What is Intraveous Vitamin C Therapy?
Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) uses high dose vitamin C delivered through an intravenous (IV) drip. By using the IV method, the bloodstream can accommodate significantly higher levels of vitamin C compared to oral supplements. This is due to the limited absorption capacity of the body when vitamin C is ingested orally.
What is IVC Used for?
In cancer care, intravenous vitamin C (IVC) is frequently utilized for its potential benefits, which include:
Enhancing quality of life
Alleviating symptoms associated with cancer treatment, such as fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite
Potentially improving treatment outcomes or impeding the progression of cancer
It is important to note that IVC is not intended as a standalone cure for cancer. It should not be regarded as a substitute for chemotherapy or other conventional cancer treatments.
Does Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) Help?
Numerous small clinical trials involving intravenous vitamin C (IVC) have been conducted on individuals with cancer, accompanied by several observational studies and case reports. However, it's important to note that the research in this area is still preliminary, mainly due to the limited sample sizes and the absence of a control group in most studies. The majority of these studies have focused on administering IVC alongside chemotherapy, while a few have explored its use in conjunction with radiation therapy or as a standalone treatment.
Findings from these studies indicate that IVC is generally safe and well-tolerated, with minimal and mild side effects. Many studies have reported improvements in quality of life and symptom management, particularly in relation to fatigue, pain, nausea, and loss of appetite, when IVC is combined with cancer treatments such as chemotherapy. Additionally, early research suggests that IVC, when used in conjunction with standard treatments, may have positive effects on cancer outcomes, including tumor response and survival rates for certain types of cancer. Notably, a few small studies have shown potential benefits for patients with advanced pancreatic and ovarian cancers. Nevertheless, further research is necessary in this area.
It's important to emphasize that IVC is still considered an experimental treatment, as we have yet to determine its impact on prolonging life or improving overall well-being. However, the early research findings suggest that IVC may offer potential benefits, making it a reasonable consideration for certain individuals with cancer.
For a comprehensive review on all the research related to the benefits and risks of IVC and specific types of cancers, see this post.
How does IVC work?
Intravenous vitamin C (IVC) is believed to operate through three primary mechanisms. Firstly, it generates hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), resulting in oxidative stress. Secondly, it serves as a cofactor for various enzymes. Lastly, it possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The generation of hydrogen peroxide is considered the primary action of IVC. When administered intravenously at high doses, it produces H2O2, which has toxic effects on cancer cells while remaining non-toxic to healthy cells. Healthy cells possess enzymes that break down H2O2 and typically experience lower levels of H2O2 due to differences in the surrounding environment compared to cancer cells. This process is commonly referred to as the "pro-oxidant" effect of high-dose IVC.
Additionally, vitamin C is involved in numerous reactions and structures within the body, including collagen formation and enzyme reactions, which may influence cancer growth and metastasis. Lastly, vitamin C has the potential to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, which can have a positive impact on cancer development and progression.
How Safe is IVC?
Based on clinical trials and practitioner experience, intravenous vitamin C (IVC) has demonstrated an excellent safety profile. However, it is important to note that there are specific circumstances in which IVC may not be considered safe.
Patients with kidney failure or individuals with a deficiency of the G6PD enzyme should not receive IVC. For individuals with a history of kidney stone formation, insulin-dependent diabetes, iron storage diseases, fluid overload conditions, or those taking warfarin, caution should be exercised when considering IVC therapy.
It is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for IVC therapy. They will be able to assess your individual circumstances and provide guidance regarding the safety and appropriateness of IVC for your specific situation.
How Much Does IVC Cost?
Patients should never feel pressured to undergo IVC. It is a very expensive therapy and research suggests the benefits are modest at best. Each IVC infusion costs around $200, and typically 15-30 infusions are required. Similar benefits have been found with other alternative therapies that are much more cost-effective. For comparison, mistletoe costs about 25% of the price of IVC and provides similar benefits. Our clinic aims to provide the best possible care that fits each person's budget as best as possible.
What are the Side Effects of IV Vitamin C?
Most patients experience minimal and infrequent side effects with IVC therapy. These potential side effects may encompass thirst, dry mouth, increased urination, elevated blood pressure, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, weakness, headache, dizziness, discomfort or irritation at the injection site and in the veins, swelling, and decreased appetite. For a comprehensive compilation of reported side effects, please refer to our healthcare provider monograph.
What is the Recommended Dose and Duration?
The objective of IVC treatment is to attain a targeted vitamin C concentration in the blood of around 20-22mM (350-400mg/dL). At the OICC, patients typically receive infusion doses ranging from 40g to 100g to reach these levels. Available data indicates that doses up to 1.5g/kg of body weight are safe when administered under professional monitoring.
Treatment sessions are generally conducted 1-3 times per week and typically span from a few weeks to several months. Depending on an individual's health condition, treatment objectives, personal experience, and consultation with their healthcare provider, therapy may be extended for a longer duration. Each treatment session typically lasts between 1 and 3 hours, depending on the specific dosage.
If you would like to learn more about or pursue IVC, you can reach out to Dr. Baker (ND) at our clinic.