High dose Intravenous Vitamin C (HDIVC) aka Ascorbic Acid (AA) is gaining acceptance around the world in various cancer centers as an additive treatment in cancer therapy. New research from the National Institutes of Health in the United States has determined several mechanisms of actions leading to its anti cancer effects. Intravenous treatments with vitamin C can be used to enhance the effectiveness and reduce side effects of conventional treatments while potentially acting as an adjunctive chemotherapeutic agent.
Oral AA is absorbed through the intestines and reaches peak absorption rapidly. At oral doses over 2 grams taken at once, less than 50% is actually absorbed. Unabsorbed AA attracts water into the intestinal tract, causing gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea. Recent research has shown that very high doses of vitamin C used intravenously have significant cytotoxic effects against cancer cells without the limitations associated with oral gastrointestinal absorption.
There are various mechanisms of action of high dose vitamin C in cancer. Vitamin C is an important extracellular anti-oxidant and plays a role in a host of biochemical reactions in the body. High Dose vitamin C has been validated as supportive therapy in case studies, preclinical trials and cancer cell research. The results of these studies show that vitamin C acts in the following ways:
- 1) Selective Cytotoxicity (cancer cell killing) Effect – vitamin C in high doses leads to the production of large amounts of hydrogen peroxide in the connective tissue of the body. In healthy cells the hydrogen peroxide is absorbed, used, and then quenched with intra-cellular anti-oxidants. Cancer cells often lack sufficient levels of anti-oxidants, transporters, and enzymes causing hydrogen peroxide to build up eventually leading to apoptosis or cell death.
- 2) Inhibition of Tumor Growth and Metastasis – most tumours require the activity of various enzymes in order to invade and metastasize. Vitamin C inhibits the activity of these enzymes and promotes the production of collagen which may play a role in stabilizing the tumor and preventing local tissue invasion. Additional anti-angiogenic factors prevent cancer cells from feeding themselves and growing.
- 3) Chemosensitization – Vitamin C has been tested in tissue cultures, animal, human models in combination with many different chemotherapy drugs to evaluate their combined effect on tumors. Most well designed studies have shown a generally positive enhancement of chemotherapeutic success. There are only a few select studies that show a negative interaction and we avoid concomitant therapy in those cases.
Cancer cell lines that have exhibited sensitivity to the high doses of vitamin C that are possible through IV delivery include lymphoma, glioblastoma, bladder, prostate, liver, breast, cervix, ovary, colon, pancreas, and more.
Side effects are mild and rare in most patients. Possible examples include increased or decreased appetite, abdominal cramps, nausea, headache, dry skin/mouth, mild fatigue or increased energy.
IVC / AA may be administered to patients with renal disease, a history of kidney stones, however, may never be administered to those with a G6PD enzyme deficiency. Your Naturopathic Doctor will discuss your candidacy for IVC / AA therapy based on your blood tests and current health status. IVC should not be considered a viable replacement for chemotherapy or drug immunotherapy and may not be curative. Treatments are aimed at improving quality of life and supporting immune function.
Feel free to call the office and book a meet and greet with Dr. Amita Sachdev BScN, (RN), ND to discuss your cancer diagnosis and determine if high dose intravenous vitamin C therapy may be right for you.
Dr. Amita Sachdev ND