The Growing Field of Oxygen Therapies
How ozone therapy can increase the body’s natural oxygen burning metabolism, and how ozone in the proper therapeutic amounts also assists with jump starting the body’s antioxidant protective mechanism.
Oxygen and Energy
Did you ever sit around a campfire or a fireplace watching a fire burn when you were younger? If so, you may have been a little fascinated with the whole process. Fire is interesting. Where is all that intense heat and glowing color coming from? Well, ultimately it comes from the sun. Wait a minute…who gave the sun its energy? The tree that the firewood came from, of course, extracted elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen from the air, soil, and water and then used the energy of the sun to create wood, of which cellulose is a primary component. In the process of combining all these elements together into wood, the tree formed countless bonds called covalent bonds* that bind all these atoms together.
Mitochondria: The tiny furnaces inside our cells
Inside each of our trillions of cells, each one a complex factory in itself, are many tiny little furnaces called mitochondria.
They have their own membranes and their own DNA.
You may remember this from your biology classes, but let’s just say that as far as its important to human health, it is a subject that deserves revisiting.
When it comes to life and the production of energy, the mitochondria are where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.
*A covalent bond is a chemical link between two atoms in which electrons are shared between them.
When good mitochondria go bad
The energy needed to improve one’s health or recover it. Think about that statement for a moment.
People with chronic illness are often energy deprived. And not just energy deprived from the standpoint of “Hey I feel too tired to go to work today. I think I’ll stay home”, but no, literally energy deprived, at the cellular level.
They have an inefficient oxygen metabolism inside their mitochondria. Instead of a raging fire in the little furnaces inside their cells that creates heat and energy, they may be dealing with something more akin to a flickering fire. They have inefficient cellular energy production and all the symptoms that go with it.
The mitochondria do decay with aging, but in some individuals their measurable mitochondrial oxygen burning metabolism is far below normal for their height, age, and weight.
If you line up several people of the same age group and test them you will find significant variations in their ability to utilize oxygen. A few months ago at a Natural Health Conference in Salt Lake City, several of my friends and associates did a free resting VO2 test. This test measures the amount of oxygen going in when you inhale, and the amount of carbon dioxide coming out when you exhale, and calculates your resting oxygen metabolism. It was interesting to see the different results people were getting. On a personal level, I was very curious about my own results. Having gone through an illness in the past that involved fairly significant toxic metal poisoning and nutritional deficiencies, I was concerned that there may have been some permanent mitochondria damage that occurred. Whereas mitochondrial dysfunction as described by Shallenberger is readily reversible (with ozone), damage and decay to mitochondria can be permanent. Naturopaths don’t like to use the word permanent because of a fundamental belief in the body’s ability to heal, but realistically, some damage to the body can be permanent. That is one reason preventing and reversing oxygen usage dysfunction is so important, because left and decay of the mitochondria.
As mentioned earlier, the mitochondria have their own DNA and these cannot be repaired the way the DNA in the cell nucleus can be. I was relieved to see that the results of my own VO2 test showed above average resting oxygen usage metabolism for my height and weight. There is no doubt in my mind that eating a nutrient dense diet, taking good quality supplements, doing the required detoxification therapies to eliminate known mitochondrial toxins, and then going back to running and other aerobic types of exercise prevented mitochondrial decay that may otherwise have occurred. My use of ozone, no doubt, also factored into this as well; ozone can significantly enhance and restore mitochondrial usage of oxygen to burn calories and produce energy. Interestingly, although the VO2 test that we were voluntarily taking that day was primarily aimed at determining metabolism for weight loss reasons, it was also clear that those who were showing poor oxygen metabolism also looked unwell.
Watch Frank Shallenberger MD, HMD as he discusses the important topic of mitochondrial resuscitation through the usage of ozone.
So…how is this all relevant to the sick person who wants to be well, or a healthy person who would like very much to stay that way? In the healthy cells inside healthy people, the opposing oxidation and antioxidant forces are powerful and strong. In someone sick and fatigued, these chemical reactions are typically both quite weakened. What you want to do is make them both stronger. Oxygen therapies are quite excellent at doing this.
Jump starting your oxygen metabolism
If you want more oxygen just take a deeper breath right? Actually that’s not a bad idea.
Deep breathing exercises are associated with many health benefits.
Aerobic exercise is also fantastic for increasing the speed, efficiency, and number of mitochondria. While these are extremely valuable lifestyle factors, in some cases it’s just not enough. These are great for keeping a healthy person healthy, but if one is already weakened and debilitated, they may simply be unable to exercise. Oxygen therapies like ozone on the other hand can be a stepping stone to pull the person up by their boot straps and get the energy producing mitochondria working again.
