You have likely heard about “IV Therapy” or “IV Nutrient Therapy”, you may have even had an experience with it yourself! I get a lot of questions about this in my practice and wanted to run through a quick review of this useful treatment therapy which we use often in the clinic.
First, let’s take a step back and define what Intravenous Nutrient Therapy (often referred to as IV therapy or IVNT) is. Just like the name says, IVNT is a direct infusion into the blood. Infusions are comprised of sterile nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and/or other naturally occurring substances mixed into a standard intravenous fluid. IVNT is different than Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN) which is used to infuse a full complement of a person’s nutritional requirements including fluids, electrolytes, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, intravenously. IVNT is intended to augment a healthy diet not to replace a person’s diet.
So, why might your ND consider IVNT for you? By direct administration into the blood, we can ensure that the full amount of what we put in will get into circulation for delivery to the cells that need it. This means immediate and more consistent bioavailability. Different nutrients are absorbed at different sites and through different mechanisms in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract ⁽¹⁾ and there is a large person-to-person variability in the absorption of nutrients by gastrointestinal tract ⁽²⁾. Reasons for this variability are seemingly endless, here are a few of my common considerations: chronic illness (colitis, diabetes, celiac disease, autoimmune disorders, etc.), lifestyle habits (smoking, recreational drug use, alcohol), age, gender, BMI, meal hygiene, genetic variation (SNPs), pharmaceutical regimen, infections, environmental exposures, microbiome status, overall diet, exercise habits, allostatic load (stress), nutrient status and sleep ⁽³⁻¹⁴⁾. It is also becoming more and more clear that nutritional needs must be considered for all patients and that nutrient need is increased in patients struggling with chronic disease ⁽¹⁵⁾. In naturopathic medicine facilitating the bodies’ ability to heal is a central tenet and, in my experience, we may not always be able to rely on oral administration of nutrients.
While research on IVNT is currently limited (apart from IV vitamin C for cancer), it has been a common practice among NDs and MDs in North America for decades. The inception of the therapy is credited to Dr. John Meyer a physician in Baltimore Maryland who used the therapy beginning in the 1950s until he passed away in 1984 ⁽¹⁶⁾. You may have heard of a “Meyer’s infusion” affectionately named after Dr. Meyer’s classic formula ⁽¹⁶⁾. IVNT was later popularized by Dr. Alan Gaby MD who took on many of Dr. Meyer’s patients and passed on the practice to others. Today IVNT is a mainstay of many functional and naturopathic medical clinics.
IVNT can be very useful for several conditions, it is used most commonly in our clinic for allostatic load, chronic fatigue, toxic metal overload, fertility concerns, severe nausea, chronic migraines or headaches, chronic pain syndromes, acute and chronic infections, depression, and/or anxiety, allergies, gastrointestinal disorders, and various nutrient deplete states. IVNT is not meant to be used in isolation and may be recommended as part of a patients’ complete naturopathic treatment plan.
What I love about IV therapy is the ability to quickly, consistently, and reliably administer formulas that I can compound specifically for each of my patients. Further, there are situations when oral administration of certain nutrients is either not possible due to a patient’s condition, or because oral administration cannot, or cannot reliably, achieve the desired serum concentrations of a particular nutrient. IVNT typically produces faster and more consistent results which allows me to “fast track” patients who need it most.
IVNT is not for everyone, however; it should be individually prescribed. Careful selection and compounding of nutrients are required for safety and efficacy. IVNT should only be administered by a licensed and trained medical professional. The full list of risks which includes, but is not limited to, allergic reaction, hypoglycemia, and bruising should always be discussed before treatment.
We prioritize patient safety and comfort at Naturally Inclined Health. I have personally hand selected the staff who care for our IV patients, the layout of the space, and the equipment we use, right down to the needles chosen. We take safety seriously and want everyone to feel comfortable so that they can get the most out of their treatment. Before administering any IV, we take a medical history and complete brief physical to get a full understanding of every case and provide the best of care. If you have questions about IVNT or would like to know if it might be a good addition to your naturopathic care plan speak to your ND.
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