Medical Ozone Part 2

History, Medical Properties, Diseases Treated, Administration, Mechanisms of Action and Safety and Side Effects

How was ozone discovered?

Ozone has a sharp smell, and it was this smell that led to its discovery. Late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century scientists noticed ozone’s distinctive odor following an electrical reaction of a lightning strike. Upon isolating the gaseous chemical, German-Swiss chemist Christian Friedrich Schönbein named it “ozone” from the Greek word “to smell.” Ozone’s potential as a powerful disinfectant was soon realized. In the late 1800’s ozone was used to purify drinking water. Its powerful oxidizing capabilities meant that ozone could be used to kill microbes and bacteria. In fact, it was even used to treat infection during World War 1.

Ozone was most widely utilized in commercial and industrial applications, in which the production of ozone was inconsistent and often unsafe. Here the potential for toxicity was over-exposed. Workers frequently experienced irritation of their eyes and respiratory systems, symptoms attributed to ozone exposure. The FDA stated in 1976 that when inhaled, ozone is considered a toxic gas – a position they reiterated more recently. This inspired the need to develop a method for safely generating and controlling ozone production and application.

What is the history and current practice of ozone therapy?

Ozone is not new in its use as medicine. But because of the molecule’s known instability and its destructive effect on easily oxidized substances, ozone faced many challenges gaining traction in a clinical setting. The development of O3 generators for use in the medical space, as well as effective methods of administration (keep in mind that the medical application of gas is relatively uncommon in the USA), have allowed researchers to better evaluate the effects of ozone.1 This diligent research has led to a sizable list of indications that respond successfully to ozone therapy. Ozone has been heavily studied for over a century and utilized in the form of medical therapy for many decades. The medical use of ozone to treat infections and wounds has actually been around for over 150 years and its effectiveness has been documented.2 But only during the First World War did ozone as a medical treatment find broader recognition. Medical resources were limited, and because ozone had known antibacterial properties, doctors applied ozone topically to help heal soldiers’ infected wounds. This led to the discovery of ozone’s ability to reduce inflammation and its hemodynamic effect – meaning it can affect blood flow.3 Germany was one of the first countries to adopt ozone therapy as a widespread medical treatment in the 1950s.4 And in the late 1980’s, German doctors began treating HIV patients with ozone therapy. Initially, ozone’s antiviral behavior demonstrated success in the treatment of HIV as applied to vitro blood samples. Unfortunately, it did not prove effective as an in vivo treatment administered to actual AIDS patients.5 This research, however, opened up the potential applications for ozone, many of which were tested through clinical trials and are now counted among valid therapeutic practices.

What are the medical properties of ozone?

From its initial discovery, ozone has been used for its antimicrobial properties.6 Reactions initiated by contact with unstable ozone molecules damage the cellular walls of a number of microbial populations, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and yeast. Ozone has anti-inflammatory properties.7 In fact, O3 serves to regulate the immune system by stimulating the production of key signaling proteins that elicit the destruction of microbes. The immune system’s primary function is to identify and attack foreign substances that cause inflammation and damage to the body.

Ozone has hemodynamic properties, meaning it positively impacts blood flow and circulation throughout the body. Ozone stimulates the uptake and utilization of oxygen by the body’s cells.8 It does this by activating the Kreb’s cycle, the mechanism that allows your cells to optimize oxygen by transforming it into energy. Ozone improves the circulation of blood, as well as it allows your body use oxygen more efficiently. Furthermore, ozone increases the effectiveness of the body’s antioxidant enzyme system.9 Antioxidants function to prevent cellular damage, which is a common pathway for cancer, aging, and disease.10 While this sounds paradoxical – ozone being a powerful oxidant – O3 therapy actually stimulates the production of antioxidant enzymes.11

What diseases are treated by ozone therapy?

The therapeutic properties of ozone can positively impact a wide variety of diseases and conditions and can even help repair injuries. Considered alternative medicine, ozone therapy is often used alongside other treatments, when conventional medicine doesn’t work, or as a preventative practice. The root cause of most conditions is chronic or abnormal inflammation. So ozone’s anti- inflammatory properties are indicated for autoimmune disorders, allergies, and most inflammatory conditions (often recognized with the suffix -itis). Capable of healing wounds and fighting infection, ozone is used for dermatological and dental indications, as well as chronic infection affecting the body’s systems. Viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases can be treated by ozone’s antimicrobial properties. Cancer, tumors, and a variety of vascular indications benefit from ozone due to its ability to improve circulation and increase the effects of oxygen and antioxidants.

