Tri-ox was a simple but effective intravenous medicine used for rapidly oxygenating the blood cells of a living being, especially in an oxygen-poor environment such as Vulcan. Most Humans and humanoids would otherwise have had trouble getting sufficient oxygen in such environments, especially during any strenuous work or other exertions. The drug could be used as a substitute for cumbersome breathing masks and equipment in such cases.

Tri-ox compound was designed to strengthen an individual's cardiopulmonary system. An injection of 15 cc's of tri-ox every four hours was the recommended dosage taken to compensate for excess carbon dioxide, as could be the case of a humanoid in prolonged exposure to a Class L environment. An alternate dosage of eight cc's every six hours was also acceptable in a pinch. Without it, an individual would experience the effects of hypoxia and possibly carbon dioxide poisoning. (DS9: "The Sound of Her Voice")

Doctor Leonard McCoy feigned using tri-ox on Captain James T. Kirk in 2267 during a Vulcan combat ritual. The following year, McCoy actually administered tri-ox to Kirk after he had been retrieved from an interphase, when his space suit's air supply had nearly run out. (TOS: "Amok Time", "The Tholian Web")

In 2373, Lieutenant Tuvok used tri-ox on passengers of an orbital tether carriage that was low on oxygen. VOY: "Rise")

The exact mechanism by which tri-ox worked has not been stated on screen, but it could be inferred from the instances it has been used (and those when it has not) that it increased the blood cells' ability to bind and carry oxygen, rather than supplying additional oxygen on its own.

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