Can UV Light Treat the Blood of COVID-19 Patients?
This is a reprint from Dr. Mercola's website. We will continue to look at the discussions around infection, illness and activated oxygen therapies as well as novel therapies for novel conditions. This is not meant to diagnose or treat disease, nor does it imply suggestions for personal health decisions.
Can UV Light Treat the Blood of COVID-19 Patients?
- May 11, 2020
- The use of UV light to kill the COVID-19 virus was recently brought up in an April press briefing
- Ultraviolet irradiation of blood (UBI) was widely used and effective until antibiotics were developed
- Doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, in partnership with a specialty pharmaceutical company, are developing a UV device called "Healight"
- The specialty pharmaceutical company, Aytu BioScience, is seeking an emergency use authorization for "Healight" from the FDA
- In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of ozone therapy should be further explored
Is it possible that ultraviolet light (UV) might be an internal treatment for SARS-CoV-2? We know that it kills pathogens, especially on surfaces. And, it's already used in food processing,1 wastewater treatment facilities2 and medical settings to kill germs3 — in fact, according to DukeHealth, it can cut the transmissibility of four major superbugs.4
William Bryan, acting head of the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security, even hinted that UV light might kill the coronavirus.5 But there is also evidence that UV light and a related therapy, ozone, can be used internally to treat viral infections, including COVID-19 infections.
Ultraviolet Irradiation of Blood: A Cure That Time Forgot
Ultraviolet irradiation of blood (UBI), also called photoluminescence therapy (PT), was an accepted treatment for infections until the 1940s and 1950s,6 used for septicemia, pneumonia, tuberculosis, polio and more. The popularity of UBI was eclipsed by the debut of penicillin antibiotics and the Salk polio vaccine, medical developments that were considered miracles.
There are two remarkable features to UBI, which has been called in the medical literature "The Cure That Time Forgot." First, there were no reports of the treated microbes developing resistance, a phenomenon so common with antibiotics it has limited their usefulness and created dangerous "superbugs."7
Secondly, the deactivation of pathogens that occurs with UBI may not stem from the virus-killing properties from UV light that are seen on surfaces, but other mechanisms. According to Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology:8
"UBI may enhance the phagocytic capacity of various phagocytic cells (neutrophils and dendritic cells), inhibit lymphocytes, and oxidize blood lipids. The oxidative nature of UBI may have mechanisms in common with ozone therapy and other oxygen therapies …
UBI affects various functions of red blood cells and various different leukocytes as has been proven in various in vitro studies. A common model is stimulator cells in mixed leukocyte cultures; another is helper cells in mitogen- stimulated cultures. UV also reversed cytokine production and blocked cytokine release. UV can also disturb cell membrane mobilization."
While the researchers do not question the effectiveness of UBI in treating infections, they address how the exact mechanism has not been fully pinned down:
"However it is not impossible, that the killing of circulating lymphocytes could reduce systemic inflammation, which would again be beneficial in cases of sepsis. It is also clear that UBI can oxidize blood lipids and lipoproteins, and therefore increase oxidative stress.
However it is also possible that a brief burst of oxidative stress, may be beneficial, whereas continued chronic levels of oxidative stress have been generally considered as detrimental. Many antioxidant defenses are up-regulated by brief exposure to oxidative stress … The oxidative nature of UBI has encouraged us to draw parallels with ozone therapy."9
Early UBI Investigations
The suspicion that UV could kill pathogens came from a simple discovery in 1877. Scientists noted that sugar water stayed clear when it was in the sun but turned cloudy when it was in the shade. When examined under a microscope, the "cloudiness" was found to be bacterial growth, which the UV light had successfully retarded.10
In 1903, Niels Ryberg Finsen won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for opening "a new avenue for medical science" through his discovery of the effect of concentrated light radiation in the treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris.11 The first UBI machine was a primitive circular "irradiation chamber," wrote the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology researchers, that:12
"… contained a labyrinthine set of channels that connected the inlet and outlet ports. All these channels were covered with a quartz window that formed the top of the chamber.
