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What is Ozone Therapy + Health Benefits & Side Effects

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Last updated:

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Potential of Ozone Therapy

Since the beginning of time, we’ve put health concepts in tiny bins and labeled them as “good,” or “bad,” like high-fat diets, or antioxidant supplements…until we realize these little cubbies aren’t always so black and white.

Ozone has suffered similar treatment.

There are two main points to remember when someone categorizes ozone as evil: all ozone isn’t the same (atmospheric ozone is not the same as pure, therapeutic ozone), and it’s the dose that makes the poison (which can be said about most beneficial therapies).

By grouping atmospheric ozone gas and ozone therapy together, we’ve turned our backs on the beneficial effects ozone therapy has on certain health disorders.

I think we’ll see more people jumping on the ozone therapy bandwagon, following in the footsteps of Healthcare in Europe.

Ozone Snapshot

Pros
  • Powerful: inactivates viruses, fungi, protozoa, and carcinomas in diseased cells by destroying their outer membrane
  • Reactivates antioxidant system and moderates immune system
  • Improves circulation
  • Decreases inflammation
  • Comes with complimentary Skype set-up consultation
  • Side effects are minimal and avoidable
Cons
  • Good to take a break from treatments 1x a week
  • Can cause ear discomfort if ear insufflations are used too often (usually subsides within a day or a few days
  • Can create a “die-off” effect
  • Can cause lung discomfort if ozone is breathed indirectly (don’t do this, can be avoided). If you do this by accident, take a large dose of vitamin C. Large amounts of ozone breathed in directly can be harmful to the lungs over time.

First of all, bursts of oxidative stress from ozone therapy is very different from other oxidative stressors.

In targeted amounts, oxidative stress from ozone therapy is able to spike a hormetic response, while activating immunocompetent cells, increasing NAD+, SOD, and glutathione peroxidase.

What is Ozone?

Ozone is an inorganic chemical compound made up of 3 oxygen molecules bonded together. Ozone is most well-known for its presence in the stratosphere, acting as a barrier against highly damaging UV rays from the sun (blocking anywhere from 93%-99% UV radiation), allowing advanced life to exist [1].

While ozone is most common at high altitude in the stratosphere, it can be found in low concentrations in the entire atmosphere [1].

At ground level, ozone is produced from the burning of fossil fuels reacting with sunlight. Here, ozone is composed of part smog and is harmful to human health [1].

However, studies show therapeutic ozone, when it is pure, and when it has not been mixed with the atmosphere’s smog, has therapeutic effects on the human body at low concentrations. It is able to boost antioxidant systems, treat wounds, relieve pain, and act as an antibacterial among other benefits [2].

In small doses, ozone becomes medically active and is therapeutic, triggering several useful biochemical mechanisms and reactivating the antioxidant system, without any toxicity or side effects [3].

Health Effects of Therapeutic Ozone

1) Inactivates Viruses, Fungi, Protozoa, Carcinomas

Ozone therapy is able to inactivate viruses, fungi, protozoa, and carcinomas in diseased cells by destroying their outer membrane [2].

Ozone is powerful, and helps with many chronic infections, even possibly treating Ebola (from what Dr. Robert Rowen experienced). There aren’t scientific studies relating to Ebola, only his experience, but his story is intriguing.

2) Treats Uveitis 

Application of ozone therapy effectively treated inflamed eyes (uveitis) in rats [4].

The ozone treated group had significantly reduced inflammation compared to a control group and had reduced messenger proteins that trigger inflammation compared to the control [4].

3) Regenerates Damaged Nerves

Ozone therapy successfully regenerated facial nerves in rats by activation of the body’s antioxidant systems [5].

Nerves manually crushed in the laboratory prior to the ozone treatment showed improved nerve health in comparison to the control rats treated with saline, with thicker fatty insulation (myelin sheath) and greater sensitivity (not by a significant figure, but still shows promise of potentially improved health) [5]. With further treatments, improvements may have been much greater.

