The first scientist who experimented with intravenous vitamin C was Linus Pauling who found that it may be a great therapeutic tool in treating some chronic diseases, particularly in supporting those with cancer. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of IV Vitamin C therapy and why it may be beneficial for people with certain health conditions.
During evolution, humans lost the ability to produce vitamin C due to the inactivation of an important enzyme and subsequently, we are now strictly dependent on obtaining Vitamin C through dietary intake (Source: OUP).
In addition to this, vitamin C is depleted during a fever, viral illness, toxin exposure, stress and during treatments of antibiotics, cortisone, chemotherapy, aspirin, and pain medicines, so it’s important to replete this vital nutrient when indicated.
As vitamin C is involved in countless cellular pathways, the use of high dose vitamin C has been implicated in supporting our health in several different ways:
- Infection: Viruses activate NF-kb (a protein that responds to infection), and vitamin C has been found to inhibit NF-kb, helping lower inflammation and the ability of a virus to replicate (Source: NIH.GOV). Emerging evidence suggests that a high intake of vitamin C may be useful to reduce COVID symptoms and it has been found to improve overall health outcomes (Source: Biomedcentral).
- Stress: vitamin C has a high concentration in the adrenal glands and is used up rapidly during times of stress.
- Collagen/Structure: vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of collagen. Type I collagen is also a major structural protein in the lungs and is stimulated during certain inflammatory reactions in the lungs.
- Antioxidant: vitamin C acts as a potent antioxidant and protects cells from oxidative stress.
- Promotes iron absorption and mobilisation.
Taking a therapeutic dose of vitamin C orally may be challenging as the body tightly controls levels through different mechanisms – more on this later.
What is high-dose vitamin C IV Therapy?
High-dose vitamin C may be taken orally as a supplement or given by intravenous (IV) infusion, through a vein into the bloodstream. The rationale for IV administration of vitamins is that it can achieve serum concentrations that are not obtainable with oral intake or intramuscular administration. IV therapy works by allowing your body to absorb up to 100% of the vitamin, as opposed to only around 10% with oral supplements.
High dose vitamin C IV therapy is extremely beneficial and highly effective for those individuals that are under a greater than usual level of stress, exhibit symptoms of extreme fatigue, require a boost to their immune system in order to fight an acute and/or chronic viral and/or bacterial infections, who have damage to the skin as a result of sun and surgery, and to help alleviate side effects like fatigue, nausea and vomiting associated with chemo and radiation therapy.
Here at the London Clinic of nutrition, we have three doses available, 25g, 50g and 75g. Find out more on our IV Nutrient Therapy page.
Benefits of vitamin C IV therapy
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin and is limited in how well it can be absorbed when given orally. While ascorbate tends to accumulate in adrenal glands, the brain, muscles and in some white blood cell types, plasma levels stay relatively low (Source: SAGEPUB). When taken orally, vitamin C concentration in human plasma is tightly controlled by multiple mechanisms acting together: intestinal absorption, tissue accumulation, renal reabsorption and excretion, and potentially even the rate of utilization.
However, when Intravenous vitamin C is administered, the tight controls are bypassed, and pharmacologic plasma concentrations of vitamin C can be achieved (Source: NIH.GOV). Detailed pharmacokinetics human and animal studies confirmed that high dose intravenous vitamin C produces peak plasma concentrations that are 70-100-fold higher than those possible from oral dose (Source: NIH.GOV). In other words, IV is much more effective at attaining high blood levels of vitamin C and provides better bioavailability of the nutrient for longer.
Vitamin C IV therapy for cancer
Clinical and pharmacokinetic studies have shown that intravenously administered vitamin C may have anti-cancer properties. Cancer patients are often deficient in vitamin C and require large doses to replenish depleted stores thus IV therapy seems to be a good choice to achieve therapeutic levels. The anticancer mechanisms of IV vitamin C are not fully understood but mechanisms of action have been proposed (Source: PUBMED NCBI):
- Cancer cells respond very differently to intravenous vitamin C than when compared to the body’s normal cells. For example, a cancer cell makes a rather rapid and sustained increase in hydrogen peroxide in response to vitamin C which results in a “rusting-effect” known as oxidative damage (Source: EUROPEPMC). Normal or healthy cells do not respond this way with vitamin C. This phenomenon makes intravenous vitamin C a very unique and targeted treatment, unlike any other chemotherapy-like medicine.
- Suppression of angiogenesis (a process that allows the spread of cancer cells into healthy cells and tissue.) (Source: NCBI)
- Modulation of gene expression.
- Reduction of inflammation (Source: NCBI) by modulating an inflammatory marker called C-reactive protein.
- Improvement in immune cell functioning by modifying the ratio of neutrophils-lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are very important markers as they help to fight cancer cells.
