Nutritional IV Therapies
IV therapy can be more effective than taking supplements orally for correcting intracellular nutrient deficits. The intravenous methods targets nutrients directly to where they are needed: the cells. IVs bypass the digestive system which sometimes blocks the absorption of nutrients. If you are low on hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes, for example, you do not absorb all the benefits of oral supplements.
IV nutrients are given in therapeutic, pharmacological doses greater than the minimal requirements of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which are intended just to avoid deficiency states. Because natural nutrients are easy on the body – and welcomed – IV administration has an exceedingly high safety profile.
IVs are more effective and sometimes, just plain easier. For example: The amount of vitamin C that can be taken orally is limited to about 3500 mg. After that you get "bowel intolerance," diarrhea. When we use vitamin C therapeutically to combat flu or chronic disease, we administer typically 25,000 – 50,000 mg. Therapeutic doses administered intravenously bypass the problem of bowel intolerance.
Not all IVs are the same
Standard IV products often have preservatives. We use preservative-free nutrients. We often filter these with a point 2 micron filter, a tiny filter that filters out bacteria, fungi and particulate matter. We think this expense is worth it to avoid the preservative additives.
Most clinics use plastic IV bags. They are easier to use, easier to store, and considerably less expensive than glass bottles. The chemical used to make plastic bags flexible is bisphenol A (BPA); IV bags typically are loaded with it. BPA has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals, and has been linked in humans to cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, obesity, infertility, and abnormal growth in breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cells which may lead to cancer. BPA mimics the hormone estrogen. Canada has banned the importation of baby bottles that contain BPA and in October of 2008, the Canadian federal government added BPA to its list of toxic substances. We use both BPA-free IV bags and glass bottles because they are better for the environment – they can be recycled – and better for you.
The typical B12 given intravenously is cyanocobalamin and it is inexpensive to make, but the body has to convert it to methylcobalamin. If your body doesn't have the ability to convert it to the meythl B12 form, then you might as well take water. A person's ability to convert B12 is so important, we test for this in the initial blood work. A key reason to give B12 is to increase production of glutathione so your body can better detox. Also, people can become neurologically impaired without B12. A lack of B12 also fuels chronic inflammation. Homocysteine – a marker of inflammation – goes up with B12 deficiency. Although methyl B12 is more expensive, we feel it is definitely worth it.
Vitamin C is commonly derived from corn. Some people are extremely sensitive to corn and are unable to tolerate this form of vitamin C. We provide an alternative intravenous vitamin C made from the cassava plant, a bushy South American shrub with long tuberous roots which are traditionally eaten like potatoes. It is at least three times as expensive as the IV preparation derived from corn.
Finally, registered nurses, not technicians, administer our IVs.
Bottom line: you get what you pay for.
Nutritional IV Therapies
A tomato has a pittance of the nutritional value it had in the early 1900s. In fact, much of what we eat doesn’t pack as much nutritional punch as it used to a hundred years ago.
Mineral deficiencies are epidemic now due to food processing and the gradual demineralization of the soil from modern agricultural practices. In the United States, the average woman does not consume the recommended dietary allowance of calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron, or zinc, and the diet of the average male is deficient in magnesium and zinc (USDA., 1997). Nutrient losses in some foods are up to 98.5%. In 1914 an apple contained almost half the minimum daily requirement of iron, but today you would have to eat 26 apples to get the same amount.1
A classic work on the subject is Bernard Jensen’s Empty Harvest. Jensen said,
“All animals get their food directly or indirectly from plants, and all plants get their food from the soil. Therefore, mineral-deficient soil may be one of the greatest original sources of disease in the world today. According to D. W. Cavanaugh, M.D., of Cornell University, ‘There is only one major disease and that is malnutrition. All ailments and afflictions to which we may fall heir are directly traceable to this major disease.’ Simply stated, food crops grown on depleted soil produce malnourished bodies, and disease preys on malnourished bodies.”2
Why is there so much malnutrition in America? Depleted soils, combined with poor dietary choices, often create a nutritional wasteland and an inefficient digestive system. People often need intravenous IVs until the gut heals.
What is in a nutritional IV? It depends upon what is right for each person; each IV is made up for the individual needs.
