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What is Ozone Therapy?

Karyn Maier
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Ozone therapy is a form of complementary medicine reputed to enhance immune system functioning. The theory behind its alleged therapeutic benefits resides in the belief that ozone, a gaseous allotrope of oxygen, may prevent or reverse disease by helping the body to better transport and metabolize oxygen. Ozone therapy is also thought to deter infectious disease by neutralizing invading bacterial enzymes that are responsible for viral infection and replication in white blood cells. While this therapy may sound like a by-product of a growing trend toward a holistic approach to healing, it’s actually been practiced since the mid-19th century. However, the debate regarding its effectiveness is likely to continue for many years to come.

In consideration of the merits of ozone therapy, the medical community has recognized the antiviral and antibacterial properties of this gas for some time. In fact, it has long been used to sterilize surgical instruments. During World War II, a topical formulation containing suspended ozone was often administered to the wounds of soldiers to deter infection. In more recent years, veterinarians use intravenous fluid ozone preparations to treat infection and decrease inflammation in animals. In Germany, ozone generators are standard pieces of equipment in ambulances, which many claim has resulted in a lower occurrence of severe or permanent paralysis in stroke patients.

Skeptics of ozone therapy argue that the evidence supporting its therapeutic benefits is largely anecdotal, and point to the fact that ozone is a toxic gas classified as an environmental pollutant which presents health risks to those with cardiopulmonary and respiratory disorders. The strongest point of view against this therapy is a concern that ozone readily degrades into unstable oxygen atoms that will seek to gain electrons by pairing, or oxidizing, with other molecules. Proponents of this form of therapy, however, maintain that ozone atoms retain their ion characteristics rather than behaving like free radicals. This means they will target and oxidize with molecules that lack glutathione peroxidase and other protective enzymes and destroy them, namely those found in foreign bacterial and viral cells.

Treatment with ozone involves very specific dosage concentrations and various methods of administration. These include autohemotherapy, or the reintroduction of ozone-infused blood, rectal, vaginal, or auricular insufflations, intramuscular injections, and ozonated water or steam. Topical applications consist of ozonated ointments or salves made from olive, hemp, or avocado oil.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strictly prohibits claims that ozone therapy can prevent or cure any disease. However, the FDA permits the use of ozone as a germicide in the food processing industry and numerous states have adopted legislation making the medical use of ozone legal. Ozone therapy is widely practiced in most European and Mediterranean countries.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Karyn Maier
By Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to The Health Board is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's Catskill Mountain region, Karyn is also a magazine writer, columnist, and author of four books. She specializes in topics related to green living and botanical medicine, drawing from her extensive knowledge to create informative and engaging content for readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon300345 — On Oct 29, 2012

What I notice in this article is no mention of the fact that there is a vast difference between atmospheric ozone and medical ozone. Once the public and other entities come to terms with that fact, they may understand the true healing nature of ozone therapy.

By JavaGhoul — On Feb 01, 2011

Alternative therapy and medicine such as Eastern techniques and herbal dietary supplements is growing in popularity in the US. As the baby boomer generation ages, there has been a spike in interest regarding diverse forms of therapy and medicine. It will be interesting to see how far we advance in increasing longevity in the next century.

By Proxy414 — On Jan 30, 2011

@GigaGold

I think that Americans like to adopt new things, but the fact that they may shun ozone does not mean that ozone is automatically risky. There can be misperceptions and urban legends that spread like wildfire anywhere. This may be the case with ozone. Upon further research, people will recognize that this can be a helpful and healthy way to improve your system.

By GigaGold — On Jan 28, 2011

Ozone seems to be a somewhat risky and controversial subject of investment. Isn't it true that Americans are rarely skeptical about new medicines and techniques? And yet ozone seems to be feared there.

By Leonidas226 — On Jan 25, 2011

We used to use ozone machines in my house to clear up a moldy smell after flooding. It worked well, and helped the air a lot, but it was important for us to stay away from the air filters when they were operating at high power, because too much ozone can be bad for you. In the long run, ozone is very good for the air and for the body, when breathed in a consistent and reasonable quantity.

Karyn Maier
Karyn Maier
Contributing articles to The Health Board is just one of Karyn Maier's many professional pursuits. Based in New York's...
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