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Getting the most from nutrients

Why not get the most bang for your food buck?

When we think about food or medicine entering the body, we mostly think about it going by mouth.  

Our diet regularly contributes to our wellbeing. Beyond diet, the consumption of nutritional supplements and natural therapeutic products usually happens by mouth.  Even pharmaceuticals are commonly prescribed as oral medications. 

While the oral route of administration is convenient, there can be a downside.  

A significant percentage of what we consume orally may never reach its target due to what is called the first pass effect. As material is absorbed by the blood vessels at the stomach, most goes directly to the liver where it is broken down and processed for elimination. This means that only a small percentage of the active ingredient(s) are available to act in the body.  When medications have a dose dependent effect, the prescribed oral dose must take into account the first pass effect. 

How could we get around this loss of medication? One of the best ways is to go intravenously (IV). With an intravenous administration of medicine, 100 per cent of the infused products get into the bloodstream. While some metabolism will still happen at the liver, the loss is much less.

In naturopathic medicine, IV administration of nutrients and other natural products is quite advantageous for certain health conditions.  

People suffering with celiac disease, crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and even irritable bowel syndrome are often dealing with malabsorption. When the body’s usual method for absorption of nutrients is compromised, it is very difficult to keep up one’s strength and be able to repair tissue damage due to these diseases. Having an IV option takes the digestive track out of the equation. IV nutrients can have a profound beneficial effect on a person’s recovery.  

Another advantage posed by the IV route is when the physician wants to raise serum concentrations of a substance beyond absorptive capacity. For example, both vitamin C and magnesium act as osmotic laxatives if you take a lot by mouth. But, when given IV, therapeutic values can be met without any diarrhoea. This is a bonus! High dose vitamin C therapy is used to treat people dealing with cancer or infections. Magnesium, on the other hand, is often used to treat people with migraines, hypertension or arrhythmias.  

Nutrient imbalances can be significantly improved by IV therapy. People suffering from fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, pre-menstrual syndrome, depression, anxiety, allergies and asthma can get on their feet sooner from simple IV protocols like the Meyer’s cocktail. I like to customize the Meyer’s so it addresses specific for the individual at the time of the infusion. The Meyer’s helps reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.  

When it comes to medical intervention, some may say “Whatever it takes to get the job done.” Some treatments are more invasive than others, but at times, absolutely necessary. When a health problem is urgent, severe, or chronic, sometimes a more direct strategy is warranted. If the gastrointestinal track is deficient, an intravenous route may be favoured. When serum concentration targets exceed natural absorptive capacity, IV is better. That is why we go IV.  

— Dr. Tara Macart owns Opti-Balance Naturopathic Medicine in Qualicum Beach with her husband Jonathan.