IV Vitamin Therapy is a tool used by licensed naturopathic physicians, like Dr. Maycher and Dr. Savage at Vancouver's Bay Wellness Centre, to replenish a patient’s micronutrient and nutritional status. IV vitamins is a great way to improve many health conditions and achieve optimal health and wellness. IV vitamin therapy is an effective and efficient treatment at replenishing vitamins and minerals because it bypasses the digestive system, allowing for 100 percent absorption.
When we consume food or medications, such as multivitamins, we first must chew or swallow it whole. It passes down the esophagus to the stomach where the acidic environment begins to break it apart. From there it must pass into the small intestine, where digestion and absorption begin. In the small intestine, there are enzymes that act to break the food stuff down into their smaller molecular pieces, and eventually to amino acids (what makes up proteins). These amino acids are absorbed though the lining of the small intestine, and pass into the blood where they are carried to the liver. The liver acts as our primary detoxification organ. It receives everything that we put into our body’s and processes it to be transported in the blood or excreted as urine or stool. As you can see, the process of assimilating the vitamins and minerals from our food is long and complex; many steps that can be interrupted – this is where vitamin IV therapy comes in. By being able to administer the vitamins and minerals directly to the blood, we are ensuring 100 percent absorption. Vitamin therapy can therefore be used to benefit many different types of patients and much more efficiently than taking food or medication orally.
A Myer’s cocktail is a Nutritional IV Therapy, named so after Dr. John Myer; it is commonly misnamed a ‘Meyer’s cocktail.’
It is unknown what the true “Myer’s cocktail” was, as there was no written account of the exact treatment. Patients of John Myer, reported that he used a 10-mL syringe to perform a slow push of various nutrients into the vein. Today, IV nutrient therapy or IV vitamins is used interchangeably with the name Myer’s cocktail and consists of various different vitamins and minerals in combination to treat specific diseases. Today, the Myer’s cocktail is done in an IV bag, rather than a push from a syringe to deliver more hydration and nutrients to the patient. Common nutrients found in IV vitamin therapy are:
• Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
• B complex
• Magnesium chloride
• Calcium chloride
The Myer’s cocktail can be personalized to any patient for their specific needs; for example, a “migraine cocktail” can be formulated for a patient suffering from chronic migraines.
The Myer’s cocktail also differs from a ‘banana bag,’ which is administered in the hospital, in that it has many more vitamins and minerals and it is formulated to specific conditions for each individual patient. A typical banana bag contains thiamine (vitamin B1),folic acid, and magnesium sulfate and is in either normal saline or dextrose water.
The benefits of IV vitamin therapy are many! By not utilizing the digestive system, which as discussed above can have many interruptions or problems, and achieving 100 percent absorption of the vitamins and minerals that are being administered, IV therapy can correct micronutrient deficiencies, improving the overall nutritional status of an individual, allowing for the relief of many symptoms.
Some benefits include:
• Increased energy
• Reduced symptoms of stress
• Improved hydration
• Regulated the immune system, improving the symptoms of chronic illnesses, treating autoimmune disease flare-ups
• Improved the quality of skin
• Reduction in headaches
• Improved symptoms of depression
• Improved symptoms of asthma
• Shortened recovery time for athletes, optimal performance, improved endurance
• Relieves allergies, colds and flus
Nutritional IV therapy is safe when administered by a practitioner who has completed the certification course and knows how to calculate the osmolarity of the solution being administered.
Some individuals get a feeling of warmth from nutrient pushes, most likely due to the magnesium and/or calcium, however this is rarely found to be intolerable. It is also important that the patient has eaten something before being administered a vitamin IV because the B vitamins can cause nausea if given on an empty stomach.
Rapid administration of magnesium can also lead to hypotension (low blood pressure). In this case, the IV is stopped until symptoms resolve and then can be administered more slowly.
Special consideration should be taken for the elderly and frail patients, administering the push or IV more slowly or performing IM injections instead to avoid any adverse effects, such as hypotension. Special attention should be paid to those patients taking diuretic medications, losing excess potassium, as the administration of magnesium can then cause adverse effects.
Increased risk of adverse effects also occurs with those patients who suffer from renal disease or renal failure, and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. All patients should be tested for glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency before receiving 10 grams or more of ascorbic acid.
Everybody can benefit from vitamin drips! Today, most people are under chronic stress, not getting enough sleep or adequate nutrition, feeling run-down, tired and in pain. IV therapy is a great way to address any deficiencies in vitamins or minerals and reach optimal nutrients levels and hydration status.
In acute cases, IV therapy is a great tool to treat migraines, headaches, colds, flus, seasonal allergies, morning sickness during pregnancy, fatigue and hangovers.
In chronic cases, IV therapy can be used to treat many chronic diseases, such as:
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Crohn’s disease
• Ulcerative colitis
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
• Drug addiction
• Adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatigue
No matter how clean you eat, today our food doesn’t have the same nutrient density that it once did, so nutritional IV’s can be a fantastic place to start to receive the missing nutrients. Furthermore, for our foods nutrients to reach the blood, it has to be digested and absorbed efficiently, meaning gut health must also be optimal.
The cost of vitamin infusion therapy varies from clinic to clinic. At our clinic, Bay Wellness Centre the cost is $150. The average cost can range from $120-$200; higher reaching in some cases of cancer-specific treatments with very high doses of vitamin C; however these types of treatments should only be done by FABNO trained naturopathic physicians.
IV vitamin therapy can be done in those naturopathic doctors’ offices who have completed the extra training and certification and in provinces and states that it is licensed.
Intravenous Nutrient therapy: the “Myers’ Cocktail” by Alan R. Gaby, MD
Intravenous micronutrient Therapy (Myers’ cocktail) for fibromyalgia: a placeb-controlled pilot study by Ather Ali, ND MPH
Short and long term treatment of asthma with intravenous nutrients by Welman A Shrader Jr
Vitamin C: Intravenous Use by Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioners and Adverse Effects by Sebastian J. Padayatty
What’s a Banana Bag? Myroslava Sharabun, PharmD Candidate