I’ll spare you a migraine. Don’t google “ozone therapy” as you’ll get 2.1 million results in 0.35 seconds. And while this is a mere fraction of what happens when you search for “migraine” (80 million in 1.19 seconds), just reading about the controversy over ozone therapy in first 20 entries might be enough to give you a throbbing pain behind your eye.
Although there are only a handful of medical centers in the Chicago area currently offering ozone therapy, the number is on the rise. Doctors of all stripes (MDs, DOs DCs, dentists, nurse practitioners) are signing up for courses on ozone therapy, joining the American Academy of Ozonotherapy, and adding ozone treatment to their practices.
In case you were dozing that day in high school chemistry class, ozone is a form of oxygen made up of three oxygen atoms instead of our more familiar two-atom oxygen. It’s O3 rather than O2. High above the earth, the fabled but thinning ozone layer protects us from excessive ultraviolet radiation from the sun. A thinner ozone layer means more skin cancer and more climate change.
Here on earth itself, ozone levels correspond to the amount of air pollution, though the real villains in smog are hydrocarbons and nitrates.
Dose is everything
Oxygen as therapy has been around a long time. Once scientists learned how to generate oxygen and store it in tanks, oxygen became another tool in medicine, along with pharmaceuticals and surgical suites. If you’ve ever been a hospital patient, you’ve likely felt oxygen’s plastic prongs in your nostrils.
On the other hand, pure, inhaled ozone is definitely not therapy. Breathing in pure ozone is highly irritating to your lungs and not good for you at all.
The confusion about ozone therapy, as well as the hostility toward it from conventional physicians, comes from a failure of perspective. We need water for survival, but if we drank five gallons at once we’d become seriously ill and quite possibly die.
Most prescription medicines are micro-dosed in milligrams, which is one thousandth of a gram. That tablet you swallow is mainly filler and binder. A milligram is too small to be seen by the naked eye. Even tinier, birth control pills are dosed in micrograms, or one millionth of a gram.
With ozone, like medication, smaller is better. Or maybe like Mies van der Rohe, less is more. Patients receive a tiny amount of this supercharged oxygen molecule not for any particular medical condition, but rather to make various systems in the body function more efficiently.
Ozone heals the body and clears toxins simultaneously. It’s used for a variety of chronic conditions that are not responding to conventional therapies alone. These include cardiovascular problems, diabetes, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, chronic infections like Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses, candidiasis, autoimmune disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, ALS, Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis.
A quick pause here to insert something about aging. We all know we need oxygen to survive. No discussion about that. But as we age, our ability to efficiently utilize oxygen slowly and steadily declines. And with this inevitable deterioration comes our susceptibility to chronic disease.
When toddlers get a bad cold or a skinned knee, they’re usually all healed up in a couple of days. I’m sure you’ve already discovered that a winter cold can last for weeks or a scratch on your arm takes months to heal. A lot of this has to do with your declining oxygen utilization capabilities.
How ozone works
Okay, here’s today’s takeaway. Ozone, administered in very small doses, seems to enhance our body’s oxygen utilization systems. I’d call the ozone dose homeopathic (i.e., extremely tiny), except conventional physicians get their knickers all twisted when anyone mentions homeopathy.
–Regulate your immune system (whether underactive as in chronic infections or overactive as in autoimmune disease).
–Stimulate increased oxygen uptake into each cell.
–By doing so, improve circulation.
–Increase antioxidant protection.
–Stimulate mitochondria, your cell’s energy centers.
A small dose means this: a nurse draws about half a cup of blood and runs it through a generating device that bubbles ozone through it. Then the blood is returned to your body. You leave with the same amount of blood as you arrived with. The term for this is autotransfusion. Specially trained physicians can administer ozone by joint injection, or into sinuses, rectum, bladder, and vagina. Despite a plethora of how-tos on YouTube, this is definitely not DIY health care.
If all your bodily systems work better with improved oxygen utilization, then ozone therapy is potentially a useful adjunct for just about any chronic illness. Note the word adjunct, meaning ozone is not a replacement for good medical care and self care. Use ozone with your heart meds, cancer chemo, antibiotics, and your healthful daily nutrition, movement, and sleep.
The only time you might use ozone alone is as part of an antiaging program. Can ozone therapy slow aging? In theory, it should. In practice, it’s never been tested. Would I personally replace healthy diet and exercise with regular ozone therapy? Nope. We’ve proven beyond doubt that diet and exercise promote healthy longevity. As much as I like ozone therapy, I’d use it as an add-on, not a replacement.
Now you sensibly ask, “Why are there no clinical trials on the effectiveness of ozone?”
You know the answer already. As much as Big Pharma would enjoy the opportunity, even they can’t patent oxygen or ozone. No patent, no profit. No profit, no product. It’s simply easier for conventional medicine (which includes Big Pharma) to take a stance against anything it can’t profit from.
If you’re contemplating a course of ozone therapy for yourself or a loved one, do some homework and read a little about it first. Don’t get swept up in unrealistic hype, but also don’t slam the door on a potentially useful therapy.
There are several centers around town offering ozone, including WholeHealth Chicago. Since you’ll need at least ten treatments to see if it’s right for you, consider both pricing and geographic convenience. If you sense a hard-sell, exit the place. Be an informed healthcare consumer.
And be well,
David Edelberg, MD