Through the years, ozone therapy has been indicated for hundreds of diseases and conditions with varying success. Improved technologies have made it even more accessible, allowing patients to use ozone therapy responsibly at home. Some diseases and conditions that may benefit from ozone therapy are as follows:

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Tumors
  • Allergies and sinusitis
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lyme disease
  • Raynaud’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Intestinal disease
  • Degenerative joint disease
  • Spine inflammation
  • Chronic infections
  • Hepatitis
  • Cystitis
  • Migraines
  • Chronic pain
  • Vascular surgery
  • Wound healing
  • Ear infections
  • Dental infections
  • Urologic disease
  • And more12, 13, 14

How is medical ozone administered?

Ozone can be introduced into the body through several methods. It may be mixed with gases or liquids and combined with blood or injected intravenously (directly into the veins) or subcutaneously (under the skin). It may be applied through routes that include the rectum, the vagina, or into muscle tissue and joints. Topical approaches can include limb bagging (a controlled gas bath) and ozonated water or oils. Autohemotherapy and insufflation techniques can also be used. Your doctor will advise you on what dosage and method of administration is best for you. All the routes of application treat systemically, locally, or both. Systemic treatments benefit the body as a whole in some manner, while local treat a specific area.

Autohemotherapy

Autohemotherapy is a systemic treatment that mixes ozone with blood taken from the patient. Major autohemotherapy (MAHT) takes 40-200 mL of blood from the patient, combines ozone and medical oxygen with the blood, and re-infuses the patient with the mix. This can be done over a number of sessions, days apart. Minor autohemotherapy (mAHT) takes a few ccs of blood from the patient using a syringe (already holding equal parts ozone), shakes up the syringe contents, and injects the mix back into the patient.15

Insufflation

Insufflation means to blow the ozone gas into a body cavity. In ozone therapy, insufflation is primarily performed on the rectal or vaginal cavity. Insufflation may also be used for administering ozone to the ear or nasal cavity. Ozone gas is infused into the patient in varying doses, depending on the therapy being administered. As you can imagine, these techniques spurred the home treatment movement. Videos on how to perform these treatments can be found on the Drs. Ozone website.

Joint Injection Therapy (OJTTM)

How would you like to get rid of your joint pain with a few shots? OJT (ozone joint therapy) is potentially a great treatment for aching joints, bad backs, ripped ligaments, and the like. Joint injections are a popular treatment requiring injections into the joint space. OJT can be divided into two parts. The first part is a mix of vitamins and medicine. Second, ozone is added to the mix and injection into the joint, spreading its healing therapy. This combination causes regeneration and rebuilding of new ligaments and cartilage tissue.16 Inflammation is decreased and the weak areas of the joint are made stronger again. Commonly, an injured or degenerated joint will take a series of 3-5 injections over 8 to 10 weeks. You can generally expect 15%-25% improvement each time. Actual patient videos are available on the Drs. Ozone website and there is also a list of practitioners.

Herniated disc

“Everyone laughed when I said I was going to Idaho to heal the bulging disc in my back. But when I was able to finally lift my arms with no pain for the first time in years... they stopped laughing”

~ Jonathan Sprinkles, Texas

Joint pain and inflammation

“I initially came to the clinic for aches and pains associated with my chosen profession, a professional rodeo cowboy. I had both my knees treated and I saw IMMEDIATE relief. That was last summer, and I haven't had any pain after traveling, during or after competing, and other rugged circumstances.”

~ Carl T., Texas

Clinical effects of ozone therapy

There is a growing desire to approach chronic illnesses with preventative or alternative medicine. Ozone therapy is understood to aid in the treatment of cancer, multiple sclerosis, Lyme disease, and more. Ozone is effective on multiple levels. In order to understand how it can help improve certain diseases and conditions, it’s important to look at the different mechanisms of action by which it works.

What are ozone’s mechanisms of action?

