By Dr. Becker
Today, I have another special guest as part of my Highlighting the Healer series, Dr. Margo Roman. Dr. Roman is a fellow integrative veterinarian and a friend of mine, and I want to talk with her about two healing techniques she uses in her practice – hyperbaric oxygen therapy and ozone therapy.
Dr. Roman is the owner of Main Street Animal Services of Hopkinton (MASH), which is located in the Boston area. MASH offers both conventional and alternative therapies for pets, including classical homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal remedies, general medicine, and chiropractic care. Dr. Roman has also performed over 10,000 ozone and hyperbaric treatments for a variety of different health issues, which is what I want to discuss with her today. A lot of people don't even know these amazing healing modalities exist, and Dr. Roman has a tremendous amount of experience using them.
Dr. Roman Learned About Ozone Therapy by Treating Her Horse, Champ
Dr. Roman started out by expressing her belief that ozone is one of the most amazing adjunct therapies we can offer animals. The procedure adds oxygen to tissue, which promotes microcirculation. If we can bring more oxygen into the body, especially into areas that are inflamed, we can alleviate that inflammation. We can also reduce cancer cells, because cancer doesn't like oxygen and doesn't thrive in an oxygenated environment.
Ozone therapy is also wonderful for infections as well as swelling, bruising and trauma. If you can use oxygen to kill bacteria, why use antibiotics? Especially with MRSA on the rise and the general overuse of antibiotics in human and veterinary medicine. The drugs aren't working as well as they once did, so why not use something as simple and supportive as oxygenated fluids and ozone within those fluids to help resolve infections?
I asked Dr. Roman how she was introduced to ozone therapy. She answered that she read about it first in Martin Goldstein's book, The Nature of Animal Healing: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat. Also, another veterinarian, Dr. Tina Aiken, had been encouraging Dr. Roman to use ozone with her horse, Champ.
Champ was 16 when she rescued him from being euthanized. He developed cancer at 20. She treated him for six years and he reached the point where he needed another type of treatment, so she added ozone therapy out of desperation as she tried to save her horse's life. He also needed eye surgery to remove his squamous cell carcinoma. Champ lived to age 28. Eight of those years he lived with cancer, and he lived two and a half years beyond what Tufts University believed he would live because the cancer had spread throughout his body.
Dr. Roman explained that she learned so much from Champ. Therapies she used on him ultimately gave her the opportunity to help many other animals. Ozone therapy is an important way to keep the body healthy – to support healthy tissue in a very positive way in combination with herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, and nutrition of course.
I asked Dr. Roman how she used ozone therapy with Champ. She replied that initially she was afraid to give it any manner other than rectally. She uses rectal ozone in both large and small animals quite often. Off she went to the barn with her ozone machine, where she filled up an IV bag with ozone gas, inserted a catheter… and Champ would just pass the gas right back out of his rectum. She did that over and over again.
Then another DVM friend of Dr. Roman's, Dr. Judith Shoemaker, said "Margo, do it by IV." Dr. Roman was sure she'd kill her horse if she put gas into a vein. The first time she did it, she was terrified. She put Champ in a crosstie, prepared to have him drop to the floor, and gave him the IV. Champ didn't like it at all – he was very scared of it, too. But long story short, the horse was ultimately given 116 IV treatments of ozone gas over a two and a half year period. Champ survived a cancer that should have killed him for two and a half years, which was incredible.
Dr. Roman was really impressed with ozone therapy from her experience with Champ. It really brought down inflammation. After his IV treatments, the horse would be groggy for a few hours, but the next day he'd be running around like he was in no pain at all. She gave him treatments depending on his level of inflammation. Sometimes, she would do it bi-weekly; other times, she would do it once every two weeks.
After about the 20th treatment, Dr. Roman was able to relax with giving the gas by IV. She went from about an hour and a half per treatment to about 20 minutes.
Ozone Therapy Can Be Used to Successfully Treat a Wide Variety of Injuries and Illness in Animals
Next, Dr. Roman began giving ozone therapy rectally to dogs. A glass cylinder attached to the side of the ozone machine allowed for a saline infusion of the gas. As Dr. Roman explained, anywhere we use saline on an animal, we can use oxygenated fluids. We can flush the mouth before dental procedures and it gets rid of the whole biofilm of the mouth. It eliminates the need for antibiotics. We can flush the ears, the eyes, and the prepuce (foreskin). We can use it on the skin. We can soak wounds. We can give it as an enema for an obstipated animal. We can flush the bladder in an animal with a urinary tract obstruction.