4) Heals Ulcers Resulting From Diabetes

Ulcerous lesions in the foot (necrotic lesions, common in diabetics) can be successfully treated with ozone therapy [6].

Ozone treatment accelerates the healing process of the ulcer compared to antibiotics, and overall improves wound appearance [6].

5) Could Increase Oxygenation in Most Hypoxic Tumors

Tumor hypoxia is an adverse factor for chemotherapy and radiotherapy [7].

Despite being administered during a short period, ozone therapy improved oxygenation in most hypoxic tumors. This suggests the potential use of this therapy as an adjuvant in chemo-radiotherapy [7].

6) Reduces Potential Oxidative Kidney Damage from Kidney Stone Treatment

Ozone successfully reduces potential oxidative stress and kidney damage resulting from a common uncomplicated kidney stone treatment Extracorporeal Shockwave (ESW) lithotripsy [8].

Ozone therapy prevented the buildup of free radicals in the kidney from ESW and significantly reduced physical damage sustained by the kidney compared to a control [8].

7) Treats Herniated Disks

Ozone therapy may help treat long-term herniated disks normally only treatable by surgery (Non- spontaneously regressing disks) [9].

8) Combats Hindered Bone Regeneration Caused by Diabetes

Ozone therapy is useful in boosting bone regeneration that is typically slowed by diabetes [10].

In rats with diabetes, ozone (plus a bone transplant) spurred bone healing, growth, and recovery [10].

9) Treats Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Ozone therapy reduces inflammation that can lead to chronic kidney disease (tubulointerstitial inflammation/tubulointerstitium inflammation injury) [11].

In rats, inflamed and injured kidneys appeared to be healed by ozone, improving kidney structure to normal standards and increasing their efficiency [11].

10) Accelerates Early Healing Process in Gingival Grafts

Ozone therapy is useful in healing gingival grafts [12].

In 33 patients receiving gingival grafts, total healing time significantly decreased compared to a control (gingival graft only) when applying ozone therapy to the graft. Ozone significantly increased blood flow to the graft area 8 days after surgery [12].

The wound appearance noticeably improved, as well as the overall quality of life of the patient in comparison to the control after 8 days [12].

11) Protects Cells From Hypoxia

Ozone therapy successfully treated testicular ischemia-reperfusion (tissue damaged from the return of blood supply after prior lack of oxygen) injury in rats [13].

General testicular health was overall improved in the ozone-treated group, increasing instances of apoptosis and reducing communication protein activity (NO synthase activity). The application was most successful when directed applied locally [13].

12) Reduces Liver Damage Caused by Obstruction in the Biliary Tract 

Ozone therapy successfully and significantly reduces liver damage (Hepatic fibrosis) caused by liver obstructions in rats [14].

Lower levels of liver fibrosis and inflammation (including perioral inflammation) were observed in the ozone-treated group compared to the sham and control groups. There were also no traces of cirrhosis [14].

13) Treats Recurring Canker Sores

Ozone treatment is highly effective at treating recurring canker sores [15].

69 patients with sores were either exposed to ozone, or to regular air control. The ozone treatment group had significantly reduced ulcer pain compared to the air control, reduced ulcer size after 2 days, and overall reduced ulcer duration [15].

14) Treats Acute Distal Colitis

A rat model demonstrated ozone’s effectiveness in treating acute distal colitis (ADC) [16].

Proteins that affect inflammation (TNF-α and IL-1β), and other proteins (MDA and MPO) increased in activity from the ozone treatment as compared to the non-treatment and control [16].

Then in comparison with colon therapy group and control group, ozone therapy plus colon therapy resulted in more rapid alleviation of symptoms and better histological improvement without any adverse effects [17].

15) Relieves Lower Back Pain

Ozone treats lower back pain that may result from herniated disks [18].

A review of controlled studies on low back pain using ozone therapy shows ozone therapy as reducing short-term and long-term pain associated with the condition [18].

