High Dose Intravenous Vitamin C

  • Consist of varying high doses of vitamin C, depending on the objective of the treatment.
  • The infusions are given over a period of an hour and a half to 3 and a half hours depending on the dose. Eating protein right before and keeping well hydrated are required.  In general these infusions are well tolerated with very minimal side effects.
  • Used typically for support in these conditions:  Cancer, various acute and chronic infections, and following dental work.
  • Infusions are typically given 2 to 3 times a week during active treatment and less often during maintenance.

Benefits of Intravenous High Dose Vitamin C Infusions

Some of the benefits of IV High Dose Vitamin C as administered at LotusRain Naturopathic Clinic in Sand Diego are:

  • IV administration allows much larger circulating concentrations of vitamin C than would be attainable through oral supplementation.
  • Mega-gram intravenous doses of vitamin C have been used historically since the 1940s for many conditions including Polio, Tetanus, Encephalitis, West Nile Fever, infectious mononucleosis, hemorrhagic Dengue fever, acute and chronic Lyme, flu including H1N1 infection, AIDS, Hepatitis C and to reverse the toxicity of usually fatal doses of carbon monoxide, pesticides, barbiturates and heavy metals.
  • In chronic Lyme, Hepatits C and AIDS, it has been shown to restore patient to symptom-less or near-symptom-less state.
  • Growing evidence is showing the benefit of High Dose Vitamin C in cancer patients - in enhancing quality of life, slowing tumor growth and synergistically enhancing the pro-oxidative properties of some conventional treatments.

History and overview:

  • Epidemiologic evidence suggests that vitamin C-rich foods play a protective role against development of cancer and blood concentrations of vitamin C have been shown to be inversely associated with cancer risk.
  • Vitamin C was first suggested as a tool for cancer support in the 1950s: Its role in collagen production and protection led scientists to hypothesize that vitamin C replenishment would protect normal    tissue from tumor invasiveness and metastasis.
  • Most studies on Vitamin C showing benefit in cancer have been conducted on cell lines or animals.
  • Studies on humans indicate that intravenous Vitamin C can be administered safely with relatively few adverse effects and with improved patient well-being an quality of life, and decrease in  markers of inflammation and tumor growth.
  • There have been some studies conducted in conjunction with chemotherapy which have demonstrated that the addition of the Vitamin C therapy enhances the slowing of cancer progression with reduced tumor size and decreased tumor growth rate.

How does it work?

  • Vitamin C is well known for its potent antioxidant properties, being able to readily scavenge free radicals and reactive oxygen species, and is associated with decreased markers of oxidative stress.
  • At high concentrations vitamin C has pro-oxidant effects, inducing oxidative stress leading to cell destruction. This pro-oxidant effect is via the action of hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) which is produced when pharmacological (very high) doses of vitamin C are given and vitamin C in the extracellular space reaches a specific concentration.
  • Normally, cells rapidly and efficiently remove extracellular H2O2. Normal cells contain an intracellular antioxidant enzyme called catalase which is principally responsible for removing H2O2 and therefore protects the cell from the cytotoxicity induced by high dose vitamin C. Cancer cells have been found to have low levels of catalase which contributes to less efficient removal of H2O2 and thus vitamin C-induced death of the tumor cells
  • Normally the uptake of vitamin C from the intestinal tract is very tightly controlled and excesses are excreted efficiently by the kidney and blood levels therefore do not increase much and pharmacologic concentrations of vitamin C cannot be obtained by oral administration. In addition large oral doses of vitamin C can lead to cramps, flatulence and diarrhea, However IV administration of vitamin C can bypass this tight control resulting in significantly  higher plasma levels than are obtained through oral intake. At these doses, peak plasma vitamin C concentrations can exceed 20 milliMoles or reach the plasma concentration of 400 mg/dL.
  • High doses of vitamin C have also been found to reduce biomarkers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α), interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and the interleukins IL-1, IL2, IL-6, IL-8, in cancer patients. 

Side Effects:

  • Side effects are mild and transient in most patients. Possible side effects include nausea, vomiting or headache all of which can be prevented by adhering to adequate hydration and protein intake within an hour prior to receiving the IV. 


  • Intravenous high dose vitamin C therapy has been shown to be safe in most patients.
  • Caution is advised with patients who are glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) deficient. At LotusRain we require all patients to run G6PD blood tests prior to receiving High Dose IVC.
  • Caution is also advised in patient with significantly impaired kidney function or history of kidney stone formation
  • When plasma levels of vitamin C rise, this can cause glucose levels on glucometer finger-stick strips to be falsely elevated therefore leading to diabetic patients incorrectly interpreting the stick. Intravenous doses of 15g and higher can lead to these falsely elevated readings, oral intake of vitamin C does not have this effect. Depending on the dose, the falsely elevated readings may last for 8 hours. This is not the case for glucose tested on venous blood in the lab.
  • Eating a protein-rich meal prior to infusion and keeping well-hydrated has been shown to prevent blood sugar fluctuations and adverse effects.