Medicine: Intravenous Vitamin C

We are happy to announce that we are all set to offer intravenous vitamin C at our office here in San Francisco, according to the Kansas University protocol, to our patients.  As many of you probably already know, vitamin C has a fairly long and controversial history as a medicine for cancer, heart disease, infectious disease, adrenal gland issues, and many other health problems.  In the 1960s, as a result of the work of Linus Pauling there were many reports that high dose vitamin C therapy was a safe and effective cancer medicine.  There were multiple reports of its therapeutic success, which eventually led to a couple of studies done at the Mayo clinic in Minnesota.  To the surprise of many, the reports on the effectiveness of high dose vitamin C therapy were disappointing and this seemingly relegated this promising therapy to the long list of promising but ultimately ineffective therapies.  The problem with the studies was that Pauling’s work on vitamin C for cancer was done with intravenous vitamin C whereas the Mayo Clinic studies used high dose oral vitamin C.  At the time, it was thought that the absorption of vitamin C from the gut was so high that the delivery system should not matter that much.   Some thirty years later, we know differently and in fact research has recently been able to show that the delivery method in fact is the key to its effectiveness.

When vitamin C is ingested orally, the absorption is tightly regulated and limited.  This has only been able to be demonstrated with the advent of the ability to measure and follow serum vitamin C levels.   At the modest levels one is able to achieve with oral vitamin C, it acts in the well-known fashion as an antioxidant and vital nutrient.  At the 100 fold higher levels that are achievable through the IV route the action of vitamin C is completely different.  In this case, vitamin C acts as a “pro-drug”, meaning it delivers a substance to the cells, in this case preferentially to the cancer cells, that is converted in the environment of the cancer cells into hydrogen peroxide, a pro-oxidant, that is highly toxic to these cancer cells.   Two other things are at work here; the first is that ascorbic acid is rapidly taken up by cancer cells as compared to non-cancer cells due to its chemical similarity to glucose, the only fuel source for the cancer cell, and secondly, cancer cells lack the enzyme catalase meaning they have a difficult time breaking down the ascorbic acid, effectively increasing the local concentration of ascorbic acid in the environment of the cancer.   These facts translate high dose IV vitamin C into a completely safe and often effective cancer cell killing therapy.

There are many cases and research papers that go into great detail about the mechanisms of action for IV vitamin C and the history of its use.  As time goes on we will post more of these on our site, but for now a Google search of IV vitamin C therapy will provide you with much information about its rationale, studies and use.   I have chosen to follow the Kansas protocol for IV use as it seems to be the most effective, has the clearest guidelines, and the most rationale approach.   This protocol involves administration of IV vitamin C twice per week in increasing doses as determined by analysis of the blood levels immediately following therapy.  Once optimal blood levels are achieved the same dose is given until one determines the clinical, x-ray and blood test response.  If a remission is achieved then the therapy is continued often for 6 months to a maximum of 2 years in an attempt to change the entire course of the illness.

The beauty of this therapy is that it meets a need that is often lacking in the holistic approach to cancer patients.   Dietary intervention, mistletoe, pancreatic enzymes, low dose naltrexone, etc., are good at stimulating a healthy immune response, which, when there is time, can be enough.   When faced with an urgent situation, the IV vitamin C, which can also be used along with chemotherapy if needed, provides a rapid cell-killing effect, which is often needed to compliment the immune/diet therapies.

There is no CSH for this treatment, but we offer the lowest rates possible at this time.