Partners in Integrative Cancer Therapies uses a number of IV therapies to help our patients who have a cancer diagnosis. Many of these naturopathic oncology therapies have direct action against cancer cells, and may also support patients who are going through chemotherapy to alleviate symptoms.
These therapies are prescribed on an individual basis for each patient, after a thorough consultation and review of medical records and history.
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Improve Your Health with IV Therapy
"Hello there! My name is Dr. Frankenstein. I see you are here today for migraines, memory loss, tremors, neuropathy, a viral and bacterial infection, and fatigue. Your labs show that your minerals are out of balance. I am going to start you on an IV of .... Wa, Wa, Wa, Wa..." It's like in the Charlie Brown cartoons when the adults start talking--you don't hear anything past the word "IV."
If this is you, then rest assured, you are not alone! It's not uncommon for fear to set in when the word "IV" is spoken. This is unfortunate, because IV therapies can be incredibly effective in the treatment of many conditions, including those listed above.
Why an IV? In most cases (but not all) a doctor will order an IV because using that method allows a drug or nutrient to be delivered immediately into your bloodstream. It is the quickest method of administration, and also bypasses the GI tract, which means that digestion isn't an issue. Because the nutrients are absorbed rapidly, it's very important that a healthcare professional (such as an RN) monitor anyone receiving an IV, watching for signs that the therapy is working and is infusing at the proper rate, without any side effects.
When you arrive at the clinic, I assure you that you will not be meeting a Dr. Frankenstein! You will have an appointment with a trained naturopathic doctor, who will take the time to discuss your concerns and the treatments that might best suit your personal health needs. Each of our IV therapies are individually designed, and include ultra-violet light therapy, Vitamin C, Alpha Lipoic Acid, and individually formulated vitamin/mineral treatments for immune support. Other examples include formulas for energy and immune boosting, anti-aging and rehydration, just to name a few.
As the Registered Nurse here at Partners in Health Care, Naturally, it is my job to administer the IV therapy and to assist and guide you through the process. Rather than being a painful, frightening experience, there are steps we can take to create an environment of success. I use the term "we" because when you are with me, we are a team. In my book, a successful session is when you, as the patient, experience a minimum of discomfort, and a large part of the success of your experience is based on how we interact as a team. You can benefit from my years of experience as a nurse and sit back in our very comfortable recliners, relax, and allow the chosen treatment to take effect. This is when your body begins to use the IV therapy as the tool it was designed to be, to assist you in your health journey.
As you think about your health goals and the steps you may need to take to get to your destination, I hope you have no reservations (or hear Charlie Brown cartoon voices!) about IV therapy. Rest assured, you have a qualified medical team here at Partners in Health Care, Naturally--including me as your RN.
Improved health and well-being await you, and it is an honor to assist you on your journey. Together, we got this IV thing--have no fear!
Kristel Donaldson, RN
Kristel Donaldson, Registered Nurse, has been part of the Partners in Health Care, Naturally team since 2014. She has served as a nurse in a variety of areas for more than ten years, some of which include (but are not limited to) Oncology, Med. Surg, Pediatrics, Home Health, and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). She brings to our team her keen sense of observation, her calm presence, and her compassionate heart. One of her most important assets to our patients is her delicate hand and eye for IV placement.
IV Glutathione Therapy
A high percentage of the blood that leaves the stomach and intestines passes through the liver. The blood carries important nutrients to the liver where they are metabolized into substances vital to life. In the same way, exogenous toxic substances reach the liver where they are either activated or transformed into less toxic derivatives. Glutathione plays a crucial role in the liver’s biotransformation system.
Free radicals play an important role in the development and progression of many brain disorders such as brain injury, neurodegenerative disease, schizophrenia and Down’s syndrome. Glutathione is the brain’s master antioxidant and plays an important protective role in the brain. Free radicals and oxidative damage in neurons is known to be a primary cause of degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
Amyloid plaques encroaching on the brain increase the production of free radicals, or oxidative stress. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E remove the damaging free radicals. Glutathione can prevent the death of brain cells induced by amyloid plaques in Alzheimer’s disease.
