Who’s it what’s it now? To address the obvious right off the bat, yes, I agree, this seems like a radical thing to try but I didn’t jump blindly. I have been researching the historical use of therapeutic intravenous vitamin C (ascorbic acid) for about a year, and there are no adverse case reports in the literature to speak of. I was curious to give it a go, and when a sinus cold came knocking, I got a word-of-mouth referral to a local naturopathic doctor.
Why IV vitamin C over oral?
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin meaning that it is only found in the watery compartments of the body, i.e. blood, and inside cells (or cytoplasm). As such, vitamin C is easily excreted via the urine. As a reference, people who include a variety of fruits and vegetables will have a blood level of vitamin C around 70 umol (micro-molar). If you take vitamin C supplements, you can increase that concentration to about a maximum of 220-240 umol (if dosed properly; several doses every few hours), but if you administer it by IV, the concentration can be increased significantly more so. Not only that, the levels of vitamin C remain elevated over 8 to 10 hours.
To put it in perspective, 1.25 g or 1250 mg of supplemental vitamin C by mouth (oral), will raise blood levels from about 70 umol to 135 umol, whereas the same amount by IV will raise it over 850 umol. This is reviewed nicely in an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine. At this level, vitamin C has a documented anti-viral/bacterial/anti-histamine therapeutic effect.
The Myer’s cocktail is a popular IV treatment used by Naturopathic Doctors named after John Myer’s, a physician from Baltimore, typically consisting of magnesium, calcium, B complex, B 5, B6 and vitamin C. When I inquired about getting IV vitamin C for the supportive treatment of the beginning of sinusitis, I was told that the vitamin C would be part of comprehensive infusion: the Myer’s cocktail.
The first infusion
The experience was uneventful; the infusion went well. There weren’t any ‘side effects’, no odd or burning sensations at the entry site, and I was given an initial dose of 2.5 g of vitamin C ensuring that my blood levels got over 2600 umol (a 37x greater increase over oral supplementation); in theory, helping to stimulate the immune system and saturating the sinus tissues with virus fighting ascorbic acid.
Three days later I went back for a second treatment but the vitamin C was increased to 5 g; pushing my blood levels well over a whopping 5400 umol providing even greater saturation of the sinuses. At a concentration of greater than 77x that of oral supplementation, my sinus cavities were blindsided! [Keep in mind, experimental cancer treatment has used 50 g, 75 g and 100 g per treatment with blood levels reaching between 11,500 and 20,000 umol with no adverse effects].
Placebo or not, I could feel my sinuses clear up and my energy return over the subsequent 4 to 5 hours.
Would I do it again?
I would in a heartbeat. Because I’ve had my initial assessment, in the future, I can simply book an appointment for an IV treatment, making a preemptive strike easy. If/when there’s the first sign of a cold/sore throat etc, I wouldn’t wait for it to get established first before making the call. In the meantime, back to my personal daily maintenance dose of 1 g of liposomal vitamin C and another 3 g of vitamin C, in divided doses, orally per day.
Granted this isn’t for everyone, and most would find it radical, nor am I promoting it as a dietitian. For anyone who wants to reap the benefits from extra vitamin C, oral supplementation is still worthwhile. The caveat (which was never taken into consideration during the establishment of the Dietary Reference Intake or DRI for vitamin C by the way, resulting in, what many feel is a suboptimal, DRI see here ), is that once ingested, blood levels from vitamin C supplements [not IV] peak after 2 hours and are excreted over the next 4 hours, returning to pre-supplementation levels.
A once a day dose will only result in a transient elevated vitamin C level for about 6 hours in total, leaving you without benefit for the other 18 hours. Vitamin C needs to be ‘dosed’ frequently throughout the day. Research supports a daily intake of 3 g or 3000 mg for general health including reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease and more [see post here]. This can be done with six – 500 mg doses about every 3-4 hours or, what will most likely be easier for people, 1000 mg every 8 hours; i.e. 7am, 3pm, and 11pm.
For more information
Photo credit: Prevent Disease