Introduction to Ozone Therapy: Benefits and Applications
SEPTEMBER 2022 | Dr. Ashley Southern
Introduction to Ozone Therapy: Benefits and Applications
When talking about ozone, the first thing that likely comes to mind is the ozone layer, Earth’s protective shield that filters out the sun’s most powerful UV rays. But did you know that ozone is also an effective therapy for many of our body’s most vital functions? As it turns out, ozone is just as beneficial for the health of our bodies on the inside as it is for the outside.
Ozone’s properties are proven to have significant impacts on our immune system, cardiovascular and vascular health, pain and inflammation management, and disease prevention. Studies show ozone therapy decreases blood viscosity, improves diuresis, increases oxygenation, and balances blood PH levels. Due to these factors, ozone therapy is effective for not only treating pain and chronic inflammatory diseases, but preventing them as well. Ozone therapy is safe and accessible, making it an effective alternative to conventional drug therapies.
But First, What is Ozone?
Ozone (O3) is a highly reactive gas formed when the two oxygen atoms in oxygen (O2) are forced apart and then combine with a third oxygen atom, creating O3. This third oxygen atom causes the molecular structure to become unstable; it is this instability that is believed to give ozone its beneficial properties (Mendes, 2020). Ozone can be either human made (medical) or occur naturally. Ninety percent of Earth’s naturally occurring ozone is formed when ultraviolet energy from the sun reacts with oxygen in the atmosphere. Medical ozone is a combination of oxygen and ozone gas, typically a mix of 1-5% O3 and 95-99% O2.
One of the strongest naturally occurring oxidants, ozone is designed to keep us safe. Its most basic function is to protect us from harmful ultraviolet radiation (A.M. Elvis, 2011), a known factor that causes damage and deterioration to our cells. From this lens, it’s easy to connect why ozone is such an effective tool for the health and function of our bodies.
A Brief History of Ozone
Ozone was first discovered in 1785. By 1873, it was discovered that it had antimicrobial properties, making it a common topical disinfectant, as it instantly destroys bacteria and viruses upon contact and is 150 times more effective than bleach. From there, it gained traction in the medical world, and by 1911 ozone was being used to treat several conditions including tuberculosis, anemia, tinnitus, asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, pneumonia, and syphilis. By 1915, the German army was using ozone to treat wounds, infections, gangrene, frozen foot, and decubitus ulcers. In 1961, Dr. Hans Wolff developed foundational autohemotherapy techniques that are still considered as the standards for modern ozone therapies today.
How Does Ozone Therapy Work?
Standard ozone therapy procedures typically involve removing a sample of blood, infusing it with controlled levels of ozone, and then slowly reintroducing it back into the body intravenously. Because ozone is highly unstable, when it comes in contact with biological fluids, it reacts immediately, causing multiple chain reactions that impact the organic compounds within that system. Once injected, ozone reacts instantly with many molecules in human blood, such as red blood cells and antioxidants. The antioxidants already circulating are key, as they act to stabilize the ozone as it passes through the bloodstream, stimulating production of even more antioxidants as it goes. This process causes a whole cascade of beneficial enzymatic reactions that makes ozone so effective in treating chronic pain and inflammation. The ultimate results are decreased oxidative damage made by free radicals in the mitochondria, increased oxygen utilization by enhancing oxygenation of red blood cells, repaired DNA, and much more. Studies have shown rapid antioxidant regeneration only 20 minutes after ozonation, indicating that ozone therapy increases antioxidant production and encourages functionality of a well-balanced circulatory system.
Benefits of Ozone Therapy
Ozonation increases oxygen delivery throughout the blood. Nearly all diseases, and even the process of aging, decrease the oxygen utilization in cells. This decrease can lead to excessive free radical production that can cause organ breakdown, degenerative diseases, and a decrease in the NAD/NADH ratio. Ozone therapy helps to balance and stabilize these systems.
When ozone reacts with blood (such as in Ozone IV Treatment), it produces reactive oxygen species and lipid oxygen products called ozonides, which are well known antimicrobials. Ozone therapy is therefore effective in killing bacteria, viruses, and battling other chronic infections.
Ozonation activates the release of a molecule called NrF2, a vital protein with respect to oxidative stress and toxicity. After NrF2 binds to the nucleus of cells, it gets absorbed and binds to the protein MAF, triggering an antioxidant activation throughout the body. This response stimulates 230 genes that belong to the phase II antioxidant and detoxification response (Emma Borrelli, 2018).