Taking glutathione itself as an oral supplement does not boost cellular glutathione levels, since it breaks down in the digestive tract before it reaches the cells. However, intravenous glutathione therapy, along with dietary supplements, is effective in boosting intracellular levels of glutathione.
Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) in Cancer Care (& more)
In March 2014, I travelled to Victoria, BC to complete my Advanced Clinical Naturopathic Oncology training by Dr. Neil McKinney, ND. Dr. McKinney is one of the leaders in the field of Naturopathic Oncology and is the author of the textbook “Naturopathic Oncology.” In the course I learned the most cutting edge therapies and I am excited to bring these options to the Atlantic.
To me, the most valuable part of the training was that he created a prioritization of remedies based on his 29+ years experience of treating people with cancer. For each cancer type he shared which remedies & therapies he finds to be most successful (primary treatments), which he finds to be of secondary importance, of tertiary importance, and of limited importance. I was also lucky enough to spend a few days job-shadowing him at his clinic before and after the course in order to further learn how he applied these principles with his patients.
One therapy, which consistently came up in the primary category for many cancers, was intravenous alpha lipoic acid (IV ALA). IV ALA was ranked as a primary therapy for brain & nerve cancers, breast cancer, carcinoid tumor, colorectal cancer, kidney cancer, liver & gallbladder cancer, lung cancer, multiple myeloma, nasopharyngeal, head & neck cancer, pancreatic cancer, sarcoma, stomach cancer, thyroid cancer, and uterine cancer. It also had many other important uses with symptom management and side-effect control.
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a naturally occurring cofactor found in every cell and is active in an assortment of enzyme complexes that control metabolism. ALA is also a vigorous free radical scavenger that has demonstrated the ability to reduce oxidative stress in a number of disorders, including diabetes, liver disease, and cancer.
ALA’s unique benefit is that it is both water soluble and fat soluble. Therefore, it works in both the fatty cell plasma membranes and the aqueous interior (cytosol) of the cell. Other nutrients are restricted to only work in water (such as vitamin C) or fatty tissues (such as vitamin E). ALA is estimated to be 100 times stronger than vitamins E and C combined in inhibiting free radicals. Additional evidence suggests alpha lipoic acid may help regenerate these other antioxidants (vitamin C, E, glutathione, etc) and make them active again. Also, unlike vitamin C and other nutrients, ALA is shown to be equally effective against proliferating (growing) and non-proliferating (dormant) cancer cells– a very important part of preventing cancer reoccurrence.
There have been a number of articles suggesting the use of ALA in the treatment of various cancers. ALA is a ‘multi-tasker’ with multiple mechanisms of action and numerous benefits in cancer. Here, I have listed five of the most researched and exciting mechanisms (for the complete list of ALA’s functions please see below in the comprehensive detail section).
- Protects DNA from mutations.
- ALA inhibits NF k B, considered in many cancer types as the master switch for cancer growth and survival.
- ALA transforms the way cancer cells uses sugars and re-activates pathways to allow cancer cell death.
- ALA has direct anti-tumor activity and can stimulate prooxidant-driven cell death of cancer cells.
- ALA is a powerful therapy for all forms of nerve damage and neuropathy (e.g. from chemo drugs like the platinums or from diabetes).
My favorite course at the University of Victoria was the ‘molecular basis of cancer’. In that course we looked at intricate details of all the pathways that drive cancer growth. Contrary to common belief cancer is not a single disease. Cancer is actually a collection of 200+ diseases, with each cancer type behaving very differently. At the Moncton Naturopathic Medical Clinic we individualize your treatments based on your type of cancer and the driving factors associated with that cancer type. For example, in breast cancer, some of the molecular targets include IGF-1, NF?B, EGFR, PI3K/Akt/mTOR, STAT-3, IL-6, VEGF, etc. The cancer cell can hijacked these signaling pathways and overused them to cause uncontrolled cancer cell growth. We use targeted medicines to regulate each of these overexpressed pathways. For example, an extract from green tea given at a therapeutic dose inhibits VEGF, Vitamin D3 at the optimal blood concentration inhibits IGF signaling, and R+ alpha lipoic acid regulates NFkB. This is called ‘precision medicine’ and I recently completed a course called “genomic and precision medicine” through the University of California to further explore my interest in this growing field.
