It’s Friday night— time to wind down and hit up the bar: one drink, two drink, three drink, floor. If this doesn’t look like a fun Saturday morning, consider foregoing the typical weekend watering hole and take a seat at an oxygen bar instead.

The New “00” Agents – What It Is

A what?! Oxygen bars are equipped with tanks of 99% pure O2 (typical air is only 21%— not even close competition) for customers to breathe in through small tubes hooked over the ears and under the nose. Just like a bar has different flavors, oxygen bars offer different scents, ranging from floral to fruit. While breathing through tubes might not sound like the ideal night out, studies show that increased oxygen inhalation can have some impressive benefits, such as providing a mild “feel good” effect, reducing stress, increasing energy and alertness, and alleviating headaches.

One study shows that inhaling concentrated oxygen increases the oxygen saturation level in the blood, which makes more available for the brain, and— ta da!— more brain powerCognitive performance, hyperoxia, and heart rate following oxygen administration in healthy young adults. Scholey, AB., Moss, MC., Neave, N., et al. Physiology & Behavior. 1999 Nov; 67(5):783-9. If that’s not cool enough, supplemental oxygen inhalation has also been shown to enhance memory formationChanges in reaction time when using oxygen inhalation during simple visual matching tasks. Chung, SC., Tack, GR., Choi, MH., et al. Neuroscience Letters. 2009 Apr 10; 453(3):175-7. Epub 2009 Feb 27.

So where did this crazy idea take root? It’s based on hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a technique using pure oxygen under increased pressure. The combination of high pressure and purity spreads the oxygen deep into body tissues to help fight different illnesses, from wounds and infections to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Becoming An Oxy-genius – The Answer/Debate

Although some studies show that breathing pure oxygen can supercharge brain power, people with heart problems or respiratory problems like emphysema or asthma are advised to avoid oxygen bars because they can worsen such conditions. While most bars use food-grade particles to “flavor” the gas, some bars may use aroma oils, which can cause lung inflammation, so do your research before hooking up to the tubes. Some people might also feel a little light-headed after an O2 sesh, but it generally goes away quickly. DISCLAIMER: Oxygen bars may be a fun, new experience for healthy people, but they should never be a substitute for medically required oxygen.

Certainty Level

Try something new and go pay a visit to a local oxygen bar. A breath of fresh air can go a long way!