Ozone is a molecule found naturally in our atmosphere– it is what protects us from the sun’s harmful rays and potentially a myriad of medical conditions when used appropriately. As a molecule, it is similar to oxygen except that it has three oxygen atoms instead of two. This makes it highly reactive and useful for medical treatments.
Historically, ozone therapy has been medically used for over 150 years, whose efficacy has been proven along with little to no side effects. Ozone has been used as a sanitation tool for water purification, dentistry, wound care, and in the treatment of over 114 diseases.
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How does it work?
Ozone therapy works in a variety of ways, depending on how you choose to use it. It activates and increases the metabolic yields of several pathways by providing mild oxidative stress. It slightly increases the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the blood or area injected. The small increase in hydrogen peroxide disappears quickly and is replaced with copious amounts of antioxidants, cell-protecting proteins, feel-good neurotransmitters and immuno-modulating messengers. When applied directly to the blood it works as a light-switch: it turns your immune system, incites a hoard of antioxidant soldiers to your command and pumps your cells full of oxygen by increasing the rate at which your red blood cells break down sugars. As a wellness tool, there is no comparison. Patients have reported side effects such as boundless energy in day-to-day life, relief from aches and pains, and a sense of mental clarity that helps to bring you back to centre.
In the blood
Ozone activates and increases the rate of glycolysis in erythrocytes (red blood cells). In other words, it encourages your system to use sugars in your blood to create energy. Since erythrocytes don’t have mitochondria, glycolysis is one of the sole ways this cell can generate ATP. One of the other major products of glycolysis is 1,3- DPG, which is a precursor for 2,3 – DPG, a protein that is crucial for the release of oxygen into hypoxic (oxygen deprived) tissue.
Hemoglobin can carry four oxygen species at one time, however, without the help of 2,3- DPG it may not deposit all of the oxygen into your tissues which results in poor circulation, low energy levels, and a cascade of other maladies.
For the immune system
Ozone therapy has shown to modulate and increase the efficacy of the immune system, both strengthening activity while regulating dysfunctional response systems that can lead to illness. Over time, ozone therapy strengthens the immune system because with each therapy, a small percentage of immune cells are ‘turned on’ within their microenvironments. This begins a slow and steady cascade of signals that notify other cells to begin working as well.
It has been shown that ozone treatment also results in the increase of tumour suppressing molecules, growth factors and immune system activators.
Ozone reacts quickly with contents in the plasma to produce hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), which readily diffuses into the cell. H2O2 is an essential signaling molecule that acts as a gateway to a myriad of immune responses. H2O2 activates nuclear factor kappa beta (NFkB) by increasing its phosphorylation. As a result, ozone has shown to decrease prostaglandins and increase macrophages (a type of white blood cell).
Prostaglandins are inflammatory mediators that are the primary cause of pain and inflammation with injury. They cause increased blood flow, summon white blood cells and eventually cause tissue and organ dysfunction if persistent.
Macrophages are the body’s clean up system and play a role in immune surveillance. When a cell spontaneously dies (apoptosis), it cleans the system of the debris. If it comes into contact with a foreign pathogen, it engulfs this and displays the contents to the immune cells to signify that “there is a foreign pathogen present, the system must react”. The sooner the immune system catches a pathogen for surveillance, the less severe the infection.
Fighting bacteria, fungi and viruses
In an aqueous or saline environment, ozone acts as an oxidative agent and easily dissolves the fatty coatings that surround bacteria, fungus and viruses. This effectively kills these pathogens by inactivating their ability to infect other cells and remain viable. However, when injected directly into the blood, ozone acts as an immune system modulator to increase the body’s response to pathogens, not necessarily killing them upon contact. Ozone has also been found to arrest the life cycle of several viruses.
Topically, ozone therapy is also useful for the treatment of fungal infections because of its ability to diffuse into the fungal cell and disrupt spore germination, production and growth of the fungi. In addition, 20% of fungal mass consists of lipids, which oxidize on contact with ozone.
Improving your metabolism
Ozone serves to increase the efficiency of our metabolism by increasing blood circulation and oxygenation of our cells. Oxidants are largely responsible for aging because they are a direct cause of cell death. Ozone therapy increases the levels of antioxidants by activating the transcription factor Nrf2 whose domain is responsible for the production of the following antioxidants:
- Superoxide dismutase (SOD): separates superoxide oxygen into normal oxygen and hydrogen peroxide
- Glutathione peroxidase (GPx): protects cell from oxidative damage by reducing lipid hydroperoxides and hydrogen peroxides
- Glutathione S-transferase (GST): helps glutathione pair with toxins
- Catalase (CAT): decomposes hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water
- Heme Oxygenase-1 (HO-1): catalyzes the degradation of heme
- NADPH-quinone-oxioreductase (NQO-1): accepts and transfers electrons to reduce the amount of free radicals
- Heat shock proteins (HSP): stabilizes proteins when extreme conditions are present
- Phase II Enzymes of drug metabolism: the enzymes found in this step are crucial to drug detoxification in the kidneys and liver