Naturopathic Doctors are trained to work alongside conventional treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. Integrating naturopathic medicine with conventional medical care can help to:
- increase the effectiveness of the therapy;
- speed healing time;
- prevent any risk of treatment induced tumor spread (e.g. biopsy, surgery);
- reduce complications or side-effects (e.g. nausea, fatigue, weight loss, bowel disturbances, nerve damage, reduced quality of life, “chemo brain”, depression, difficulty sleeping, etc);
- keep your body healthy enough so that it can handle the full dose and optimal treatment schedule necessary to kill the cancer; and
- reduce the chance of re-occurrence or secondary cancers.
Also, add this article please:
Integr Cancer Ther. 2009 Dec;8(4):416-22. doi: 10.1177/1534735409352082.
Revisiting the ALA/N (alpha-lipoic acid/low-dose naltrexone) protocol for people with metastatic and nonmetastatic pancreatic cancer: a report of 3 new cases.
Berkson BM1, Rubin DM, Berkson AJ.
Erratum in Integr Cancer Ther. 2010 Jun;9(2):247.
The authors, in a previous article, described the long-term survival of a man with pancreatic cancer and metastases to the liver, treated with intravenous alpha-lipoic acid and oral low-dose naltrexone (ALA/N) without any adverse effects. He is alive and well 78 months after initial presentation. Three additional pancreatic cancer case studies are presented in this article. At the time of this writing, the first patient, GB, is alive and well 39 months after presenting with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas with metastases to the liver. The second patient, JK, who presented to the clinic with the same diagnosis was treated with the ALA/N protocol and after 5 months of therapy, PET scan demonstrated no evidence of disease. The third patient, RC, in addition to his pancreatic cancer with liver and retroperitoneal metastases, has a history of B-cell lymphoma and prostate adenocarcinoma. After 4 months of the ALA/N protocol his PET scan demonstrated no signs of cancer. In this article, the authors discuss the poly activity of ALA: as an agent that reduces oxidative stress, its ability to stabilize NF(k)B, its ability to stimulate pro-oxidant apoptosic activity, and its discriminative ability to discourage the proliferation of malignant cells. In addition, the ability of lowdose naltrexone to modulate an endogenous immune response is discussed. This is the second article published on the ALA/N protocol and the authors believe the protocol warrants clinical trial.
Intravenous Vitamin C Therapy
The RDA is 60 mg per day, generally considered the amount necessary to prevent scurvy. But this is a distorted picture of how much ascorbic acid we really need. Stress affects the amount we need as does intake of other nutrients.
There have been many published studies of how IV Vitamin C has been a successful cure for polio ( 1949), hepatitis (1962 and 1981), and viral encephalitis (1951).
How does it work? All toxic and infectious damage occurs via what is called oxidative stress, leading to free radical damage of many cells in the body. Vitamin C strongly activates the immune system’s anti microbial and antitoxic functions. It has proven to be effective in various clinical conditions over the past 75 years. It is safe: among drugs and supplements, it may be the least toxic of all. And it is remarkably inexpensive for what it does. Our bodies use Vitamin C to form collagen in our connective tissue, and to form muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia. Also it is used to form our bone matrix, blood vessels, the meninges that surrounds our nerves, and in adrenal gland maintenance. For these functions, in most people, it is effective when taken orally, in food or in supplement form.
In patients with cancer, it leads to the generation of hydrogen peroxide inside cancer cells. This leads to cancer cell destruction. Our own cells, however, have an enzyme that prevents them from being destroyed by this intracellular peroxide. Vitamin C also chelates mercury. The University of Kansas Medical Center has conducted many studies in the effectiveness of intravenous Vitamin C in cancer. In high enough doses intravenously, it is tumorocidal ( leads to cell death of cancer cells).
Intravenous Vitamin C synergizes with many chemotherapy agents to make them even more effective. In cancer it is best used along with Vitamin K, Vitamin D, magnesium, alpha lipoic acid, and calcium. IV Vitamin C is given slowly, ramping up to therapeutic doses over weeks.
Curcumin is a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) food additive by the FDA. Multiple studies using high doses of oral curcumin in humans have shown incredible safety.
Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a component of the golden spice Curcuma longa, commonly known as turmeric, has recently been determined to induce epigenetic changes. Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. In other words, how you change your psyche, your food program, and detoxify, can change how genes express themselves. This puts a tremendous amount of the power for change in the hands of the patient.
The activity of curcumin reported against leukemia and lymphoma, gastrointestinal cancers, genitourinary cancers, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, lung cancer, melanoma, neurological cancers, and sarcoma reflects its ability to affect multiple targets. Thus, “an old-age” disease such as cancer requires an “age-old” treatment. This is why part of our foundational oral protocol includes a product called Botanical Treasures, which has high quality curcumin and turmeric in each capsule or teaspoon. But sometimes IV forms of curcumin are also needed, as many naturopathic published studies have shown.
A review of over forty peer-reviewed publications yields this summary and rationale for Phase-1 trial of liposomal intravenous curcumin.
What the Research Shows:
In a report on curcumin clinical trials published in The AAPS Journal in 2013, it was reported that intravenous sodium curcumin was successfully used in human biliary diseases (conditions affecting liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts). A study in China also used a type of intravenous curcumin. The intravenous application of it was effective in inhibiting the tumor cell-induced angiogenesis (creation of new blood vessels that would feed cancer cells in the body in order for them to grow). Another study successfully used curcumin-loaded micro-particles as a chemoprevention agent by injecting it into tumors of mice. Chemoprevention means using a substance (natural or lab-made) in order to stop or slow down cancer growth.
I personally have seen IV curcumin bring down blood inflammation test markers in many patients with cancer who cannot tolerate oral anti-inflammatory drugs.
Functional Medicine Doctor Brian Davies from Westcoast Integrative Health in North Vancouver, Canada wrote about using intravenous curcumin in combination with intravenous vitamin C for patients with chronic health conditions, and in combination with intravenous antioxidant called glutathione (the “master hormone” produced by the human body) for hepatitis C, and liver fibrosis.
How Does Curcumin Fight Cancer?
Curcumin is often used for cancer prevention and treatment, not matter what form it is administered in. According to the Advanced Rejuvenation Institute, curcumin helps fight cancer in five different ways:
- Curcumin has an ability to promote healthy cells to grow, while slowing down the cancer cells.
- It causes cancer apoptosis (programmed cell death) at lower stages of cancer than other treatments.
- Curcumin works against toxins and enzymes that promote cancer cell growth, thus it significantly slows down and often inhibits the progression of cancer.
- It prevents angiogenesis—creation of new blood vessels—thus cutting off blood supply from cancer cells. As the result cancer cells starve and stop growing. Because curcumin prevents blood flow to cancer cells, it reduces cancer growth, and improves recovery rates from not all but many cancers, including: breast, lung, prostate, and colon.
- It slows down inflammation, and inflammation helps cancer cells grow, thus once again slowing down cancer growth.
- While it has the same benefits as curcumin taken in supplement form, IV curcumin is absorbed better and faster, which may be especially useful for cancer patients, where time is vital.
- Liposomal Curcumin May Be Second Best Option to IV Curcumin
- Because IV curcumin is available at very few clinics at the moment, liposomal curcumin has been used with similar results, as it has high absorption quality.
- A 2013 study showed that it was beneficial for pancreatic cancer patients with no side effects.
The use of these agents in the patient with cancer and their effectiveness against cancer cell lines are newer areas of scientific research, especially in the growing field of naturopathic oncology, and also published in the literature. Experience in clinical research of over one thousand patient IV doses of artesunate have shown this agent to be safe in patients with advanced cancers. Some data indicates that Artemisinin has antiangiogenic activity. This means it can prevent any cancer cells from making new blood vessels and spread. While specific human clinical data needs to be collected, our experience and the basic pharmacology of artesunate in cancer lead us to the conclusion that this agent is worthy of further investigation in oncology practice. In adults, IV artesunate has shown to be a highly tolerable and low side effect profile when used in typical parenteral IV doses. Our patients have universally done well with their IV herbal treatment.
We often will administer this approved herb IV before giving IV Vitamin C. Subsequent doses of IV artesunate can be given three days a week. It is usually given over a 15 minute time span. We may suggest that you also be taking oral artemisinin, in a product called Artemis Plus, concurrently with IV artesunate.