Ozone stimulates the central analgesic system, which aids in managing how the body registers pain and inflammatory responses. Ozone is absorbed into the discal nucleus pulposus in the spine—the soft filling in the middle of our vertebral discs—and produces hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and hydroxide (OH). The H2O2 and OH work to dissolve proteoglycans and collagen type I and II, known sources of inflammation and cellular deterioration. As H202 and OH combat this breakdown, they release antioxidants and allow for cells to absorb water and other hydrolytic nutrients that help to shrink herniated tissue and release built-up pressure. Reducing these sources of irritation decreases nerve sensitivity, pain signalling to the brain, and the amount of inflammation in the area.
Ozone has also shown to induce eosinophil generated 15-LOX-1 (Robert Jay Rowan, 2019), a significant anti-inflammatory enzyme.
Circulatory and Vasodilation Properties
Bio oxidative ozone increases the production of nitric oxide (NO), which can improve blood flow and circulation. NO is a vasodilator and known to play a crucial role in the overall health of the vascular system. NO helps to maintain vascular stability, regulate cell growth, and protect cells from any threats circulating through the bloodstream (Dimitris Tousoulis, 2012). In addition to improvements in blood viscosity, ozone also increases glutathione production and antioxidant activity, yet another crucial piece to maintaining a healthy vascular system.
Pain Management Properties
Ozonation is a proven therapy for complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a condition known to cause symptoms of burning pain, swelling, hyperesthesia and hyperhidrosis in extreme cases. Ozone addresses many of the root causes of CRPS, including inflammation, NO deficiency and reduced circulation (Robert Jay Rowan, 2019).
Ozone IVs are a “bio oxidative therapy,” linked to upregulating the endogenous antioxidant system, activating immune functions, and suppressing inflammatory responses throughout the body. These are key factors when addressing oxidative stress (Mutlu Buyuklu, 2017) due to cellular degeneration.
Ozone oxidative therapy manipulates the immune system by balancing inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines within the system (Jun-Ming Zhang, 2009). Cytokines are proteins that play a major role in inflammatory responses and pain signalling.
Ozonation releases endorphins that block pain signals to the brain. It also activates descending antinociceptive pathways to the brain, an imperative system that manages pain signalling and communication throughout the body.
Safe for Patients
Ozone is believed to be safer than other conventional medical treatments or drug therapies. Since ozone is oxygen-based it does not leave chemical residues behind that the body has to metabolize, as seen in other pharmacological substances. Multiple studies using ozone via several routes of administration have shown little to no side effects (the most common being bruising or irritation from IV administration, which is due to IV administration, not ozone itself).
Ozone Therapy as Preventative
As can be seen from its long list of benefits, ozone therapy is not only an effective means for managing current symptoms, but preventing symptoms from developing as well. It does this through two major factors:
- Promotes enhanced immune modulation
- Encourages muscle metabolism which boosts efficient energy production
The long-term effects of ozone therapy have been proven to enhance the immune system. The production of NrF2 not only increases antioxidant levels in the blood, but also inhibits insulin and growth hormone production, which increases the body’s stress and pain resistance.
Enhancing circulation and oxygen metabolism helps to optimize the overall health and functionality of your cells, turning your body into a well-organized, efficient machine, equipped to handle any challenge it may face.
Ozone therapy is used to support a wide variety of conditions, including:
- Coronary, arterial, and cardiovascular diseases
- Macular degeneration
- Chronic fatigue
- Acute and chronic infections
- Dental osteitis
- Fibromyalgia and other autoimmune diseases
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Herpes I and II
- Chronic musculoskeletal pain from: knee injuries, cervical spinal injuries, SI joint instability/ dysfunction sacroiliac joint, facet joint pain, back pain, degenerative disc disease, adhesive capsulitis, golfers elbow, tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, and many more
Ozonation has also been used to support symptoms related to dysfunction of the adrenal glands, liver, neurological systems, detoxification, digestion, metabolic systems, and hormone production. It can also help to manage symptoms and side effects related to chemotherapy.
Studies show that administering ozone therapy twice weekly while increasing the dosage each week can have effective results – 85% of patients reported increased feelings of wellness and energy levels within 3-4 weeks (Emma Borrelli, 2018).
There are several ways of administering ozone therapy, including Ozone IV infusions or Major Auto Hemotherapy (MAH), ozonated saline IV, ozone saunas (oxygen sauna therapy), Prolozone Therapy, and more.
“Prolozone” is a type of regenerative therapy that combines concepts of neural therapy, Prolotherapy, and ozone; prolozone addresses pain, cellular degeneration, and joint injury (Shallenberger, 2011). By injecting a mix of anesthetic, vitamins, minerals, and ozone gas into areas of pain, this mixture encourages tissue regeneration, pain relief, and decreases inflammation.
Nascent Health offers many services designed to support and manage your health concerns and symptoms, including Prolozone therapy. If you believe that ozone therapy is right for you, our entire community is here to help ensure you get the best treatment so that you can feel your best.