Most people at some point in their lives have had an intravenous (IV) line. An adept nurse warned you about the tiny pinch of the needle as it was smoothly inserted and taped in place. Then the fluid dangling above your head slowly started making its way through a tube and into your body.
IVs are all over the place in hospitals. They’re seen in emergency rooms and ordinary hospital rooms and they’re there when you’re about to have surgery or are recovering from it. IVs tend to bookend our lives, whether you’re having a baby or you’re in the process of dying.
When Katie McManigal worked in the Lurie Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), out of necessity she became very knowledgeable about IV therapies. By the time she joined WholeHealth Chicago in 2016, she was an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP), trained at Purdue University, with pretty much the same scope of practice as a primary care physician.
Katie took additional training in both functional and integrative medicine. When she joined WholeHealth Chicago she developed a special interest in chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic Lyme disease, chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS), and biotoxin (mold) illness. She specializes in the patient who has felt ill for months or years and has heard little other than “We can’t find anything wrong with you—maybe you should see a psychiatrist.”
While at WHC, Katie became extremely interested in the wide variety of IV treatments for both wellness and chronic illnesses that were being used worldwide but had been seriously overlooked by conventional physicians in the US. What fascinated her was that even though IVs are widespread in the US, they are primarily employed as a means of replacing fluid (to avoid dehydration) or for rapid administration of prescription drugs like antibiotics or cancer chemotherapies.
It didn’t take Katie long to recognize that US physicians had pretty much ignored the wide variety of nutritional supplements and alternative therapies that could be administered intravenously. Most likely this was a consequence of not being taught much about vitamins, herbs, and the like in medical school or during residency training.
The advantage of IV therapy for any medication or nutritional supplement is obvious: full dose, immediate availability. By directly entering the bloodstream, the patient receives instant therapeutic treatment, bypassing the occasionally unreliable digestive tract. Katie has found that the addition of IV therapy to virtually any treatment plan increases the patient’s long-term positive outcomes and decreases the overall time it takes to heal and get back to normal life.
What’s in the IV?
The best-known IV therapy is the now-legendary Myers’ Cocktail, a mixture of vitamins and minerals first developed decades ago at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Millions of patients worldwide have received a Myers’ and we at WholeHealth Chicago have offered the Myers’ for more than 25 years. It’s our go-to solution for chronic fatigue or a fibromyalgia flare. It’s an immune boost when cold/flu season arrives and works for migraine and also for an asthma attack.
In addition, under Katie’s supervision and administered by our staff under the direction of infusion coordinator Janet De La Rosa, WholeHealth Chicago offers a broad array of IV therapies, including:
—Intravenous Glutathione Produced in the liver, glutathione is the body’s most essential antioxidant. Taking glutathione by mouth, especially in the liposomal form, can be useful for detoxification, but higher glutathione blood levels are required for treating specific conditions. IV glutathione has shown benefits for Parkinson’s disease, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), liver disease, and as an adjunctive therapy for cancer treatment.
—Intravenous NAD Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is a coenzyme present in almost all cells in your body. Its main purpose is to enhance the literally millions of chemical reactions that define metabolism–sort of like replacing regular gas with premium and tossing in a fuel additive to improve your mileage. Without NAD+, your cells can’t optimally metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids. The main uses of IV NAD are to boost metabolism, reduce pain, enhance energy, and heal better from injuries. Because NAD+ plays a significant role in how genes affect age-related diseases (e.g., family history of heart disease, cancer, etc.), it’s often included on the list of anti-aging treatments.
—Ozone and MAH/UVB therapies Again, these are widely used around the world to enhance the treatment of Lyme, mold toxicity, cancer, liver disease, and chronic fatigue. I wrote earlier this year about ozone therapy.
MAH (major autohemotherapy) describes how ozone is administered (a small amount of your own blood is removed, ozone bubbled through it, and then returned to you).
UVB (ultraviolet biotherapy) is a process for passing your blood through high-intensity ultraviolet light. UVB is frequently referred to as “the cure that time forgot” because it was replaced by antibiotics. UVB sort of faded away, except in Russia and Eastern Europe. UVB is useful for a variety of chronic infections and is mainly used in the US as a safe alternative to high-dose antibiotics for Lyme and other tick-borne illnesses.
Katie is also in the process of formulating a variety of acute-care IV treatments, available on a same-day basis for patients who need a quick boost for a specific problem. These include specific IV protocols for anti-aging and immune enhancement, nutritional deficiencies, energy and mental alertness, chronic pain, weight loss, athletic performance, and even PMS.
Cost and insurance
Two questions always come up–what about the cost and what about health insurance coverage? The answer is straightforward: your insurance generally (though not always) will cover IV therapies if you’re receiving an FDA-approved prescription drug like an antibiotic or cancer chemotherapy.
But because no nutritional supplement or nutritional therapy is approved by the FDA for any condition, insurance companies say no. To them, despite data to the contrary—for example, there is excellent research about the efficacy of the Myers’ Cocktail–these treatments are considered experimental and thus are not covered.
A word of caution: Some doctors will bill an IV therapy as “dehydration treatment” (which is covered by insurance), but this is deliberately misleading the insurer, which would regard this as fraud and ask you or your doctor for a full refund. Be wary of a doctor who says “Oh, let’s just bill insurance,” as it could mean losing yours.
WHC recognizes that IV therapies are an out-of-pocket expense and in response we keep our costs as low as possible while maintaining the highest quality ingredients. We accomplish this by randomly sampling the prices of other centers offering IV therapy. If you find a lower price than ours, let us know.
David Edelberg, MD