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Doctor warns against bogus treatments after CT woman's ozone therapy nightmare

29 October 2020 4:06 PM

A Cape Town woman has been left with serious lung damage after her ozone therapy session went wrong. A medical doctor weighs in.

A CapeTalk listener named Caro has suffered serious lung damage after inhaling harmful gas during an ozone therapy treatment session.

Oxygen chamber therapy is a popular procedure in which users climb into an ozone pod with their head out of the top of the pod while steam and an ozone/oxygen mixture circulates inside the unit.

Caro booked an appointment for an ozone treatment at a beauty salon called Skin in Hout Bay last month.

She ended up inhaling gas when the tank was hastily opened due to an equipment malfunction during her treatment.

While the beauty salon has paid for her medical bills, Caro says her breathing has been significantly impaired and she currently uses an inhaler because of ongoing respiratory side effects.

"I now have to use a steroid inhaler daily and go for more tests in three months to see if there is an improvement. I cannot tell you how debilitating and anxious this has made me", Caro has told consumer journalist Wendy Knowler.

Knowler says ozone therapy is often marketed as a wellness treatment that has a range of medical benefits, including immune-boosting properties and skin rejuvenation.

It's often punted as an anti-aging and detoxifying treatment. Typically, the marketing will claim that ozone therapy helps with everything from weight loss to skin rejuvenation, that it helps clear the lymphatic system, and that it can help boost the immune system and reset the body into healing and rejuvenation mode.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist

Given that it's 2020, some of the marketing here and abroad is on the back of boosting the immune system in light of Covid-19.

Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist

However, medical doctor Dr. Harris Steinman has warned consumers not to fall for ozone therapy "scams" that can have harmful health consequences.

While ozone has been used for the treatment of certain medical conditions, Dr. Steinman says some of the procedures are risky and unsafe.

He says the medical benefits of ozone therapy have not been scientifically proven, and it remains a controversial form of alternative medicine.

In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States stated that ozone is toxic and has no proven medical applications.

Dr. Steinman warns that unqualified people are administering ozone and making false health claims without any regulatory oversight.

In some instances, Dr. Steinman says these wellness establishments aren't even administering real ozone gas.

Ozone therapy is one of the biggest scams around, practiced by a lot of alternative medicine users based on very flimsy research.

Dr Harris Steinman, Director - Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services

Ozone can be extremely harmful, not just to the skin, on inhalation, it can cause lung damage and there have been reported deaths from ozone therapy.

Dr Harris Steinman, Director - Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services

Listen to the full discussion during this week's ConsumerTalk segment:

Every Wednesday, on Lunch with Pippa Hudson, Wendy Knowler provides useful insights and tips on how to make the most of your buying power.

For more stories visit the ConsumerTalk feature page.

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29 October 2020 4:06 PM

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