Ozone therapy refers to the process of administering ozone gas into your body to treat a disease or wound.

Ozone is a colorless gas made up of three atoms of oxygen (O3). It can be used to treat medical conditions by stimulating the immune system. It can also be used to disinfect and treat disease.

In the hospital, ozone therapy gas is made from medical-grade oxygen sources.

Ozone therapy works by disrupting unhealthy processes in the body. It can help stop the growth of bacteria that are harmful.

Medical ozone has been used to disinfect medical supplies and treat different conditions for more than 150 years. For example, if you have an infection in your body, ozone therapy can stop it from spreading.

Research has shown ozone therapy to be effective at treating infections caused by:

  • bacteria
  • viruses
  • fungi
  • yeast
  • protozoa

Ozone therapy also helps flush out infected cells. Once the body rids itself of these infected cells, it produces new, healthy ones.

Ozone therapy is used for a variety of conditions.

Breathing disorders

People with any type of breathing disorder may be good candidates for ozone therapy.

By providing more oxygen to your blood, ozone therapy can help reduce the stress on your lungs. Your lungs are responsible for supplying oxygen to your blood.

Clinical trials for people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are currently in progress. The Mayo Clinic doesn’t recommend ozone therapy for people with asthma.

Diabetes

Ozone therapy also shows promise in reducing the risk of complications from diabetes.

Complications are usually caused by oxidative stress in the body. If ozone therapy can bring new, fresh oxygen to the blood and tissues, people with diabetes could have much better outcomes.

People with diabetes also experience poor wound healing. According to a 2015 study, ozone therapy could be helpful for repairing skin and tissue.

Immune disorders

Ozone therapy may have benefits for people with immune disorders because it can help stimulate the immune system.

An in-vitro study from 1991 found evidence that ozone therapy could completely inactivate the HIV virus. A follow-up study published in 2008 didn’t find ozone therapy to offer any therapeutic value to people with HIV, however.

More research is needed on the use of ozone therapy for the treatment of HIV.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the best way to prepare for your treatment. They may provide ozone therapy by drawing blood from your body, then mixing it with ozone gas and replacing it.

If ozone therapy will be administered with your blood, prepare for your blood draw by getting plenty of sleep the night before and eating a healthy breakfast that day. Also make sure to drink plenty of water.

There are many different ways to receive ozone therapy. Your healthcare provider will discuss the best options for you and your treatment.

Treatment may be given in three ways:

  • Directly to the tissue. If you undergo ozone therapy for an extremity problem or wound, the ozone gas will most likely be applied directly to the tissue of the affected body part. The gas is administered in a protective covering.
  • Intravenously. To treat internal disorders, such as HIV, the ozone gas is usually dissolved into blood that was taken from you. Then, the blood with the dissolved gas is injected back into you through an IV. Intravenous use in the U.S. is discouraged because of the history of serious problems such as clots in the blood.
  • Intramuscularly. Ozone therapy is also available as an intramuscular injection. For this injection, the ozone gas is mixed with your blood or sterile water before administration.

Research for ozone therapy shows mixed results, though many results are promising. Several ozone therapy clinical trials are in progress for everything from HIV to arthritis.

A 2017 clinical trial found a new ozone therapy drug to be effective at helping people with COPD and cystic fibrosis.

Ozone therapy is also currently being studied in people with arthritis of the knee and other inflammatory diseases, but results aren’t yet available. People with back pain from herniated discs may also benefit from ozone therapy.

The use of ozone in dentistry is becoming more popular to help clean teeth and for disinfection of equipment. Many products are available to purchase that purport ozone therapy, but none have been proved effective.

Ozone therapy should be conducted by a trained physician or naturopathic practitioner.

There are some studies that show effectiveness in the lab, but there isn’t enough evidence for the FDA to recognize and support its use. More large-scale human studies are needed before approval by the FDA and acceptance of use by the medical community and insurance companies.

Ozone therapy isn’t widely used at this time, and there are risks. Ozone gas has an odd number of atoms, which makes it unstable. This instability means it can be unpredictable.

Healthcare providers take extreme caution when using ozone therapy. Being exposed to high concentrations of oxygen can damage red blood cells, so the measurements must be precise.

There are significant dangers using ozone intravenously. Talk with your doctor about all of the possible risks and weigh them against the potential benefits of the treatment. You should also discuss other treatment options with your doctor to help determine the best treatment plan for your condition.

It can be difficult to estimate the cost of ozone therapy because the treatments are individualized based on your medical condition and the duration of your treatment. Insurance companies usually don’t cover ozone therapy, and it isn’t covered by Medicaid.

In a 2009 study, scientists used ozone therapy in mice with nerve damage and found that it decreased their pain behaviors. Another 2009 study also found it to be effective at fighting new types of bacteria.

Ozone therapy is promising. New clinical trials for ozone therapy uses are in the works.

Not all states fully approve the use of ozone therapy in the practice of their physicians and naturopathic practitioners. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about this treatment and whether it’s right for you. If you do want to try this treatment, be sure to choose a physician with experience in ozone therapy.

The use of ozone therapy in the treatment of disease isn’t approved or regulated by the FDA. There aren’t enough wide large long-term studies to understand all potential adverse effects.