Intravenous Nutrient Therapy is when vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients are administered directly into the bloodstream through an IV drip. It is an innovative therapy that supports the resolution of numerous health problems and has been used to treat numerous conditions. For healthy animals, IV Nutrient Therapy can be considered for boosting health and preventing illness. The most commonly used IV Nutrient is Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid.
Why is Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) important to our cells?
Ascorbic acid is a nutrient that is synthesized within the bodies of dogs and cats and plays a critical role in the function of many different cellular activities. When administered intravenously, ascorbic acid becomes much more bioavailable, or accessible, to be utilized by the cells within the body. Intravenous ascorbic acid is well tolerated at doses over 100 times what can be administered orally, as these high doses would cause vomiting or diarrhea if administered by mouth.
Ascorbic acid has been studied for various roles in different cellular processes and activities. Some of these reported roles include;
- Selectively damaging cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact
- Improved collagen synthesis, wound healing, periodontal disease and bone repair
- Antioxidant activity deep within the mitochondria (energy powerhouses) of cells
- Interactions with many other vitamins and minerals within the cells to distribute iron, Vitamin D, B vitamins and carnitine
- Inhibitor and detoxifier of nitrosamines; known potent carcinogens
- Inhibitor of glucocorticoid (steroid) synthesis from the adrenal gland
- Improved reproductive function through collagen synthesis and role in hormone production
- Protects from free radicals
- Counteracts oxidative stress in skin cells (keratinocytes)
- Stimulates the immune systems through the phagocytic (destroying) activity of white blood cells
What conditions cans Vitamin C be helpful in treating?
Because of Vitamin C’s role in so many protective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory functions within the body, this treatment can be used as a part of many multimodal treatment plans for a number of conditions. Dr. Pope most routinely uses Vitamin C in her cancer patients for the potential antitumor activity, however, many conditions could incorporate high dose Vitamin C as part of the treatment plan, including;
- Cancer patients to support chemotherapy side effects
- Cancer patients to improve fatigue, appetite, pain, lethargy and overall quality of life improvement
- Patients with chronic kidney disease to slow the progression of renal disease, which is believed to be an oxidative process
- Animals with a predisposition to form dysplasias of bones and joints (hips, elbows, etc)
- Skin disease with significant inflammation and oxidative stress
- Cushing’s disease due to adrenal overproduction of cortisol
- Autoimmune disease or immune compromised patients
- Healthy patients with exposure to environmental toxins and possible carcinogens
What are the side effects of Vitamin C treatment?
When performed by an experienced, and appropriately trained practitioner, risks are minimal and treatments are well tolerated and enjoyable by our patients. Because IV Nutrient Therapy is still considered investigational in companion animals, Dr. Pope ensures complete blood work and medical record review is performed and the treatment is considered safe and appropriate before prescribing. Patients are monitored closely during infusions, as gradual dose increases are recommended to ensure all patients tolerate the treatment well. Pets with a history of calcium oxalate bladder stones, or decreased kidney function may require dose changes or additional testing prior to infusions.