Does Ozone Therapy Make Aerobic Infections Worse?

by | Feb 24, 2020 | 2 comments

Some people with infections like Bartonella or Babesia get worse when they do ozone therapy. It’s often assumed that this is because the oxygen treatment made the aerobic microorganisms grow. Is this possible? Will ozone therapy make aerobic infections worse?

I’ve looked into it and found out that although aerobic bacteria will thrive and grow when supplied with oxygen in a petri dish, in a human body more oxygen leads to an increase in tissue oxygen tension, an increased production of reactive oxygen species, and a boost of the immune system which enables it to better fight bacterial invaders. This is why hyperbaric oxygen therapy is used as a successful approach to treat both aerobic and anaerobic infections.

So why do some people with Babesia or Bartonella see their symptoms deteriorate when doing ozone therapy? I present two possible explanations towards the end of this article.

But first, let’s put the idea that oxygen therapies feed aerobic infections to rest:

Does more oxygen mean more aerobic bacterial growth?

Aerobic or oxygen loving bacteria grow and thrive in an oxygen rich environment.

An aerobic bacteria will use oxygen like food until that food is gone. So yes, when there is oxygen obligate aerobes will continue to grow and they will die once the oxygen is gone. [1]

But here is the interesting part: the same oxygen loving bacteria can also be killed when there is too much oxygen. [3] [7] [9] [10]

Such an environment is called hyperoxia [4].

So with aerobic bacteria it’s just like with water and humans: we’re made out of 70% water and we need to take in water every day to survive, yet we still can get killed by drinking too much of it. [8]

The dosage is crucial.

So just because a bacteria loves oxygen does not necessarily mean that it can’t be killed by oxygen. This is true for both bacteria in a petri dish, as well as bacteria inside the human body.

Case in point:

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a successful treatment for many aerobic infections

During hyperbaric oxygen treatments (HBOT) patients sit in a type of a capsule and breathe in 100% pure oxygen under pressure. This has been shown to be an effective treatment for all sorts of bugs, including aerobic infections.

HBOT treatments have been successfully used for nectrotizing soft-tissue infections which include aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. [5][6]

The same hyperoxic hyperbaric treatments have shown to improve outcomes in surgical site infections which are also often a combination of aerobic and anaerobic microbes. [11]

Hyperbaric O2 treatments are also effective in fungal infections with for example Aspergilosis or Zygomycosis – two fungi which require oxygen to multiple. And yet, they’re killed or suppressed with excess oxygen. [11]

Diabetic foot infections are another area where aerobic bacteria are present [12] and where hyperbaric oxygen therapy has shown to be very helpful:

“The application of HBOT was reported to have considerably increased the frequency of healing in foot ulcers, of diabetic individuals, and decreased the need of amputations and debridement that require surgical equipment. HBOT also decreased the necessity of other expensive and technically more involved surgical procedures, such as skin flaps and grafts.” [11]

As it looks, the antibacterial properties of hyperbaric oxygen treatments are well documented.

But how exactly does it do that?

Woman sitting in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber breathing 100% pure oxygen. Image credit: Creative commons license. 

How does oxygen kill aerobic bacteria?

Here are the four known mechanisms how oxygen, and hyperbaric oxygen specifically, is able to kill organisms:

1. It increases ROS, reactive oxygen species, which directly kill the invaders. Those are molecules like hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), superoxide anions (O2-), or the highly destructive hydroxyl molecule (OH) [2][5][13] [14]. They kill microbes by damaging their physical structure. Many pathogens don’t have sufficiently well developed antioxidant defenses in the form of peroxidase or catalase enzymes. But even if they do, those defenses can still be overwhelmed by too many oxygen radicals. 

2. HBOT increases the oxygen partial pressure, so how much oxygen there is in the tissue. This process is “by far the most important defense mechanism against infections” [5]. The more oxygen there is in tissue, the lower the bacterial count. 

3. Oxygen stimulates phagocytosis. This is how some of our white blood cells kill microbial invaders: they engulf and literally eat them. We know that the more oxygen there is, the more willing white blood cells are to engage in phagocytosis [2] [5]. So increased oxygen levels directly stimulate our immune system.

4. Oxygen damages the bacterial DNA. HBOT can both “inhibit bacterial growth by directly blocking RNA transcription and DNA synthesis” as well as directly injure bacterial DNA by the superoxide anion [2].

Those are four different ways how bacteria are killed through oxygen in our bodies.

Microbes don’t stand a chance against the power of oxygen, doesn’t matter if they’re aerobes or anaerobes. [15]

Ok, so much for hyperbaric oxygen. But how about ozone therapy?

Can ozone therapy make aerobic bacteria grow?

If not with pure oxygen, is it possible that aerobic infections could get worse with ozone therapy?

Ozone is like oxygen on steroids.

There is no known life form that grows when exposed to this highly reactive molecule. 

