Hospitals began using intravenous (IV) treatments nearly a century ago to administer fluids and medication directly into a vein, but the technique is no longer revered as an undesirable needle-poking intervention for illness. Rather, IV therapy has been adopted by independent clinics and practices that treat patients with a wide range of conditions such as cancer, chronic fatigue and migraines, as well as those proactively looking to boost nutrition, energy, immune, beauty and overall well-being. Some even promote these power drips as a new fountain of youth.
Because many of us desire a quick fix, fast-acting IVs are an intriguing treatment option. By administering high concentrations of vitamins and minerals straight into to the bloodstream, they become immediately bioavailable versus oral supplements or consumable nutrients that need time to be digested before being effective. Thus, IVs can be a useful wellness tool to replenish nourishment our bodies lack because of underlying conditions or poor lifestyle choices.
“Because of the standard American diet, most people have something we call ‘leaky gut’, where they have inflammation of the lining of the walls of their intestines from the foods they eat and, so, they cannot absorb the nutrients,” says James E. Lemire, M.D., PA, of the Ocala-based Lemire Clinic. This deficiency causes fatigue and other adverse symptoms. “So we put people on what’s called a ‘Myers IV’ to build up the vitamin Bs and C and other nutrients to get them built back up faster to a state of health,” he says.
First developed in the 1970s by John Myers, M.D., the Myers IV consists of magnesium, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin C. According to Alternative Medicine Review, this cocktail can empower the body to combat asthma attacks, migraines, fatigue, fibromyalgia, acute muscle spasm, upper respiratory tract infections, chronic sinusitis, seasonal allergic rhinitis, cardiovascular disease and other disorders. However, IV therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. “We customize it to each person because every person is unique,” explains Nuris Lemire, a certified occupational therapist and nutrition consultant with Lemire Clinic.
Nelson Kraucak, M.D., of Healthcare Partners, in The Villages, says to tailor treatments that optimize the building blocks of our bodies, an evaluation is first conducted to determine levels of a patient’s nutrition, antioxidants, heavy metals, hormones and other chemicals. “You want to know where you are, so you know where you want to get to,” he says. The next step is often detoxification. Clients at both Lemire Clinic and Healthcare Partners can receive chelation IV therapy to rid the body of accumulated toxins, such as mercury, iron and arsenic.
“When you put a chelating agent in an IV, it’s readily available and can immediately start binding to these heavy metals and excrete them through the kidneys [into the urine],” Kraucak explains.
Nuris agrees, “Chelation IVs touch all the organs in the body to help them pull [out] whatever it is that is keeping them out of balance and diseased and [works to] clean up the [internal] environment.”
That balance of what we put into our bodies is the key to cellular function. If we’re vitamin and mineral deficient, our cells cannot work appropriately. Thus, higher levels of vitamins and minerals gained through IV therapy aims to better nurture the cells of organs so every body part can intrinsically perform to sustain health and fight sickness. “It is directly available to the organs for immediate use and, so, levels can be reached at a much higher level much quicker,” Kraucak attests of IV-based treatments. While the Myers Cocktail is standard, there are other varieties, such as hydrogen peroxide (for pain management, infection busting and lung oxygenation), glycerophosphocholine (for blood circulation and cognitive function) and glutathione (for memory enhancement and restful sleep), to name a few. Infusion sessions are relatively painless and convenient (30 minutes or more).
IV therapy may also be an effective skin care method to ward off signs of aging, such as fine lines, decreased muscle tone and reduced energy. IVs boost hydration and glow-enhancing vitamins that quickly hinder the aging process compared to slower results from serums applied to the skin. Kraucak says properly nourished cells are able to regenerate skin as they do other organs. IV drips naturally lengthen our telomeres, the protective caps of our DNA which ultimately reverses age-related destruction at the cellular level. It’s essentially a restorative makeover from the inside-out.
The use of IV therapy is on the rise, although neither Healthcare Partners nor Lemire Clinic claim it to be a cure-all, as no singular treatment is. “IVs are a piece of the puzzle, but not the whole thing,” Nuris assures. Both practices offer an array of other treatment options, and a healthy diet, physical activity, ample sleep and stress management are vital components for long-term well-being. IV therapy is not typically covered by insurance and ranges from $100 to 250 per session. Because health benefits are achieved significantly faster, IV therapy may be a worthy investment for optimal wellness.
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This article was originally published by Natural Awakenings magazine; reprinted with permission.