Intravenous (IV) Nutrient Therapy
A major part of any functional or integrative medicine practice revolves around helping people to improve their absorption of nutrients. Most patients come to our practice in some state of nutritional deficiency, and quite a bit of our focus is on helping patients restore their nutritional status, thereby improving overall health. This is one of the “ROOT CAUSES” that we focus on in functional medicine.
Nutrients are absorbed through the digestive system, and it is this area that we are engaged in healing, enhancing, and working to make “whole” again. This is a very worthwhile goal but does takes time, effort, and commitment to a sometimes drastically different way of eating, which can take a long time to wholly embrace! This goal is crucial for healing, but we are keenly aware that this is a long process for many who are moving into a way of life that they may not be familiar with. This means that their own healing response and benefits may be delayed and that they may continue to suffer from symptoms longer, which in turn tends to lead to less motivation and commitment to maintain what they may perceive as a difficult process.
We know that absorption of vitamins decreases naturally with age, and this is one cause of “aging”. When people have disrupted digestive tracts, including leaky gut, dysbiosis, SIBO, chronic candidiasis, IBS, IBD, chronic gastritis, GERD, etc. this means that they have diminished absorption, thereby causing oxidative stress, another term for premature aging. One of the principal reasons we give people oral supplements is to help them replace what has been lost, and while these are very important to assisting the healing process, there are times when these are still not enough because there are many nutrients that have a rate dependent quality to them, meaning the lower the level that exists in the body, the harder it becomes to absorb that substance, causing a negative feedback loop. Magnesium is an example of this, being the 4th most abundant mineral in the body, and responsible for hundreds of cellular functions. It is estimated that over 50% of Americans are magnesium deficient!
We also know that having a well-functioning nervous system is vital to the healing process, and this is another area where nutritional absorption is critical. All the B vitamins are absorbed through the stomach and small intestine and when there are deficiencies, then the nervous system and brain start to suffer.
It is with this understanding that the field of Integrative Medicine has turned to using IV Nutrient therapy as a way to help people get back on track more quickly. IV nutrient therapy involves combining vitamins, minerals and other nutrients into a carrier solution and administering them directly into the bloodstream through an IV “drip”. Therapeutic agents may also be “pushed” through the IV catheter over a short period. These innovative, safe, and powerful therapies support the biochemical correction of numerous health problems. IV access bypasses the GI tract completely and allows nutrients to directly reach the cells, aiding in replacement of losses, and restoring nutritional balance.
IV nutrient therapy has a long history of use in the US, starting back in the 1940s and then then re-emerging in the 1960s when it was widely used by John Myers MD, a physician in Maryland, who created many of the protocols that are still used today. After Myer’s death in 1984, Alan Gaby MD, took over many of Myer’s patients and started using IV therapies successfully. Many others have followed this path as well and we am thankful for all the courageous physicians who have persevered in the use of IV nutritional therapy, in the face of conventional medical dogma and persecution. We are further grateful to Dr WA Schrader MD, who has not only been a wonderful practitioner of these therapies, but who has also had a mission of teaching many other physicians to pursue this safe and useful therapeutic modality.
IV nutrient therapy can be used as part of a general health regimen, to help increase athletic performance, for pre/post surgery, or to ease the symptoms of cold and flu, asthma, allergies, migraines, fatigue, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, chronic stress, injury and other imbalances.
What Can I expect?
Your first visit will include an office visit to go over your health history and medical conditions, as well as a physical exam. To establish the proper intravenous nutrient therapy for your condition the healthcare practitioners at our clinic will spend time discussing your individual needs and charting a course of treatment. You can receive your first IV treatment at the conclusion of this visit. The most common side effect that people experience with IV nutrients, is a sensation of warmth or heaviness at the IV site and through the body. Depending on if you receive a “push” or “drip”, the IV will take between 30 mins to an hour, although higher doses of some nutrients require a slower administration time.
How often to use IV nutrient therapy?
To maintain overall health: one session monthly; pay attention to your overall awareness, mental clarity, and body functioning. The affects are noticeable for several days, depending on your overall health at the start. I recommend doing one treatment weekly for 4 weeks to “fill up the tank”, after which time you will notice a maintenance of the benefits you feel after a treatment.
