Medical Ozone History

Historical Significance of Medical Ozone

Medical Ozone History Through the Ages


Early Matters

You have probably been aware of ozone as a peculiarity since you learned chemistry at school. The first discovery of ozone was similar. A Dutchman of science and general education recognized the peculiar “odor of electric matter” while conducting experiments with oxygen in 1785. Martinus Van Marum was a Dutch scientific dignitary of this time who straddled most of the branches of science with a series of observations and experiments. He is also interesting because he changed his mind about Stahl’s theory of phlogiston after a visit to Paris and meeting Lavoisier. He gradually abandoned the Phlogistic theory in favor of oxygenation. This marks a great man. He combined the wonderful characteristics of being both a great researcher and having an open mind. This combination is a rarity among scientist of his day, as well as ours. Before going on to discuss the scientific medical ozone history a little more, we should pause for a moment and recognize Antoine Lavoisier (1743 – 1794) who discovered oxygen and founded modern chemistry.1 He was beheaded soon after by the French Revolution. Madame Defarge commented: “It took France 100 years to raise such a genius, but a mere second to lose him”. It was another scientist who recognized that ozone is, a concentrated form of oxygen. The weight of an equal volume of ozone is greater than that of oxygen, its parent matter. The proportion relates to the molecular weight. Oxygen gas consists of two atoms of oxygen and ozone of three. How is this explained? In the case of gases a defined volume contains a fixed number of molecules. (If we express the molecular weight in grams, i.e., what has come to be called a mole, the volume is always 22.4 liters. The number of molecules being 6.02×1023. This is Avogadro’s number).

Amedeo Avogadro (1776 – 1856) was an Italian genius who worked out the solution to Gay-Lussac’s observation (law) that gases combine in simple numeric proportions.2 Therefore we have N2, 02, etc.; and although some gases consist of chemical combinations (for instance, nitrous oxide, N20) the pure gases are always diatomic. The curious exception is ? 03. Ozone is a somewhat unstable form of oxygen and is seldom present in a pure form, but only constitutes a proportion of the gas in any volume. The higher weight of this form of oxygen, per volume, led to its full recognition in 1840 by Schönbein.

Christian F. Schönbein (1799 – 1868) is the true discoverer of ozone. The October meeting of the International Ozone Association celebrated the 200th year of his birth and dedicated their October/November issue to him. His descendents have established a society in his honor and published a 300 page biography (in German).

Current Attention

Ozone has come to our attention recently because of the putative ozone hole. I have ridiculed the disinformation about the ozone hole in a previous newsletter. Luckily the disinformation machine of the media has subjected us to less of a barrage on this nonsense since the American Senate refused to ratify the Global Warming Treaty in spite of the exhortation of President Clinton. The inappropriate attachment to (or love) of the ozone in the stratosphere (which does indeed reduce the amount of ultraviolet light reaching the surface of the planet) has imputed a magical quality to this gas. Ozone forms and breaks down in the stratosphere depending on a dynamic equilibrium predicated on various atmospheric conditions. The least important of these is the chlorine rising from the surface into the stratosphere, none of it, by the way, coming from man made hydrocarbons. It is chlorine from volcanoes and sea spray that is carried aloft and in due course rains down into the oceans again.3,4. The other stimulus that has brought ozone to the attention of the public is the fact that it is present in minute amounts in the exhausts of automobiles. This effluent lends itself to easy measurement by pollution inspectors and has received a lot of attention. It is, however, the other pollutants in the exhausts of automobiles that are toxic (So one has to admit that, in this context, large quantities of ozone would be harmful). I never gave ozone much thought until I started hearing that certain doctors were using it medically and that (and in hushed voices, Oh! What a horror!!) was the worst form of quackery. I must admit that for most of my career I took these innuendos as Gospel. It is only in recent years that I have begun to study the reported beneficial effect of ozone usage in medical conditions. This subject will constitute the subject of another newsletter.

The Facts?

In 1976, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) declared ozone a “toxic gas with no medical uses” via publication in the Federal Register. Whether the Food and Drug Administration has jurisdiction over a natural gas will no doubt sometime constitute an interesting issue in some high falutin’ court of law. I thought, however, that I should warn my readers that this remains the official position of Authority.5 Accordingly, please take everything that follows as a subject of interest. Period.

Some Claims

As you will read below (and if you wish to peruse the references you will find details) claims have been made that ozone kills bacteria and viruses. Is this true? One has to assume that it is. Hundreds of municipalities worldwide, albeit more so in Europe than America, use ozone to purify municipal water supplies. With the gradual phasing out of chlorine in swimming baths and spas, ozone is becoming an increasingly popular method of cleansing these waters, for good reason; and the majority of ozone generators are indeed manufactured and used worldwide for these purposes, with excellent outcome. The essential mechanism of the destruction of the unwanted organisms is the same as with chlorine. Ozone is, not surprisingly, an oxidizing agent.