No fungus, virus, or biofilm can accomplish this.

Neither ozone, hydrogen peroxide, hydroxyls, superoxide anions, chlorine dioxide, or whatever other oxygen based oxidative molecule you can think of can make a living organism multiply or grow bigger.

Oxidative processes kill microbes.

Some microbes may survive them if the concentration or exposure time is too low, but that doesn’t mean that they actually grow when exposed to oxidation.

Just like there is no microbe that grows when exposed to fire.

Check out this article to find examples of aerobic bacteria which were easily killed by ozone.

Why would ozone therapy make symptoms of aerobic bacterial infections worse?

OK then, but if it doesn’t make bacteria grow then why do some people regress?

And it’s undeniable that they do. Most patients report an improvement or complete resolution of their Bartonella or Babesia symptoms with ozone therapy, but there are few who report getting worse.

How can this be explained?

Since the same treatment can’t possibly do two opposite things in two different patients: kill the same pathogen in one person but make it grow in another, it’s clear that there must be another factor at play.

Allow the Crazy Ozone Lady to throw out a few ideas what this third factor could be:

1. Herxheimer reaction: Don’t you hate this? Whenever an alternative therapy gives people negative side effects, it’s supposed to be a Herxheimer reaction [16].

Only that with ozone therapy, this appears to be a real thing and it’s observed over and over again: people start doing ozone, their symptoms temporarily flare up, but they continue with ozone regardless, and at the end their symptoms disappear. [17]

This could also account for what people with Babesia or Bartonella infections experience. Herxheimer reactions are explained through the endotoxins pathogens release when they die. [16]

2. Ozone therapy could make symptoms of craniocervical instabilities worse

How would that work? And what do craniocervical instabilities have to do with Lyme co-infections?

Let me explain:

When comparing symptoms of Babesia and Lyme co-infections [22] with symptoms of cranio-cervical instabilities [24], the similarities are remarkable.

Both seem to trigger symptoms like breathing issues, heart rate dysregulation, visual disturbances, POTS (post orthostatic tachycardia syndrome), cognitive, and other neurological symptoms and more.

This is also what some Babesia patients report who have seen their symptoms get worse when doing ozone therapy.

Those are all signs of autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysregulation.

In cervical instabilities, when the cervical vertebrae are loose they end up impinging on parts of the brain which harbor the ANS. Once the spine is misaligned, spinal fluid circulation can be impaired and have a negative impact on parts of the brain which regulate such functions like breathing or the heart rate.

Is it possible that Babesia, Bartonella, and the whole Lyme co-infection complex can cause cervical instabilities?

Thanks to Jennifer Brea’s research [21] I think such a connection is not only possible but also probable. She points out that tuberculosis and brucellosis can cause cervical instabilities [18] [19] and upper respiratory, ear, or Mumps infections can cause atlanto-axial subluxations in children [20].

But how could ozone therapy lead to a worsening of cervical instability symptoms?

Maybe in patients with intracranial hypotension (a symptom which occurs in CCI) ozone therapy leads to a worsening of the hypotension which then triggers a flare up?

Maybe the ozone induced die-off leads to an increase in intracranial hypertenion in others?

Maybe ozone displaces oxalates which then cause increased laxity of the ligaments in the neck and make the instability worse?

Maybe the mobilized oxalates directly affect the vertebrae and increase instability?

Or ozone loosens up the muscles which is a contraindication for some people with cervical instabilities?

Just a few ideas that would need to be examined.

Although there is a growing awareness [23] of the connection between chronic health problems and cranio-cervical instabilities, it is largely a new area which requires much more research. 

There is even a bigger lack of research on how ozone therapy could impact those problems.

I may be one of the first who realizes that there is a connection at all thanks largely to my own personal situation.

So would ozone therapy be contraindicated for people with craniocervical problems? Not necessarily, because some people with symptoms of cervical instabilities or spinal stenosis seem to benefit from ozone, including myself. [25] [26]

But just to add more complexity to the issue: I have reason to believe that ozone made some of my CCI symptoms worse at one time, and improved them at other times.  

So, it’s complicated.

Or maybe there is yet another unknown factor why ozone therapy makes symptoms of Babesia and Bartonella worse.

Whatever it is that is happening, it’s certainly not because of aerobic bacteria growing due to oxygen therapies.

Trust me, I’m not a doctor ;-).

Otherwise, hospitals would first check people for aerobic infections before giving them oxygen to breathe.

But they don’t.

So, stay calm and keep breathing. Doesn’t matter whether you’re down with an aerobic or anaerobic infection.

Have you been diagnosed with Babesia, Bartonella, or Lyme and have seen your symptoms get worse with ozone therapy? Or did you get better? Let me known in the comments.

