Ozone gas is a tremendous aid to healing used by practitioners worldwide! The acceptance of gases used in medical procedures has increased as the ability to test and use such materials has increased. For example, nitrous oxide, nicknamed “laughing gas,” has become a go-to anesthetic for dentists. While not yet as widely used as other medical-grade gases, ozone gas is proving to be helpful and is becoming well-known in the medical community. Which leads one to ask, how does ozone work in the human body, and what ozone therapy benefits could improve your health?
What is ozone?
Ozone is a rather unstable molecule with 3 oxygens atoms, which causes it to easily “donate” one of its oxygens. It can be created in the earth’s atmosphere when charged particles from lightning come into contact with oxygen, which is composed of 2 oxygen atoms. Medical-grade ozone gas is created in a lab, specifically to be used in a clinical setting. Studied and used for over a hundred years now (1), ozone gas has shown itself to be a remarkably potent and wide-ranging aid to healing.
The donation of an oxygen atom, a process called “oxidation,” is what makes ozone valuable. Ozone aids healing because when a donated oxygen atom comes into contact with pathogens in the blood such as a virus or bacteria, it can breach the outer coating of the pathogen, rendering it unable to survive (1). When directed properly, oxidation can directly kill pathogens in the blood while leaving blood cells themselves unharmed.
Ozone has been studied carefully for many years under particular circumstances. It is similar to many therapies in that it can extremely beneficial when used one way, yet harmful if used in another way. For example, it was revealed that inhaling high levels of ozone was damaging to human lung tissue. (There are even “ozone action days,” reported when ozone is high in the atmosphere.) However, there is emerging evidence that in small amounts, ozone may reduce oxidative stress in the lungs that is present with pneumonia (2). Because ozone therapies appear rather dose-dependent, clinical practices use ozone in dosages that achieve good benefits but are well below toxicity levels.
Treating Blood with Ozone / IV Ozone Therapy
One big ozone breakthrough came with finding a method to flood the blood with ozone. Being able to treat blood with ozone opened a whole new realm of therapeutic value. It was discovered that a small amount of blood could be pulled from the body and combined under pressure with ozone. This would cause ozone to bind to the blood, and be returned to the patient in a closed system. This intravenous (IV) blood transfusion to oneself is called “autohemotransfusion,” and when ozone is added to the blood under pressure, it is commonly called “IV ozone therapy.”
While the blood is being exposed to ozone in this process, the oxygens donated by the ozone can directly kill pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and funguses (1). As mentioned before, ozone can create a hole of sorts in the cell envelope through the process of oxidation (1, 4). Once breached, the microbe is unable to sustain its functions and dies. Many types of microorganisms are susceptible to this: viruses, funguses, bacteria, and even protozoa. In a sense, this therapy is taking one’s blood out of the body, sterilizing it of diseases, and returning it to the body.
Typically blood cells themselves are unharmed by ozone. However, if a batch of IV ozone treatment (a “pass”) is repeated too many times, it can begin to have negative effects. Dr. Lahodny, a pioneer in ozone treatments, performed a lot of experimentation with ozone and established upper limits on how many times IV ozone treatments should be repeated. The “Ten Pass Method” is the treatment he is known for (3).
After this devastating direct blow to pathogens, the ozonated blood can then go back into the body to create a cascade of beneficial secondary effects, some of which are listed below.
Benefits of IV Ozone Therapy
While it is beneficial to administer topical ozone to wounds and ozonated substances injected into joints, IV ozone therapy can treat the body as a whole, systemically. Thanks to the keen interest of researchers over the years, there are studies that show these positive impacts (1, 4):
- stimulates the immune system response through a variety of channels
- increases oxygen uptake and usage
- spurs the body to increase its antioxidant levels
- inactivates viruses such as HIV, herpes, and viral oral infections
- inactivates bacteria such as C. difficile and drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
- inactivates funguses such as Candida
- reduces inflammation
-stimulates mitochondrial ATP production through NAD pathways
IV Ozone Reduces Many Risks by Mitigating Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is an extremely common health issue. Acute inflammation itself is a normal and natural healing response. For example, if you cut your finger the body launches a response to protect itself from microscopic foreign invaders and also knit the tissues back together to seal the wound. This quick, natural healing response brings immune system cells and heat to the area to help fend off possible infection. Once the crisis is over, the inflammation goes away. The process is usually short-lived. However, there are cases where the human body develops chronic inflammation, staying stuck in this defensive response for long periods. Over time this can wear the body down and either set the stage for (or be the direct cause of) illness.
Chronic inflammation has long been investigated as a risk factor behind a variety of illnesses (5), such as:
- cardiovascular diseases
- autoimmune diseases (for example, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid arthritis)
- neurodegenerative disorders (for example, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease)
The current thinking is that inflammation may be a causative force, actually being the driving factor behind disease rather than merely a risk. Indeed, there is now inquiry into inflammation as a theory of disease, floated by Philip Hunter in 2012 (6), and revisited by Harvard in 2020 (7). If one looks at repositories of medical studies, the role of inflammation is being looked at closely in dozens of diseases and conditions.
