The healing journey, by nature, must incorporate a variety of treatments and techniques to address the many different people, co-occurring mental and physical conditions, and unique situations that exist beneath the umbrella of substance use disorder. IV therapy is a vital component of this treatment. Learn more with our IV therapy resource, with a foreword by Dr. Julia Britz, NMD.
IV Therapy and Why It’s Important
Ok, scratch that … IV is not just “important,” it’s essential! It can make THE difference in treatment for a myriad of reasons. I love intravenous therapy and I’m going to explain why from the holistic perspective, and from my personal experience working with it in the clinical setting.
IV Therapy at ATMC
I work with people who struggle with their emotions, with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, insomnia, etc. This means that I’m also facing GI problems. Never have I met a patient struggling with anxiety who didn’t also have some kind of screwed up digestion. Constipation is at the top of the list, followed closely by lack of appetite and gas/bloating. The obstacle here is that absorption of supplements or medications might not be optimal, efficient, or even a decent option.
This is where I opt for IV therapy because I can totally bypass the gut! Injectables are not affected by the stomach or intestinal absorption problems. This means that a patient can start feeling better sooner while we work on the GI symptoms and healing the root cause.
In addition to getting straight into the vein, the total amount of infused nutrients or medications is available to the tissues. The nutrients are available for immediate use. We don’t lose any from stomach acid degradation or loss in the urine or feces. The nutrients are forced into the cells by means of a high concentration gradient.
And what’s really powerful is higher doses of nutrients can be given than would be possible by mouth without intestinal irritation.
As a doctor of naturopathic medicine, I often look for holistic modalities first and one powerful method I use is IV. IV nutrients, when done properly, appropriately, and safely, can bring someone down from mania, take away cravings, restore energy, and reduce anxiety. One bag can last days. To me, this is magic! There are many benefits to IV therapy, as we have seen. Let’s explore what IV therapy entails, how it is administered, and the medical benefits that it can bring.
IV Therapy Can Provide 100% of the Nutrients Your Body Needs
Boost energy levels1
Improve anxiety and depression
Enhance mental clarity and cognition
Lesson or eliminate tapering symptoms during withdrawal
Improve immune health and inflammation response
Detoxify the body from free radicals
What Is IV Therapy?
IV therapy is just like it sounds—a procedure where various medications or nutrients are administered to a patient intravenously. This procedure allows the effects of the treatment to take effect much more quickly, because they hit the bloodstream immediately rather than moving through the digestive system and other various systems of the body. This process can be used for many different therapeutic substances.
In fact, there is a constantly growing and changing collection of vitamins, medications, nutrients, and treatments that can be administered using IV therapy. Each has their own unique purpose, and each is effective in its own way. It’s important to note that despite the vast array of treatments, every IV solution will fall into one of two categories: crystalloids or colloids.
Crystalloid solutions are the most common type of IV treatment. These solutions are made up of molecules that can easily pass from the bloodstream into the rest of the body for quick absorption. Saline, lactated Ringer’s electrolyte solution (used for severe dehydration), and dextrose solutions (used to provide hydration and carbohydrate nutrients) are all common examples of crystalloid solutions.
While crystalloid solutions are made to absorb rapidly into the body from the bloodstream, colloids are the opposite. These IV solutions have larger molecules, so they are unable to pass out of the bloodstream once they have entered it. Examples of colloids include albumin and gelatin to treat low blood volume, dextran to treat anemia, and starches to prevent shock.
Once the type of IV solution that will best meet your needs has been identified, the therapy can begin.
How IV Therapy Is Administered
No matter which type of IV therapy is used, there is a relatively uniform method of administration.
Here are some of the common steps in IV therapy:
Identify the Therapy Needed—The type of IV therapy an individual receives will vary depending on what their needs are. Some people beginning recovery may receive NAD+ treatment, while others may only need a vitamin infusion.
Ensure the Point of Insertion is Disinfected—Maintaining a clean and healthy skin surface for IV therapy is essential, so the area of the body where the IV will be inserted must be properly cleaned with antiseptic.
Find and Prepare the Correct Vein—This will often include some type of tourniquet to find the best vein. Once a vein has been identified, the person administering the therapy will find the best place to insert the needle.
Insert the IV and Complete Therapy—Once the vein has been selected, the IV will be inserted, and it may be taped to the arm to ensure it does not move around. Once the IV is in place, the therapy session may take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.
Remove the IV and Allow Recovery—After the IV therapy session has ended, the needle will be removed. Most IV therapy sessions do not require any recovery time, but it will be available if needed.
Uses For IV Therapy
As we have seen, there are many types of IV therapy available, and they each have a unique purpose. While many people are familiar with the administration of IVs in a medical context, there are also many other uses for IV therapy.
