Ozone Overview

By | June 29, 2016

The oxygen-ozone therapy is based on the application of a mixture of 97% of medical oxygen and 3% ozone. Ozone is a form of oxygen allotrope, discovered in 1832 by Schonbein who described the strong odor during the slow oxidation experiments of white phosphorus and the electrolysis of water, and in 1839 by Christian Friedrich, a German chemist naturalized Swiss. In 1857, Von Siemens demonstrated that ozone can be produced by the passage of oxygen through an electric arc, thus building the first ozone generator. Ozone is a substance found in large quantities in the atmosphere, about 25 km from the earth’s surface, where it is able to absorb UV rays from the sun, protecting from the harmful action of this planet. Minor amounts of ozone are present also in the lower atmosphere (remember that ozone is an essential component of smog) but this type of ground-level ozone is a pollutant and can be poisonous if inhaled in large doses. Ozone is highly unstable: In gaseous form at 20 ° C, its half-life is three days, while in liquid form, in addition to being explosive, its half-life is 20 minutes. This means that it cannot be stored but must be produced just before use. It is produced by an endothermic reaction of oxygen molecules (O2) in the vicinity of electric shock and lightning through the reaction 3O2 → 2O3.


Ozone is used both in industry and in the medical field and in the latter case is used after being mixed with O2 (constituting the medical ozone O2-O3). The ozone therapy is practiced since the first World War, when it was applied to wounds in order to avoid amputation for gangrene, but only in recent years more detailed studies have appeared on its effect.


The systems currently used for the production of ozone portray the Siemens patent of 1857 and 1950. Welsbach used, in fact, cells made of two concentric electrodes separated by a gap of a few fractions of a millimeter (about 0.5-0.8mm) in which oxygen passes. The two electrodes have a voltage difference of about 7-30 kV. The inner electrode, metallic, is connected to a medium voltage generator, while the outer electrode, glass or ceramic, is connected to ground. There is also a cooling system that removes the heat generated by the reaction of medical ozone formation. The voltage difference between the two electrodes allows splitting of O2 molecules and the formation of O3 molecules.


After the production, the mixture of Oxygen-Ozone is conveyed towards two routes, one available to the operator with the aid of a syringe, and the other way destroying the unused mixture. Ozone is a strong irritant gas, colorless, oxidizing, more reactive than oxygen, and able to split unsaturated substances, forming the Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). If the oxidative stress lasts for a short time, the body antioxidant systems fail to lock it using the activation glutathione, superoxide dismutase, etc. with detoxifying action. If the oxidative stress persists due to chronic conditions or in the presence of the antioxidant system deficits, the oxidative stress causes cellular damage.


Ozone plays analgesic and anti-inflammatory action through inhibition of cyclooxygenase, stimulation of the metabolism of histamine and monoamine oxidase with reduction of vasodilation and muscle hypertonicity. The medical ozone determines increase of glycolysis, lipolysis, and platelet reduction increasing the blood concentration of 2,3DPG, which results in eutrophic, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic effects, with greater flow of blood and oxygen to the tissues. Through stimulation of production and release of cytokines and interferons, it has immunomodulatory effects. A popular use of ozone therapy is to treat herniated discs and inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis and plantar fascitis where conservative therapies and/or surgery are not indicated. There are no contraindications to the use of ozone, but attention must be paid on some patients’ conditions, such as pregnancy, hyperthyroidism, severe cardiovascular diseases, and heart failure.


Source for explanation: Barile A. “Anaesthetics, Steroids and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) in Ultrasound-Guided Musculoskeletal Procedures.” in Br J Radiol. 2016 Jun 15:20150355. Accessed at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27302491