Ozone therapy is an unsafe and unproven pseudoscience treatment that increases the amount of oxygen in the body through the introduction of ozone. In April 2016, the FDA prohibited all medical uses of ozone, "In any medical condition for which there is no proof of safety and effectiveness", stating "Ozone is a toxic gas with no known useful medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy. In order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present in a concentration far greater than that which can be safely tolerated by man and animals."[1] An overview of the history and practice of ozone therapy was published in the "Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine" in 2011.[2]

Alternative medicine
Person undergoing ozone IV therapy
Person undergoing ozone IV therapy

Ozone therapy is sold as an unproven alternative medicine for various illnesses. Beginning in 1991 the FDA has prosecuted and sent to jail several people presenting themselves as medical doctors and selling ozone therapy products as a medical cure or operating medical clinics using ozone therapy for healing human illness.[3][4] Arrests following similar activity have been made in other countries as well.[5][6] At least 10 deaths have been related to ozone therapy or its lack of usefulness, in nine cases there had been investigation and in eight it was discovered that the practitioners had used false credentials.[7]

Proposed usesEdit

Ozone therapy consists of the introduction of ozone into the body via various methods, usually involving its mixture with various gases and liquids before injection, with potential routes including the vagina, rectum, intramuscular (in a muscle), subcutaneously (under the skin), or intravenously (directly into veins). Ozone can also be introduced via autohemotherapy, in which blood is drawn from the patient, exposed to ozone and re-injected into the patient.[8]

This therapy has been proposed for use in various diseases, including cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer's dementia, and Lyme disease, though supportive evidence for these applications is limited. Theories about the ability of ozone to kill tumor cells with oxygen have no credible scientific basis.[8] For treatment of HIV/AIDS, although ozone deactivates the viral particles outside the body, there is no evidence of benefit for living patients.[9]

The United States Food and Drug Administration initially stated in 1976, and reiterated its position in 2006, that when inhaled, ozone is a toxic gas which has no demonstrated safe medical application, though their position statements primarily deal with its potential for causing inflammation and pulmonary edema in the lungs. They also emphasize that in order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present at concentrations far greater than can be safely tolerated by humans or other animals.[10] More recent reviews have highlighted that different routes of administration may result in different therapeutic and side effect profiles,[11] though a statistically robust meta analysis of available research has not been performed to date.

Ozone has been suggested for use in dentistry, but existing evidence does not support its use.[12][13]

Some reviews have suggested ozone as potential treatment for herniated discs [14] and diabetic neuropathy.[15]

There is some controversy about its use by athletes in an attempt to increase performance; although its use is not disallowed in and of itself, it can be mixed with banned substances for administration prior to injection.[16]


Much of the concern related to ozone therapy revolves around the safety of blood ozonation. It is well established that when inhaled by mammals, ozone reacts with compounds in tissues lining the lungs and triggers a cascade of pathological effects including pulmonary edema.[11] Saul Green has argued that since ozone has the capacity to oxidize organic compounds in an atmospheric environment, it should also logically oxidize blood components and endogenous human tissues.[17] High levels of inhaled ozone are known to be toxic, though single-dose inhalation of lower levels is not.[18] Proponents suggest that its effects are tissue dependent, though the subject is still debated.[11][19]

Serious complications reported from the use of this therapy include the development of hepatitis and also include five reported fatalities.[20] There is some concern about an association with heart attacks after autohemotherapy,[21] though this association has been contested as well.[22]


In 1856, just 16 years after its discovery, ozone was first used in a health care setting to disinfect operating rooms and sterilize surgical instruments.[23] By the end of the 19th century the use of ozone to disinfect drinking water of bacteria and viruses was well established in mainland Europe.[23][24]

In 1892 The Lancet published an article describing the administration of ozone for treatment of tuberculosis.[25] During World War I, ozone was tested at Queen Alexandra Military Hospital in London as a possible disinfectant for wounds. The gas was applied directly to wounds for as long as 15 minutes. This resulted in damage to both bacterial cells and human tissue. Other sanitizing techniques, such as irrigation with antiseptics, were found preferable.[26][27]