The mechanism of action (MOA) of a drug treatment is the pathway by which the drug interacts with the patient’s cellular or chemical makeup. Ozone has a few MOAs that make it useful as a disinfectant and as a treatment for disease. On a very basic level, ozone activates the immune system and stimulates oxygen metabolism in cells. Dr. Vellio Bocci is the definitive expert regarding the mechanics of ozone in the body. He has worked at the University of Sienna for over 20 years and written more research than anyone on the subject. One of the latest books (2011) is Ozone – A New Medical Drug.

Dr. Bocci wrote concerning ozone, “On the basis of the mechanisms of action, ozone therapy can induce the following biological responses:

  1. Ozone improves blood circulation and oxygen delivery to ischemic tissue.
  2. By improving oxygen delivery, it enhances the general metabolism.
  3. It upregulates the cellular antioxidant enzymes.
  4. Ozone induces a mild activation of the immune system and enhances the release of growth factors.
  5. Ozone has an excellent disinfectant activity when topically used, while this is negligible in the circulation owing to blood antioxidant capacity.
  6. Ozone does not procure acute or late side effects.
  7. Ozone procures a surprising wellness probably by stimulating the neuro-endocrine system.

Antimicrobial mechanisms

Ozone is responsible for an increase in interferons, or signaling proteins, released by the patient’s host cells.17 Interferons recognize these microbial populations, along with any abnormal cells, and alerts the immune system. Ozone stimulates the immune system to produce more white blood cells, which target and destroy recognized pathogens.18

Antineoplastic mechanisms

Ozone has been powerful against tumors, a property called antineoplastic. In addition to interferon production, ozone stimulates an increased output of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), another important signaling protein of the immune system.19 TNF has a complex pathway, but it is responsible for cell death by marking abnormal cells for destruction. Interleukin 2 (IL-2) is a signaling protein that regulates the activity and growth of white blood cells, specifically.20 IL-2 can be made in a laboratory and is used to boost the immune system in cancer treatments.21 In the presence of ozone, this vital protein is secreted in larger, therapeutic amounts.22

Oxygen metabolism

Ozone is also known to stimulate oxygen metabolism as a therapeutic effect. In red blood cells, ozone increases the rate of glycolysis – the process of breaking down glucose or sugar molecules – which provides energy to the cell. Glycolysis stimulates red blood cells to make a substance called 2,3-diphosphoglycerate that controls movement of oxygen from red blood cells to body tissues.23 Ozone thereby effectively increases oxygen levels. Furthermore, O3 activates the Krebs cycle which is another way cells produce energy. Enzymes that are stimulated by this process have a number of functions including protecting the cell walls of the host and inducing vasodilation (widening of the blood vessels) for better circulation.24

What is the efficacy of medical ozone?

Most clinicians administering ozone therapy confirm the treatment is well-tolerated with minimal side effects. When ozone therapy is properly indicated, correctly dosed, and applied using optimal administration techniques, it proves to be safer than aspirin.25 While the applications of ozone therapy are versatile, the therapeutic efficacy of medical O3 is best demonstrated in vascular and degenerative diseases.26 According to an article published by the National Institute of Health in December 2011, ozone therapy is said to “procure a surprising wellness in most patients.”27

Receiving ozone therapy

The first choice is getting ozone therapy in a clinic. They can provide more effective therapy, more therapy choices, and administer it in a safe, professional environment.

For those who are looking to do ozone therapy at home, there are many options but one sticks out as superior. Not glamourous but effective, rectal ozone insufflations are easy and safe to do at home. Rectal ozone therapy is a good option because it is safe, effective, and systemic. It promotes healing to the whole body, not just one area. However, we recommend that you consult your physician before attempting any ozone therapy at home! Rectal ozone has been the therapy of choice in Cuba for decades. Why Cuba? Since they do not have the finances for drugs and other treatments, they found medicine that was efficacious and inexpensive. Ozone therapy stood out as the best option. As a result we have decades of data and studies done at Cuba’s ozone hospital and research facility. For just pennies per treatment, they have astounding and unbelievable outcomes.

A few studies done by Dr. Silvia Menendez and her team:

Ozone Therapy in Patients with Retinitis Pigmentosa

“Results demonstrated a significant improvement in 88.2% of patients treated with ozone in comparison with 23.5% achieved in the control group.... A temporal positive effect of ozone therapy, over the natural course of RP, was found. It could be useful to apply ozone therapy in the first stages of the disease and at six-month intervals in order to enhance visual capabilities in RP patients.”