- Vitamin C stimulates the production of collagen, responsible for supporting the extracellular matrix so it may provide physical barrier support against the invasion of cancer cells (Source: RESEARCHGATE).
Many studies demonstrated evidence of a good safety profile of IV vitamin C therapy with relatively few adverse effects. Treatment with vitamin C in amounts of at least 10g/day has been shown to improve quality of life, reduce pain and increase life expectancy, potentially increasing survival time by several years, in a number of cases and clinical studies (Source: PUBMED NCBI). Further published case studies reported anti-cancer efficacy, improved patient well-being, decreased markers of inflammation, reduced side effects and tumour growth (Source: RESEARCHGATE).
It is important that each intravenous treatment is tailored to the individual patient and particular situation. Protocols need to be adjusted based on how the patient is feeling, the type of cancer(s) they have, conventional treatments they are receiving, and what is financially feasible over time as well. At the London Clinic of Nutrition, we pride ourselves as the largest functional medicine clinic in Europe. We recognise that cancer is a serious and complex disease and we offer a relaxing and caring environment for all of our clients.
Please feel free to get in touch for a Free 15 minutes discovery call to discuss your health concerns and to match you with the most suitable practitioner.
Vitamin C IV therapy for Lyme
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia Burgdorferi (Bb) and it is passed on to humans via a bite from an infected tick. Study of Bb has shown us that it is very difficult to kill, as it is able to shift into different forms making it hard to track and eliminate (Source: CDC GOV): spirochete form, bleb form, cystic form and cell wall deficient (CWD) form (Source: SCIENCE DIRECT).
In order to successfully treat Lyme, one needs to employ different strategies for different stages. During acute flares, high dose intravenous vitamin C administered under careful supervision, may effectively kill the spirochete and the cystic forms and possibly the CWD forms as well. As vitamin C has a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect and has a remarkable ability to bind to endotoxins (toxins released after killing bacteria), therapy of high doses should be considered for the chronic phase of the disease. It may also help alleviate other symptoms and elements of this hugely complex and multifactorial disease (Source: GOODREADS).
At the London Clinic of Nutrition, we are renowned for successfully treating complex ‘untreatable’ diseases such as Lyme disease, read our testimonials here. We are an award-winning clinic having received the highest award from the Integrative Healthcare & Applied Nutrition (IHCAN) in the UK. We use clinical diagnosis based on your medical history, symptoms and exposure to ticks and if indicated, we would investigate further with the use of functional testing specifically designed to identify Lyme disease.
How long does IV vitamin C stay in your system?
As mentioned above, intravenous administration of vitamin C produces substantially higher plasma concentrations compared with oral intake. Although evidence is limited, there are two important points to keep in mind about the benefits of IV vitamin C therapy:
- As it is administered straight into the bloodstream, it bypasses all the ‘control’ mechanisms, which virtually removes the upper limit of achievable plasma concentration (Source: NCBI).
- Several pharmacokinetic studies indicate that these levels are attained for a longer period of time, some suggest up to 12-16hours. This proposed effect might make IV vitamin C a unique intervention in the treatment of cancer (Source: PUBMED NCBI), (Source: NCBI).
At the London Clinic of Nutrition, for the best and most effective result, we recommend our vitamin C IV therapy administered 2 times weekly. Find out more here.
Vitamin C IV therapy side effects
Intravenous high-dose vitamin C therapy has caused very few side effects in clinical trials. However, high-dose vitamin C may not be suitable for patients with certain risk factors.
- We recommend against high dose vitamin C infusions for patients with a history of kidney disorders, including kidney stones (Source: FFHDJ).
- Case reports have shown that patients with an inherited disorder called G-6-PD deficiency -an enzyme called glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase that regulates vitamin C absorption- should not be given high doses of vitamin C, due to the risk of hemolysis – a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed.
- Since vitamin C may make iron more easily absorbed and used by the body, high doses of the vitamin are not recommended for patients with hemochromatosis – a condition in which the body takes up and stores more iron than it needs (Source: ACPJOURNALS).
Here at our clinic, clients may need to have a blood test to check kidney function, G-6-PD deficiency and iron levels to ensure their suitability for the treatment.
Infusion of high-dose vitamin C cannot be used in conjunction with other IV treatments, especially ozone therapy. Mild side effects have been reported following the infusion which may include, nausea and dizziness and some people might feel slightly fatigued for a short period of time.
Comprehensive support and Vitamin C IV therapy
Vitamin C is involved in many cellular pathways within our body: it’s an antioxidant, an antihistamine, it has anti-inflammatory properties, supports collagen formation and adrenal function and it’s even involved in DNA formation. As a result, vitamin C is included in most of our intravenous therapy but also available as a standalone infusion.
For high-dose vitamin C therapy, we recommend that you work alongside one of our practitioners who can provide you with comprehensive and tailored support.