Ozone, the gas which protects the Earth from the sun's deadliest rays, is being hailed as a stress-relieving elixir by French doctors.
Ozone is not recognized as a treatment by the medical establishment in France. But, while the Earth's ozone layer is slowly being eaten away by man-made chemicals, around 300 doctors in polluted French cities are manufacturing the pure oxygen gas and injecting itsintostheir patients.
They claim the gas combats fatigue, purifies the body of toxins, fights memory loss and stimulates circulation.
The ozone treatment was widely used at the start of the century until it was branded a toxin. But the French doctors swear by the treatment's cleansing and purifying qualities.
A small dose, administered either as an injection straightsintosthe bloodstream or anally through a small tube, gives a feeling of euphoria similar to the effects of a drug.
"It's like cocaine, only much milder. It makes you feel tremendously energetic, happy and warm," said cosmetic surgeon Paul Musarella , who says there is no danger as long as it is administered correctly.
"Even if you look healthy, when you live in a big city pollution is so high it's difficult to get the right levels of oxygen in the bloodstream," he told Reuters in his Paris office, impregnated with the strong seawater smell of ozone.
Professor Pierre Cornillot, President of Paris Nord University, said the gas is also a strong antiseptic, and was used to heal soldiers' wounds in World War One.
But Cornillot is war of using it for internal treatment.
One AIDS sufferer who has been taking twice weekly doses of ozone for a year told Reuters: "Before, I felt weak the whole time, I could hardly walk. Since I started I haven't needed any more blood transfusions and I feel much better."