Nutrients given by intravenous infusion have been used by many alternative and integrative medicine practitioners for decades. The rationale for their use is that the blood levels of such nutrients when given orally is limited by the ability of the gut to absorb them, whereas with IV nutrients blood levels can be substantially increased. This has been confirmed by clinical studies.
In considering use of IV nutrients, two questions must be asked: are they effective in achieving their intended therapeutic purpose, and are they safe. Ideally, the answers to these questions would be based on clinical research, but unfortunately the amount of such research is limited.
Four types of IV nutrients are in common use: Vitamin C infusions, glutathione infusions, multinutrient (Meyers’) infusions, and phosphatidylcholine infusions.
Vitamin C infusions are the best studied. Vitamin C has many effects: it is an antioxidant that protects against damage caused by free radicals, boosts the immune system’s effect on wound healing and infections, and is toxic to some types of cancer cells. There is some evidence that such infusions are beneficial in cancer patients in improving quality of life, and possibly that there are effects on tumors that reduce size and increase time to relapse. It may also have benefit in patients with infection, shingles, and with chronic fatigue. Used in patients without contraindicated medical conditions, IV Vitamin C is safe.
Like Vitamin C, glutathione is an antioxidant. Most literature on its use is not based on clinical research, but instead based on case reports. It may be effective in increasing the effectiveness of manual therapies in patients with musculoskeletal conditions, in reducing symptoms of parkinsonism, and in improving symptoms associated with autoimmune or other inflammatory response. It appears to be safe.
Multinutrient infusions were popularized decades ago under the name Myers infusions, based on the work of a Baltimore physician named John Myers, and a modified version of this infusion has been used with thousands of patients across the country. The infusion includes Vitamins C, B complex, B12, B5, B6, calcium, and magnesium. It has been shown to have some benefit for patients with fibromyalgia, and based on case reports may result in improvement in fatigue, pain, and depression in patients with such issues. Multinutrient infusions are safe.
Phospholipids are a key component of the membranes that surround all of our cells. When such membranes are disrupted by toxicity or injury, particularly in nerve cells, illness results. IV phospholipids are widely used in Europe, and based on experience, may be of benefit to patients with brain injury and inflammatory/degenerative conditions. They are safe.