Ozone is a pale blue gas with a distinctively pungent smell whose antibacterial properties were known even before its structure. As early as the First World War it was being used to treat infected wounds, but as technology has advanced and better options have become available, coupled with the fact that ozone is quite toxic, it is no longer used for that purpose. However, like so many redundant medical practices, it has been adopted by the alternative medicine crowd where its proponents are promoting it as a panacea and, once again, it has found itself being used to treat open wounds.
I have been wanting to cover the subject of Ozone therapy for some time now, but it was not until I found a video made by a dentist named Rick Buck that I finally put pen to paper. What makes Rick’s YouTube video unique is that, unlike all the other videos containing self-proclaimed experts trying to push this gas to vulnerable people, Rick references scientific papers throughout to back up his claims. The video is just under 10 minutes long but is so densely packed with, for lack of a better word, bullshit, that in my first blog post I was only able to critique the first 47 seconds before exhaustion got the better of me and I called it a day. I have since had a month to recharge my batteries and believe I now have the energy to complete my critique.
Around the 50 second mark is where Rick begins to talk about how ozone can be stored and what equipment you will need to generate it at home. He says that “ozone can be utilised in three basic forms, each having its own advantages and disadvantages”. As he is saying this, we are shown video clips of ozone bubbling through water, ozone bubbling through oil, and ozone gas being applied directly to the skin.
Rick starts by talking about ozone gas used straight from the generator and says that it is at its most potent in this form but warns that it is hard to contain and that it will irritate the eyes and respiratory system. He then moves on to storing ozone in water stating that the main disadvantage here is that even when chilled it will only last for approximately 30 minutes. Later he then says that ozone can last much longer when stored in oil, but never gives us a time frame. Looking online the general consensus among the alternative medical community is that ozonated oil only lasts about 3 weeks, however, looking at the published research it may only last a couple of minutes. This is because ozone readily reacts with carbon-carbon double bonds like those found in the unsaturated fatty acids that make up triglycerides in the sunflower oil Rick was using. What’s interesting is that the oxygenated products created when exposing sunflower oil to ozone such as ozonides, hydroperoxides, aldehydes, and peroxides have antibacterial, fungicidal, and antiviral properties. However, they also have a limited lifespan depending on the conditions they are in ranging from a few seconds to a few months. One thing to note is that although these compounds in the oil have been shown to have beneficial properties, the research looking into their effectiveness compared with their pharmaceutical counterpart is non-existent. So when Rick states that ozonated oil is an “excellent topical antibiotic, antifungal, and antiviral” he is, to put it bluntly, pulling it out of his arse. Even the paper he references on screen at the time (Antibacterial activity of ozonaized sunflower oil (Oleozon)) does not back up his claims.
As Rick is telling us how ozone can be “utilised in three basic forms” we are shown a video of him using ozone gas destroying a latex glove whilst his hand beneath appeared unharmed. He later says that “bacteria cell structure is close to the structure of this glove” which, quite frankly, is ridiculous as bacteria are not universal. What Rick is actually showing us, rather dramatically and impressively, is ozone’s ability to break carbon-carbon bonds. The reason why it is so theatrical and why his hand appears untouched is that latex, like many rubbers, is particularly susceptible to damage by ozone. This is because their structure contains many carbon-carbon double bonds which are cleaved even in low concentrations. This process is called ozone cracking and is the reason why over time you need to replace rubber seals on your car because even in tiny concentrations in the air ozone can do tremendous damage to some rubbers. This is the reason why Rick is having to use polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) tubing with his ozone generator – because it contains no carbon-carbon double bonds.
The next few minutes of Rick’s video is a little on the boring side as he shows us his ozone equipment, the whole time advertising the company he bought it from. However, things soon take a turn for the worst as Rick gives out some idiotic advice and recommends treatments that have the potential to kill.
At about the four-minute mark, Rick tells us what to do if we are exposed to large quantities of ozone and it starts to irritate our lungs. He suggests eating a powered packet of vitamin C dry, which he believes will “react with the excess ozone”. Whilst it is true that ingesting an antioxidant like vitamin C may help decrease the damage caused by background levels of ozone which you are naturally exposed to day to day, the fact of the matter is that if you are dealing with the levels Rick is suggesting, it’s not going to be much help. Especially considering Rick is talking about taking the vitamin C after you have been exposed. In short, it’s too little too late.
The video then takes a dark turn when Rick promotes, autohemotherapy, injecting ozone directly into your body, and breathing in ozone.
Autohemotherapy, for those who don’t know, is a technique that involves taking blood from a person and then reinjecting the same blood back into them. In this case, whilst the blood is out of the body, Rick is promoting exposing it to ozone so it can “deliver ozone to the whole body and fight things like STD, MS, Lyme disease, and some cancers”. As Rick previously said, ozone doesn’t last very long in cold water, so I am not sure why he believes it will last in a liquid that is approximately 92% water and heated to body temperature. What little ozone survives will begin to react with whatever it comes into contact with once injected back into the body, as it has no way of distinguishing between a healthy human cell and any one of the pathogens Rick lists. Also, lets not forget that the reactive species ozone will have generated are now free to go around your system and cause havoc.
As Rick says that ozone can “fight things like STD, MS, Lyme” we are flashed an abstract from the paper “Ozone therapy: A clinical review”. There is no mention of ozone being used to treat MS or Lyme disease and there is only one mention of it treating an unspecified cancer which is unreferenced. After reading the small review I came to the conclusion that Rick must not have read it because there is a rather large section laying out, in full, the disadvantages of ozone therapy.
“An array of ill-effects are observed owing to the reactivity of O3 viz oxidation, peroxidation or generation of free radicals and giving rise to cascade of reactions like peroxidation of lipids leading to changes in membrane permeability, lipid ozonation products (LOP) act as signal transducer molecules. The main reason for this being presence of unsaturated fatty acids in both lung lining fluid and pulmonary cell bilayers, O3 reacts with unsaturated fatty acids to give their specific products i.e., LOP, which activates the lipases triggering the release of endogenous mediators of inflammation. The loss of functional groups in enzymes leading to enzyme inactivation. These reactions further results in cell injury or eventual cell death. Combinations of O3 and NO2 occur in photochemical smog, have hazardous effects on lung alveoli and act additively or synergistically.”
Next, Rick suggested injecting ozone straight from the generator into your body, but I think I will have to cover that another time. For the second Ricks video has beaten me!