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What is ozone?

Ozone is three oxygen molecules.  This is very unstable as oxygen molecules like to be paired – not single or with 3.  However, ozone is created when a high amount of energy is added to oxygen.  At that point a small percentage of oxygen is converted to O3.  Because O3 is highly unstable it makes it extremely useful to use as an adjunct for virtually every disease state.  How is this possible?  Read further and see….


Isn’t ozone toxic?

Ozone inhaled is an irritant.  It is present in pollution or smog.  Smog consists of oxidized hydrocarbons (peroxides), sulfites, and nitrites.  Scientists determined that it was far easier to measure ozone rather than the peroxides, sulfites, and nitrites.   Ozone seems to correlate closely with the presence of these other pollutants and it is far easier and cheaper to measure.

{I remember growing up in Southern California in the late 70’s when they would close school early due to “smog days”.  This was when the levels of ozone in the atmosphere got to be so increased as to irritate the lungs of those with asthma or other chronic pulmonary diseases.}

How can this possibly help you?   How can injecting a free radical into your body not cause harm?  Isn’t the point of all this “natural medicine” to get rid of oxidants?  Isn’t that why we take so many “anti-oxidants”?  (These were all the first questions my very science minded husband put out there when he heard that I was going to get into ozone therapy.)

On the surface it may not seem like a good idea.  Consider however what happens when we use vaccines.  We are introducing a bit of what causes the disease (assuming we are talking about an attenuated virus vaccine and not the new mRNA vaccines) in order to stimulate our bodies to prepare and defend agains this very thing.  Thus the ancient adage of “Like cures like”.  (This is also the basis of homeopathy.)   Think of when people go to the allergist to get “allergy shots”.  They are getting micro-scopically small amounts of the things that they are allergic to so that their immune systems are “taught” how to react without over-reacting.

Introducing ozone into the body does two things:  It stimulates our immune system and it helps our cells use oxygen with the most efficiency.  I will talk about the mechanisms of action of ozone in more detail later.  First we must understand how cells use oxygen and why this is so important.


What is aging?

At its most fundamental, basic level, aging has to do with how efficiently cells use oxygen to produce energy.  That is:  how efficiently can the cell take fats, carbs, glucose, and fatty acids and ultimately turn them into the currency of cellular energy – ATP.  At this point I could delve deep into the biochemistry of this – Krebs cycle etc – but I would put most everyone to sleep.  It would also go on for pages.  The main upshot here is that as the cell becomes less efficient at generating energy it becomes less able to function and this is the beginning of degenerative disease and aging.

Decreased oxygen utilization damages the cell by two mechanisms:  it increases free radical formation and it decreases the natural anti-oxidant buffering capacity.  These two things cause the mitochondria (the energy producing centers of the cell) to decay.  This situation has been caused “functional hypoxia”.    It then starts a vicious cycle of free radicals destroying the mitochondrial membranes which then cause further damage to the mitochondrial membranes through decreased function and electron leak through the membranes.  More electron leak leads to more free radical generation and thus more mitochondrial decay.   Increased oxidative damage to the mitochondrial DNA further damages the mitochondria’s ability to do it’s job – generate energy in the cell.

Hypoxia:  a state of oxygen depravation from the cell.

Functional Hypoxia:  a state where the cell has impaired oxygen utilization and thus can’t use the oxygen it has.

Decreased oxygen utilization and mitochondrial decay is ultimately what causes disease and aging.  So what causes decreased oxygen utilization and mitochondrial decay?

  • stress
  • sleep deprivation
  • toxicity
  • infections
  • hypoxia
  • decreased methylation
  • hormonal deficiencies
  • decreased physical fitness
  • poor diet
  • inflammation
  • nutritional deficiencies

Basically, everything that functional medicine is trying to reverse through diet and lifestyle.

So, in order to treat or prevent disease one must first look at oxygen utilization in the cell and maximize it.  It is possible to measure oxygen utilization in people.  Please see the blog on Bio-Energy Testing.  (

This is an exercise test that measures things like:

  • Your resting mitochondrial efficiency. This is the most accurate way to determine thyroid function.
  • Your resting fat metabolism.
  • Your maximal mitochondrial efficiency.
  • Your maximal fat metabolism.
  • Your optimum carbohydrate intake.
  • Your optimum caloric intake.
  • Your caloric expenditure at various point of exercise.
  • Your lung function.
  • Your overall strength and fitness.
  • Your optimum exercise zones.

