Gwyneth Paltrow: The truth about rectal ozone therapy
Doctors have weighed in on Gwyneth Paltrow‘s ‘pretty weird’ new wellness trend that involves shooting gas up her rectum.
They warn that there is no robust scientific evidence pointing to the treatment’s benefits and warned that it could even be toxic to the body.
Dr Stuart Fischer, an emergency medicine physician in New York told DailyMail.com that the evidence backing up rectal ozone therapy was ‘controversial at best’ and ‘the mode and the route are extremely questionable.’
The unproven and clinically untested therapy consists of chemically generating ozone (O3) with the help of an oxygen tank and a small generator that will set you back about $1,500.
Ms Paltrow acknowledges that rectal ozone therapy sounds outlandish but added that it has been ‘very helpful’ without saying for what
A series of IV ozone treatments in a flashy Southern California or New York City clinic might set you back about $1,200. While people can go to a clinic for rectal ozone therapy, many choose to do them at home because after the initial costs of procuring a generator, tubing, and an oxygen tank, each treatment is cheap to free.
The generated ozone collects in a bag that attaches to silicone tubing which, when fixed with a catheter and inserted about three inches into the rectum, shoots ozone into the body.
Even Ms Paltrow, who is no stranger to wacky wellness trends, acknowledges that it sounds outlandish but added that it has been ‘very helpful’ – without saying for what.
Adherents claim the therapy reduces inflammation and bacteria, encourages cell regeneration and promotes anti-aging, improves the immune system, and even wards off heart attacks.
But the evidence to support its efficacy and safety is ‘limited’ and ‘low-quality’, according to the Cleveland Clinic and medical experts are far from convinced.
When approached for comment, doctors at Johns Hopkins Medicine were unwilling to comment, as was Ms Paltrow’s own doctor, Dr Will Cole.
Worth it? Benefits of rectal ozone therapy are said to be reduced pain/inflammation, increased energy, improved metabolism/circulation, stimulated immune system, detoxification, anti-aging, and fighting bacterial/viral infections. The science does not conclusively back that up
Ozone is a highly unstable substance that can damage the lungs when inhaled. It’s part of what forms the low-lying smog that blankets some major cities.
The Food and Drug Administration, the arbiter of safe medical devices, calls ozone a ‘toxic gas with no known useful medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy.’
Dr Stuart Fischer, who has studied alternative medicines including ozone therapy, told DailyMail.com that instead of buying into wellness trends like the one Ms Paltrow favors, he takes dietary supplements such as antioxidants to slow down cell aging, something ozone therapy purports to do.
‘That’s what I would say works, this is relatively well researched, whereas ozone’s benefit is controversial at best,’ Dr Fischer said.
He added: ‘There may be some unknown side effects or unknown benefits. The efficacy, and the mode or the route are extremely questionable.’
This is one of many wellness ‘hacks’ celebrated by Ms Paltrow that has dubious scientific backing.
A self-styled health guru, Ms Paltrow has a huge following with more than two million unique visitors to her site Goop every month.
She has become well-known for peddling odd wellness advice and peculiar products, such as jade eggs to insert in the vagina to allegedly modulate hormone levels.
She is also a fan of such alternative interventions as coffee enemas, vaginal steaming, and being intentionally stung by bees ‘to get rid of inflammation and scarring.’
Medical professionals are not buying into the fads, though.
Ozone (O3) is a molecule made up of three oxygen atoms. Breathing in medical-grade ozone, even in small doses, is dangerous.
Short-term inhalation of just a small amount of ozone can cause severe and sometimes permanent damage to the lungs and respiratory system and worsened asthma symptoms.
Rectal ozone therapy circumvents the risks that come with inhalation, at least in the best-case scenario, by going directly via silicone tubing and catheter into the body.
Oxygen (O2) is fed into an ozone generator which uses a chemical reaction to break down O2 molecules and reform them into ozone (O3). Silicone tubing carries that new ozone gas into the rectum via a catheter.
The treatment takes about 10 minutes and can be done a few times per week.
Users and alternative medicine specialists say that opting for the rectal delivery route helps combat issues like chronic hepatitis and chronic colitis among a wide range of other conditions.
But the rectal route can cause cramping, bloating, and fatigue.
A 2005 report on the subject from the Ministry of Health Malaysia considered ozone therapy’s use for HIV and other infectious diseases, a cardiac disease marked by reduced blood flow to the heart, infertility and obstetrical issues, orthopedic disorders, skin disorders, and cancers.
Health experts there concluded: ‘Current data on the usage of ozone therapy as therapeutic options for various health conditions lacks sufficient safety and therapeutic advantage over available conventional therapeutic modalities.’
And the Complementary and Alternative Medicine for Cancer pointed out that there is ‘very limited’ or ‘no rigorous evidence’ supporting ozone therapy’s anti-cancer claims, such as improving survival or quality of life for cancer patients.
Dr. Kaveh Hoda, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist based in San Francisco, California chimed in online: ‘Gastroenterologist here: Not that you would but please don’t get “rectal ozone therapy.” Also, don’t put coffee in your butts either.’
Dr Hoda added: ‘Gweneth Paltrow might be one of the leading causes of people putting inappropriate things in their butts.’