IV Therapy at Its Best and Its Worst – Is It For You?
Intravenous (IV) nutrients can:
- Boost energy
- Relieve a hangover
- Treat the flu
- Rejuvenate skin
- Remedy jet lag
People can now go to a café to order their favorite vitamins and minerals – IV style – to fix all sorts of problems. There is even one company that will send IV vitamins to your hotel room anywhere in the world, with a nurse to administer it. This is a thing. What was once something only for sick people in a hospital has now become a trend. People, even famous people, are using IV nutrients for non-medical reasons.
There are three different ways of dosing nutrients, or the chemicals that the body needs:
- Supplemental dosing is a small amount to make up for dietary insufficiency.
- Physiologic dosing is to give someone the full amount needed.
- Pharmacologic dosing is up to 10 – 100 times greater than what’s needed.
Why IV Therapy?
IV treatments are useful when:
- Absorption of a nutrient is in question.
- Absorption in the intestines is limited. This would include the following limited absorption of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C
- Magnesium (and most minerals)
- Vitamin B12
- Amino Acids may inhibit each other
While under normal conditions we get enough of these nutrients, there are conditions that further limit intestinal absorption, such as inflammation, infection, diarrhea, and so forth. Just when you may need more, you can absorb less. This is one reason for considering IV nutrition therapy.
Others have genetic problems with absorbing or using certain supplements and may need IV nutrients.
Still others have an illness that will respond to pharmacologic dosing of nutrients.
IV nutrition is generally used to give pharmacologic dosing, providing much more than the intestines can absorb.
Since I have had a lot of experience using IV nutrients for medical reasons, I’ll share with you some brief sketches of the good and bad sides of medical IV nutrition therapy. These are all real cases from my personal experience.
Do Vitamin IVs Really Work? What You Need to Know Before Trying
Brent was diagnosed with Lyme Disease and Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV). He was extremely fatigued and unable to work. He tried multiple treatments but remained exhausted. After trying a high-dose (75 grams) vitamin C drip, he found he could work for a whole week. He came in week after week for the vitamin C drips, and whenever he missed a week, he could tell. The IV treatments didn’t cure the illness, but it allowed him to continue to teach his college courses.
Grace was a parole officer for youth offenders in downtown Los Angeles – she was TOUGH! When she went to her doctor with difficulty breathing, they found a tumor the size of a large grapefruit (8 cm) in her lung. The doctor told her she would only live 3 months. She looked her oncologist in the eyes and shot back, “I wasn’t born with an expiration date stamped on my a** and YOU’RE not going to put one there!”
She rejected radiation and chemotherapy, choosing to get IV vitamin C instead. After several treatments she wasn’t getting any better, so glutathione was added. Her cough went away and within a couple of months a CT scan showed the tumor had shrunk to the size of a lemon (4 cm). She kept working for two years, until she got tumors in her brain despite IV treatments. Within a few months, she died.
A miracle? YES! She lived, worked, kept her hair, didn’t have to take days or weeks off for radiation, chemotherapy or surgery. In short, she was functional until the week before she died, besides living much longer than expected.
Salvador had a rapidly progressing form of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and within a month was in a wheelchair. The natural course of this form of ALS is to lose muscle function, including respiration muscles, which leads to death in less than a year.
The doctors told Salvador nothing could be done to help him so he came to see me. I gave him IV glutathione treatments. After two treatments he had improved enough to walk, with a little help. Salvador worried he was going to die soon, so he went to Mexico to be with his family. He continued the treatments there, but I don’t know how much he improved long-term. His miracle was that his illness reversed, and he was able to get out of the wheelchair and travel home to his family.
Bill was a cowboy who worked as a welder for over 30 years cutting metal. He cut a lot of metal. When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the doctors told his wife there was nothing that could be done about it… so they didn’t do anything.
After a few years, he went to the doctor for arthritis in his feet and was told he had gout. The treatments weren’t working so they came in to see me for a diagnosis of the cause of the foot pain. The tests found that he had lead over 50 times higher than the “safe” level. So we started IV CHELATION treatments with EDTA, one treatment per week. By the end of the 30 treatments, not only was his lead low, his arthritis was gone, and he no longer had Alzheimer’s disease. Now, seven years later, he continues to enjoy good mental and physical health – he’s even welding again!
Clayton was in his 60s and was having a hard time walking. He couldn’t even get across the street without stopping once because of leg cramps. The more he walked, the more his legs cramped. He went to a vascular specialist and the doctor told him he needed bypass surgery because of blockages in the arteries of his legs. He didn’t want to have surgery, and had heard about EDTA chelation for blocked arteries, so he came to see me.
Before the 30 treatments were finished, he was taking a dance class with no pain. Afterwards, he went back to the specialist for a test and was told his arteries were clear. The doctor never even asked how this miracle occurred.
Andre was told he had to have 5-vessel bypass surgery on his heart because of blocked arteries and chronic chest pain with exercise. To avoid surgery, he went to a doctor 10 years ago to do IV EDTA chelation. He had the thirty treatments and the chest pain went away. Since then he has been getting a treatment almost every month. He never went back for testing but has no pain with exercise. He remains pain-free, and never had to have surgery.
