The FDA is quite clear about ozone:
Ozone is a toxic gas with no known useful medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy.
In fact, ozone is the primary ingredient of the air pollution known as smog. It’s a highly reactive gas that can do harm to the human body.
When breathed in, ozone can cause damage that has been called “a sunburn inside your lungs.”
In 2015, a woman named Dejay Cartwright died after being sold injected ozone treatment by long time “Lyme literate” charlatan Henry Childers, MD of Delaware Integrative Medicine.
According to a malpractice lawsuit, Childers diagnosed Cartwright with a host of maladies without testing: encephalopathy, chronic pain syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, babesiosis, toxoplasmosis, Lyme disease and common variable immune deficiency. Bloomberg Businessweek reported on the horrific story.
In 2019, emergency medicine doctors in Kentucky reported on a 50-year-old woman who suffered a heart attack after receiving intravenous ozone therapy to treat so-called “chronic Lyme disease.”
Ozone therapy can kill
In the case of Dejay Cartwright, who had a port installed on the order of her “Lyme literate” doctor, her cause of death was alleged in the malpractice suit to be MRSA infection at the port site, MRSA bacteremia, septic shock, and acute kidney injury.
Another worry about ozone therapy is the possibility of air embolism caused by a gas bubble entering a place it shouldn’t go, for example a vein or an artery.
In 2015, two men were charged with murdering a woman who died after receiving “Octozone” treatment. The coroner ruled the death a homicide by air embolism.
One of many sham treatments marketed for “Chronic Lyme”
Those who have received fake diagnoses like chronic Lyme or “toxic mold illness” often pursue harmful treatments in desperate attempts to feel better. In a 2015 scientific review, ozone therapy was among 30 “unorthodox” Lyme therapies without evidence for efficacy.
The CDC warns:
Antibiotics are the only known effective treatment for Lyme disease, but a quick search on the internet will introduce you to other untested remedies that claim to cure Lyme disease or chronic Lyme disease. These products—available online or from some health care providers—may be dangerous, deadly, or simply a waste of money.
According to former naturopath Britt Hermes:
Ozone therapy is at the same level of quackery as fake cancer vaccines made from urine and illegal cancer drugs imported from overseas.
What is ozone therapy?
Ozone therapy can mean different things. Some quacks become convinced ozone gas is magic. They will tell people to breathe it in or even administer it vaginally or rectally. Some will dissolve tiny amounts in oil or water and drink it.
The most dangerous type of ozone therapy involves removing blood from a patient, exposing it to ozone, and then re-injecting it. This is called autohemotherapy and involves risks but no known benefit, especially for Lyme disease. Sometimes they also expose the blood to ultraviolet light.
|Risks of intravenous ozone|
|Risks of inhaled ozone
|Risks of vaginal ozone
|Number of diseases helped by ozone therapy:||0|
|Deaths from ozone therapy:||At least 2|
Ten Pass Ozone
The purveyors of dangerous ozone treatments have become very creative in marketing different variations. “Ten pass ozone” is an even more dangerous procedure where someone’s blood is exposed to the toxic ozone gas not just once but ten times. That’s why it’s called 10-pass ozone.
Ozone therapy is advertised by quacks on the Internet
Videos: A chemist debunks Ozone therapy
Myles Power is a chemist in the UK who explains scientific concepts in plain English. In a series of videos and blog posts, Power explains why ozone therapy is bad news.
American Lung Association: Ozone
European Environment Agency: Health effects of exposure to ozone
California Air Resources Board: Hazardous Ozone-Generating “Air Purifiers”
Dr. Jen Gunter: Vaginal ozone therapy is dangerous. Just don’t do it.
Former naturopath Britt Hermes: Ozone therapy in naturopathic medicine
Former naturopath Britt Hermes: Naturopathic Medicine Week And The Problem Of Endemic Quackery, Like Ozone Therapy
Dr. Steven Novella: Ozone Sauna
What’s the Harm: People harmed with Ozone Therapy
RationalWiki: Ozone Therapy
Lantos PM, et al. Unorthodox alternative therapies marketed to treat Lyme disease. Clin Infect Dis. 2015;60(12):1776-82.
The Independent: Health fears over doctors’ use of ozone
The Independent: Women are pumping toxic ‘ozone’ gas into their vaginas as a cure-all
Bloomberg Businessweek: Dubious Alternative Lyme Treatments Are Killing Patients
The Portugal News: Five arrested for ozone therapy fraud
US Department of Justice: Court Prohibits Dallas Health Center from Touting “Ozone Therapy” as a COVID-19 Treatment
Arizona Daily Star: Man found guilty in ozone ‘cure’ enterprise
Cancer Network: Oxygen Therapies
Dr. Saul Green: Oxygenation Therapy: Unproven Treatments for Cancer and AIDS
PainScience: Ozone Therapy for Pain
Science History Institute: A Killer of a Cure
Encyclopedia of American Loons: Robert Rowen
Vaiano AS, et al. Transient cortical blindness after intradiscal oxygen-ozone therapy. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2016;64(12):944-946.
Marchetti D, La monaca G. An unexpected death during oxygen-ozone therapy. Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2000;21(2):144-7.
Üreyen ÇM, Baş CY, Arslan Ş. Myocardial Infarction after Ozone Therapy: Is Ozone Therapy Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? Cardiology. 2015;132(2):101-104.
Bingham A, Platt M. A Non-ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction Associated with Alternative Medicine Ozone Infusion. J Emerg Med. 2019. [excerpts]
He R, et al. A Case of Paradoxical Embolism Causing Anterior Spinal Cord Syndrome and Acute Myocardial Infarction Following the Intradiscal Oxygen-Ozone Therapy. Front Neurol. 2019;10:137.
Nasouf L, et al. Venous Air Embolism as a Result of Ozone Therapy. 2019.
Chirchiglia D, et al. Suspected Pulmonary Embolism after Oxygen-Ozone Therapy for Low Back Pain. J Neurol Surg A Cent Eur Neurosurg. 2019.
Updated August 11, 2022