Note: The treatments described in this article are for providing medical information but this is not medical advice. While there are studies that support the treatments described, the treatments are considered experimental and not the standard of care. For medical guidance, you should contact your physician or health care professional.
A great way to enhance health is with intravenous nutrition. Pfeiffer’s Law, (Carl Pfeiffer 1973), states that “for every drug that benefits a patient, there is a natural substance that can achieve the same effect” without side effects. In the United States, we spend $21 billion yearly on oral supplements. There are myriads of studies on the beneficial effects of vitamins and herbal supplements. For example, fish oils have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of hip fractures. Probiotics have shown to improve the health of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.
Despite all these benefits of oral supplements, there are advantages of intravenous nutrition. For one, some supplements such as vitamin C are not well tolerated at higher doses due to stomach upset. Most people can tolerate a much higher amount of vitamin C when given intravenously. Some people have gastrointestinal absorption difficulties so cannot benefit from oral supplements. When given the same nutrients intravenously, those individuals may get benefits and achieve optimal levels. Also, when given intravenously, there is a higher concentration of the nutrients in the bloodstream which enables greater penetration of the nutrients into the tissues and cells.
Because of the advantage of using intravenous Vitamin C, it is one of the most commonly used intravenous nutrients. Interestingly, with low-dose Vitamin C, there is anti-oxidant benefit but at high doses, vitamin C has oxidative effects. Research has shown enhanced quality of life and benefit in some cancer patients. Another study showed that high dose vitamin C hindered Epstein-Barr virus infection and replication. The severe mortality seen with sepsis (advanced infection throughout the body) has been shown to be reduced with high-dose vitamin C.
Intravenous minerals can also be very effective. The 2 minerals most commonly used are calcium and magnesium. Calcium is commonly given with vitamin C to maintain good calcium levels. Intravenous magnesium has been shown to help with a wide range of conditions including muscle cramps, migraine headaches and asthma. Clinically, most patients have some degree of magnesium deficiency so can benefit from magnesium replacement.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. These proteins are the basis for enzymes that stimulate important biochemical reactions that control metabolism. They are also part of hormones that control many vital functions in the body and part of neurotransmitters that send signals from the nervous system to our cells that control our mood, our organ function and even muscle contraction. There are 20 amino acids we need to function well and different amino acids help build different hormones and enzymes. By assessing which enzymes or hormones are needed, giving the appropriate amino acids can help lead to production of the needed proteins.
For example, tryptophan is a building block of serotonin which is a key neurotransmitter that modulates mood. It is also an example of why one should work with their physician as caution needs to be taken when giving tryptophan to someone who is already taking an antidepressant. Another great amino acid is taurine, which studies have demonstrated is useful for heart failure by improving the strength of heart contraction. Taurine is also useful for macular degeneration. N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that has been shown to have a wide range of benefits including preventing liver damage, reducing heavy metal toxicity, inhibiting cancer progression and preventing cartilage erosion. All other amino acids have specific functions but I just wanted to give a flavor for their myriad benefits.
Glutathione is one of the most powerful anti-oxidants. It is composed of 3 amino acids: glycine, glutamic acid and cysteine. Glutathione has been shown to help with liver disease. There are also studies that demonstarted that glutathione can help with Parkinson’s disease. As an anti-oxidant, glutathione has an important role in immune function and is one of the strongest anti-cancer agents and detoxification agents in the body. Glutathione production decreases with age. It is poorly absorbed so taking oral glutathione has very limited benefit. One can get some benefit from a liposomal version which is partially absorbed or take the amino acids that form glutathione but a great way to maximize benefit is to increase tissue concentration with intravenous glutathione.
This has been a very broad overview of some of the ways that one can benefit from intravenous nutrition. There are other supplements that can be given intravenously that can complement the vitamins and minerals. As a pain specialist, I often recommend methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and curcumin. These can be taken orally while many patients respond better when these are given intravenously. Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) has myriad uses for pain and multiple medical conditions and can reach good cell penetration by the intravenous route. As a strong anti-oxidant, intravenous quercetin helps with immune modulation and has been shown to have anti-cancer activity.
In summary, patients with a wide variety of conditions have benefited from intravenous nutrition therapy. Multiple studies have shown that intravenous nutrition can serve as an adjunct to treating cancer. Those with fatigue can benefit from the metabolic support from intravenous nutrition. Intravenous nutrients have been shown to benefit those with metaboic disorders such as heart disease. There are multiple nutrients that support the immune system when given orally and any of these nutrients achieve greater potency when given intravenously. It is important to realize that we are all unique so our individual responses to intravenous nutrition will vary, but many patients can benefit in many ways from intravenous nutrition.