As much as I recommend supplementing many essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, I’ll admit that sometimes swallowing a capsule or two just isn’t enough to get the job done.
It’s impossible to get anywhere near the serum levels of vitamins that you can get intravenously if you take the oral route.
And the higher you can get your levels in the blood plasma means the more nutrients that get ‘pushed’ into the cells of the tissues – and that’s where you need them most.
Many times, the higher concentration of nutrients in the tissues can ‘kick-start’ metabolism in the cells… give you more energy… and boost your immunity.
You can become practically impervious to disease!
This is the same phenomenon as the use of vitamin C and cancer: the same dose of vitamin C taken intravenously provides vastly higher serum (and tissue) levels than taken orally.
In one study, IVC increased plasma vitamin C by 12 times, while the equivalent oral doses increased the plasma by only a fraction.1
Likewise, magnesium levels are several times higher when administered via the IV route, as compared to oral magnesium.
But there are many nutrients that have been shown to address fatigue and fight disease and infections – and there’s one particular ‘cocktail’ that was pioneered over a half-century ago that not only do we still use today, but that’s being progressively optimised as more doctors catch on to its healing powers.
Who shot first?
It’s said that all creative people stand on the shoulders of those who came before them. That’s certainly as true in the field of integrative medicine as it is in any other field of science.
Even the most innovative and experienced physicians don’t get their ideas out of nowhere!
So, when it comes to intravenous nutrients, I’ve got to tip my hat to the late Dr. John Myers, a family physician who practised in the Baltimore area for decades in the mid-20th century.
During that time, he developed a unique treatment for the hundreds of patients that came to him with such symptoms as fatigue and muscle and joint aching.
It turns out that many of these patients had what is now known as chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia; but many others had acute or chronic infections, digestive and respiratory disturbances, or sleep problems.
To treat them, Dr. Myers took a 10-ml syringe filled with an infusion of various B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, and calcium and slowly pushed those nutrients into a vein in the patient’s arm over the course of five to 10 minutes.
Until his death in 1984, Dr. Myers treated hundreds of patients with this therapy monthly, weekly, or even more often – over the course of more than 25 years.
When he passed away, Dr. Myers’ patients continued to seek this treatment that had been so helpful to them – and, fortunately, they came upon a young physician in the area who was curious and bold enough to begin trying out this exciting and incredibly healing therapy.
That was Dr. Alan Gaby, also a family doctor, who adjusted the measurements of the Myers recipe to include magnesium chloride (20%) and vitamin C (22.2%, 2.5gm or more).
Dr. Gaby also expanded the list of problems that could be treated with the ‘Myers’ Cocktail’ (or MC, as he named it, in acknowledgement of Dr. Myers) to include asthma and allergy (including hives), anxiety and depression, cardiovascular illness, and migraines, among other conditions.
By Dr. Gaby’s own estimates, he’s administered over 15,000 MCs with great success and minimal side effects.2
For the past 25 years, Dr. Gaby has trained thousands of integrative medicine physicians in the use of this unique therapy. (In fact, some people refer to the therapy as the ‘Myers’-Gaby’s Cocktail.’)
And I’m one of them. But more on that in a moment.
Don’t run out of nutrients when you’re run down
Thousands of doctors have now incorporated this therapy into their practices but despite the strength of their anecdotal and empirical successes, very little clinical research has focused on the Myers’ Cocktail and its many uses.
But what is out there in the scientific literature is encouraging, to say the least.
In one 2007 pilot study, patients with fibromyalgia who were given Myers’ Cocktails for eight weeks showed a highly significant improvement in pain and in fatigue (P=0.005) and a large improvement in activities of daily life, compared to the untreated group.3
In terms of the cocktail’s individual components, researchers have most often studied intravenous magnesium and vitamin C.
Besides the fact that many conditions, including chronic fatigue, are known to be associated with decreased tissue levels of magnesium (which says to me that infusing more magnesium would address the energy issue), more and more emergency rooms are using IV magnesium for cardiovascular and respiratory difficulties.
Studies of intravenous magnesium have confirmed its efficacy in alleviating chronic pain (including helping patients need fewer opioid painkillers after surgery), reducing cardiovascular problems (heart attacks, strokes) and arrhythmias including atrial fibrillation, and addressing high blood pressure (hypertension).
It’s also regularly used on women during labour to treat the blood pressure spikes and seizures associated with eclampsia.
One large meta-analysis of studies noted that intravenous magnesium sulphate relieved asthma in both adults and children via various mechanisms, including:4
- Relaxed smooth muscle around the bronchi
- Inhibited mast cell degranulation (thus lessening inflammation and allergic reactivity)
- Stabilized T cells
- Relaxed muscle fibre excitability
- Stimulated nitric oxide (thereby relaxing vessels and reducing severity of asthmatic attacks)
Pulmonary function (lung function) was also significantly improved no matter the age group, but children in particular saw a drop in hospital admissions.
As for vitamin C, I’ve previously shared the use of high-dose vitamin C in cancer therapy and other immune system issues. Studies have also demonstrated an antiviral effect of vitamin C at high tissue levels (which you can only get intravenously and not by taking oral supplements).
In a 2012 study published in Nutrition Journal, office workers given IVC were found to have significantly improved energy within two hours (P=0.004) and the effects lasted the entire day.5
At the Rothfeld Center for Integrative Medicine, we find IVC in particular very useful in fatigue states, when they’re associated with viruses. IVC is one of our first-line therapies in teens who experience the extreme fatigue of an infection of mononucleosis (caused by a virus, as I shared with you in the February 2017 issue of Nutrition & Healing).
We even use it when someone is just run-down!
Although the other ingredients in the Myers’ Cocktail have not been studied as much in isolation, there’s a lot of data that shows that multiple diseases are associated with reduced tissue levels (and outright deficiencies) of multiple nutrients as well.
Make fatigue just a memory
At my clinic, I almost always do extensive laboratory testing after the initial patient visit; and in the ensuing few weeks until I see them again to review the lab results, I frequently give them weekly infusions of the Myers’ Cocktail.
More often than not, the patient is feeling more energy and less pain by the time I see them for the second visit!
I’ve probably administered over 50,000 Myers’ Cocktails and similar intravenous nutrient infusions over the past 30 years.
In addition to extreme cases like mono and even fibromyalgia (which, in my office, has been helped by weekly infusions of the Myers’ Cocktail in terms of measurements of pain,
sleep, and overall well-being),
I use it regularly for any disease or illness in which fatigue is a symptom.
Because of the unwieldiness of the IV push using a syringe, I now use a 50-ml sterile water infusion drip containing the mixture of magnesium, calcium, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), vitamin B6, B complex, trace minerals, zinc, and (sometimes) selenium.
Not only is intravenous nutrient therapy a useful tool in disease management, but Myers’ Cocktail therapy can help you maintain your good health and performance even if you’re not sick OR tired! For instance, we’ve had a number of athletes come in for a nutrient boost during their sports season.
A few of our athlete patients have even felt it helpful in the recovery from concussions.
Years ago, I was hired by the leader of a famous rock band to get him Myers’ Cocktail therapy while he was touring. There’s nothing like being out on the road – living the rock-and-roll lifestyle – to really sap your energy!
And, thanks to those Myers’ Cocktails, the show did go on!
If it can work on these people who literally take a beating to their bodies for a living, imagine what it can do for you. Whether your energy has plummeted after a viral infection… you’re worn out from some chronic disease… or you’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired… I urge you to consult a doctor who’s well-versed in nutritional medicine about getting some much-needed nutrients delivered straight to the tissues that need them.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly Nutrition and Healing issue in which this article appears.