Adding saline to oxygen makes it an antibacterial for anaerobic bacteria, which is a perfect solution in almost all areas of veterinary medicine, whether you're practicing conventional, holistic, or integrative medicine.
I remarked to Dr. Roman that infections seem like a great opportunity to use ozone – especially gangrenous lesions. She replied that one of the first cases that really impressed her regarding ozone involved a cat patient. The kitty was initially taken to Angell Memorial Animal Care Center. The client was told at Angell that the best option for the cat's leg was amputation, because to try to save the leg would cost $4,000, and it might have to be amputated anyway.
The cat's owner didn't have the funds, but she wanted to save the leg. So she brought the cat to Dr. Roman, who made her promise to bring the kitty in every single day for ozone treatment. The wound was from a fan belt. It was a degloving wound – a very, very serious wound. Dr. Roman stitched it together, performed acupuncture, treated it with ozone fluids, and bagged it in ozone gas. It healed in a week.
Dr. Roman said it blew her mind. The wound healed. The kitty had been on antibiotics, and Dr. Roman continued the drug therapy, but since then, she has not used antibiotics with similar kinds of wounds and has used only ozone – and they've healed without drugs.
Another case involved Dr. Roman's pet chicken who was attacked by animals. Her crop and esophagus were cut in half. All the feathers in her back were pulled over her back and were hanging in front of her. Dr. Roman arrived home around midnight and found her. She asked her husband to come with her to her clinic to help her put her chicken back together again. Since she was an organic chicken, Dr. Roman didn't want to give her antibiotics.
She treated the chicken with ozone, homeopathy and acupuncture. She healed completely and laid eggs another two and a half years, and lived one and half years beyond that.
Ozone Therapy for 'Hopeless' Cases
Clearly, Dr. Roman has treated a number of cases with ozone therapy that are remarkable examples of healing in a completely non-toxic way, which is wonderful. I asked her if she has a hard time convincing clients about the benefits of ozone therapy, or are most of them desperate and deliberately seeking out alternative therapies.
She replied that often, by the time clients reach her it's the 11th hour. They've been to the oncologist or other specialist. They are frustrated that there are no solutions. Often they've been told there's nothing they can do but euthanize their animal. Dr. Roman says she sees these types of cases several times a week.
When we have clients who want to try and have the vision to see life left in their pet, that's when they (and we) look for other ways to help. It's very easy to tell a pet owner there's nothing else we can do. Dr. Roman says when as a veterinarian you give up and say there's nothing left to do but euthanize, then you are 100 percent right. In your heart, you feel like you did the best you could do. But if you don't know there are other ways of doing things, how do you offer those choices to the pet owner looking for more options?
I asked Dr. Roman if she has clients show up specifically asking for ozone therapy, and she replied that she does. There are a limited number of people who offer ozone therapy in the veterinary profession (and the medical profession as well). The American Dental Association, however, is now using ozone therapy. There are courses available that teach dental ozone and medical ozone.
There's also a veterinary ozone course being offered. The next one will be in the spring. It's a great course, according to Dr. Roman, and is sponsored by the American Academy of Ozone Therapy. There's a lot of information available for veterinarians who want to learn more about ozone (O3) therapy.
Risks Associated with Ozone Therapy
I asked Dr. Roman to talk about the risks of the therapy. What can go wrong?
She replied that as long as the treatments are done correctly, there is minimal risk. One of the risks is that the ozonated fluids are cold, and they can't be warmed up. In hypothermic animals, it becomes an issue. But if an animal has a fever, it's actually really great because the cold fluids cool body temperatures and provide oxygen. If an animal is slightly anemic, ozone therapy actually helps the red blood cells work more efficiently due to the increased oxygen.
If an animal needs oxygen, giving it as an ozone or gas (O3 and O2 combined), we're giving oxygen to the tissues and to the whole body. It's a positive supplement of oxygen to the body.
Another risk can be giving too much fluid. If we have an animal with a cardiac issue – ozone is really good for cardiac issues – we deliver it as a rectal gas and as a saline solution, which gives higher levels of the ozone. And we always add antioxidants unless the animal is already receiving them.
I asked Dr. Roman if there are situations in which ozone is contraindicated. She answered that in animals with a very low platelet count, there's a question as to whether ozone should be used, because it does slightly thin the blood. She has used it on animals with low platelets, however.
