California Naturopathic Doctors Association states concern about ozone therapy

California Naturopathic Doctors Association states concern about ozone therapy

The California Naturopathic Doctors Association (CNDA) sent out an email recently to its members stating its concern about a complaint filed against a Vermont naturopathic doctor for practicing ozone therapy and auto-hemotherapy.

Ozone is a powerful oxidizing agent used as an alternative medicine treatment to increase the amount of oxygen in the body. It is variously employed by mixing ozone with other gasses and liquids and injecting the combination into the body via the vagina, rectum, IM, subcutaneously or IV.  One of the delivery methods is auto-hemotherapy, which involves drawing blood from the patient, exposing it to ozone and reinjecting it into the patient.

Here's how ozone therapy using auto-hemotherapy in combination with ultraviolent light therapy is described on a Vermont naturopath's website. The method

"involves taking six to seven ounces of blood out of your body, and exposing it to Ozone gas. After the blood has been thoroughly mixed with gas, it is slowly given back to your body. On it's way back into your body (through an IV drip), it is further passed through a UV light machine. Now your blood has been cleansed of UV-sensitive pathogens. If you give that blood a clean slate, and your body can now "see" the antigen structure of those organisms. It knows that those organisms are there, but the organisms happen to be dead, so they're not going to hurt you. Your body can then see those organisms and mount a much more efficient immune response."

The rationale behind, and purpose of, ozone therapy is described by the American Academy of Ozonotherapy thusly:

"since oxygen is so fundamental to why people get sick and how the body heals, ozone therapy has been found to be useful for many conditions including: heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, herpes, hepatitis, interstitial cystitis, diabetes, Lyme disease, chemical sensitivity, macular degeneration, intestinal disorders, and auto-immune disorders."

In case you haven't figured it out already, this is all hogwash. This "Academy" is a Pseudomedical Pseudoprofessional Organization, a term concocted by our former colleague at SBM, Kimball Atwood, to describe those organizations with pseudo-legitimate names, conferences, websites, "board certifications," and such who push pseudo-therapies. Naturopaths are well represented among its ranks.

According to the FDA, ozone has no known useful medical application. It's also dangerous. Far from being suitable for injection into humans, the FDA warns that it shouldn't even be used as a germicide, one possibility for legitimate use that has now been discarded. Why? Because, in order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present in a concentration far greater than is tolerable for humans and animals.

So, was the CNDA warning its members not to engage in such potentially dangerous quack practices? Did it condemn ozone therapy and auto-hemotherapy as bogus?

Not at all. The CNDA's only concern seems to be that these treatments might be outside the naturopathic scope of practice. According to the email, Vermont naturopathic doctors have a broad scope but ozone therapy and auto-hemotherapy "are in a possible gray area."

In fact, the CNDA itself advertised a webinar, "Clinical Applications of Medical Ozone Therapy," for December 1.The course was approved for continuing education credit by the American Association of Naturopathic Doctors as well as the California and Oregon naturopathy boards. (It was also approved for acupuncturists.) However, apparently after the complaint against the Vermont naturopath became a concern, the ad was taken down. Fortunately, we have a screenshot of the ad, viewable here.

According to the ad, naturopaths who took the course would learn about:

  • A variety of ozone applications in clinical practice;
  • Dosing for specific applications and potential uses;
  • Cases that have benefitted from ozone; and
  • Uses of ozone in combination with other products and procedures, such as ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy (another pseudoscientific treatment).

The course instructor, naturopath Brendan Cochran, is described as having taught ozone injections to doctors "around the world." Interestingly, he was the medical director of IV therapy at Bastyr's Integrative Oncology Research Center, which is sponsoring an active clinical trial funded by NCCIH. I wonder if these poor research subjects are receiving IV ozone therapy as part of their "integrative" oncology treatment.

The CNDA also warned that naturopathic websites with the terms homeopathic, ozone therapy, ultraviolet radiation therapy, alternative cancer care, biotherapeutic drainage, and electrodermal screening are "being targeted." It urged members to review their websites to ensure that what they offer is within their legal scope of practice. Not to make sure that what they offer is safe and effective, only legal. 

There are political overtones as well. The CNDA noted that legislation increasing their practice scope is pending. It is worried that complaints against naturopaths for practicing outside their scope might endanger its chances of passing.

The constitutional basis of a state's authority to regulate health care providers lies in its inherent power to protect the public's health, safety and welfare, known as the police power. Licensing those who regularly practice quackery like ozone therapy, auto-hemotherapy and ultraviolet blood irradiation, with the approval of their regulatory boards is, in my view, not a legitimate use of that power.

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