Administration in a Medical Context
Many people find themselves in need of fluids or medications very quickly if they are ill or experiencing an emergency, and intravenous administration is often the only option. If you’re recovering from surgery or a hospital stay, you often have a saline IV or an IV providing your medications. You may also need IV fluids if you find yourself severely dehydrated. In these cases, IV treatments are a staple of the recovery process.
Support For the Immune System
The immune system is essential to full body health, and it is important to do everything possible to keep it running smoothly. This can be difficult for those with busy lives and next to impossible for those with illnesses like SUD, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Stress lowers the efficacy of your immune system and makes you more susceptible to illness.
IV therapy can be a great resource to add an additional boost to your immune system and help you remain as healthy as possible. This type of therapy includes vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, to boost a tired immune system or simply add an extra layer of protection.
Pregnancy is a beautiful function of the human body, but it can also prove very difficult for some people. Morning sickness, which includes nausea and vomiting, is a problem for many people. This can be caused by any number of things, such as particular foods or certain smells, and makes functioning throughout the day much more difficult. IV therapy can provide some relief for people experiencing extreme morning sickness, also known as hyperemesis gravidarum. These treatments often include extra fluids to ensure hydration and extra vitamins to help ease some nausea and other physical symptoms.
When you exercise for extended periods of time, it can drain you physically. This is because you’ve lost vital nutrients in your sweat and must also face physical exhaustion. Many athletes turn to IV therapy as a way to help them recover more quickly. IV therapy for any type of athletic recovery will often focus on rehydration, as well as energy and recovery with amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants,
Dealing with any kind of physical illness is difficult, and an extended recovery time can make it worse. IV therapy can be used to help treat the symptoms of your illness and offer more protection from sickness in the future. For example, IV therapy to help with a cold or the flu may utilize anti-nausea or anti-inflammatory medication to address your specific symptoms while also incorporating fluids and vitamins to maintain your immune system. IV therapy can also be an effective treatment for migraines, using a blend of vitamins, minerals, and medications to ease symptoms.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
IV therapy has many applications and uses as an effective way to get necessary nutrients and other treatments into the body quickly with minimal side effects. With the myriad of uses that have already been identified, it is no surprise that IV therapy can also be an effective tool for the treatment of addiction. It can easily be incorporated into a recovery plan as an additional means of support for someone recovering from substance use.
There are a few key ways a professional may choose to add IV therapy to your recovery journey.
IV Therapy During Drug Cessation
One of the most difficult aspects of recovering from a substance use disorder is the cessation process. The effects caused by the substance of choice can affect the body for an extended period of time. Worse, because the brain and body have become accustomed to the presence of this chemical, its absence can cause a variety of withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, depression, nausea and vomiting, fatigue, hallucinations, and even seizures. This can make recovery much more difficult from a physical perspective and can lead to relapse in an effort to eliminate these symptoms. IV therapy can be used early in the recovery journey as a way to help kick-start the process.
When used as part of the drug recovery process, IV therapy introduces vitamins and nutrients that may be missing from an individual’s system due to prolonged substance use. The addition of these nutrients not only benefits overall health but can also play a key role in flushing out any toxins and lingering effects that are still in the bloodstream or body. One of the more prominent IV therapies that have grown in popularity as drug recovery tools in recent years is NAD+ therapy.
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, was first discovered as an important part of the metabolic process in the early 1900s. It is an enzyme occurring naturally in the body and is a means of energy production. NAD was first incorporated into drug treatment in the 1960s by Dr. Pau O’Hollaren, who used it as a treatment tool for individuals struggling with addiction to various substances. Since that time, it has gained in popularity and is common as a form of IV therapy since intravenous therapy is more beneficial in maintaining optimal levels of NAD. 2
NAD is depleted quickly in individuals who use drugs or alcohol frequently. NAD+ IV therapy is effective because it replaces the depleted stores in the body and serves several functions simultaneously. First, it cleans out the various bodily systems so that any unhealthy or addictive substances are gone as quickly as possible. It also provides much-needed energy, which makes withdrawal symptoms easier to manage.
Administration of Nutrients
IV therapy can also be an effective treatment for those on a healing journey from addiction when used to provide vitamins and nutrients. Many substances chip away at the key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are necessary for the proper function of the body. This makes it more difficult for the body to absorb the nutrients needed through normal methods. In addition, many people in active substance use neglect to consume a healthy diet, further diminishing nutrient stores. IV therapy can provide nutrients quickly and easily to restore health as recovery begins.