~ Retinitis Pigmentosa National Reference Center. Dr. Salvador Allende Hospital, Calzada del Cerro Ave. and Domínguez, Cerro, Havana, Cuba

Ozone Therapy: A Useful Alternative on Virulent Hepatitis Treatment

“Ozone was administered, daily, by rectal way for a total of 15 sessions. Comparing these results, we can say that ozone therapy is a suitable treatment against hepatitis, improving the patient’s health and the healing time of the disease.”

~ Y. Betancourt, J.M. Toledo, E. Recio, A. Gómez, M. Rodríguez

Experiences in the Use of Ozone Therapy in the Elderly

“During five years (1991-1995) we have used ozone therapy in the treatment of different diseases that are present in the elderly, for example upper and lower respiratory infections, arthrosis, pneumonia, immunodeficiency. A statistical analysis showed improvement in more than 80% of the treated patients. No side effects or intolerance was present among the patients treated with ozone. It is concluded that ozone therapy is an important therapeutic option to be considered in geriatric patients.”

~ M. Casas, B. Conde, Provincial Hospital, Sancti Spiritus, Cuba

Ozone therapy continues to be shunned by conventional medicine in the USA. But consider there are over 2,000 medical studies and over 10 books written on its efficacy and safety. Often ignored is the fact that tens of thousands of doctors use ozone daily. Case after case we see many benefits to ozone therapy. This overlooked therapy can be done in the comfort of your own home!

Getting started with ozone at home

If you decide to do ozone therapy at home, consult your physician. Ozone therapies done at home may include:

  1. Rectal insufflation
  2. Vaginal insufflation
  3. Ear insufflation
  4. Ozone oils
  5. Ozone sauna
  6. Limb bagging
  7. Eye drops
  8. Ozone water

For about $800 you can have all the equipment for ozone therapy at home. There are ozone companies that provide equipment that can be found on the internet.

Safety and side effects of ozone therapy

Before starting ozone therapy, it is important to talk to a doctor or find a clinician on the Drs. Ozone website who has used ozone therapy in his or her practice. While ozone therapy can now be safely administered, users should first understand any potential dangers of ozone therapy in order to avoid them. Dosage and concentration, as well as proper techniques for administration, are key to safe and effective treatment. Minimal side effects are associated with medical ozone therapy, but users should be aware of a few contraindications.

Is ozone therapy safe?

It bears repeating. Ozone therapy – when properly indicated, dosed, and administered – is considered safer than any other drug including aspirin.28 In practice, only the amount of medical ozone needed for treatment will be generated, keeping concentrations extremely low. And because of its short half-life, medical ozone typically lasts less than 30 minutes. What is not consumed will revert back to oxygen, leaving no residual ozone in the environment.29 Furthermore, no long-term effects from ozone exposure have ever been reported.30 Medical ozone is commonly used as an alternative to antibiotics, which are known to cause undesirable side effects for many. When used properly, ozone therapy is considered a wholesome treatment with proven effects that are consistent and safe.31

Quality of life has been evaluated in a small sample of ozone therapy patients, and in accordance with the International Quality of Life Assessment, these patients reported an excellent quality of life following ozone therapy.32 Because of this feeling of wellness, patients also demonstrate excellent compliance rates. 33 As mentioned, the efficacy of ozone therapy is due to the controlled setting in which medical ozone is generated and administered. The only disadvantage of ozone lies in the potential toxicity from exposure to high concentrations, most of which are historically attributed to workers enduring industrial applications of ozone. The toxic effect of ozone points to its potential to change membrane permeability.34 Remember that ozone is damaging to components of the cell walls of bacteria and viruses. The reason for this is that it oxidizes with the lipid layers of the wall membrane, specifically with unsaturated fatty acids that make up some the lipid layers. Unsaturated fatty acids are also present in the fluid lining the lungs and bilayers of the lung cells.35 In large concentrations and/or if improperly administered, ozone may react with these unsaturated fatty acids found in the body. This can trigger the release of enzymes that activate inflammation and lead to reactions resulting in cell injury or cell death.36

Are there side effects to properly administered ozone?

