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A hit of oxygen and a side of espresso

by Alex Haseltine

Everyone can identify with the need for a breath of fresh air. How about fresh air with a hint of peppermint, vanilla or lavender? These are some of the options at Net Cruisers Cafe in Lancaster, where atmospheric oxygen is purified, concentrated, spiked with essential oils and served up with some espresso.

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Emily Gaines breathes peppermint scented oxygen at Net Cruisers Cafe in Lancaster.

Since July of 2006, when owners Rich and Holly Pleasants opened the doors of the cafe, they have been providing patrons with purified oxygen paired with aromatherapy.

Oxygen levels in the atmosphere range from 19 to 21 percent. The oxygen dispensed through the bar to your nose, through a plastic hose called a cannula, is 87 to 95 percent pure. The concentrated gas is pumped into a beaker of distilled water which has been mixed with one of several natural oils. According to Rich, each oil has specific properties.

“Oxygen bars have been around since the eighties in Japan. Aromatherapy has been around since the days of Cleopatra. Every essential oil has a different medicinal property,” said Rich. “For example, eucalyptus helps with sinus problems and cherry is supposed to be a female aphrodisiac.”

According to an information sheet provided by the cafe, using the oxygen bar heightens concentration, counters aging and stabilizes immune systems.

Sandy Walsh, a spokesperson for the FDA, said proprietors of oxygen bars are free to make claims about the therapeutic benefits of oxygen therapy, as long as they don’t tout specific medical benefits.

“As long as they don’t make claims that it cures cancer or cures AIDS then it’s okay. Keep in mind though there are no scientific studies to support these claims,” said Walsh.

Always the skeptic, I took Rich up on an offer to sample the air. After fighting a nagging cold for the previous couple of weeks, I elected to try the eucalyptus, in hopes it would clear me up a bit. At first the effect was barely noticeable, but after five minutes I was breathing a bit easier. The aroma, which was reminiscent of Vicks Vapo-Rub, did the trick, though it interacted with my taste buds and gave an odd flavor to an otherwise lovely cup of espresso.

posted 02.26.2009

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