“Vitamin IV drip?” This was my reaction when a patient first asked me about intravenous vitamin drips. It was literally news to me. I am a physician trained in the traditional halls of medicine. I have a degree in biology and monthly subscriptions to multiple medical journals. I know an insane amount about diseases, antibiotics, broken bones-you name it. Vitamin IV drips were not a part of my education. So like any good doctor, I learned more.
Most of the research on Vitamin IV drips has been done on three key components: magnesium, vitamin C, and glutathione. Here is what I know from my training in Emergency Medicine.
Magnesium is used in many common emergency situations such as:
- Asthma attacks: When people come in with severe asthma attacks and are in distress, I say “get the Mag.” Magnesium is a natural smooth muscle relaxant and helps to relieve bronchiolar constriction – which is the root of asthma.
- Preterm labor: Similarly, magnesium drips are used to treat women in preterm labor because it relieves uterine contractions.
- Irregular heartbeat: The scariest and most important times I use magnesium drips are to treat people with cardiac dysrhythmias. Our myocytes, or heart cells, are highly dependent on magnesium to conduct electrical impulses. By giving magnesium, I can save a life.
It’s clear that magnesium is important in life and death situations but short of these, why would I seek a magnesium vitamin drip? Studies have shown that large doses of magnesium greatly reduce symptoms related to migraine headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome. The deduction is that its muscle relaxing effects release tension and thus symptoms related to increased stress. It is also thought that migraine and chronic fatigue sufferers may be deficient in magnesium in the first place. Excessive alcohol intake, vigorous exercise and gastric illnesses also deplete magnesium. Vitamin IV drips will get you the mag.
Vitamin C and its beneficial effects have been researched for eons. Linus Pauling, the Nobel Prize winning chemist, was one of the most famous advocates of vitamin C. Based on Pauling’s and numerous other studies, we know that vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and cofactor required for the synthesis of collagen and neurotransmitters. Humans cannot synthesize vitamin C so we are completely dependent on dietary sources. No scientist worth their salt will tell you that adequate vitamin C is not important. That’s because of vitamin C’s antioxidant action. What is that exactly? Antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, and Zinc help protect our cells from oxidative stress. This is damage that happens to our cells from multiple factors including pollutants, trauma and with simple aging. Research has shown that oxidative stress leads to many conditions such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ocular disease, and diabetes.
So what happens if we get a megadose of vitamin C? The amount you can only absorb through a vitamin IV drip? We get a megadose of the advantageous effect. High dose vitamin C is currently used as adjunct to chemotherapy for certain cancers and is known to support healing in burn victims. I use it when I am feeling sick to support my immune system and because I feel more energetic. And remember that collagen? It also improves my skin’s elasticity; in other words, high dose vitamin C can mean less wrinkles.
This leads me to one of the most important components in vitamin IV drips. There is an abundance of research on glutathione and its life giving effects. So what is it? Glutathione is an antioxidant just like vitamin C. One of the main differences is that we can synthesize and recycle glutathione in our bodies.
Glutathione is made of three basic amino acids: cysteine, glycine and glutamine. We can ingest it in multiple foods including garlic, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, fresh meats and fruits. Glutathione is the ultimate detoxifier and helps our liver clear damaging pollutants. Other essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and selenium work synergistically to recycle it in our body.
Glutathione is stored intracellularly and many factors such as radiation, stress, pollutants, and alcohol deplete our reserves. The main research in relation to glutathione has to do with its impact on the human body when we are deficient in it. It is confirmed that patients with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and AIDS have much lower serum levels of glutathione compared to healthy counterparts. Glutathione is available as an oral supplement, but there have been no studies showing that it is actually absorbed. Glutathione given intravenously on the other hand has been proven to increase serum glutathione levels and to improve neurodegenerative symptoms in Parkinson’s patients.
So this brings me back to my original statement… Why I use vitamin IV drips. I know that in spite of my best efforts, I live in a world of processed foods, vehicle emissions and not enough ozone layer. I give myself vitamin IV drips because I want to give myself every chance to maintain my current health and to prevent future problems. I also want to feel better and the vain side of me wants to look better. As a scientist I can understand how vitamin IV drips work at the cellular level. As a person, I know that they just work.
Your turn, do you drip? We want to hear your thoughts on vitamin IV drips.