Vail Daily column: IV vitamins show promise as cancer treatment |

Vail Daily column: IV vitamins show promise as cancer treatment

Dr. Scott Brandt
Thrive MD
Dr. Scott Brandt

The use of vitamin therapy for the treatment of disease dates back to the 1970s and Linus Paulings’ work with mega-vitamin treatments to cure heart disease. Vitamins and nutrients delivered intravenously (by IV) are absorbed directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the gastrointestinal tract, and are therefore 100 percent bio-available. This delivery method helps to achieve optimum concentrations of key nutrients that cannot be attained through oral supplementation.

Patients receiving these alternative therapies do so as an office-based procedure while sitting in a comfortable recliner where they can read, watch TV or surf the Internet as the infusion drips in during the course of one to two hours.

There are numerous IV therapies that are designed to provide general nutritional replenishment, improve post-surgical healing and diminish the effects of the common cold, as well as advanced therapies for the treatment of cancer.

Vitamin C benefits

In recent years, clinical trials have demonstrated positive affects of both IV vitamin C as well as IV artesunate (used in malarial drugs) in combating a variety of cancers and improving survival rates. IV vitamin C is a dramatically different drug than its oral form and can reach significantly higher plasma levels than the orally ingested vitamin. IV vitamin C infusions have a number of clinical applications including the use of high doses as a therapeutic tool in combating cancer.

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High doses of vitamin C, in the ranges of 25-75 grams per day, work selectively as an oxidant. At these concentrations, the oxidative process is lethal to cancer cells. High doses delivered intravenously act by increasing extracellular hydrogen peroxide levels deep in the tissues where cancer cells lurk.

Peroxide-mediated killing is a primary mechanism by which white blood cells fight infection and cancer. In high concentrations, hydrogen peroxide damages the DNA and mitochondria of cancer cells, shutting down their energy supply and leading to cell death. The beauty of vitamin C is that no matter how high the concentration gets, it does not harm healthy cells.

High dose IV vitamin C therapy is purely oxidative and contains only minerals needed to specifically balance electrolytes. Antioxidants such as glutathione and B vitamins, which have a role in the supportive care of cancer, and their antioxidant affects are often part of a comprehensive care plan. However, they must not be given on the same day as high dose IV vitamin C therapy lest the oxidative capacity be lowered. IV vitamin C can safely be administered while patients are undergoing chemo and radiation, both synergistically improving outcomes as well as diminishing the side affects of the traditional therapies.

A malaria drug used to fight cancer

Lab, animal and human studies reveal that this therapy is effective against many types of cancer, including lung, brain, colon, breast, pancreatic and ovarian. It has been shown to decrease tumor size and prolong survival rates. Both these affects can be intensified when used in combination with additional agents such as artesunate.

Artesunate is a botanical drug that was initially designed to combat malaria and has recently shown great promise as a cancer therapy. It has been used in combination with some chemotherapies to improve outcomes in advanced cancers. Artesunate is another weapon in the arsenal of natural remedies that can make a significant difference in the fight against cancer.

The mechanism of action for artesunate in treating cancer has been well defined. Cancer cells have a tendency to absorb iron at high levels, which is thought to increase the mutation rate in these cells. Artesunate uses the iron within the cancer cells to kill the cells.

IV artesunate is often administered right before high dose IV vitamin C and there is evidence that the therapies work synergistically together. Research performed at the Bastyr Integrative Oncology Research Center studied IV vitamin C in combination with artesunate. The results demonstrated that the group of patients with stage 4 breast cancer that did not receive IV vitamin C and artesunate had a one year survival rate of 74 percent compared to the group receiving the two drugs, which had a one year survival rate of 90 percent. At two years, the results were even more significant with the untreated group having survival rates of 68 percent compared to 90 percent in the treatment group.

A recent study published in EBioMedicine looking at the use of artesunate in the treatment of colorectal cancer showed promising results as well. Researchers estimated the survival rate beyond two years in the artesunate treated group to be 91 percent compared to the survival rate in the placebo group of 57 percent. The researchers state that artesunate showed a promising effect in slowing tumor cell proliferation in a group of colorectal cancer patients treated prior to tumor removal.

These preliminary results suggest that high dose IV vitamin C and IV artesunate improve survival rates in stage 4 breast cancer patients. Evidence is growing that the use of these two agents together are effective for a wide range of cancers. Research has shown that both artesunate and IV vitamin C can increase quality of life in addition to improving survival rates.

With offices in Vail and Aspen, Dr. Scott Brandt, of ThriveMD, specializes in bioidentical hormone therapy, IV nutrient treatments and adult stem cell procedures for joint and spine pain. For more information, call 970-766-8245 or visit

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