Generally, nutritional IVs contain vitamins and minerals. High doses of vitamin C are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and required for healing of tissues.
B vitamins are almost always included in the IV treatments, because all the vitamins and their mineral co-factors are used heavily when there is illness, to make enzymes.
Magnesium is good for many things, including constipation and migraine headaches.
A nutritional IV may also contain phospholipids to help cell membranes heal. Lipoic acid may be part of the mix because it is protective and healing to the liver; it is especially good for hepatitis.
Giving IV nutritional therapies will put nutrients back into the body, and improve the ability of cells to detoxify, repair, and regenerate.
A popular IV is the so-called Myers Cocktail, an intravenous vitamin and mineral protocol developed by Dr. John Myers at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. He saw that many conditions stem from digestive problems – leaky gut, indigestion, bloating, and food sensitivities for example. He saw that these people were not absorbing many of the nutrients in their food. Also, some diseases cause the body to use nutrients at a faster rate, or to require higher amounts for proper healing. When nutrients are injected intravenously, we by-pass the problematic digestive tract. Levels in the bloodstream temporarily rise so that the nutrients are "coaxed" into the cells, and frequently into the mitochondria where they are active. This temporary boost frequently "kick-starts" the cells, so that energy is produced more efficiently in them.
IVs for Detoxification
Toxicity from our environment increases each year. "Body burden" is the term now used to describe the heavy load of environmental chemicals that can be found in the average person - the result of lifelong exposure to plastics, metals, pesticides, fire retardants, and more. Many people have a chronic underlying low level toxicity because their body's capacity for elimination and storage of toxins has been exceeded.
Think of the body as a sponge for a moment. A sponge can absorb only so much dirty water. Once the sponge is full, it drips its excess dirty water onto the floor. That is when a person shows symptoms.
The obvious thing to do with a sponge is to squeeze it to get rid of the excess water. We have no way to squeeze the body. So let's say we put the sponge into a zip lock bag so the dirty water doesn't noticeably drip on the floor. In a person, that is the equivalent of giving pharmaceutical medications to suppress the symptoms. Problem still there, but contained, until a new toxin, perhaps a fungus, pokes a hole in the bag and the water leaks out.
The body's innate wisdom knows that poisons cannot stay in the bloodstream or the body will die of poisoning. Thus the body looks for safer places to "park" toxins. Mercury (from vaccines, industrial chemicals in the water, air and food, fillings in our teeth) gets put into fatty tissues, which by the way includes the brain because it is 60% fatty tissue. Organophosphates (from insecticides) come in through the lungs and skin and are deposited into soft tissues (muscles, connective tissue and joints). The body will deposit lead in our bones. This is why blood tests for example cannot reveal the level of stored toxins in the body. So when you get blood tests back with the words, "You're fine," remember that blood work doesn't tell the whole story, not by a long shot.
For all of these reasons, bodies whose detox systems have been overwhelmed, need extra help. There are good ways to get rid of heavy metals through chelation therapies or DMPS, DMSA, penicillamine and others.
Sometimes, if we can sufficiently improve the health of the body's cellular metabolism, the body can deal with these toxins on its own. Then we may not have to use the chelating agents. Rather, we focus on strengthening the cellular metabolism.
Why do some people get sick when others do not? That can happen when a person is operating with very little reserve. One day, the person is exposed to an invader, a virus or bacteria, and the immune system doesn't have enough soldiers to knock it out so the body succumbs to illness. (It doesn't matter whether the lack of reserve comes from genetics or environmental toxicity.) On occasion, antibiotics are life saving. But repeated use of antibiotics will not improve the health of the person as a whole.
IV therapies give the body the fundamental tools it needs to make enzymes to reduce its toxic load, create energy, to sop up free radials, and to produce and excrete waste.
A Phone Call Away
Many of our patients call us the day before they want an IV. Perhaps they feel the flu coming on and they want a vitamin C IV to flush out the virus. We can almost always arrange for an IV on short notice.
IVs are conducted in a comfortable sunny room, in a lounge chair, and last 1-2 hours. The nutrients go in slowly because we don't want to overwhelm the body – the body wants balance and therefore it needs time to absorb the IV and maintain homeostasis.
During the time the IV is being administered, you can read or use a wireless network, or simply relax, take a nap, meditate...