There is no doubt that chemotherapy and radiation have lengthened or even saved the lives of cancer patients. There is also no doubt that these two treatments come with a whole host of problematic side effects. Some of the most common include nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Other side effects include hair loss, mouth sores, skin rash, fatigue, insomnia, and even fertility issues and chemo-induced menopause. The principal reason these particular side effects occur is that chemo and radiation are indiscriminate. Not only do they kill cancer cells, but they kill normal cells as well. One group of commonly affected cells are those in the GI tract and mouth, hence the digestive issues and mouth sores. The treatments affect the hair cells and cells from the reproductive system as well. Additionally, bone marrow cells (which are responsible for producing white and red blood cells) are also destroyed. This can result in fatigue, insomnia, anemia, and weakened immunity.
That’s why this IV is formulated with vitamin therapy that not only boosts energy and supports cellular growth but also contains antioxidants to offset the free radical damage that occurs with both chemo and radiation. Specifically, B vitamins, which promote DNA and neurotransmitter production, support mood, support detoxification, and boost energy. Powerful antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid, vitamin C, and glutathione work synergistically to offset the oxidation that naturally occurs with both cancer and the chemo and radiation treatments. Plus, vitamin C works explicitly to support white blood cell production, while glutathione also promotes healthy detoxification. When used in conjunction with an oncology treatment plan, this IV therapy can help alleviate many of the side effects associated with chemo and radiation. Be sure to discuss the use of this IV cocktail, especially the antioxidants, with your oncologist to determine the timing and use as part of an overall treatment strategy.
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Alpha lipoic acid (ALA)
Known as the “universal antioxidant,” alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is a potent antioxidant, as well as a robust anti-inflammatory. Unlike most antioxidants, ALA is both water- and fat-soluble. In addition to neutralizing harmful free radicals, alpha lipoic acid regenerates and increases levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, and glutathione within the body. It is also a neuroprotectant that improves circulation. Some studies suggest ALA may enhance the body’s ability to use its insulin to lower blood sugar, as well as reduce the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and protect nerve health.
Vitamin B complex refers to a broad group of separate, water-soluble nutrients: B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6, B-12, biotin, folic acid, choline, and inositol. We use a blend of these nutrients which serve as an excellent foundation. Antibiotics such as sulfa drugs and tetracycline can interfere with the production and absorption of B vitamins. If you are taking these medications, you may need to increase your intake of these nutrients. Take B vitamins during the day, rather than at night, as they can be too stimulating.
Thiamine (vitamin B1) is necessary for the health of the brain and nervous system, supporting mood, mental function, and energy production. It also supports the health of the heart, helps maintain blood sugar levels, protects vision, and promotes healthy detoxification, particularly of alcohol.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) balances the adrenal system to enhance energy and stamina. It is also critical for body growth and red blood cell production. Plus, riboflavin has been shown to promote detoxification, support vision, and ease headaches and migraines. Riboflavin deficiency is often marked by cracks around the side of the mouth, a purplish-red or magenta tongue and vertical cracks on the lips.
B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) is needed by the body to properly use carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. It plays an important role in skin health, brain health, joint pain, and immunity. It has also been shown to support healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Vitamin B6 helps support healthy blood flow, maintains blood pressure, and even promotes optimum cholesterol levels. It also works to reduce homocysteine, a substance that increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. B6 can also ease many PMS symptoms, reduce sugar cravings, boost energy, and strengthen the immune system.
Vitamin B12 is necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells. It also helps to maintain healthy homocysteine levels, and arterial function supports normal cholesterol levels and blood vessel dilation and is involved in DNA synthesis. It also plays a role in energy production. Only bacteria are capable of synthesizing B12, and as such, it is found almost entirely in animal food products due to animal-bacteria symbiosis.
Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate is the form of folic acid found in food. Once folic acid is consumed, it is converted into its active coenzyme forms—5-methylenetetrahydrofolate (MTHF) and dihydrofolate. Folic acid is necessary for the production of healthy red blood cells. It is also critical for DNA synthesis and new cell formation, as well as amino acid metabolism. Folic acid also supports the adrenal glands to enhance energy and stamina, helps to maintain healthy homocysteine levels and arterial function, and supports normal cholesterol levels, and blood vessel dilation.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble nutrient. Humans cannot manufacture their vitamin C and must rely on food and supplements to obtain it. Vitamin C is best known for its role in the synthesis of collagen, a connective tissue protein used as a structural component of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone. A deficiency of vitamin C leads to scurvy, which is characterized by insufficient collagen production. It is also a powerful antioxidant, protecting against free radical damage, supporting immune health, and even promoting an antiviral effect.
Glutathione is a potent free radical scavenger composed of three amino acids (cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid). It is a powerful antioxidant and is essential for healthy detoxification and coronary artery support.
THE NITTY GRITTYAs chemo and radiation work to erase cancer from the body, they can also wreak havoc with healthy cells, necessitating the need to rebuild cells and surrounding tissue. To do this effectively, your body needs targeted nutrition. B vitamins are a critical part of this plan, particularly B6, B12, and folic acid, thanks to their role in methylation. Methylation is the switch that turns genes on or off. It is responsible for cell division and growth, DNA synthesis, metabolism, energy production, and more. When cells are already challenged in their ability to synthesize DNA and RNA, it can be even more problematic if there are issues with the methylation cycle. In fact, the cells that are the most susceptible include bone marrow, lymphocytes, and erythrocytes - the very cells affected by cancer and chemo and radiation. This is why B vitamins are so critical. Not only do they specifically support healthy DNA methylation, but they can also protect cells from methylation defects. Antioxidants also protect your cells from poor methylation, in part by fighting free radical damage and offsetting oxidation. When your body is under siege from oxidative stress, it cannot correctly support basic cellular function. By arming yourself with antioxidants, you can quell this oxidation and give your existing and new cells a fighting chance. As with anything regarding adjunct cancer treatments, you’ll always want to discuss these options with your oncologist, particularly when it comes to antioxidants, as some research has shown that high-dose antioxidant supplements may interfere with chemotherapy or radiation.1 While many experts feel many of these studies had flaws, it is still a discussion you should have with your physician.
References: 1. Lawenda BD, et al. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100(11):773-83.