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The Multiple Benefits of IV Therapy

The Multiple Benefits of IV Therapy

The creative healing possibilities of IV therapy are profound. Therapy delivered intravenously is gaining in popularity, and for good reason. It's a highly flexible therapy with a high safety profile, applicable to many ailments because it can bolster general health, aid the immune system, and quicken recovery from physical exhaustion. No matter the level of sickness or fitness, IV therapy gently nudges the body to the next level of health. So, for the vast majority of people, it is a low-risk but high-return therapy, which is very appealing to functional medicine doctors. Usually considered a complementary therapy rather than a primary therapy for ailments, it can be used as a standalone, primary therapy under circumstances determined by a doctor. For those who have never used this flexible and beneficial therapy, this article can help answer some common questions.



What is IV Therapy?


"IV" stands for "intravenous," which means "within a vein." In IV therapy, therapeutic substances such as medicines, nutrients, or other fluids can be delivered directly into the bloodstream by a needle or cannula placed into a vein. Veins carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart and are under less pressure than arteries, so they are ideal for introducing an IV.


Experienced IV administrators can place an IV so expertly that it feels like a light flick or pinch. Once in place, an IV causes little or no pain. To place the IV, a needle or cannula (small tube) is inserted into a vein and taped down so it cannot move. The needle is connected to a tube that leads to a bag of fluids, gravity-fed by placing the bag above the (usually reclining) person. The placement of the IV needle or cannula can be in veins on the back of the hand, the crook of the arm, or even one of the feet (1). 



The Many Benefits of IV Therapy


IV therapy has a way of bringing improvement to people at all levels of health, whether the person is seriously ill or is an athlete in peak condition. 


Since IV therapy is so flexible, many people with different levels of health can benefit from it. For example, IV therapy may help someone who (1,2):


  • Has various types of inflammation, including chronic inflammation (and the pain associated with inflamed tissues)

  • Has a damaged digestive tract, malabsorption issue, or colon inflammation such as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), Crohn's or Celiac disease, ulcerative colitis (UC), or increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut)

  • Suffers from side effects of autoimmune diseases or cancer

  • Experiences chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or muscle disorders

  • Deals with chronic brain fog or other cognitive impairments

  • Endures chronic pain, migraines, or headaches

  • Lives with chronic infections such as Epstein Barr virus (EBV), long COVID, toxic mold exposure, Candida, Lyme disease, and associated conditions 

  • Battles skin ailments and rashes: psoriasis, eczema, acne

  • Desires enhanced health and potential for increased longevity


IV therapy can also (1,2):


  • Reduce oxidative stress

  • Address specific nutrient deficiencies, such as iron

  • Alleviate dehydration 

  • Alleviate pain 

  • Help rid the body of wastes (aids metabolic detoxification with substances that support the liver's processes)

  • Aid physical recovery from surgery, physical activity, or endurance training (through rehydration or nutrient replacement)

  • Reduce side-effects of chemotherapy (by increasing antioxidants, such as vitamin C)

  • Help other therapies work better (by reducing the toxic burden on the body) 

  • Help athletic performance and recovery (by improving nutrient status or introducing antioxidants)



Why it Works


1. The most significant benefit comes from delivering therapeutic substances directly to the circulatory system (rather than making these substances go through the digestive process).


Many people have digestive issues that are unknown to them and prevent good absorption of nutrition from food or dietary supplements. Other people know they have digestion or absorption issues because they have a chronic illness where such things are a significant component of their health issue (or a secondary consequence of their health issue). Correcting some digestive issues is hard if digestion is required to process the therapeutic substance! If so, delivering the therapeutic substance through the bloodstream becomes ideal to allow it to correct the digestive system without simultaneously taxing it.


2. It quickly takes effect. IV therapy is popular because it is quick. Cutting the digestive process out of the loop significantly reduces the time needed for the therapeutic substances to take effect. Once in the bloodstream, the therapy can go right to work. Additionally, the therapeutics have all the access to tissues and organs that blood does, at the speed of blood circulation.


3. The substances delivered by IV can impact broad systems (immune, digestive, detoxification, cardiovascular, and skin).


