During Outdoor Retailers Expo 2011 we had a chance to speak with the military about the benefits of Oxygen Max®. They, in turn, contacted the University of Colorado, which is currently conducting research for the military on ways to combat AMS (acute mountain sickness) and improve physical performance at high altitudes* and Dr. Irwin included Oxygen Max® in this research.

Dr. David Irwin PH.D is a leader in the research and study of AMS and has numerous publications on the subject. The results were very positive and showed evidence that Oxygen Max® may decrease symptoms of AMS or increase performance at high altitude.

Dr. David Irwin, PH.D.University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus2Denver, COResearch Plan:

Can Oxygen Max be used prophylactically to reduce the incidence of acute mountain sickness (AMS)?


Acute mountain sickness (AMS), characterized by a debilitating headache and nausea, occurs in approximately 30 – 80% of people rapidly ascending to altitudes greater than 8,000 feet above sea level (2-7). The exact incidence is difficult to determine because the risk is significantly increased with faster ascent rate, exercise, and dehydration (1, 8).

Because the majority of people ascending to high altitude do so on vacation when the time is limited (rapid ascent rate), plans usually involved skiing or hiking (exercise) and alcohol consumption is prominent (dehydration), the risk of AMS is extremely high.

Current Treatments

The current prophylactic treatment for AMS is low dose Acetazolamide (7). The side effects of Acetazolamide, diuresis and affecting the taste of carbonated beverages, making it a less than ideal therapy. Other potential treatments include Natural supplement ingredients including Ginkgo Biloba and Cordyceps Sinensis.


Prophylactic treatment with antioxidant compounds to increase the antioxidant status and reduce the incidence of AMS and possibly facilitate a better exercise performance outcome.

Determine if Oxygen Max activates nuclear erythroid-2 like factor (Nrf2). Using a cell culture model we will measure the effectiveness of compound to activate the transcription factor Nrf2. Nrf2 is the molecular switch that controls the bodies anti-oxidant defense system and by its activation can pre-empt the body to damage caused by oxidative stress, such as high altitude.


Model: In vitro ARE32 cell line drug: Oxygen max / Nutraceutical compound marketed as a food supplementation: Anecdotal evidence of Oxygen Max suggests it may decrease symptoms of AMS or increase performance at high altitude data: April 1-14, 2011


Oxygen Max was tested at 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 ug/ ml soluble in cell culture media on its ability to activate an Nrf2 reporter cell line. There was a moderate degree of induction, approximately 3-5 fold increase in Nrf2 activation in the 20 -100 ug ml range.

However, this food supplement is comprised of a variety of natural food substances which likely only one or two of the overall ingredients are actually having an effect on Nrf2 activation, thus only a small percentage of the total ug/ ml are having an effect.

If it was known what the active Nrf2 ingredient in this compound was and given as a pure compound in the same ug/ml range would likely show a higher degree of Nrf2 activation.

This food supplement is interesting in the fact that anecdotal evidence suggests that taking this improves performance at high altitude and is consistent with our other observations that support the hypothesis that Nrf2 activation can decrease oxidative stress incurred at high altitude and may be a culprit in the signs and symptoms of acute mountain sickness.