Does ozone therapy cause oxidative stress — and is that always bad?

by | Last updated: Dec 8, 2017 | 27 comments

Ozone is one heck of a molecule. Consisting of three oxygen atoms, it is known as the highly unstable free radical, O3. There is hardly a bacteria or virus which can withstand it. It can supposedly even kill the Ebola virus.

Ozone is so reactive that is just burns through any living thing if the concentration is high enough.

Bed bugs, fleas, and even cockroaches. That’s right, what a nuclear bomb won’t accomplish, ozone will. (OK, that last bit is not entirely true, but I put it in for extra effect).

So for a substance that can be so destructive, it stands to reason that it must also be dangerous to humans, right? So logically, exposing a human being to this molecule must cause some damage, even during ozone therapy? Well, let's take a look.


SOD enzymes

Many ozone practitioners have an exaggerated and often flawed view of what happens during ozone therapy. This results in doctors often combining ozone with dangerous treatments like glutathione IVs to combat the assumed oxidative stress. Or they combine it with Vitamin C which often degrades ozone to at least some degree. (Picture: Aaron Eckhart in the “Dark Knight”)

Is oxidative stress always bad?

That’s the thing: not all stress is bad, especially when we are talking about oxygen.

When scientists mention oxidative stress, they're usually referring to radical molecules that belong to what we call reactive oxygen species (ROS). So molecules like hydroxyl radical, superoxide anion radical, hydrogen peroxide, oxygen singlet, hypochlorite, nitric oxide radical, and peroxynitrite radical. The various ROS wield varying degrees of oxidative power, and consequently face different antioxidative defenses in our bodies.

And yes, some of those highly reactive molecules are being produced in an increased manner during ozone therapy. Which is often (but not always) a good thing, as I will explain later.

Not all oxidative stress is created equal

There are lots of sources of oxidative stress. Just to name a few:

• Smoking: Research suggests that smoking may contribute to oxidative stress by producing reactive oxygen radicals.
• Hypoxia, or lack of oxygen: I know, it's weird — How can the lack of oxygen cause damage from oxygen? Yet, it seems to be a real phenomenon.
• Exposure to toxic metals: Chronic mercury exposure, for example, comes from having amalgam fillings in your teeth and is a common source of consistent oxidative stress.
• Chemotherapy
• Other pharmaceuticals
• Ioninzing radiation is a known source of free radicals.
• Heart attacks: In recent years, researchers have been investigating increased levels of reactive oxygen species during heart attacks to understand what leads to tissue damage.


Consider the source

The effects of oxidative stress depend upon where it comes from.

For example, although hydrogen peroxide molecules may be elevated in someone exposed to toxic metals, just as they would be temporarily elevated in a patient during an ozone therapy session, toxic metals don't have the same effect on someone as an ozone treatment would have.
Ozone therapy consists of injecting between 95 and 99% of pure oxygen into a patient.
So it all depends: what is the level of the oxidative stress, what exactly is the source, and how does the body respond to it?
The human body does not respond in equal measure to a 10 pass ozone treatment as to a closed artery (which causes ischemia and hence hypoxia and hence free oxygen radicals and hence damage). On the contrary: a 10 pass (or other forms of ozone therapy) could actually prevent arteriosclerosis.
So oxidative stress can be good.
But many have a hard time grasping the idea. Why is that?

Antioxidants are good, oxidation is bad — or the power of marketing

In order to understand why people nowadays have a hard time believing that oxidation is not always bad and that it can be even beneficial, is to understand that the idea about oxidative stress took hold in a larger population’s consciousness because of — marketing. It was mostly one man’s determined campaign spanning many years, to be precise.

The goal was to sell more blueberries.

Until then, many people had a hard time imagining that anything that’s against oxygen could be good for you.

(Read James Hamblin's interesting Atlantic Monthly article about how Sauve, one marketing professional, solidified the notion of “healthy antioxidants” and “unhealthy oxidation” in people’s minds.)

So within a span of around 20 years people’s perception about oxygen has been turned around by 180 degrees.

Anything antioxidant has now become synonymous for “healthy” and anything “oxidative” as synonymous for unhealthy.