She treated a dog with cancer everywhere in his body – osteosarcoma everywhere, including in the skin. The ozone therapy caused a problem because the dog had bleeding skin lesions all over. It has helped most of the osteosarcoma cases she has treated, as it reduces the pain of the lesions and can help bring down some of the swelling.
Another risk is that ozone is very irritating to the lungs. It must be buffered with olive oil if it is to be inhaled. If we have an animal with a lung lesion, we must be very careful that the olive oil is not dense. Dr. Roman ozonates olive oil and uses it as a salve. She uses it in the gums for the teeth, for gingivitis, for inflammation of the gums, and for oral wounds. It can also be used as a rectal suppository for colon polyps and colon cancer. But if the oil grows dense instead of bubbling in little tiny bubbles, it means there's too much ozone that isn't getting coated, and that's what can irritate the lungs.
Ozone Therapy for Cancer and Autoimmune Disease
Dr. Roman had a case of a Golden Retriever named Olivia who came to her practice at 14 years of age. She'd already had a lung lesion removed which was cancerous, and another lesion was forming. Her regular veterinarian had given her just a few days to live. Olivia was having a hard time breathing, was a little pale, and was bleeding into her chest.
Olivia's owner was a very positive person who wanted to try whatever she could to help her dog, because Olivia was so special. So Dr. Roman did ozone on her. She drained the blood from her chest. She used an adjunct therapy – ultraviolet blood therapy – where she took the blood, ozonated it, put it in a solution called Biocean that has all the trace minerals that come from the bottom of the ocean, and put that through ultraviolet light. It kills all the viruses that don't like oxygen. It's like using a laser on the blood itself. The blood is put through the ultraviolet light for six passes, and then it's put back into the animal.
In Olivia's case, Dr. Roman used her blood, ran it through the ultraviolet light with the ozone, and gave it back to her via IV. She lived another nine months. Dr. Roman said the dog was one of the most beautiful Goldens she'd ever seen, and it's likely if she'd done nothing, Olivia would've been gone in two days.
So ozone therapy can treat infections, inflammation, and even cancer. I asked Dr. Roman about autoimmune diseases. She answered that ozone therapy works for those as well, because it allows the mitochondria to work efficiently. When we give ozone, we're increasing oxygenation at the level of the mitochondria. And according to Dr. Roman, it's amazing how something so simple – an extra oxygen molecule added to a cell – can start a cascade of repair. Since 10 percent of body weight is mitochondria, why aren't we feeding our mitochondria instead of shutting them down with drugs?
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Next, I asked Dr. Roman to talk about hyperbaric therapy. How did she get involved? She answered that because she was doing ozone therapy, she thought, why not get more oxygen? Hyperbaric therapy added to ozone therapy is like a big one-two punch. We do the ozone and then put the patient in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. There are different types of chambers. Dr. Roman uses a soft-sided chamber. It doesn't get as high a percentage of oxygen as a hard-sided chamber, but she's been using it for 10 years or more. It's the type of chamber where the owner goes in with the pet.
Hyperbaric treatment intervals are about once a week. Dr. Roman has a patient that gets ozone and UVB once or twice a week.
The premise of hyperbaric therapy is that when we increase oxygen levels in the body, we promote more healing, which is also the premise for ozone therapy. It's about getting a higher percentage of oxygen under tension into the body. When divers get the bends, which means they have higher amounts of nitrogen in their blood, they're put into hyperbaric chambers. People with carbon monoxide poisoning are put into hyperbaric chambers to force more oxygen into tissue. The same principle applies for wounds, cancer, even for head trauma – it goes across the blood-brain barrier, as does ozone.
We can reach areas that drugs can't reach because oxygen can get anywhere there is tissue. We can get a higher percentage of oxygen by putting it under pressure, which puts more oxygen deeper into tissue.
I asked about contraindications for hyperbaric therapy. Dr. Roman replied that some patients can't go into the chamber because they are claustrophobic, or they have nasal congestion. Just like during dives, you have to be able to equalize your ears and your Eustachians. So patients who are claustrophobic or have sinus problems aren't good candidates.
I asked Dr. Roman whether she feels oxygen therapy is growing as an alternative treatment. Is she seeing more interest in it? She says she does see it growing. She has clients who hear about the treatment or read about it and call her. Or they visit www.AAOT.us and look for doctors in their area that do O3 therapy.
Thank You, Dr. Roman!
I want to extend my sincere thanks to Dr. Margo Roman for an enlightening discussion! I appreciate the work she does, and her willingness to share some great information about ozone therapy and hyperbaric therapy for animals.