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Vitamin Therapy

September 21, 2010

For the general entry on Alternative Medicine, click here

The Claims

Megavitamin therapy is an alternative medicine practice that involves the intravenous (IV) administration of high doses of vitamins in the treatment or prevention of various diseases. In contrast to the oral administration of multivitamins, IV megavitamin doses often far exceed recommended daily intake (RDI). It is suggested that the administration of rapid infusions and high doses of megavitamins exerts beneficial effects by forcing the vitamins and minerals to cells, thus becoming “trapped” within the cell resulting in long-lasting effects.

The most common form of megavitamin therapy is Myer’s cocktail, which is composed of a mixture of high dose vitamins and minerals, most commonly consisting of magnesium chloride, calcium gluconate, hydroxocobalamin (B12), pyridoxine hydrochloride (B6), dexpanthenol (B5), other vitamins of the B family and vitamin C. IV administration of Myer’s cocktail is suggested to alleviate various conditions including asthma, migraines, fatigue, upper respiratory infections, allergies, fibromyalgia, anxiety, depression and cardiovascular disease.

The Evidence

Theoretical Plausibility

There exist no published studies to support the theory behind the beneficial mechanism of IV megavitimin theory. Although IV megavitamin therapy results in serum concentrations much higher than can be obtained by oral administration, no evidence exists to suggest that these higher concentrations result in any additional benefits.

Experimental Evidence
Though experimental evidence exists to support the use of some types of vitamin therapy in the treatment of specific conditions, such as IV therapy with magnesium for asthma or vitamins therapy in the treatment of nutritional deficiencies, research demonstrating the effectiveness of multivitamin therapy in the treatment of the various conditions noted above is lacking. Research that has shown the benefits of Myer’s Cocktail follow individual case studies, which from a scientific standpoint are unreliable. With the exception of one study that showed no significant benefit of IV megavitamin therapy in the treatment of fibromyalgia compared to placebo, no double-blind placebo controlled studies (the gold standard of scientific research) on the effectiveness of megavitamin therapy have been conducted to date.

Conclusion

Many of the conditions that may purportedly be treated by IV megavitamin therapy have been shown to be difficult to treat using conventional medicine, thus resulting in the appeal of alternative treatments. Nonetheless, there exists a decisive lack of evidence supporting the efficacy of megavitamin therapy in the treatment of such conditions. Notably, as megadoses of some vitamins have shown to be harmful and sometimes toxic effects, the evidence suggests that IV megavitamin therapy may pose higher risk than it does benefit.

Links

Ali, A., Nijke, V.Y., Northrup, V., Sabina, A.B., Williams, A.-L., Liberti, L.S., Perlman, A.I., Adelson, H., & Katz, D.L.  (2009).  Intravenous micronutrient therapy (Myers’ Cocktail) for fibromyalgia: A placebo controlled pilot study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 15, 247-257; 887-889.

Barrett, S. (2008). High Doses of vitamin C are not effective as a cancer treatment. QuachWatch,http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/c.html

Clarallo, L., Sauer, A.H. and Shannon, M.W.  (1996).  Intravenous magnesium therapy for moderate to severe pediatric asthma: results of a randomized placebo-controlled trial.  The Journal of Pediatrics 129, 809-814.

Gaby, A.R.  (2002). Intravenous nutrient therapy: The “The Myers’ Cocktail”. Alternative Medicine Review 7, 389-403.

Noppen, M. (2002). Magnesium treatment for asthma: Where do we stand? Chest, 396-398.

Saleeby, J.P. (2009). The Myer’s Cocktail IV infusion. E-Zine Articles, http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Myers-Cocktail-IV-Infusion&id=3123197

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2011 9:07 PM

    Look what happened Michael Jackson.

  2. March 12, 2011 9:37 AM

    High dose vitamin therapy (whether oral or IV) has a proven safety record greater than many OTC medications. Adding this for balance.

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