Medical Uses?

By implication, one might wonder whether ozone might be useful for destroying unwanted organisms in the context of infections.6 This is where the controversy reigns.7,8 There have been claims that ozone is effective in removing the HIV from individuals with AIDS,9,10,11,12 the hepatitis B and C virus from individuals with that disease, let alone improving the condition of patients with a panoply of illnesses including vascular disease 13 (such as gangrene), occlusive vascular disease (such as heart attacks and strokes), the progression of malignancies, and even osteoporosis14,15 arthritis of several kinds (by direct gaseous injection into the joints).16, Enhancement of the immune system has been postulated 17. The essential concept is that the normal cells of an organism such as a human are more resistant to the oxidizing effect of ozone than the unwanted parasites. This might also apply to malignant cells.18 This is, of course, the same concept used in any pharmacological intervention, where it is called the therapeutic window.

What is Ozone?

Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), the discoverer of oxygen, noted that electrical sparks fired in a closed volume of air resulted in some compression. In 1786, Martinus Van Marum (1750-1837), subjecting oxygen to electrical discharges, noted “the odor of electrical matter”, and the accelerated oxidation of mercury. In 1840, Christian Friedrich Schöenbein (1799-1868) repeated these experiments, concluded that this odor was due to gas that he namedozone from the Greek ozein (odorous), and described several of its properties.19 The nature of ozone as another form of oxygen was first spelled out by Auguste Arthur de la Rive (1801-1873) and Jean-Charles Galinard de Marignac (1817-1894) in 1845.20 It was, however, Jean-Louis Soret who proved first, in 1865, that ozone is a form of triatomic oxygen by the indirect determination of its density. In the latter part of the 19th Century, ozone was found to oxidize a variety of organic compounds and particularly to interact with chemical double bonds. The first production of a water purification plant, with the use of ozone, was undertaken by Baron Hendrik Pietr Tindal (1852-1902) in Amsterdam in 1888. The first major city to use this technique was Paris, France in 1898, and the use has spread widely, since. The first use of ozone, of which we are aware,in a medical context hails to the famous genius and inventor Nikola Tesla21 in 1900. It was, however, in 1943 during World War II, that Dr. Robert Mayer, who treated prisoners of war on Ellis Island, New York, learnt from them about the use of ozone for the treatment of degenerative disease. That is how it was first introduced into America. Between 1958 and 1973, Dr. Robert Mayer and Dr.Edmund J. Ryan were granted several ozone patents and began to use it clinically. It is ironic that the announcement by the FDA that ozone is a toxic substance occurred 50 years after its initial use, medically, in this country, and it is estimated (through surveys) that by that time (1978) 1/3 million people had been treated effectively in Germany with about 5-1/2 million treatments with a complication rate of 0.0007% (i.e. 39 incidents, and these were mostly minor irritations probably due to faulty technique). In other words, it turned out that ozone is in fact extraordinarily safe. Of course, we need to ask whether it is effective, as well. And finally, we should try to address the question, if the assumption that it is effective is borne out ? How does it work?


“Oxygen radicals” are now popular subjects for research papers.22 Several hundred are published each year. Many of these pass rapidly into oblivion, joining the great mass of unread scientific literature that clogs library shelves and dilutes important research findings to an increasingly great extent. The basic chemistry of oxygen-derived species was established years ago by radiation chemists but superoxide is still endowed with miraculous properties by the uninitiated. Demonstration that the action of a disease or toxin in vivo (in living matter) produces increased lipid peroxidation (a currently-popular scientific activity) means nothing more than the fact that its action produces increased lipid peroxidation; it does not automatically follow that the lipid peroxidation causes the damaging effects of the drug or disease. Electrons within atoms and molecules occupy regions of space known as orbitals. Each orbital can hold a maximum of two electrons. A single electron alone in an orbital is said to be unpaired, and a radical is defined as any species that contains one or more unpaired electrons. Such a definition embraces the atom of hydrogen. For instance, the diatomic oxygen molecule, 02, has two unpaired electrons and thus qualifies as a radical. Most of the oxygen taken up by human cells is reduced to water by the action of the cytochrome oxidase complex in the mitochondria (This is the machinery in our cells that generate the energy for all our metabolic processes). This requires the addition of four electrons to each oxygen molecule. For chemical reasons, oxygen likes to receive its electrons one at a time using a series of partially reduced intermediates. The enzyme cytochrome oxidase keeps the partially reduced intermediate on the pathway to its final metabolic product (water) tightly bound to its active site; they do not escape into free solution. Superoxide, ion, is the one-electron reduction product of oxygen. Dissolved in an organic solvent, it is an extremely reactive species; for instance, it can displace chlorine from carbon tetrachloride. 02 in water is much less active, nonetheless, the oxidation of bacteria and other organic material occurs. Singlet oxygen (02is an intermediary species in these processes, but almost certainly this form of oxygen is held inside the mitochondria on the membranes. An enzyme called superoxide dismutase regulates the places (loci) where oxygen in this form can be harmful; and otherwise, like everything else in living matter, potent forces are used selectively in guarded locations for specific purposes. A species that may be harmful in one location is essential for life in another (We have already seen how hydrochloric acid is essential in the cavity of the stomach but would be very harmful in the same concentrations virtually everywhere else; and how the lining of the stomach protects itself from altered digestion.) The great concern is in case the radical oxygen would initiate peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) due to its pulling-off a hydrogen atom from one of the CH2 groups in the carbon chain. It seems, however, that by and large this does not occur because of the christea on the mitochondria.

