Ozone therapy is a form of alternative medicine treatment that purports to increase the amount of oxygen in the body through the introduction of ozone. Various techniques have been suggested, with purported benefits including the treatment of cancer, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, among others. There is no credible, peer reviewed evidence to support the use of ozone as a type of medical therapy.
Ozone therapy is sold as an alternative treatment 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. Arrests following similar activity have been made in other countries as well. At least 10 deaths have been related to ozone therapy or its lack of usefullness, in nine cases there had been investigation and in eight it was discovered that the practitioners had used false credentials.
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.
This therapy has been proposed for use in various diseases, including cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s dementia, 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. For treatment of HIV/AIDS, although ozone deactivates the viral particles outside the body, there is no evidence of benefit for living patients.
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. More recent reviews have highlighted that different routes of administration may result in different therapeutic and side effect profiles, 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.
Some reviews have suggested ozone as potential treatment for herniated discs and diabetic neuropathy.
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.