Intravenous Vitamins and Treating Fatigue

I have been using intravenous and intramuscular vitamin and mineral therapies with my patients for over 3 decades with gratifying results. In many patients, oral supplementation is not enough to impact the underlying biochemical issues,especially in long standing fatigue. IV and IM therapies bring much higher levels of key nutrients right to the cells, bypassing absorption issues and the liver's clearance of nutrients. 

Even though these therapies have been used by integrative physicians for decades, it’s only now that studies are being done to identify the benefits of IV therapy.  For example, one study points out that one effect of high dose IV Vit C is lowered oxidative stress, a damaging process to cell membranes and DNA that contributes to fatigue and poor health. (In our practice in addition to Vitamin C we use other potent anti-oxidants-glutathione, taurine, selenium, magnesium and amino acids to further lower oxidative stress.)

In addition to antioxidants, magnesium is a key ingredient in the IV mixtures. It is a critical nutrient in energy production, needed for transport of electrolytes across cell membranes as well as  inducing the production of glutathione, the key antioxidant for the brain. In addition, glutathione itself in the IV has shown great benefits not only in fatigue, but problems such as multiple sclerosis, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

Following are summaries of two studies that found significant benefits of IV vitamins on fatigue and general well-being. One  study published in the Nutrition Journal is titled: Intravenous Vitamin C administration reduces fatigue in office workers: a double-blind randomized controlled trial.  This study demonstrated significant results in the ability of IV therapy to reduce levels of fatigue in full-time workers. They gave 10 grams of IV Vit C to 140 office workers and measured fatigue score and oxidative stress score. Compared to placebo, there was significant improvement in both fatigue and oxidative stress, an important marker of cellular health (Vit C is a strong anti-oxidant) The fatigue improvement lasted for several days, probably from lowered oxidative stress. The study also points out that fatigue is one of the most common complaints for working adults. 

Another recent study was one of the first clinical studies to examine the effects of vitamin C IV therapy on infection with Epstein-Barr virus, often associated with chronic fatigue. The researchers evaluated data from 35 men and women diagnosed with chronic fatigue or other conditions who had Epstein-Barr virus antibodies measured before and after treatment with IV vitamin C.

Almost all of the 35 subjects showed improvement and all had lower levels of antibodies to the Epstein-Barr virus following IV vitamin C treatment. For example, levels of IgG antibodies to the virus’s early diffuse antigen (EBV EA IgG) decreased on average by almost a half. The more sessions of vitamin C IV therapy the patients had, the greater their decline in EBV EA IgG levels. Those who had five or more sessions had a significantly greater percent decrease in antibodies over time in comparison with infected people who did not receive intravenous vitamin C.

The researchers also discovered that those who had higher blood levels of vitamin C before the start of treatment had lower antibody levels before treatment was initiated, indicating that vitamin C may have been helping control the viral infection all along. Furthermore, they found evidence that the patients with greater infection burdens may have been more significantly vitamin-C depleted and seemed to require more of the vitamin to replenish their tissue levels.

These studies point out the key role IV therapy plays in recovering from both viral induced chronic fatigue syndrome, and the more common chronically tired person. For most of my patients, they find the IV an easy experience, painless and pleasant with few side effects.  

Intramuscular Injections for Fatigue

In some cases we can use intramuscular magnesium and B vitamins for fatigue if the IV’s are impractical, though we have limits on what can be injected compared to the IV  Like the IV therapy, IM shots increase tissue levels of nutrients more efficiently than oral supplementation. For fatigue I often use the following injections:

  • Magnesium sulfate which increases energy production, relaxes smooth muscle in blood vessels (helpful for migraine headaches, high blood pressure, asthma, cramps) and is a crirtical cofactor in over 200 enzymes preventing cardiac arrythmias and sudden death
  • B12, either methylcobalamin or hydroxycobalamine depending on genetics (MTHFR status) which increases BDNF and energy production in the brain and nervous system
  • B Complex required for neurological health and cellular energy production
  • Folate, a key ingredient in methylation and control of gene expression