Supplements

Intravenous Vitamin Therapy For Health

Dr. Paul Hrkal, Naturopathic Doctor

Dr. Paul Hrkal, Naturopathic Doctor

Vitamins and minerals are the raw materials that allow our cells to function properly. Without them cells would not be able to produce enough energy for normal processes, repair damage and replicate DNA. Ideally we can get these essential nutrients through our diet but often, despite our best efforts we often don’t get adequate levels absorbed and delivered to our cells. Sometimes even a great diet may not translate to proper nutrition at the cellular level. There can be many causes of this, which may include: poor digestion, food sensitivities, chronic inflammation, poor immune function, chronic stress, toxicity or any disease or sickness. A vicious cycle ensues – our cells are not healthy and they need nutrients to heal but can’t get them delivered because of poor absorption. However, the nutrients are not available because our cells are too weak to transport the vitamins and minerals to where they are needed. This scenario describes a typical situation in which intravenous vitamin (I.V.) therapy would be indicated. I.V. therapy involves the administration of nutrients in high concentrations to rapidly aid cellular healing. The advantage of intravenous administration is that the nutrients bypass the stomach and intestines and get directly to the bloodstream where they are needed. This will allow the cells to rapidly repair and regain strength. Once this happens, the cells will be able to function normally again and begin to repair the disease process.

I.V. therapy can be effective in many situations. Typically it is used in situations were, as discussed, digestive function is compromised and/or there is urgent need to “kick-start” the healing process that would otherwise take much longer though diet and other supplementation or ultra high doses of vitamins are required to combat a certain disease process. A very common and effective use of I.V. therapy is using high doses of vitamin C in integrated cancer care. This has been shown to be preferentially cytotoxic to tumour cells, maximize tissue healing and minimize the side effects of chemotherapy. Such high doses can only be achieved through I.V. therapy that is supervised by a qualified Naturopathic doctor (ND).

A knowledgeable ND can tailor the I.V. protocol by varying the type and amounts of nutrients. When this is done, IV therapy can also be beneficial for: migraines, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, detoxification, allergies, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, macular degeneration, depression, chronic diseases, and malnutrition. It can even be used periodically in healthy people to enhance overall well-being, prepare for surgery (to enhance recovery and healing) or as an extremely effective therapy to combat colds and flus.

I.V. vitamin therapy has been used for over 25 years to help people boost or regain health. It is an aggressive treatment, so the patient must be informed of all treatment details before commencing such a protocol. Nevertheless, when done by knowledgeable practitioner, I.V. therapy can provide very safe and effective results that may not be found in other therapies. When our cells are given the nutrients they need, they will be able to function properly and thus allow the restoration of our body’s inherent healing mechanisms.

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Is Vitamin D The Missing Link In Chronic Pain?

Dr. Paul Hrkal, Naturopathic Doctor

Dr. Paul Hrkal, Naturopathic Doctor

Chronic pain is one of the most common health concern for which people seek medical treatment. Research suggests that up to 50% of the population may be suffering from some kind of chronic pain, with back pain being the most common.1 There are number of possible causes such as diet, posture, age and injury that contribute to chronic pain but vitamin D is one factor that is now being added to the list. Vitamin D deficiency is a very common occurrence, especially in people living in colder climates. It has been linked to numerous health conditions, one of which being musculoskeletal (MSK) pain.2

A study published in November 2012 found that MSK pain is related to vitamin D deficiency, and replacement of vitamin D improved pain. The researchers found that 95.4 percent of the subjects were vitamin D deficient, and 85.5 percent of the subjects had improvement in pain with vitamin D supplementation.2 Of the subjects that responded to the treatment, post-treatment serum vitamin D levels were significantly higher than in the subjects who did not respond to vitamin D supplementation. The study concluded, “Treatment with vitamin D can relieve the pain in majority of the patients with vitamin D deficiency. Lack of response can be due to insufficient increase in serum vitamin D concentration.”2 This study confirms the results of a number of other studies that have found the same results.3,4,5 The studies found that vitamin D deficiency may be responsible for generalized, non-specific pain especially if it is resistant to manual and conventional treatments. 

Due to the large proportion of the population that experience both chronic pain and vitamin deficiency it would be prudent that both doctors and patients consider vitamin D levels a possible key-contributing factor. The most recent data suggests that less than 50 nmol/L of serum vitamin D is a deficient state. The optimal levels are 100-160nmol/L. The most effective and accurate way to determine what dosage is required to reach optimal levels is to have your serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D assessed. Most health agencies agree that 500-2000IU daily are effective to maintain adequate levels but its not enough if you are deficient. 

Vitamin D can be a simple yet very effective therapy for chronic, non-specific pain if you are deficient. To determine if is may be contributing to your pain, have a qualified healthcare practitioner assess your serum levels and supplement appropriately to restore your optimal levels. Consider liquid, oil based formulations to increase the ease of achieving higher dosages. In medicine, sometimes the simplest piece is often the most important. Vitamin D once again forces us to go back to the basics in the quest to achieve pain free function.  