In April 2016, the FDA prohibited the medical use of ozone, "In any medical condition for which there is no proof of safety and effectiveness", stating "Ozone is a toxic gas with no known useful medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy. In order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present in a concentration far greater than that which can be safely tolerated by man and animals."[1]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Sec. 801.415 Maximum acceptable level of ozone (FDA Website)
  2. ^ Elvis, AM; Ekta, JS (2011). "Ozone therapy: A clinical review". Journal of Natural Science, Biology and Medicine. 2 (1): 66–70. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.82319. PMC 3312702. PMID 22470237.
  3. ^ Knotts B (19 October 1990). "Judge Won't Reduce Bail For Ozone Therapy Advocate". The Sentinel Sun. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  4. ^ Whitlock C (2001). MediScams : how to spot and avoid health care scams, medical frauds, and quackery from the local physician to the major health care providers and drug manufacturers (1st ed.). Los Angeles: Renaissance Books. p. 139. ISBN 9781580631808. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  5. ^ Malaba T, Kiwanuka C (15 December 2008). "Ozone Therapy Lands Kampala Doctor in Trouble". Uganda Radio Network. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  6. ^ "Woman who sought Thai "Ozone Therapy" dies". The New Zealand Herald. 7 September 2006. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  7. ^ Ozone Therapy (What's The Harm website)
  8. ^ a b "Oxygen Therapy". American Cancer Society. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2012.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  9. ^ Green S (1997). "Oxygenation Therapy: Unproven Treatments for Cancer and AIDS". Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine.
  10. ^ "Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21 Vol 8 section 801.415". United States Food & Drug Administration. 1 April 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  11. ^ a b c Zanardi I, Borrelli E, Valacchi G, Travagli V, Bocci V (2016). "Ozone: A Multifaceted Molecule with Unexpected Therapeutic Activity". Current Medicinal Chemistry. 23 (4): 304–14. doi:10.2174/0929867323666151221150420. PMID 26687830.
  12. ^ Azarpazhooh A, Limeback H (February 2008). "The application of ozone in dentistry: a systematic review of literature". Journal of Dentistry. 36 (2): 104–16. doi:10.1016/j.jdent.2007.11.008. PMID 18166260.
  13. ^ Cho H, Lynham AJ, Hsu E (December 2017). "Postoperative interventions to reduce inflammatory complications after third molar surgery: review of the current evidence". Australian Dental Journal. 62 (4): 412–419. doi:10.1111/adj.12526. PMID 28498604.
  14. ^ Steppan J, Meaders T, Muto M, Murphy KJ (April 2010). "A metaanalysis of the effectiveness and safety of ozone treatments for herniated lumbar discs". Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology. 21 (4): 534–48. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2009.12.393. PMID 20188591.
  15. ^ Braidy N, Izadi M, Sureda A, Jonaidi-Jafari N, Banki A, Nabavi SF, Nabavi SM (April 2018). "Therapeutic relevance of ozone therapy in degenerative diseases: Focus on diabetes and spinal pain". Journal of Cellular Physiology. 233 (4): 2705–2714. doi:10.1002/jcp.26044. PMID 28594115.
  16. ^ "Belgian Court Continuing Investigation Of Ozone-therapy Doctor". Cycling News. 9 February 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013.
  17. ^ Green S (17 June 2001). "Oxygenation therapy: Unproven treatments for Cancer and AIDS". Quackwatch.
  18. ^ Bocci V, Borrelli E, Travagli V, Zanardi I (July 2009). "The ozone paradox: ozone is a strong oxidant as well as a medical drug". Medicinal Research Reviews. 29 (4): 646–82. doi:10.1002/med.20150. PMID 19260079.
  19. ^ Bocci V, Zanardia I, Valacchi G, Borrelli E, Travagli V (2015). "Validity of Oxygen-Ozone Therapy as Integrated Medication Form in Chronic Inflammatory Diseases". Cardiovascular & Hematological Disorders Drug Targets. 15 (2): 127–38. doi:10.2174/1871529x1502151209114642. PMID 26126818.
  20. ^ Ernst E (January 2001). "A primer of complementary and alternative medicine commonly used by cancer patients". The Medical Journal of Australia. 174 (2): 88–92. doi:10.5694/j.1326-5377.2001.tb143161.x. PMID 11245510. [citation requires membership to industry magazine]
  21. ^ Üreyen ÇM, Baş CY, Arslan Ş (June 2015). "Myocardial Infarction after Ozone Therapy: Is Ozone Therapy Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?". Cardiology. 132 (2): 101–104. doi:10.1159/000431078. PMID 26139204.
  22. ^ Re L, Rowen R, Travagli V (2016). "Ozone Therapy and Its Use in Medicine". Cardiology. 134 (2): 99–100. doi:10.1159/000443604. PMID 26919490.
  23. ^ a b Chemical Technology Encyclopedia; Barnes & Noble 1968 vol. 1 pp. 82–83
  24. ^ Suchkov BP (June 1964). "[Study of the ozonization of drinking water containing pathogenic bacteria and viruses]". Gigiena I Sanitariia (in Russian). 29: 22–9. PMID 14235449.
  25. ^ "The Internal Administration of Ozone in the Treatment of Phthisis". Lancet. 140 (3612): 1180–1181. 1892. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(01)92422-5.
  26. ^ Jacewicz N (2017). "A Killer of a Cure". Distillations. 3 (1): 34–37. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  27. ^ Stoker G (1916). "The Surgical Uses of Ozone". Lancet. 188 (4860): 712. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(01)31717-8.

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