Intravenous Nutrient Therapy and Injections
Why is IV therapy used in a naturopathic clinical setting?
The vitamins and minerals used in IVMT are co-factors in biochemical reactions in every cell in our bodies. As a result, IVMT can be used as an adjunct in any condition where low levels of nutrients or other nutritional deficiencies are suspected. IV therapy can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for a wide range of health conditions, including:
Cancer: enhancing effects of chemotherapy and reducing side effects
Low Energy Syndromes: Chronic fatigue syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Low energy, Low adrenal function
Immune System Support: Acute and chronic infections (colds, flus, pneumonia, etc), Lyme disease, Low antioxidant levels
Environmental issues: Elevated heavy metals (e.g. lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, etc), Liver detoxification support
Neurological disorders: including Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease
Other Conditions: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Pain management, Nutritional supplementation in patients with malabsorption (e.g. inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac’s, etc), Migraines, High blood pressure/arterial disease.
Why use IV therapy instead of oral supplementation?
The primary advantage of IV therapy is that it allows us to administer nutrients directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract in the process. When nutrients are taken orally, their structure can be altered as they pass the lining of the small intestine or when they are transported through the liver (known as the “first pass effect”). A classic example is that of oral glutathione (i.e. the most potent antioxidant in the human body): oral glutathione has great benefits to the intestinal cells; however once it is absorbed into the bloodstream it is denatured and has no antioxidant benefit at all.
Another factor that influences the ability of oral nutrients to make it into the blood is digestive capacity. If a patient has inflammation in the gut, nutrients won’t be efficiently absorbed through the intestinal wall, passing into the stool instead. If patients are not responding to oral supplements as expected, a diagnostic trial to rule out malabsorption would be an IV treatment of the same nutrients to see if benefit is noticed.
Does IV therapy hurt and is it safe?
The substances used in IVMT are vitamins and minerals which are categorized as "Essential Nutrients" - those things our bodies must have in order to be healthy or even survive, but are incapable of making from other raw materials. Traditionally, Essential Nutrients were obtained from the food we eat. In modern times, however, the poor quality of our over-processed foods means that most of us are severely deficient in these Essential Nutrients. Deficiencies of these nutrients, in fact, are associated with most chronic illnesses. Providing the body with Essential Nutrients it badly needs is generally healthy for most people. Small risks are associated with the intravenous injection process, which may include bruising around the injection site, and are similar to the risks of having your blood drawn for lab tests. Side Effects of treatment can include bruising around the site of the needle stick. Some patients may have a tendency to vascular fragility, and can suffer a phenomenon known as "infiltration", in which the walls of the vein rupture and the IV fluid leaks into the surrounding tissue causing local burning. This will dissipate within a short period of time, but the IV site will need to be moved to another vein. Some patients may have small or hard-to-find veins. In rare instances, if you have small veins or are especially prone to vascular fragility, you may not be a candidate for IVMT. In some instances, a period of high dose oral nutrients can build up your nutritional state and help strengthen your veins to the point you can use the IVMT therapy.
The naturopathic doctors who administer the IV have additional training in IV and parenteral administration as well as emergency procedures.
What types of nutrients can be administered?
The nutrients that are commonly administered include:
Vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin; hydroxycobalamin)
5-MTHF (activated folate)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Is there any scientific evidence for using intravenous nutrient therapy?
Some of the most extensive evidence for the effectiveness of IVMT is based on the Myers' Cocktail, named after Dr. John Myers M.D., who practiced in Baltimore during the mid 20th century and was one of the founders of modern IVMT. Alan Gaby M.D., who also practiced in Baltimore and took over many of Dr. Myers' patients after his death in 1984 administered more than 15,000 Myers' injections to about 1000 patients over an 11 year period in an outpatient setting. A summary of this work was published in Alternative Medicine Review, Vol 7, No. 5, 2002. Dr. Gaby found the Myers effective for Asthma, Migraines, Chronic Fatigue, Acute Muscle Spasms, Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, Chronic Sinusitis, Seasonal Allergies, Cardiovascular Disease, Mental Depression, Urticaria and various other disorders. Read Dr. Gaby's Article here.