The Philosophical Problem

If ozone has been subjected to such a large trial of treatment over half a century, why have the keepers of the medical conscience in America banned it? Cynics will ascribe to them the role of shills for the pharmaceutical business. Ozone clearly cannot be patented and, if it is true that it is effective in controlling infectious processes, who will need the expensive antibiotics that are so bloating the stock exchange? I believe that the reason is deeper yet. Oxygen is a life-promoting gas, and ozone is a concentrated form of it. It is self-evident that our lives are predicated on the regular use of aerobic metabolism; in other words, the burning of energy in a controlled ‘factory,’ called the mitochondria in our cells, for the production of the energy of life. It also seems obvious that if the potency of the oxidizing effect can be increased to some extent from time-to-time, this factory will (at least temporarily) work better; it will increase the energy production. It is also known that ozone directly damages bacteria and viruses which do not have the protective mechanism of the surface layers which are characteristic of multicellular organisms or the mitochondria. It is also self-evident that very high concentrations of oxygen cause excessive combustion and unquestionably this would apply to ozone, as well. Every therapeutic agent has an optimal concentration. This knowledge hails back to the aphorism: The poison is in the dose enunciated by the famous popularizer of folk medicine and perhaps the father of many medical thoughts, Paracelsus (1493-1541). Should this consideration not apply to ozone, as well? Of course it should.23,24 I think that the resentment the authorities feel against ozone is a special case of the objection to the pro treatment as opposed to their usual mode of anti-treatment. We have antibiotics, antipsychotics, anti-inflammatory agents, antineoplastic agents, antihistamines, etc. All these anti medicines gain approval, and all the pro remedies, such as prolotherapy and now potent oxygen therapy, are subject to disapproval. Emblematic of this is the rejection of homeopathy by Establishment medicine.25 In addition to being a form of treatment provoking the body into natural healing, it has the additional seemingly mystical property of working subtly through an unknown mechanism in tiny concentrations. The mechanisms of action, however, of agents such as prolotherapy and ozone are not mysterious and are subject to ordinary experimental validation.

Recent Advances

Until about two decades ago, the production of ozone was somewhat haphazard. It is only in recent times, with the advent of solid state electronics, that means have been devised for producing a regular stream of ozone from highly purified medical oxygen without any contaminates at a defined precise reliable concentration, and it is only in recent times that sophisticated monitoring equipment has become available for continuous stream testing in its usage. The cumulative experience of about 100 years also allows us to judge the optimal concentration (typically measured in micrograms percent) to be used.

Political Irony

It is the rogue Communist State of Cuba that has housed a number of conferences on the medical use of ozone. I suppose it is a ‘poke into the eye of America’ that this otherwise dastardly regime has found an area whereby they can attract intelligent self-reliant exploring medical scientists in a humanitarian environment. I personally don’t think they deserve any kudos. It is the Western Democracies who are ridiculed by this paradoxical act. Nonetheless, it is an observation that a number of important conferences on the medical use of ozone have been held in Havana, and the next important conference will be held there again very soon.

A Question

On the one hand, health in the degenerative middle aged organism of the human is promoted by the use of antioxidants – such nutrients as vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium. On the other hand, it is clear that the use of an oxidant agent, such as ozone, works in the opposite way. Right? No!, it is not as simple as that.

