by Cate Burnette RVT
Ozone and other oxygen therapies have been used for over a century around the world for human and animal healing. Ozone therapy and hyperbaric treatments bring easily soluble oxygen to targeted tissues and have been shown to be effective in treating viral, fungal, and bacterial infections, as well as soothing inflammation and restoring damaged tissue.
Because the Food & Drug Administration has not approved ozone therapy for veterinary use in the United States, there is quite a bit of discord among its proponents and its dissenters. Proponents of ozone therapy argue that its proven use in Europe should be enough evidence to allow it over here. Dissenters say that US veterinarians need more testing and research to prove its safety and effectiveness. Approved by the American Dental Association for treatment of human dental abscesses, veterinary dentists also use ozone therapy for gingivitis and stomatitis in cats.
What conditions can ozone therapy treat?
Veterinarians who promote the therapy claim it works on skin wounds, particularly deep abrasions, hot spots, allergic dermatitis, and abscesses. It is said to help with pain relief, head trauma, and spinal cord inflammation – basically, it can treat any kind of . It has been shown to be helpful in the treatment of chronic ear infections, allergic reactions, upper respiratory ailments, and cancer and other autoimmune problems in animals. Because it decreases inflammation in the intestinal tract, it can be an appropriate treatment for constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome in both dogs and cats.
How does ozone therapy work?
Ozone contains three oxygen atoms that break down in the body to ordinary oxygen and a single oxygen molecule that easily combines with chemicals and other molecules.
Shown to be safe in the body on a cellular level, ozone therapy decreases inflammation. Cellular breakdown releases carbon dioxide into the body causing inflammation and pain, and the addition of oxygen helps in healing those cells. By working to decrease the amount of carbon dioxide found in inflamed, swollen, bruised, infected, traumatized, and cancerous tissue, ozone therapy lessens redness, pain, and swelling.
Ozone therapy has been shown to activate the immune system in animals by stimulating the production of “cytokines” – molecules that aid cell-to-cell communication in immune responses and stimulate the movement of healing cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma. It also promotes the production of specific enzymes that strengthen the walls of cells thereby enhancing immunity.
Healthy cells are surrounded by that enzyme coating mentioned in our last paragraph, but bacteria, viruses, yeast, fungi, and protozoa have no such coatings. Ozone therapy inactivates bacteria by destroying its cell envelope, kills viruses by disrupting their reproductive cycles, and inhibits cell growth in fungi.
How is ozone therapy administered?
There are several ways ozone therapy can be added to any treatment protocol. Ozone can be added to saline fluids and used as a flush for wounds and bladder infections, as an enema, and as a wash for various ear, nose, and mouth conditions. For skin conditions, ozone can be percolated through olive oil (with or without other essential oils) and applied directly to the skin. In its natural gas form, ozone can be pumped over wounds that have been hermetically sealed to prevent infection. Some veterinarians are injecting ozone as a gas directly into arthritic joints because human studies have proven pain relief using this technique.
Holistic veterinarians in this country are beginning to incorporate ozone therapy into their practices as an adjunct to acupuncture, homeopathy, and chiropractic adjustments. A veterinary certification course is now offered by the American Academy of Ozonotherapy AAOT (aaot.us) and case reports/studies found at the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association website (ahvma.org).
What do you think? Should ozone therapy be allowed in the US?
***Please Note: we are not advocating for – or against – ozone therapy. This article is merely to present information on a new treatment that you may want to discuss with your veterinarian. Additionally, some US veterinarians are currently adding ozone therapy to their practices as an adjunct to approved treatments.
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