In early August, Volnei Morastoni, mayor of the city of Itajaí, in Santa Catarina, made news by suggesting that a treatment called ozone therapy would be effective against COVID-19.
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"It is a simple, quick application, of two or three minutes a day, it will probably be a rectal application. It is a very quiet application, very fast, of two minutes with a thin catheter, and that gives an excellent result. The person has to do it for 10 days in a row, there are 10 sessions of ozone, and this helps a lot, probably, the cases of positive coronavirus ", said the mayor.
The alleged treatment for the disease, responsible for the pandemic that started in March this year, became a joke on social networks, but it is already used for therapeutic care of heart diseases, arthritis, HIV, SARS, cancer, macular degeneration, disinfection of wounds and activation of the immune system.
Ozone is also used to fight respiratory diseases by specialized companies, such as Wier, which uses the gas against the proliferation of viruses, bacteria and fungi indoors. The company says that cleaning with ozone is 40% faster, being more efficient to fight respiratory symptoms.
"As it is a gas, ozone is able to spread throughout the environment where it is applied and reach places that conventional cleaning cannot, thus providing real sanitation of the environment. The application of ozone is simple and occurs through a device called Ozone generator, which is compact, simple and intuitive to use ", says Dr. Bruno Mena Cadorin, CEO of the company.
What is ozone therapy? It works?
But what we are talking about is the medical use of ozone, through ozone therapy, and before understanding this technique we need to know that it is a gas similar, molecularly, to oxygen – but with one more atom. It has no color, therefore has three oxygen atoms and can be both harmless and dangerous.
According to a study by the Medical News Today website, inhalation of ozone gas can be harmful to health, causing irritation in the throat and lungs, coughing and worsening asthma symptoms, and can also be fatal if there is exposure in high amounts. In the atmosphere, an ozone layer protects the Earth from UV radiation caused by the Sun, but once close to the ground, it can be a dangerous air pollutant.
According to the Ministry of Health, the practice of ozone therapy has its safety proven and recognized as an integrative and complementary practice at low cost, and the application has a therapeutic purpose against various diseases.
"Medicinal ozone, in its various mechanisms of action, represents a stimulus that contributes to the improvement of several diseases, since it can help to recover in a natural way the functional capacity of the human and animal organism. Some health sectors regularly adopt this practice in its care protocols, such as dentistry, neurology and oncology, among others ", says the official information from the Ministry of Health.
According to research published in the VHL Regional Portal, it was concluded that ozone is effective in inactivating various microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses that arise in hospital infections, but that its use in disinfection and sterilization procedures in hospital environments " is not well established ".
Ozone therapy consists of the administration of ozone in the following forms:
- Directly on the fabric – With ozone being applied directly to the skin, a protective covering is created on wounds;
- Intravenous – Intravenous application is used to treat internal diseases, such as HIV. The procedure consists of drawing blood, which is mixed with ozone gas and returned to the body. The use of the method, however, carries risks of embolism, caused by the formation of air bubbles;
- Intramuscular – Ozone therapy can be applied as an intramuscular injection, with ozone gas being mixed, often, with oxygen.
People who go through ozone therapy often report flu-like side effects, with symptoms becoming more intense over time. In the case of application through the rectum, the patient may experience discomfort, cramps and excessive gas, but all of this is temporary. It is worth emphasizing that ozone should never be inhaled, as it can burn, cause cough, nausea, vomiting and headaches, and in more severe cases, respiratory complications.
So, is ozone effective against the new coronavirus?
As much as ozone therapy has already shown effective results for applications already proven to be beneficial in various branches of medicine, there is no indication that the technique, in all its forms, is capable of treating or even preventing COVID-19.
In a note from the VHL Regional Portal, the experts affirm that there is no proof of the effects of the use of ozone therapy in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, "and should not be recommended as a clinical practice or outside the context of clinical studies". The Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases, in February of this year, published a technical note stating that "there is no scientific evidence that ozone therapy protects against COVID-19".