1.5 or higher?

Shannon Kenitz: Well Grace, even in the hard chamber because of her seizures, we are 1.1. But 100% oxygen. And we finally got up to 1.3 with her. That's only ... And I have done a little bit higher pressure later on in her life, and it didn't do well for her. So she's really a 1.3 kid. But what the studies are really starting to show now is that before when they thought it was the 100% oxygen that was making the difference, it's really just that little bit of pressure. That we're needing the pressure ...

Dr Daniel Amen: So it's not necessarily the 100% oxygen.

Shannon Kenitz: ... It's not necessarily. And these studies are ... No. So the study that was out of Apollo Hospital and McGill University, they took 1.3, 1.5, 1.75. They did 1.3 room air, 23% increase. And they did the 100% with 1.5 and 1.75. And there showed no significant differences in all the improvements between them. And then the original McGill study ...

Dr Daniel Amen: Was there conclusion that it work no better than placebo? Because they use the 1.3 as a placebo.

Shannon Kenitz: ... Right, they use the 1.3. So they drew so much controversy. So what they ended up having to do was that they went back and then they changed the study. Because what happened is they said, "Well, wait a minute." How can you have a placebo ... you know, it's a placebo effect da-da-da. But really it was hyperbarics what they were getting. By going under pressures ...

Tana Amen: Right, that doesn't make any sense.

Shannon Kenitz: ... So then they changed it to an actual therapy group and then just had the other placebo group just do the traditional PTOT speech, different things like that. And so that changed the whole outcome of that study. And that study is really what showed us that is was more about the pressure than it was the 100% oxygen.

Which makes a big difference to patients because now it becomes more affordable and it makes a big deal to me when I'm trying to change the way the laws are. Because when you go into any insurance company or governmental agency and they look at hyperbarics, they're going to look at those 14 indications and they're going to look to see what they've been paying out. And they pay thousands of dollars for one treatment. Well, when you look at Grace, and I've had over 5,000 treatments, of course they're not going to pay for Grace's sessions. So what we're trying to show them is that it doesn't have to be that expensive. But when you are in a system where they've been used to paying and they don't want to ever admit they don't want to change.

Dr Daniel Amen: So you are trying to create a revolution. And what's the first thing people do to revolutionaries? They kill them. I mean, I have been trying to create a revolution in mental health, and people have been trying to kill me. I am hard to kill. And somebody asked me about that. "Why is your work controversial?" It's because I'm trying to create a revolution. How we diagnose people in psychiatry is wrong. I mean, without using imaging it's just stupid, right? To not get more information.

And so if you say to the emperor, "You have no clothes." The emperor doesn't get all lovey-dovey with you. He tries to kill you. And that's what you're trying to do. You are disruptive. No one's ever called you that, probably. But you are disruptive ...

Tana Amen: Not yet, not today.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... To a financially lucrative business. And you're like, "Well, wait a minute." People can get home chambers, it's so much less expensive. I mean you can have a home chamber that you can use for the rest of your life for the same cost as about ten sessions, and for these expensive chambers.

Tana Amen: So I want to respond. For people who didn't hear our first session, I want to make sure that everyone gets this straight. Your story's really dramatic. They were going to take your daughter off life support. They basically tried to stage a coup to override you to force you to let her go, she was that sick. Blind. And not going to live. And so what I'm hearing you say is that hyperbaric oxygen literally changed her life. How ...

Shannon Kenitz: ... And it changed her medically. I mean Grace's case ... her doctors at Mayo Clinic have started to look at writing her off. The lady who did her muscle biopsies out of Buffalo Children's Hospital ... I was at a conference that I went to specifically to meet her. And she's like, "What are you doing? Because we've never seen tissue change." Now remember, Grace is one of those kids, because she has a rare disease, they're always testing her. And all of her testing is changing. Even when we went after 40 sessions ... The kind of mindset I am ...

Tana Amen: So 40. That's my question ...

Shannon Kenitz: ... Yeah, we did 40 sessions.

Tana Amen: ... When did you see the biggest change?

