Written by: Dr. Baili Clarke, ND
When you think of vitamins and minerals, the first thing that comes to mind likely isn’t an IV bag, needles, and a lazy-boy chair. However, one of the latest trends in the natural medicine world is that of Intravenous (IV) Nutrient Therapy – a method of injecting a complex of high dose vitamins and minerals into the veins to bypass the digestive process and enhance absorption. Basically, it’s a quicker, more efficient way to increase your vitamin and mineral intake when the need arises. But the question remains…why would this be necessary? Surely, the human body is capable of properly digesting and absorbing valuable nutrients from food, and when necessary, from the supplements we take? The answer is most definitely, yes! However, there are times when nutrient absorption is reduced, and when nutrient demand increases. In both of these instances, IV nutrient therapy offers an effective solution.
There are various reasons people have difficulty digesting and absorbing the nutrients they get from their food and oral supplements. For people suffering from chronic digestive disorders, such as Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, vitamin and mineral deficiencies are not uncommon, due to the chronic inflammation occurring in the intestines. The reality is that vitamins and minerals can only do their job if they are first broken down, absorbed, and then taken up by the cells for use. The more obstacles that exist in this process, the more likely deficiencies can result. While focusing on treating the underlying disease process is always of utmost importance, it is necessary to ensure adequate nutrition is being addressed in the meantime – which can be achieved with IV therapy.
There are also certain conditions for which nutrient demand increases and when the need arises for much higher doses of a specific vitamin or mineral for therapeutic purposes. In the case of acute illnesses (i.e. a cold/flu or muscle spasm) receiving higher therapeutic doses, more rapidly, can help reduce the duration and intensity of the illness and aid in recovery. For chronic illnesses (i.e. chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia) receiving an occasional rapid ‘boost’ of nutrients can help ‘kick-start’ the cells that are not functioning optimally on a regular basis.
Furthermore, when particular nutrients (i.e. vitamin C and magnesium), are taken orally, only a certain amount can be tolerated at any one time due to limiting factors involved in the digestive process. Taking doses higher then bowel tolerance will result in digestive upset such as diarrhea. Thus, in order to get the high dose of that nutrient required in the blood, it has to be injected directly into the vein to bypass digestion all together. That is, IV administration can achieve the blood concentration levels required to treat certain conditions, that is just not obtainable with oral administration alone.
For people with the following conditions, IV nutrient therapy offers potential benefits: acute and chronic infections; generalized fatigue; Fibromyalgia; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Irritable Bowel Disease; cancer (as an adjunct therapy); migraines/tension headaches; malnutrition; acute muscle spasm; and depression.