There are multiple routes (oral, intramuscular, subcutaneous are all examples) through which medications and nutrients can be taken into the body, and intravenous is the most direct and immediate route. We provide a number of intravenous therapies developed through the practice of Orthomolecular Medicine. In the 1960’s, biochemist Linus Pauling coined the term “Orthomolecular Medicine” in reference to the practice of applying megadoses of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and other nutrients essential to the function of the body with an aim at “correcting” imbalances or deficiencies which could be contributing to an illness or disease. Orthomolecular medicine is not necessarily meant to replace or be used instead of conventional practices such as pharmaceutical medications and surgical interventions. Rather, it is a safe means of supporting the functionality of the body with the intent of recovery from an illness or disease.
The practice of administering high doses intravenously of sodium ascorbate (a mineral salt of ascorbic acid) in a clinical setting for people diagnosed with cancer was discussed by Linus Pauling and Ewen Cameron in several seminal publications:
- Cameron, Ewan, and Linus Pauling. “Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 73.10 (1976): 3685-3689. (See article here)
- Cameron, Ewan, and Linus Pauling. “Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: reevaluation of prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 75.9 (1978): 4538-4542. (See article here)
- Cameron, Ewan, Linus Pauling, and Brian Leibovitz. “Ascorbic acid and cancer: a review.” Cancer Research 39.3 (1979): 663-681. (See article here)
These publications were then refuted in a 1979 publication by Creagan et. al. (4) however, the vitamin C in the Creagan study (10 grams) was administered orally, which differed significantly from the methods of Pauling and Cameron who administered a combination of intravenous and oral ascorbate.
4. Creagan, Edward T., et al. “Failure of high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy to benefit patients with advanced cancer: a controlled trial.” New England Journal of Medicine 301.13 (1979): 687-690.
Case Studies and In Vitro Studies
Over the ensuing decades, much, much more investigational research has been done on the application of intravenous Vitamin C in cancer care. While a select few case studies (5, 6, 7) have demonstrated possible tumor-reducing, chemotherapeutic properties, unfortunately such results are not reliably obtained. In vitro (lab) studies likewise conclude that Vitamin C has the potential to induce cell death in cancer cells (8, 9). However, other than in a limited number of case studies, Vitamin C does not reliably shrink or resolve malignant tumors. With further research and innovation, however, the use of intravenous Vitamin C as a nontoxic cancer treatment might one day be a reality.
5. Schultz, Mavis. “Case study: high-dose intravenous vitamin C in the treatment of a patient with adenocarcinoma of the kidney.” Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine 5.1 (1990). (See article here)
6. Padayatty, Sebastian J., et al. “Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases.” Canadian Medical Association Journal 174.7 (2006): 937-942. (See article here)
7. Riordan, Hugh D., et al. “Intravenous vitamin C as a chemotherapy agent: a report on clinical cases.” PR Health Sci J 23.2 (2004): 115-118. (See article here)
8. Maramag, Carlos, et al. “Effect of vitamin C on prostate cancer cells in vitro: effect on cell number, viability, and DNA synthesis.” The Prostate 32.3 (1997): 188-195. (See article here)
9. Chen, Qi, et al. “Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues.” Proceedings of the national academy of sciences of the United States of America 102.38 (2005): 13604-13609. (See article here)
Improving Quality of Life and Outcomes During and After Cancer Treatment
While not reliably chemotherapeutic in its actions, Intravenous High Dose Vitamin C (IVC) has been shown in both case studies and clinical studies to significantly improve quality of life – as well as outcomes – in patients undergoing conventional cancer therapy for breast, prostate, ovarian, pancreatic and various other cancers. Moreover, it has done so safely and without toxicity. Specific benefits include:
- Improvement in Quality of Life as related to physical, cognitive, and emotional measures (9, 10, 11, 12)
- Improvement in nausea/vomiting, appetite loss, fatigue, and pain (9)
- Decrease in inflammation which plays a role in cancer development, growth, spread, and treatment resistance (13)
- Inhibition of cancer stem cell (CSC) recruitment (14)
- Safety, tolerability, and potential efficacy in combination with radiation and chemotherapy (15)
9. Yeom, Chang Hwan, Gyou Chul Jung, and Keun Jeong Song. “Changes of terminal cancer patients’ health-related quality of life after high dose vitamin C administration.” Journal of Korean medical science 22.1 (2007): 7-11. (See article here)
10. Vollbracht, Claudia, et al. “Intravenous vitamin C administration improves quality of life in breast cancer patients during chemo-/radiotherapy and aftercare: results of a retrospective, multicentre, epidemiological cohort study in Germany.” in vivo 25.6 (2011): 983-990. (See article here)
11. Carr, Anitra C., Margreet CM Vissers, and John S. Cook. “The effect of intravenous vitamin C on cancer-and chemotherapy-related fatigue and quality of life.” Frontiers in oncology 4 (2014). (See article here)
12. Ma, Yan, et al. “High-dose parenteral ascorbate enhanced chemosensitivity of ovarian cancer and reduced toxicity of chemotherapy.” Science translational medicine 6.222 (2014): 222ra18-222ra18. (See article here)
13. Mikirova, Nina, et al. “Effect of high-dose intravenous vitamin C on inflammation in cancer patients.” Journal of translational medicine 10.1 (2012): 189. (See article here)
14. Bonuccelli, Gloria, et al. “NADH autofluorescence, a new metabolic biomarker for cancer stem cells: Identification of Vitamin C and CAPE as natural products targeting “stemness”.” Oncotarget 8.13 (2017): 20667. (See article here)
15. Schoenfeld, J. D., Sibenaller, Z. A., Mapuskar, K. A., Wagner, B. A., Cramer-Morales, K. L., Furqan, M., … & Berg, D. J. (2017). O2⋅− and H2O2-Mediated Disruption of Fe Metabolism Causes the Differential Susceptibility of NSCLC and GBM Cancer Cells to Pharmacological Ascorbate. Cancer Cell, 31(4), 487-500. (See article here)
Renal impairment and a deficiency in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase are the only two known risk factors for withholding intravenous high dose Vitamin C. G6PD levels should always be checked via blood before administering intravenous high dose Vitamin C, as death could result in a person with deficient levels due to a rare genetic condition. In a survey of physicians who administered IVC to 11,233 patients in 2006 and 8,876 patients in 2008, researchers reported that the most common indications for administration of IVC were infection, cancer, and fatigue. The researchers also reported that,”Of 9,328 patients for whom data is available, 101 had side effects, mostly minor, including lethargy/fatigue in 59 patients, change in mental status in 21 patients and vein irritation/phlebitis in 6 patients” concluding that “high dose intravenous Vitamin C appears to be remarkably safe” (10).
10. Padayatty, Sebastian J., et al. “Vitamin C: intravenous use by complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and adverse effects.” PLoS One 5.7 (2010): e11414. (See article here)