Early Onset Mitochondrial Dysfunction (EOMD)

Once people began measuring how efficiently our cells use oxygen we could see that some people had a marked decrease of oxygen utilization.  This could be severe and without any symptoms.  It was found that this condition (EOMD) increases with age.  Those with EOMD use very little fat to use as energy.  Compare this to the healthiest people with high levels of oxygen utilization – they get 75% of their resting energy from fat.  These people also burn fat more efficiently when exercising.  Thus, higher fat burning equals higher oxygen utilization.

The good news is that if EOMD is detected it can be reverse in a matter of weeks to months with ozone therapy.

Energy Deficit Theory of Aging and Disease

  1.  Degenerative diseases are preceded by early onset mitochondrial dysfunction (EOMD) which happens long before mitochondrial decay.  No symptoms.
  2. EOMD causes two things
    1. decreased fat metabolism which leads to decreased O2 utilization 
    2. environmental and lifestyle factors further impair O2 utilization:
      1. stress
      2. impaired circulation
      3. ischemia
      4. hypoxia
      5. decreased cardio-vascular fitness
      6. infections
      7. sleep deprivations
      8. methylation disorders
      9. nutritional deficiencies
      10. hormonal deficiencies
      11. inflammation


  1. EOMD creates a state of functional hypoxia:  this increases free radicals and decreases the natural anti-oxidant buffering capacity ultimately leading to mitochondrial decay, aging and degenerative disease


  1. EOMD can be reversed and/or slowed down by improving oxygen utilization


Mechanism of action of Ozone (for all my science nerd friends & family)

Oxygen depravation leads to mitochondrial breakdown via decreased levels of NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide).  NAD is created in the mitochondrial membranes using oxygen and the electron transport chain.  It converts NADH to NAD.  The more NAD in a cell the more efficiently it uses oxygen.  Actually it is really the ratio of NADH/NAD that determines efficiency.  In optimally healthy people this ratio is 700 to 1.

Functions of NAD:

  1.  NAD is the rate limiting substrate for DNA replication.  Thus all protein synthesis including cell duplication is dependent on this.
  2. NAD is also the rate limiting substrate for cellular repair including DNA and RNA repair.

4 Main Roles NAD Plays

There are 4 main roles that NAD plays in the process of oxygen utilization:

  1.  glucose must convert to pyruvate (requires NAD to NADH)
  2. then pyruvate must convert to Acetyl CoA (again requires NAD to NADH)  Acetyl coA then goes on to be used in the Citric acid cycle
  3. fatty acids must be broken down and converted to acetyl CoA (again requiring NAD to NADH).
  4. acetyl CoA then has to go through the citric acid cycle which again requires NAD to NADH in order to provide the hydrogen atom for the electron transport chain.


As more NAD is converted to NADH the above processes slow down.  The mitochondria must regenerate NAD from NADH.  What happens if can’t come up with the needed amount of NAD?  There are a few non-oxygen dependent ways to recycle the NADH.


The first way is for pyruvate to be converted into lactic acid.  Now pyruvate becomes the rate limiting factor.  The body can get pyruvate from glucose but this costs it NAD which is what it doesn’t have.  Alternatively it can convert amino acids (alanine, glycine, cysteine, threonine, hydroxyproline, and serine) into pyruvate.  However these amino acids come from breaking down muscle mass through the action of cortisol.  If the cell has to rely on this method of energy the person will experience adrenal exhaustion along with skeletal muscle mass loss and weakness.  As skeletal muscle mass decreases so does resting metabolism – this can cause weight gain.

The other down side to your cells using pyruvate to generate energy from amino acids is that it increases the pH levels from the lactic acid it produces.  As the cellular environment increases in acidity it further reduces the NAD/NADH ratio.

The second way that NADH is converted back to NAD without oxygen is through the plasma membrane oxidoreductase system (PMOR).  Electrons from intercellular NADH are transported out of the cell to be absorbed by extracellular molecules.  Most likely molecules to absorb these electrons are transitional metals:   iron and copper, along with oxygen itself.  Once these things accept the electrons they cause powerful oxidant stress – they oxidize lipids into lipid alkyl free radicals.  This leads to peroxidation of LDL which then leads to atherosclerotic disease.  Iron in it’s reduced form is very destructive – causing more free radical stress.  Thus, this second way will cause damage to the extracellular space along with forcing cells to incorporate oxidized LDL into their membranes.

