Ozone Therapy: Everything You Need to Know Before Trying It - Step To Health
 

Ozone Therapy: Everything You Need to Know Before Trying It

The use of ozone therapy against disease is a controversial topic. While many attribute benefits to it, others warn of potential risks. We'll take a closer look in this article.
Ozone Therapy: Everything You Need to Know Before Trying It

Last update: 24 December, 2021

Ozone therapy is an alternative medicine practice that involves the administration of ozone gas to treat various ailments.

This colorless gas is made up of three oxygen atoms (O3) and is considered the strongest natural oxidant. In its natural form, it is present in the upper atmosphere to protect the earth from ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

However, there’s also a medical form consisting of 1 to 5 % ozone and 95 to 99 % oxygen. The latter is used to stimulate the immune system and combat certain conditions.

However, the evidence is limited, and its use is still not officially approved. What should you know about it? Find out in this article!

What is ozone therapy?

You may wonder how gas in the earth’s atmosphere can be used for medicinal purposes. Well, ozone therapy uses ozone gas produced from medical-grade oxygen sources. In particular, it works by modulating the immune system and controlling inflammation.

As stated in a review reported in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine, it could be useful in the treatment of the following diseases:

  • Arthritis
  • Viral diseases, such as HIV
  • Cardiac diseases
  • Macular degeneration
  • Oral infections
  • Cancer

Still, there’s controversy over its use as a therapeutic agent, as it has observed harmful effects. In fact, since 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported that ozone is toxic, and its medical applications are not proven. Therefore, it cannot be employed by health professionals.

Plantea protegido por la capa de ozono.
The ozone layer was infamous for the damage it suffered in recent decades due to environmental pollution. However, medical ozone is slightly different.

How does ozone therapy work, and what are its benefits?

As detailed in a study shared in the Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, ozone therapy has been used as a method of disinfecting medical supplies for more than 100 years. It has also been put to various medicinal uses.

Specifically, it’s used to disinfect skin wounds, stimulate the immune system and control inflammatory processes in the body. It’s even associated with the modulation of oxidative stress and the prevention of chronic diseases.

A publication in Medical Gas Research explains that when ozone comes into contact with body fluids, reactions occur that lead to the formation of more proteins and red blood cells. Therefore, oxygen transport also increases. This results in physiological reactions that improve a person’s overall state of health.

A study reported in The Saudi Journal for Dental Research found that ozone therapy helps inactivate the action of several types of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and yeasts, which explains its potential against infections.

The possible applications of ozone therapy

For now, ozone therapy is not a first-choice treatment for diseases. In fact, studies dispute whether its use is safe. However, it has been found to have positive effects in some contexts.

1. Respiratory diseases

Because of its ability to increase oxygen in the blood, ozone therapy is sometimes used to improve symptoms of respiratory disorders. In this regard, a study in the American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine found that injecting ozone mixed with blood helps enhance patients’ quality of life with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

However, it has also been observed that breathing ozone can deteriorate lung health, especially in patients with pre-existing conditions. Thus, more research is needed before ozone therapy can be used for these purposes.

2. Diabetic foot problems

It’s believed that the use of ozone therapy may help prevent diabetic complications, such as a diabetic foot. In research shared in the Journal of Cellular Physiology, the administration of ozone gas as therapy helped close the diabetic foot ulcer and reduced the risk of infection.

3. Infections

Evidence suggests that ozone can be an antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral agent. Thus, it could be useful in treating oral, skin, and respiratory infections, for example. In any case, further studies are required to corroborate this effect and its safety.

4. Immune system

One of the most special effects of ozone therapy is its immunomodulatory activity. To be more precise, it has been observed to improve the immune system’s response to infections and chronic diseases.

In a study shared in 2018, ozone mixed with blood, administered in HIV patients, helped decrease viral load over two years. Despite this, the researchers point to the need for more clinical trials.

Other possible benefits of ozone therapy

  • A study published in Medical Gas Research found that ozone therapy is beneficial for osteoarthritis of the knee. Specifically, it appears to improve range of motion.
  • Because of its ability to stimulate blood oxygenation and reduce inflammation, it may help manage arthritis and herniated discs.
  • It may decrease the risk of peripheral vascular disease and circulatory disorders.

The possible side effects of ozone therapy

The use of ozone therapy is controversial due to reports of its harmful effects. It’s not approved for use in countries such as the United States. The FDA reported that ozone is a toxic gas with no proven preventive or supportive medicine benefits.

Although some studies speak of its potential benefits, its safety as a therapeutic agent in humans needs to be investigated. It’s associated with the following side effects:

  • Gas embolism
  • Blood-borne infections
  • Bilateral visual field loss
  • Swelling of blood vessels
  • Increased risk of stroke and heart problems
  • Burning, coughing, headaches, and nausea (when inhaled)
Efecto adverso ocular de la ozonoterapia.
The ocular side effects of ozone therapy could be serious, with a risk of temporary blindness.

To apply ozone therapy, the gas is used in several ways. It can be as ozonated water in an ozone sauna or blowing the gas into the body. It’s also administered as intra-articular infiltration, topical treatment, and autohemotherapy.

In autohemotherapy, ozone is mixed with a small amount of drawn blood and re-injected. There’s no evidence of the safety of this intervention.

What is there to remember about ozone therapy?

Although the benefits of ozone therapy are considered promising, there is insufficient evidence of its safety and efficacy. On the contrary, entities such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warn of its potential risks, especially when not applied properly.

So, before considering it as a treatment option, it’s best to consult your doctor. This is important in the case of illness, as inappropriate intervention can lead to serious complications. Keep this in mind!

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  • Elvis AM, Ekta JS. Ozone therapy: A clinical review. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2011;2(1):66-70. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.82319
  • Manoto, S. L., Maepa, M. J., & Motaung, S. K. (2018). Medical ozone therapy as a potential treatment modality for regeneration of damaged articular cartilage in osteoarthritis. In Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences (Vol. 25, Issue 4, pp. 672–679). Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2016.02.002
  • Seyam O, Smith NL, Reid I, Gandhi J, Jiang W, Khan SA. Clinical utility of ozone therapy for musculoskeletal disorders. Med Gas Res. 2018;8(3):103-110. Published 2018 Sep 25. doi:10.4103/2045-9912.241075
  • Tiwari, S., Avinash, A., Katiyar, S., Aarthi Iyer, A., & Jain, S. (2017). Dental applications of ozone therapy: A review of literature. In The Saudi Journal for Dental Research (Vol. 8, Issues 1–2, pp. 105–111). Elsevier BV. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjdr.2016.06.005
  • Smith NL, Wilson AL, Gandhi J, Vatsia S, Khan SA. Ozone therapy: an overview of pharmacodynamics, current research, and clinical utility. Med Gas Res. 2017;7(3):212-219. Published 2017 Oct 17. doi:10.4103/2045-9912.215752
  • Seyam O, Smith NL, Reid I, Gandhi J, Jiang W, Khan SA. Clinical utility of ozone therapy for musculoskeletal disorders. Med Gas Res. 2018;8(3):103-110. Published 2018 Sep 25. doi:10.4103/2045-9912.241075