Ozone is a triatomic oxygen structure with a significant presence in the higher atmosphere. It acts as a filter for ultraviolet (UV) rays reaching the earth and hence protects human beings and animal kingdom from the harmful effects of UV radiation. . Many of us have experienced that curious, slightly pungent and characteristic whiff of ozone after thunderstorms when high-voltage lightning creates ozone from oxygen. Ozone is a gas, and energized form of oxygen with the chemical formula O3. It is unstable and disassociates readily back into oxygen (O2), thus liberating so-called “singlet oxygen” (O1) which is a strong oxidizing agent. It is this particular reactivity which provides the starting point for ozone’s multiple effects within the body.
The different modes of action of ozone on a living organism are now well understood and involve the production of ozone -generated peroxides. It is these which are responsible for the remarkable bactericidal and fungicidal effects. The virus inactivation takes place in a similar way and is enhanced by a peroxide intolerance of virus-infected, weakened cells.
Peroxides are powerful, free-radical producers and as such could be harmful, but ozone has an advantage here which other free-radical producing agents do not appear to have: not only are normal cells protected from the oxidative stress effects of ozone if used in correct amounts, but – almost paradoxically – ozone appears to promote a stimulation and activation of the enzymes involved in peroxide and free radical scavenging (glutathione peroxidase, catalase and superoxide dismutase) thus enhancing immune responsiveness.
The medical use of ozone has an excellent safety record and no toxic effects have been observed from clinical use. Ozone is administered in a number of ways. The essential equipment is an ozone generator which is able to produce a specified amount of ozone from pure medical oxygen.
Chemodiscolysis with “nucleoptesis by oxygen ozone mixture” combined with drying the nucleus with an oxygen-ozone mixture (O2-O3) uses a colourless irritant gas with a pungent odour which is unstable and has a strong anti-oxidising power with good antiseptic, disinfectant and antiviral properties. Ozone is prepared and administered as required by transforming a small percentage of oxygen into ozone using special generators. The O2-O3 gas mixture produced can be injected into the intervertebral disc and root foramina, 3-4 ml into the disc and 15-20 ml into the neural foramen and root canal. The concentration of the mixture is adjusted by the equipment. The dose mainly administered to treat disc disease is 30-40 micrograms/ml, a concentration calculated from experimental studies as the amount best suited to dry out the nucleus and minimize inflammation.
Ozone-oxygen mixture is a relatively cheap and minimally invasive method to treat contained disc herniations both at the cervical and lumbar levels.
Ozone-oxygen mixture has also shown a good response when used in damaged joints as part of a treatment known as ‘Prolozone’. It has shown wonderful results in controlling pain and swelling besides studies suggesting its role in promoting regeneration of the damaged cartilages.