Thankfully, ozone shines in the area of reducing inflammation, if one looks at blood tests done for various markers of inflammation. Through its effects on various inflammation pathways, ozone has been estimated to reduce inflammation by 80% (8)! Imagine the health benefits from such a substantial reduction in inflammation, considering that chronic inflammation may go on to be associated with so many painful or debilitating diseases.
Is IV Ozone Therapy for Me?
The beneficial effects of IV ozone are wide-ranging, and can benefit anyone experiencing the following:
- a condition made worse or potentially caused by inflammation
- overgrowths of microorganisms (virus, fungus, bacteria, parasites)
- chronic viral infections (Herpes, Epstein Barr )
- chronic mold exposure
- chronic Lyme disease or other tick-borne infections
- chronic fatigue
- chronic pain
- joint pain unresolved by ozone injections
- the need for general detoxification
- symptoms that have defied medical diagnosis
- a treatment that has plateaued
- a desire for a complementary therapy
This list is by no means comprehensive (1). It would be worth exploring IV ozone treatments for any mysterious symptom or set of symptoms that defy diagnosis or do not seem responsive to previous attempts at treatment.
How Safe is IV Ozone Therapy?
Although IV ozone therapy is not risk-free, it does have a very high safety profile. A thorough clinical review of ozone therapy says “Its effects are proven, consistent, safe and with minimal and preventable side effects (1).” Even if a patient is already receiving some type of treatment from a doctor, many will allow Ozone IV therapy as a complementary treatment due to its many beneficial effects and relative safety.
One possible mild risk of IV ozone treatments is that of a Herxheimer reaction, also known as a “healing crisis.” A healing crisis is a natural byproduct of immune system stimulation, so is seen in other therapies as well. This healing reaction may result in one having very mild flu-like symptoms- feeling slightly run-down, having mild body aches, or headaches. However, these reactions pass quickly and rarely worsen.
While IV ozone therapy has numerous benefits, it is an unstable element, so most of the serious risks have to do with having direct contact with it:
- High levels of ozone are harmful to the lungs if inhaled (4), causing coughing, shortness of breath, possible negative effects on the vasculature, and can even affect the heart
- Direct contact of ozone to the eyes is not advised
Light + Gas: Super-charging IV Ozone with UVBI
IV ozone can be greatly enhanced by combining this therapy with Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation (abbreviated as “UVBI” or “UBI”). In the process of autohemotransfusion outside of the body for IV ozone therapy, the blood is passed through a UV light (“irradiated”) before going back into the body. The amount of time and the frequency of the UV light can be varied to achieve different therapeutic benefits.
Experiments with UV light date back to the 19th century, when it was discovered that rays from the sun could inhibit the growth of bacteria. The wavelengths of light were divided and categorized, and as more studies were performed the benefits of the range of wavelengths dubbed “ultraviolet” emerged. UV light was initially used topically for conditions of the skin and was wildly successful in treating “lupus vulgaris,” an external type of tuberculosis (9). Once it was discovered that UV light could kill various kinds of bacteria, UV light attracted great scientific attention.
As in the case of IV ozone therapy, treating blood with UV light opened up new therapeutic benefits. The first device to irradiate blood with UV light was used in the 1930s to great success. Much of the foundational knowledge in this field was generated at this time. Similar to IV ozone therapy, UVBI does not require all the blood in the body to be treated and has both direct and secondary effects. A small amount of treated blood can have a huge positive impact.
While IV ozone can kill microorganisms by damaging their essential outer layer, UVBI kills microorganisms by breaking their DNA (9). When IV ozone and UVBI treatments are combined, it delivers two direct, severe blows to microorganisms in a row. Like IV ozone, UV light treatment kills pathogens while allowing normal cells to live, and goes on to have secondary effects, kicking off a cascade of immune responses.
Combining IV ozone with UVBI treatment has a synergistic effect, greatly amplifying the qualities of each therapy. Indeed, fewer passes of IV ozone may be necessary when UVBI is added, with the ultimate effect being as if many more passes were done. The effect is similar to increasing the “dosage” of the IV ozone. With this added power, it is good that UVBI also helps the mop-up of dead cellular material by increasing phagocytosis (9).
Harnessing the power of light and gas in a clinical setting may be just what the doctor ordered. Whether you are seeking complementary therapy or would like to try IV ozone and UVBI to reduce symptoms from a chronic infection, we would love to evaluate your situation and help make a customized plan for your care. The combined therapies can have powerful therapeutic effects. With the careful administration by trained professionals, these therapies can quickly move you along your health journey.
Jonathan Vellinga, MD is an Internal Medicine practitioner with a broad interest in medicine. He graduated Summa cum laude from Weber State University in Clinical Laboratory Sciences and completed his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Upon graduation from medical school, he completed his Internal Medicine residency at the University of Michigan. Dr. Vellinga is board-certified with the American Board of Internal Medicine and a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine.
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