Vanquishing a top killer… with vitamins

I’ve been administering intravenous vitamin cocktails for years. So it thrills me that they’re suddenly becoming all the rage. (Like most health trends I was championing years before they hit the mainstream.)

Today, you see IV cocktails on almost every reality TV show. But what’s truly exciting is that this approach is now being tested against one of the world’s leading killers. And guess what?

It’s winning.

Battling sepsis with a simple vitamin cocktail

Sepsis has been a lethal enemy since the ancient times of Hippocrates. In the simplest terms, it’s blood poisoning — a systemic infection with deadly bacteria, requiring the full attention of your body’s immune system.

This can lead to a cascade of life-threatening complications — blood clots, inflammation, and a whole host of other problems that eventually lead to organ failure. And ultimately, result in death.

It strikes more than a million Americans annually — killing as many as half of them. And even now, it remains a leading cause of hospital death.

So the fact that a simple vitamin cocktail might actually be able to help treat it? Well… that’s a breakthrough of the highest order.

A doctor by the name of Paul Marik spearheaded this discovery. As the head of pulmonary and critical care at Eastern Virginia Medical School, he supplemented standard IV antibiotic therapy with a combo of vitamin C, vitamin B1, and a steroid. And he administered this cocktail to nearly 50 sepsis patients in his intensive care unit.

Survival rates increased dramatically as a result — from 28 out of 47 patients, all the way up to 43.

Naturally, these results got a lot of attention. And if it were a drug trial, the treatment would be fast-tracked so quickly by the FDA, your head would spin. But of course, since we’re talking about vitamins here, there’s “still more research” in the pipeline. (Which always seems to be the case, so it seems…)

Large-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled trials are currently in the planning stages. (Because doctors won’t believe anything works without one — even when the solution is practically risk-free, and they’ve seen it work with their own two eyes. It’s one of the fatal flaws of modern medicine, if you ask me.)

This new gold-standard trial will feature up to 2,000 patients in multiple hospitals, and it will last about a year-and-a-half — with results expected by December of next year. The goal is to see if an IV vitamin cocktail can hasten the recovery of sepsis patients on life support — and more importantly, prevent sepsis-related deaths.

Meanwhile, similar trials are already happening elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad, in countries like China and Australia.

But Dr. Marik won’t be waiting on the results. Because having already effectively treated more than 700 sepsis patients with this vitamin-steroid combo, without any serious side effects… why on Earth should he?

Nothing to lose, and everything to gain

This has always been the kicker when modern medicine comes face to face with what we integrative doctors do.

These types of therapies can potentially save billions of dollars — not to mention lives. The worst-case scenario is that they simply don’t work. At which point, you’re out just the cost of the treatment and have lost practically nothing.

So, why do the powers that be take such umbrage with what we do? The real malpractice, in my mind, occurs when doctors fail to use an inexpensive, risk-free, easy-to-access solution simply because they don’t like the person who suggested it.

It’s not as if the science isn’t there. There’s plenty of literature demonstrating vitamin C’s ability to fight inflammation, stabilize blood pressure, and increase circulation. (All of which could stave off organ failure in a crisis.)

Vitamin B1, meanwhile, helps to ward off kidney failure and fuels mitochondria (your cells’ power centers). Septic patients tend to be deficient in both vitamins. And both B and C deficiencies can mimic several of the key symptoms of sepsis (like low blood pressure and high blood acid levels).

The dose currently under review is about 1.5 grams by IV, every six hours for four days. That’s several times higher than what you would get from an ordinary vitamin supplement. But it’s still way less than I give at my office.

Should you ever find yourself fighting for your life against sepsis, I hope that someone in the ICU is smart enough to put their skepticism to the side long enough to do the right thing.