ANALYSIS: Is Oxygen/Ozone Therapy Real or a Scam?

It’s referred to as “Rectal Insufflation”, which is a fancy way of injecting ozone gas up your butt.  Yup, that’s not a joke.    And ozone generator machines are sold online to help you with these ersatz ozone enemas.  There’s also “major autohemotherapy”, where your blood is removed into an IV bag, mixed with ozone gas and re-injected back into you.  Is it a scam?  Perhaps not.  But it should be approached with optimal caution.  One reason is because the science behind using ozone (O3) for medicinal purposes is not very well developed.  And second, because ozone is a deadly gas — if it gets in your lungs, it’ll kill you.   So you are playing with medicinal dynamite when you start infusing your body with ozone.  The Environmental Protection Administration even warns against buying ozone generators that allegedly clean the air in your home.   This is a very volatile and life-threatening gas that should be treated with respect and research.

What is Oxygen/Ozone Therapy?

The concept behind O2 and O3 (ozonides) therapy is that they boost the human immune system, increase delivery of oxygen to cells and improve heart and circulatory health.  They are also alleged to stimulate antioxidant enzymes.   The problem, of course, is that both gases are extremely unstable and ingestion must be done as soon as the gas is “manufacturered” in order to get the full benefit.

Sadly, while the claims are promising, the science is not.   The Federal Drug Administration’s assessment of ozone therapy as of 2018 is stark: “a toxic gas with no known useful medical application”.   There have been few credible studies and it isn’t clear as to what exactly the ozone does to the human body.  Exposure to ozone is associated with a significant increase in the risk of death from a respiratory disease, and it has well-known toxic effects on people’s lungs when present with nitrogen dioxide in smog.

One published study was even starker in its warning:  “An array of ill-effects are observed owing to the reactivity of O3 viz oxidation, peroxidation or generation of free radicals and giving rise to cascade of reactions…”

Some other credible Internet-based sources are similarly discouraging of ozone therapy usage:

So is Ozonides Therapy Bogus and Unsafe?

Not necessarily.  While the science isn’t solid, ozone therapy has been used for over 150 years by physicians in countries like Germany, Cuba and Brazil with remarkable benefits.  Moreover, it is relatively inexpensive and is not patentable…..so big pharmaceutical companies can’t jack up the prices of these treatments.  According to Medical News Today, ozone therapy is used in the US for:

However, because the scientific support for ozone therapy is so weak, there are a number of detractors who properly warn consumers to be cautious when considering it.  British chemist Myles Power makes some very strong cases against many of the more outrageous therapeutic claims.

Ozone and Back Pain

While most of the oxygen/ozone therapies are on shaky scientific footing, one therapy that appears largely successful is for treating back pain due to narrowed disks.   You can read more about the procedures at this link.  And this link deals directly with herniated discs presented at a San Diego medical conference in 2009.   WebMD reports that in recent years more than 14,000 lower back pain patients have been treated with ozone therapy in Europe, mostly in Italy, where the procedure was developed.  It is now being used in the U.S. by neurologists, with notable success.

Ozone and Lyme Disease

While possibly good for back pain, Ozone is not proven to be effective for Lyme Disease.   Lyme is a tricky disease for which there are not many effective cures.  So, it makes sense that healers might look to ozone, since it is known to boost one’s immune system.  HOWEVER,  consider  this note of caution from LymeScience.org:  “Those who have become convinced they have chronic Lyme, “toxic mold illness”, or other fake diseases often pursue harmful treatments in desperate attempts to feel better. In a 2015 scientific review, ozone therapy was among 30 “unorthodox” Lyme therapies without evidence for efficacy.It goes further to share the warning issued by the Center for Disease Control: “Antibiotics are the only known effective treatment for Lyme disease, but a quick search on the internet will introduce you to other untested remedies that claim to cure Lyme disease or chronic Lyme disease. These products—available online or from some health care providers—may be dangerous, deadly, or simply a waste of money.”

Our Bottom Line

When it comes to Ozone therapy, there’s a lot that can go wrong.  For patients suffering chronic conditions that have few/no alternative treatments, it may make sense.  But as a prophylactic treatment, it is both unproven (scientifically) and involves a high degree of risk.

 

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