Ozone therapy

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Alternative medicine
Person undergoing ozone IV therapy
Person undergoing ozone IV therapy

Ozone therapy is a form of alternative medicine treatment that purports to increase the amount of oxygen in the body through the introduction of ozone. Various techniques have been suggested, with purported benefits including the treatment of cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, among others. There is no credible, peer reviewed evidence to support the use of ozone as a type of medical therapy.[1]

Ozone therapy is sold as an alternative treatment for various illnesses. Beginning in 1991 the FDA has prosecuted and sent to jail several people presenting themselves as medical doctors and selling ozone therapy products as a medical cure or operating medical clinics using ozone therapy for healing human illness.[2][3] Arrests following similar activity have been made in other countries as well.[4][5] At least 10 deaths have been related to ozone therapy or its lack of usefulness, in nine cases there had been investigation and in eight it was discovered that the practitioners had used false credentials.[6]

Proposed uses[edit]

Ozone therapy consists of the introduction of ozone into the body via various methods, usually involving its mixture with various gases and liquids before injection, with potential routes including the vagina, rectum, intramuscular (in a muscle), subcutaneously (under the skin), or intravenously (directly into veins). Ozone can also be introduced via autohemotherapy, in which blood is drawn from the patient, exposed to ozone and re-injected into the patient.[1]

This therapy has been proposed for use in various diseases, including cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer's dementia, Lyme disease, though supportive evidence for these applications is limited. Theories about the ability of ozone to kill tumor cells with oxygen have no credible scientific basis.[1] For treatment of HIV/AIDS, although ozone deactivates the viral particles outside the body, there is no evidence of benefit for living patients.[7]

The United States Food and Drug Administration initially stated in 1976, and reiterated its position in 2006, that when inhaled, ozone is a toxic gas which has no demonstrated safe medical application, though their position statements primarily deal with its potential for causing inflammation and pulmonary edema in the lungs. They also emphasize that in order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present at concentrations far greater than can be safely tolerated by humans or other animals.[8] More recent reviews have highlighted that different routes of administration may result in different therapeutic and side effect profiles,[9] though a statistically robust meta analysis of available research has not been performed to date.

Ozone has been suggested for use in dentistry, but existing evidence does not support its use.[10][11]

Some reviews have suggested ozone as potential treatment for herniated discs [12] and diabetic neuropathy.[13]

There is some controversy about its use by athletes in an attempt to increase performance; although its use is not disallowed in and of itself, it can be mixed with banned substances for administration prior to injection.[14]


Much of the concern related to ozone therapy revolves around the safety of blood ozonation. It is well established that when inhaled by mammals, ozone reacts with compounds in tissues lining the lungs and triggers a cascade of pathological effects including pulmonary edema.[9] Saul Green has argued that since ozone has the capacity to oxidize organic compounds in an atmospheric environment, it should also logically oxidize blood components and endogenous human tissues.[15] High levels of inhaled ozone are known to be toxic, though single-dose inhalation of lower levels is not.[16] Proponents suggest that its effects are tissue dependent, though the subject is still debated.[9][17]

Serious complications reported from the use of this therapy include the development of hepatitis and also include five reported fatalities.[18] There is some concern about an association with heart attacks after autohemotherapy,[19] though this association has been contested as well.[20]


In 1856, just 16 years after its discovery, ozone was first used in a health care setting to disinfect operating rooms and sterilize surgical instruments.[21] By the end of the 19th century the use of ozone to disinfect drinking water of bacteria and viruses was well established in mainland Europe.[21][22] In 1892 The Lancet published an article describing the administration of ozone for treatment of tuberculosis.[23] Ozone was used during the First World War for disinfection of wounds.[24]

