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This little-known therapy is being used by 40,000 physicians and dentists in more than 50 countries for everything from herniated disks to endodontic infections to Lyme disease, with no virtually adverse effects
Until the turn of the century, ozone therapy has remained somewhat of a "best kept medical secret" in North America. This is a shame because it can be a safe, cost effective and powerful boost to your health, providing relief from a variety of painful and disabling illnesses.
The widespread medical use of ozone first appeared in Germany in the early 1950s and has been used extensively across Europe ever since. During World War I, it was used to treat infected wounds, but ozone was subsequently swept under the rug by the pharmaceutical industry in their push toward antibiotics. With growing numbers of bacteria now becoming resistant to antibiotics, we now have an urgent need for anti-infectives that will kill these superbugs before they can kill us.
Because of ozone's remarkable antiseptic power, its most common technological application is water purification. As a disinfectant, ozone is 1,000 times more powerful than chlorine, which is why more than 600 US cities use it in water treatment facilities.
Like hyperbaric oxygen therapy, ozone therapy harnesses the healing power of oxygen. Today, 40,000 physicians and dentists in more than 50 countries use ozone therapy for everything from endodontic infections to relieving the pain of herniated disks, to reducing arterial plaque. Ozone is extraordinary in that it is simple to generate and has virtually no toxicity, making it a viable option for both treatment and prevention of illness.
But Wait--Isn't Ozone Dangerous?
Yes, and no. It depends on how much you're exposed to and what it's allowed to mix with. Allopathic physicians often caution against treatments with which they're unfamiliar, and many warnings can be found about the "dangers" of ozone, largely arising from a lack of understanding and a good amount of recycled misinformation.
Medical ozone is different from atmospheric ozone. At ground level, atmospheric ozone reacts with natural and industrial emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) in the presence of heat and sunlight, and these reactive products are unhealthy to breathe. It is not the ozone that's hard on the lungs, but the toxic agents that form in these reactions.
Fortunately, you have a natural mechanism to alert you that you're breathing in too much ozone--it's called coughing. You will cough long before any damage occurs to your lungs.
Similar to exercise, ozone is an oxidant. Ozone therapy is similar to exercise in how it creates health benefits by delivering measured doses of oxidative stress that force your body to activate its own internal antioxidant systems. The same is true for vitamin C therapy, which acts as an oxidant or antioxidant depending on the dose.
Exercise strengthens your muscles by inflicting oxidative "damage," which causes them to come back stronger in response. Similarly, blood exposed to ozone undergoes transitory oxidative stress, which is necessary to activate important biological functions without detrimental effects. Just as with exercise and high-dose vitamin C, there is a Goldilocks zone--you need enough stress to produce the effect, but not so much that it overwhelms your natural antioxidant systems.
The main enzyme at play in ozone therapy is superoxide dismutase (SOD). SOD stimulates another enzyme called telomerase, responsible for keeping your DNA young by maintaining the telomere at the end of each DNA strand. A study involving individuals with herniated discs found that ozone therapy provided oxidative protection, as well as relieving pain.
The truth is that therapeutic ozone has an excellent safety record and no toxic effects have been observed from proper clinical use. In fact, experienced practitioners report that ozone is much safer than prescription drugs, which kill 290 people in the US alone each day--and that's a conservative estimate. Side effects seldom occur with ozone therapy, but patients occasionally report slight weakness, dizziness or sleepiness that lasts for a short time during or after the treatment. Allergic skin reactions (like nettle rash) are possible with local applications of ozone, although these occurrences are rare, mild and quick to resolve.
Where infections are involved, there is always the possibility of a die-off reaction (Herxheimer reaction), although some experts report less herxing with ozone than with other anti-infective agents.
There are some contraindications. In low concentrations, ozone has a moderate hypo-coagulation effect, so drugs that decrease blood coagulation (anticoagulants, aspirin, etc.) should be discontinued during the course of ozone therapy. Ozone is probably not the best modality for those with blood coagulation failure, thrombocytopenia, or hemorrhagic or apoplectic stroke.
Ozone Relieves Pain, Kills Viruses, and is a Powerful Detox Agent
The list of ozone's therapeutic applications has grown far beyond the antiseptic properties for which it was first recognized. To date, science has suggested that ozone offers the following therapeutic benefits: 
- Increases circulation
- Improves uptake and utilization of oxygen and activation of oxygen-dependent processes; maximizes oxidative and anti-oxidative processes; upregulates mitochondrial respiration and generates greater cellular energy
- Powerful detoxification is a primary function of ozone; removal of toxins (petrochemicals included) that impair cellular respiration, energy production and nutrient absorption; stimulates metabolic processes in the liver and kidneys
- Increases efficiency of the body's antioxidant enzyme system
- Immune system modulation; increases production of white blood cells, interferon, and interleukin-2; activates cellular and humoral immunity, corrects autoimmune processes
- Fast acting anti-inflammatory: oxidizes compounds that drive the inflammatory process, regulates metabolic reactions and improves pH
- Analgesia: oxidizes the agents that irritate nerve endings in damaged tissue, thereby mitigating the pain response
- Anti-microbial (antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal); kills bacteria by rupturing their cell membranes
- Anti-cancer: stimulates production of tumor necrosis factor
- 1Anti-aging effects (increased production of telomerase)
These properties make medical ozone therapy a safe and effective treatment for all sorts of infections, including areas of the body typically receiving poor circulation. Ozone has been shown effective for sinus and endodontic infections, osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ), ear infections, hepatitis, cystitis, HIV, intestinal and blood infections, and Lyme disease.