The marketing campaign has been a smashing success. The antioxidant market has been growing ever since, recently quoted to be  over a billions dollars worth.

It wasn't until scientists started looking more deeply into this whole oxidation / anti-oxidation business that they began to understand that reactive oxygen molecules are not entirely bad. 


One man's stress is another man's redox signalling

Fact is, that nearly every human cell can produce reactive oxygen species, and there is a reason for it: They're crucial for our survival. Take H2O2, for instance — hydrogen peroxide. It's produced by a number of white blood cells, and it plays a very important role in combating viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It's one of the very pillars of our immune system.

In other words, if you destroy our ability to produce this essential oxygen radical, you destroy the most important part of our defense system.

Some scientists who started looking into oxygen radicals began to understand the importance of those molecules which are supposed to be so harmful. They finally realized that oxidative radicals are frequently the good guys.
But the name “stress” has an intrinsically negative connotation. In order to do justice to their new findings about the positive role of reactive oxygen species, researchers coined a new term: redox signalling.
Folks who study redox signalling essentially examine the same radical molecules as the people who study oxidative stress: hydroxyl radical, hydrogen peroxide, oxygen singlet —  the whole works. All of these molecules are produced by our own bodies. The only difference is that the redox-signalling guys understand the physiological or natural role they play for humans and are aware that our bodies are equipped with countermeasures in order to keep oxidative radicals from harming us: antioxidants. 


SOD enzymes

What is bad oxidative stress for one, is essential and natural redox signalling for another.

Why is redox signalling important?

So the same molecules which are quoted as causing damage to cells, are also responsible for all sorts of important tasks in our bodies: like being gatekeepers of cells, managers of cell division or cell death. They also serve as messengers between our organism and our mitochondria, the “heart of our biology”.

So does ozone therapy produce oxidative stress?

No, if with oxidative stress you mean cellular damage and destruction.

Yes, if with oxidative stress you mean the support of redox signalling molecules, the support of our immune system, our antioxidant defenses, our mitochondria, and essentially every biological system which relies on oxygen.

How come ozone therapy doesn't cause damage?

Ozone therapy has been around for over 100 years, with the first documented cases dating back to 1870. This has left lots of time to find out what works and what doesn't — much more time than the average pharmaceutical drug on the market these days.

So, we know that ozone therapy should be only performed within well-defined parameters, and under strict conditions. For example, when used internally, concentrations of 80 mcg/ml should not be exceeded. Anything above that is not really ozone therapy (unless you apply it topically for bagging).

What happens during ozone therapy?

Used below those safe levels, ozone has been known to trigger a number of effects:
Ozone increases the activity of antioxidant enzymes.
It “trains” cells to be able to withstand damaging oxidative stress. Just as taking a dip in cold arctic ice water protects one's system from colds, controlled dosages of ozone protect the body from future damage. Cells can be preconditioned to be able to withstand damaging effects of the higher levels of oxidative stress that come from the bad sources (smog, smoking, mercury poisoning, etc.)
• Ozone therapy can be used to combat chronic oxidative stress by subjecting the human body to repeated, transient, and antioxidants activating oxidative stress.
• Ozone therapy has a hormetic effect (a term that comes from the concept of Hormesis): small dosages are beneficial and stimulating, while large dosages are damaging.

Ozone Therapy. Oxidative Conditioning, Basis for its Clinical Effectiveness

In Germany, ozone is widely accepted among ozone therapists to be an excellent fighter of oxidative stress. Here a picture of a poster by one of the main German ozone generator manufacturers (Humares) during an ozone therapy course, citing oxidative stress as one of the areas ozone therapy is known to help.

A special case: mercury poisoning

What kind of article would I be writing if I didn't mention mercury toxicity, right?

It's hard not to mention, because mercury toxicity affects so many people these days. And it's notoriously misdiagnosed. Many people who seek out ozone therapy treatments for what they think are chronic infections are actually experiencing mercury poisoning.

Some of them deal with troubling side effects which are not a Herxheimer reaction. Consequently, the side effects are not a natural part of the healing process when the patient undergoes ozone therapy.

Those people experience symptoms like burning and tingling sensations, pains, from headaches to nerve pain, increased fatigue or other debilitating neurological symptoms.

