Having recently completed an ozone certification course, below I share with you information about why this can be a great therapeutic tool for nearly everyone, but especially those with suspected mitochondrial deficits, described below.
I was initially introduced to ozone therapy during the onset of the Covid pandemic. At that time, I worked a few days per week with a well-known DO in the Los Angeles area who offered a range of cutting-edge treatments. As someone who tends to lean towards the philosophy of “less is more,” I had never been particularly interested in these more novel treatment options. I didn’t perceive a need for them. However, during the peak of the pandemic when effective treatments were scarce, this clinic was administering therapeutic ozone to Covid patients. All of these patients of various ages and underling health statuses swiftly recovered within days of administration, some patients even claiming to feel better mere hours after treatment. Ozone therapy was also employed for many Long Covid patients when that became an issue, resulting in great outcomes when the broader medical community was flummoxed by how to help them. In this time I also encountered a chronic Lyme disease sufferer, a notoriously challenging condition to treat, who praised ozone therapy as the only treatment that provided long-lasting resolution of his symptoms. There was also a late-70s aged surgeon who, until his wife convinced him to consult the DO for his fatigue, had never shown interest in integrative medicine. He attested that ozone therapy “brought him back to life” and went on to receive monthly maintenance treatments that allowed him to continue to practice his craft. Experiencing these transformations inevitably led to the question, “What is this therapy doing?” In the following sections, I will elaborate on what we understand about ozone therapy.
Ozone therapy has been in use since the late 19th century, initially as a disinfectant. Nikola Tesla even patented an ozone generator in 1896, and ozone has been employed for medicinal purposes throughout the 20th century although without much recognition conventionally. It was not until the 2000s that there was a more robust consensus on its utility and in 2010, the International Scientific Committee of Ozone Therapy (ISCO 3) was established, and the Madrid Declaration on Ozone Therapy subsequently published. The American Academy of Ozonotherapy (AAOT) was also established at the same time. The premise of ozone therapy lies around oxygen utilization and the organelles dependent on this, the mitochondria. Mitochondria are responsible for generating energy for all cellular processes in the body and can be compromised by various modern-day factors including toxin exposure (such as pollution, medications, mycotoxins), stress, diet, sleep, inflammation, inadequate oxygen intake (e.g., asthma, emphysema, COPD), and other health burdens. One theory of health is that oxygen utilization is compromised in both unhealthy and diseased states, as well as during the natural aging process. This decrease in oxygen use contributes to mitochondrial impairment and death, and overall cellular death. The less healthy and active the mitochondria, the quicker we decline. Mitochondria are present throughout the body and are most abundant in muscle and nerve tissue, highlighting their crucial nature in such vital organs as the heart and brain.
Ozone consists of three oxygen molecules, and its beneficial effects on the body stem from the biochemical interactions that occur when these molecules interact with the blood. Ozone immediately chemically reacts with amino acids and lipids to form peroxides, called ozonides. These ozonides easily penetrate cell membranes and help to produce NAD, water, and oxygen within cells while also helping to sequester free-radicals. Although free radicals are natural byproducts of normal cellular processes, an excess of them can be harmful to the body. This occurs when the production of free radicals surpasses the availability of molecules to neutralize or buffer them, known as antioxidants. This imbalance in favor of free radicals occurs in unhealthy states and during the aging process, and is exacerbated by factors mentioned previously like poor diet, toxin exposure, stress, inflammation, inadequate sleep, low oxygen consumption, medication use, etc. Ozone therapy can help reverse this situation, subsequently reducing inflammation and promoting healing. The production of NAD also contributes to mitochondrial health and energy production, and the water produced as a byproduct of the ozone reaction is hydrating. Ozone therapy has also shown the potential to enhance immune system activity by increasing cytokine production, making it effective in combating bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. There are countless other biochemical effects at play with ozone that are too nuanced for this post, but they are all positive to the body!
When administered correctly, ozone therapy poses minimal risks. Internet searches may produce fear-inducing articles about embolisms and the risk of death, but these concerns result from administration error and apply to all intravenous therapy; ozone itself is not inherently dangerous when used appropriately. Ozone can irritate lung cells if inhaled, but it only becomes a respiratory toxin with prolonged exposure to high concentrations, a scenario not encountered during ozone therapy. While ozone saunas exist, their ozone levels are not concentrated enough to pose a threat. Ozone reacts immediately with blood, so there is no circulating ozone in the system, although it is interesting to note that ozone is naturally produced in the body in certain immune activities. There are few contraindications to ozone therapy, whether related to a specific diagnosis or medication. In some applications, heparin is used and this may not be suitable for individuals with a heparin allergy or those who need to avoid pork-derived products. In such cases, alternative agents can be used although with potentially slightly reduced efficacy.
All this being said, ozone is not a one-size-fits-all solution despite some extravagant claims. Its therapeutic benefit can vary from person to person and the broader context of individual health including biochemical, emotional, and energetic factors plays a significant role in outcomes. Ozone therapy is most effective when combined with other measures, most notably in addressing thyroid health, nutrient balance, and heavy metal burden. Correcting these underlying factors may be necessary to unlock the full potential of ozone therapy, rather than approaching ozone as a standalone treatment.
Prolozone (R) is an injection technique to soft tissues, created by Frank Shallenberger, MD, that uses ozone and other nutrients to treat localized pain and promote tissue healing. I am certified in this therapy (and am Ozone Therapy certified, both by Dr. Shallenberger) and look forward to offering Prolozone to patients along with general blood ozonation therapies.