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Nutritional IV Therapy, Part One

You’ve probably, at some point in your life, had an intravenous (IV) line. You felt the tiny pinch of the needle, watched as an adept nurse’s hands taped the needle in place, and then stared, perhaps a bit apprehensively, as a bagful of fluid dangling above coursed through a plastic tube and into your body (“Are those bubbles supposed to be there?”).

In any hospital, IVs are all over the place, whether you’re in an ordinary room or the emergency room, about to undergo surgery or in recovery from it. Whether you’re giving birth or you’re at death’s door, you’ve likely got an IV. If you’re in the intensive care unit you might have several, and when the nurse says “We can take out one of your IVs today” you know you’re on the road to recovery.

While it sometimes looks like a virtual forest of IV poles and bags as you stroll through a hospital, there are just two basic reasons for it.

First, for the fluid, to prevent you from getting more dehydrated than you likely already are. The book Your Body’s Many Cries For Water, written by a physician, explains that being chronically dehydrated interferes with the normal functioning of every system in your body. The hospital staff wants everything working well, so they deliberately keep you very moist, frequently measuring your urine output to make sure they’re doing their job.

The second reason for all the IVs is to administer medicine. When a med “goes IV” you get the full dose immediately. You don’t have to wait for the pills to dissolve in your stomach, be absorbed through the intestine, and metabolized (and often partially inactivated) through your liver.

Also, quite a few meds simply can’t be taken by mouth: high-dose antibiotics, cancer chemotherapies, immune modulators, and drugs that put you to sleep before surgery. Having a cardiac arrest and need something to quickly restart your heart? Don’t expect pills in a paper cup.

IV nutrition and the Myers’ Cocktail
Although most medical offices don’t administer nutritional IV therapies on site, at WholeHealth Chicago we’ve been giving various forms for more than 25 years. IV nutrition first came on the scene back in 1968 when research pharmacologists created water-soluble vitamins and minerals that were initially developed for people suffering from malnutrition.

But the real pioneer of IV nutrition was Baltimore physician John Myers, MD, who created a blend of several vitamins and minerals that affectionately became known as the Myers’ Cocktail. Dr. Myers had concluded that because of our digestive, absorptive, and detoxification systems, only a small fraction of the vitamins and minerals we take in (whether via food or as supplements) were actually being absorbed into the bloodstream. He proposed that a harmless mixture of key nutritional supplements might be given in a single infusion, literally flooding every cell in the body and ramping up each cell’s performance.

I’d estimate the number of Myers’ Cocktails administered around the US to be in the millions. Nutritional physician Alan R. Gaby, MD, published a very influential paper in the Alternative Medicine Review that described just how this bouillabaisse of supplements actually works its magic.

Who can benefit from IV therapy?
The list of conditions helped by the Myers’ Cocktail continues to grow. Currently, most doctors who offer it regularly recommend it for fatigue, stress, asthma, migraines, fibromyalgia, adrenal exhaustion, depression, muscle spasms, chronic heart disease, chronic sinusitis, and as an anti-viral immune boost when you feel you might be coming down with a cold or flu.

It also reverses the misery of a hangover quite efficiently.

The basic Myers formula consists of a well-tested mixture of magnesium, calcium, vitamin C, and an assortment of B vitamins, all diluted in sterile water. The total amount of fluid is about 40 ml (2.7 tablespoons) and it’s injected slowly into a vein in your arm over a period of about ten minutes.

The two most common sensations reported are the odd experience of tasting a vitamin from the inside out, so to speak, and a not-unpleasant sensation of warmth, often in the pelvic region.

WholeHealth Chicago patients are pretty familiar with Myers’ Cocktails. The physician they’re seeing the day of their appointment might recommend one on the spot. If a patient simply wants to schedule one she can call and request an IV-only.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about other nutritional IV therapies offered at WholeHealth Chicago, what they are, how they work, and who might benefit from them. There are IV protocols for boosting your immune system, combatting executive stress and macular degeneration, and fighting chronic infections like Lyme disease and chronic mono. Others are used for anti-aging, removing toxic metals, and as adjunctive care during cancer treatment.

Interesting and exciting stuff.

Be well,
David Edelberg, MD

Leave a Comment


  1. Gail Vescovi says:

    What is the cost of the IV nutritional treatments and are they ever covered by insurance? Thank you for addressing my question.

    • cliffmaurer says:

      Hi Gail –
      The Myers’ cocktail mentioned in the HealthTip is $105; unfortunately, health insurance plans have not covered this. However, WholeHealth Chicago can provide paperwork so that patients can use Flex Spending Accounts or Health Savings Accounts to access this helpful treatment.
      Hope this helps. Wishing you well,
      Dr M

  2. Lynn Hazan says:

    How long does the IV therapy last? Days? Weeks?
    How often do you recommend having this treatment? Possible side effects?

    • cliffmaurer says:

      Hi Lynn –
      Thanks for your question! Like most treatments, the use, frequency, and expected outcomes vary patient to patient. Any of our integrative physicians or our nurse practitioner would be happy to discuss particulars with you. If you’re interested, you can set up an appointment with one of them by speaking with our Patient Services team. 773-296.6700.
      Best,
      Dr. M

  3. Susan francis says:

    How often is it suggested that you receive the Meyers cocktail???
    I have adrenal fatigue and digestive issues
    Thank u

    • cliffmaurer says:

      Hi Susan –
      Thanks for your question. It’s hard to say, because everyone is so different, and frequency of treatment is largely based on what you’ve been through and what has worked for you in the past. Often, patients are set up for a treatment once weekly for a few IVs, then moved to every other week, then every month as they get better. Since any healing path should be designed individually, the best thing to do would be to meet with one of our integrative physicians or nurse practitioner; that way you can work on a plan together. Our scheduling staff can be reached at 773.296.6700.

      Hope this helps, and I wish you well, Susan!
      -Dr M

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