Ozone Therapy

Ozone therapy is a helpful treatment for metabolic, degenerative and painful conditions. Ozone can be applied topically for skin conditions and internally for treating pain or metabolic dysfunction. Prolozone injections are an excellent treatment for degenerative painful conditions.

What Is Ozone?

The ozone molecule is composed of three oxygen atoms bound together (O=O=O) and is written in short form as O3. The “oxygen” which we breathe and require for cellular functioning is actually two oxygen atoms bound together (O=O), written as O2. Ozone is a less stable form of oxygen than the O2 form of oxygen which we breathe on a daily basis and as a result, degrades fairly quickly. The medical applications of ozone are due to this instability and the reactions which take place when it breaks down.

History of Medical Ozone

Ozone began being used medically in the early 1900s. In 1915, German physician Dr. Albert Wolf described the topical use of ozone for wounds, decubitus ulcers and osteomyelitis1. During the First World War ozone was also used to disinfect wounds2. In 1958 Dr. Joachim Hänsler released the first commercial medical ozone generator and his company, Ozonosan, lives on in Germany today. Water ozonation has been deemed acceptable for water treatment and disinfection by Health Canada3 and locally it has been employed in Halifax harbour clean-up efforts.

How Does Ozone Therapy Work?

Ozone therapy, red blood cells & bacteria

Oxygen Utilization
The ability of ozone gas to increase oxygen saturation4, oxygen utilization and tissue oxygen delivery4,5 are several of the actions which are attributed with its therapeutic effect. Ozone therapy has a 2-fold effect in that it increases the oxygen saturation of the blood and also increases oxygen utilization. Red blood cells exposed to ozone during an autohemotherapy treatment have an increased production of 2,3-DPG and ATP, two essential components in the metabolic energy production pathway6,7.

Ozone gas is an unstable molecule and breaks down readily, exposing nearby simple pathogenic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites to oxidation and oxidation by-products (peroxides). Three atoms of oxygen bound together are unstable and want to break down into two conjoined atoms of oxygen and one single oxygen atom. The single oxygen atom is quite unstable on its own and wants to interact with another molecule through oxidation. Oxidation is the mechanism responsible for the anti-microbial effect of ozone.

Conditions Treated By Ozone

Medical ozone can be used to treat a broad spectrum of health conditions.

Musculoskeletal Conditions (Pain and Injuries)

Ozone, prolozone knee

Many musculoskeletal conditions have shown excellent results when treated with ozone. Clinical research with ozone in the treatment of herniated discs8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 has yielded overwhelmingly positive results in reduction of associated pain and improved healing. Fracture and displacement of the lumbar vertebrae (spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis) have also responded well to treatment with ozone, with a significant reduction of pain19. Patients with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction20 and osteoarthritis (arthritis)21, 22, 23 have shown positive results with ozone treatment in clinical trials. Low back pain in general has responded well to treatment with ozone therapy24, 25. Fibromyalgia, a classically difficult condition to treat, also showed improvement in associated pain and depression26.

Adding on to the above, I have seen very encouraging results in patients with painful conditions, especially osteoarthritis. In treating an osteoarthritic joint, ozone gas is injected directly into the affected joint space. I have found this treatment to be quite effective for treating the pain associated with osteoarthritis and promoting healing. The injection itself ranges from not painful at all to mildly uncomfortable.

Cardiovascular conditions

By increasing oxygen utilization and oxygen saturation, treatment with ozone therapy has significantly improved several cardiovascular conditions including peripheral artery disease4, 27, 28, critical limb ischemia29 (very poor circulation to a limb) and Raynaud’s syndrome30. Each of these conditions involves cardiovascular degradation and slowing of the blood flow through arteries.


Ozone acts by inactivating the viruses which cause hepatitis (inflammation of the liver) as well as by stimulating the immune system, helping patients with hepatitis to fight off the infection. Hepatitis B31 and Hepatitis C32, which are classically very serious and difficult conditions to treat, have responded well in clinical trials to treatment with ozone.

Dental Conditions

There has been a large volume of clinical research performed on the use of ozone in a dental setting for treating infections of the teeth and gums. It is clear that ozone is helpful it treating dental caries (cavities)33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, periodontitis (gum infection)40, 41 and is also helpful in improving dental surgery healing rate. The main mechanism by which it achieves these changes is through an anti-bacterial effect42.

Skin & Nail Conditions

Ozone’s anti-microbial effects have also been found to be quite effective for treating infections of the skin and nails in clinical research. Fungal infections of the nails (onymycosis)43, 44 have responded better to ozone treatment than standard medical treatment. Diabetic foot ulcers have similarly shown significant improvement45, 46.