As mentioned earlier, very few and none are life threatening. But there are conditions that could preclude using ozone:

  • G-6PD deficiency or favism (very rare)
  • Pregnancy
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Serious cardio-vascular instability
  • Patients being treated with ACE inhibitors which cause blood vessels to enlarge or dilate, and blood pressure is reduced
  • Any bleeding disorders
  • Ozone allergy

Contraindications are signals for which ozone may be damaging rather than therapeutic. Avoid ozone therapy if you suffer from any of the following conditions: if your blood fails to coagulate, an important process in wound healing; if you experience trauma or disease that results in bleeding organs; if you have thrombocytopenia, a deficiency of blood platelets that causes internal bleeding and an inability to form blood clots; if you have had a hemorrhagic or apoplectic stroke; or if you suffer from an ozone allergy or intolerance.37

What are side effects of ozone therapy?

The most common complaints of patients who have undergone ozone therapy are minor side effects including weakness, slight dizziness, or sleepiness – none of which last long. Minor irritations reported as side effects typically dissipated quickly and were proven to be caused by incorrect application. Rarely, patients experience an allergic skin reaction to a local topical application of ozone, which presents as a minor rash. A study of nearly 400,000 patients documented the frequency of side effects as occurring 1:1000-1:2000, making it statistically one of the safest drugs available.38

Is ozone therapy accepted by the FDA?

Toxicity warnings plagued early uses of medical ozone. The FDA pronounced in 1976 that ozone is a toxic gas when inhaled. They restated this position in 2006, stating that it is not safe as demonstrated for medical application. The FDA has been a primary detractor of establishing ozone therapy in public hospitals.39 This is not uncommon for innovative medical approaches. Medical ozone therapy – an inexpensive procedure which is not patentable – also faces competition by large pharmaceutical companies.40 Medical ozone can be administered in a clinical setting and, with proper training, patients can use it at home.

References

  1. A. M. Elvis, J. S. Ekta. Ozone therapy: A clinical review. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2011 Jan-Jun; 2(1): 66–70. doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.82319. PMCID: PMC3312702.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Drs. Ozone: Introduction to Medical Ozone Therapy.
  5. A. M. Elvis and J. S. Ekta. Ozone therapy: A clinical review.
  6. Drs. Ozone: Introduction to Medical Ozone Therapy.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. SportsMedWeb: Antioxidants and Free radicals.
  11. Thomas Marshall-Manifold. Ozone as an oxidant and its influence on free radical activity and antioxidant levels in the human environment in disease and health.
  12. A. M. Elvis and J. S. Ekta. Ozone therapy: A clinical review.
  13. Drs. Ozone: Introduction to Medical Ozone Therapy.
  14. Naturopathic Physicians Group: Ozone IV Therapy.
  15. Drs. Ozone: Introduction to Medical Ozone Therapy.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ibid.
  20. interleukin-2, NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Drs. Ozone: Introduction to Medical Ozone Therapy.
  23. Naturopathic Physicians Group: Ozone IV Therapy.
  24. A. M. Elvis and J. S. Ekta. Ozone therapy: A clinical review.
  25. Drs. Ozone: Safety of Ozone.
  26. Masaru Sagai, Velio Bocci. Mechanisms of Action Involved in Ozone Therapy: Is healing induced via a mild oxidative stress? Med Gas Res. 2011; 1: 29. Published online 2011 Dec 20. doi: 10.1186/2045-9912-1-29, PMCID: PMC3298518.
  27. Ibid.
  28. Drs. Ozone: Safety of Ozone.
  29. Ozone Solutions: FAQ About Ozone.
  30. Ibid.
  31. A. M. Elvis and J. S. Ekta. Ozone therapy: A clinical review.
  32. Masaru Sagai, Velio Bocci. Mechanisms of Action Involved in Ozone Therapy: Is healing induced via a mild oxidative stress?
  33. Ibid.
  34. A. M. Elvis and J. S. Ekta. Ozone therapy: A clinical review.
  35. Ibid.
  36. Ibid.
  37. Drs. Ozone: Contraindications to Ozone Therapy.
  38. Drs. Ozone: Safety of Ozone.
  39. Masaru Sagai, Velio Bocci. Mechanisms of Action Involved in Ozone Therapy: Is healing induced via a mild oxidative stress?
  40. Ibid.

About the Author

Micah Lowe

Micah started his medical journey in emergency medicine and pharmaceuticals.  During school, he developed an interest in integrative medicine and took a job working with UBI for his father, Tom Lowe.

His growing passion drove him to start a business in the ozone industry. He was integral in making homeRead more