Conceived 40 years ago by Baltimore physician, Dr. John Myers, MD, the vitamin injection therapy (Myers Cocktail) has been a mainstay of treatment for many medical and naturopathic doctors alike. The types of treatments vary considerably from patient to patient, often specifically designed for each individuals needs. The common thread of this therapy is direct to blood administration of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Why would we even consider such invasive treatments when we could just get our nutrients from food?
Well, the answer to that question is 3-fold:
1. Most people are not eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals on a daily basis.
Did you eat your 13 cups of spinach today? That is how much you would need to get your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Magnesium, a common mineral added to IV therapy. The reality is that the quality of our food sources is rapidly declining, and so too the density of nutrients. Added to that is a collective diet that is consistently moving towards decreased fruits and vegetable and we find ourselves in need of more aggressive ways to get nutrients into our bodies.
2. Many people have compromised digestion and cannot properly absorb nutrients from food.
Anyone that is under stress of any kind is going to have a more difficult time digesting their food. When our nervous system perceives stress, it causes us to operate under our sympathetic branch, which is programed to re-allocate blood out of our digestive tract and into our brain and muscles. Since the beginning, humans have evolved this way so that we could effectively survive the prehistoric world. You do not want to have to deal with digesting food when you have to run away from a lion. So, even if you did eat 13 cups of spinach, you probably did not absorb all the magnesium you needed!
3. Many vitamins and minerals act as pharmaceuticals at higher doses.
There are a number of conditions that have been shown to improve with treatment of vitamins and minerals that are given in higher amounts than the typical RDA. For example, Vitamin C is a potent antiviral and antihistamine but to see dramatic effects you require a plasma concentration that is simply not reachable with oral supplementation. Magnesium given intravenously promotes relaxation of smooth muscle, which can be useful in the treatment of angina and asthma. IV nutrient therapy does come with some risk, but it is in general much safer than traditional drug therapy.