Receiving a cancer diagnosis is often followed by rigorously prescribed treatments, like chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, that all focus on fighting the cancer. At Infuse Life we concentrate on the programs, treatments and services that focus on you.
During your cancer care journey we will help you find the alternative methods, therapies and naturopathic medicines that will support your medical treatments and assist in quality of life. The health benefits may be anything from increasing energy to decreasing chemo side effects, or from improving nutrition to decreasing stress and balancing emotional mood swings.
As effective as chemotherapy and radiation can be in the treatment of cancer, both come with a wide variety of well-known side effects. Nausea, vomiting and gastrointestinal symptoms are common, because rapidly dividing cells of the mucous membranes of the mouth, stomach and the intestines are often destroyed along with the cancer cells. Similarly, fatigue and anemia can occur when rapidly dividing cells of the bone marrow—which make red and white blood cells—get depleted.
The ingredients in this IV, when administered at the right time in conjunction with a comprehensive treatment plan provided by your oncologist, can help mitigate some of these side effects. B vitamins and minerals, which are essential in cellular DNA formation, gene expression, neurotransmitter formation and energy production are included to provide support to these fundamental biochemical processes. And powerful antioxidants like vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid and glutathione can be added to help “mop-up” the increased oxidative burden that comes with cancer and its treatment after radiation and chemotherapy.
We encourage you to discuss the use of this IV with your treating oncologist—especially when including antioxidants—as the timing and use of these agents is important and sometimes controversial in overall treatment (see below for more details).
Chemotherapy and radiation treatment create a huge increase in demand for new essential nutrients. This happens because “innocent bystander” tissues are damaged during treatment and new cells must be made to regenerate these tissues.
B-Complex, B1, B2, B3, B9 (folate), B6, B12, and minerals such as magnesium and manganese are especially important as they are necessary for the Citric Acid Cycle (also called the Krebs or TCA cycle) which is how your metabolism operates and energy is produced in your body. These nutrients also play an indispensable role in methylation—the process by which your body generates the carbon groups(C-H3) that are essential for managing just about every operation in every cell in the human body. Methylation is involved in immune system function, DNA synthesis, neurotransmitter production, hormone metabolism, detoxification and energy creation to name just a few.
This is why the basic form of this IV is built on these key B vitamins and minerals. Providing your body high doses of these nutrients while you undergo chemotherapy and radiation provides your body the support during this time of increased demand.
With your oncologist’s approval we can also add powerful antioxidants to the IV which may further mitigate side effects. To understand why this works, we need to know a little bit about how radiation and chemotherapeutic agents work.
The actual mechanism that drives these treatments is the generation of free radicals. Free radicals are toxic oxidative substances such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). When the generation of ROS/RNS exceeds cellular adaptive and repair capacities—a condition that is referred to as oxidative stress—biological molecules such as nucleic acids, proteins, and membrane phospholipids become damaged through oxidative reactions. Oxidative stress results in the failure of normal cellular functions and even cell death.
This is how radiation and some chemotherapeutic agents kill cancer cells. They drive up oxidative stress to the point where these cells—along with other “innocent bystanders”—are destroyed.
In order to check the activities of ROS/RNS your body evolved antioxidant systems that consist of biological antioxidants (e.g., vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione) and antioxidant enzymes (e.g., super-oxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase). However, under times of duress, these systems get easily overwhelmed and free radicals run rampant.
When you undergo chemotherapy or radiation high levels of ROS/RNS typically remain in the body even after treatment. When this happens, they may contribute to increased nervous system inflammation. In fact, research has shown this process may be the driving factor in memory and cognitive issues commonly seen after chemotherapy and radiation (1).
Giving antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid and glutathione has been controversial in cancer treatment, because many think that antioxidants neutralize the actual intended free radical damage effect of radiation and some chemotherapy in the killing of cancer cells.
Others think that these anti-oxidants are useful in cancer treatment, because they neutralize oxidation which in turn supports the proliferation of malignant cells thus adding to cancer. This view maintains that antioxidants may counter the harmful effects of oxidation in the malignant process and thereby increase the effects of drugs or radiation therapy to the benefit of the patient. Moreover, they note that some evidence suggests that antioxidant supplements offer patients protection from the toxic effects of therapy, “mopping up” the collateral damage done by these treatments.
An article published in 2007 supports this view. Researchers form the Simone Protective Cancer Institute in Lawernceville, NJ (2) “looked at 280 peer-reviewed studies, including 50 human studies involving 8,521 patients, 5,081 of whom were given nutrients have consistently shown that non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with therapeutic modalities for cancer. Furthermore, they enhance the killing of therapeutic modalities for cancer, decrease their side effects, and protect normal tissue. In 15 human studies, 3,738 patients who took non-prescription antioxidants and other nutrients actually had increased survival”.
More recently, the epicenter of dual treatment of cancer with conventional treatments (chemotherapy and radiation) AND vitamins C has been The University of Kansas Hospital. Dr. Qi Chen has conducted several human trials showing the effectiveness of High Dose Vitamin C as an oxidant alongside chemotherapy.