Symptoms which are consistent with mercury toxicity symptoms.

Often those patients have a clear history of mercury history like amalgam fillings, vaccines, or other exposures. And they experience a worsening of symptoms after undergoing ozone therapy. They have not received things like glutathione IVs or other dangerous chelation methods which are known to wreck havoc in mercury toxic people.

Is it possible that ozone therapy can contribute to oxidative stress caused by mercury?

In my opinion, yes.

But it appears to occur in a minority of individuals.

The larger majority of mercury toxic patients also suffer from inflammation or infections. In those cases, ozone for them is often like manna from heaven. They don’t want to live without it. Some become self-proclaimed ozone junkies.

But, the more mercury-toxic people that exist in the world, the more sick people there will be that turn to ozone therapy. This results in an increased number of incidents where people have not done well with ozone treatments.

Bottom line

In general, ozone therapy has proven to be an excellent combatant of oxidative stress.

However, some people who suffer from mercury toxicity and who do not suffer from secondary conditions it causes (inflammation, chronic infections, or impaired blood circulation) may very well see their symptoms get worse with ozone therapy. And that worsening of symptoms is very likely due to an increase in oxidative stress.

Have I left anything out? Are you contemplating whether to proceed with ozone therapy or not? Let me know in the comments below!

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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Information provided is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. No health claims for these products or treatments have been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), nor has the FDA nor any other medical authority approved these treatments or products to diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. Neither The Power of Ozone nor the manufacturers of these items are responsible for the misuse of this equipment or the information on this page. It is highly advised to receive professional council from a licensed doctor before using ozone therapy or any of the mentioned products or tests on yourself.

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  1. Amber

    Hey there,

    Thank you for this article.

    I had my first and only Ozone IV therapy 2 months ago, and I experienced severe exhaustion in my body, burning, weakness in my muscles and numbness. 2 months later, I am still experiencing it. To what feels like adrenal burn out to me. Depression and anxiety has intensified too.

    I’ve been detoxing heavy metals for 5 years now and have a history of copper and mercury toxicity.

    My question is though, if there is mercury toxicity, and the response to ozone was bad. And now the body is in this horrible state. How do we heal from this stress caused by ozone? Do we try more ozone in a sauna form of very little dosage. Or do you know any other methods? (It feels atm rest and anti inflammation diet is not enough to regain strength from ozone stress 2 months later).

    Thank you kindly

    • Paola Dziwetzki

      Hi Amber, thank you for responding to my email. I hope we will get to the bottom of what happened.


  2. gail

    Dear Paola

    Thank you for giving your time to this! I had just one prolotherapy/prolozone treatment with a view to healing my chronic Achilles tendon problems. I'm two weeks out now and have had various symptoms: aching legs from my ankles right up the back of my thighs; wriggling (vascular) feelings, very like I've felt with varicose veins before, but much worse and very extensive throughout my legs; tingling, almost ‘pins and needles'-like feelings in my legs; pulsing and aching; unexplainable bruises on my thighs and ankles, small and many, scattered; various other things in various other parts of my body including similar but less pronounced feelings in my r arm, aches in the left side of my neck and between my shoulder blades on my back.
    The doc I saw is in a dream… I researched the prolotherpay before I saw him and it seemed innocuous, but with these problems following, this discourse I have had with him suggests to me that he would be untrustworthy to even take my blood pressure. A medical doctor examined me and I had blood tests to rule out inflammation and blood clots, but there is still no answer as to what I am feeling and why. Can you help??