16) Activates the Body’s Antioxidant System

Ozone may help activate the body’s immune system by being absorbed in blood cells and soft tissues and is spread throughout the body as messengers [3].

The reactivation of the body’s antioxidant system is thought to be important in treating chronic renal failure (seen in rat study) [19].

The rats given ozone had fewer lesions, lower arterial pressure, and generally hindered the progression of disease compared to the control [19].

17) Preconditioning Helps to Prevent Intestinal Tissue Damage from Chemotherapy Drug

Methotrexate (MTX) is a chemotherapeutic agent. Gastrointestinal toxicity is the drug’s major limiting factor, mainly from oxidative damage.

It was proposed that ozone is an activator of antioxidant enzymes.

Ozone preconditioning showed a preventative effect in small intestinal tissue by decreasing tissue damage and increasing antioxidant enzyme activity in an experimental model of MTX-induced intestinal injury [20].

18) Treat Skin Diseases 

Ozone treats a variety of wounds and ulcers and is an excellent disinfectant [21].

No resistance to O3, so far, has been demonstrated, and ozonated products can be used 3-4 times daily for external genital areas, for venereal infections, and several anorectal affections [21].

As for oral infections (aphthae, HV-I, opportunistic superinfections, or acne), prompt application of ozonated ointments reduces swelling, destroys the pathogen, and allows rapid healing [21].

Others have managed their rosacea with ozone therapy [22].

Ozone Therapies

The most common ozone therapies include:

  • Rectal Insufflation
  • Vaginal Insufflation
  • Ozonated Water
  • Ear Insufflation
  • Ozone oil breathing (which creates ozone oil as a byproduct that can be used on the skin). Ozone compositions (oils) have the capacity to deliver active O2 and/or useful species deep within lesions without causing primary skin irritation.

Other Ozone Therapies Include:

  • Ozone Sauna

Ozone Therapies in-clinic Include:

  • MAH (Major Autohemotherapy): involves the injection of medical grade ozone into blood drawn from a person
  • O3UV: MAHT and ultraviolet blood irradiation are performed together.

There may be some vein-related issues when doing ozone therapy through IV. Many people have found that IV therapies may be more effective initially (show relief of symptoms faster). However, they may opt to do home therapies instead (ear insufflation, rectal and vaginal insufflation, oil breathing, and ozone water) to avoid the high cost of in-clinic therapies, and avoid side effects. Home therapies usually take a bit longer than IV therapies to show an effect but are usually just as effective.

Side Effects of Ozone Therapy

Ozone’s effects are with minimal and preventable side effects [2].

In Germany, where ozone therapy is commonplace (over 7,000 doctors in Germany use it daily), there are very few incidences of side effects. Ozone generators are also used in ambulances for treatment of stroke victims. The incidence of permanent paralysis is less common in Ozone patients than in similar non-ozone patients.

When doing the common treatments of ear insufflation, rectal, vaginal and ozone water, the main side effects are with ear insufflation. Ear insufflation, when done often (15 minutes a day, 3-4x a week), can sometimes cause ear discomfort. Usually, this can be avoided as before any signs of slight pain occur, you will first feel ear pressure. When this happens, ear insufflation treatments are avoided for 1 or 2 days (or up to 2 weeks if necessary) until all side effects are gone. This side effect always resolves, and when it does you may continue ear insufflation therapy.

Of course, you should always talk to your doctor before starting ozone sessions.

About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen won the genetic lottery of bad genes. As a kid, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine.Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers.Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO of SelfHacked, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer.His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.
Joe has been studying health sciences for 17 years and has read over 30,000 PubMed articles. He's given consultations to over 1000 people who have sought his health advice. After completing the pre-med requirements at university, he founded SelfHacked because he wanted to make a big impact in improving global health. He's written hundreds of science posts, multiple books on improving health, and speaks at various health conferences. He's keen on building a brain-trust of top scientists who will improve the level of accuracy of health content on the web. He's also founded SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer, popular genetic and lab software tools to improve health.

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