Vitamin C IV's

Vitamin C Infusion Therapy

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WHAT IS ASCORBATE THERAPY?

Ascorbate therapy involves the administration of a high dose of Vitamin C through intravenous application.

​*High-Dose Vitamin C (PDQ®)–Health Professional Version was originally published by the National Cancer Institute.

Vitamin C (also called L-ascorbic acid or ascorbate) is a nutrient that humans must get from food or dietary supplements since it cannot be made in the body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps prevent oxidative stress. It also works with enzymes to play a key role in making collagen. When taken by intravenous (IV) infusion, vitamin C can reach much higher levels in the blood than when it is taken by mouth. Studies suggest that these higher levels of vitamin C may cause the death of cancer cells in the laboratory. A severe deficiency (lack) of vitamin C in the diet causes scurvy, a disease with symptoms of extreme weakness, lethargy, easy bruising, and bleeding. The lack of vitamin C in patients with scurvy makes collagen thinner in texture; when vitamin C is given, collagen becomes thicker again.

HOW DOES HIGH-DOSE VITAMIN C HELP TREAT CANCER?

High-dose vitamin C has been studied as a treatment for patients with cancer since the 1970s. A Scottish surgeon named Ewan Cameron worked with Nobel Prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling to study the possible benefits of vitamin C therapy in clinical trials of cancer patients in the late 1970s and early 1980's.

Surveys of healthcare practitioners at United States CAM conferences in recent years have shown that high-dose IV vitamin C is frequently given to patients as a treatment for infections, fatigue, and cancers, including breast cancer. More than fifty years ago, a study suggested that cancer was a disease of changes in connective tissue caused by a lack of vitamin C. In the 1970's, it was proposed that high-dose ascorbic acid could help build resistance to disease or infection and possibly treat cancer."

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS AND RISKS OF HIGH-DOSE VITAMIN C?

Intravenous high-dose ascorbic acid has caused very few side effects in clinical trials. However, high-dose vitamin C may be harmful in patients with certain risk factors. In patients with a history of kidney disorders, kidney failure has been reported after ascorbic acid treatment. Patients with a tendency to develop kidney stones should not be treated with high-dose vitamin C. Case reports have shown that patients with an inherited disorder called G-6-PD deficiency should not be given high doses of vitamin C, due to the risk of hemolysis (a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed). Since vitamin C may make iron more easily absorbed and used by the body, high doses of the vitamin are not recommended for patients with hemochromatosis (a condition in which the body takes up and stores more iron than it needs).

WHAT DRUGS INTERACT WITH HIGH-DOSE VITAMIN C?

A drug interaction is a change in the way a drug acts in the body when taken with certain other drugs. High-dose vitamin C, when combined with some anticancer drugs, may cause them to be less effective. So far, these effects have been seen only in some laboratory and animal studies. No clinical trials have been done to further research these drug interactions in humans. Combining vitamin C with an anticancer drug called bortezomib has been studied in cell cultures and in animal models. Bortezomib is a targeted therapy that blocks several molecular pathways in a cell, causing cancer cells to die. Several studies showed that vitamin C given by mouth made bortezomib less effective, including in multiple myelomacells. A study in mice transplanted with human prostate cancer cells, however, did not show that giving the mice different doses of vitamin C by mouth made bortezomib therapy less effective.

An oxidized form of vitamin C called dehydroascorbic acid has been studied in cell cultures and in animals with tumors. Several studies have found that high doses of dehydroascorbic acid can interfere with the anticancer effects of several chemotherapy drugs. Dehydroascorbic acid is found in only small amounts in dietary supplements and in fresh foods.

WHAT RESEARCH HAS SHOWN THE BENEFITS OF HIGH-DOSE VITAMIN C?

Several studies of high-dose vitamin C in patients with cancer have been done in recent years, including the following:

More studies of combining high-dose IV vitamin C with other drugs are in progress.

IS HIGH-DOSE VITAMIN C APPROVED BY THE FDA FOR CANCER TREATMENT?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the use of high-dose vitamin C as a treatment for cancer or any other medical condition.