The ozone paradox: ozone is a strong oxidant as well as a medical drug

Med Res Rev. 2009 Jul;29(4):646-82. doi: 10.1002/med.20150.


After five decades characterized by empiricism and several pitfalls, some of the basic mechanisms of action of ozone in pulmonary toxicology and in medicine have been clarified. The present knowledge allows to understand the prolonged inhalation of ozone can be very deleterious first for the lungs and successively for the whole organism. On the other hand, a small ozone dose well calibrated against the potent antioxidant capacity of blood can trigger several useful biochemical mechanisms and reactivate the antioxidant system. In detail, firstly ex vivo and second during the infusion of ozonated blood into the donor, the ozone therapy approach involves blood cells and the endothelium, which by transferring the ozone messengers to billions of cells will generate a therapeutic effect. Thus, in spite of a common prejudice, single ozone doses can be therapeutically used in selected human diseases without any toxicity or side effects. Moreover, the versatility and amplitude of beneficial effect of ozone applications have become evident in orthopedics, cutaneous, and mucosal infections as well as in dentistry.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Lung / drug effects
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Oxidants / pharmacology*
  • Oxidants / therapeutic use
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Ozone / pharmacology*
  • Ozone / therapeutic use
  • Skin Diseases, Infectious / drug therapy


  • Antioxidants
  • Oxidants
  • Ozone