Ozone is also being used to relieve arthritis, neuropathy, degenerative joint and disk disease, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. One of the most impressive evidence-based applications is relief from the pain of herniated disks, particularly lumbar. More than one meta-analysis found ozone treatment an effective and "extremely safe" procedure with pain and functional outcomes equal to or better than surgery, but with much lower complication rates (less than 0.1 percent) and significantly shorter recovery times. 
Dr. Robert Rowen, a leading expert in oxidative therapy, reports that ozone is about 85 percent effective for osteoarthritic knees and nearly that effective for arthritic hips when administered via injection.
For neuropathy, one study found a single subcutaneous injection of ozone reduced neuropathic pain and inflammation in mice. Ozone therapy offers new hope for fibromyalgia sufferers--a pilot study saw improvement from the physical symptoms and depressive symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Properly administered ozone therapy also benefits your heart by improving circulation and oxygen delivery. Blood viscosity is reduced for easier cardiac pumping and improved capillary perfusion. Red blood cells are better able to deliver their oxygen into tissues, a benefit that seems to persist long after treatment is completed. Inflammation is also reduced, leading to better nitric oxide formation, which dilates and relaxes vessels and further improves blood flow. Ozone is also reported to trim down arterial plaque through oxidation. 
There are potential benefits for macular degeneration as well, with authors writing that ozone therapy is a "safe and effective therapeutic option for high-risk patients with dry AMD."  For a comprehensive list of clinical studies related to the medical uses of ozone, refer to this database on Zotero.
Ozone Therapy is a Gas
When you think of an enema, liquid probably comes to mind, but ozone can be delivered into any body orifice--as a gas. Ozone is actually compatible with a number of delivery vehicles:
- mAHT (Minor Autohemotherapy): Blood is drawn into a syringe, mixed with a blend of ozone and oxygen, then returned to the body via intramuscular injection
- mAHT (Major Autohemotherapy): Blood is withdrawn intravenously from the patient, mixed with ozone and a small amount of anticoagulant, then returned to the body intravenously
- Prolozone Therapy: Ozone is injected directly into tissues; proponents claim it can produce an immediate and permanent fix for problems such as back pain and herniated disks, plantar fasciitis, TMJ, sciatica, osteoarthritis, tennis elbow and other sports injuries
- Gas Irrigation for Wound Treatment: Affected body parts, such as limbs, can be wrapped in plastic bags for sustained exposure to ozone gas
- Rectal or Vaginal Insufflation (Gas Irrigation): Similar to an enema, a gaseous mixture of oxygen and ozone is infused
- Nasal or Ear Insufflation
- Ozonated Water: Studies point to potential anti-inflammatory effects from drinking ozonated water
- Ozonated Oils: Ozone can be stabilized and trapped between the double bonds of a PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid), and then the oil applied topically 
- Ozone Sauna: Steam saunas that include ozone promote deep detoxification of all the major organs and tissues of the body, including the lymphatic system
Dr. Rowen recommends MAHT for acute infections and for resistant chronic infections such as Lyme and its coconspirators. However, for many chronic conditions rectal insufflation is highly effective and less invasive. Because it's a gas, ozone can migrate through tissues, making it possible for it to diffuse into less accessible areas of the body when injected into nearby tissues that are easier to access.
Some physicians are combining ozone therapy with its "sister" oxidative therapy, UBI (ultraviolet blood irradiation) in a method similar to MAHT. UBI has a very powerful study behind it, published in the prestigious American Journal of Surgery way back in 1947. The study details 445 cases of acute pyogenic (bacterial) infection with virtually 100 percent cure. Even those who were gravely ill and facing imminent death had a 50 percent cure rate. Dr. Rowen recently published an article about UBI in which he writes:
With the recent emergence of bacteria that are resistant to all known antibiotics, UBI should be more investigated as an alternative approach to infections, and as an immune-modulating therapy.
For More Information
Ozone is an underutilized therapy that is useful both as a treatment and as a preventative due to its powerful detoxification and healing properties, with negligible risk. It's generally less expensive than other treatments, although accessibility remains somewhat limited in certain geographic areas.
Further information about ozone is available from the American Academy of Ozonotherapy (AAOT). The practitioner-finder on their site can help you locate a qualified practitioner in your area.
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 Andreula CF et al. "Minimally Invasive Oxygen-Ozone Therapy for Lumbar Disk Herniation" AJNR 2003 24: 996-1000
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 Martinez-Sanchez G et al. "Effects of ozone therapy on haemostatic and oxidative stress index in coronary artery disease" Euro J Pharmacol. 15 Sept 2012;691 (1-3):156-162
 Borreli E et al. "Effects of major ozonated autohemotherapy in the treatment of dry age related macular degeneration: a randomized controlled clinical study" Int J Opthalmol. 2012; 5(6): 708–713. doi: 10.3980/j.issn.2222-3959.2012.06.11 PMCID: PMC3530813
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 Rowen R. "Knee, Back, and Shoulder Pain Cured With Prolozone" Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine (Originally published in Dr. Robert Rowen's Second Opinion Newsletter, Vol. XXI, Issue 5, May 2011)