This ability to impact whole systems can interrupt a downward health spiral and create a series of positive effects instead.


The immune system has a wide range of influences, so if the therapeutic substances help the immune system, they can positively affect everything the immune system protects.


The same is true for helping the digestive system - by healing the digestive system, the positive effects can flow to everything it impacts or controls.


Note that while skin is not a system in the sense that we use for the "immune system," it is a complex set of physical features that act as a whole. It is a barrier that covers most of our bodies, interacts with the immune system, and is a path for toxins to exit the body. This article considers skin alongside the traditional systems (immune, nervous, cardiovascular, etc.).


The dynamic of impacting whole systems is powerful, especially since some therapeutic substances aid more than one system! The force multiplier of IV therapy can significantly help people with multiple health issues, progressive health issues, or terminal illnesses.



Benefits of Common IV Nutrients & Formulas


Much of IV therapy's success depends on what therapeutic substance goes in the IV! Different substances have different effects on the body.


Glutathione: The form of glutathione in most IV formulas is the "reduced" form, which can be used immediately by cells and is naturally produced by our bodies. Glutathione reduces oxidative stress, an imbalance between beneficial antioxidants and cell-damaging free radicals. It shields cells from cellular damage from free radicals, heavy metals, and persistent organic pollutants by neutralizing them in different ways (3). Additionally, glutathione helps move toxins to the proper exits to be excreted (3). These qualities make glutathione a powerful detoxifier, helping to neutralize and remove extremely harmful substances that would otherwise build up in the body.


Conditions commonly improved with IV glutathione: liver disease, inflammation, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, heavy metal exposure, acne


Human systems positively impacted: detoxification, cardiovascular, immune, respiratory, nervous system, skin


Vitamin C: Vitamin C is one of the most studied nutrients. A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also helps protect cells from free radical damage. Arthritis, heart disease, and cancer are conditions that have been associated with an unhealthy buildup of free radicals, which can be positively impacted by taking vitamin C (4). Frequently, vitamin C is safely paired with other therapies, as it seems to reduce side effects or strengthen the impact of another treatment (5). In many cases, oncologists will allow vitamin C therapy to be administered between (and sometimes in addition to) chemotherapy rounds to help reduce side effects.


Conditions commonly improved with IV vitamin C: fatigue, arthritis, cancers, viral infections, heart disease, upper respiratory infections, asthma, rashes, acne, headaches


Human systems positively impacted: immune, respiratory, detoxification, nervous system, cardiovascular, skin


Myer's cocktail: A blend of many nutrients, the Myer's cocktail IV is a popular favorite. It contains B and C vitamins mixed with the minerals calcium and magnesium (6). Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, while B vitamins address many nervous system, muscular, and cognitive issues. Calcium helps muscles contract, while magnesium helps them to relax. These nutrients are provided to allow the body to use them, if needed.


Conditions commonly improved with IV Myer's cocktail (6)asthma (acute), fatigue, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, infections of the upper respiratory tract, seasonal allergies


Human systems positively impacted: respiratory, immune, detoxification, nervous system, muscular, cardiovascular, skin


Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): The fatty acid alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and reduces oxidative stress. It is particularly good at relieving pain, including the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy (pain from damaged nerves), pain from constricted nerves, and pain associated with autoimmune diseases (7).


Conditions commonly improved with ALA: diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, nerve injuries, liver disease, cognitive decline, inflammatory conditions


Human systems positively impacted: nervous system, muscular, immune, detoxification, nervous system, muscular, cardiovascular, digestive, skin


Phosphatidylcholine (PC) (8): Phosphatidylcholine, created from dietary choline in the body as part of its standard processes, is a necessary part of cell membranes as well as being involved in cell growth and the division of cells.


Conditions commonly improved with PC: ulcerative colitis, cognitive decline, liver disease, mild illness. (9)


Human systems positively impacted: digestive, nervous system, detoxification



How safe is it? The IV Therapy Safety Profile


IV therapy's risks are similar to those of any process involving needle insertion, and this procedure has been performed safely millions of times in hospitals and medical facilities. Precautions are taken to mitigate those known risks and are built into hospital, clinic, and doctor office processes.


