Cancer | Immune & energy boost | Poor gastrointestinal absorption |
Liver health/detoxification | Fibromyalgia/Chronic fatigue
Naturopathic intravenous therapy involves administering nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, as well as select naturally occurring antioxidants and herbal extracts directly to the bloodstream. This allows us to replete vitamin levels faster and more effectively than oral administration because it bypasses the digestive process. Whereas nutrient absorption through the digestive system “maxes out” beyond certain levels, meaning that more cannot be absorbed, intravenous therapy delivers large doses of nutrients directly to the blood and to the cellular level directly.
Substances that can be delivered through naturopathic IV therapy include: vitamin C, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, minerals such as calcium, magnesium, selenium, manganese, zinc, amino acids, glutathione (an antioxidant), and mistletoe (as a specialized herbal extract).
Naturopathic intravenous therapy can be used to treat a variety of health conditions including fatigue, adrenal fatigue or “burnout,” poor immunity and recurrent infections, chronic infections, liver conditions, to aid “detoxification” and elimination processes, to replete nutrient levels in patients with digestive problems, and in patients with cancer.Specific IV formulas are used depending on the patient’s condition and state of health. In addition, many patients find IV vitamin therapy helpful for maintaining good energy levels and immunity.
Dr. Heidi specializes in the following intravenous / injection therapies:
- High dose intravenous vitamin C therapy
- Myers’ cocktail (vitamin and mineral formula) +/- glutathione
- Vitamin B12 injections
- Mistletoe injection therapy
Intravenous vitamin C
High dose intravenous vitamin C (IVC) is used in naturopathic cancer care as an adjunctive therapy. Vitamin C has been shown to preferentially kill cancer cells. At high concentrations, vitamin C acts as a pro-oxidant; it accumulates within cancer cells, generating reactive oxygen species. Because cancer cells lack antioxidant enzymes needed to metabolize these reactive oxygen species, they accumulate within the cell and cause it to lyse, or burst from inside out. There is a common misconception that vitamin C acts as an anti-oxidant and would interact with chemotherapy, however this is untrue, since many studies show that at high concentrations, it has this pro-oxidant effect (1,2). It may therefore be used alongside many types of chemotherapy. Normal cells possess the enzymes needed to breakdown vitamin C through other pathways, so are not affected by the accumulation of vitamin C. In this way, high dose IVC therapy selectively kills cancer cells, while being completely non-toxic to healthy cells.
Emerging research now shows that intravenous vitamin C therapy can help reduce side effects from chemotherapy while improving treatment outcomes (1,2); supports immune function; may help reduce tumor size (2); and improve patients’ quality of life (2,3). A recent study shows that vitamin C may be helpful as an adjunct to radiation therapy as well (4).
In order to achieve the concentrations necessary for this anticancer effect, intravenous administration is necessary. The amount of vitamin C that can be absorbed when taken orally is very limited. To bypass this, vitamin C solution is infused through an intravenous catheter directly into the vein. Intravenous vitamin C therapy is individualized to the patient, and depends on factors including cancer stage as well as any other treatments currently ongoing such as chemotherapy or radiation. A schedule that is frequently recommended is 1-2 times weekly; each infusion takes between 1-2 hours.
Specialized extract of mistletoe has been used for approximately 100 years in Germany in adjunctive cancer care. Mistletoe contains molecules called lectins and viscotoxins that bind receptors on immune cells have potent immune stimulating as well as cytotoxic anticancer effects (5). Mistletoe has been shown to improve quality of life and may slow disease progression and improve survival in patients with cancer (6,7). Mistletoe therapy can be done as a subcutaneous injection into the abdomen, or as an intravenous therapy. The type and dose of mistletoe is individualized to the patient. There is an ongoing trial of mistletoe therapy at John Hopkins Hospital in the US (8).
The Myers’ cocktail is a vitamin-mineral formula administered intravenously. It contains low-dose vitamin C, a selection of B-vitamins including B2, B3, B5, B6, and B12, as well as calcium and magnesium. The Myers cocktail is used to improve nutritional status, boost energy and immune function, speed up recovery from cold or flu, and treat conditions such as migraine, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue.
Intravenous administration of nutrients bypasses impaired gastrointestinal absorption and allows more rapid, effective delivery of nutrients. Poor digestive function results in impaired nutrient absorption from food and supplements. IV administration provides an effective alternate route.
Glutathione is a naturally occurring antioxidant and cofactor for liver detoxification pathways. As a powerful antioxidant, it helps to protect cellular health; and as a cofactor for detoxification enzymes, it enhances the metabolism of certain hormones and waste products. Glutathione is used to treat conditions liver conditions and to enhance detoxification; neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease; conditions affecting the liver such as cirrhosis; and skin conditions related to hormone imbalances, such as acne in polycystic ovary syndrome or melasma.
- Ma Y, Chapman J, Levine M, Polireddy K, Drisko J, Chen Q. High-dose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemosensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy. Sci Transl Med. 2014 Feb 5;6(222):222ra18. URL: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24500406
- Fritz H, Flower G, Weeks L, Cooley K, Callachan M, McGowan J, Skidmore B, Kirchner L, Seely D. Intravenous Vitamin C and Cancer: A Systematic Review. Integr Cancer Ther. 2014 Jul;13(4):280-300. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24867961
- Takahashi H, Mizunoemail H, Yanagisawaemail A. High-dose intravenous vitamin C improves quality of life in cancer patients. Personalized Medicine. 2012;1(1):49-53. URL: http://www.personalizedmedicineuniverse.com/article/S2186-4950%2812%2900013-2/abstract
- Alexander MS, Wilkes JG, Schroeder SR, Buettner GR, Wagner BA, Du J, Gibson-Corley K, O’Leary BR, Spitz DR, Buatti JM, Berg DJ, Bodeker KL, VollstedtS, Brown HA, Allen BG, Cullen JJ. Pharmacologic Ascorbate Reduces Radiation-Induced Normal Tissue Toxicity and Enhances Tumor Radiosensitization in Pancreatic Cancer. Cancer Res. 2018 Dec 15;78(24):6838-6851. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30254147
- Vanderheyden S, Fritz, H. Mistletoe therapy: Improving Outcomes In Complementary
Cancer Care. The Journal of Integrated Healthcare Practitioners. Feb/ Mar 2014: 73-80. URL: https://www.boltonnaturopathic.ca/articles/cancer/mistletoe-therapy-2/
- Ostermann T, Raak C, Büssing A. Survival of cancer patients treated with mistletoe extract (Iscador): a systematic literature review. BMC Cancer. 2009 Dec 18;9:451. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20021637
- Kienle GS, Kiene H. Review article: Influence of Viscum album L (European mistletoe) extracts on quality of life in cancer patients: a systematic review of controlled clinical studies. Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Jun;9(2):142-57. URL: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20483874
- Mistletoe Clinical Trial. The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. John Hopkins Medicine. URL: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/kimmel_cancer_center/research_clinical_trials/clinical_trials/mistletoe.html