Good nutrition and proper supplementation are important building blocks for boosting immunity – whether to prevent disease or combat a specific condition.
The recent battle against COVID-19 has increased the public’s awareness of the immune system and its importance in fighting off illnesses. As pandemic restrictions begin to lift and life is beginning to revert back to a sense of normalcy, it is important to remember that pathogens still exist, and immune function is always important. For patients with deficiencies and certain conditions that may affect ingestion or absorption of nutrients, nutritional IV therapy is often an excellent option.
Nutritional IV Therapy Popularity
IV nutritional therapy has become popularized by celebrities and is advertised for everything from curing hangovers and jetlag to slowing the aging process. Many pop-up clinics and concierge services have begun offering IV therapies. These services are typically unregulated and may offer formulas touted to boost immunity. There are several drawbacks to this one-size-fits-all approach, one being that these infusions can be dangerous if administered incorrectly or mixed unsafely. It is important for consumers to realize that they should only use IV nutrition that has been ordered by their physician, compounded by a regulated pharmacy, and administered by a trained practitioner.
In contrast with unregulated retail treatments being sold and administered, physician-ordered treatments take into consideration the individual patient needs, any allergies, interaction with medication, and ability to metabolize IV vitamins. VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft exclusively compound premium, custom IV formulas prescribed by you for a specific patient.
Who Can Benefit from IV Nutritional Therapy?
Patients with known deficiencies can benefit from the fast-acting benefits of IV nutritional therapy. Oral or transdermal supplementation can take more time and benefits will not be seen as quickly. Also, for those who are deficient due to malabsorption or decreased intake, the IV route is an effective way to circumvent the digestive system and avoid those problems. A number of disorders can prevent the small intestine from absorbing the needed nutrients into the blood. When this occurs, the blanket term for it is malabsorption syndrome.
Patients who have the following conditions may also suffer from malabsorption syndrome:
- Damage to the intestine from infection, inflammation, trauma, or surgery
- Prolonged use of antibiotics
- Celiac disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Cystic fibrosis
- Lactase deficiency
- Congenital defects such as biliary atresia
- Diseases of the gallbladder, liver, or pancreas
- Parasitic diseases
- Radiation therapy that may damage the intestinal lining
- Certain drugs that may injure the lining of the intestine, such as tetracycline, colchicine, or cholestyramine
- Inability to produce needed enzymes for digestion of certain foods.
- Short bowel syndrome
Customized nutritional IV therapy may be needed to combat a specific deficiency or a combination of several. Optimizing nutrition is important for many functions in the body, immunity being one of them. Without a healthy immune system, those fighting off illnesses are even more prone to secondary infections and complications.
It is important to know that, like any medical treatment, IV nutritional therapy is not without some risk:
- IV sites require a catheter inserted into the vein via a needle venipuncture.
- This procedure is invasive and carries a risk of infection.
- A rare complication of an IV injection is an air embolism, when air is inadvertently injected, which can be fatal.
- Also rarely, a blood clot can form in the vein around an IV catheter, which can cause injury and death.
- Some preparations can be irritating to the vein and surrounding tissue, causing burning, itching, and redness.
- Some infusions cause the body to have a warm or flushed feeling.
- Clients can have allergic reactions to components of infusions, which can be severe.
Fortunately, when done by a licensed prescriber with experience and training, nutritional IV therapy treatments are safe and very effective.
Common Immunity-Boosting Vitamins
For the purposes of boosting immunity, protein and many nutrients including trace minerals are needed. However, for the purposes of IV supplementation, four nutrients are commonly given: vitamin C, zinc, B-complex, and vitamin D3.
High-Dose Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that functions as a key antioxidant. It was widely publicized as a possible cure for COVID-19; however, research studies did not conclude its effectiveness in that context. Regardless, high-dose vitamin C has shown some promise as a cancer treatment and is still being studied.
Availability of vitamin C in foods is usually not a problem in developed countries, as citrus fruits and other rich sources are readily accessible. Despite that, a significant number of people are still vitamin C deficient. A 2020 article from the National Cancer Institute states that approximately 7 percent of the United States population has a plasma vitamin C concentration of less than 11μM, which is a level that is considered scurvy. Long periods of low vitamin C levels can have many adverse effects, including increased susceptibility to disease.
People with zinc deficiency experience an increased susceptibility to a variety of infections. Zinc plays an important role in the normal development and production of neutrophils and natural killer cells. It also strengthens the skin barrier, the body’s first defense against disease.
Zinc deficiency prevents the development of acquired immunity by preventing the growth and activation of T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, antibodies, cytokine production, and phagocytosis. Nearly every primary and secondary process of the complex human immune system is negatively affected by a zinc deficiency.
A large body of research supports IV zinc supplementation for adjunct treatment of critical illnesses and to supplement the immune system.
B-complex is a combination of all of the essential water-soluble B-vitamins, including:
- B1 – thiamine
- B2 – riboflavin
- B3 – niacin
- B5 – pantothenic acid
- B6 – pyroxidine
- Folic acid
- B12 – cyanocobalamin
The B vitamins are important building blocks for many metabolic functions, the production of proteins, and the production of normal blood cells and nerves. Malabsorption of B-vitamins can occur with age and is relatively common.
We’ll be taking a closer look at the importance of B vitamins in next month’s blog post.
Vitamin D3 deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies among developed countries. As more jobs require inside office work, more people don’t get enough vitamin-D producing sunlight. COVID-19 has created even more at-home time, adding to the problem.
Vitamin D3 plays an important role in autoimmunity, and supplementation may be surprisingly beneficial for those suffering from autoimmune disorders. It is also important for calcium absorption and homeostasis. Vitamin D receptor cells have been studied and show many more functions, including roles in cancer prevention and lymphocyte production.
The Myers’ cocktail is a formulation based on the research of John Myers, MD who used a specific combination to boost immunity and fight a host of clinical conditions like fibromyalgia, migraines, upper respiratory tract infections, and chronic allergies. The formula consists of magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin C.
Custom Compounding with VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft
A holistic approach to immune support and disease-specific treatments requires a customized solution. Nutritional IV therapy can help patients with a variety of needs, while maximizing absorption and speed of delivery. Most treatments can be delivered by a nurse or physician as an IV bag infusion over 45 to 60 minutes. Some treatments can be prepared as an IV push preparation, which takes between 15 and 20 minutes and minimizes extra fluid intake.
As a 503A pharmacy specializing in sterile and non-sterile compounding, we will support you and your patients by creating safe, individualized, and effective pharmaceutical therapies. For men and women at any age, feeling healthy, confident, and comfortable is of the utmost importance. Your patients’ needs will change with each life stage. As such, they require an adaptive and personalized treatment plan. By working with a trusted compounding pharmacy like VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft, you are expanding the possibilities for successful and sustainable care.
Reach out to our team to learn about best practices and to partner with our experts on custom compounded medications, including nutritional IV therapy, for your patients.
All medications from VLS Pharmacy and New Drug Loft are prepared in a lab that follows safety and quality standards per our status as a 503A pharmacy.
- A closer look at nutritional IV therapy
- The importance of vitamin supplementation during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Our strong commitment to prescribers and their patients for the year ahead