The irradiation chamber was so designed as to provide maximum turbulence of the blood flowing through … to prevent the formation of a thin film of blood on the chamber window that would absorb and filter out much of the UV light."
Today autologous medical procedures that obtain and return cells or tissues obtained from the same individual are well-established.
Statements About UV Light for COVID-19 Have Factual Basis
A modern version of the original UBI "irradiation chamber" is currently under development, though it is not clear the research is what President Trump was referring to. Doctors at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, in partnership with the specialty pharmaceutical company Aytu BioScience, are developing and commercializing a UV device called "Healight."13
According to Nurse.org, "Healight technology delivers intermittent ultraviolet (UV) A light through an endotracheal catheter" in patients undergoing mechanical ventilation.14 The light was "first developed in 2016 by the research team of the Medically Associated Science and Technology (MAST) Program at Cedars-Sinai and led by Dr. Mark Pimentel."15
The original focus of the research, before the COVID-19 pandemic, was on treating pathogens associated with gastrointestinal disorders. But now there are hopes for the treatment of patients with COVID-19.16
"Our team has shown that administering a specific spectrum of UV-A light can eradicate viruses in infected human cells (including coronavirus) and bacteria in the area while preserving healthy cells," Pimentel said.17
Dr. Ali Rezaie, another member of the MAST team, said, "We believe this therapeutic approach has the potential to significantly impact the high morbidity and mortality of coronavirus-infected patients and patients infected with other respiratory pathogens."18
Aytu chairman and CEO Josh Disbrow told BioWorld the device will reach the coronavirus where it is concentrated, in the trachea and lungs, reducing viral load while sparing healthy cells.19 The company seeks emergency use authorization from the FDA so patients with COVID-19 on mechanical ventilation can be treated as clinical trial data is collected.20
Research in the journal Transfusion found that UV light deactivates the SARS virus in blood, a coronavirus very similar to COVID-19.21
A device similar to Healight was approved for use by the EU in 2015 but not, as yet, by the FDA.22 According to the manufacturer, the UVLrx 1500 System "offers the first intravenous, concurrent delivery of ultraviolet-A (UVA)" and because of its Dry Light Adapter™ and a standard I.V. catheter "eliminates the need for removal of blood from the body."23
Lukewarm Media Response to UV Light COVID-19 Research
When UV light therapy was brought up in a recent press conference, it drew mostly negative coverage from mainstream media or no coverage at all, possibly because reporters either didn't understand the concept of internal UV light, or didn't look at the research. "By the time the virus has taken hold inside your body, no amount of UV light on your skin is going to make a difference," wrote the BBC.24
UV treatment for COVID-19 is ill-conceived and untested, said experts quoted in USA Today.25 UV light is "dangerous," wrote The Washington Post.26 Commensurate with the censorship of non-mainstream medicine that tech giants now exercise, a video about Healight was removed from YouTube.27 Vimeo also deleted the Healight video and Twitter temporarily suspended Aytu's account.28
Mainstream media were put off by the partnership between the Cedars-Sinai doctors and Aytu and the promotional video about Healight. The Los Angeles Times asked:29
"… whether it's proper for a biotech company to resort to YouTube animations and Twitter tweets to 'get the word out' about a medical device supposedly being submitted for FDA review. Who is supposed to be the audience for these animations? If not FDA examiners, is it stock investors, who have been generally less than enthusiastic about Aytu?"
Yet, when it comes to questions about for whom early notices of an unapproved treatment are designed, the Times should look at Big Pharma. It is notorious for trying to build buzz in exactly this way.
For example, in 2010 while it was still waiting on FDA approval for its candidate drug flibanserin, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals tried to sell the disease of "hypoactive sexual desire disorder" to create demand for the drug — which the FDA later rejected, saying the benefits "did not outweigh its side effects."30
Big Pharma's ubiquitous "symptom checkers" and "disease awareness" ads do the same thing. Who had ever heard of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency or shift work sleep disorder and other obscure conditions until industry began selling the conditions to create demand for its drugs? Or — who had heard of human papillomavirus (HPV) before Merck started its "One Less" advertising campaign as its HPV drug, Gardasil, was launched?