Natural Cycling

It is an observation in biology that natural cycles are typical of all living phenomena. Think, for instance, of the heart filling in diastole and emptying in systole and the lungs filling in inspiration and emptying with expiration. Do these cyclic phenomena not affect our biochemical processes? Of course they do. Physiologists have known of old of a multitude of cycles related to the time of day. For instance, one such cycle is called the acid tide related to the flow of hydrogen ions in and out of the gastrointestinal tract. It is this cycling that facilitates the process of living at all levels from the microscopic to the macroscopic. It is this observer’s opinion that the phenomena of oxidation versus reduction also functions cyclically. That almost certainly is the explanation why ozone therapy is effective when used regularly, but cyclically, and preferably alternating with antioxidant administration. It is quite extraordinarily how this cyclic alteration, say of intravenous vitamin C on the one hand and intravenous autohemotherapy with ozone on the other, seems to yield an improved metabolic outcome in a multitude of weakened conditions, almost regardless of their cause (etiology). One must emphasize, however, that the simple notion that if some is good, more is better, does not apply. Like all therapeutic intervention, The poison is in the dose and, in this instance, the benefit is in the cycle.

What is Ozone Good For?

Here there is embarrassment of richness, because claims have been made of its effectiveness in a whole panoply of conditions. This writer is insecure about many of these claims. I will, however, list rather briefly some of the claims that seem to have been reasonably well validated, at least in certain situations. One should, however, emphasize that truly first class research needs to be done. It seems that this kind of research is generated with institutional blessing and a lot of money. As you can imagine, this has not been forthcoming for the philosophical reasons I have listed above. It would, however, be niggardly to deny the huge cumulative experience of the multitude of practitioners, mostly in Europe, because one artificial criterion or another of a scientific paradigm has not been applied. Is it conceivable that this therapy would be thriving more than a century after its introduction, were it useless? I think not. Ozone has been used to reduce the PCR counts (A sophisticated modern way of quantifying viral infections in the blood) at least in AIDS and hepatitis B and C. There are many anecdotes of malignancies regressing and an occasional anecdote of malignancies being cured with ozone therapy, however usually combined with other modalities as well. Interestingly, there is research showing that arthritis of a degenerative nature, which includes rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, is improved with intra-articular use of ozone. A multitude of bowel conditions are improved with the use of ozone per rectal insufflations26,27,28,29 and, when this is combined with skilled colonic therapy, it seems to have a salutary beneficial effect not only on a multitude of intestinal illnesses but also on a multitude of cutaneous conditions and, at times, it has a general therapeutic benefit in other illnesses. Ozone is useful in direct application to infected wounds. This is perhaps the least controversial of its uses and the easiest to apply. For instance, an infected limb can be placed in a plastic bag into which a mixture of pure medical oxygen, with a small concentration of ozone, can be placed. Claims have been made for the effectiveness of ozone therapy in vascular disease of various kinds, and some rather inadequately recorded experience indicates its benefit in situations such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. It is in these conditions that exercise and oxygen therapy, based on Manfred Von Ardenne’s work, have been based. I will address that issue in the forthcoming newsletter.


Simple and natural remedies that are pro-healing in their approach should be of interest to us when we, the middle class, take responsibility for our own affairs and, in a medical sense, wish to boost our wellbeing. Absent the (false) philosophy of anti- or destructive approaches and absent the corporate profit motive, it is possible that ozone therapy will find a place in clinical medicine.

Lavoisier developed a new theory of combustion that led to the overthrow of the phlogistic doctrine, which had dominated the course of chemistry for more than a century. His fundamental studies on oxidation demonstrated the role of oxygen in chemical processes and showed quantitatively the similarity between oxidation and respiration. He formulated the principle of the conservation of matter in chemical reactions. He clarified the distinction between elements and compounds and was instrumental in devising the modern system of chemical nomenclature. Lavoisier was one of the first scientific workers to introduce quantitative procedures into chemical investigations. His experimental ingenuity, exact methods, and cogent reasoning, no less than his discoveries, revolutionized chemistry. His name is indissolubly linked to the establishment of the foundations upon which modern science rests.

2 Avogadro’s law: a statement that under the same conditions of temperature and pressure, equal volumes of different gases contain an equal number of molecules. This empirical relation can be derived from the kinetic theory of gases under the assumption of a perfect (ideal) gas. The law is approximately valid for real gases at sufficiently low pressures and high temperatures. The specific number of molecules in one gram-mole of a substance, defined as the molecular weight in grams, is 6.0221367X1023, a quantity called Avogadro’s number, or the Avogadro constant. For example, the molecular weight of oxygen is 32.00, so that one gram-mole of oxygen has a mass of 32.00 grams and contains 6.0221367X1023 molecules. This, then, is medical ozone history.