Involving a doctor to help choose the IV's therapeutic substances helps reduce another kind of risk - how your individual body will react to the fluids. For example, some people are susceptible to electrolyte imbalances in the blood, so it is highly suggested to have a doctor help choose the IV liquids.


To reduce risks, find an IV therapy administrator who:


  • Requires a doctor visit first to take personal & family history and ask about allergic reactions, heart or kidney issues, and electrolyte imbalances

  • Maintains strict processes around cleaning the skin before inserting the needle and uses cleaned or new equipment (tubing, needles, etc)

  • Uses well-trained, skilled administers in a medical setting

  • Has trained personnel, processes, and equipment in place to handle any unusual reaction



Turning a Downward Health Spiral Into an Upward Spiral


Delivering fluids by IV provides resources that allow the body to heal itself and improve health. While some IV therapies may not require it, it is best to be screened by a knowledgeable practitioner who can help choose the ideal therapies for your individual body’s needs. Temecula Center for Integrative Medicine is proud to offer IV therapy in a safe medical setting. Make an appointment to see a TCIM practitioner, or if it's been a while since your last physical, schedule an appointment for an Executive Physical and mention that you are interested in IV therapy. You, too, may become a believer in the health-improving effects of IV therapy.


 

Jonathan Vellinga, M.D.

Jonathan Vellinga, MD is an Internal Medicine practitioner with a broad interest in medicine. He graduated Summa cum laude from Weber State University in Clinical Laboratory Sciences and completed his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin.​


Upon graduation from medical school, he completed his Internal Medicine residency at the University of Michigan. Dr. Vellinga is board-certified with the American Board of Internal Medicine and a member of the Institute for Functional Medicine.


951-383-4333


 

Sources


1. Charmley S. What to know about IV therapy [Internet]. 2023. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/iv-therapy

2. Böttger F, Vallés-Martí A, Cahn L, Jimenez CR. High-dose intravenous vitamin C, a promising multi-targeting agent in the treatment of cancer. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2021 Oct 30;40(1):343. doi: 10.1186/s13046-021-02134-y. PMID: 34717701; PMCID: PMC8557029.

3. Santacroce G, Gentile A, Soriano S, Novelli A, Lenti MV, Di Sabatino A. Glutathione: Pharmacological aspects and implications for clinical use in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Front Med (Lausanne). 2023 Mar 22;10:1124275. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2023.1124275. PMID: 37035339; PMCID: PMC10075255.

4. Clinic C. 5 ways Vitamin C keeps you healthy [Internet]. Cleveland Clinic. 2023. Available from: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/vitamin-c

5. Intravenous vitamin C [Internet]. National Cancer Institute. 2022. Available from: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/patient/vitamin-c-pdq

6. Gaby AR. Intravenous nutrient therapy: the "Myers' cocktail". Altern Med Rev. 2002 Oct;7(5):389-403. PMID: 12410623.

7. Viana MDM, Lauria PSS, Lima AA, Opretzka LCF, Marcelino HR, Villarreal CF. Alpha-Lipoic Acid as an Antioxidant Strategy for Managing Neuropathic Pain. Antioxidants (Basel). 2022 Dec 8;11(12):2420. doi: 10.3390/antiox11122420. PMID: 36552628; PMCID: PMC9774895.

8. Derbyshire E, Obeid R. Choline, Neurological Development and Brain Function: A Systematic Review Focusing on the First 1000 Days. Nutrients. 2020 Jun 10;12(6):1731. doi: 10.3390/nu12061731. PMID: 32531929; PMCID: PMC7352907.

9. Maev IV, Samsonov AA, Palgova LK, Pavlov CS, Shirokova EN, Vovk EI, Starostin KM. Effectiveness of phosphatidylcholine as adjunctive therapy in improving liver function tests in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and metabolic comorbidities: real-life observational study from Russia. BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2020 Mar 26;7(1):e000368. doi: 10.1136/bmjgast-2019-000368. PMID: 32337059; PMCID: PMC7170405.


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