Originally created 06/25/02

Bar refreshes patrons with scented oxygen



Finally, a bar you can breathe in, but it will cost you $5 for five minutes.

Coconuts in Surrey Center is selling oxygen shots - blasts of oxygen delivered straight to your nose through a plastic tube.

"During Masters Week, we ran out we were so busy," Coconuts manager Jodie Dickson said.

The oxygen bar concentrates and purifies air, then bubbles it through aromatherapy fluids, such as vanilla, coconut, kiwi, strawberry, ocean breeze, peppermint and pina colada.

Friday night, Ashlyn Jackson tucked the disposable oxygen tubes into her own nostrils. For five minutes, she inhaled the perfumed air.

It was refreshing, and it made her a little dizzy, she said.

The dizziness can be caused by the deep breathing, with or without an oxygen tube in your nose, said Michael Haynes, pulmonary critical care specialist at University Medical Associates and a skeptic of oxygen shots.

"That is hyperventilating," Dr. Haynes said.

There is no scientific benefit for a healthy person paying for oxygen shots, Dr. Haynes said.

"It's all psychosomatic," he said. "It's the placebo effect. It's something that the brain creates, but it is a real effect."

But that hasn't stopped the masses from sucking in canned oxygen.

From the sidelines of professional sports to exclusive spas, breathing pure oxygen seems to be the thing to do.

Oxygen bars have been around for years in Japan, China and India, nations with poor air quality. In 1996, Toronto opened an oxygen bar called O2, which was followed with similar bars across the United States such as Woody Harrelson's Sunset Boulevard bar(now closed).

Jim Littlefield, vice president of sales and marketing for Pure Oxygen, a 2-year-old company that sells oxygenated products, said there are many legitimate uses for their products, which include oxygenated water and mists in addition to the shots.

"Just look at oxygen research and what it can do," Mr. Littlefield said. Oxygen is a healing compound."

The company says its oxygen mists can enhance athletic performance, quicken recovery time, relieve overheating, hydrate, energize, moisturize and soothe skin.

Mr. Littlefield said Pure Oxygen does not make any medical claims and should not be used as a medical device.

"But as time goes on we hear about more and more uses for the product," he said. "We never anticipated people using the product for some of these uses.

"By no means are we saying you take this product, and it will make your life better. But it is going to refresh you," Mr. Littlefield said.

(Note: Dr. Haynes said anyone with breathing problems, or heart or lung disease should not breathe the oxygen shots without consulting a doctor first.)

Reach Lisa M. Lohr at (706) 823-3332 or lisalohr@augustachronicle.com.