IV Therapy Throughout Recovery
IV therapy is a great tool to use throughout substance use recovery. As with IV therapy during cessation, IV therapy later in recovery re-introduces vitamins and nutrients back into the system to ensure that you are physically healthy enough to sustain the recovery journey. Long-term use of substances can do significant damage to the body, so IV therapy supports full body health that is easier to maintain after recovery.
IV therapy may also help to restore balance to the brain’s reward system, which is often devastated by continued substance use. IV nutrient therapy appears to help regulate the dopamine receptors that contribute to constant cravings, depression, anxiety, and other sources of malaise.3 Overall, IV therapy is a great resource to include with a personalized recovery plan to support overall health and well-being.
IV Therapy FAQs
IV therapy is a common component of a hospital stay for a physical ailment, but many people are unfamiliar with IV therapy for substance use recovery. Here are the answers to some common questions people have about IV therapy as an alternative therapy for recovery.
Q: What Are Alternative Therapies?
A: Alternative therapies are various healing and treatment options that rely on natural and holistic practices rather than medication. These therapies can focus on health and wellness for the full body and person, or they can target specific areas of need. Alternative therapies use methods such as breath control, intentional movement, nutrient infusions, and even art or equine therapy sessions to address all components of the individual.
Q: What Is IV Therapy?
A: IV therapy is a type of alternative therapy where various nutrients and supplements are administered to an individual through an IV. This treatment is particularly effective for individuals who struggle with things like substance use disorder, anxiety, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and more. Those conditions also often include stomach problems as a symptom, which can make taking traditional medications difficult. IV therapy allows nutrients and treatments to be administered intravenously, which bypasses the gut entirely and allows the treatment to take effect quickly.
Q: Can IV Therapy Help With Addiction Recovery?
A: IV therapy can be a valuable tool for individuals facing recovery. There are IV therapy options to speed detox and make it less stressful by adding much-needed vitamins and nutrients into the body. This can help flush out the lingering substances and diminish withdrawals. NAD+ IV therapy works to replenish an essential enzyme in the body depleted by substance use and aims to help the body return to its normal metabolic status.
Q: What Are the Benefits of IV Therapy?
A: There are many benefits associated with IV therapy. For those recovering from substance use disorder, IV therapy can restore nutrients and enzymes diminished by prolonged substance use. In this way, it can support overall physical health and ensure that the body has all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to remain healthy.
Q: What Are Some Types of Alternative Substance Use Disorder Therapies?
A: There are many forms of alternative therapy that can benefit those experiencing substance use disorder, especially as part of a holistic treatment program. Some of the more familiar types of alternative therapies include yoga, equine therapy, art therapy, Qigong, acupuncture, environmental medicine, and orthomolecular medicine. Each of these alternative therapies focuses on a different area of an individual’s body or mind to ensure that they are able to achieve full-body wellness.
IV Therapy at Alternative to Meds Center
Alternative to Meds Center is an authority on the various forms of natural and holistic therapies. Our program includes various forms of holistic treatment, including corrected diet, neurotoxin removal, equine and art therapy, yoga, Qigong, and IV therapy to help individuals recovering from illicit substance and medication withdrawal.
We offer an individual assessment and will create a personalized treatment plan to ensure you can achieve and maintain healing and recovery. If you are on a healing journey and need additional support, contact Alternative to Meds Center today and let us walk with you on your recovery journey.
Afterword by Dr. Julia Britz, NMD
One of our favorite IV’s here at Alternative to Meds is the NAD+ (nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide). Known for its longevity buzz, we have additionally found it to be a go-to for easing medication withdrawal. Find out more by clicking the button below.
*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published July 18, 2021 and has been updated January 6, 2023.
Grant, R., Berg, J., Mestayer, R., Braidy, N., Bennett, J., Broom, S., & Watson, J. (2019). A pilot study investigating changes in the human plasma and urine NAD+ metabolome during a 6 hour intravenous infusion of NAD+. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 11, 257. Retrieved October 8, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnagi.2019.00257/full
Blum, K., Oscar-Berman, M., Stuller, E., Miller, D., Giordano, J., Morse, S., McCormick, L., Downs, W. B., Waite, R. L., Barh, D., Neal, D., Braverman, E. R., Lohmann, R., Borsten, J., Hauser, M., Han, D., Liu, Y., Helman, M., & Simpatico, T. (2012). Neurogenetics and Nutrigenomics of Neuro-Nutrient Therapy for Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS): Clinical Ramifications as a Function of Molecular Neurobiological Mechanisms. Journal of addiction research & therapy, 3(5), 139. https://doi.org/10.4172/2155-6105.1000139
Julia Britz is a licensed naturopathic doctor who received her training from Bastyr University in San Diego, CA.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.