Sources

 

[1] “Aerobic organism” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerobic_organism

[2] BASIC MECHANISM OF HYPERBARIC OXYGEN IN INFECTIOUS DISEASE https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315904545_BASIC_MECHANISM_OF_HYPERBARIC_OXYGEN_IN_INFECTIOUS_DISEASE

[3] Hyperoxia and the antimicrobial susceptibility of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC172695/

[4] “Hyperoxia” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperoxia

[5] Hyperbaric oxygen therapy as an anti-infective agent https://www.researchgate.net/publication/26869927_Hyperbaric_oxygen_therapy_as_an_antiinfective_agent

[6] Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in necrotising soft tissue infections: a study of patients in the United States Nationwide Inpatient Sample https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00134-012-2558-4

[7] Effect of hyperbaric oxygen on aerobic bacteria https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/793215

[8] What happens if you drink too much water? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318619#-can-it-be-fatal?-

[9] Oxygen as an antibiotic https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3511888

[10] Oxygen as an Antibiotic The Effect of Inspired Oxygen on Bacterial Clearance https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2403785

[11] Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: Antimicrobial mechanisms and clinical application for infections https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332218354829#bib0135

[12] Detecting aerobic bacterial diversity in patients with diabetic foot wounds using ERIC-PCR: a preliminary communication. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19934183

[13] Oxidative stress in bacteria and protein damage by reactive oxygen species https://www.researchgate.net/publication/12359356_Oxidative_stress_in_bacteria_and_protein_damage_by_reactive_oxygen_species

[14] Antimicrobial use of reactive oxygen therapy: current insights https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5926076/

[15] Antimicrobial strategies centered around reactive oxygen species – bactericidal antibiotics, photodynamic therapy, and beyond https://academic.oup.com/femsre/article/37/6/955/555283

[16] Jarish-Herxheimer reaction https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jarisch–Herxheimer_reaction

[17] “The Ozone Group”, Facebook

[18] Craniocervical junction tuberculosis: a rare but dangerous disease https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0090301997002942

[19] Clinical Course and Prognosis of Brucella Spondylitis https://moscow.sci-hub.tw/656/ab654db37e76c2fd8637cb7696dbaf41/colmenero1992.pdf

[20] Grisel’s syndrome, a rare cause of anomalous head posture in children: a case report https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4774015/

[21] How infection can damage the cervical spine https://medium.com/@jenbrea/how-infection-can-damage-the-cervical-spine-d43d3dac5734

[22] A Deep Look At The Symptoms Of 6 Major Lyme-Related Infections https://www.prohealth.com/library/a-deep-look-at-the-symptoms-of-six-major-lyme-related-infections-41139

[23] Jennifer Brea’s FB poll https://www.facebook.com/361045300705137/posts/1521195611356761?sfns=mo

[24] Craniocervical instability https://www.me-pedia.org/wiki/Craniocervical_instability

[25] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTcl8xUnQQs

[26] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_9wa-fJJLA&t=5s

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About the author:

PaolaI’m Paola the Crazy Old Ozone Lady behind The Power of Ozone. I’m a licensed naturopathic practitioner, natural health consultant, ozone therapy enthusiast, researcher, and ozone therapy analyst. I hold certificates in ozone therapy, hyperbaric ozone applications, Oxyvenierung, and the Andrew Cutler chelation. I own several ozone generators including a German hyperbaric 10 Pass machine. I have been using ozone for over 13 years, I’ve chelated with the ACC program for close to 5 years and I’ve been carnivore for nearly 1.5 years. This website serves as a resource for those who are interested in ozone therapy and other approaches to successfully manage chronic conditions. 

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2 Comments

  1. Michelle Adams

    I have Lyme and 5 coinfections and been exposed to 6 toxic mold that toppled my immune system. Even with deep breathing, i get herxing. So i am going to do ozone. I am prepared that i will cause herxing but i believe over time i will recover. You article is confusing for it’s unclear if over time, you felt your research showed a herx and then recovery if one sticks with the use of ozone. Please clariy.

    Reply
    • Paola Dziwetzki

      Hi Michelle,

      sorry you found the article confusing.

      I didn’t really intend to answer the question you aksed.

      I doubt very much that deep breathing can cause herxing.

      If you’re experiencing a worsening of symptoms during breathing exercises, I would look into structural causes for it.

      You may be moving your body or you may be positioning yourself during the exercises in a way that could make such problems worse.

      But it’s highly unlikely that just by taking in more oxygen you would be causing a die-off any pathogens.

      As mentioned in my article, some hypothesize that tick born illnesses could cause structural problems over time, so maybe that’s what you’re dealing with.

      How people respond to ozone in such cases it’s something that is completely unresearched. From some anecdotal evidence it appears like there is a wide variety of responses: some people get worse and recover only slowly, others do get over what seems to be a Herx and then feel better. But it’s impossible to tell what will happen before.

      I hope this helps.

      Best,

      Reply

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