Shannon Kenitz: Well we saw changes pretty quick with Grace because was so severe. But right around 40, 45 is when we really started noticing the eye stuff. And we were told she would never see. I took her back to Joe DiMaggio's Children Hospital to the same radiologist and said, "Can we do a repeat scan? Because I'm telling you ... I need to know if I'm imagining it."

Dr Daniel Amen: Did she have the deficits in her occipital lobes? Do you remember on her spect scan?

Shannon Kenitz: Yes, yes, yes.

Dr Daniel Amen: Because I remember [Doctor Newbarrow 00:10:50] showed be a child ...

Shannon Kenitz: It was Grace.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... Who was three had holes, which is just decreased blood flow in her temporal lobes. That then after the sessions, didn't have the holes.

Shannon Kenitz: Well, when we went back to Joe DiMaggio after the 45 sessions is when we probably had the scan done. In his report, he wrote, "Dramatic improvement." And then he physically called me and told me, "I stand corrected. You need to continue to do what you're doing for your daughter." And then we ended up having scans later on with [Doctor Uzler 00:11:24]. And so with Grace we have all that stuff to show. We can show her muscle biopsy. Her ... She was only 14% functioning in her mitochondrial side of [inaudible 00:11:37] so it would be in chamber three and four of the mitochondrial. And when we had her last muscle biopsy, I stopped doing muscle biopsies when she was I think nine years old, it was 85% functioning. And she went to blind, to glasses, to not wearing any glasses. And she can see a little tiny speck of paper and she will just go right over to it. And hyperbarics is the only thing that I had done, so I know that's what changed her life.

Dr Daniel Amen: So healing with oxygen. And that's why we do it at Amen Clinics, because we see so many scans that have overall low blood flow, either from Lyme or toxins or many of our autisic kids. And it's just one of the important tools in the toolbox. So it's indicated for ... What kind of indications?

Shannon Kenitz: It would be indicated for ... You mean for the ones insurance would pay, or just what we're doing?

Dr Daniel Amen: Yes, both! So let's talk about...

Shannon Kenitz: So with the stuff that insurance would pay for would be more things like the wounds, diabetics.

Tana Amen: Right, that's what I saw.

Shannon Kenitz: Certain spider bites. Like anyone's ever been [crosstalk 00:12:42] ...

Tana Amen: Necrotizing. Like the skin diseases, the rotting flesh ...

Shannon Kenitz: ... Yeah, carbon monoxide. Like you know, so ...

Tana Amen: Dog bites!

Dr Daniel Amen: Carbon monoxide, which causes overall low blood flow to the brain ...

Shannon Kenitz: ... But the problem with that is that unfortunately you get it ... we always treated in the place of Grace's clinic firefighters can treat for free. And so we would have them come in if they ever ended up having any issues and such. But what happens with anybody who gets carbon monoxide posioning, you get them to a hospital, they give you one or two sessions and then they stop. But what they don't realize is that they've already had some brain damage, and you need to continue with doing that because you're not going to clear out and they're going to have that fogginess. They're going to have some things that happen still later on, especially if they had long term exposure. So sometimes they'll say, "Well we gave it to them right away, it really didn't make a difference." And I say, "Well, you should have done it longer."

And so those are the things that they would cover, you know Medicaid and Medicare and private insurance. The things that we're really focusing on are neurological conditions. We're focusing on pediatric strokes, near drowings, autism, cerebral palsy, mitochondrial disorders, any type of GI issues, Lyme's Disease. And adults the same thing. Neurological, you know, do a lot with soldiers coming back. Blast injuries, concussions is huge right now in hyperbarics. Lots of doctors doing research on concussions, which is like a huge thing. And especially because of our kids starting sports so young and it's such a competitive field. Parents wanting their kids to compete in college and then go pro and so forth.