Decreased Oxygen Utilization Causes Aging and Disease

Decrease O2 utilization due to:

  • decreased lipolysis
  • decreased fatty acid metabolism
  • decreased fitness
  • impaired circulation
  • sleep deprivation
  • hormonal deficiencies
  • toxicity
  • infections
  • hypoxia
  • decreased methylation
  • ischemia
  • stress
  • inflammation
  • hypoglycemia


All cause decreased levels of NAD which lowers the NAD/NADH ratio.  The cell tries to compensate by using the two methods above for converting NADH to NAD without oxygen.   Problem is that the side effects from these two processes causes:

  • acidosis
  • adrenal exhaustion
  • skeletal muscle loss
  • weakness
  • free radical destruction of adjacent cells and extracellular components
  • citric acid cycle slows down limiting energy production

This all sets up a vicious cycle of low energy, low NAD/NADH ratio, increasing acidity and increasing free radicals.


So how does Ozone help?

Ozone injected into bodily systems creates ozonides when they contact lipids and amino acids.  These penetrate cell membranes and convert NADH to NAD (with water and O2).

Effects of ozone on tissue oxygenation:

Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that has a super high affinity for oxygen.  When the red cells get to the capillary/tissue level the oxygen has to be displaced from the hemoglobin in order for the cells to receive it.  It is not about how much O2 you inhale but how much of it gets into your cells.  This process is called the oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation.  The rate limiting factor for this process is 2,3-DPG (kiphospho-glycerate).  2,3-DPG is made in the red blood cell via the pentose phosphate pathway.  Glucose is oxidized by NADP to make lactate and 2,3-DPG.  

Once oxygen utilization decreases in the cell the oxidant stress oxidizes NADPH to NADP.  The increased levels of NADP cause and increase in 2,3-DPG which increases the level of O2 and thus restores the balance.

In chronic disease states such as diabetes 2,3-DPG is not being produced in sufficient amounts and thus not enough oxygen to the cell.   Ozonides produced by ozone therapy reverse this by oxidizing glutathione which then oxidizes NADPH to NADP which drives the production of 2,3-DPG and thus increases oxygen to the cell.  (This makes ozone a particularly effective treatment for reversing diabetes).

Effects on cytokine production:

Cytokines are the cellular messengers that cells use to communicate.  In the immune system it is the mononuclear class that produce cytokines.  There are a ton of different cytokines – some that cause inflammation and others that calm it down.  Cytokines are responsible for controlling viral replication, killing microbes, and killing cancer cells.  When these monocytes are exposed to ozonides it increases thier oxygen utilization and produces more cytokines.

I think that cytokines may have a bad reputation since many with severe forms of COVID had “cytokine storm”.  This is completely different from stimulation of cytokines in a natural and balanced way which improves our body’s ability to fight off viruses, microbes, and cancer.

Applications of Ozone:

  1.  Injected into joints it decreases pain and increases function.  This is ideal for anyone with osteoarthritis.  It decreases free radicals and stimulates stem cells.
  2. Injected into muscles it has the same effect as above.
  3. 10 pass hyperbaric ozone treatment:  this procedure involves drawing out some blood infusing it with ozone gas, and then infusing it back into the body.  This is ideal for anyone with a chronic infection (Lyme, mold, viral infections, bacterial infections), arthritis, heart disease, skin disease, or anyone who wants a powerful anti-aging tool.  It stimulates your stem cells, reduces inflammation, and improves oxygenation to tissues.
  4. Drinking ozonated water.  Ozone is a great way to purify water as it kills bacteria, viruses and fungi.  Drinking the ozonated water helps improve gut issues and reduce inflammation.
  5. Applying ozone to chronic wounds speeds up healing and kills infection.
  6. Rectal insufflation gets rid of toxins and improves the immune system.
  7. Bladder insufflation of ozone is ideal for those with interstitial cystitis and chronic urinary tract infections.

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Dr. Julia Ward

Author Dr. Julia Ward

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