Other Infectious Conditions

Ozone has also been researched in the treatment of several other infection-associated health conditions. Treatment of pneumonia47, chlamydia48, fistulas49 and gastric ulcers50 have all shown excellent results. Ozone has also been effective in preventing infection when given as a pre-treatment for men undergoing prostate surgery51.

Other Conditions

Ozone therapy has also shown promise in treatment of a variety of other conditions in clinical trials including pancreatitis52, vestibulocochlear syndrome53 (a condition characterized by vertigo, nystagmus, tinnitus and hearing loss), sudden sensory-neural hearing loss54, macular degeneration55, emphysema56 and osteonecrosis57.

How Is Ozone Used?

Ozonated olive oil

There are several ways which ozone therapy is applied:

  • Ozone (Prolozone) Injections: During a prolozone treatment ozone gas is injected intra-articularly (into the joint) or subcutaneously (under the skin) in order to treat painful conditions of the joint and/or joint instability. Osteoarthritis is a commonly treated and well-responding condition to intra-articular prolozone injections.
  • Intravenous major autohemotherapy: During a autohemotherapy treatment a sample of blood is collected and ozone gas is bubbled through the blood sample. The ozone gas quickly breaks down, exerting a gentle oxidative effect on the blood. Finally the blood sample is returned into the vein from which it was collected. The oxidative effect is believed to be the cause of the increased energy production, oxygen saturation and oxygen utilization which occurs after treatment.
  • Ozonated olive oil: When bubbled through olive oil, ozone quickly degrades and reacts with the olive oil being used. The remaining olive oil has undergone significant peroxidation, which essentially means that it has taken on some of the unstable properties of the gas which it has reacted with. This olive oil doesn’t contain ozone gas but has inherited it’s anti-microbial (anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-parasitic) properties.
  • Ozonated water: Water is a good medium for carrying ozone gas. When ozone is bubbled through water, a significant amount of the gas becomes dissolved in the water. This “ozonated water” has a potent anti-microbial effect 58, 59, 60, 61 and is used by some dentists as an antiseptic.
  • Limb-bagging: Limb-bagging introduces topical ozone gas directly to an affected area of the skin. A limb, such as an arm or leg, is covered with a plastic bag which is filled with ozone gas through a small opening in the bag. This application is helpful in the treatment of many types of topical infections including diabetic ulcers, onychomycosis (fungal nail infection), athlete’s foot and tinea versicolor (a pale discoloration of the skin brought on by a fungal infection).
  • Rectal insufflation: Ozone gas can also be introduced into the body through the digestive tract. Rectal insufflation involves inserting a small catheter into the rectum and introducing ozone gas to tolerance level. This avenue is ideal for people with certain conditions affecting the blood and people who are adverse to needles.

Is Ozone Safe?

While a high concentration of ozone gas inhaled over long periods of time is irritating to lung tissue, this is due to the fragility of the lung tissue and it’s susceptibility to oxidation. Ozone gas is non-toxic when used in physiologic doses in the medical applications discussed in this article. A properly trained practitioner applies ozone in a safe and controlled manner with a high quality generator and medical grade oxygen.

Education & Training

I have been trained in the use of ozone therapy with Dr. Frank Shallenberger MD of Reno, Nevada. Dr. Shallenberger is recognized as the foremost educator on the use of ozone therapy in North America. Dr. Shallenberger’s training includes clinical indications, safety and methods of application of ozone therapy, as well as practical applications on volunteers.

Ozone Therapy in Halifax, Nova Scotia

If you are interested in receiving ozone therapy treatments and are located in the Halifax area, please contact MacLeod Naturopathic to book an initial naturopathic visit to discuss your options.


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  58. Sadatullah S, Mohamed NH, Razak FA. The antimicrobial effect of 0.1 ppm ozonated water on 24-hour plaque microorganisms in situ. Braz Oral Res. 2012 Mar-Apr;26(2):126-31.
  59. Dhingra K, Vandana KL. Management of gingival inflammation in orthodontic patients with ozonated water irrigation–a pilot study. Int J Dent Hyg. 2011 Nov;9(4):296-302.
  60. Kshitish D1, Laxman VK. The use of ozonated water and 0.2% chlorhexidine in the treatment of periodontitis patients: a clinical and microbiologic study. Indian J Dent Res. 2010 Jul-Sep;21(3):341-8.
  61. Baysan A, Whiley RA, Lynch E. Antimicrobial effect of a novel ozone- generating device on micro-organisms associated with primary root carious lesions in vitro. Caries Res. 2000 Nov-Dec;34(6):498-501.