How Does Ozone Therapy Work

By Dr. Todd Maderis

Ozone therapy has been safely used to treat a variety of medical conditions over the past 100 years.  Ozone therapy is practiced all over the world and is widely accepted in European countries.

When used intravenously, ozone creates a controlled and moderate oxidative reaction within the blood that in turn causes the release of secondary products that have a therapeutic physiological effect. Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor (Nrf2) is activated in response to ozone which produces antioxidant enzymes.  Nrf2 suppresses the inflammation pathway signaled by nuclear transcriptional factor kappa B (NFkB).  Nrf2 also induces antioxidant response elements (ARE) on DNA.  The antioxidants enzymes that are activated include catalase, superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione, glutathione-reductase, glutathione-peroxidase, glutathione-S-transferase, heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) and phase II enzymes [1].  Heat shock response (HSR) protects cells from inflammation, cancer, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases [2].

Ozone Modulates the Immune System

Ozone therapy is considered a safe and effective approach to treating immune-related disorders due to its non-suppressive effect and immune modulating benefits. it is theorized that controlled oxidative stress from ozone elicits nuclear factor activated T-cells (NFAT).  NFAT then induces the anti-inflammatory cytokines IL-2, TNF alpha, IL-6, interferon gamma, and immune response elements(ARE) on DNA[3].  Many chronic illnesses are associated with elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and low levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines.  Symptoms from chronic infections such as Lyme disease are typically caused by a persistent inflammatory immune response.  This is the main reason ozone therapy is so effective at treating chronic infections.

Ozone Inactivates Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi, and Protozoa

When bacteria are exposed to ozone, the integrity of the bacterial envelope becomes compromised exposing the inner structure/function of the bacteria to the immune system. Ozone damages the viral capsid of viruses and disrupts the viral reproductive cycle[4]. Ozone has also proven to be effective at killing the fungus candida [5]. In addition, higher levels of the enzymes superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase were associated with higher survival rates in animals with sepsis [6].  These enzymes are upregulated by ozone therapy.

Multiple studies have demonstrated there is a significant synergistic increase in antibiotic effectiveness when combined with ozone [7,8].  These studies also demonstrated ozone greatly increased white blood cell counts. Due to the rise of bacterial antibiotic resistance, ozone therapy is a logical solution for treating bacterial infections.

Ozone and Neurodegenerative Conditions

Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's dementia, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis are associated with neuronal cell death. The Nrf2 pathway has been shown to protect against neurodegeneration [9,10,11].  It has been demonstrated that ozone provides changes in metabolism and circulation in brains of people with multiple sclerosis[12]. The immune modulating effect ozone produces has a direct benefit on neurological cells that are damaged in these neuroinflammatory conditions.