Dr Daniel Amen: So Ray Lewis, the famous Baltimore Raven Linebacker put a hyperbaric chamber in his home. And Joe Namath, who was headed for dementia, went and had a spect scan and then had many, I don't know how many, hyperbaric sessions. And then had another spect scan and he said it's just the best thing. And it was crazy, the New York Post goes, "Joe Namath endorses controversial therapy." I'm like, "He gets better! Why isn't that the news?" It's just so crazy what people focus on. But the reason I do it ... I have all sorts of medications I can give people, and it makes them come back, right? You know I give them medicine ...

Shannon Kenitz: A lot! They want it.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... They have to come back and get another script. But we always go, "Well what's the natural way to heal?" And oxygen under pressure is powerful.

Shannon Kenitz: It is. And when you're faced with any type of health crisis, I think that our country really need ... Well A, I think our country needs to focus on prevention. But I also think that you need to really look at the quality of life. And I think that obviously with Grace, hers was really dramatic. You know, I have my daughter, and she's graduating high school next month.

Tana Amen: And went to prom, wow!

Shannon Kenitz: And she went to prom and she has typical friends and she loves life. I mean, she's larger than life and I adore both of my daughters. But the quality of life for her changed. And who is to say that you take a stroke patient and now they're able to zip up their jacket. Or they're able to feed themselves. That's huge for that one person. Maybe they are still using a cane, but you just gave them back dignity and you did it because you gave them hyperbarics, which is a safe therapy. And I think we need to start focusing more on, you don't have to be a perfect individual in order to be okay. That there are people of all walks of life that all types of disabilities and that we need to start realizing that it's not the ...

Tana Amen: Yeah, I actually don't like that word. I hate the word "disabled," you know what I mean? It's just focused on what you can do, not on what you can't.

Shannon Kenitz: Right. I think that if we focus more on that, we could see ...

Tana Amen: They are abled, just differently.

Shannon Kenitz: ... Just differently, exactly right. That we would see more people accepting hyperbarics because it's not necessarily ... I don't like when people say "cure," you know? I think that ...

Dr Daniel Amen: It supports blood flow to your brain.

Shannon Kenitz: Yeah. And I have a happy kid. I have met thousands of patients ...

Dr Daniel Amen: And it has been shown in some animals studies to increase stem cell production. And the hippocampus ... I have a new book that's coming out in November called Memory Rescue, so I have spent a lot of time with the hippocampus, the seahorse shaped structures ...

Tana Amen: I have been hearing a lot about seahorses.

Dr Daniel Amen: ... And so I've started to collect seahorses ... And what grows them and shrinks them ... But the hippocampus is one of the few areas of the brain that everyday produces about 700 new stem cells. So 700 new sort of, baby seahorses. And there's things you can do to suppress that number: smoking pot, drinking alcohol, headbutting soccer balls, not sleeping. And there are things you can do to grow it. And so giving it the oxygen it needs along with the right nutrients and diet and so on can just be huge.

So we do it here at Amen Clinics, but how can people learn more? How can they learn more about your new clinic in Chicago, or Wisconsin, how can they learn more about you can your work?

Shannon Kenitz: Well you can go to shannonandgrace.com. It's a great resource ...

Dr Daniel Amen: shannonANDgrace.com?

Shannon Kenitz: ... shannonandgrace.com. And there's a lot of videos on hyperbarics. I even ... my older daughter Lily, she talks to parents about how to really make sure that you are making sure you're not forgetting about your typical kids as well and so forth. And it just has a lot of resources. If you're a parent looking for a physician that is looking at your child ... it's not the diagnosis they were given, you can go the Medical Academy of Pediatrics and Special Needs which is medmaps.org and you can go to your state and find a physician that is in your area that it would be like-minded to you about doing things ... which, I hate the word "alternative therapy," but doing ...

Dr Daniel Amen: Doing great therapy! Right it's an alternative to the traditional sort of things [crosstalk 00:19:03].

Shannon Kenitz: ... Or you can go to the IHA website as well, which is ihausa.org. And all those would link you back to the shannonandgrace.com website ...

Dr Daniel Amen: So the people on the Shannon and Grace website can also find all the other resources. Well, you're going to stay with us. When we come back, we are going to talk about the power of imaging and how do you unless you look? Stay with us.