Intravenous Vitamin C (IVC) is one of the most commonly used naturopathic medical interventions. We use it almost on a daily basis with our patients. IVC has been studied for years for not only cancer, but for Lyme disease, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diminishing pain, sepsis, anti-aging, IBS/IBD, heavy metal detoxification, hepatitis, allergies, and Alzheimers/Parkinsons.
With regards to cancer, IVC has been demonstrated to improve quality of life, to potentially have anti-cancer action, and to improve the response to cancer therapies due to its ability to reduce side effects, diminish appetite changes, reduce pain, and overall, to allow patients to remain more active.
Mechanism of Action IVC can be used at low doses (less than 15 grams) or high doses (15-100 grams). At low doses, IVC acts as an anti-oxidant and cleans-up reactive oxygen species. Reactive oxygen species are oxygen containing chemical compounds that can damage DNA. They are created daily in our bodies from normal metabolic processes, and from exposure to harmful environmental substances. Low dose IVC is generally used for pain, energy, skin health, and general wellness.
IVC is given at high doses (25 grams and up) for cancer treatment. At our clinic, we start with 15 grams and work our way up to 100 grams. It requires at least 10-15 IVC treatments before determining if an appropriate response was achieved. Infusions take 60-90 minutes and are often delivered 1-2x/week. Before beginning doses of 25g or more, a few blood tests must be performed, including G6PD.
At high doses, IVC acts as a pro-oxidant by increasing levels of hydrogen peroxide around cells, which decreases their access to energy, and induces cell death. Cancer cells, unlike normal cells, don’t have enough catalase to safely get rid of hydrogen peroxide, thereby making them more susceptible to death from IVC compared to healthy cells. Additionally, cancer cell membranes have more of a receptor called GLUT, which acts like a doorway, allowing glucose in for energy production. As vitamin C looks similar to glucose on a molecular level, more vitamin C gets shuttled into the cancer cells, positively effecting gene expression, which helps to prevent resistance to chemotherapy and radiation and inhibits angiogenesis (a process of increased blood vessel growth that can allow tumors to grow and spread).
IVC can also act as an immune stimulant. Vitamin C is involved in collagen production, stimulating antibody production, and for boosting mitochondrial energy – all of which contribute to healthy healing and scar formation. The importance of a well-functioning immune system in cancer prevention and treatment has been well established in both the naturopathic and conventional medical communities.
How IVC Can Be Applied To You
If you have active cancer, the addition of IVC may be of benefit to you for diminishing side effects and improving treatment response. The applications of IVC for cancer prevention, whether it is for primary prevention or to prevent a reoccurrence, have not been studied in depth. Given the evidence on the mechanism of action, case studies, and clinical experience, weekly or monthly IVC treatments, along with other lifestyle interventions, may help to prevent cancer.
IVC has been studied for numerous health conditions and is used extensively for cancer patients
IVC has shown benefit for improving response to cancer therapies by diminishing appetite changes and relieving pain and other side effects associated with conventional treatments
High dose IVC is safe with radiation, and with some chemotherapy protocols
Although not extensively researched, IVC may benefit individuals who are looking for primary cancer prevention or preventing recurrences
Further information on IVC:
1.http://www.oicc.ca/uploads/iv-vitamin-c-health-professional.pdf2. M.K. Wilson, B.C. Baguley, C. Wall, M.B. Jameson, M.P. Findlay, Review of high-dose intravenous vitamin C as an anticancer agent, Asia Pac. J. Clin. Oncol. 10 (2014) 22–37. doi:10.1111/ajco.12173.3. H. Fritz, G. Flower, L. Weeks, K. Cooley, M. Callachan, J. McGowan, B. Skidmore, L. Kirchner, D. Seely, Intravenous Vitamin C and Cancer: A Systematic Review, Integr. Cancer Ther. 13 (2014) 280–300. doi:10.1177/1534735414534463.