    • Paola Dziwetzki

      Hi gail,
      sorry for the belated reply.
      Prolotherapy is the injection of dextrose (a type of sugar) into joints.
      Prolozone is the injection of ozone (with or without sugar and other vitamins and sometimes procaine) into joints.
      Are you saying you had both at the same time or just one of those but you are not sure which one?
      I think the answer may offer a clue.
      If it was prolotherapy, then it is possible the sugar increased the inflammation (which often does not show on blood tests) and possibly spread it to other parts of the body.
      If it was prolozone, then it would be important to know what exactly was injected, as different doctors use different concoctions.
      But maybe he hit a nerve which then led to a cascading effect throughout your body … ?
      I don't know. I would need much more information to be able to say something more concrete …

  3. Melissa Miller

    I had hair analysis by a Wilson protocol NP who conceived that I have hidden copper toxicity but not mercury toxicity, necessarily…although I was vaccinated as a child. I was recently diagnosed w mold toxicity from my workplace as well, and I know I have EBV as well as parasitic involvement, leaky gut, and a benign ovarian tumor that I think us harboring the parasite…My NP is concerned about MS developing as well. I am purchasing a home full spectrum infrared sauna, I practice yoga, and I eat basically for AIP diet…no grains, dairy, gluten, most sugars, or nuts/seeds, and mostly no nightshades either. Organic whenever possible. I recently began using ozonated olive oil from my dentist for inflammation and receding gums, and found I started feeling like I do with toxin die off…fatigued, weak, foggy, heavy. Could this be the ozone attacking the mold and other infections through my mouth into my blood? I have also been advised to have hyperbaric oxygen treatments and ALF blood injections…Could I surmise this reaction is bc of mercury toxicity since I'm not getting any Glutathione as others?

    • paola d

      Hi Melissa,

      it could be the ozonated oil doing something … whether attacking the mold or something else, I don't know.
      I don't think this has anything to do with not getting any glutathione IVs, if that is what you mean.
      Glutathione IVs can lead to even worse reactions in many.
      I dont' know what ALF blood injections are, so can't comment on that.
      It's really impossible for me to say what your reaction is due to. Since I don't know what else is going on.
      But I don't know how whether the hair test was interpreted correctly or not. So you still may be mercury toxic.

  4. Tom B

    Hi Paola, I’m so confused ☹, every time I think I’m doing something right I find another article which contradicts my thoughts. I have motor neuron disease (ALS) which from what I’ve researched is caused by a heavy burden of toxins and/or stress and/or viruses such as Lyme. I was heavily stressed, and I also had 7 mercury fillings for over 30 years. I have been tested for Lyme (ELISA and Wester Blot in Canada) and both were negative but I do have many Lyme symptoms and scored high on the Horowitz questionnaire (doing further testing). I have since addressed stress through meditation and eat very clean organic paleo diet, many supplements to support healing, had my mercury fillings removed (holistically) and have started Andy Cutler chelation (about to start infrared Sauna detox also). I recently purchased an ozone generator for ozonated water, ear and rectal insufflation however after reading this article I wonder if I made a mistake. The ozone was to help kill any pathogens/fungi and other unwanted “invaders” in my body (I have chronic Blastocystis hominis and candida) and to help reboot my beat down immune system. But after reading this I wonder if I should stop the ozone due to mercury toxicity. Should I stop the ear insufflation and continue the water and rectal insufflation? Ear insufflation goes into the brain and this is where the mercury has done the most damage and I’m concerned the mercury may interact with the ozone in my brain. Should ozonated water and rectal insufflation be safe, meaning there is no mercury in my gut and colon for the ozone to react with? I would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks Paola.

    • paola d

      Hi Tom,
      if you suspect mercury toxicity, and with a history of 7 fillings this is likely, then I would concentrate on chelating.
      Do the ozone only if you get clear benefits from it.


  5. Bill Johnson

    It would appear that molecular hydrogen, the most superior anti-oxidant,anti-inflammatory,anti-apoptotic ever will be a good adjunct. It is selective,scavenging only the worst ROS, the hydroxyl and peroxynitrite without affecting redox signalling.
    Also, hydrogen being the smallest molecule,it readily crosses the blood/brain barrier. More than 1200 peer-reviewed studies. and

  6. Cristiano

    I've tried the Ozone protocol to help with my IBS and it makes me more sick! Too much oxidative stress can damage your mithochondria. People with anxiety/stress tend to have too much free radicals running trough their bodies.

    After 3 applications of ozone i'd began to feel leg muscle weakness and my imsonia go worse. At that time i didn't realize that it was relate to ozone, because I've issues with imnsonia and for me that weakness was related to sleep deprivation.