For athletic events, surgeries, weddings, work presentations, travel, etc.: do an IV treatment before and after the event, to prime your functioning and then to help you recover more quickly
Acute injury or illness: 1-2 times a week for up to 4 weeks
Chronic illness or injury: 1-2 times weekly until overall health and functioning are improved, then monthly
In most cases, including an oral vitamin and nutrition supplement program is necessary to allow the effects of IV therapy to be their greatest.
What types of nutrients are given intravenously?
Combines magnesium, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin C for their immune system and adrenal support characteristics. This unique blend of nutrients was created by Baltimore physician, Dr. John Myers, during the 1960s. It has been studied and used since then to treat a variety of conditions including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, asthma, migraines, and chronic pain. Additionally, it speeds recovery from colds and flu and aids in quick physical recovery for athletes during training.
Vitamin C is uniquely suited to kill pathogens, neutralize toxins, build collagen and boost the activity of the immune system. Vitamin C has antioxidant, antiviral and antihistaminic properties. In high doses, it also has pro-oxidant, anti-cancer properties. It is often used as an adjunct in cancer treatment, as an alternative to antibiotic therapy and for its wound healing properties. The published literature pertaining to vitamin C is prolific, especially in the areas of detoxification, infectious disease and cancer treatment.
The MASTER ANTIOXIDANT of the body and is best absorbed via IV (or inhalation) since the body will break down most forms of glutathione into its separate parts when taken orally. Glutathione is the most potent endogenous (made in the body) antioxidant that protects major organs from oxidant injury and is the major substance for detoxification in the body. It is the second most abundant molecule in the body, behind H2O, and is made up of three amino acids – cysteine, glycine, and glutamine. Glutathione is a free radical scavenger and has activity similar to vitamin C by helping to donate free electrons. There are many factors which lead to the decrease of glutathione in the body, including aging, poor diet, chronic stress, over-exercise, infections and illness, chronic exposure to toxins and chemicals, and genetic mutations that minimize one’s ability to properly manufacture this critical substance. While it can be found in some foods, it is not usually very useful because of digestive breakdown of glutathione into its component parts. All the other substances that we use in our IV protocols also help into maintain healthy glutathione levels as well.
As already mentioned, magnesium is the 4th most abundant mineral in the body and is responsible for hundreds of cellular functions. Like vitamin C, there are hundreds of published articles in both conventional and integrative medical literature regarding the use and importance of IV magnesium. This is one of the top three nutrients that I recommend to my patients in oral form, but as I also mentioned above, it is a nutrient that is rate limited in its absorption when body stores are low, so this makes it a vitally important IV nutrient to receive. There are so many medical benefits to IV magnesium that it is too much to go into here, but the evidence is clear that magnesium can help to reduce cardiac arrhythmias, migraine and other chronic headache patterns, chronic muscle spasms and tetany, esophageal spasm, stricture, and dysphagia, chronic back pain, bronchospasm in asthma, blood pressure, etc. The bottom line is that IV magnesium has been proven to be an effective treatment for dozens of conditions and will likely continue to appear frequently in medical literature.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
An amazing amphipathic (fat AND water loving) substance because it works synergistically with other nutrients. It is vital to cellular energy production and helps to neutralize the damage caused by free radicals. It is used in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy, liver ailments and insulin resistance. ALA by IV drip is neuro-protective and acts as chelating agent. Alpha lipoic acid also helps to regenerate oxidized glutathione back to its reduced (and bioactive) form.
How much does IV nutrient therapy cost?
- We strive to keep our IV nutrient therapy as cost effective and affordable as possible so that all may be able to benefit from it. The baseline protocol is the Myer’s Cocktail, and this is $75 a session.
- If we add other more expensive nutrients (such as glutathione, ALA, or high dose vitamin C), then we will charge a surcharge on top of the base price, usually between $25-50 extra.
- We are also offering a package of 5 IV treatments for the price of 4.
Alan R. Gaby, MD. Intravenous Nutrient Therapy: the “Myers’ Cocktail”; Alternative Medicine Review, Volume 7, Number 5 2002
PDQ® Integrative, Alternative, and Complementary Therapies Editorial Board. PDQ High-Dose Vitamin C. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute . Available at : https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam /hp/vitamin-c-pdq
The Definitive Guide for Intravenous Therapy with Nutrients, by WA Shrader, Jr., MD; revised January 2015.
2017 Riordan IVC Symposium, Wichita KS