Dr. Weil’s summarized the answer to the question of antioxidant use in cancer in 2006 this way:
“As things now stand, we need more research before we can confidently advise patients one way or another. However, I posed (this question) to Donald Abrams, M.D., an integrative oncologist at the University of San Francisco and a graduate of the associate fellowship at the Program on Integrative Medicine here at the University of Arizona. Dr. Abrams told me that questions about antioxidants are the most frequent ones he gets. In the absence of strong evidence, he now advises patients as follows:
Ultimately the decision to use antioxidants as an adjunct to alleviate cancer treatment and side effects is a personal decision which should be arrived at with careful consideration of risk and benefits with one’s oncology doctor.
Deprived of vitamin C, your body falls apart at the very root. In extreme cases you end up with a condition called scurvy that involves bleeding, hair and tooth loss, joint pain and swelling, and eventually death.
Fortunately, even small amounts of vitamin C from foods like oranges and lemons prevents this condition. Unfortunately, food and oral supplements usually aren’t enough to achieve optimal health.
You see, only about 18% of the vitamin C we consume is absorbed by our bodies. However, when it’s delivered by IV, vitamin C is 100% bioavailable. That means you can support your adrenal glands, maintain energy levels, improve and protect your skin, strengthen tendons and bones, boost your immune system and fight chemotherapy / radiation side effects with the power of high dose vitamin C.
High dose vitamin C is especially useful any time you are under greater than usual amounts of stress, feeling excessive fatigue, when your immune system needs bolstering to fight acute or chronic viral and bacterial infections, when your skin needs to be restored to glowing conditions such as after sun damage or surgery and to help improve the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy like fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
Vitamin C (ascorbate)
Vitamin C has such broad applications because it is a key factor in collagen production (skin, blood vessels, ligaments and bones), adrenalin and carnitine synthesis (energy), it directly boosts the immune system, and it has a potent antioxidant function. So, let’s look at each of these in turn.
Collagen is the structural protein found in all animal tissue. It holds our muscles to our bones, provides structural support for veins and arteries, and more.
Vitamin C is required for collagen synthesis along with the amino acids proline and lysine (1). When you don’t have enough collagen, you may have thin skin and weaker blood vessels, bones, tendons and ligaments. This can lead to aneurysms (blood vessel wall thinning), possible stroke, and even the ruptured ligaments and tendons commonly seen in sports injuries.
High doses of vitamin C when administered by IV can bolster skin and connective tissue and prevent these outcomes.
Vitamin C is required in the breakdown of fat for energy use. It takes part in the synthesis of a molecule called carnitine which serves as a shuttle bringing fats into the mitochondria in our cells for energy production.
This means it can have a powerful influence on our energy levels. For example, a 2011 scientific study showed high dose (10 grams) vitamin C given by IV reduced fatigue in office workers after 2 hours and continued its effect for 24 hours (2)
Vitamin C may have a direct effect against infectious agents like bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells. (The use of Vitamin C in cancer is still controversial but is being studied and is promising… read more below.) At very high doses it can generate peroxide (H2O2) which may account for this effect.
Before the polio vaccine, vitamin C was used as a high dose intramuscular injection every 8 hours in the treatment of polio with some success. More recently in mice genetically modified to lose the ability to make vitamin C, external vitamin C was shown to increase the mice’s ability to increase anti-influenza cytokines (powerful immune system cells) and fight influenza virus infections (3).
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps protect cell structures like collagen, proteins, and DNA from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are common in high stress states, chronic illness and infections.
Research has shown that the antioxidant properties of vitamin C can reduce the severity of symptoms associated with H1N1 influenza virus and is considered an important add-on therapy in surviving the flu (4).
Cancer and Chemotherapy
The role of vitamin C as a therapy for cancer is very controversial. No large-scale studies have been done to definitively conclude one way or another if vitamin C has a role in the treatment of cancer. Here is what we do know:
Some of the most active treatment and research for the use of high dose IV vitamin C is coming out of The Riordan Clinic in Wichita, Kansas where they have been using it for decades. The clinic has published a well-known protocol that has become a standard for scientific studies on high dose IV vitamin C. This protocol is what we follow in our clinic, and can be accessed here.
In addition, the University of Kansas Medical Center is also actively researching the use of high dose IV vitamin C in cancer, and has a full-time clinic with 10 chairs and 2 isolation rooms dedicated solely to the treatment of cancer patients with this therapy.
Lastly, the US Government NIH National Cancer Institute publishes updated information on the current state of research and knowledge on the use of high dose IV vitamin C in the treatment of cancer. This can be accessed here.
Vitamin C (ascorbate) is a powerful antioxidant and several critical enzymes require vitamin C in the synthesis of collagen from proline and lysine. Vitamin C is, therefore, required for the maintenance of normal connective tissue as well as for wound healing since synthesis of connective tissue is the first event in wound tissue remodeling. Vitamin C is also necessary for bone remodeling due to the presence of collagen in the organic matrix of bones.
Vitamin C is required for conversion of tyrosine to epinephrine (adrenalin), and the synthesis of the bile. It is present in high amounts in the adrenal gland cortex and these levels are depleted after adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation of the gland and synthesis of the stress hormone cortisol, which is why it’s important to replete vitamin C level during times of high stress.