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South Queens Speaks: Oxygen bars a big hit at SE Queens parties

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No hospitals or doctors are required, just pure oxygen with uplifting aroma scents, such as lavender, eucalyptus or peppermint. Oxygen bars have been in New York City for the last two years, but have become popular over the last year. They have been in California and Florida for the last 10 years, according to the Nashes, owners of 02 Bar NY, which is a portable aromatherapy oxygen bar based in Rockville Center, L.I. The Nashes run the oxygen bar out of their studio at Bikram Yoga, where they are also certified yoga instructors. "It's OK to inhale; it's safe and fun," said Mr. Nash. "An oxygen bar is 95 percent pure oxygen with an added natural aromatherapy scent, such as vanilla. We have over 100 scents. It is safe for children and adults." Oxygen bars are turning up at some of the most unusual places, such as the holiday dinner-dance for Democratic District Leader Lew Simon of the 23 Assembly District, which includes Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Far Rockaway.Upon entering the party, many thought there were several sick people getting oxygen or it was a ridiculous prank. But as the patrons experienced the colorful scents, they realized it was not a sick joke, only a relaxing addition to the party. Aromatherapy oxygen bars have several benefits, including negating the effects of alcohol, which also reduces the effects of hangovers the next day. The effect is due to increased saturation of the oxygen in the body's cells, John Nash said.He said there are scents that are relaxing and calming, such as vanilla, jasmine, cedarwood, ylang-ylang. Other scents increase alertness and are uplifting, such as peach, cinnamon, lemongrass, wintergreen, eucalyptus and grapefruit. Peppermint is also wonderful for clearing the sinuses. Sterilized nose hoses are given to each person who wants to try the aromatherapy scents and then they are discarded to safeguard against germs. Debbie Freeman from Voorhes, N.J., said that she rented the oxygen bar for a luau party in September at her home. "The oxygen bar was a 'wow' factor because it's pleasing to look at all the bright aromatherapy colors and when you try it for at least 15- to 20-minute sessions, you feel the 'wow' factor," Freeman said. "Most people feel like they woke up from a power nap." Jeanine Blankman had the oxygen bar come to an office event in Manhattan this past November and she said that it was a big hit. "At first people were wary, wondering what this crazy contraption was," Blankman said. "But then they loved it, especially the children. They loved the fruity flavors, such as cherry, orange, and lemon. It also induces a person to socialize, when you are sitting or standing at the oxygen bar. It also has a huge sobering effect." Since the time of Cleopatra, people have used aromatic botanical essences (essential oils) to enhance the surroundings and promote health. Essential oils, when combined with oxygen stimulate the senses and begins to alter moods in positive ways. American researchers Dr. Richard Axel and Linda B. Buck in their genetic research have revealed a family of "receptor" proteins in the nose that recognize odors, and they illuminated how the odor information is transmitted to the brain. The use of oxygen and aromatherapy is like smelling the rose a hundredfold. Oxygen at high levels can be toxic. However, there is no evidence that oxygen at the low flow levels used in bars with aromatherapy can be dangerous to a person's health, according to the American Lung Association. The usual recommended dose for adults is about 30 minutes and for children 15 to 20 minutes, according to John Nash. He said that is the cut-off point because that is the time frame it takes to oxygenate the body. "When your glass is full, stop pouring.," he said. However, Dr. Neil Schachter, a pulmonary specialist and medical director of respiratory care at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, had a different viewpoint about the oxygen bars. "People who have hay fever, asthma or airway pulmonary disease can have an allergic reaction to these scents," Dr. Schachter said. "Oxygen bars are an unregulated industry and overuse of oxygen therapy in certain individuals can be toxic. A person with a severe reaction of overuse can stop breathing or scarring can occur on their lungs." The cost of renting an oxygen bar for a party can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $2,600, depending on the bar package. There are also per minute packages that cost $1 per minute. "Break away from the cookie cutter parties and add something fun, safe and unique," said Yolanda Nash. "Just sit back and relax when trying this therapy and remember that the only side effect is feeling good." For more information, call 866-622-2769 or visit www.02barNY.com.

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