Covid treatment: The Ozone effect

After Pritha Tiwari, a Delhi-based mother of two, recovered from Covid-19 in mid-October, she was asked to take various vitamin and mineral supplements to speed up her recovery. Two weeks of moderate Covid had taken its toll on the 41-year-old teacher and she was reluctant to take more medicines in the days ahead. Instead, she began to look for natural alternative treatments that could help strengthen her body. “A friend recommended I opt for ozone therapy since I was very weak. When I read up on it, I realised it is already being used in post-Covid treatment. Within five sessions, I started to feel better,” she says, adding that she supplemented the therapy with fresh fruit and vegetables and lots of water. “The doctor who treated me was upset that I wasn’t taking my prescription drugs. But I just didn’t want more chemicals in my system, especially when I did not really need them. Ozone was cheap, quick and it made me feel energetic within a few days itself,” adds Tiwari.

As the Covid pandemic continues and a guaranteed cure is yet to emerge, many are turning towards natural cures as an add-on treatment. Ozone therapy, which started 18 years ago in India, is one of them. Using gas which consists majorly of oxygen and a small amount of ozone, patients are given tailormade treatment plans which helps to improve circulation, metabolism and immunity. Around 2,800 doctors currently practice it in the country and awareness about the treatment has been steadily growing. “Earlier I had to explain the treatment to new patients about, now many already know about it. The awareness has grown about naturopathy since more people are keen on preventive therapy and are looking towards natural treatment options,” says Dr Mili Shah, president, Ozone Forum of India. Dr. V.G. Vaidya, founder and chairman of Lokmanya Group of Hospitals, has observed a similar trend among patients. At Lokmanya Pune’s post-Covid care clinic, he says, many patients opt for Ozone therapy as a complementary treatment. “It helps improve circulation and strength. It has benefits for post-Covid care where the treatment can be tailored according to the person’s case and symptoms,” says Dr Vaidya.

Earlier in June this year, a trial for Ozone therapy and its benefits for Covid patients was conducted. Around 30 patients were given Ozone treatment and 30 given only standard of care (SOC) in a randomised and controlled trial. Of these, 77 per cent on Ozone recovered by day five and the rest had no symptoms, while 53 per cent of those on SOC recovered by day 5. By Day 10, all on the Ozone treatment had tested negative. The study is currently being peer-reviewed and is registered with the Clinical Trials Registry-India. Ozone was also given as a prophylactic to employees of Bisleri India who were engaged in public activities during the lockdown. The infection rate was 2.19 per cent amongst those who took Ozone as prophylactic, whereas the national infection rate amongst workers was about 22 per cent. This data is due to be published in the journal European Journal on Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Science. In Mumbai, several hospitals such as Seven Hills and Nair Hospital, even constructed six-foot long tunnels which sprayed Ozone as a disinfectant as patients entered the premises.

“Ozone also reduces the infection load in the body and it activates our inherent antioxidant defence mechanism within the cells which helps combat illness,” explains Dr Shah. Ozone therapy is currently used as a complementary treatment for diabetes and cancer. “Oxygen is detrimental for cancer cells. We’ve done studies which show that Ozone therapy helps patients handle chemotherapy better,” says Shah. Price of Ozone treatment varies, but in Delhi a single dose can be purchased for around Rs 1,500. Other observed benefits of Ozone include reduction of acidity in the body, improved energy, improved oxygen transport to cells. It is also gaining in popularity as a treatment for weight loss, hair loss, skin problems, and appetite control.

Since Ozone works alongside allopathic treatment and has no side-effects, patients also feel that it can only help in their recovery. However, doctors do caution against seeing Ozone as a guaranteed cure, particularly for a disease as unpredictable as Covid. The general consensus is that patients should follow their doctor’s advice and not try self-medication. “Typically patients recover from Covid symptoms on their own. Some have long-term damage and need to be put under treatment accordingly. At present, no treatment is a definite cure. So, when designing your recovery plan, one needs to keep in mind that the science for Covid treatment, whether allopathic or naturopathic, is still not 100 per cent guaranteed, including ozone therapy. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind, and the best treatment would be one under the supervision of a doctor,” says Dr V.K. Bahl, dean (academics) and head of cardiology at AIIMS Delhi.

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