3 The Holes in the Ozone Scare. Rogelio A. Maduro, Ralf Schauerhammer. 21st Centyry Sciebnce Associates,Washington DC. 1992. ISBN 0-9628134-0-0.

4 Rational readings on environmental concerns. Edited by Jay H Lehr. Van Norstrand Reinhold. New York. 1992.

5 Immunological effect of ozone Z. Fahmy. Agusta-Klinik. 6550 Bad Kreuznach, Germany.

6 Sartori, H.E. Ozone: Eternal purifier of the earth and cleanser of all living beings. Pub. Life Science Foundation, 632 Lighthouse Dr., North Palm Beach, FL. 33408. 1994.

7 Medical use of ozone. Paul Auborg. Oct. 1983. Honorary Electroradiologist in the hospitals of Paris.

8 Ozone aid for AIDS. Harold Vetter, N.D. 8126 Hohenpeissenberg, Germany. Circa 1985.

9 Is there a role for medical ozone in the treatment of HIV and associated infections? Michael T. Carpendale, M.D. Rehabilitation Medicine and Research Services, Veterans Administration Medical Center. San Francisco, CA 94121. Circa 1985.

10 Inactivation of human immunodeficiency virus type I by ozone in- vitro. Keith H. Wells. Journal: Blood. Vol. 78:7, 1882-1890. Oct. 1, 1991.

11 Successful AIDS treatments. Ed McCabe. 1991. A five-year investigative research.

12 Ozone therapy efficiency in the treatment of patients with atherosclerosis of coronary and cerebral vessels. Natalia Zhulina. Medical Institute. Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Circa 1985.

13 Intensive medical and physical treatment of osteoporosis with aid of oxygen-ozone therapy. Riva Sanseverino. Estratto da Europa Medicophysica. Vol. 24:4, 199-206. October/December 1988.

14 The influence of ozone therapy on the remineralization of bone tissue in osteoporosis. Riva Sanseverino. Institut di Fisiologia Umana. University of Bologna. Italy.

15 Knee-joint disorders treated with oxygen ? ozone therapy. Riva Sanseverino. Journal: Estratto da Europa Medicophysica. Vol. 25:3, 163-170. 1989.

16 Immunological examination in patients with chronic conditions under administration of ozone/oxygen mixtures. J. Washuttl. Technical University of Vienna. Getreidmarkt 9. A-1060 Vienna, Austria. Ozone Science and Engineering Vol. 11: 411-417. 1989.

17 Ozone selectively inhibits growth of human cancer cells. Science. Aug. 22, 1980. Vol. 209:931-933.

18 Poggndorfer B Annalen. Vol.49: 616 in 1840

19 Swiss chemist whose work with atomic weights suggested the possibility of isotopes and the packing fraction of nuclei and whose study of the rare-earth elements led to his discovery of ytterbium in 1878 and co discovery of gadolinium in 1880.

20 Medical Ozone Therapies: Fifty years of overlooking a proven answer for diseases like cancer and now AIDS. Ed McCabe, Research Journalist. Energy Publications, P.O. Box 654, Cazenovia, NY 13035. (315) 684-9284.

21 B. Halliwell. Oxygen Radicals: A commonsense look at their nature and medical importance. Journal: Medical Biology 62:71-77. 1984.

22 An electron microscopical examination of cellular constituents of human whole blood after in-vitro exposure to ozone gas. Jon Greenberg. The Kief Clinic. Ludwigshafen, Germany. Circa 1985.

23 Weekly repeated therapeutical 10,000 microgram venous blood ozonations. Evaluation of lipid peroxidation by the way of bilirubin, malondialdehyde, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase measurements: A study about 178 comparative controls. J.M. Winkler. 13 Rue de l èglise. 25660 Morre, France. Circa 1980

24 Addressed this issue in my May 1998 issue of Fact, Fiction & Fraud in Modern medicine.

25 Harald Kämper, Gelsenkirchen. Rectal insufflation of medical ozone in support of intestinal sanitation in cases of candidiasis.

26 Hans Georg Eberhardt. Mobilization of the intestinal immune system by ozone. IOA (31 Strawberry Hill Ave., Stamford, CT, 06902-2608. Telephone 203-348-3542; e-mail: Meeting 1995 in Lille, France.

27 Therapeutical significance of intestinal insufflation of medical ozone. Horst Kief, Ludwig Shafen. IOA (31 Strawberry Hill Ave., Stamford, CT, 06902-2608. Telephone 203-348-3542; e-mail Meeting 1995 in Lille, France.

28 Ozone/oxygen therapy in proctology. H.G. Knoch. Ozonachrichten VI 1987. HEFT 3/4.

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