Sarah had refractory depression (treatment resistant depression) that prevented her from working or participating in family activities. Her young children needed her to be able to take care of them. She tried everything – drugs, hormones, supplements of all kinds, but nothing worked. She came in for an IV treatment and we decided to try amino acids. She had a great response, feeling normal for the first time since her first child was born. Sarah needed monthly treatments to maintain the benefit.
In general, you can’t easily mess up IV nutrients. The mixtures should be prepared at time of treatment. If the nutrients are mixed ahead of time, they may oxidize and react together in the IV bag. But, even then, there is no danger in the nutrients themselves.
Most IV therapy complications are from the needle:
- Bleeding internally around the vein
- The fluid getting outside the vein into the skin
Since the IV is normal nutrients it doesn’t do damage, but it can be painful.
Another uncommon issue is allergic reactions. But I have only seen a few in thousands of IVs, but it is possible. Other problems with IVs are more serious.
Barbara had chronic hepatitis C and was always fatigued. She found that if she got IV nutrients (a “Myer’s Cocktail,” Glutathione, or vitamin C) she would feel better and be able to function. She came to the office weekly, sometimes more than once per week to get IV treatments. She didn’t want to have all her veins with needle marks, so she had a PORT, a well under the skin in the chest, to get the IV treatments. Later, she had a knee replacement that got infected from the port and had to spend a long time on antibiotics and endure another surgery to replace the infected knee prosthesis. Infection is always an issue when putting needles in the skin. Ports are risky because they often get infected.
James had chronic EBV, which responded to IV hydrogen peroxide. He would come in for treatments on a regular basis so he could function. However, each time a vein was used for the treatment, it would shrink down and it couldn’t be used again. After a while, there were no more veins to use and he was unable to get more treatments.
So there you have examples of both ends of the spectrum, miracles and mishaps. Most people are in between somewhere. Most have minor issues that are not treated by other means.
Minor IV therapy
Marilyn had chronic constipation, which was a constant struggle. She had been hooked on laxatives, so she was wary of using them. When given a vitamin B12 injection, she reported relief of the constipation. I thought it was a coincidence, but she found that if she had a vitamin B12 shot every week she was able to maintain normal bowel function, but if she missed a dose, she would get constipated again.
Stephanie had irritable bowel syndrome, and didn’t absorb nutrients well. She noticed that she was able to function if she got a Myer’s Cocktail every week.
I have found Myer’s Cocktails to also work well for prevention and treatment of chronic migraine headaches.
Enough of the medical treatments – what about jet lag, and a hangover, or just for a cleanse – do IV vitamin treatments work?
The answer is YES. They can help you feel better, increase energy, and give temporary relief of symptoms of acute illness. But like James, Sarah, and Marilyn, above, they don’t fix the problem. I put them in the same category with supplement pills: they are useful but can be overdone. Like anything, when used judiciously they can boost your life and improve your function, temporarily. This is one of those things that must be tried to see if it works.
TYPICAL IV NUTRIENT TREATMENTS:
When you decide to go to an IV Café and you’re trying to choose from the items on the menu, I will give you some pointers on how to choose.
Ringer’s Lactate– Water, potassium, sodium, calcium, and lactate – roughly equal to blood. Good for hydration. No extra nutrients.
Normal Saline– A 0.9% solution of salt to make it equal to blood. Good for hydration. No extra nutrients.
Sterile Water– Just water, sterilized so it can be given IV – but it must have something put in it first; it shouldn’t be given straight.
Myer’s Cocktail– used for a boost of energy and immune function.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B-complex with B12
The Myer’s Cocktail only has 2 grams of vitamin C, which is fine for most general applications. However, for acute inflammation and viral illnesses it takes 10 to 20 grams and for cancer it takes 50 to 100 grams. These high doses can cause dehydration so it’s important to drink water.
Arguably the most important antioxidant in the body and used for detox of any organic toxin, glutathione is also great for Parkinson’s disease and mercury toxicity.
These can be given together with all 20, or individually, depending on the need. They are commonly used for depression or anxiety.
EDTA (Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid)
EDTA is an amino acid chelating agent commonly used in food preparation. It binds to metals, especially lead and calcium to help get rid of excess. A test for lead can determine if that is a need. It is also used for hardening of the arteries and plaques that have calcium deposits.
When given “IV push” from a syringe, it is the most powerful muscle relaxant and instantly relieves migraine headaches and muscle spasms. (It should be given with Vitamin B6) WARNING: it causes a hot flash that lasts about 60 seconds.
Many of the services that give IV nutrients also provide drugs. These are for relief of acute symptoms of nausea, vomiting, gastritis, and inflammation. Most of the “Hangover” and “Jet Lag” remedies contain these drugs and are not just nutrients. The drugs relieve the symptoms and the IV fluids re-hydrate the body.
What is not in IV nutrition:
Generally, you will not be able to get fat-soluble vitamins IV, but you can get them IM (a shot in a muscle), which is RARELY needed:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Omega 3 oils
For people with normal intestines and a good diet, IV nutrition is not for nourishing the body so much as treating specific problems. As such it can be a powerful way to bypass the intestines and liver to deliver needed nutrients directly to the cells. Your symptoms and tests should be used to determine what would be best for you.