Clinical Applications of Parenteral Micronutrient Therapy
By Dan Carter ND and Virginia Osborne ND
Why would a physician want to give an injection of vitamins, minerals, or other beneficial substances when they could prescribe the same combination via the oral route for less cost and discomfort to the patient? If the physician is not sure of a reasonable answer to that question, then they should take a closer look at the many advantages versus the disadvantages of parenteral micronutrient therapy.
When a person becomes ill, he or she does not have the same energy as when well and healthy. Absorption and transport of nutrients takes energy, so perhaps that is one reason family doctors have recommended simple, easily digested foods when a person comes down with a cold or flu. As people age, the ability to absorb nutrients also decreases, and this is due to a gradual decrease in the secretion of gastric hydrochloric acid and, in turn, pancreatic enzymes needed to break down food or supplements so that intestinal absorption can occur.
There is an easy and safe method to avoid the nutrient deficiencies brought on by absorption problems and energy deficits associated with aging and illness, and that method is parenteral micronutrient therapy. Parenteral micronutrient therapy, or IV micronutrient therapy, as it is commonly known, has a long safety record. The relative absence of adverse reactions is due to the fact that the infused substances are naturally occurring – that is, they are essential nutrients required for the optimal functioning of the human body. The molecules are relatively simple and thus have low antigenicity and potential for hypersensitivity. Getting the nutrient into the target cell is more assured, because it is delivered directly into the body’s circulation. A high-concentration gradient can be achieved, and osmotic mechanisms can act in concert with energy requiring transport.
The disadvantages of IV therapy are higher cost, more time required to administer the IV, and discomfort to the patient (including the needle stick and possible vein discomfort secondary to osmotic and pH irritation of the vein). There are rare adverse reactions that can occur, including hypersensitivity reactions, phlebitis, and thrombosis. Inadequate knowledge or poor application of technique on the part of the physician can lead to infiltration of IV fluids, electrolyte imbalance, circulatory overload, symptoms of nutrient overdose due to both total dose and too high infusion rate and other less common problems. A well-trained and experienced physician can avoid most of these problems and can treat them effectively if they do occur.
There is an aphorism known as Pfeiffer’s Law that is applicable: “We have found that if a drug can be found to do the job of medical healing, a nutrient can be found to do the same job. When we understand how a drug works, we can imitate its action with one of the nutrients.” This statement taken in isolation can imply the allopathic application of nutrients, however, a good physician will always support IV micronutrient therapy with beneficial diet, lifestyle, and broad-spectrum oral supplement recommendations. The advantage of using nutrients, herbal extracts, and other naturally derived parenteral substances is the lack of side effects. The principle reason for nutritional IV therapy is to supply elements of normal body metabolism and those required for resolution of illness. When patients are acutely or chronically ill, they often need a jump-start consisting of a high concentration of nutrients to get them on the road to healing, or they need the pharmacological effect of a high-dose nutrient such as vitamin C or glutathione.
The choice of what products to include in an IV infusion needs to be based on three main factors: a deficiency of any nutrient elicited from history, symptoms, or testing; necessary cofactors to ensure proper metabolism and action of a product; and the known action of a nutrient or product on a disease process. An example of the first factor would be magnesium deficiency, as many or most patients are magnesium-deficient secondary to poor dietary choices, poor food quality, or malabsorption. Their symptoms could include muscle cramps, abdominal cramping, or migraine headaches. An IV push containing 1500 mg magnesium sulfate or an IV drip containing up to 3000 mg can bring dramatic relief from their symptoms. Some patients will tolerate the treatment better when the amino acid taurine is included, as taurine aids magnesium transport into the target cells.
The second factor is exemplified by the use of amino acids, either as combination products or singly in the IV solution. Pyridoxine, vitamin B6, is the most important vitamin for amino acid metabolism, as vitamin B6 is a cofactor for transaminase enzymes that metabolize amino acids.
A case of liver cirrhosis can be used to illustrate the third factor. A 56-year-old male presented to the clinic on recommendation of his liver specialist with the suggestion that “perhaps the naturopaths can help you.” The specialist also suggested that the patient would require hospice care within three to four months secondary to hepatic encephalopathy, a severe progression of brain damage secondary to liver failure. The patient was put on a whole-foods diet with lowered protein and prescribed liver support herbs, including milk thistle, curcumin, dandelion root, and licorice root. At the start of IV therapy, his lab results were as follows:
BUN 7 mg/dL
Albumin 3.4 mg/dL
Total bili 1.6 mg/dL
GGT 85 U/L
ALT 70 U/L
Ammonia 68 micro-mol/L
IV therapy consisted of two phosphatidylcholine drips (500 mg phosphatidylcholine in 250 mL D5W) weekly for three months, interspersed with 35 mL IV pushes (B-vitamins and minerals). At the end of this period, lab results were as follows:
BUN 16 mg/dL
Total bili 1.3 mg/dL
GGT 51 U/L ALT 39 U/L
Ammonia 32 micro-mol/L
For the next three months, the patient was supported with phosphatidylcholine drips and an IV push alternating every other week. Six months after commencing IV therapy, this patient was doing well and showing no mental decline. The IV phosphatidylcholine was able to help heal the liver cells by replacing defective phospholipids within the cell membranes. Using the right approach to correct biochemical abnormalities brought on by the cirrhotic liver resulted in a favorable outcome.
If you would like more information about Injection Therapies offered at Pure Wellness Group, please visit the Injection Therapy information section on our website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call reception at 1-705-586-7873.
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