How ozone helps restore mitochondrial efficiency and oxygen usage
Ozone’s true therapeutic value is in its ability to release a singlet oxygen atom. Singlet oxygen atoms are hungry for an electron. The O2 molecule was happy because the happy couple shared an outer orbiting electron. When ozone, which is three elemental oxygen atoms in a shaky relationship, is put into the body in proper therapeutic amounts, the singlet oxygen at-oms are released and almost immediately react with the double covalent bonds of amino acids and lipids creating ozonides.
As Doctor Shallenberger explains in “Principles and Applications of Ozone therapy”, it is these ozonides, which are much more stable molecules (but also electron hungry) that increase cell respiration. It is not known, or at least I should say that I don’t know of any research showing that ozone actually crosses the plasma membrane of the cell and into the cytoplasm, and then passes the plasma membrane of the mitochondria to act directly to increase oxidation inside the mitochondria. My current knowledge and understanding says that it does not, it being too unstable. The good news is that it doesn’t have to. Many oxidizing, or electron borrowing functions in the body are carried.
What is ozone?
Ozone is three oxygen atoms that are connected together as one molecule, sharing outer electrons. The normal atmospheric oxygen is 2 atoms of oxygen together that share an orbiting electron. This latter form of oxygen is a very stable, happy couple. When an energy source such as ultraviolet light comes along and splits these two atoms apart some will rejoin with nearby O2 and create the tri-atomic ozone. The ozone molecule is much more unstable and reactive. It quickly releases one of its singlet oxygen atoms and this atom will oxidize nearby amino acids and fatty acids creating what are called ozonides. From a biological standpoint, it is the much more stable ozonides that exert the powerful therapeutic oxidizing benefits of ozone, one of which is to rev up oxygen’s metabolic use in the body.
Shallenberger points out NAD is the final stage molecule in cellular energy production. It performs what the oxygen itself would perform, namely it grabs electrons from nutrients being disassembled in the mitochondria and catalysis energy release as covalent bonds are being broken. Go out and run a bit or ride a bike if you are able. It feels good huh? NAD makes it possible. It is burning that fat, sugar, or protein from your last meal.
Ozone as an antioxidant?
No, ozone is not an antioxidant of course, but it is also not a free radical either as some assert. What ozone does seem to do when used safely and properly is to improve overall antioxidant status. As discussed earlier, it does this in part by reducing the number of free radicals produced when a “dirty” oxygen deprived cellular combustion exists. The other way it improves antioxidant status is by increasing the body’s own production of antioxidant buffering enzymes such as catalase, S.O.D., and glutathione peroxidase. Doctor Shallenberger conducted some interesting research on a small group of AIDS patients. AIDS patients typically have reduced antioxidant buffering capability and free radical damage and these AIDS patients had measurable free radical damage. What’s really interesting is that these patients were all on mega-doses of oral antioxidant nutritional supplements, yet these supplements were failing. Doctor Shallenberger administered daily infusions of ozone. At about the 7 to 10 treatment mark, all showed marked improvement and lessening of free radical damage, and marked increase in antioxidant buffering enzymes. For a Traditional Naturopath, this is quite fascinating. In a sense the ozone was functioning as an Isopathic therapy, meaning that ozone, which is an oxidizer in vivo, decreased free radicals overall by stimulating the body’s own protective mechanisms. Even in AIDS patients with reduced vitality, this ability of their own body to produce molecules to squelch free radicals was more powerful than the antioxidant effects of herbal and other pills. Of course the antioxidant supplements helped, they were just less powerful than the body’s own antioxidant production. This is just one more example of the benefits that oxygen can have on a challenged body. Indeed ozone and other oxygen therapies can be a crucial component of recovery from a great variety of health challenges.
Summing things up here, this was an explanation of a key benefit of ozone: its ability to increase oxygen metabolism and restore mitochondrial function, thus increasing available energy to all cells while also serving to increase antioxidant function. In the introduction we talked about other benefits of ozone that will be discussed in future newsletters such as its ability to kill infections and to assist with detoxification. While these certainly have therapeutic importance, in my view they are somewhat less important than the tremendous benefits that can come from increasing cellular combustion and energy production. There are plenty of natural ways to kill infections and detoxify the body, but not too many things can restore a broken oxidative metabolism in the cellular mitochondria.
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