IV therapy is a powerful, quick way to get you the nutrients you need. Vitamins, minerals and amino acids are delivered directly into the blood stream, and therefore it is a much more effective mode of delivery, compared to taking oral supplements. Oral supplements are broken down by our digestive system, and therefore we are not absorbing 100% of what we are taking.
With respect to cancer treatments, the most common IV therapies are intravenous vitamin C (IVC), mistletoe, post chemo-radiation recovery IVs, and IVs that can help with weight gain. The reason most people with cancer seek intravenous therapies are to help them fight cancer by boosting their immune system. Other ways IV therapies can benefit people with cancer are to increase energy, reduce pain, prevent weight loss, lower inflammation, decrease nausea, improve sleep and enhance mood.
From the time you enter our clinic to the time you leave, you can expect your appointment to last anywhere from 1-2.5 hours, depending on the type of IV you receive. You can bring a book, or listen to music, or even bring your laptop and watch a movie. Most people find the experience very relaxing and therapeutic.
Let’s take a look at some common injection IV therapies offered by the clinic.
Nutritional IVs are a blend of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, B vitamins, and minerals like magnesium and calcium. Nutritional IVs can be a great way to get high doses of vitamins directly into your system very quickly and very safely. They are also very hydrating, and most people feel like a million bucks after their treatment.
Nutritional IVs are very high in vitamin C, and they are often prescribed prior to surgery. Surgery is known to lower vitamin C, and vitamin C is needed for wound healing as it is involved in collagen formation. Many people report excellent healing from surgery, and feeling better than they anticipated.
Nutritional IVs are also very effective for improving energy and decreasing fatigue. These IVs are commonly prescribed during convalescence, the period of taking the time to recover after an illness, or after lengthy conventional treatments such as chemotherapy. A very common complaint after chemotherapy is “just not feeling great.” Nutritional IVs are a gentle and effective way to help you recover.
Intravenous Vitamin C
Intravenous vitamin C (IVC) involves the delivery of 75 to 100 grams of vitamin C into your bloodstream. It is impossible to take that amount of vitamin C orally, as massive oral doses cause digestive upset. The main indication for IVC is cancer. For more detailed information, see my dedicated page about intravenous vitamin C for cancer.
There are numerous high quality studies that all support the fact that IVC is extremely safe for cancer patients. The side effects are minimal, or none at all. It is safe for all cancer types, and for all stages.
Unfortunately, IVC is yet to be entirely effective against cancer as a sole therapy. It is best used as a supportive therapy in conjunction with chemotherapy. IVC is also an excellent treatment for preventing the side effects of chemotherapy, such as fatigue, pain, insomnia and nausea. There are numerous studies supporting the fact that IVC can help to improve quality of life.
Mistletoe is one of the most commonly prescribed medications for cancer in Europe, and has been used for over 100 years. For more in depth information, please see my dedicated page about mistletoe and cancer.
Mistletoe is an immunomodulator, which means it works its magic by influencing the immune system. The immune system has a big role to play when it comes to winning the fight with cancer. Numerous studies have shown that, immediately following treatment with mistletoe, white blood cell counts increase, such as neutrophils, leukocytes, natural killer cells, and cytotoxic T-cells. If you like to read studies, here is a link to a recent article discussing how mistletoe influences the immune system.
Mistletoe is often used during chemotherapy as, similar to vitamin C, it can help prevent or reduce the side effects, such as fatigue and pain. There have been numerous reviews of mistletoe on the topic of its ability to increase quality of life, and most show positive outcomes. Many studies also report on overall survival of cancer patients who use mistletoe, and while they are retrospective or observational in nature, many have found increased survival in colon cancer, leukaemia, lymphoma, lung cancer, and others.
Artesunate is a molecule derived from the plant Artemisia annua, also known as Sweet Wormwood. It has been used for over 2000 years for fever, which was later recognized as malaria. Artesunate has potent anti-viral properties, and in the last 20 years has been vigorously studied for its use as an anti-cancer agent.
Many mechanisms have been proposed as to how artesunate affects cancer cells, and the most well supported mechanism is that artesunate reacts with iron inside the cell, thus creating free radicals that can be toxic to cancer cells. Artesunate can also disorganize the cellular processes that are responsible for energy within the cell, such as the mitochondria, and lead to disruption in those processes. Artesunate may also prevent metastasis, and may directly influence genes that are responsible for apoptosis, or cell death, of cancer cells. A scientific and detailed review is attached here, for those of you who like to read the science-y stuff.
Artesunate has been the subject of numerous clinical trials. A 2008 trial of 121 patients with non-small cell lung cancer found that when artesunate was added to standard chemotherapy, short term survival rates were enhanced, without interfering with the drugs (Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2008 Feb;6(2):134-8). A 2014 study in 20 colon cancer patients showed that artesunate directly contributed to cancer cell death, and may also reduce recurrence rates (EBioMedicine. 2014 Nov 15;2(1):82-90). Survival has also been shown to be greatly increased in stage IV breast cancer patients with the addition of artesunate to standard therapy (Standish et al., 2013).
Glutathione is one of the most powerful and abundant antioxidants our bodies have. Glutathione protects our cells from damage due to inflammation and free radicals, and helps to recycle other antioxidants, such as vitamin C. It is also indicated for supporting our liver for detoxification. Therefore, glutathione can be an important IV therapy to help detox after chemotherapy, and replenish the body with antioxidants that are important to prevent long term damage from chemotherapy.
Glutathione can help increase energy, enhance the function of the immune system, help with sleep, and protect against “chemo-brain”. Another important condition a glutathione push can help with is chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy. This can be a debilitating condition that develops after chemotherapy, and can manifest as feelings of tingling, numbness, shooting pains or burning. Glutathione has been able to improve these symptoms in some patients.
Ask me how IV therapies might fit into your treatment plan. Book an appointment today!