IV therapy has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and as a result, a variety of micronutrient cocktails have been created with the goal to help support everything from dehydration and hangover to immune function and treating cancer.
High-dose vitamin C IV is mostly used in a therapeutic setting in cancer treatment, and even though there are notable benefits, there are some potential risks to be aware of as well.
The Importance of Vitamin C
Before we discuss what vitamin C IV therapy brings to the table, it’s important to give some insight into this important vitamin and explain its effect on our health and wellbeing.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for the optimal function of our bodies. Since it’s dissolved in water, it’s not well stored in our cells, meaning we need a constant daily supply of it to maintain the necessary levels.
It’s involved in a myriad of processes in our bodies, from collagen production and hormone synthesis to boosting the immune system and protecting against free radicals. It also plays an important role in wound healing and the absorption of iron, which is why many iron supplements contain added vitamin C in their formula.
Historically, vitamin C was recognized as the perfect treatment and prevention of scurvy, a disease that decimated ascorbic acid-deficient people between the 1500 and 1800s. Today, we know that scurvy can easily be treated with high-dose supplementation of vitamin C, and with it, we can see how serious being deficient in this vitamin can be. Scurvy is rare today as some level of vitamin C can be found in the majority of fruit and vegetables, but it can be developed after only 3 months of inadequate vitamin C intake.
Vitamin C IV and Cancer
The origination of this IV treatment trails back to over 60 years ago when a Canadian doctor, William McCormick found that the majority of his cancer patients suffer from severely low vitamin C levels and scurvy-like symptoms. Through his research and observation, he developed a theory around his belief that vitamin C might help protect against cancer by increasing collagen synthesis.
This was further expanded by a Scottish doctor, Ewan Cameron, who studied the role of vitamin C and its potential in suppressing cancer development. According to his findings, vitamin C inhibits hyaluronidase, an enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid. This important acid is one of the major building blocks of our entire connective tissue, skin, and fluids in the joints and inside the eye. Hyaluronidase breaks it down and with it, weakens the extracellular matrix and allows cancer to easily metastasize. Dr. Cameron started treating his cancer patients with vitamin C and published a case report which showed impressive results. This led to a number of successful studies and clinical trials which showed an improved quality of life and an increased survival time in cancer patients treated with vitamin C. Still, these studies were done on a small scale and under not-so-rigorous settings.
Unfortunately, better controlled, double-blind randomized clinical trials performed by the Mayo Clinic failed to show any positive effects of high dose vitamin C in cancer patients. However, in these trials, vitamin C was administered orally, while the ones done by dr. Cameron included vitamin C IVs as well. This led to further studies that proved how when Vitamin C is taken intravenously, it bypasses the digestive system and intestinal absorption, allowing for the overall levels to stay high for a longer period of time.
These findings helped put high dose vitamin C IV therapy into consideration for cancer treatments, and even though it’s not a recommended or official cancer-fighting tool, it’s an option many doctors will mention and recommend to their patients.
The Benefits of Vitamin C IV Therapy
Tapping into the actual benefits of high dose intravenous vitamin C, research has shown a notable effect on relieving chemotherapy-related side effects as well as the overall improved quality of life in cancer patients. The benefits include:
- Relieving chemotherapy-related fatigue – high dose vitamin C may cause a significant decrease in fatigue, depression, sleep disorders, nausea, and dizziness
- Improved quality of life and pain reduction
- Reduced inflammation and oxidative damage due to its high antioxidant characteristic
The Potential Harm of Vitamin C IV Therapy
Even though the research and clinical trials that actually support high-dose intravenous vitamin C therapy aren’t conclusive and completely approved, neither are cases of potential harm. Some research does point out the possibilities of oxalate nephropathy, hypernatremia, glucometer error, and other negative effects, but these studies are fairly small, haven’t been reproduced, and do not prove that IV high-dose vitamin C therapy is more harmful than placebo in double-blind randomized controlled trials.
Cancer is a serious and scary disease that affects every person in a completely different way – even if they’re diagnosed with the same type, same stage, same condition.
There are many other factors that affect and influence someone’s healing process, from the stress surrounding it and their support system to nutrition and other holistic and spiritual tools they might implement and make part of their journey.
And when faced with this type of diagnosis, one tries everything and uses every possible sliver of hope to hold on and try to fight this beast. So, there’s basically a non-spoken rule among cancer patients: If there’s even a tiny chance this might help, I choose to believe in it and I will try it out.
There might not be any hard evidence proving that a high dose of vitamin C will help in cancer treatment, but there is also no hard evidence proving otherwise. So, if there’s even a chance that getting this intravenous therapy might help relieve some symptoms or improve someone’s quality of life even 1%, they will almost always take it.
The power of plants and their nutrients cannot be ignored. They’ve proven time and time again how they can help support our overall health and longevity, and when it comes to dealing with an illness or disease, we need all the help we can get. Vitamin C is one of these incredible micronutrients that plays a huge role in our bodies, whether we take it through food or supplements or an IV – it’s still, undoubtedly, going to produce some health benefits, regardless of one’s health condition.