In April 2016, the FDA has prohibited the use of ozone "In any medical condition for which there is no proof of safety and effectiveness". It determined that "ozone is a toxic gas with no known useful medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy" and that its use as a germicide was not safe.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Oxygen Therapy". American Cancer Society. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Ozone previous arrest fraud The Sentinel Sun
  3. ^ Mediscams, Dangerous Medical Practices and Health Care Fraud, and How to Prevent them from Harming You and Your Family, Chuck Whitlock, page 139. ISBN 9781580631808 (Google Books online)
  4. ^ Ozone Therapy Lands Kampala Doctor in Trouble, 15 December 2008 (Uganda Radio Network)
  5. ^ Woman who saught Thai "Ozone Therapy" dies, 7 September 2006 (The New Zealand Herald website)
  6. ^ Ozone Therapy (What's The Harm website)
  7. ^ Green, S (1997). "Oxygenation Therapy: Unproven Treatments for Cancer and AIDS". Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. 
  8. ^ "Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21 Vol 8 section 801.415". United States Food & Drug Administration. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c Zanardi, I; Borrelli, E; Valacchi, G; Travagli, V; Bocci, V (2016). "Ozone: A Multifaceted Molecule with Unexpected Therapeutic Activity". Current medicinal chemistry. 23 (4): 304–14. doi:10.2174/0929867323666151221150420. PMID 26687830. 
  10. ^ Azarpazhooh, A.; Limeback, H. (2008). "The application of ozone in dentistry: A systematic review of literature". Journal of Dentistry. 36 (2): 104–116. doi:10.1016/j.jdent.2007.11.008. PMID 18166260. 
  11. ^ Cho, H; Lynham, AJ; Hsu, E (12 May 2017). "Postoperative interventions to reduce inflammatory complications after third molar surgery: review of the current evidence". Australian dental journal. 62 (4): 412–419. doi:10.1111/adj.12526. PMID 28498604. 
  12. ^ Steppan J, Meaders T, Muto M, Murphy KJ (April 2010). "A metaanalysis of the effectiveness and safety of ozone treatments for herniated lumbar discs". J Vasc Interv Radiol. 21 (4): 534–48. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2009.12.393. PMID 20188591. 
  13. ^ Braidy, N; Izadi, M; Sureda, A; Jonaidi-Jafari, N; Banki, A; Nabavi, SF; Nabavi, SM (8 June 2017). "Therapeutic Relevance of Ozone Therapy in degenerative diseases: Focus on Diabetes and Spinal Pain". Journal of cellular physiology. 233: 2705–2714. doi:10.1002/jcp.26044. PMID 28594115. 
  14. ^ "Belgian Court Continuing Investigation Of Ozone-therapy Doctor". Cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  15. ^ "Oxygenation therapy: Unproven treatments for Cancer and AIDS". Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine 1997. 
  16. ^ Bocci, V.; Borrelli, E.; Travagli, V.; Zanardi, I. (2009). "The ozone paradox: Ozone is a strong oxidant as well as a medical drug". Medicinal Research Reviews. 29 (4): 646–682. doi:10.1002/med.20150. PMID 19260079. 
  17. ^ Bocci, V; Zanardia, I; Valacchi, G; Borrelli, E; Travagli, V (2015). "Validity of Oxygen-Ozone Therapy as Integrated Medication Form in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases". Cardiovascular & hematological disorders drug targets. 15 (2): 127–38. doi:10.2174/1871529x1502151209114642. PMID 26126818. 
  18. ^ Ernst E (January 2001). "A primer of complementary and alternative medicine commonly used by cancer patients". Med. J. Aust. 174 (2): 88–92. PMID 11245510. 
  19. ^ Üreyen, ÇM; Baş, CY; Arslan, Ş (27 June 2015). "Myocardial Infarction after Ozone Therapy: Is Ozone Therapy Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?". Cardiology. 132 (2): 101–104. doi:10.1159/000431078. PMID 26139204. 
  20. ^ Re, L; Rowen, R; Travagli, V (2016). "Ozone Therapy and Its Use in Medicine". Cardiology. 134 (2): 99–100. doi:10.1159/000443604. PMID 26919490. 
  21. ^ a b Chemical Technology Encyclopedia; Barnes & Noble 1968 vol 1 pp 82–3
  22. ^ Suchkov BP (June 1964). "[Study of the Ozonization of Drinking Water Containing Pathogenic Bacteria and Viruses]". Gig Sanit (in Russian). 29: 22–9. PMID 14235449. 
  23. ^ "The Internal Administration of Ozone in the Treatment of Phthisis". Lancet. 140 (3612): 1180–1181. 1892. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(01)92422-5. 
  24. ^ Stoker, George (1916). "The Surgical Uses of Ozone". Lancet. 188 (4860): 712. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(01)31717-8. 
  25. ^ Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Sec. 801.415 Maximum acceptable level of ozone (FDA Website)

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