    I'm still in recovering for this too much oxidative stress. Now I cannot bare to do a 15 minutes workout. It simply makes me feel drained, without energy.

    So my advice is that people with stress or anxiety do not try ozone therapy. I think it has benefits for other people, but you need to know your own body.

    Health for all!

  7. Kay Gee

    Would you happen to know please how long to wait after an ozone treatment to take anti-oxidants (e.g. vitamin c)? Just don't want the vitamin c to nullify the effects. Thank you.

    • paola d

      Hi Kay,

      I would wait at least one hour after ozone before taking antioxidants.

    • Kay Gee

      Paola, thank you very much. This is extremely helpful.

    • John Augspurger

      Depends on whether you have dental infections, like root canals and cavitations in your mouth. I would, and do, combine the ozone in an infusion with megadose Vitamin C. It works well if you have a huge bio-burden to deal with. For a person with mercury toxicity and less dental infections, try keeping the ozone and the C a short time apart. It's experimentation at it's finest. Good to know what works best for you based upon your particular circumstances.

  8. julie

    Paola. Wish i had found this article before doing direct iv ozone treatments. I started to notice some small symptoms like redness in my toes again after i began ozone treatments Thought maybe a new supplement was the cause but this weekend i experienced a vibration again in my groin area. I had that once before after several IV's of ALA , which is how we discovered that i have some type of heavy metal toxicity. So does the ozone stir the heavy metals back up and cause redistribution again? Everything that I have read indicates that ozone safely removes heavy metals

    • paola d

      Hi Julie,
      no, I don't think that the ozone stirs up metals and causes redistribution. But I think that in some cases it can make mercury symptoms worse by contributing to the oxidative stress mercury and other toxic metals cause.

    • John Augspurger, DDS, NMD

      Sounds to me like the heavy metal pathways are blocked, or not working well enough. The ozone is probably not the problem. Check out the work of Chris Shade PhD of Quicksilver Scientific. He has some very helpful videos on You Tube that you can see.

  9. MARIA

    I’m not sure if I’m a candidate. I’ve had Anal cancer, chemo therapy, radiation, right now getting Vitamin C infusions.

    • paola d

      Hi Maria,
      I think it is worth a try.
      How do you respond to he Vit C?

  10. Karen

    Hi, Paola. Thank you for all you do in teaching and enlightening us on ozone therapy and mercury chelation with the Cutler protocol. I've watched many of your videos.

    Anyway, about this article you just wrote, I'm pretty sure I'd be one of the minority who would have a difficult time with ozone. My question is, for those “few” of us who are really sick with mercury toxicity who might not do so well with ozone therapy, is there any hope for us that with continued mercury chelation we will be able to tolerate ozone therapy in the future (or at least until we've chelated out enough of the mercury)? Please say yes.

    I'm so bad right now that I can hardly eat anything because thiols are pretty much everywhere in food. My diet is minimal, to say the least, and I'm starving most of the time. I've never been this reactive to foods before. It's really bad. And, to make matters worse for me, I have severe asthma on top of it all, and it gets really bad if I make the tiniest missteps with my food. It's depressing and scary, and all I hope is that I can get through chelation without too much incident and get better sooner than later. Please give me some hope.

    Thanks again for all you do.

    • paola d

      Hi Karen,
      yes, there is definitely hope that with time you will be able to handle ozone.
      You might do so now, already. As far as I know there is no reliable way to test it, besides trying it out …
      But yes, during mercury chelation, our responses to various therapies, including ozone, or supplements, can change.
      Did you look into histamine intolerance? This has turned out to be huge for me.

      Thank you for reading my blog and watching my videos!

  11. Kay Gee

    This is a great article. Thank you for posting. 16 yrs ago, I almost died of mercury poisoning from DMPS chelation. The DMPS mobilized the mercury but my body was to weak to get rid of it; just kept circulating from kidneys, liver, brain. Been moping up the mess ever since via Jack Grogan's(Nutri Health)protocol – works very well. Ozone is amazing. I notice though that as biofilm, etc dissipates, the mercury will mobilize; so I do ozone therapies, then never miss taking the mercury chelating nutrients to clean up the exposed mercury. Works for me.

    • paola d

      Thank you for reading!

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