As far as financial arrangements between doctors and industry are concerned, again Big Pharma wrote the book. In 2011, the FDA actually had to look at loosening its conflict of interest rules for doctors sitting on advisory committees because it could not find doctors free from Big Pharma payments.31
Ozone Therapy May Also Prove Promising for COVID-19
In the middle of a fight against a viral pandemic in which accepted treatments are failing abysmally, more attention should also be given to ozone therapy. Oxygen is one of the foremost factors in infection healing. Ozone improves oxygen delivery by encouraging its release by hemoglobin and improving red blood cell flexibility, allowing the red blood cells to better travel through small capillaries.
Nitric oxide, antioxidants and ATP production are also improved by ozone, which serves to improve blood circulation, modulates cytokines and the immune system and reduces inflammation. Since ozone attacks lipids and COVID-19 is a lipid-coated virus, ozone reduces or eliminates its infectivity by destroying the virus's lipid coat.
Ozone is dangerous to respiratory lung epithelium, so breathing it must be strictly avoided. However, this valuable natural substance can be safely used in a variety of other ways including infusion through the vagina, rectum and ear in therapies guided by experienced clinicians. Ozone is also obtained from ozone saunas and drinking ozone water.
You can technically generate ozone from ambient air, but the most convenient way to bubble ozone through drinking water is through an oxygen concentrator. A high saturation of oxygen, 93% to 95%, can be attained if the oxygen concentrator is run at a low flow rate. Note, though, that this method is not correct for other ozone delivery strategies.
Like UBI, ozone therapy challenges the orthodoxies and profits of mainstream medicine and Big Pharma, and so is underreported. Yet, it is backed by scientific evidence. Dr. Robert Rowen, a leading expert in ozone therapy, and bio oxidative therapy specialist Dr. Howard Robins, wrote in Journal of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology:32
"When blood is treated with ozone, it instantly reacts with electron-rich double bonds of lipids and other molecules. This creates longer lasting downstream weaker oxidant metabolites called ozonides: reactive oxygen species and lipid oxidation products, inclusive of peroxides, peroxyls, alkenes, alkanes.
These molecules appear to act as messengers for the key biochemical and immune modulating effects of the therapy … Ozone therapy could be easily deployed worldwide, even in very poor countries. With few conventional treatments for viral pneumonia, this epidemic could provide impetus to study ozone therapy."
You can receive ozone therapy from a clinician who specializes in the practice and learn more from Rowen's website.33
UV and Ozone Therapy Should Be Considered for COVID-19
When facing an unprecedented viral pandemic like COVID-19 that defies conventional treatments, "out of the box" thinking about treatment may be just what we need. Too often people dismiss older treatments, thinking that medicine and science have come so far since then.
But have we? We have antibiotics that created antibiotic-resistant superbugs that can no longer be killed. We now have viruses that are mutating faster than any treatments for them. We ignore UBI and ozone therapy and new research into them at our own peril — especially if cases and deaths from COVID-19 continue to mount.
- 1 Food Online
- 2 Texas A&M Agrilife Extension
- 3 New York Times March 22, 2020
- 4 DukeHealth April 28, 2020
- 5 U.S. News & World Report April 23, 2020
- 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12 Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 2017; 996: 295–309
- 11 Live Science October 7, 2019
- 13, 14, 15, 17 Nurse.org April 27, 2020
- 16, 18, 19, 20 BioWorld April 28, 2020
- 21 Transfusion 2006 Oct;46(10):1770-7
- 22, 23 Businesswire September 29, 2015
- 24 BBC April 24, 2020
- 25 USA April 30, 2020 Today
- 26 Washington Post April 24, 2020
- 27, 29 LA Times May 1, 2020
- 28 For Better Science
- 30 The New York Times June 16, 2010
- 31 Minnpost August 8, 2011
- 32 Journal of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology 6:113
- 33 Drrowndrsu.com