A Naturopathic Physician Explains How Vitamin IV Therapy Works

by | Updated: January 30th, 2022 | Read time: 5 minutes

IV vitamin therapy, an infusion of various vitamins and minerals delivered through an intravenous drip, is a decades old treatment finding its way to the limelight. In an age when robust health has become a matter of vital urgency, the promise of hefty nutrient absorption, and a corresponding boost in immunity, has never been as attractive. Hence, IV clinics are popping up around the country.

Woman Trying Vitamin IV Therapy on Couch at MedSpa Talking on Phone | Vitacost.com/blog

Taking your vitamins in through your vein may sound like sci-fi. To others, it heralds a breakthrough in high dose vitamin supplementation. I think of it as a way to get rapid change on a cellular level to support a patient’s body already within normal range to heal. At this point, it is a patient driven industry, as patients are seeking it out, recommending it to others and feeling better faster because of this relatively new therapy.

Who is getting IV nutrients? Everyone from movie stars (I know because I’ve seen them!) and elite athletes, to your next-door neighbor. I’ve been offering IV nutrients in my practice for the past 10 years, in part because of the tangible results I have witnessed. They are not a stand-alone therapy, but they can promote wellbeing while potentially reducing the risk of certain conditions.

So what is vitamin IV therapy? And more importantly, why try IV nutrients?

IV nutrients are vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are administered to your body through your vein. They are often prescribed in an intravenous form so that you can get relatively high levels of substances directly into the bloodstream. IVs are also done because they bypass the digestive system, which allows for higher amounts of substances to be administered with no digestive side effects. IVs give these nutrients direct access to your cells, enabling downstream metabolic functions such as energy reproduction to be optimized.

IV infusions typically take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and occur within a medical office with a licensed medical professional administering the infusion. During an IV vitamin drip, your body is receiving a higher concentration of the vitamins themselves. A vitamin that’s taken by mouth gets broken down in the stomach and digestive tract and has a roughly 50 percent absorption rate. With an IV, however, vitamins are absorbed at a much higher percentage, such as 90 percent.

One of the most commonly prescribed IV cocktails is the Myers Cocktail, a concoction of magnesium, calcium, B complex and vitamin C. This cocktail was founded by Dr. John Myers in the 1970s. A physician who practiced in Baltimore, MD and passed away in 1984, Myers gave thousands of these cocktails to his patients over many years. These patients were suffering from a plethora of conditions.

Alternative medical doctor Alan Gaby followed in Myers’ footsteps. Gaby prescribed the Myers Cocktail to many of his patients and found that it helped support healing. He published a paper on the research regarding IV nutrients and the rationale for prescribing Myers cocktails to patients in Alternative Medical Review 2002.
The cocktail includes high doses of B complex vitamins to support energy production in the cells, a reaction sequence called the Krebs cycle. Other nutrients boost levels of intracellular magnesium, which may help some people with chronic pain or migraines. Increasing intracellular vitamin C, through high IV doses, may hep support healthy immune system function. Synergistically all these nutrients can help support cellular homeostasis—a stable, high- functioning physiological balance.

The Myers Cocktail is given as an adjunctive therapy for a range of conditions. It can help jump start well-being while the patient is working on other areas of their health, such as dietary changes, exercise, getting more sleep and changing their lifestyle to support better wellness. Many of my patients come in to receive a Mega Immune cocktail, which is a Myers cocktail with higher amounts of nutrients. It has more vitamin C and other extra ingredients in it, like trace minerals, to help them recover from jetlag. It’s also appropriate for the over-worked and stressed, who want to boost up their immune system. Glutathione, the most potent intracellular antioxidant, is also prescribed as an intravenous nutrient to support patients with a healthy detoxification process and tissue repair. Because glutathione is not very stable in a pill form, or supplement form, it is most potent when administered intravenously.

There are other ways IV nutrients can be customized for various conditions. For instance, there are IV formulas for pre- and post-sport recovery. These formulas must be put together in specific doses in order to have the right amounts of bioavailable ingredients. A practitioner can’t just throw anything into an IV nutrient bag. The ingredients need to be calculated mathematically to make sure that they won’t harm the body. A knowledgeable practitioner well-trained in IV nutrients is advisable.

How is vitamin IV therapy administered?

Some IVs are administered via an IV push. This means that the practitioner puts a very small butterfly needle into your vein, then sits with you for about 15–30 minutes as the nutrients push slowly into your vein. Other nutrients are administered via an IV bag. The nutrients are mixed precisely into a sterile glucose or saline bag, then a needle is inserted into a vein. The needle is then actually pulled out of the vein, but a catheter remains to allow the nutrients to slowly drip into the vein over a period 30–45 minutes, sometimes longer.

To be a candidate for IV nutrition, your practitioner will take a thorough health history. They may order special lab tests, as well as evaluate your liver and kidney function, before recommending it. Remember that anyone can be allergic to anything at any time, so your practitioner should have on hand an epi-pen, oxygen and other emergency equipment.

In my practice, IV nutrients have been wonderful for patients, helping them achieve a level of optimal health that had been previously elusive.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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