INTRAVENOUS VITAMIN THERAPY
What is intravenous vitamin therapy?
Intravenous vitamin therapy is getting more popular by the day. It involves the direct administration of minerals and vitamins into the general circulation. The trend is very popular among celebrities. Intravenous vitamin therapy is recommended by Alternative therapy clinics for various diseases and ailments including hypertension, cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, diabetes, hepatitis, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia, macular degeneration and Parkinson’s disease. Some health facilities believe that intravenous vitamin therapy boosts energy levels, enhances the functioning of the immune system, and helps the individual to cope with sleep disorder, jetlag and stress. Proponents and administrators of intravenous vitamin therapy prepare the injections according to individual requirements. One well-known formula however is the ‘Myer’s Cocktail’. This formula is made of high concentration of magnesium, B and C vitamins. It is believed that this formula treats numerous clinical conditions, ranging from asthmatic attacks to cardiovascular ailments. According to the Rothfield Center, “By directly administering nutrients to the body higher than normal blood levels can be achieved. These increased levels can provide an immediate therapeutic response by correcting deficiencies that may arise from a disease state.”
That said, we should note that there are no clinical researches to show that intravenous vitamin therapy impact positively on the user’s health, hence the short or long-term impact of this therapy is not known. If a person’s nutritional status is not as optimal level, then it may be a pointer to an inappropriate overall diet, which should be the starting point. With very little exceptions, we humans can get most of the vitamins and minerals required for proper functioning from a healthy diet. However, in some cases, there may be need for modest supplements of specific nutrients. For instance, pregnant women or those in the process of conceiving are recommended to take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. This is done to prevent defects of the neural tube. Children below five years of age may take vitamins A, C and D; while those above 65 years of age may take 10 micrograms of D vitamin each day. These supplements are usually administered orally.
What happens to the body during an intravenous vitamin therapy?
Dr. John Myers developed the first intravenous vitamin drips in the 1970s. The result of his research was the well-known Myer’s Cocktail. Administration is usually done within the Physician’s office and takes anywhere from 20 minutes to one hour. While the infusion takes place, the concentration of the vitamin increases within the body. A vitamin that is administered orally is metabolized within the digestive tract, and the quantity that can be absorbed is very limited (50%). If the vitamin is administered intravenously, then a larger percentage is absorbed (up to 90%).
To explain it better, a person receiving an IV vitamin therapy receives a fluid mixture of minerals and vitamins via a tube into his or her vein. Doing so facilitates easy and quick absorption of the vitamins into the general circulation. This method causes a rise in the level of vitamins and minerals in the recipients body compared to if they were gotten from supplements or food. The reason for this is that food absorption is regulated by several factors in the body. These include the health status of the individual, age, genetics, metabolism, and the chemical and physical composition of the food or supplement. Higher concentrations of minerals and vitamins in the bloodstream enhances cellular uptake of the nutrients. Theoretically, the cells use these nutrients to combat illness and maintain health.
Intravenous vitamin therapy have been prescribed and administered by qualified physicians and nurses over the years. This is a fast way to deliver medication or fluids into the body’s system. During an intravenous vitamin treatment, the pharmacist mixes the solution according to the physician’s prescriptions. The healthcare administrator will first locate the vein before inserting the needle securely in it. If the patient is dehydrated, it may take several attempts to get it right. Thereafter, the professional will monitor the infusion to be sure that the vitamins or minerals are properly administered.
What are the risks involved?
Studies have shown that vitamins and minerals when taken in excess may prove dangerous to the body. This is can be seen in cases of fat soluble vitamins and minerals that are stored but not excreted by the body. For instance, administration of vitamin A in large quantities can cause damage to the bone and the liver while vitamin E at high doses can interfere with the absorption of other body vitamins. Of great concern is the fact that most health facilities that administer these vitamins do not ask for nor have past medical records of their patients. As such, they are not aware of any underlying medical condition or contraindications. Users of intravenous vitamin therapy may receive excess of these nutrients, resulting in health implications. This is especially so if the nutrients are administered on a daily basis. As the saying goes, too much of everything isn’t good, and for this reason, optimum levels for oral administration of minerals and vitamins have been established, taking into consideration the absorbed proportions, and the fact that it may vary between individuals. However, it is understood that some individuals can tolerate better excess nutrients compared to others. For instance, iron in excess quantities may be stored, resulting in a condition called hemochromatosis.
Injection of substances into the blood comes with attendant risks like air bubbles that can transfer to the general circulation. Other risks include infections and allergic reactions. These are likely to occur if the administration is not properly done. Presently, regulatory bodies do not exist to govern the safety in such clinics. Intravenous administration of vitamins should be done only by qualified professionals.
Gaby AR (2002) Intravenous Nutrient Therapy: the “Myers’ Cocktail”. Alternative Medicine Review 7 (5): 389 – 403
NHS Choices (2014) Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia – Treatment. Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anaemia-vitamin-B12-and-folate-deficiency/Pages/Treatment.aspx
The Rothfield Centre (2014) IV Nutrient Infusion Therapy. Available at: http://rothfeldcenter.com/about/vitamin-infusion-therapy/