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References: 

1) Andersson HI, Ejlertsson G, Leden I, Rosenberg C. Chronic pain in a geographically defined general population: studies of differences in age, gender, social class, and pain localization. Clin J Pain. 1993;9(3):174-82

2) Abbasi M, et al. Is vitamin D deficiency associated with non specific musculoskeletal pain? Glob J Health Sci. 2012;1:107-11.

3) Plotnikoff GA, Quigley JM. Prevalence of severe hypovitaminosis D in patients with persistent, nonspecific musculoskeletal pain.

Mayo Clin Proc. 2003 Dec;78(12):1463-70.

4) Al Faraj S, Al Mutairi K. Vitamin D deficiency and chronic low back pain in Saudi Arabia. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2003 Jan 15;28(2):177-9.

5) Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency: what a pain it is. Mayo Clin Proc. 2003 Dec;78(12):1457-9.

Magnesium: Are You Deficient in This Essential, Pain Fighting Mineral?

Dr. Paul Hrkal, Naturopathic Doctor

Dr. Paul Hrkal, Naturopathic Doctor

Magnesium is a supplement that is very well known for its benefits through out the natural health community. It is involved in over 300 biochemical processes in the body. One of its most important functions is that it plays a key role in producing energy. This makes it vitality important for all cellular functions and processes. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm regular, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Its wide range of health benefits and biological activity make it effective in addressing a number of common diseases and conditions including fibromyalgia, chronic pain, diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and headaches. Numerous studies have demonstrated that magnesium supplementation and correction of deficiency has improved the aforementioned conditions.1 Specifically in chronic pain magnesium can be helpful for offsetting the effects of calcium, which relaxes muscles and nerves. Magnesium acts like a plug in nerve receptors that are over-stimulated. 

The problem with this essential mineral is that most people do not have sufficient levels for optimal health. A gradual depletion of nutrients from our soils has left many vegetables with lower levels of magnesium. Another factor that contributes to magnesium deficiency is that is often is depleted by various common conditions (i.e. IBS, crohns disease) and medications (i.e. proton pump inhibitors, diuretics). Its difficult to accurately assess your magnesium levels by lab testing since they don’t reflect actually tissue stores. Most integrative doctors just assume their patients are not getting enough and are deficient. 

How can you get more magnesium? 

Unfortunately most foods have a relatively low level of magnesium those at the top of the list are nuts and seeds (almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds) and dark green leafy veggies (kale swiss chard and spinach). As a supplement, magnesium is most commonly found in small amounts in multivitamins and in certain over the counter laxatives. Minerals such as magnesium or calcium are combined with another molecule to stabilize the compound. Each combination, referred to as a chelate, (such as magnesium citrate) has different absorption, bioavailability and therapeutic value. These additional molecules can really impact the medicinal value of the magnesium and some even have beneficial effects in their own right. The most common forms and their benefits are listed below. 

Magnesium oxide is often used in milk of magnesia products since this form has a strong laxative effect. Even though this combination contains a large proportion of magnesium compare to the oxide molecule it has poor bioavailability and readily causes loose stools therefore it is considered the least optimal form to use as a supplement. 

Magnesium sulfate is most commonly found in Epsom bath salts. 

Magnesium citrate is a commonly used form that has a good bioavailability compared to oxide. It is also very rapidly absorbed in the digestive tract but it does have a stool loosening effect2. This form is found in many supplements and remains a solid option for delivering magnesium into the body.

Magnesium glycinate: Glycine is well known calming amino acid. This combination has good bioavailability and it does not have a laxative effect since glycine is actively transported through the intestinal wall. Due to the calming and relaxing effect of both glycine and magnesium this combination has been used successfully for chronic pain and muscle hyper tonicity.3 

Magnesium Malate: The little known combination has been studied for use in fibromyalgia. Since malate is a substrate in the cellular energy cycle, it can help improve ATP production and there is some preliminary evidence that it may reduce muscle pain and tender points in fibromyalgia patients.4 

The nice thing is that there really isn’t any side effects other then loose stools when taking to much magnesium unless you have a kidney disorder or are taking certain blood pressure medications. Your body just eliminates the magnesium it doesn’t use. Due to its broad ranging beneficial effects, magnesium has really emerged as a quintessential health supplement with an excellent safety profile. Various forms of magnesium can be employed for specific health concerns especially chronic pain. Ask your health care practitioner which form is best for you. 

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References

  1. Fawcett, W. J., Haxby, E. J. & Male, D. A. Magnesium: physiology and pharmacology. Br. J. Anaesth. 83, 302–320 (1999).
  2. Coudray C, Rambeau M, Feillet-Coudray C, Gueux E, Tressol JC, Mazur A, Rayssiguier Y: Study of magnesium bioavailability from ten organic and inorganic Mg salts in Mg- depleted rats using a stable isotope approach. Magnes Res 2005;18:215–223.
  3. Lamontagne C, Sewell JA, Vaillancourt R, Kuhzarani C, (2012) Rapid Resolution of Chronic Back Pain with Magnesium Glycinate in a Pediatric Patient. J Pain Relief 1:101
  4. Abraham GE, Flechas JD. Management of Fibromyalgia: Rationale for the Use of Magnesium and Malic Acid. Journal of Nutritional Medicine (1992) 3, 49-59.