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The Role of Oxygen in Healing the Body

Written by Dr. Group, DC Founder
The role of oxygen is necessary for healing in injured tissues.

"Healing" is a word that gets thrown around a lot and it’s important to understand exactly what it means. Healing means getting your body back into a balanced, functioning state. Think of it like balance scales – the kind you might see at a courthouse. When you’re sick, one side hangs lower than the other. When you’re healthy, they’re level.

Your body wants to be in balance and will seek to heal itself if it's out of balance. Or, at least, it will try to. What's the deciding factor? Oxygen. Oxygen is necessary for healing in injured tissues. [1] Researchers at Ohio State University found that wounded tissue will convert oxygen into reactive oxygen species to encourage healing. [2]

What Are Reactive Oxygen Species?

Reactive oxygen species, also known as oxygen radicals or pro-oxidants, are a type of free radical. A free radical is a molecule that lacks an electron but is able to maintain its structure.

To most people, that doesn't mean much. We just hear from marketing messages that free radicals are bad. Which is true... when your body is not in control of them. When in balance, your body actually uses free radicals to heal. It has everything to do with the nature of oxygen.

Oxygen is an element with eight protons and eight electrons. In this state, oxygen is completely neutral. Oxygen likes to share its electrons; that makes it reactive. Sometimes when it shares an electron or two, it doesn’t get them back. When that happens, oxygen becomes an ion, meaning it’s missing an electron. Ionized oxygen wants to replace the electron it’s missing. In this form, oxygen becomes singlet oxygen, superoxides, peroxides, hydroxyl radicals, or hypochlorous acid. These forms of oxygen try to steal an electron anywhere they can, this can be destructive.

Forms of Reactive Oxygen Species

Singlet Oxygen

This radical form of oxygen can act in one of two ways. It can trigger the genes inside a cell to start cell death. Or, if it encounters a lipid or fatty acid, it will oxidize the lipid. [3] Think of it like corrosion.


We're still learning about superoxides but it seems they affect how the body destroys cells and manages wound healing. [4]


Hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorite help heal tissue. [5] Oxygen radicals form when hydrogen peroxide interacts with reduced forms of metal ions or gets broken down and produces hydrogen radicals. Hydrogen radicals are destructive. [6]

Hypochlorous Acid

Hypochlorous acid contains oxygen and chloride. It can affect tissue through chlorination or oxidation. [7]

Effects of Reactive Oxygen Species in the Body

Every time your muscles contract, you produce and use reactive oxygen species. High-intensity exercise causes reactive oxygen species levels to increase, leading to fatigue and muscle failure. [8] The energy created by mitochondria creates reactive oxygen species. Exposure to tobacco smoke, alcohol, toxic metals, pollution, chemicals, germs, and stress also creates reactive oxygen species. [9]

When your body can keep up with and remove unneeded reactive oxygen species, you remain in balance. If reactive oxygen species become too abundant, the oxidative stress can be overwhelming. It's at this point that antioxidants are a helpful defense against free radicals.

How Oxygen Fuels the Body

Every cell in your body requires oxygen. Every breath supplies blood with oxygen to be carried throughout your entire body. Oxygen is converted to energy in a process known as cellular metabolism.

What Else Does the Body Need for Healing?

Oxygen isn't the only factor that contributes to the healing process. Your health can quickly fall apart if your body doesn't eliminate waste and toxins. Accumulated waste in the intestines or colon means that toxins are lingering in your body.

Simple steps can help keep your digestive tract clear. Drink plenty of water, exercise, and regularly cleanse your colon, liver, and kidneys. Oxy-Powder® is an oxygen-based colon cleanse formula that releases monoatomic oxygen into the digestive tract to support digestion, soothe the colon, and ease occasional constipation.

References (9)
  1. Sen CK. Wound Healing Essentials: Let There Be Oxygen. Wound repair and regeneration?: official publication of the Wound Healing Society [and] the European Tissue Repair Society. 2009;17(1):1-18. doi:10.1111/j.1524-475X.2008.00436.x.
  2. Ohio State University Department of Medicine. Scientists Identify a New Role for Oxygen in Wound Healing. Last Accessed February 26, 2016.
  3. Triantaphylidès C, Krischke M, Hoeberichts FA, Ksas B, Gresser G, Havaux M, Van Breusegem F, Mueller MJ. Singlet oxygen is the major reactive oxygen species involved in photooxidative damage to plants. Plant Physiol. 2008 Oct;148(2):960-8. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.125690. Epub 2008 Aug 1.
  4. Chen Y, Azad MB, Gibson SB. Superoxide is the major reactive oxygen species regulating autophagy. Cell Death Differ. 2009 Jul;16(7):1040-52. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2009.49. Epub 2009 May 1.
  5. Jaimes EA, Sweeney C, Raij L. Effects of the reactive oxygen species hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorite on endothelial nitric oxide production. Hypertension. 2001 Oct;38(4):877-83.
  6. Aprioku JS. Pharmacology of Free Radicals and the Impact of Reactive Oxygen Species on the Testis. Journal of Reproduction & Infertility. 2013;14(4):158-172.
  7. Spickett CM, Jerlich A, Panasenko OM, Arnhold J, Pitt AR, Stelmaszy?ska T, Schaur RJ. The reactions of hypochlorous acid, the reactive oxygen species produced by myeloperoxidase, with lipids. Acta Biochim Pol. 2000;47(4):889-99.
  8. Powers SK, Ji LL, Kavazis AN, Jackson MJ. REACTIVE OXYGEN SPECIES: IMPACT ON SKELETAL MUSCLE. Comprehensive Physiology. 2011;1(2):941-969. doi:10.1002/cphy.c100054.
  9. Pham-Huy LA, He H, Pham-Huy C. Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health. International Journal of Biomedical Science?: IJBS. 2008;4(2):89-96.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.


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